Friday, March 30, 2012

When I Win the Mega Millions Lottery...

Yep, I bought a lottery ticket. 

Actually, Seth bought it and it's at times like these, when that ticket is about to relocate me to Easy Street, that he and I suddenly become "one."

Technically after 20 years in the state we call home, what's his is mine anyway. I'm not sure he knows this.

First, I will buy the rocking chair I saw in Target today. It had just the right amount of cushioning and it was very comfortable. It was more of a glider than a rocker and relaxed me almost immediately even though it was up on a little display platform and people were looking at me since I was kind of sweaty and, in essence, on display.

I didn't care.

I needed a rest and no one who worked there dared say anything to me...I wanted to eat a package of Easter Peeps while I rested but decided that would be pushing it.
I want huge tires and lights
on top.

Then, I will buy a Jeep Wrangler.

As I approach my dotage, I have a limited number of years in which to enjoy a Wrangler since, despite their redesign a few years ago, they are still kind of jouncy. Not only that but they are very high off the ground and my legs seem to be getting shorter by the minute.
I'll need a color to match the Jeep.

In the warm months, I will remove the doors and top and drive too fast and people will wonder who that super cool, silver-haired hot rod mama behind the wheel is.

So, when I win all that money, I will buy a two door jeep in the color of red and when the police pull me over for speeding, I will now be able to afford the ticket. And when I have so many tickets that they try to take away my license, I will buy the judge. That's pretty easy, according to the New York Post.

Then I will buy lipstick. As many as I want. All colors. And not just from the drug stores, from the cosmetic counters, too. And some shoes. And I will hire Gary Puckett and the Union Gap to put on a concert in the backyard and make sure they play all their greatest hits at least three times each. Yes, I know Gary is now 69 years old but I'm not so young myself.
Hello, again.

Then I will buy the New York Mets.

I will give them to Tom and Charlie as an early Christmas present. I will tear down Citifield and have then re-erect Shea Stadium exactly as it looked in 1986 and I will eat hot dogs and drink beer while my sons save the team.
Bye bye.

Of course I will be philanthropic, too. Don't worry. And I will put aside enough to invest so that my fortune will make more fortune. I am really looking forward to this.

Have a great weekend. Look for me on the new holding up the giant check they give all the lottery winners.

Now, enjoy a little Gary Puckett. Here's the classic
"Young Girl."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Things My House Says...

"Roller SKATE!"
The door that leads to the tiny bathroom off my bedroom has a squeaky door.

When pushed open, the squeak very clearly says "Roller SKATE!" Emphasis is on the second word and it's loudest at 3 a.m.
Right outside that window is a very tall bush which shelters a bird that, every morning during the warmer months, screams "Jeter!" at the top of its lungs. Lured home early by the mild weather, the "Jeter Bird" is already in full swing, daily announcing his loyalty to the Yankee captain. While slightly disconcerting to a Mets fan, one cannot help but admire the bird's enthusiasm...and wonder if his feathers are blue and white pinstripes.
That bird loves me.
There is a cabinet door in the garage where Seth stores some of the tools he never uses to fix things that produces a three syllable squeak that says, "Throm-BO-sis." Thankfully, it's not the dreaded "deep vein thrombosis," but just the regular kind.

There's the whirl-hiss of the water softener, the whoosh of the oil burner when it kicks on, the rattle-rattle-ping of the closed flue in the chimney when it meets a gust of air and the creak-shudder when the wind hits the front of the house head on. Don't forget to factor in the hum of the fridge and the rattle of the loose change in the dryer, too.

There's the scrape-scrape when someone enters the side door downstairs, pushing it against the concrete flooring. That's one of my favorites because it signals that someone I love has arrived home. Often the scrape-scrape is followed by Charlie's whistling or Tom's singing and followed again by the slam of the inner door and the sound of big feet bounding up stairs.

There are the unexpected sounds like the chirp of a smoke detector when its battery starts to die or the startling pop-tinkle of a light bulb flaming out just as you turn on the lamp.

There are the sounds associated with the flip of a switch like the churn-rattle-swish of the dishwasher or the fuzzy burp of the TV when, with remote in hand, you press "power."

There are external sounds like the screech of bicycle brakes as neighborhood boys come to an abrupt stop in their mother's driveway or the soft murmurs of the lady urging her dog to hurry up and do his business as she walks him before work in the morning.

The mailbox says creak-squeak and the postal truck has a soft motor, while the sound of the UPS man throwing his truck into park makes me glance out the window every time to see if he's walking through the grass to bring me a package.

You can count on the excited trilling of the cats when they hear the can opener. They know they soon will enjoy an entree of wet food served on a paper plate.

There are the scary noises the house makes when no one else is home and those same noises, not so scary, when someone else is here with me.

There's music from someone's radio, the tumbling cascade of cereal filling a bowl when Seth gets up early and the soft snores of Buzzy as he dreams on the couch.

But there is no sweeter sound than the voice of someone on the other end of the phone after you've been trying to reach them for a while and have gone all nutty with worry.

It goes something like this:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Averting Disaster in the Produce Aisle and Watching it on TV Later...

For those of you who ever might think that I fabricate (or hallucinate) any of the conversations I occasionally relate here, please be assured that I do not.

My husband and children, any combination of whom have often lurked in the background while these exchanges take place will confirm, with resignation and embarrassment, that they are true. For whatever reason, I seem to bring "it" out of people.

It is with this humble preface that I now share yesterday's encounter with the produce guy in a supermarket not too far from my house.

I saw him from a distance. White haired and florid, he was belligerently stuffing bags of salad into lucite slots, while wearing his produce visor at a somewhat rebellious tilt. He was all but lying in wait for a victim, I could sense it.

It came off him in waves that smelled slightly like dill.

I approached, angling myself to quickly pluck what I'd come for -- a bag of Italian mix (romaine, radicchio and a bit of frisee) --  from it's shelf and make my getaway. The express check-out was only a few yards away.
I wasn't in the mood for being a sounding board for the disgruntled that day. At that moment, Seth was home, popping corn for an afternoon of disaster shows on the National Geographic Channel. I had places to be...hurricanes and tsunamis to witness.

I gunned my motor and zoomed by, cart a-rolling. Slowing down slightly, I grabbed, tossing my bag of pre-washed greens into the cart. Mission accomplished. I could smell the popcorn.

But then I heard it, clear as day...

"People are idiots!" growled the produce guy.

I stopped. I simply cannot resist a good "people are idiots" story. "Why do you say that?" I asked.

"BAGGED SALAD!" he answered, voice now raised.

Realizing that I was one of the idiots to whom he was referring, I reconsidered my commitment to this conversation. Especially since I harbor huge guilt about buying bagged salad.

It's expensive and often a little on the wilted side. Plus every time I buy a bag, I feel like I am dissing my grandmother who, when I was a very little girl not only chopped her own vegetables but actually plucked chickens in the kitchen--holding the freshly killed bird between her knees as she pulled out the pinfeathers.

Sensing weakness, Produce Guy grabbed a bag of salad and waved it at me, ordering me to read the expiration date. 

I was now a little scared but leaned toward him to see that  the date was in April, nearly two weeks away. I also took this opportunity to try and determine if he'd been drinking but smelled nothing other than the white hot consternation of a vegetable purist.

"Wow," I don't think that salad will still be fresh by then..." I mumbled.

"EXACTLY!" he bellowed. "Do you know how many people are going to buy this after looking at the date, open it and then bring it back because it's not fresh??!!

He grabbed a three-pack of romaine and wiggled it around, suggesting I choose that instead. "It's tastier, " he encouraged, looking at the bags of salad as if they contained little Nazi flags instead of spring mix. "It will stay fresh longer and you won't be back tomorrow to return it."

"I've never returned a bag of salad in my life," I said lamely, thinking of Seth and popcorn and the disasters unfolding without me.

"Trust me, YOU WILL!" It was at this moment that I decided not to reach for the bag of pre-shredded carrots I coveted and cut my losses. Putting back the salad from my cart, I took the romaine from his out-stretched hand and fled.

After all, disaster awaited....

Friday, March 23, 2012

What Would Happen if You Call 911 When You Can't Sleep...

Operator: "911, what's the emergency?"
Me: "I can't sleep."
Operator: "Excuse me, did you say you can't sleep?"
Me: "Yes."
Operator: "That's not an emergency!"
Me: "Oh, really?"
Operator: "No, ma'am, it's not."
Me: "Tell that to the guy who's sleeping next to me."
Operator: "There's a guy sleeping next to you?"
Me: "Yep."
Operator: "An intruder?"
Me: "Nope."
Operator: "Then who is it?"
Me: "It's my husband."
Operator: "Your husband? Your husband is sleeping next to you?"
Me: "Yep."
Operator: "And exactly what is the problem, ma'am?"
Me: "He's sleeping. I'm not."
Operator: "Ma'am, I am going to hang up now. Unless you have an emergency. This is 911, it's for emergencies."
Me: "There's cat litter in the bed."
Operator: "Uh, what, ma'am?"
Me: "There. Is. Cat. Litter. In. The. Bed."
Operator: "I have to ask. Why is there cat litter in the bed, ma'am?"
Me: "I tracked it in on my feet."
Operator: "How did that happen, ma'am?"
Me: "I tracked it in on my goddam feet because I had to put a litter box in my bathroom because if I didn't, Fritzi would pee all over the house because the Mad Pooper bullies her."
Operator: "The Mad Pooper, ma'am? Who is that? I assume Fritzi is a cat..."
Me: "Yes. So is the Mad Pooper."
Operator (audibly sighing): "Ma'am. I repeat, this is not an emergency. Hang up and have a nice glass of water."
Me: "Water will make me pee and peeing is how I got cat cat litter in the bed in the first place."
Operator: "By peeing, ma'am??"
Me: "Yep. I got up to pee roughly 600 times last night and that's when I tracked in the cat litter."
Operator: "Come on, ma'am, that's not how many times you got up to pee."
Me: "You're right. It was more like 800 times."
Operator: "Ma'am...."
Me: "Plus, it's really hot in here."
Operator: "It is kind of warm, Ma'am. But some people like it."
Me: "I am not some people. I am kind of, well, in the change."
Operator: "Ahhhhhh, that explains it. Ma'am, you are right. This is an emergency. Listen to there any chocolate in the house?"
Me: "Yes, I bought some Easter chocolate but that sleeping bastard next to me said it's only for good little girls."
Operator: "Ignore him, ma'am. Go find it. Unwrap six small eggs and eat them immediately."
Me: "But it will keep me up."
Operator: "Ma'am...forget sleeping, this is an emergency."
Me: "That's why I called."
Operator: "Eat the chocolate. Then, by any chance, do you have any DVRed episodes of House Hunters?"
Me: "Actually, I do."
Operator: "Watch them. And don't yell at the screen when they complain about the paint color. You know as well as I do that's an easy fix."
Me: "I know. Why do they always complain about that."
Operator: "I don't know, ma'am. It is extremely annoying."
Me: "It sure is. But what I really want to do is hit the sleeping man with a rolling pin."
Operator: "You have a rolling pin? Is it the long skinny kind or the kind that actually rolls on a dowel?"
Me: "It's the long skinny kind. It belonged to my Grandma. I'm gonna use it..."
Operator: "No, ma'am, you are not. Do as I say. DO AS I SAY!"
Me: "Oh...okay."
Operator: "Do you promise?"
Me: "Yes."
Operator: "Right away!"
Me: "OKAY! Sheesh."
Operator: "Good luck, ma'am. Have a nice day."
Me: "Thanks, you too."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

And the Conversation Ends Here...

There are certain things my husband will gladly discuss.

For example, last Saturday while in the car, the conversation turned to what might happen if the earth wrests free of it's axis and the poles shift.

We pondered...

Maybe the warm parts of the world would become cold, high winds would flatten everything in their path, deserts would become oceans and the seabeds would heave and quake until they became deserts. 
Jon Hamm, I will destroy you.
Obviously, we'd slide right off the face of the planet to float helplessly forever, everyone's breast implants would explode, the Kardashians would survive and rule outer space showing no mercy to Jon Hamm as he floats by in need of help.

Oh God...
Or, maybe cats would be in charge and dogs would be their servants, I would be the new host of Cash Cab and have my own cooking show on the Outer Space Food Network and Sarah Palin really would see Russia from her front yard....we discussed these possibilities until we were satisfied that we'd covered the most likely events and felt prepared.
I toldja but you didn't
believe me!

He might even discuss the fact that Lou Diamond Phillips has aged badly, agreeing that, career-wise, his high point appears to have been when he portrayed Richie Valens in "La Bamba." 

He will remain polite when I wonder aloud if Dr. Phil's wife, after all these years, is sick of sitting in the audience for every single show and he may even comment when I opine if David Letterman wears white socks because he's allergic to dye.

He may smile when I mention that there's a woodpecker in the backyard who's out to get me and might listen as I rhapsodize about how much fun it is to dispense your own yogurt in that new place in town.

I am out to get her.
But he will absolutely, unequivocally not engage in any discussion about how frustrated I am with the polish selection at my nail salon. 

He will not chime in about how he understands what a problem this is because I love the two women who work there and what great pedis they give because they last for nearly three weeks with no chipping unless I bang a toe into something. Nor will he engage in any way about how I don't want to bring my own polish because the cost of the pedicure includes the polish and it's expensive enough already.

There appears to be just so far one can go with husbands.
Now, enjoy Lou in his prime.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Encyclopedias, Playboy Magazine and the Throne of Knowledge...

I knew it was coming. I'd actually already wondered about the industry...were they adapting? How could they compete, make do...what would happen??

I can almost hear the silence of the dormant printing presses.

I am referring to the recent news that Encyclopedia Britannica has stopped publication of their encyclopedia after 244 years and will now be available only in an online format.

I have no idea what has become of the other encyclopedia companies. Britannica is the most well known and I am too stricken with google-ennui to delve into this topic, assuming that if they threw in the towel, their lesser competitors probably preceded them.

Not as bad as we
once imagined.
I am always saddened by yet another manifestation of a world that, in my arrogant overbearing pompous  humble opinion, is already way too web-dependent.

While I may have felt slightly less unhappy when it recently occurred to me that horny teenage boys everywhere no longer need to steal Dad's old issues of Playboy, hiding them between their mattresses and box springs, I did note that change with some degree of nostalgia. Such scenes, after all, are popular fodder for coming-of age stories in nearly every generation...but it will stop with this one.

Replacing them will be images of little boys googling hardcore, unstoppable, streaming, screaming porn...a whole lot worse, I fear, than the air-brushed boobies and tushies of Playboy.

Sorry, Mr. Giraffe,
"G" stood for something
else that day.
Speaking of porn and encyclopedias, I remember a boy in junior high bringing in a single volume -- containing the letter "G" -- of his encyclopedia from home. He'd folded back the page with "gynecology" on it and I remember delighted dirty laughter emanating from the center of a small group of budding schoolyard degenerates. How innocent they seem today in a world of sexting, soft-porn on primetime TV, and easily accessed everything on the internet.

Despite the convenience of all the new electronic reading devices, it's simply not the same as reading a volume of an encyclopedia. Will the online version of Britannica allow you to start at one topic yet enjoy the serendipity of stumbling upon interesting subjects you didn't even realize you were interested as you go along?
Getting an early

While you certainly can bring your IPad, Kindle or Nook into the bathroom with you, you're not going to leave it there -- on the top of the toilet tank -- until your next visit like both Seth and I did as kids. Him on a toilet in Chicago and me, on my own "throne of knowledge" in Brooklyn.

He and I, unbeknownst to the other at the time, were "bathroom encyclopediacs." We read an entry based on the time needed to complete our "task" and, as a bonus, made serious inroads into the wide wealth of available information.

Seth had the fancy, coveted World Book while I, underprivileged urban waif that I was, slowly collected the low-brow but knowledge-packed Columbia Encyclopedia.
Thank you, Waldbaums.

As I've reverse-bragged about before, money was tight for us so we were thrilled when Waldbaum's Supermarket ran a promo that allowed shoppers to purchase individual volumes if they spent a certain weekly amount at the store. You had to produce receipts, fork over $1.49 (the actual amount) and a new book was yours.

Easy! We were huge eaters and soon, my set was complete.

I used it from late elementary school through college in the google-free, wikipedia-less, read-on-the-stoop, disco-soaked world I inhabited.

I bet that Encyclopedia Britannica's recent announcement will cause a small wave of nostalgic searches and purchases from Ebay and Goodwill. I know Tom has already expressed an interest in the joy of just holding a volume in his hands and letting it have its way with him.

Seth and I both gave our sets away many years ago. They were seriously outdated but I wish I'd held onto a volume or two. So, farewell, encyclopedias with your metallic-edged pages, stiff binding, engraved titles and smooth pages. You will be some of us, anyway.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Old People Gone Wild

Last night, out of the kindness of my heart -- and, also, not wanting Seth to be the weird guy alone in Row L -- I accompanied my husband to a Pink Floyd concert.

No, Pink Floyd has not reunited (although Roger Waters, at the age of 68, is currently on tour). But the popular term "tribute band" doesn't do last night's music justice. Called "Brit Pink Floyd," this slick and very professional group of musicians sounds every bit as good as the Floyd did.
...and now
I doubt die hard fans will argue...since they were all there last night but how do I put this delicately-- they have gotten really old.

Think about your grandparents. Gentle Grandpa and sweet little Grandma. Think about how they nodded off in front of the TV while wearing sweaters. Or, picture them doing cute grandparently things like making pie, pruning a rosebush or arriving promptly at 4:30 for the early bird special at Ponderosa.
"We don't need no
thought control..."

Now picture these same people in greasy jeans, leather jackets and feather earrings, arms raised, eyes closed, intoning "All in all, it's just another brick in the wall." Add a few Dark Side of the Moon tats on flaccid biceps and you have the idea.
"Teacher, leave them
kids alone!"

Or, picture Grandma, tanked up on Guinness, shrieking like a crazed banshee to the point where another slightly less hopped-up grandma screams "Jesus Christ, would you shut the %$*&#@ up already!!"

Picture women with loose skin in halter tops elbowing their way down to the stage front to dance stiffly, flicking their hair and hoping the monumentally disinterested lead guitarist might glance their way or, how about the man, with white hair and an AARP membership card, who nearly get into a full scale, alcohol fueled brawl with a burly security guy over how close he should be entitled to get to the stage during the encore.

There were some younger people in attendance, too. Parents brought sons and daughters most of whom appeared to be painfully embarrassed. And there were plenty of people in their forties and younger. But the majority were our age -- mid-fifties -- and older.

It felt good to be in the slightly younger demographic of this creaky group. But, don't worry, people my age were acting really stupid, too.

Many were attempting to record the entire concert with their phones despite the repeated warnings from security to stop filming. Or, they pulled limp joints from denim pockets, struggling to light their granny weed in the laser-punctuated darkness.

My crowd clawed for our glasses in order to read the seat number on our tickets, thundered to the bathrooms during intermission as aging bladders throbbed along with the bass guitar or wore earplugs to protect our hearing from the decibels blaring from giant speakers.

As for my Pink Floyd loving husband, he doesn't have that much concert going experience...

Yours truly, along with my intrepid college pal Annette, made it our beeswax to attend a concert almost every weekend when we were in school. In those days, if you weren't zonked from the exhaled marijuana that hovered overhead in a dense cloud, you still knew how to be cool.
Why did I grow this

Often, your concert behavior was based on the band...for the Grateful Dead, you were laid back to the point of appearing comatose. For Bob Dylan, you maintained a more socially conscious demeanor. With Neil Young, we were super cool, grooving on his electric guitar and nodding along to his liberal mantras. When Neil Diamond came to town, we were all New Yorkers with a story to tell and deli on our breath. Bruce Springsteen brought out our energetic, patriotic selves. After all, no matter how tough the road, we were still blue collar Americans down on our luck...even if we weren't.
You can all stay here
but I'm going home
to my $35 million

And we knew, when the moment came, how to properly cheer for the musicians giving us their sweaty all up on stage. I mention this because, for at least the first half of the concert, I was pretty sure Chewbacca was in the audience...somewhere to my left.

After each song, or during an extended and exhilarating guitar solo, I heard the unmistakable trilling and grunting of a wookie.
Imagine my surprise when I realized that the wookie calls were emanating from my husband.

It turns out that Seth, attempting to make noise for the band, sounds exactly like a wookie when he cheers. After thirty years of togetherness, this was news to me and  I intend to work closely with him so we can all have a wookie- free experience in the future.

The up-side is that if we ever attend a Star Wars convention, Seth can probably earn a small fortune doing Chewbacca impressions in the parking lot at a quarter a pop.
"What did that bitch say
about us?"

All in all, the young people at the concert were the best behaved. It may have been because they were so dramatically out-numbered and were very afraid.  Or it may have been that seeing so many old people acting like total assholes was disturbing enough to keep them in line.

Either way, I congratulate them on their restraint as Grandpa was getting handcuffed by the exit after becoming belligerent in the line for the bathroom. 

We had a great evening but I can only dream of the mountains of advil that were consumed when we all got home.
Learn to sound like Chewbacca right here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day from the Tossed Salad!

A day for the Irish...and the red, white
and blue,

Here's a rerun of last year's popular salute to St. Patrick's Day. I hope you enjoy it and have a safe and festive day tomorrow!

As a kid, St. Patrick's Day was a big deal in a kind of odd sense.

Growing up in a very typical Jewish-Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn, the Irish were exotic beings.

They had different customs, habits and accents and, by the invisible delineation known as a neighborhood, were even physically removed from our daily lives.

This made them kind of mysterious and totally cool.

The pipers are always a
stirring sight.
And speaking of cool, the annual parade up Fifth Avenue -- which turns the subdued color palette of a city still in the final throes of winter to a festive sea of green -- was the coolest. It was a gift to us all from St. Patrick himself, no matter what corner of the city we called our own.

Who didn't want to be Irish on St. Patrick's Day? I know I did.

Until my oldest son established his own annual tradition of skipping school and attending with his friends, my family never actually went to the parade. We were, as a group, kind of crowd-phobic and besides, the best seat in the house was on the floor in front of the black and white TV in the living room with Grandpa.

From that spot, I would watch the tall and charismatic pipers with their fabulous hats and incredible posture. I'd marvel at the endless waves of police and firemen marching proudly, many sporting green carnations in their lapels and tam 'o' shanters on their heads in place of their usual headgear.

Everyone has this on March 17th!
I loved the music and the bouncing curls of the high-stepping colleens in their colorful costumes and soft-soled shoes. It seemed that March 17 had more that its' fair share of cold rainy days and we'd shiver sympathetically as the pretty girls would dance by the reviewing stand with bare arms and legs visibly reddened by the still-wintry chill.

Soon after the parade was over, still humming the favorite Irish tunes most every one knows, we'd convene at the kitchen table to eat dinner together....something traditionally Hungarian.

Pardon my drool...
The vast majority of our meals were very ethnic. Hungarian soups and stews. We even traveled, in a snarling pack, to the Yorkville section of Manhattan to buy vats of deep red paprika (Hungarian crack) because my grandfather had come over from the old country with the original owner of the landmark, Paprikas Weiss--a famous Hungarian import store that is, sadly, no longer there.

I go through several of these a year.
 We also had, thanks to the dozen or so fantastic Italian bakeries within walking distance of our front door, developed a great love for Italian baking and dessert was often some variety of delectable cookie or cake, always served with strong, hot coffee despite the hour of the evening.

Even as a kid, the contrast wasn't lost on me. And I loved it. We'd listen to the pipers on TV, eat Hungary afterward and enjoy Italy at the meal's end. It was a world tour in the comfort of the brownstone I called home.

I think about it still -- all our differences thrown together, not into a melting pot but into a big salad bowl -- every ingredient maintaining it's identity but getting along. In the perfect world of my childhood recollections, edges softened by time and a rapidly shrinking cerebral cortex, the tomatoes had no bone to pick with the green pepper and the onions were more than happy cuddling up to the cucumbers. New York City was, and remains to be, a glorious tossed salad.

We like each other. We are used to each other. Sometimes we piss each other off mightily but, when it counts, the tomatoes and the green peppers can still make it work.

As we migrated from that Brooklyn neighborhood of Boro Park, our horizons widened on their own. Suddenly our neighbors had different accents and traditions. And, on open-window days, the smells wafting from their kitchen were new and enticing.

I didn't know anyone who actually ate these.
My friend from Pakistan made me delicious dishes with cilantro, coriander and fresh lime. My Chinese landlady prepared dim sum from scratch and brought them downstairs in a steaming bowl to share with delighted, hungry tenants. My Lebanese sister-from-another-mother across the street wooed my taste buds with sesame encrusted Arabic bread slathered with lemony humus or creamy baba ghanoush.

And, for St. Patty's Day, a friend gave me her family recipe for soda bread.

Once a year,the beer ran green in the local pubs, green bagels filled the bins in the front windows of the bagel stores and the Green Oak, the bar down the street, stayed open till 6 am the following morning.

I seem to have come full circle. Today, I will be watching the parade on TV, seasoning our dinner with a huge dose (lethal to those who have not built up a tolerance over the years) of paprika and hoping someone drops off a canoli or two for dessert.

May the luck of the Irish not only be with you today but with us all, in every neighborhood (even in the trendy, hipster neighborhoods where the new locals want to make artisanal cheese while wearing skinny jeans), every remaining ethnic stronghold in every city in America, to your front door and far, far beyond.

Have a great St. Patty's Day, everyone!
'Tis himself.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kitchen Disasters: Anniversary Edition

The sun was shining.

Despite the fact that it was that pale, unsettling, tomorrow-is-a-school-day kind of sun, there it was and the breeze was just soft enough that I was in a good mood. 

I usually never trust a good mood...what made today different?

Comparatively rare, good moods should be put to use. So, since Seth and I had celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary the day before, and I'd silently acknowledged that I haven't done anything charming, pleasant or spontaneous for, at least, the last decade, I thought I would create something lovely for Seth to eat--thereby validating his choice to marry me many years ago.

I genuinely thought that
"Thin Mint" ice cream
was my idea...
Inspired by the spontaneous purchase of two boxes of Thin Mints from a pair of steroidally aggressive girl scouts, I thought I might try my hand at what seemed like a logical step....Thin Mint ice cream.

I have an ice cream machine that I've used a few times to good result but it's been years since I hauled it down from it's spot in that almost impossible to reach cubby over the cut-out for the fridge. wasn't.

Sure enough, there are several recipes on the web for just this decadent, minty concoction and off I pranced to the supermarket for the necessary ingredients. After all, did my redemption not rest in my ability to create a pleasing treat for my husband?

Upon my return, I combined the eggs, cream and peppermint extract as directed by the recipe. I stuck to the rules, not deviating as I typically do when following a recipe but treating this as I might a scientific calculation.

After all, I wanted the ice cream to come out perfectly, please Seth and perhaps be told how fortunate he felt that I tumbled out of the sky (from my spaceship which was hovering too low that day) and into his life -- nearly crushing him -- as I hit the ground.

I'd pre-frozen the "bowl" of the ice cream machine --a crucial step -- and the chilled mixture went in. Lovely in color and delightfully fragrant, it was sure to be a treat. A sleeve of crushed thin Mints waited hopefully on the counter, ready to be added when the mixture was about halfway frozen.

Smiling idiotically at no one, I turned the heat down on the corn chowder that was now simmering on the stove. I'd spent some time dicing up bacon, onions, peppers and shelling frozen shrimp for this delicious soup that's a favorite at our dinner table.
What should have
been this...

So promising were both the aroma and muted (meaning there'd been no sobbing or shrieked obscenities yet) sounds of industry emanating from the kitchen that Seth was now resting happily under the assumption that a delicious meal was in his immediate future.

Everything under control, I glided from the kitchen to gaze beatifically from the front window upon the Sunday landscape--kids on their bikes, dog walkers clutching blue turd bags and the weekend runners in gleaming spandex...when I smelled something unpleasant.
...became this.

Falling over  myself to get back to the kitchen, I found that the corn chowder had burned horribly on the bottom. Creamy in nature, the heat must have been too high and there was now a dark brown layer of acrid burn welded to the bottom of the pot's enamel interior.

Not only would I now have to soak it for about a light year before being able to clean it but, upon tasting, the flavor of the burn, which seemed to occur so suddenly, completely permeated the entire pot of soup.

That taste of "burn" is the kiss of death. Goodbye soup. Goodbye diced bacon, corn, cheese, credibility and final vestiges of self esteem, goodbye.

Palms sweaty, my default setting of profanity foaming in my throat, I turned toward the ice cream machine, expecting to find it halfway churned into the thick consistency of ice cream. Seth would forgive the loss of the soup when he wrapped his tastebuds around this delicious manifestation of my devotion.

It was still totally unfrozen. The thin mixture whirled and whirled....but did not become ice cream. Ever. Ever. EVER.
When stepped on,
this can squirt really,
really far.

By now Seth smelled the burned soup and had come up the stairs, only to find me wiping off the huge green smear that had squirted from the tiny bottle of food coloring from which I'd squeezed a drop to gently tint the ice cream. In the confusion, I'd knocked the bottle to the floor and stepped on it causing it to paint a wide green swath across the entire kitchen.

The meal was a total loss, pizza was ordered and Seth continues to question his choice of spouse, his assessment unchallenged by the arrival of burned soup and failed ice cream.

Next time I will remember to question a good mood. In the meantime, here's a link to a story about what can happen if you eat someone else's Thin Mints without permission.

If anyone has any idea why the ice cream didn't freeze, I'd love to hear it. Until then, I will simply continue to patiently chew my way out of this strait jacket....