So raise a glass of spite, boys!

As we all know, drinking yourself stupid is no way to honor St. Patrick. Also, it’s offensive to actual Irish people when Americans perpetuate the stereotype of heavy drinking as characteristic of this noble people who happen to be heavy drinkers.

And green beer is for losers. Do not drink green beer. Beer is not green, begorrah. Beer is not green.

Isn’t it time that we, as a sensitive and responsive people, find some way to recalibrate our alcohol consumption so that nobody’s widdle feelings get hurt? Begorrah?

Here’s what I propose: don’t drink because it’s St. Patrick’s Day. Drink despite St. Patrick’s day.  What, you don’t have any other reason to get a medium-sized load on, assuming you can find a glass that your lousy kids haven’t filled with sand and glue and left in the driveway?

1. Drink because it’s almost spring. Hooray, spring! Have a drink. What other reasons? Let’s see . . .

2. Even though you’re not Irish, your teeth are like that because of heredity, and you’re doomed to carry flossers around in your purse, to become intimately familiar with that faded oil painting of irises on the oral surgeon’s wall, and to occasionally experience the disquieting sensation of tiny shards of bone working their way through the wall of your gum. Yes, that would be pieces of your skull coming out of your mouth. That seems fine. Have a drink.  It’s a kind of oral care.

3. You keep finding what looks like a really perfect college for your kids, and then it keeps turning out they’re yet another one of those “please let us know if your roommate isn’t following the underwear folding guidelines. You know, for her soul” colleges. Bottoms up.

4. 43 years old; still don’t know how to use eyeliner. Glug glug.

5. They’re going to clone a T-rex, I guess. Honest to goodness, I feel like death by imprudently reconstituted savage dinosaur is the best kind of future we can hope for right now. Cheers!

6. I guess we’re still talking about thigh gap, still? (I unlinked the link because of bad effing language, but really, all you need to know is that they’re still talking about thigh gap, still.)

7. A Michigan candidate for US Senate has proposed arming homeless people with pump-action shotguns in an effort to reduce crime.

Maybe he’s making a statement? Or maybe he’s just a libertarian. O dinosaurs, do not delay.

8. Begorrah, I got up at 4 a.m. because my head was killing me, and then right before it was time to get up, I threw up for no reason. No, I’m not pregnant.  I just thought about what kind of day it was going to be, and throwing up felt right. And now I need to start boiling the traditional repulsive slab of red fat strings, in honor of St. Patrick. First person to play Clancy Brothers at me is going to get a wedge of hot cabbage served up in the worst way.

9. You know what, the Clancy Brothers deserve their own number. Those sweaters. Gevalt.

10. I don’t mean to be a hideous racist or whatever, but having married into a supremely Irish family, it occurs to me that doing something just to spite someone else, whether it’s drinking or not drinking or taking a breath, is probably the most Irish thing you can possibly do. Unless maybe it’s doing something you do enjoy doing, but pretending you don’t enjoy it and that you’re doing it just to spite someone else, because that’s not crazy at all, you crazy Irish person.

So I’ll leave you to sort that one out. I’ll be over by the bar, by which I mean the driveway, digging glue out of my glass. These fragments I have shored against my ruins. Shantih, shantih, shantih and have I mentioned, begorrah.

***
A version of this post originally ran at Aleteia, if you can believe it, in 2016.
Image: William Murphy via Flickr (Creative Commons)

What’s for supper? Vol. 80: We built this city on salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Another week of many toils, trials and snares! Happily, ground beef was on sale, which helped. Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips, sweet peppers and hummus

Boy, Saturday was a long time ago.

***

SUNDAY
Vermont turkey sandwiches

So good. You pile on sliced turkey (smoked if you got it), bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and slices of Granny Smith apple on ciabatta bread with honey mustard dressing and plenty of pepper. Really excellent combination of flavors and textures.

We also had potato salad, made by my 17-year-old. I am not sure which recipe she used — something basic, with mayo, vinegar, hard boiled eggs, and celery.

***

MONDAY
Pulled pork, french fries, cole slaw

For the pulled pork, I used a bottle of Blue Moon Beer and lots of salt and pepper with the pork butt in the slow cooker. I think this is my favorite beer so far for pulled pork. It has a nice malty, orangey flavor. Or whatever. It tastes different from Budweiser, okay?

I piled up my plate with skinny french fries, heaped the pulled pork on that, squirted on some bottled BBQ sauce, and added some dreadful yellow cheese sauce that I had heated in the microwave. Magnificent.

Here’s the cole slaw recipe we like. It’s a tiny bit runny, but so tart and bright-tasting, it makes a wonderful side dish for a heavy, savory main dish. I think I may chop the cabbage in little squares instead of shredding it, next time. Excitement.

***

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, cheez puffs, beans

I had Mr. Thirteen-year-old make supper. Okay, I told him to cook some hot dogs in a pan. I didn’t tell him when to stop cooking the hot dogs. They were . . . crunchy.

Our kitchen may not be fancy, but there is a window next to the stove. And that has made all the difference.

***

WEDNESDAY
Chicken thighs roasted with potatoes; steamed asparagus

This is a good meal to prep in the morning and throw in the oven in the evening.

I laid chicken thighs and drunksticks [ha, I mean “drumsticks,” but drunksticks sound like fun, don’t they? At least until the next morning] in a shallow pan, then put potato wedges, skin on, all along the edges and in between the chicken. Drizzle the whole thing with olive oil and sprinkle it with tons of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Put it in a 400 oven for maybe half an hour, then turn on the broiler to finish browning it at the end. So good and easy.

It turned out a little wetter than I would have liked, so I may use a slotted broiler pan next time to let it drain a bit.

Now that I’ve discovered roast asparagus, steamed is no longer my favorite; but the oven was occupied. Steaming is fine, as long as you take the asparagus out promptly, while it’s still a little crunchy. Little lemon juice and you’re all set.

***

THURSDAY
Meatball subs

I usually make meatballs with half a cup of breadcrumbs per pound of meat and some milk, but we hardly had any breadcrumbs. So I used rolled oats, with lots of trepidation.

I guess it was five pounds of ground beef, two pounds of ground turkey, about six cups of oats, seven eggs, and (following this week’s theme of exotic seasoning) tons of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I was in a huge rush, so no diced onions, parsley, fresh garlic, or anything. I forgot to add milk.

I make meatballs in a 350 oven, in pans with some drainage. They keep their shape, they’re not too greasy, and you can do it in all one batch.

I made probably eighty meatballs. They turned out great! Very light. I think I’ll use oats from now on. I thought the kids would be turned off if they could see the oats stuck in the meat, but after cooking, they looked no different from normal meatballs.

Yes, I realize I just implied that my kids are normal meatballs. I stand by that.

***

FRIDAY
Ricotta spinach pasta

Here’s a recipe from Budget Bytes that I haven’t tried in a while. I remember it being creamy, satisfying, and easy. I even sprung for actual fettucine, because the flat noodles pick up more creamy sauce than spaghetti does. I spent most of my life thinking that pasta came in different shapes just because Italians get bored easily, but there’s also some sheer physics involved.

***

And now a question for my educated readers. We’re having a birthday party on Saturday, and one of the guests has a dairy and gluten allergy. The kids have so many friends with allergies, I’m used to making safe cakes, but what can you suggest for snacks and candy? The theme is Harry Potter, if that helps.

What’s for supper? Vol. 67: Tiramiswho?

It’s a race against time as my battery dies, so never mind the intro, here’s the weekly menu:

SATURDAY
Nachos, root beer floats

Very basic. Tortilla chips, seasoned ground beef, cheese on top, served with sour cream and salsa. No complaints. Oh, I happened to have some cilantro, which I used copiously.

nachos-with-cilantro

I even took some off before taking the picture, because I’m not kidding about the copious, but then I put it on again before eating it. I try hard to taste cilantro as soapy, but it just tastes like freshness, hope, and summertime to me. You are all crazy and I refuse to affirm your stupid life experience.

SUNDAY
Antipasto, fettucine with ragu, garlic bread, tiramisu

Sunday was my husband’s birthday, and he wanted nothing more than to spend the day cooking, so I let him. I also let him take the kids sledding. My generosity is boundless.

The antipasto dish was nothing inspired, just some fresh mozzarella, dry salami, and olives and marinated artichoke hearts, served with pita chips.

The ragu, however, was completely amazing. He used two pounds of ground pork and one of beef, and by the time it was done cooking, the meat was velvety. You will read this recipe and think, “Well, this is just a meat sauce,” but it’s not. Try it, trust me. It’s heavenly.

ragu

 

You could almost feast on the smell alone, but then you also get to eat it! This picture is so sadly inadequate. The worst thing about winter is that by the time it’s dinner time, it’s too dark to take a decent picture with my rotten camera. YES, it’s the WORST THING.

Here is the tiramisu recipe he used. He made it the day before, so it soaked all night. Benny helped him by putting on a tutu and licking the beaters.

benny-licking-mixer

He also grated a chocolate bar over the top before serving.

tiramisu

The tiramisu was perfect. Never had better anywhere. I woke up in the middle of the night with a horrible stab of guilt because I forgot to put birthday candles on it, but I suspect I am the only one losing sleep over that.

MONDAY
Beef vegetable soup, beer bread

This was supposed to be beef barley soup, but I forgot to put barley in. It had a great flavor, but it was weird to have an obvious missing ingredient. It was like listening to someone with a not-unpleasant speech impediment. It doesn’t bother you, but it’s hard not to keep noticing it.

I fried up minced garlic with diced onions and carrots in a little olive oil, then added strips of a chuck roast or something, and fried that until it was almost done.
Then I added a can of diced tomatoes, a few cups of beef broth, a bunch of red wine, and a bunch of sliced mushrooms and some pepper, and let be cozy in the slow cooker all day.

We also had two loaves of beer bread, which I got my teenage daughter to make. For reasons I trust I don’t need to explain, we had some leftover chocolate bock (ptui, ptui) in the house. I mean that I trust I don’t need to explain the “leftover,” as in “undrunk,” as in “not ever,” as in “chocolate? Why would you do that to beer?” part. I can explain why it was in the house in the first place, but my battery is dying fast and I don’t have a charger today. So I’ll just give you the recipe and let you know that beer bread tastes fine with chocolate bock, and getting baked for an hour is a fitting sentence for the crime of being chocolate bock.

TUESDAY
Chicken nuggets, baked potatoes, peas

All undercooked! I like to have a theme.

WEDNESDAY
Slow cooker sweet and sour chicken mango wraps, rice

This was my new recipe for the week, from A Year of Slow Cooking. I liked it! I’m predisposed to like this website because she’s got several recipes tagged as “flops,” to warn you away from trying them. I appreciate that approach to cooking and to blogging.

I made one crock with just the jam and soy sauce, for very mild chicken for timid children, and one with all the stuff, jalapenos and ginger and everything. The flavor was great. I took a terrible picture which will probably dissuade you from trying it, but I recommend this dish.

chicken-mango-wrap

It would, as the website says, make a nice light summer meal. I also bought some spinach-imbued wraps for those who can’t see their way to clear to wrapping up meat in lettuce, and those were good, too.

THURSDAY
Quesadillas, chips, carrots

I had “grilled ham and cheese” on the menu, but I bought shredded cheese, apparently thinking of quesadillas, so that’s what we had, because there are always millions of tortillas in the house. Benny insisted on grilled ham. No cheese, just hot bread with ham in it.

FRIDAY
Giant pancake, scrambled eggs

 

BYE, WEEK. I HATED YOU.

And now I have a yen for some new kind of meat soup. Who’s got something exciting for me to try?

7 Quick Takes: In Poor Taste

Ha.

Never mind the talk about sex, gin, or condoms –  I really ruffled some feathers when I allowed my violent distaste for “The Little Drummer Boy” to spill over into the public realm.  Well, I stand by my words.  It’s just a dumb, dumb song, and I don’t like it.  Harumph all you want.

Okay, that was kind of a stretch.  My point is that, despite my entirely justifiable disdain, I can understand why you would like “The Little Drummer Boy.”  Not because there’s anything good about it (there’s not), or because there’s anything wrong with you (there is), but because personal taste is a strange and embarrassing phenomenon.  As my old college professor used to say, De gustibus non figureoutum est.

So, just to let you know that even a sneering elitist like myself has some chinks in my armor (although my heart of stone remains intact), I present:

Seven Examples of Simcha’s Execrable Taste

1.  Footprints in the sand.  Did you ever look back on your life and see the part that was all soggy?  That was me, weeping heartfelt tears over this unforgivable bit of religious schlock.  It doesn’t even actually make sense.  When you felt the worst, that was when God was carrying you?  Does He do that?  In my experience, it’s more like He says, “Go ahead and have a tantrum — see if I care!”   And the He stands back with his arms folded and watches me make a fool of myself, until I get so worked up that I fall down and hit my head on the coffee table.  Then He picks me up, checks my pupils to make sure I don’t have a concussion, and maybe puts on Shaun the Sheep for a while until I calm down.

Don’t ask me what the sand would look like at this point.

But yeah, “Footprints in the sand” kind of gets me.  Whatever.

2.  Billy Joel’s “Leningrad.”

It’s bad enough that it’s Billy Joel, but why “Leningrad?”  I hang my head in shame.

3.  SpaghettiOs.  Yes, I realize it’s basically extruded flour glue in warm ketchup.

 

Remember that movie Se7en where the guy makes the fat guy eat all those SpaghettiOs?  Hated the movie, but I would love to be that fat guy.  Except for when he gets killed.

4.  Plastic leaves.  We had a Greek myths birthday party in September, and I liked how the dining room looked with strings of plastic ivy tacked onto the wallpaper, so I left them up.  They’re from Dollar Tree, and now my house looks like Dollar Tree.  It’s my house, and that’s how I like it.

5.  Gold or silver spray paint.  IT MAKES EVERYTHING LOOK FANCIER, and you can’t tell me otherwise.  So if you get something like this from me for Christmas

it’s not ironic hipster kitsch.  I just thought it was purty.  Don’t you like pretty things?  What are you, some kind of monster?

6.  Nic Cage.

 

Not because of his puppy dog eyes or his upsetting hair, the shredded wheat-like likes of which have not been seen since Gene Wilder in his heyday

 

– but because of a kind of a funny story.  You see, about ten years into my marriage, my husband rented a movie with Nicholas Cage in it.  I forget what it was, but it sure stunk, as Nicholas Cage movies are wont to do (yes, Bad Lieutenant was mesmerizing.  The Rock was fun. Raising Arizona was amusing, though overrated — but let’s face it, he’s only still around for the same reason as you keep that horrible old tippy coffee table:  because it more or less does the job, and you just don’t have the time right now to go out and get a replacement.  Nicholas Cage:  go ahead and put a wet glass on him.)

Oh, I think the movie was Ghost Rider!  Anyway, we just couldn’t watch it.  And we are people who watched Zardoz all the way through.  We watched Thunderball all the way through.  We watched Yentl, for pete’s sake.  Anyway, it developed that my husband had chosen Ghost Rider because he thought I had some particular affection for Nicholas Cage (which I don’t); and I watched it because I thought he wanted to watch it (which he didn’t).  Very Gift of the Magi, isn’t it?

So that’s why I like Nicholas Cage.

7.  Budweiser.

 

I like how it tastes.  So sue me.

And then head over to Conversion Diary, where Jen Fulwiler is hosting 7 Quick Takes.  I can almost guarantee you that nobody else’s list will force you to think about Nicholas Cage’s hair.  Although Advent is a penitential season.

7 Silly Things that Make Me Laugh

–1–

Store brand cereal names.   When I was little, manufacturers of generic food didn’t bother trying to snare the thrifty shopper by putting grinning strawberries or wacky breakfast raccoons on the box — it was just a white box with black letters, stating the legal nomenclature of the grain product you were about to consume.

Today, however, they try and make it sound like it’s some kind of close cousin to the Real Thing, without infringing on any copyrights. Some of them just try to sound like the brand name, like Tasteeo-s instead of Cheerios.  Then some of them are just kind of disconcertingly descriptive:   Crispy Hexagons, Corn Spheres.  But some of them . . . some of them are just a cereal mystery, and they make me laugh.  And the greatest of these is Confruity Crisp.

–2–

Renita Jablonski from the radio show Marketplace.  I realize this makes me an eleven-year-old boy, but ever time I hear her name, my brain giggles like Beavis and Butthead.  See, cuz, it kinda sounds like Heywood . . . oh, never mind.

–3–

My three-year-old daughter says “who” when she means “what.”  I occasionally correct her, but it’s just too much fun to see her come into the kitchen, wrinkle her nose and say, “Who’s that smell?”  It’s your supper, that’s who.

–4–

The Howard Dean scream.  It just never gets old.

–5–

Sometimes, when my husband is changing a diaper, he puts the clean diaper on his head, and then pretends he can’t find it. Gets me every time.

–6–

That scene in 30 Rock where all the guys are sleeping on the couches, and one of them takes a bite of his sandwich in his sleep.  I can’t believe they’re still making that show!  It’s so funny, it should have been canceled by now (we’re up to season 4 on Netflix).

–7–

Well, in keeping with the way things have been going around here lately, I hate this post and couldn’t finish it, but couldn’t do anything else until it was done.  I guess I should be grateful to have six things that make me laugh, but instead I was just hung up on how bummed I was that I put my beer on the back of the couch for a second, only to discover that the back of the couch wasn’t up against the wall after all, and so that was the end of my beer.  I hate that couch so much, I’m glad it got beer spilled all down the back and on its stupid confruity little skirt ruffle; but still, I had to clean up the beer.  It was a Corona, too!  Oh, anyway, so while I was looking for a towel, my husband said that fart jokes always make me laugh.  I don’t think this is strictly true, but on the other hand, we’ve been together for a while now, so I guess he would know.

Okay, okay, wait.  It does make me laugh when someone says “poot” instead of “fart.”  Poot!  That’s not even a word.

Oh, boy.  Well, check out our lovely hostess Jen Fulwiler of Conversion Diary for Seven Quick Takes, and find out how the normals are doing it.