This week, I’m driving up and down, up and down the same twenty-mile strip of road every day. I was getting terribly bored, even though the car is stocked with a CD flip folder of the complete works of Pavement (I dunno).
This week, I’m driving up and down, up and down the same twenty-mile strip of road every day. I was getting terribly bored, even though the car is stocked with a CD flip folder of the complete works of Pavement (I dunno).
. . . because I can’t bring myself to call them “hacks.” When my Brooklyn grandmother’s health started to fail and she moved in with us in the early ’80’s, she set up a little gauzy, plasticky apartment upstairs and installed the first TV we ever had. She liked watching Benny Hill, and also football, because of the tight, shiny pants. But she would also watch professional hockey. Every time one of the players bumped into each other, she would shout, “HOCK!”
I was thinking of her as I filled out a genetic questionnaire in which I just basically wrote CANCERCANCERCANCER in big letters over the whole thing and then whispered “also crazy.” But I’m not feeling discouraged. I’m the kind of person who gets things done! So I present to you my Tuesday list of very helpful life HOCKS.
Extra life hock: It’s probably just an apple core. Probably not an opossum.
Extra extra life hock: When someone pees on the couch, take the cover off the cushion. This is what Martha Stewart does, and she’s a felon. HOCK!
2. Fix your fan with this simple forking trick.
Say, bunky. Do you have weirdly-designed bedroom with strange little miniature windows where no air gets in? Do your children further stifle air flow by filling their entire living space with mountains of garbage? Do you feel bad for them anyway, because even bad children shouldn’t sweat themselves to death every night? So do you offer them your fan, which is the last surviving fan in the house, even though you bought eleven fans last summer? And did you then find out that the fan makes a horrible clattering, chattering sound when you plug it in, because the little jerks have been standing on it (presumably to help them reach the top of their garbage pile to put more garbage on), and now the fan blades scrape the plastic guard as they spin?
Simply take a fork, bend, and insert it as shown. Plug it in and enjoy the sweet, sweet garbage breeze for us, God’s garbage people. HOCK!
3. Add the library’s address to your Amazon account. That way, when you lose that great literary work A Merry Shopkins Christmas and they suspended your library card again, you can easily and efficiently send a replacement book on its way without having to look anyone in the faceballs.
Just remember to put on your Amazon shopping bra first.
It doesn’t get any more easy and efficient than that! Except for maybe not always losing the– NO, I said it doesn’t get anymore easy and efficient than that. HOCK!
4. Need to potty train a toddler, but she has pop rocks in her brain and you just can’t face it?
Find yourself a teenager and pay her to do it! No kidding. A big bag of candy, a $20 bill, and a package of MLP panties as an end prize, and when someone pees on the couch, just shout “MARTHA STEWART” and someone has to go wash the cover for you. HOCK HOCK HOCK HOCK HOCK!
The only trick is, you need to start planning this hock 19 years previously. You know what to do. Or if you don’t, go watch some Benny Hill.
Something something food something! Ho ho, Sam Sifton, aioli. Remoulade, cabanas with that wonderful old-fashioned smell of hot canvas, and gin rummy. At any rate, then we all popped over to Sonya Yoncheva’s flat, where the most amusing thing happened with some lobster knuckles, ho ho ho. Then here’s what we had the rest of the week:
We normally have these sandwiches on sourdough bread, but Aldi had this ludicrously big loaves on sale. I forget what it’s called — something Italian — but those were some hearty sandwiches, let me tell you. For size reference, this is a twelve-inch pan they’re cooking in:
Nice summer meal, yum.
If you don’t know the trick of skimming a little mayo on the outside of your grilled cheese before frying it in butter, you should. It’s a good trick.
We usually have a huge family reunion party on July 4th, but too many people couldn’t make it, so we rescheduled for the 8th — and then a bunch of people got sick and couldn’t make it. So we had the party anyway, with a small but cheerful group, and we’re shooting for Memorial Day to get the band back together.
We had burgers and hot dogs and chicken, chips, watermelon, potato salad, ice cream, and cookies, with sparklers, fireworks, and the Declaration of Independence. Three cheers!
I didn’t even know there was such a thing as supper at 5, but by 5:45, we had oven roasted pork ribs, white rice, and raw string beans. Pork ribs with salt and pepper in a pan with drainage, slide under a hot broiler for maybe 8 minutes, turning once. Rice using the 1:1 method in the Instant Pot. String beans thrust at unwilling children for stem removal, standards lowered as necessary. Boom, dinner. I had mine with gochujang sauce to make it even more boom.
I had a recipe, but I didn’t like the looks of it, so I invented something brand new not to like. The recipe called for greens and cooked chicken, fresh apricots, celery, blue cheese, and some kind of peculiar buttermilk dressing. We all agree that buttermilk is problematic, because we’ve all read Charlotte’s Web and now expect buttermilk to taste like ambrosia, rather than bad milk, and it never does. (We also have some inappropriate notions about potato peels and old cabbage cores, but never mind.) So I skipped the dressing, and happened upon some white balsamic peach vinaigrette dressing at Aldi, which, it turns out, is only offered for a short time for a reason, the reason being that it is yucky.
Well, apricots aren’t quite in season yet, it turns out, so I bought dried apricots. Just like you can substitute raisins for grapes, okay? It’s the same thing!
So, the salad was okay. We ate it. I could redo it when apricots are in season, I guess, but I think we’ll just move along [shakes fist at passing spider].
For our child-led dinner series (which I say because I’ve forgotten how to talk), Irene chose pizza. So, you know how some parents watch their children get all upset and stressed out while trying to accomplish something tricky, and they respond to that stressed-out child by shouting, “Calm down! Just take it easy, okay? Calm down!” and you know how that’s not helpful at all?
Well, you go ahead and watch the world’s least chill 9-year-old attempt to stretch somewhat cold pizza dough over five extra large pans, and see what happens when she gets a hole in the dough and it’s the ennnnnnnnnd of the world. You see what comes out of your mouth!
Anyway, she actually did very well. We all did very well. Yes. [shakes fist at passing spider]
We just had carnitas last week, but I wanted to try some new toppings for it. I had big plans, but ended up settling for just one new thing: salsa verde. Oh my stars, this was a good choice.
I took about fifteen tomatillos and unwrapped them, and put them on a pan with three medium jalapenos, a quartered onion, and about ten cloves of garlic. I roasted them for a few minutes until they were a little charred.
Look how dramatic the onions got!
Then I cut the stems off the jalapenos (I left all the seeds in), pulled the wrappers off the garlic cloves, and trimmed the ends off the onions, and shoved everything in the food processor with a big handful of cilantro and about 3/4 tsp of sugar. I blended it until it was pulpy.
Then I heated up a frying pan with a little olive oil and put the salsa mixture in, and heated it, stirring, until it was a bit thickened. Then I added about 3/4 cup of chicken broth and about 1/4 cup of lime juice; then I let it simmer for another 15 minutes until a lot of the liquid was absorbed.
I will admit that I have only tasted salsa verde once before in my life, but I do believe this is how it’s supposed to taste. Sweet and hot and greeeeen. So very nice.
It was a wonderful accompaniment to the pork, which I made in the slow cooker with a can of beer and two cans of diced tomatoes with chiles. When the meat was tender, I trimmed off the considerable fat, shredded it, and spread it in a shallow pan to be browned up under the broiler.
The meat came out a bit bland, but the salsa verde more than made up for it. I had my carnitas with salsa verde, sour cream, raw red onions sliced thin, and a little fresh lime juice. More fresh cilantro would have been nice.
Oh, we had a birthday in there, too. Sonny wanted to go have pizza with his friends and then sleep in the yard in a tent, so my main contribution was this . . . thing.
Look, he wanted a cake with a bearded dragon wearing a top hat, and that’s what he got. In real life, bearded dragons are even stupider-looking. [shakes fist at passing spider]
I understand the idea of incrementalism. I understand accepting people where they are, accompanying them, and praying with them as they gradually become more open to the fullness of the truth, whether they’re deeply invested in a homosexual relationship or deeply invested in a contraceptive relationship. You can’t accompany someone unless they decide walk through the door, so you want that door to look as welcoming as possible. Plant flowers. Put a fresh coat of paint. Hang a rainbow flag. It is our job to be loving first, so as to make it possible for people to receive the law and then identify it as the same thing as love. I understand this.
But where do we draw the line between accompaniment and bait and switch?
There is nothing I like better to read than plans, tips, and strategies for keeping the house clean and orderly. A large household in a relatively small living space quickly degenerates into chaos and disorder without constant vigilance and persistent rectification of why is this sticky. Can I not just once in my life sit down without getting all sticky.
So that’s why I like to sit there with my feet up, reading about how to clean.
I especially like the schedules that tell you exactly what to do, how often. You’ve seen these: mop up spills immediately, tidy living areas daily, deep-clean bathrooms weekly, scrub baseboards monthly, douse upholstery with kerosene, strike a match, and delight in the glorious inferno of the final answer to domesticity quarterly. I mean, “never.” Never even think of that. What is the matter with you?
The one thing I haven’t found anywhere is a guide for what kind of cleaning to do depending on what kind of guest you’re expecting. It does make a difference, n’est-ce pas, you animal? From my Tohu wa-bohu to yours:
Female guests age 11 and up: Scrub shower curtain, because women are insane and are going to judge you on your shower curtain, even if they aren’t taking a shower. Decades from now, the master of ceremonies at your funeral is going to ask, “Does anyone have a memory to share of our extraordinary friend Simcha, who lived to be 106 years old, won the Nobel Peace Prize twice, and figured out how to desalinate ocean water with a simple wooden spool and a paper clip?” and that woman who stopped by to pick up a free typewriter you listed on Craigslist, and who asked if she could use your bathroom, will stand up and she will say, “Her shower curtain had mildew.”
Did you know you can just put the whole shower curtain in the washing machine? Don’t actually run the machine with a shower curtain in it, stupid; you’ll tear it to shreds. I’m just saying, you can put it in there.
Nice French Canadian ladies named Enid and Célestin who are bringing over a casserole because you just had a baby: Just have the baby waiting by the door. They are there for the baby, and the casserole is their ticket inside. If you want to make them extra happy, hang up some gooey picture of Our Lady of Maybelline. Note: Do not let them leave with the baby. Check their bags. Nice try, Célestin.
Any kids age 7 and under; and boys age 12 and under: Just clear a pathway, practice those breathing exercises for when they start tracking unspeakable things through the hallway, and make sure at least one toilet works and/or you know where the shovel is.
Priest in the house: Buy extra beer and extra meat, and crate the dog. Other than that, do nothing. He really needs to know what goes on.
Husband’s work friend: Meet him in the driveway and shunt him directly into the backyard where the beer is. He definitely doesn’t need to know what goes on.
College friends who always thought you were fairly dim, because you fairly were: Upgrade bathroom reading material. Aim for Lexile score of 1400 or higher. National Geographic is acceptable, as long as it’s not too wet and nobody has written “ha ha boobie” on the African parts. If you went liberal arts, poetry anthologies are a solid choice. No Magic Tree House or Animorphs. They wouldn’t understand.
Anybody: No NFP charts on the fridge. Come on. And yes, everybody knows what “I” or “*” or “:)” or “ha cha cha” notations mean, especially if they’re clustered around the end of the month. No visible cups of pee, even if there is a good and holy reason for having cups of pee hanging around. No boxes of test strips that say “HELPS YOU GET SUPER EXTRA PREGNANT MUCH MUCH FASTER!” Even people who love you, love your kids, and are totally on board with the whole “culture of life” thing are going to stand there, transfixed, their eyes darting back and forth between the forty-six toothbrushes you somehow have, and the toilet paper you’re forced to buy in bulk sizes that would shame an army barracks, and those words “PREGNANT FASTER,” and they’re going to think, “I need to leave before these people try to hide a spare baby in my purse.”
Hey, come on back. There’s plenty of beer in the back yard.
Busy busy! Tomorrow at 1:30 eastern, I’ll be on America This Week (Sirius XM Catholic Channel) talking with Fr. Paddy Gilger, Fr. Eric Sundrup and America Senior Editor J.D. Long-Garcia about my July cover article, How the church can help (or hurt) women in abusive marriages.
What priests say to women in abusive relationships can be life-changing.
Many women in abusive marriages struggle to share their experiences with anyone. Women of faith turn to priests who often do not know how to advise them. What options are left for women in these situations? How can the church be more helpful?
In this week’s Behind the Story, Senior Editor J.D. Long-García speaks with Simcha Fisher, author of “How the church can help (or hurt) women in abusive marriages,” from our July 9th issue. They’ll be happy to address your questions during the conversation. Please comment below, send us a Direct Message or if you’d rather remain anonymous, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
No one wants to admit they are in an abusive marriage, but there are options available for those who are ready.
Thursday at 12:30 eastern, I’ll be on Facebook Live to discuss the topic again, and you can participate in this chat by commenting on this Facebook thread or emailing email@example.com. You can click on the link to get a reminder for the live chat.
Finally, I’ll be at the Year of the Family Conference in Burlington, VT, on August 25. I’ll be giving the afternoon keynote address: The Family as Icon, and also an interactive breakout session: Supporting couples who use NFP: How to help, and what to avoid. The breakout session is intended for those directly involved in teaching and supporting the use of NFP. There are ten breakout sessions, and attendees may choose two. Register here ($30).
My kids have been busy, too. Here is what they did yesterday. My only contribution was to say, “No, you may not use caramel sauce and red food coloring for blood.”
You may imagine it’s a stern and solemn doctrinal harangue, fusty with misogyny, larded with theological jargon, cluttered with impractical, abstract ideals. In short, something you’d write if you’ve never had sex and have no idea what marriage is really like.
But Humanae Vitae is not like that.
Humanae Vitae, which is Latin for “On Human Life,” doesn’t bring the authoritarian fist of the Church crashing down on individual, authentic human lives. Instead, it invites us to recall two things . . .
This week’s menu is brought to you by inappropriate guilt. Actual temperature: 96 degrees with 94% humidity. Real feel: I’m a failure as a human being because I turned on the air conditioner.
Here’s what we ate this week:
Can you imagine a world without hamburgers? I can’t.
I took a nice, fatty pork shoulder and put it in the crock pot (actually two crock pots) with some Narragansett bear and some cans of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and then we went to the beach. Several hours later, the meat was nice and tender.
I pulled off the fat, shredded it, and spread it in a shallow pan along with most of the peppers, and put it under the broiler for a few minutes until it was slightly browned and crisp.
Then we served it on tortillas with fresh lime juice, pepper jack cheese, and sour cream.
I was very happy with the flavor of the meat. Some parts of it soaked up more heat than others, so it was exciting to eat. I’m now motivated to start adding more things to these lovely carnitas. What do you like on yours? Beans? Rice? Lettuce or something? Help the yankee out.
Dessert was supposed to be fruit cobbler or crisp, but it was so dangedly hot, I couldn’t bring myself to turn on the oven; so we just had strawberries and blueberries with fresh whipped cream. No complaints.
A new meal, a new meal! Refreshing but substantial, and the flavors combined much better than I expected.
It was again far too hot and steamy to even look at the oven, so I cooked the chicken breasts in the Instant Pot with about 3/4 cup of lime juice and a heavy sprinkling of chili lime powder. I set it to manual for seven minutes, did a quick release, then let the chicken cool and cut it into cubes.
So we had mixed greens, chicken, tangerine segments, feta cheese, toasted almonds, diced red onion, and very thin cucumber slices.
(Okay, I turned on the oven for eight minutes to toast the almonds.) Someone has stolen the post thingy for my food processor, but it turns out you can slice cukes pretty easily on the wide part of a manual grater. I meant to make a honey lime dressing, but couldn’t find the honey; so I just squeezed fresh lime juice onto my salad, and it was very good.
Next time I make this salad, I will try grapefruit. I looked up directions for peeling the tangerines so they don’t have a membrane, but I honestly don’t own a sharp enough knife, and also am not raising any kids who refuse to eat membranes. Harumph!
It was Lucy’s turn to plan and make dinner. Normally BLTs is a birthday-level treat meal, but I’m trying not to quash anybody, so I agreed to her plan and bought five pounds of bacon. She laid them out in two giant pans and put them in a 400 oven for about twelve minutes. They were overlapping each other a bit, and some came out overdone and some underdone, but most if it turned out well and it was SO much easier than frying it in a pan.
My father used to have a BLT for lunch every day. When noon approached, my mother would set a place for him at the old maple kitchen table we inherited from my grandmother. I remember hearing the tea kettle start to sing as the bacon hissed and popped in the old iron frying pan, and my mother would slice off a wedge of lemon for my father’s tea. She’d slit the center of the wedge to make it easier to squeeze, and deftly flick the seeds out into the sink with the tip of a knife. Then my father would arrive, and he’d have a quiet, leisurely meal while reading the daily paper before heading back to work for the afternoon.
From my mother’s example, I learned that when you grow up, people will make you BLTs. And here I am!
Normally, we have a giant family cookout and firework extravaganza for our giant family on the 4th of July, but several people couldn’t make it, so we moved the party to the weekend. Seeing as the country really needs more of an intervention than a birthday party, I’m okay with missing the 4th. Boo.
We ate our hotdogs and drove to the beach in the next town, where the local boating club generously hosts a firework show over the lake from a raft. Smiling old men hand out sparklers to the children as the sun sinks below the water, the rich and the poor mingle in peace, and it’s a lovely time.
Except I guess they got sick of the riffraff this year, and we had to go sit in a cemetery across the street. Oh well! Fireworks is fireworks. Corrie booed, because she is a terrible person. Who boos fireworks? Boooo!
I planned this one actual-cooking meal for the end of the week, knowing it would be cooler. Well, it wasn’t all that freaking cool. And we were out of garlic, of all things. And half the chicken had gone bad! Boooooooo!
Still, it’s a good recipe, a true one-pan recipe, and pretty simple. You make a simple sauce, cut up potatoes and broccoli, put the potatoes and chicken in a pan, spread sauce on the chicken, cook for a while, and then add broccoli toward the end.
It’s a sweet, pleasant sauce, and tastes wonderful with the broccoli. A fine dish if you’re not dripping with sweat and angry about rotten chicken and lost garlic. I really can’t fault Damn Delicious for any of that. The recipe actually calls for chicken breast, but thighs with skin are much better.
Guess what? It finally rained, and then it went right back to being horribly hot and muggy again. I reserve the right to be cranky, eat too much sour cream, boo fireworks, or whatever works. Boooooooooooooooooooooo!
So if you hear someone telling you that a liberal arts education is a luxury in which only the independently wealthy should indulge, I’ll agree . . . if you mean the kind of education that makes you think of your own brain as an exquisite platter of pâté, to be passed around at parties and admired for its velvety richness. Don’t get that kind of education, no matter how much money you have. The world needs exactly zero of that.
But if you mean the kind of education that gives you the unshakable idea that life is interesting, worth thinking about, worth talking about…
NFP Awareness Week is coming up, tra la la. Here on my blog, I like to go beyond awareness to doingsomethingaboutitness when possible. I don’t have money, but I do have this platform, and I know I have some very generous readers. And I love Marquette NFP.
So, who’s in to sponsor a Clearblue Fertility Monitor to be given away, preferably to couples who can’t afford to buy one?
Monitors are currently about $110 on Amazon. If you or your organization would like to sponsor a monitor to give away, I’ll give you a day of space here on my blog to promote your organization, company, charity, or to honor someone, or whatever you like, with text and two images during the week starting July 22.
I’ll share the post with your content twice on my personal Facebook page and twice on my professional Facebook page, twice on Twitter and once on Google+ and once on Tumblr; and I’ll give extra raffle entries to readers who share on social media.
I reserve the right to refuse any sponsor who wants to promote something I consider inappropriate!
Getting a monitor made a huge difference in our experience of NFP. HUGE. (Exhibit A: Corrie is almost three-and-a-half, and she is still our youngest.) We found the method easier (after a rather steep learning curve), more objective, less labor intensive, and it gave us more predictable results and more available days; and, for whatever reason, the culture around Marquette seems less cluttered with weird attitudes toward women and sex. I wish we had started on Marquette years ago, but we simply didn’t have the money.
If you want to be a superstar, you could sponsor a monitor and a box of 30 test strips, which can last a woman in regular cycles three months or more.
Interested? I love you! Contact me at simchafisher at gmail dot com with “I’d like to sponsor a monitor” in the subject heading, and we’ll get started.