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Archive for the ‘My Family’ Category

Saucy

I love bolognese. It’s a little bit of an obsession of mine, in all it’s various iterations. I love that it’s soft and voluptuous when cooked for a long time, and that it’s not tomatoey but deeply meaty. I just want to stick my face in the bowl and breathe in the perfume. It’s like a narcotic.

bolognese 1

You know you want to sniff me.

I had the grandparents over for dinner tonight, and I tried to entice my grandfather into eating by making this delicious sauce. It worked; he ate a moderate amount (when someone is sick from chemo “moderate” is like a feast!). My gramps is a sick little puppy, I feel so bad for him. My way of cheering him up involves pasta and a chocolate malted pie. Upon his first bite of pie he looked at me and said- I shit you not- “Woooo!” YES.

Bolognese Sauce
Serves 6 as primi

3 TSP olive oil
3 TSP unsalted butter
Sofrito (2 parts onion, 1 part carrot, 1 part celery), diced
1/4 lb. bacon, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 # ground pork
1 # ground chuck or similar (or veal if you can get your little paws on it)
4 oz. tomato paste
2 cups dry white wine
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
pepperoncini to taste
OPTIONAL: 28 oz. can whole San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed
1 lb. rigatoni or any tubular rigata pasta
Chopped parsley or basil to garnish
Parmeggiano to serve

Saute sofrito in olive oil and butter with salt until softened. Fry the bacon until it renders then add the ground meat and break it up with a potato masher or fork as it browns. Add the garlic, saute for 1 minute; add the tomato paste and let caramelize. Add the wine and milk, marjoram and seasonings. Bring to a simmer. If you want a redder sauce, add the crushed tomatoes now. Simmer for at least three hours and toss two-three cups of sauce with one pound of rigatoni (pasta should be dressed but not too wet). There will be plenty of sauce leftover. Serve with chopped herbs and cheese.

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Sunday afternoon Snackle

Ice cream sundae c ganache

Snackle: that’s what my grandmother called the little treats she gave to me in the afternoon lull between lunch and dinner. Sometimes it was a piece of ham or chicken leftover from the huge Sunday lunches she created seemingly instantly after church, but often times it was a root beer float or ice cream sundae topped with homemade fudge. I miss her snackles, but made one for myself this afternoon: rich vanilla bean ice cream covered with dark, delicious ganache. Pockets of hot fudge and areas of solid ganache: sinful on a Sunday!

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Sad news

Day was a hard day.  Had the grandparents and great grandma over for dinner and what we thought was going to be a long weekend (their power had been out all day). Grandpa gave us the news this evening that his cancer has returned. Three years ago he had his kidney removed because of cancer. Ever since then his health has been getting worse and worse. I am afraid that this will be the last Christmas I have with him. I am really close to my grandparents; we eat dinner together at least once a week. Obviously I’m devastated that the one man in my life that has always been there for me is really ill. I just don’t know what to do but cry.

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Had the family over for Thanksgiving. Well, about half my family- my cousin Brad and his brigade of crotchfruit had dinner with my aunt and uncle. Rather glad about that, to be honest. For some reason, my aunt has taken to toting her dog, Toby, around like a football. I think it’s her version of a safety blanket. This dog is rather rowdy and combined with Brad’s brats chaos obviously ensues. This past June I had a family barbecue, partly to hostess the innumerous June birthdays and partly to inaugurate my new grill. I would say it was mostly a success, except for the tray of margarita glasses that I dropped after tripping over Toby. Brad’s children, in the face of a patio full of sparkling broken glass, gurgled with glee and ran for the shiny objects. It’s very hard physically restraining four children.

Now I have my nephew, Alex, staying with me for the next two days. He’s 18 mos. and he genuinely understands what you’re saying, tilting his head and listening inquisitively. He was trying to put his shoe on the wrong foot this afternoon, and after I explained “no, it fits on this foot” and tapping the right foot, he changed feet and wrangled the shoe on. I am convinced he is a genius and am attempting to teach him Vescere bracis meis (Latin for “Eat my shorts”) before he is returned to his parents. I worry about him. They feed him junk and they listen to Kid Rock. Ugh. I made a Debussy reference at dinner and they just blinked at me.

I wouldn’t be surprised if my brother came to pick Alex up in a white Ford350 with those gigantic tires that come up to my shoulder and a decal in large serif font flourishing the eponymous “Hillbilly De-Lux” on the rear windscreen. I get the feeling sometimes that if Alex were my kid he’d love brussels sprouts, philanthropy, wire-rimmed glasses and would read Tolkien as a six year old, but if he stays with Sean and Danielle he’ll be picking his nose in high school and hold books upside down because he doesn’t know “what those funny shapes mean.” Sometimes I look into his big brown eyes and I see “HALP” written in their inky depths. That’s when I hand him my TI-83 calculator and speak to him in Esperanto for fourty-five minutes. It’s like fiscal offsetting.

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My Own Pity Party

I ended up with an A in Anatomy and a B in Chemistry. I was 29 points (3% of the total 1000 pts.) away from an A in Chem. I’m happy with a B, I guess. Not really. But, I am NOT taking that class again, so I need to accept that I didn’t get an A. I’ll be OK with it when I get accepted into the Nursing program.

I’m on Christmas break right now, and I’m feeling pretty low. It’s New Years’ Eve, and I don’t have any plans. I have to work a nine hour shift Jan. 1st at 8 AM, so I can’t really make any plans, other than see Sweeney Todd in the afternoon. Work has been scheduling me like crazy these past few weeks. I really, really hate working there. I have got to get a new job. Working retail makes me hate Christmas.

I went to New Orleans last week. It was kind of disappointing. I had some good meals- Cochon, Irene’s, Dante’s Kitchen, Elizabeth’s- and had some great experiences- caroling in Jackson Square, walking six miles in the cool sunshine, taking the Canal St. ferry to Algiers- but it wasn’t as great as I thought it was going to be. The public transportation sucks. On Magazine St., where you really need frequent bus service to make shopping much less of a pain in the ass, the bus came twice an hour. We kept missing it and having to wait. and wait. and wait.  And the shopping was just OK. Lots of closed businesses and knick knack shops. Our last day it rained really hard and we had the WORST meal of our life at a Brennan’s chain restaurant. It’s the first thing I think of when I think of New Orleans- that shitty meal. C’est la vie.

After we returned from NOLA, I got the stomach flu. I cannot remember vomiting so much in one day. It was like clockwork- every 45 minutes I barfed every ounce of fluids I could. I was really dehydrated afterwards and got really dizzy and faint the next day. My mouth felt like a cotton ball and I didn’t pee for 18 hours.  I’m feeling pretty much back to normal now, but I’ve been ill since the 21st.

I’ve been feeling sorry for myself lately. M. bought a lot of gifts for S. and D. and only three for me. After I opened my gifts and she was in the shower, I went upstairs and cried on my bed. When I woke up on Christmas morning, the tree was surrounded by piles and piles of gifts- I was so excited- which are for me?? I had spend two hundred dollars on M.- diamond earrings, a robe and slippers, a CD, Starbucks mug and coffee- and all the gifts were for S and D and their baby. I felt so sorry for myself- to me, M has always favored S and now that he is married it’s like she wants D to love her more than her real mother. Like D is a replacement daughter. But S and D are selfish and aren’t appreciative of all the gifts M gives them- all they got her was  small picture of the baby with Santa in a cheap drugstore frame. A $5 gift. M spent $600 on them- a digital camera, six outfits for the baby, a leather wallet for S, clothing for D, etc. etc. M cannot see that S and D don’t care about her and they care about is material things. They are users, consumers. I think M wants so badly for S to love her that she’s willing to spend any amount of money to get his love. I guess until she realizes that there is nothing I can do.  It’s none of my business. It still hurts my feelings that she’ll never go to that length for me.

It is this time of year that makes me aware of how different I am from other people in my family and people in general. I’m the only grandchild who is unmarried (or divorced, at least) and no kids of my own.  No husband or boyfriend. No real close friends. Even E I haven’t talked to in two weeks. I feel really alone right now. Not really because I’m unattached, but that I miss having friends. I feel like I alienate people with my jaded attitude- I can’t be very much fun to be around judging people all the time. I don’t really like who I’ve become- sour and unfriendly. My coworkers don’t include me in anything, for a variety of reasons. I just don’t fit in. I thought this feeling wore off in high school, but it doesn’t.

I think part of my problem is that I am hyper self-aware. I need to be more self-absorbed,  do things because I want to, not to please others (like the waitress, sales associate, etc.). That is the different between happy people and me- they blissfully follow their desires while I painfully stand around trying not to get in the way. Maybe I should stop giving a shit if the waitress feels like I respected her enough- just enough the meal! Sometimes I’m so aware of the people around me and the service I can’t enjoy eating out or conversate. If I was more self-absorbed I’d be so self-involved I wouldn’t even notice, and I’d be really happy.

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I turn 25 tomorrow (10 October). Here are a few things I’d like to avoid in the next 365 days:

1. Making Thanksgiving dinner for my family. Last year I spent $$$ on a hand-selected cheese table that I researched for months and in two instances had special ordered (“That ash-rubbed, cave-aged goat’s cheese from the south of France sure doesn’t taste like Kraft!!”), a case of Beaujolais Nouveau I schlepped home AT MIDNIGHT on Thanksgiving morning after harassing my local sommelier to hand it over, and rolled wee little truffles for two hours just so my pinheaded uncle could complain that they’re too CHOCOLATE-Y and he wuzn’t eating any! Oh, and BTW, fuck you, Aunt K who exclaimed in horror to her husband that I had no DIET COKE and that she couldn’t drink wine with her meal, it’d taste funny! I have no idea who’s hosting Thanksgiving this year, but it sure as hell isn’t me.

2. The subject of travel, Texas, tooth repair, great deals at Big Lots, what I could’ve done with that old hand towel, or garage sales with my grandparents. I know, Grandpa, that I’ve been to New Orleans before, and yes, it would be like seeing a movie twice, but I’m still going. As much as I’d love to agree that a $3 house tour in Galveston, TX would be so much better and culturally-enriching that revisiting a centuries-old, beloved city, but I’m going to have to pass. And I’m sure that the river canal in San Antonio is just like the ones in Venice. And yes, if ever I need dentures, I’ll be sure to look into permanent tooth caps from your 85 year old dentist. And damn, if only you knew that I was in the market for an oil-heater from 1978, you could’ve bought one for me- like new!– at that fantastic garage sale just down the street for $3. No, no, no, no, and no.

3. Errand running with my mother. This is a periennial mistake of mine. My mother cannot a.) leave the house before 1 PM, and b.) go anywhere and be back in less than 3 hours. My mom gets up at 8:30 every morning, drinks her coffee, gets in the shower, and proceeds to watch 4 hours of daytime TV. The Today Show, The View, Regis and Kelly- all of them, she watches. She even TiVo’s Martha so she can watch it in the afternoon. It drives me crazy. For example, today I didn’t have class because I’m on fall recess. I get up and fart around, get in the shower and start to get ready. I tell her that I’m going to the pet store to get some dog clippers. My mom leans over the computer and yells, “Oh, I’ll go with you! I need to return something.” That was at 12:30. Okay, I tell her, but I want to leave in 10 minutes. Okay, all I have to do is get dressed.

Cut to 3PM. My mom has called her mortgage company complaining about some insurance charge, made pancakes and burned some “berry compote” she forgot on the stove (this happens about once a week), visited with my grandmother, and is still in her housecoat. I’ve knit 3″ on a sleeve, watched a movie, and gone to the bathroom twice waiting on her. I’m so pissed.

We finally leave and I want to be home by 4 so I can study. She can’t find her receipt after pawing in her purse for 10 minutes and the store has no clippers. I’m ready to go. “Oh, can we just stop in Marshall’s for a minute?” I always lose my mother in Marshall’s. It’s like a blackhole for mothers. I have to call her cell phone, she won’t answer because she doesn’t want to waste minutes talking to me in the same store so I get her messagebox, and we waste another hour of my life in some shit store because she was “looking for a purse.” GODDAMMIT WOMAN.

We finally get home at 7 pm, we have to visit my sick grandfather for an hour, make dinner, attempt to groom the dog while watching “Dancing with the Stars,” (there is now white fuzz covering every surface of my living room) and before you know it it is 11 PM and I haven’t studied at all and it all started at 12:30 PM when I wanted to run to the pet store when my mom was on the computer.

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