Monday, December 27, 2010

Hey Soul Sistah

How can someone you hate so much at 8 be someone you can’t stand to be without at 48? Once upon a time, long, long ago, my parents had the perfect nuclear family. A fine strapping boy followed in 2.3 years by a little girl, that would be moi (me for those of us that failed French). But the passing away of my aunt left her gaggle of kids as motherless children aged 2 to 9. Someone would take boys, someone would take babies but no one would take them all. My mom, the same woman who couldn’t stand the thought of anyone to be alone at any holiday including Arbor Day threw open the doors.

This created an instant Sistah mix. She is 49 weeks the elder. At the time, seeming so unfair, she got to do everything first, pierced ears, driving, dating. Nowadays it puts her 49 weeks closer to turning 50 so there. But a funny thing about her is once she hit 5 foot tall she never got any taller.

All the boys adored a tiny petite girlie, ignoring the nearly 6 foot tall awkward girl with condor like wing span she’d inherited from her dear old daddy Buzz. No, he is not standing on a box in this picture.

The girl who had to give up ballet lessons because the leading male dancer only came up boob high. My Sistah was one of the popular girls, pretending not to see me in the school halls dressed in her preppy Izod shirts while my shirts and pants were mandatorily too short on my limbs. Sadly her short stature had its drawbacks. In efforts to save dough my parents claimed her for the under age 13 price at amusement parks and movies well into high school.

But we were thick as thieves, one time Albert Garlotti starting teasing her and pushed her down, I ran up and kicked his a**. It was okay if I did It, but I was family. She was a scrappy fighter, but a scratcher. I still carry a scar on my collarbone, funny thing is she had a matching one my mom gave her to make us even. We covered for each other, mom would set individual alarm clocks for our curfews, we’d turn off one another’s ringers. We did however grow up in an Orthodox Jewish community and all our schoolmates had to be home by sundown so we were left to wandering around the Avenue after dark with nothing but trouble on our minds. Going to parties that newspaper reading frat boys invited us to, drinking too much and holding each other’s hair from the porcelain throne.

My Sistah has assumed the Christmas Eve event since my mom died last year. I’m still responsible for prime rib on the big day but she makes the traditional soup.

Fiesta Soup
1 large bunch cilantro
4 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno, seeded
15 ounces hominy, drained
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin
1 ½ t teaspoon oregano
1 pound sausage
1 ½ pounds boneless and chunked chicken breasts, seasoned and floured
1 ½ large onion
1 large yellow pepper
6 cups chicken broth
1 avocado cut into cubes

Chop cilantro, garlic and jalapeno in food processor. Add ½ cup olive oil, cumin and oregano. Transfer half of the pesto to a small bowl and reserve the remainder for garnish. Add ¾ cup of hominy and set aside. Brown sausage, remove and brown chicken in sausage drippings. Heat remaining olive oil and add peppers and onions stirring until wilted. Add hominy mixture, remaining hominy and chicken broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add chicken, sausage and 3 tablespoons plain pesto. Just before serving add avocado. Serve with remaining pesto and bread.

Once we moved out on our own and started having our own little hell raisers we stopped worrying about who ate the last ice cream sandwich or left the car without gas. Now we laugh about the ridiculous things we did and lived to tell the tale. Like the time Marky Mark took the copper gutters off the church when metal prices went sky high and got busted or Dad installed the stove hood so low only you didn’t have to duck under it shorty. Don’t worry Sistah, I got your back, just as I know you have mine. Happy New Year Ruth!

Monday, December 20, 2010

'Tis the Week Before Christmas and All Through the Food Court

Monday started off on a bad note, must …..gain….. ability…… to step away from the holiday laden coffee bar at the office. I need to grow a little bit of will power, office treats are turning into my personal crack cocaine. One consultant brought me TWO boxes of chocolate today, I thought about pushing him down the stairs but that is not the customer friendly approach. The grazing began a few short days ago when I went back to the motherland for a wedding last weekend. I haven’t been able to put down a fork or a wine glass since I stepped off the plane.

The dogs, Penelope the Labrador and Tonka the ADD dog I inherited from my mother are getting into the act. They have almost killed me a million times leaping higher than the ceiling when I enter the house hoping to lick crumbs off my face. I would like to share that the gleam in her little eye is not Photoshoped in, that’s the same look she gets when she’s knocking me to the ground to rip open my grocery burdened hands or snatch food off the table.

I even managed to score a fat drenched Italian meal courtesy of my Mom’s best friends insisting on taking us out. Crème Brule was a cruel cellulite friend this morning. My Sistah’s husband and daughter,
the Girl, tagged along. “What sweet cherub would you like your lovely auntie to get you for Christmas, a gift card or cooking lesson?” Ineedcash….. Ineedcash? Is that a website like Amazon dollars? No… my deranged and completely out of touch auntie, I ‘m going on a school trip to Disney and need cold hard cash. Okay, I feel like a complete dummy now. Her Facebook status even confirms her wild desire is to have only hot dollars. I’m trying not to feel like the Grinch, I generally like this kid but maybe I’ll get her coal this year.

I also ventured out to the mall, shudder, on the Saturday before Christmas to buy Sheldon’s major present. I of course won’t discuss it here, she might stumble across my musing and ruin what Santa’s little helper picked out for her. But I had to stroll past the darn food court, past Wetzel’s Pretzels another secret or maybe not so secret addiction. Butter, laden, soft pretzel nuggets, stop drooling on your computer, it will make the keys stick. Okay, here is a recipe to soak up all that sugar so you don't nod off from the rush at 2 in the afternoon.

Swedish Meatballs
1 batch of My Mother’s Meatballs
2 cans consume
1 can water
1 pinch dried dill
1 cup heavy cream
Package of Egg Noodles cooked

Mom’s Meatballs (Small Batch)
1 onion finely chopped
1 ½ pound ground beef
½ cup fine bread crumbs
1 clove garlic minced
¼ cup parsley finely chopped
1 egg beaten
¼ cup parmesan cheese

Combine onion, ground beef, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, egg and cheese. Form 1” meatballs and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Combine meatballs, consume, water, dill in sauce pan. Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Add cream and heat though, maybe 5 minutes. Serve over hot egg noodles. If you were all over it, you would have made an extra batch of Mom’s Meatballs when you read the post about our
World Famous Pasta Party.

I keep saying, put down the cookie and back away. But I hear them calling me from my office, whispering sweet nothings in my ears, telling me how delicious they would be with my morning coffee, no one will know you’ve already eaten 27 and it’s only 8 AM. Ah well, I guess it’s back to the trainer,
Eva Braun, Hitler's girlfriend, after the New Year. I’d better stuff myself so it will be worth it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nanook, Ice Princess of the North

I confess, last year was an epic failure for holiday greetings. I could lay out my arguments about why I didn’t meet the appointed deadline, how I thought I’d turn them into New Year’s notes, Valentine Days sweeties, Easter greetings but Fourth of July cards just seemed so wrong. So let’s all pretend they got lost in the mail and just start anew and focus on blogs.

The Big Tuna and I returned to the motherland for our second nuptials of the year. I have unfurled my numb fingers and blue lips to craft my weekly adventures to the land of big hair and fake tans. As much as I love Team Tuna the months July and December do not strike me as the most amazing wedding seasons but I manned up with my mittens and earmuffs and headed East.

The first challenge was naturally to find a winter coat. You would think the layer of fat I’ve put on since my last frosty journey 10 years ago would have kept me cozy, but in the Valley of the Sun they only sell faux frocks. I had to pay bazillion dollars for a coat I won’t wear again until I’m too plump to buckle it. On the plane my sweet hubby offered to keep me warm by participating in the “mile high club”. Yeah, sweet. Except we both had aisle seats in the cattle car section and it would blocked the drink cart.

I anxiously watched the weather forecast and reassured myself that tennis shoes with a cocktail dress would be perfectly acceptable at a black tie event since I didn’t own real winter boots. It was guaranteed I would drape banquet table cloths around my legs if I felt any drafts. I fell into a full fledged panic attack when viewing Modern Mom’s 1st Vlog post showing 2 feet of snow. I officially hate her, she is so perky and adorable, and it makes me feel like a giant walrus on the ice. Okay, maybe I don’t really hate her it would be too much like kicking Bambi. I hope she didn’t have to resort to eating one of her young to survive.

Next I heard a rumor that two of our nephews had chicken pox. This would be routine, expect that are in their TWENTIES. As a full fledge germ phobic I refused to arrange a meet up dinner at their house much to their dismay. I am one of those people that carry around their own hand sanitizer and send staff home if they sneeze outside my office. Truth be told, my mom said I’d had the pox when Sheldon came down with it as a tot but since I couldn’t remember I wasn’t taking any chances. Fortunately their pediatrician cleared them to attend the wedding at the last minute. In honor of the Tuna family, this week’s recipe is Tuna Casserole.

Tuna Casserole
1 pound cooked medium pasta shells
2 cans tuna drained and flaked
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup peas-optional
½ cup bread crumbs
1 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Mix pasta, tuna, soup and peas in a casserole dish. I consider peas optional because I really dislike them; they remind me of bloated ticks. Sprinkle top with bread crumbs and cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. We ate so much of this when we were first married because it was cheap that the Big Tuna has refused to eat it in 20 years.

I’d forgotten the excitement of driving on the Garden State Parkway, your 4 lanes of traffic spread out to 87 toll booth lanes where you throw you coins in a bucket and merge together on the backside. As a faithful Nascar observer the Big Tuna was in his element. He viewed the tailgating as drafting the toll booths as pit stops. Thankfully I had perpetual brain freeze since it was so cold and blocked it all out. As far as I’m concerned if I never see another snowflake it will be too soon.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Canaries in the Mine

Once again my friends it’s story time for the whipped and abused worker bees. Many, many moons ago, okay maybe six months ago, Bebe took a job out of sunny Arizona to Bum F**k Egypt (BFE) in order to make the mortgage payment. She left behind Bubba who is now reduced to occasional conjugal visits when I’m not camped in her kitchen slopping down wine when she circles back to the motherland. Because she is a card carrying smarty she was not intimidated by moving out of the engineering industry into a world of mining where you need canaries strapped to your helmet. Little did she know it wasn’t the poisonous gas that would create peril, but the rise and fall of another Mean Girl Table.

The firm, Midas Touch Mineral, relocated their fancy pants operations and Bebe would be replacing the executive’s, executive’s assistant who didn’t want to uproot herself and move to Poketown, USA. The problem is that once Bebe arrived on the scene and showed her mad people skills the little backstabber wouldn’t leave. Bebe and I have much different interoffice people skills. She takes the refined approach of building consensus, team spirit, put on a happy face, blah, blah, blah. I lay it all out there, hey Sparky, get a move on.

In honor of My Best Friend’s crappy week, here is a recipe we’ve shared before over the grill.

Steak Fajitas Marinade
2 envelopes Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
½ cup olive oil
½ cup water
2 limes

Jarred salsa
Sour cream
Shredded cheddar cheese

Mix dressing, oil and water ingredients into a paste, you can add a bit more water if it’s not mixing well. Cut limes in half, squeeze in juice and throw rinds and steak in before you leave for work in stick in the fridge. Grill steak to liking, (me? Medium rare, otherwise you should just chew on old shoe leather). Slice meat, place on tortillas with whatever fixings float your boat.

But reluctantly the Prima Donna skulked out of the immediate vicinity but somehow was able to maintain a contract position from four hours away where she continues to poison the well with snide comments. “Donna” did have to give up her company email address which now trickles through Bebe inbox.

Hey Donna,

I was at the show and tell meeting last night with Dandy Don who sat across from me. We talked a bit and I told him you and I have been friends since the stone ages. He said they sure missed you and that the new gal Bebe just isn’t getting it. Haha

Happy Wednesday!!!
Your friend, the idiot who didn’t send to your new email address.

My suggestion:
Dear Idiot,
I’m sure you didn’t mean to be an insensitive b*tch. Please note Donna’s correct email address for your records to avoid future errors. Hope you have a pleasant and joyous holiday season.

But she is much more politically correct. Bebe sent the email onto Donna "this came to your former address" and sent it onto Dandy with a message "please help me be a better employee." The witch was "mortified" (more like afraid she was going to lose her contract job) .Argggg, as your true BFF, I can come up and kick their a**. But it might have to wait until the temperatures rise above the freezing mark, you know what a delicate flower I am.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

True Confessions of an Ex Paperboy

Several frosty mornings a week I have to crawl on my hands and knees, usually in my nylons and heels, to retrieve my daily newspaper from under my car. Yes, I know, I could turn the engine over, roll 10 feet out of my drive and pick it up but I am apparently a slow learner. I have left pathetic messages with the newspaper management but to no avail. Doubt Miss Throwing Papers in My Jammies From My Car Window will get a tip from me this Christmas. When I was a kid, delivering the morning paper was a time honored tradition for getting my hot little hands on cold hard cash to waste without parental control. My parents didn’t believe in allowance, we were on our own to scare up lawn jobs raking five foot deep tree leaves and babysitting Satan’s little children.

Even though my mom had her Master’s degree in math it was too risky to leave us at home during the day unsupervised for even a minute to go to work. Heaven knows what 87 thousand teenagers would do without someone to keep us under at least basic lock down. In order to bring in a few bucks to cover some extras she took a job as a district manager for the Newark Star Ledger. Basically she supervised young teen boys to pedal around the neighborhood throwing papers in the bushes and wresting their collection money out of their fingertips. In order to seek new virgins for the routes she would hang around school yards trying to seduce young boys into earning a little dough. Now a days she might have gotten arrested for trolling for young boys.

The problem was when a route went unfulfilled by an anxious young lad eager to earn cash to impress a certain young lady, my Sistah and I were stuck being the Magic Newspaper Fairy’s little helpers. Since she paid for our horse riding she felt it was a fair trade to get us up at O’f***ing clock early to thrown 50 millionity papers before school. Granted she drove and we slept in the 15 second increments that teens are well known for. Man I wish I could sleep like that now, as many of you know my king size bed and I aren’t seeing eye to eye lately. It’s been pretty brisk the last few days in Phoenix so here is a nice hot soup recipe.

Corn Chowder
1 pound ham steak cut into 1” pieces
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onions
4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
2-17 ounce cans creamed corn
2-10 ounce packages frozen corn
13 ounces evaporated milk
13 ounces water
13 ounces milk
Salt and paper to taste
3 tablespoons parsley chopped

Melt butter n large soup pot. Cook ham and onion for 5 minutes. Add potatoes and cover with approximately 3 cups water or enough to cover potatoes. Bring to boil, reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes, serve with bread.

Often my mom would send then nubile teen versions of my Sistah and me to the playground in hopes of scoring fresh meat and we were happy to do. If only to reduce the wear and tear on our throwing arms and glean a little extra sleep. But…….there was one route we were unwilling to give up and delivered well beyond our high school graduation. Fraternity Row at Rutgers University had, who knew, a group of good looking college boys who liked to view the literary world opinions with their morning coffee. We understood our viewing audience and we were well dressed in tube tops and daisy dukes during our weekly collections. Naturally we changed in our car since Mom would never let us leave looking like the little trollops we wanted to portray. Not only did we get great tips, we got invited to lots and lots of frat parties. Let’s just say that grain alcohol in Hawaiian Punch goes down like well, Hawaiian Punch. Hopefully, Sheldon won’t follow in her mother’s footsteps. RU rah, rah, RU rah, rah, Go Scarlet Knights!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sheldon Does the Pageant

I feel compelled to start out this week with a disclaimer so you don’t get my ass sued for my off center ramblings "Although inspired in part by a true incident, the following story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event, except of course Sheldon." There, that should cover it.

The Big Tuna is on vacation with my brother for 10 days so tonight I will make us literally the simplest meal ever.

Tortellini in Cream Sauce
1 package refrigerated tortellini
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup parmesan cheese
While cooking tortellini according to package directions, melt butter in small sauce pan. Add cream and heat just below boiling, add cheese stirring until a creamy sauce, and add in drained, cooked tortellini. There done, less then 10 minutes in the kitchen.

A few months ago Sheldon announced that she’d started a bucket list, I’m not entirely sure why a 21 year old needs a bucket list but have at it. I’m personally afraid if I make a list, it may depress me if I don’t get to check items off so I’m happy to continue to wing it in my usual willy nilly way. She said, “I want to try out for Miss Fill in the Blank State, you know Ronald Rump’s pageant. (Hence the disclaimer). I need to attend the information meeting with a parental unit.” Not only did I have to attend, but apparently there is a dress code, had to wear heels and pantyhose, on a Sunday afternoon, in August, in Phoenix. That’s true love for you.

At the registration table our official greeter signed us in and introduced us to the sales pitch guru. He sized me up with my first firm, man handshake as a woman who wouldn’t be sucked into the Toddler and Tiara vortex. Waiting for the other “contestants” to be seated they ran an endless loop of the Miss Left Coast pageant with tons of spray tans and giant boobs. Two contestant names? Miss Tarzana and Miss Weho? Really, me Tarzan, you Jane?

Assigned seating placed us in the front row, nice and close to Joe Isuzu. (Joe Isuzu was a smarmy car sales guy from my youth.) Joe spent the entire time trying to convince me what a fabulous opportunity it would be for our daughters. He spent his time talking about family commitment, translation, hang on to your checkbooks mommy and daddy. I of course came up with real questions during the Q & A. What’s the gig with scholarships? This here literature shows a full scholarship only to Basket Weaving U, what about real accredited schools? How do the girls get their local titles? Not real contests, just the first to arrive with their entry fees. Hello Miss Fire Rock. I laid it out for Sheldon, all dough is on you honey child, I have to give her credit, she got enough sponsors to cover the cost.

The big weekend just ended and Sheldon looked beautiful but did have one fatal flaw that knocked our Little Miss Awesomeness out of the competition. She was tall, she was fit, she had the magic blonde hair and……..the giant tattoo on her hip. They were unwilling to waive the only bikinis rules which left it out for the entire world to see. Her tat is a big color in crown, in theory it means loyalty or something, but all I can ever think about is the Burger King slogan, have it your way. Bebe in BFE watched the live streaming and the instant messaging community lit up the bar like a pinball machine according to her. Ah well, one thing checked off her list, 99 more to go. Hooray Sheldon

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blackjack!!! Sheldon’s a Big Girl Now

Time flies when you’re having fun, our little Sheldon is turning 21 years old. Of course I had her when I was 12 explaining why we get mistaken for sisters. Okay maybe not sisters but one can dare to dream. Last night she left the house at 11:30 to meet her friends for her “Power Hour”. I obviously need to watch more MTV’s Jersey Shore in order to be up on the lingo. Fortunately, in her mind it meant having her first drink in the first hour on her birthday, not 21 shots in an hour as defined by Wikipedia. She is such a different creature then the Big Tuna and me, below are some of my stand out memories. I tried to get Sheldon to play this game with me in the truck today, but she was having none of that. Perhaps nursing a little hangover, she denies it.

I remember the time she bit Bebe’s son on the hand. Sean had the toddler silent scream face. You know the frozen one before they take that big breath and a giant shriek comes out. Bebe immediately called the pediatrician making me feel like a horrible parent who let their rabid child roam the street without its shock collar.

Shortly after Sheldon got her driver’s license she called me in the small almost crying voice. “Mom, I just got a speeding ticket, Dad is going to kill me!” Baby Girl, we all got speeding tickets, when I first met your fine daddy, he’d lost his own license for too many points on his for speeding. That’s why he had to walk uphill both ways everywhere. We won’t talk about her criminal speeding ticket from last year.

Once when we went to the bath and lotion place perusing the shelves for a lotion to help with dishpan hands we discovered our most overused phrase. When I queried the shop girl about the benefits of one cream over another she described it as “more thicker”. More thicker I asked? Yes more thicker. This has led us to several grammatically incorrect discussions, more funner, most bestest, to the point where we really need to stop before people think we really are dumber than rocks.

When doing the potential grand tour for college, we made a little side trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. Don’t get me wrong, I like art but I have the attention span of a gnat. Look, admire, move one. Sheldon is of the same mind. The modern art exhibit was our favorite, we kept saying, This? Is Art? One artist painted twenty 4 foot by 6 foot canvases a different shade, it looked like paint sample sheets at Home Depot. We were also a little freaked out by the union elevator guy, I thought he was going to break my arm when I went to push the button for the third floor. No unions in Arizona. To commemorate her big day, here is one of her favorite recipes.

Bread Salad
6 thick slices French bread, toasted under broiler and cubed
½ cucumber peeled and cubed
½ red onion diced
1 ½ tomatoes cut in wedges
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
6 ounces feta cheese crumbled
1 cup kalamata olives, no pits

In bowl, combine cucumber, onion, tomato, vinegar, salt and pepper. Let stand for a bit, stirring occasionally until juicy. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Serve immediately. This is a great side dish to ho hum potato salad and lets you change it up a bit.

Most people would reminisce about highlights and accomplishments their children reach on this milestone. We are more than a little proud of our little buttercup but the family that laughs together stays together. Of course Sheldon continues to have curfew much to her dismay. She may not need her beauty sleep but as parents who get up at 4:30 we need all the help we can get in the good looks department. Happy Birthday Kimberly, we love you the most-est.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sheldon's Turning 21!!!!!

Sheldon's turning 21, crazy blog to follow..........

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Princess and the Pea

I cannot sleep anymore, in my younger days, I could lay down and immediately pass out. I’ve had the most challenging year of my life to say the least but now that things are settling down why does Mr. Sandman elude me. The occasional sleeping pill just doesn’t seem to do the trick. I’ve decided an open letter to my star crossed lover may smooth things over.

My Darling Bed,
Why do you spurn me from your welcoming arms? I have always treated you with the utmost respect, never allowing the dogs to nap and shed on you. I turn you regularly to keep your figure in tip top shape. Even though on some nights when the Big Tuna snores me out and resort to cozying up to your cousin the Queen in the guest room, I always return. Was it your jealously with my short lived affair with the leather couch on Sunday afternoons? Insomnia is my new lover, but do not despair, I would welcome you back at the least inkling.
Sleepily yours,
Mrs. Tuna

In honor of the Princess in the Pea, this week’s recipe will be Pea Soup.

Easy Peasy Soup
2 cups green split peas, washed and picked over
6 cups chicken broth
1 ham steak, trimmed and cubed
Salt and Pepper to taste

Put the split peas and stock in large pot of medium heat, bring to boil and turn down to low. Add ham, partially cover and cook for approximately 45 minutes until peas are very, very soft. Mash peas with potato masher to smooth out. If soup gets too thick you can thin with a bit more stock or a bit of water. I personally won’t eat whole peas, they remind me of bloated deer ticks, but pureed they are disguised and tasty.

Who knows what the ultimate solution is, in the old says a shot of brandy was the prescribed treatment. My luck I’d end up with gout!!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Adventures of Michelle Little Black Sweater

A few weeks ago I invited a bunch of girlfriends over for a ladies wine potluck, the price for admission? A bottle of wine and an appetizer to share. After guzzling 53 pitchers of Sangria my girls staggered off into the night. Well we actually did it at 2 o’clock in the afternoon so we could all pass out immediately following dinner. In addition to scoring a few extra bottles of wine, thanks to one friends Costco size bottle somehow I inherited a black sweater. Now as everyone knows, black sweaters and yellow Labradors are a bad mix. Since it’s a teeny tiny sweater, it can only belong to my drinking buddy Michelle. But I’ve been able to keep her sweater entertained.

Waking up in the morning

Having a little workout

Doing a bit of housework

Picking up groceries

Playing with the dog

Checking Facebook

Enjoying a glass of wine

Hanging with my new BFF

The next time she comes for the Ladies Wine Potluck I’ll make one of my Mom’s favorite appetizers.

Rum Raisin Spread
160 ounces cream cheese softened
8 ounces golden raisins
8 ounces rum
12 ounces chopped walnuts
8 ounces sugar

Mix above ingredients, refrigerate overnight. Serve with crackers. Nothing like carrying the alcohol theme forward to the food too. Enjoy!!

Friday, October 22, 2010


I’ve had the same performance evaluation for the last 15 years. Clients think you’re amazing. You can take those projects going down in the tubes, beat them into submission and get them out the door. But……perhaps you’re a teeny tiny bit impatient, please don’t hit me. I used to skulk back to my veal fattening pen and try and be more “sensitive” to my fellow worker bees. What would eventually happen is I would reach to point where my head would detonate like a ticking time bomb.

A few years ago I finally had a Kumbaya with my supervisor about what makes a successful project manager. I told him, “Look, the same personality that makes you pick me to do the dirty, ugly projects is the same thing that makes me a little more ummmm …….direct.” Here I gave an example. If the plane was going down in flames, do you want to be with that person over there wringing their hands or me, who’s saying, People, this way, put on your parachutes. Don’t be a hater.

Here is a little pumpkin recipe in honor of the upcoming Halloween holiday.

Pumpkin Soup
¼ cup butter
½ yellow onion finely minced
1 clove garlic minced
1 teaspoon curry
1/8 teaspoon coriander
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups chicken broth
16 ounces solid pack pumpkin
1 cup half and half
Green onions diced for garnish

Sauté onion and garlic in butter until soft. Add curry, coriander, red pepper and salt and cook for 1 minute. Add broth and boil gently for 15 minutes. Stir in pumpkin and half and half. Cook for 5 minutes. Serve with sour cream and sliced green onions. I know you’re thinking pumpkin? Should I garnish this with whipped cream? This doesn’t take anything like pumpkin pie and if you like squash you’ll love this soup.

I have an issue with personal space. Early in my career when I was a lowly designer, there was a guy at the office that would always give my arm a squeeze and say, “Hey girl how are you doing today. “ His voice reminded me of a 1-900 service. With a few reviews under my belt I was striving for the easy going co worker they wanted me to display.

I made several attempts at getting him out of my little bubble. Really, please don’t touch me, I don’t like. No really it makes me uncomfortable. Don’t you think girl is maybe a little sexist? One day after a particularly colicky baby night I snapped. Dude, take your hand off me, and I haven’t been a girl since I had my period when I was twelve. If that isn’t direct enough I don’t know what is.

Friday, October 15, 2010

2 Kool 4 Skool

It used to be when a company was having problems it would simply have a layoff. In our current world of sucky economics, they have developed a whole new lingo of fancy downsizing terminology.

MFT=Modified Full Time or…………..My Funding has Tanked

CCL=Company Convenience Leave or………………..Couldn’t Care Less

RIF=Reduction in Force or…………………………..Really Incredibly F****ed

We went through a major shake-up at the slave market earlier this year and they unfortunately axed a bunch of comrades in arms. It made me realize that I needed to ensure I was on my A game so I wouldn’t be eaten like that limping wilder beast. So I decided adding a degree in Urban Planning to my background in Civil Engineering would keep me as the lead pony in the race. I know I have to be way smarter than those darn 20 year olds, right?

But gathering all my proof that I wasn’t a dummy all my life to Arizona State proves to me why kids don’t go to school and just give up. It’s not the classes, it’s all the damn red tape. I’m exhausted already, so I’m making myself a little snack to build my strength.

Guiltless Guacamole
15 ounce can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 jalapeno pepper seeded
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
¼ cup coarsely chopped sweet onion
Pinch salt
1 ripe avocado pitted and diced
2 plum tomatoes diced

In food processor puree beans and lime juice until smooth and transfer to bowl. Put jalapeño, cilantro, onion and salt in processor and pulse. Mix all ingredients together and serve with veggies or tortilla chips.

First obstacle, extracting my high school transcripts from 1040 BC. Look here at these college transcripts, do you think I would have been allowed to attend this other college without proof positive? Naturally I tried gathering during the summer when my tiny teeny high school was closed for the break. After digging in the bowels of the basement they sent their mimeographed copies. (If you don’t know what mimeographing is, stop reading this blog and check back next week).

Next, you didn’t take this dumb English 101 class. See here Bucko, they wouldn’t let me take English 102 class without it. They just called it something different in the stone ages. Needed special English department override from Professor Smarty Pants.

But the most annoying task? Ummm, you need to show proof of having your 2, yes 2, MMR shots before you can register for classes. Really? You’ve got to be kidding me! I can certainly prove that Sheldon had her immunizations but my Mom only kept random notes we wrote to the Tooth Fairy, no proof of injections. It seemed easier to take the shots over then to try and prove I had my rabies/measles shot. Today I went to the ASU health center for shot 2 and while killing time in the holding cell/waiting room and what do I see on the end table? A giant basket of condoms with paper sacks for the taking. Awkward.

Sheldon and I will wear the scarlet robes at the same time. But I’m game, if nothing else it will certainly give me more tales for this little blog.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

SWEet!!!! Young Things

One of the personal responsibilities I feel as a working engineering professional is to encourage engaging young woman to pursue careers in math and science. This week I had a chance to give a presentation to the ASU chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Basically, your company pays to give a spiel about how fantastic your company is and how they should all grow up and be as lucky as you to work there.

Your contribution covers the cost of food, and as you might suspect , free pizza will bring out any starving college student. Since 99 percent of the time these little productions are given by men I thought I’d give a different spin and talk a little about my company and more about how to stand out from the crowd in the dog eat dog world. Here’s the type of food they should present at these events.

Artichoke Feta Dip
1 can artichoke hearts, chopped fine
1 cup mayo
½ cup parmesan cheese
½ cup feta cheese

Combine ingredients, mix well. Pour into a shallow baking dish and cook at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with rye party breads or crackers. Artichokes are your friend, you can never eat too much of a good thing.

Good evening ladies, I’m Mrs. Tuna and I work for Giant Engineering Company, Inc. where I’ve been a big muckity muck for the last three years. We do tons of different engineering, some of which I don’t even know what it really is but I work in transportation. Our core ideals are peeps are our greatest advantage and getting bigger is essential. You can look up more info on our website, Now I’d like to talk about how to get a mentor, how to be a leader and networking doesn’t mean updating your Facebook status.

They'd eaten their chow and were trying to gauge how long they’d have to stay before bolting back to the dorms for beer pong. Time to change tactics and go for the stand up comedienne routine during the question and answer phase. The few boys that showed up for food and perhaps to pick up girls began to avert their eyes and slouch in their seats. But one brave guy asked the first question so partial credit was given. I digressed into funny stories about competing in a man’s world.

When asked about sexual harassment in the workplace. I told the story about how at one place on Valentine’s Day while standing at the copy machine, the owner of the company offered to show me his special Valentine’s underwear. When I declined, he pulled up the corner of his heart adorned boxers so I could see the edge. I told him that he needed to put himself in timeout.

When questioned about interning, I explained my last intern was the son of a previous supervisor. My current boss queried me about his work ethic and I told him as a sophomore in high school he did a good job mowing my lawn. He ended up working for me for3 years after graduation.

When asked about my project team, I said they knew when I asked them how their weekend was, they need to tell me about it in three sentences or less. It’s not that I don’t care, but my head if swirling with all the tasks at hand. Spit it out already.

In the end, they said I was the best and funniest speaker they’d ever had and would I be the opening act every meeting. I said as long as when our competitors We Think We’re Better Engineers presented next month they’d tell them our company were the better Rock Stars.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ding, 5th floor, House Wares and Ladies Shoes

Recently I went to a professional development breakfast where the topic was perfecting your elevator speech. We practiced with each other in a format very similar to speed dating. What I began to realize after round two was I still keep talking, even as the elevator doors closed behind you. I bring this up since I’ve begun to notice this blog is running away with me, too many feisty words. The perfect blog length is between 200 to 300 words. (80 words so far)

I could tell you about the time I was about to be introduced to the US Secretary of Transportation and my co worker told me to keep it on a leash, but that would be 246 words.

Or the time I blanked out on someone’s name during an introduction and had to use his behind closed doors moniker, WBC, (Whine Bitch and Complain) but that would be another 157 words. So quick, out of the gate, this week’s microwave recipe. (164 words and counting)

Weekday Sheppard’s Pie
1 pound ground beef
½ onion minced
10 ounce package frozen green beans (I could go on and on about how I like extra green beans so I add more but that would be more words)
1 can tomato soup
½ teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon Worchester sauce
3-4 servings instant mashed potatoes according to directions
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Brown meat and onion in casserole dish in microwave. Add green beans, tomato soup, basil and Worchester sauce and heat for 8 minutes stirring once or twice. Scoop mashed potatoes on top, heat for 2 minutes. Sprinkle on cheese and heat until melted.

I pledge to fit this blog on a single screen, saving you from having to scroll down. Important to keep that index finger in shape. Length of articles are dependent on the amount of liquor consumed. (Akkk, so close, maybe next time I won’t actually count the recipe, 326 words)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

911-911, Emergency, Emergency

Bebe and I met over twenty years ago, innocently at a neighbor’s baby shower. There were six pregnant neighbor women at the shower, maybe something in the water. I certainly swore off tap water after that. Who knew at the time we’d end up being the sisters we never had. Well okay I do have sisters, but not one who wouldn’t steal my clothes or my boyfriends or eat the last Popsicle without asking.

Her little kiddies are only 14 months apart and Bubba was often out of town hunting and killing to fill their freezer. The Big Tuna often stepped in as the extra parent when we took our broods out to places like the State Fair or Sesame Street Live so we weren’t outnumbered. He began to spend so much time with us he said he felt like a polygamist and started calling her Wife Number Two. And thus became our life as Siamese Twins, drinking wine with ice cubes and play dates. I can honestly say I’ve never made a major furniture purchase that she didn’t sit on prior to writing a check.

One of the first things I noticed was that her birthday was September 11th, 911, 911. She claims to have never noticed until I pointed it out. My powers of observation are stellar. At least related to mundane unimportant things like whether someone’s socks match. She is the most positive cheerleader you can have, a direct counter point to my sarcastic but charming personality. Whenever she gets into her happy bubble, it’s my job to remind her of all those “special” moments that make 9/11 the perfect date for her.
• Remember the time we had the kids at the newly finished park and I said, “some little kid is going to walk up to that unfinished bench and get his arm stuck in that unfinished hole”? And Sean ran over and put his in and we almost had to call the fire department to get him out?
• Remember the time Bubba went elk hunting on your due date and you took a long hot shower? When you wouldn’t answer the door we boost Jim over the fence to peer in your bedroom window and catch you almost naked?
• Remember the time Nash broke his arm on the EXACT same swing his older brother broke his arm on the year before?
• Remember the time we went to the bar and I didn’t have my ID and they tried carding me at 38 years old and they insisted they carded everyone? When you offered yours up they said, no that’s okay madam?
• Remember Wally?

I could go on and on and on but I have to stop so as not to ruin the birthday moment. Here’s one of my fast and furious recipes that Bebe has come to enjoy.

Spicy Fettuccine
1 Tablespoon Butter
¼ cup minced onion
1/ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 can whole tomatoes (Progresso Basil)
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
¼ cup shredded fresh basil

Melt butter in large skillet. Add onions and red pepper flakes, cook over medium heat until onion is tender. Run tomatoes through food processor and add with salt to onion mixture. Cook over medium heat for 8 minutes. Stir in cream and bring to boil for 1 minute. Cook fettuccine according to package direction. Toss with sauce and garnish with basil

Bebe had a birthday this weekend. She spent it getting wild and wooly as you can get in Salt Lake City. Now that my BFF is living in BFE we satisfy ourselves with endless phone calls and Skype wine dates. She tells her family that she is flying in to see them but we both know it’s really to see me and Sheldon. So when are you coming home? I need to go shopping for new guest room furniture.

Monday, August 30, 2010

You’re not the Boss of Me….Am Too!!!

My friends and I are all at that awkward period of our lives. Our offspring are chomping at the bit to make a break for it and begin their adventures as full fledged adults. We of course know better with our mama bear instincts and think they need a little more time to ripen before they operate without a net.

My Sistah and I often discuss how people at work commend us on our sharp minds, how we have excellent communication skills and never forget a thing. Our children however swear we never listen to them. “I told you I had to have that book for my summer reading list a thousand times!!!!!” they shriek. First of all, telling me the day before school starts doesn’t make it count as a thousand and two, back away from the Mama until you can rein in those hormones honey child. I only have Sheldon where My Sistah has a 13 year old girl and a 16 year old boy. Just about the time the Boy learns to be a bit more civil the Girl will be in the throngs of sweaty boys and stuck up girls.

School is back in session and one barn girlfriend is suffering from big time empty nest syndrome. Her baby girl is torturing her with the death of a thousand paper cuts, not taking her calls unless the baby is overwrought or out of money. The daughter’s Facebook pictures show her having entirely too much fun without mommy. I’ve been making sympathetic clucking noises reminding her that Sheldon still tries to escape like a crafty wild pony but sometimes will stick around for a few carrots and sugar cubes. Now days, Sheldon won’t reject my advice immediately, usually waiting at least 10 minutes. Sometimes she even, Gasp!! Says I was right. Not often but from time to time. Reintroduce yourself to those friends you’ve not been having enough time for and maybe even make a few new ones of your own. Here’s an appetizer recipe to have with your wine while toasting each other about what underappreciated parents you are.

Grilled Goat Cheese Peppers
4 red or yellow peppers
1 cup goat cheese
1 ½ cups Mexican cheese
¼ cup diced fresh basil

Cut and deseed peppers into 1” strips. Mix cheese and basil in separate bowl. Place peppers inside of pepper down on medium grill for approximately 3-4 minutes. Flip over and smear cheese mixture on inside and continue to grill until cheese is melted. If you’re uncoordinated like me, take the peppers off, stuff them and put them back on.

So what’s the difference between teenage boys and girls? The parallel universe of taking out the trash.

Boy, take out the trash. Right after I update my Facebook Status Mom.
Boy, take out the trash. At the next commercial.
Boy, take out the trash. Soon as this show is over.
Boy, take out the trash. Gotta finish my homework, I’ll do it in the morning.

Girl, take out the trash. Screw you, I hate you, you make me do everything!!!

End result, you're still taking out the trash yourself.

I know it’s hard, about the time the kiddies need you to stop holding their hands and are people you’d actually like to hang out with, they “de-friend” you. Just know that LOVE is a four letter word and the older they get, the smarter you will seem to them. If only we could lock them in their room until they see it our way, since after all, Mother knows Best.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Big Tuna turns F-f-f-f-f-fifty!!!!!!

Hard to believe but my guy has hit the half century mark. Eeeeekkkkkk!!!! I’m sure all of you just view me as his much, much younger trophy wife. I was a child bride, at least that’s what I want all of you to think. So what attracted me to my future mate?

Was it that he was taller than me? Was a guy with John Denver good looks? Opened doors for little old ladies? No the sexiest thing about him was that he was the handiest guy I’d ever met. A huge contrast from my own dear daddy who had an eclectic way of home repair. Prime example, Dad painted one side of our enormous house every summer so he wasn’t overwhelmed by a single giant job. He did his best work on the summers he got to paint the “short” ends of the house. Once he used outdoor house stucco to patch a plaster crack on an indoor staircase, when it hardened like a rock, he carried the theme through the whole alcove. I could go on, and on, and on, but this is about the big guy. I’m sure Dad will continue to be featured in upcoming blogs.

I lived in a tiny basement apartment in a rural house in NJ and one of his buddies was dating a girl named Crazy Mary who rented a room in the upstairs part of the house. Since the landlord had little kiddies, he had a firm No Evil Boys allowed in the main house, so Crazy Mary entertained her friends in my windowless apartment. It was truly so dark if I woke up I could never tell if it was 3 o’clock in the morning or afternoon. He tagged along one day, saw my picture in the apartment and just knew he had to meet me. They schemed to arrange a coincidental blind date at the local watering hole, the Rock Bottom Inn. Now that I’ve typed this out he sounds a little more like a stalker, but in a good way.

He grew up in a meat and potatoes Polish family. But he did bring to the marriage a fabulous soup recipe.

Dave’s World Famous Tomato Soup
1 ½ pound hunk of beef with bone in
2 beef bouillon cubes
3 -28 ounce cans whole tomatoes, crush was potato masher
2-16 ounce cans tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
5 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
3 cups cooked rice
Sour cream to taste

Put meat and bouillon cubes in a large pot and cover with water approximately 2 inches higher than the meat. Cook over a medium low heat for 1 hour stirring often. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce and continue to cook for another hour. Add potatoes and cook for another half hour or until potatoes are tender. Serve soup over cooked rice, if you put rice in the soup pot it gets too soggy. Add sour cream to taste. Tomato Rice Soup is the Polish cure for the common cold which makes sense since it’s loaded with vitamin C. When you get a scratchy throat coming on, whip up a batch and heal the whole family.

The thing that sealed the deal? I got a flat tire, he walked a mile in the snow, yes of course up hill. When he popped the trunk and the spare with flat too, he gave a little smile and said no problem. I’d literally known him two weeks and thought, that’s the man I’m going to marry. I’m going to be the future Mrs. Tuna. And so I am, hooray for me!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Welcome to the Cool Girls Table

Hard as it is to believe I wasn’t always the outgoing over the top chick I am today. High school was a painful wall flower experience. My graduating class was only about 100 kiddies for which I weighed 105 pounds and was 8 feet taller then they were. Awkward doesn’t begin to cover it. I was never one of the cool girls, fortunately we lived close to school so I wasn’t subjected to the embarrassment of sitting alone at lunch with my peanut butter and mayo sandwich. Even my Sista, owner of 50 Izod shirts wouldn’t be caught dead with me wandering the halls.

But there were Mean Girls, the ones who would focus on you at opportune times, drawing attention to some small aspect of you that was already magnified in your own mind. Like the gigantic pimple, right in the middle of your forehead. “Hey, jolly green giant that is the biggest blotch I’ve ever seen. Muffy, did you see the ostrich’s zit?” I did get some minor satisfaction in highlighting them in my creative writing classes under secret names. But now I’ve got my big girl panties on, bring it on.

While not the victim, I witnessed a Mean Girl incident at the slave market this week. Challenges in this current economic market often lead to a realigning of duties, or the moon and the stars in extreme cases. Benito Mussolini has recently overthrown the Administrative Pool and leapt to the top of the heap. Why is it once you get appointed as the head cheerleader your bitchy gene breaks out in full force? The girls on the bottom of the pyramid are about to revolt and leave her without a spotter. What can I do to brighten your day? Feature your woes in a blog? Pick your favorite food and I’ll cough up a recipe to make you feel better. Pig, the other white meat.

Rosemary Orange Glaze Pork

This is a multi stop project that actually goes really quick on the grill. The first step is to brine the pork loins to make them really juicy and tender. Second you brush on the glaze prior to and while grilling. Last you prepare the sauce to put in a gravy boat or if you’re like me, just eat by the spoonful in the kitchen and hope there is some left for the guest.

Brine Mixture
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup sugar
Dissolve salt and sugar in a large bowl with about 6 cups of water. Submerge pork loins in brine and let stand for 45 minutes. Rise pork well and pat dry.

Glaze Mixture
¼ cup frozen orange juice concentrate thawed
1 teaspoon brown sugar
4 teaspoons fresh rosemary
In small saucepan bring OZ, brown sugar and rosemary to simmer. Simmer until mixture reduces to about 4 tablespoons.

Orange Balsamic Sauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
½ teaspoon fresh rosemary minced
1/3 cup orange marmalade
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Heat oil in small saucepan over medium heat, add garlic and rosemary and cook until fragrant and sizzling. Stir in marmalade and vinegar, heat until warm, serve in a gravy boat.

Run brined tenderloins all over with the glaze. Heat gas grill to high for 10 to 15 minutes, reduce heat to medium. Place pork on grill rotating every minutes for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the instant read thermometer reads 145 degrees. Slice and serve with sauce and mashed potatoes.

Now that I’m all grown up, I’m better at negotiating those waters. I will now share with you the words I always use in the politically correct environment. My mom shared this story with me.

Two Southern ladies are sitting on the porch sipping mint juleps.

Mary: “My Harry bought me these fine diamond rings”

Susanna: “Imagine that”

Mary: “My Harry took me on a Caribbean cruise”

Susanna: “Imagine that”

Mary: “My Harry bought me this fur jacket, what does your George do for you?”

Susanna: “My George taught me to say imagine that rather then F*** you. “

Welcome to the cool girls table.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Sheldon Does the Salsa

Nicknames are a funny thing. When your little bundle of joy arrives you coo out little terms of endearment, Sugar, Sweet Pea, Baby Girl. My Dad embarrassingly saddled me with Pooh for my love of A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. This was prior to them being trademarked by Disney and other forms of over animation and glitz. Here I’ll mention this was a man whose own mama called him Buzz until the day she died.

A little innocent comparison to someone evolves in to something that sticks no matter how much you try and shake it. I once knew a kid named Nimrod who tried to convince me it meant mighty hunter. Snort, yeah right.

So what about Sheldon? Why pick such a nerdy name for our strikingly beautiful daughter? She is a born and bred overachieving smarty pants. Her favorite day, March 14th, Pi Day (3.14159265), math geeks unite. She was the kid who was having lunch everyday with the guidance counselor in 6th grade to figure what she needed to do to get her hands on scholarship dough. When I was twelve, I was happy to find my classroom and a seat in the back of the room.

When the television show “The Big Bang Theory” came out, the most intellectual guy was Sheldon. She thought we called her that since she was so smart, in reality it was his desire to have only order in his life and color only in the lines. Assigned seating and color coordinated food became our norm. Sheldon begged us for a Periodic Table shower curtain just like the cast. Actually snorted when they told funny inside math jokes. Who are you? Were you switched at birth?

But she makes a mean Salsa, I mean the stuff is like heroin, I can drink it from a cup, why bother with chips.

Sheldon’s Salsa

28 ounce can whole tomatoes
Juice from 1 medium lemon
4 green onions
1 cup cilantro
½ white onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
5 jalapeños
1 whole tomato, cut X on ends
1 ¾ reserved liquid.

Place 5 jalapenos and tomato in a sauce pan with 3 cups of water, bring to a boil for 15 minutes, reserve liquid. Seed peppers and skin the tomato and liquefy with reserved liquid in a blender. I should mention it should be done in a well ventilated area and those darn peppers should be handled carefully. I once thought I blinded myself when I scratched my eye while handling. Run the remaining ingredients in a food processor and place in bowl, pour in pepper combination. If you’re inspired you can cut up a few avocados and throw in. Serve with tortilla chips.

But the Big Tuna and I are proud of our little flower, she graduated 44th of 808 kids in her class with a pretty darn good scholarship to ASU where she is triple majoring in secondary education, math and Geek. All I got left for those of you in the Big Bang Fan Club, Bazinga!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

We’re Not in Arizona Anymore Toto

This past weekend we were off to the land of big hair and spray tans. A return to the homeland, New Jersey for the Big Tuna’s nephew’s wedding. Fast talking, no nonsense people with lots to say and take no prisoner attitude. Boy I miss that.

The Big Tuna is the tallest Tuna for fifty generations. Sheldon and I feel like giraffes amongst the in laws or Dorothy and the Good Witch surrounded by the little people. Nothing like drawing attention to myself with my condor like wing span during the dancing rendition of Love Shack. In honor of the Polish Polka wedding crew, the national recipe…..Stuffed Cabbage with a few short cuts but still more of a pain in the a*** then the usual fare. But tasty.

Stuffed Cabbage
1 Large Head Cabbage
1 medium onion diced
1 clove garlic minced
½ teaspoon dill
2 teaspoons fresh parsley
½ bay leaf crushed
1 ¼ pound ground beef
1 cup cooked rice
1 egg
3 cans tomato soup
½ water
4 tablespoons sugar

Cook cabbage until done, I usually do a few leaves at a time in boiling water, hence the pain. While leaves cool, mix remaining ingredients except for two of the cans of soup, water and sugar. Fold the meat mixture into the cooked leaves and arrange in rows in a baking pan. Combine remaining tomato soup, water and sugar and pour over cabbage rolls. Cover with foil and cook at 400 degrees for an hour and 15 minutes.

One of the most glaring differences between the Garden State and the Valley of the Sun is here in Arizona we’re all about the personal “freedom”. Having a bit of time to kill between the wedding and the reception we invited some of the cousins back for a cocktail at the motel. I said, heck, we’ll stop at the grocery store and pick up some beer and wine. Apparently, that’s a big no no, you can only buy booze at an official liquor store. Say what? Shoot in Phoenix we can buy all the liquor, guns and fish sticks we want as a one stop experience. This leads to Sheldon sharing that she passed the concealed weapons test and once she turned twenty one they’d mail it right to her. Great, math teacher by day, sniper by night.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Faux Camping and the Fourth

Let’s start off with, I don’t do camping. Who in their right mind would, all that nature gives me the heepy jeepies. I do all my hunting and gathering at Safeway, not the wilderness. My earliest memories of camping are not pretty. Picture a ton of kids, two adults and four wet dogs in a tent that needed to be put up in the pouring rain by an impatient daddy. Nuff said.

But Bebe was coming back from Elko, Nevada for the 4th of July and how could I refuse to spend quality time with my BFF since she moved to points north. When we went “camping” with our nature survivalists when the kids were preschoolers it showed what polar opposites we are. Team Tuna stayed in a travel trailer while the B’s stayed in a pop up trailer. The most fascinating difference is while we were practically hosing down the woods with liquid, their little family of four survived on a coffee cup of water. I am not cut out to conserve.

Bebe and Bubba have a little place in Show Low and the Big Tuna was giddy to take his new (at least to us) and shiny RV for its inaugural run. Riding shotgun in the big rig was a weird visual experience. So much windshield, it was like riding in a 1978 AMC Pacer, another stellar purchase my parents made in my youth. The interior was sort of an uncanny twilight zone experience. The upholstery was identical and I mean identical to a sofa we’d retired about 10 years ago. All the built ins and fixtures were ¾ quarter scale. I felt like Alice in Wonderland who ate the cake and grew big. So a quick and easy recipe for the Mad Hatter and crew.

Easy One Dish Tortellini
28 ounces chicken broth
9 ounces cheese tortellini
4 ounces onion and chive cream cheese
1 can undiluted tomato soup

Bring broth to boil, add tortellini and simmer for 5 minutes. Ladle out a little broth into a bowl, add cream cheese and whisk until blended, return to pot. Add the can of tomato soup and heat thoroughly.

Living in the west, wild fire capitol of the world, makes me a little nervous about lighting fireworks. We compromised by flicking lighters inside the RV. But in the end, RV, $30,000, filling it with gas, $300, not peeing in the woods…….priceless.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Grandma and the Iron Curtin

A recent sibling weekend brought to mind how differently you remember your childhood. Those nearest and dearest are happy to burst your bubble, usually in front of your husband and children and recount those discrepancies with glee. Of course Mommy never broke curfew, why she even came home early so as not to worry her own dear parents. Underage drinking? She wouldn’t think of it, that would have just been so wrong.

When I was in 4th grade, my Aunt passed away suddenly. Overnight we went from a family of four to a family of eleven. My parents adopted my five cousins and brought in my grandparents for reinforcements. We moved into the biggest house in a nearby town with a small separate apartment. Grandma and Grandpa moved into the apartment and put the two littlest boys in the connecting dining room.

My folks were young adults in the sixties, let’s just say they had a pretty laid back approach to kids. The innocent grandparents never knew what hit them. As retired schoolteachers they expected us to use our indoor voices, never run in the house and clean our plates. We of course behaved like we were raised by wolves playing wild made up games involving danger. The favorite was Dark House, a warped game of hide and seek. You’d turn off every light in the house and wait to be found. Best hiding places, the top shelf of the linen closet, and the built in clothes hamper, that is if the seeker didn’t lose interest after the first hour. Those spaces seem impossibly small now, I have no idea how we squeezed in.

If we wanted to go over to the inner sanctum of their side we had to knock politely and wait to be invited in. We referred to this as going behind the Iron Curtin. We had to show our passports and our clean hands in order to cross the border. The little boys seemed impossibly polite and tidy, the five oldest looked like we’d been running wild in the neighborhood, playing in the creek and rolling in mud. Likely we had been. My grandparents had to protect them from those hooligans, hmmmm….I think they mean us. It goes to show it nurture versus nature. The boys have grown up into fine sensitive men, essentially ads for

Grandma baked fresh bread every week for the family. My parents didn’t do dessert, but the grandparents liked a little sweet after dinner.

Grandma’s Apple Crumble
Fill a shallow, buttered baking dish with thinly sliced apples. Blueberries, peaches are other fruit may be used instead. Sprinkle lightly with a tablespoon brown sugar mixed with a dash of cinnamon. Combine:
½ cup flour
½ cup sugar
½ quick oats uncooked
1/3 cup butter.

Mix until crumbly and spread over fruit. Bake at 350 degrees until apples are tender. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Blueberries, peaches are other fruit may be used instead.

But we know they loved us, admired our crummy art projects, came to our off key choral concerts, made sure we didn’t burn down the house when our parents were at work. Taught us that thank you notes and hard work will take you everywhere. So thank you Grandma and Grandpa for being just the way you are.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What's The Skinny

Now that I’m officially the parent of an adult I’ve begun to notice a very ugly body issue that can only be contained by high waisted jeans. In my head I still feel like the slim waif of decades past, so when I drift by a full length mirror I think, there must be a body pod around with my real self. With Sheldon off a college it was time to take matters into my own hands.

I’d never used the gym membership provided by my office, I didn’t want to sweat with the people I worked with but it was after all free. Who would I possibly see at 6 AM? Just Hitler’s girlfriend, Eva Braun, the resident personal trainer? Ve vell vork out this morning no? Um sure…..the first work left my arms dangling at my sides. I couldn’t raise my limbs to blow dry my bangs and had to resort to using the hand dryer leaving me with more of a Lassie look. Where’s that darn Timmy when you need him.

The following is a true accounting of our company quarter group hug. Just as I sat down with my free sub sandwich and a Dr. Pepper, Eva strolled past 80 people, walked right up to me and asked, “What are you drinking, if you swallow that I’m going to make you regret it.” Uh oh. Apparently Gyms R Us was showing the exercise benefits to the troops.

The problem with diet cookbooks is by the time you’ve added a few innocent things to make it stop tasting like cardboard it’s no longer low cal.

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil (so okay the original recipe called for cooking spray, off to a bad start already)
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
2 stalks celery chopped
1 green pepper chopped (you could substitute yellow or red)
2/3 cup uncooked rice
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 pound Italian sausage cooked (are you seeing a substitute trend)
1 ½ cups cooked chicken
16 ounce stewed tomatoes
1 ½ cups frozen shrimp (that is of course if there is any left after the BP oil spill)
1 tablespoon jalapeño Tabasco sauce (it’s a bit more mild)

Cook onion, garlic, celery and pepper in olive oil until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients except for the shrimp. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add frozen shrimp and cook additional 5 minutes or until rice is done. The joy of this meal is it cooks in a single oversized skillet. If you cook it without the sausage, in theory, it’s less than 300 calories.

I thought this past week she’d tortured me so much I was having a heart attack. I even went so far as to drive myself to the doctor when the chest pains didn’t back down after the diet lunch. After telling me I was putting on weight nicely for a woman my age, with a little giggle told me I’d just pulled a muscle in my chest. I’ve decided if my double A bra could be revised to a double D, my stomach would look flatter since they would stick out further. I’m thinking it would just be easier to get a boob job.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sangria and the Stand Up Comedienne

Statistics are still sucking, big time. Spent an amusing time with my main homies this weekend between reckless study sessions so once again, a repost based on my girls.

My girlfriends call me the funniest person they ever met. The question becomes is that a compliment or a criticism, you be the judge. Maybe it’s the because I was scarred as the middle child of seven with only an eight year difference from the youngest to oldest . Perhaps resulting in snappy one liners that make them scream with laughter so as not to be ignored. My parents, in addition to raising a tribe of comics, breed standard poodles, not those yappy future coyote bait pups, but the great big ones. The trouble with poodles is that if they do something funny and you laugh they will do it continually to the point it is no longer amusing, I am Fifi, hear me roar.

Periodically, the Big Tuna gets tired of my endless babbling and encourages me to have a Girls Weekend in order to wear out my sharp tongue. I went this past weekend to a cabin with the usual suspects, naturally Bebe, Lady Godiva who cuts all of our hair and the Sitter, who not only watched our children growing up, but now keeps us under control so we don’t run with scissors. The more we drink the more outrageous things spew out of my mouth. I keep thinking , this will be the thing that makes them gasp in horror, but it never happens. The only quiet they got from me was on the forced nature walk/death march and that was primarily to keep from tripping over a rock by not paying attention.

It all starts with an innocent glass of wine, but Sangria, oh so much smoother going down.

1 Bottle White Wine
½ Cup Peach Schnapps
2 Tablespoons Orange Liquor
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1 Lemon Sliced
1 Orange Sliced
1 Peach Sliced
20 Ounces Club Soda
1 Tray Ice Cubes

You can substitute other fruit for the peach, I’ve used strawberries or even blueberries. Perfect drink on the deck overlooking the wilderness. A few glasses and we all got a bit giddy. I’d heard from Sheldon that if you take shots from above it makes you look thinner, standing on top of the deck railing taking downward shots is filled with its own peril. I also did a fine imitation of Helga, the yoga instructor, “you there, tall girl, have you never taken a yoga class before? Widen your flamingo legs and get closer to the floor”.

Just remember, “What happens at girl’s camp stays at girl’s camp”. That is of course until I post it on my blog.

Friday, May 28, 2010

&%#^&*^%^, Whew, Glad I Got that Off My Chest

We all have those awful days, you know the one, husband backs the new RV into the restored 1968 Pontiac Firebird (this week), dog devoured a sofa and a paycheck, (in one sitting) or you get on the mirrored elevator on the 30th floor and realize your skirt has been tucked into your pantyhose (for who knows how long). Sadly these are all stories that have happened to yours truly. After days like this you want to open the refrigerator door and inhale anything that doesn’t have scary fuzz on it. But we all have our special comfort food that soothes the savage stress beast. My go to food is macaroni and cheese, with extra, extra cheese, Aiken’s Diet be damned. The following was forwarded to me by a NY Times cookbook junkie, my mom.

NY Times Macaroni and Cheese

2 Tablespoons of Butter
1 cup Cottage Cheese
2 cups Whole Milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 pound shredded cheddar cheese
½ pound elbow macaroni, uncooked

Heat oven to 375 degrees, grease casserole dish with butter. In blender, puree cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Reserve ¼ cup cheese. Combine rest of cheese, milk mixture and uncooked pasta. Pour into prepared pan, cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover pan, stir, sprinkle remaining cheese and cook uncovered another 30 minutes.

While this is baking away, sit down, pour a GIANT glass of wine. It will restore your good humor and bring you back to center. Big breaths, tomorrow is a new day, hopefully Saturday so you can recoup and start the new week with a carbohydrate high.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pssst, Pasta Party, Pass it on

The natives get restless, sly glances, quizzical looks about the same time every year. “Isn’t it time, you know, for the annual pasta party.” What started off as an innocent little payback for invites to your house for couples dinners has spiraled into a cast of thousands affair.

The original get together actually started out as a steamer party. For those who don’t know, steamers are little clams, we had them shipped overnight from Boston to Arizona, steamed them, dipped them in butter and ate them with beer and gusto. The problem, no matter how many times we begged and pleaded, people would willy nilly drop the shells in the yard to be gobbled up by my starving dogs. Let’s just say there is nothing that doesn’t bring you to full alert from a dead sleep like the sound of a retching dog at 2 AM.

My first thought was, maybe we need to thin the herd. Instead we opted to change the menu. What could feed the locust that wouldn’t break the bank? When I was in school, my mom would throw parties for all her all her philosophy graduate student buddies that involved lots of spaghetti and lots and lots of wine. We of course were drafted as unofficial under aged wait staff. I could adapt, I was sure of it.

Red Sauce
½ cup olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
3 lb Italian sausage
2 ½ pounds pork chops
7-28 oz. cans whole tomatoes with basil (Progresso is the best)
12-6 az. Cans tomato paste
16 cups water
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons Oregano
2 Tablespoons Basil
1 Batch of Mom’s Meatballs

Heat olive oil in skillet with garlic, lightly brown sausage and pork chops. Transfer to big, and I mean big, pot. Add all of the remaining ingredients except for the meatballs. Cook over a low flame, stirring approximately ever y 10 minutes for about 4 hours or until it cooks down. Add Meatballs and continue to stir and cook for an additional 2 hours. DO NOT BURN. If you do, you’ll need to transfer to another big pot.

Mom’s meatballs
2 yellow onions chopped fine
6 pounds ground beef
2 cups dry Italian bread crumbs
3 cloves garlic minced
1 cup fresh parsley
4 eggs beaten
1 cup parmesan cheese

Combine above, mix well, form 1” meatballs and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

I’m giving you the big batch recipe, I don’t know how to make it smaller, one pot will feed about 30, yes you read that correctly 30 people. Special props go out to the Big Tuna, he is the world champ stirrer, never a burnt pot. We’ve had anywhere from 50 to 150 people at this somewhat annual event. By the time I sit down to eat, you can put a fork in me, I am done, done, done. This is not necessarily a fast and furious meal, but if you plan it right, you can freeze the leftovers for about a billion upcoming food events. That is of course you don’t end up giving away too many “doggie bags”. And just because I’ve given you the secret family recipe doesn’t excuse you from showing up next year, just bring your own lawn chair and wine.

P.S. I finally figured out how to let people leave comments on the website, I was too spastic to check all the right boxes to let you leave your snippets.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sesame Chicken and Phil (FFIL)

Many, many moons ago, the Big Tuna and I left the bosom of our families back east and moved to sunny Arizona. As a fairly new bride my cooking skills were at the kindergarten level but I managed to piece together enough of a meal to keep us from starving to death. I should at this point say that after more than a quarter of a century, between us we’ve gained enough weight to have added a 5th grader.

During cold and bitter months we are a favorite destination spot for long lost relatives. We have one Far Flung In Law (FFIL) Phil who has a tendency to be a major critic of people for a little personal sport. On his initial visit he and the Big Tuna decided they’d go for a day of golf and we’d head out to a big dinner once I returned from my job at the old slave market. Upon my homecoming, the boys had been visiting the beer cart in the hot, hot sun and decided the little woman could hook them up with a little bite to eat. So be it, bacon wrapped beef filet, broccoli, and Rice a Roni it’s a meal, or is it….

Me: Something wrong with the rice Phil?
Phil: Mrs. Phil never makes Rice a Roni.
Me: Well Mrs. Phil doesn’t work so she has time to grow her own stinking rice.

Okay, I said the last line in my head, not out loud.

The following day, the Big Tuna left on a business trip but the good sport I am, made another feeble attempt at cooking something to please this picky in law.

4 chicken breasts
½ cup soy sauce
1 cup flour
2 Tablespoons Sesame Seeds
2 Tablespoons butter cut in pieces

Mix together flour and sesame seeds. Dip the chicken breasts in soy sauce and roll in the flour mixture. Place in shallow baking dish, dot with butter. Cover with aluminum foil, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook an additional 15 minutes.

Phil: This is the first good thing you’ve ever cooked for me.
Me: And also the very last. (Not in my head)

Phil staggers to town nearly every year, he stopped asking “What’s for Dinner” after about year ten. I will assemble a little meal for myself leaving them to forage for cold cuts and can openers. Sometimes he’ll even pop to take us out. The only thing I should mention here, is the best side dish with the chicken? You got it, Rice a Roni.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Southern Hunter’s Venison Stew…..or Not

This is a variation of a recipe from my closest friend who is a not so secret natural survivalist. Bebe and I have been cohorts in crime since our kids were still in the womb. Early in our friendship her little nuclear family only ate meat that her husband Bubba caught and killed with his bare hands. The original instructions called for venison sausage and since I am the Queen of Meat that comes in nice neat plastic wrappers use Italian sausage instead.

2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
½ cup diced onion
1 lb Italian sausage
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups diced potatoes cooked
1 cup frozen green beans
1 cup frozen corn
12 oz. tomato juice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Sauté onion in heated olive oil, add sausage and lightly brown but not cooked through. Stir in chili powder and salt. Cut sausage into bite size pieces and place in the bottom of a casserole dish, with onions. Follow this by covering with diced potatoes, frozen green beans and frozen corn. Pour tomato juice over the top. Cover and cook at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, top with cheese and continue to bake for an additional 15 minutes.

As much as I love Bebe, I confess I’m a little squeamish about food that still has eyes and I did draw the line the day of the squirrel enchiladas for lunch. Bebe says it tastes like chicken, but I’m sure it tastes like cat. Meow.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mindless Chicken Marinade and Elote

This is almost too easy, so I’m going to add a side dish so people don’t think you’re a complete slacker in the kitchen. You could spend hours researching the perfect marinade for your chicken or cop out and do what comes easy, embrace it, it will give you more time for TIVO viewings of Project Runway or perhaps your secret guilty pleasure ,Judge Judy.

Literally all you need to do is dump a bottle of Italian Dressing on top of four frozen chicken breasts as you stagger out of the house in the morning, that’s it, really. One you get home slap those puppies on a medium high grill, six minutes each side. The only note I might make is that the individually packaged breasts seem to remain moist where those that are all jumbled and experiencing freezer burn get dried out. Delicious and quick, fastest meal ever. So on to the side dish…….to make it seem like you’re putting in the effort.

Corn on the cob, king of the side dishes, but we know we can do so much better. Elote is popular street food in Mexico, but way tastier than butter. You can either cook the corn on the grill or the old fashioned way in a boiling pot of water.

Combine the following in a small bowl:
3 Tablespoons fat free mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

In a separate bowl, combine these dry ingredients:
2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese
¼ Teaspoon Chili Powder
¼ Teaspoon Ground Red Pepper
1/8 Teaspoon Salt

Brush hot corn with mayonnaise mixture and sprinkle with cheese mixture and serve to the starving masses immediately. And just so you know…..Seth Aaron won Project Runway.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fancy Smanchy Salmon

As we approach springtime in Arizona we are entering the calm before the inferno. Grilling now is perfect as opposed to July when you can just throw the food on the sidewalk and it basically cooks itself. I feel like the first official recipe should be a little fancier then the basic in and out of the kitchen. It will however follow the basic rule of minimizing my time in the least favorite room in the house.

Salmon fillet, no skin or bones. Typically, I buy a piece from Costco which will feed 8 main courses.
Dijon Mustard
3 Tablespoons capers
16 ounces mushrooms, sliced and browned
1 can artichoke hearts quartered
1 ruby red grapefruit

Place the salmon on a large piece of aluminum foil big enough to enclose all the ingredients. Heavily smear the top of the fish with Dijon mustard. Sprinkle the capers, mushrooms and artichokes over the top. Squeeze the juice from the grapefruit over the assembled dish. Roll the ends of the foil and enclose the fish in an aluminum pouch.

The joy of this particular dish is that you can cook it on the grill or in the oven depending on the weather and the crowd. Set the grill to medium high or the oven to 375 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. The way to tell if it’s done is to stick a fork in it and twist it. If the fish turns easily, you are good to go. A great side is grilled asparagus, just coat with olive oil and grill for 3 to 5 minutes.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The First Supper

Why, even though we work all day we are faced with the age old question, “What’s for Dinner” when we walk in the door. I suppose since I have never changed a flat tire, my spousal unit considers turn about fair play. The difference being I’ve only had about 5 flats in my entire life and dinner is expected 365 days of the year. My goal is the same as many, to spend minimal time in the kitchen so I spend my time off enjoying my life with the Big Tuna (same significant other).

My mom ran a catering business on the side, but my family members relegate me to peeling potatoes and washing dishes since they deem themselves better around the stovetop then me. My friends however are the first to belly up to the table for seconds and proclaim they have never left our house wanting for more. I hope you find this blog helpful in pulling things together for a meal and make you a rock star with your family and friends without driving yourself over the cliff. The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the company and pour yourself a glass of wine before commencing. Let the games begin.