If you’ve ever had to write your name on something in your own refrigerator, you might just feel my pain. If you’ve come home to find that no one could read your writing, we have a definite connection.
For me, they are nothing more than dastardly examples of cruel trickery. Contemptible. Disheartening. Figmental.
If there is an afterlife — and I’ve done what’s necessary to spend eternity dipping low in the lap of opulence — I believe I’ll see plenty of signs that say ‘Hands off! Adam’s damn jellybeans!’ Or, at the least, everyone will peacefully bypass the watermelon-flavored Jolly Ranchers tucked in my dresser drawer and get their own. In this life, however, I endure the opposite.
For years, I’ve hidden Lemonheads, caramel cups and Riesin chews in my top dresser drawer. It’s the same drawer that holds every microphone jack, expired press pass and branded bottle opener that one could imagine. It’s also home to a few vintage Boy Scout patches, a Juan Gonzalez rookie card and half of a non-working Seiko watch. Scattered among some paperclips, tiny screws and blood glucose test strips are a few rogue cherry sours and brightly colored foil — evidence that someone helped themselves at various points, including Easter, when I stock my stash with Cadbury Crème Eggs.
My wife is guardian of my Big Cheez-Its, which are reserved for Sunday night HBO programming. I tend to store Cokes, although I don’t drink soda often, in half-empty (beer) 12-pack boxes. I won’t divulge my hiding spot for the Taco-flavored Doritos, in the event that my teen children decide they might someday enjoy reading.
I developed my need for space and privacy at a very young age. I was maybe 4 or 5 when I helped myself to a stick Juicy Fruit in my mom’s purse. As I pulled my hand from the oversized handbag, she slapped it and told me not to ever go into her purse again — without her permission.
My wife, bless her heart, is an oft boundary-busting offender. To her credit, she won’t go into my wallet or touch my computer. But, more than once, she’s surprised me with a treat only to get a hankering for it herself. My sister in-law’s family seems to share those traits.
During a visit (from Texas) to their northern New Jersey home a few years back, we placed a pizza in their refrigerator following a visit to Lombardi’s in NOLITA (North of Little Italy) and someone helped themselves.
If you know anything about pizza, you know that Lombardi’s was the first pizzeria in the U.S. They still use a coal-fired brick oven, which is grandfathered under NYC environmental laws. Bottom line: Lombardi’s serves some of the best pizza on the planet — definitely the best I’ve ever eaten. A couple of slices are not enough.
My wife’s father — may he rest in peace — seemed to learn his lesson a long time ago. He didn’t fight the boundary-crossers. Rather, he developed an affinity for coffee-flavored ice cream. I became fond of heat — the spicy kind — for similar reasons. I had to tone it down when I married his daughter (she is not a heat-seeker), but a bottle of habanero-spiced salsa sits on the top shelf of my refrigerator to this day. That searing heat is my insurance that no one will dip his chip into my bowl.
Just to clarify, I’m a sharer. A giver. A kind heart. Just ask before partaking in goodness that was intended for me. Better yet, please don’t ask. Because I rarely say no.
Getting my wish
During the next few weeks I’ll be living the life of a bachelor, as my wife and our offspring will be in New Jersey visiting her family. I’d go along, but that’s quite a spell to take off from work.
While they are playing in the waves at the Jersey Shore, I’ll be noshing on all the stuff they despise — fried chicken gizzards, Pittsburg Hot Links, (canned) salmon patties and porcupine meatballs. As my wife and youngest daughter are enjoying ‘Wicked’ on Broadway, I’ll be watching ‘Law & Order’ on Netflix — drinking beer and munching on chips and salsa. As my son makes his way through the boisterous Chinatown crowd in search of a counterfeit trinket, the sounds of Willie Nelson, Foo Fighters and Cage the Elephant will be blaring through our home on Chestnut Lane.
But it will otherwise be silent here.
If history is any indication, I’ll enjoy my empty space for a few days. Then it will hit me — the noise that an empty house tends to bring. It’s much louder than the petty arguments between teenagers … or the senseless screaming of a 4-year-old. I won’t hear complaints about our dinner selection, nor will I have to tell a child to put the pizza bites back into the freezer. The milk will go bad, since I don’t drink it. My dishes will be the only ones to clean. I’ll keep my Lemonheads and Taco-flavored Doritos on the kitchen counter the whole time.
And I’ll wish that someone were here to share them with.
As my wallet is my space, so too is this page. And I am proud to share it with my two favorite ladies in the world — my wife Catherine and my 13-year-old daughter, Alexandra. Aside from calling into our radio shows from time to time, this is Catherine’s first time to actively participate in one of my ‘projects.’ She brings us something to cure any sweet tooth, while breaking my blog rule of ‘No Nutella recipes.’ Alex is an old pro, having written newspaper articles — and insisting on them being published — during my days as a reporter/editor. While shooting and editing videos (to be featured soon here), my baby girl decided she wanted in on providing some content. I’m very proud of her.
Catherine’s French Toast stuffed with Nutella & Bananas
4 slices – Sliced sandwich bread
2 – Bananas, sliced thinly
4 TB – Nutella
1 – Egg, beaten
1 cup – Milk
1 tsp. – Ground cinnamon
Caramel sauce (jarred is fine)
Beat egg and cinnamon. Combine with milk. Make ‘sandwich’ by spreading 2 TB Nutella on a slice of bread and adding 6-8 banana slices. Heat skillet or griddle to medium-high. Dip ‘sandwich’ into milk/egg mixture, coating it completely and allowing bread to soak up a liberal amount of liquid. Spray hot skillet/griddle with small amount of oil. Add ‘sandwich’ and cook as you would a grilled cheese, flipping until both sides are nicely browned and filling is warmed.
Top with caramel sauce, more bananas and whipped cream. This recipe makes two servings of stuffed French toast. Make sure you have your blood glucose meter handy.
Breakfast à la Alexandra
No bacon? No problem. Cereal’s all gone? Good. With a little creativity you can have a breakfast similar to what they serve at the local diner. My young chef daughter wanted eggs, bacon and bagels. But, in the spirit of Clint Eastwood’s crusty character in ‘Heartbreak Ridge,’ she adapted, overcame and improvised. Being able to do this — and do it well — is as important as any ingredient that you’ll ever use, or kitchen tool that you’ll ever own.