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!