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 jalapeƱos
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.