Confession No. 49 – Boundaries? What boundaries?

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.

Boundaries.

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.

July 25, 2013 — Tamales and rice from my favorite Tex-Mex dive. The warning worked this time.

July 25, 2013 — Tamales and rice from my favorite Tex-Mex dive. The warning worked this time.

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.

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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

Is this breakfast? Or dessert? It’s delicious either way. Good enough, in fact, that I lifted my ‘No Nutella Recipes’ rule for this post.

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)
Whipped cream

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.

The home fries, seasoned and allowed to crisp slightly in a cast iron skillet, were repurposed from a previous meal of pot roast. The ham: Oscar Mayer. Not bad. But from a 13-year-old who also knows how to make a perfect over-medium egg? She’s hired!

Comments

  1. Great post! That French Toast makes my soul sing…. Just sayin’

  2. The Mom Chef says:

    I stand beside you and feel your pain one hundred percent. I have to hide anything if I want it to last more than a day or two. Hubby’s already bad at helping himself to whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, but on the occasions when I have to use the fridge and I tell him an item is MINE and to leave his paws off, he will. For a day; or two.

    Catherine’s French toast looks delicious. Nutella is a weird one for me since I don’t like chocolate but love hazelnuts. If it’s just hinted-at, I can eat it and enjoy it. Surrounding it with French toast, bananas, caramel and whipped cream sounds perfect.

    The egg breakfast; now that sings to my savory-loving heart. I would dive into that plate face first and enjoy every bite.

  3. Love the improvisation – and looks like your daughter is learning a thing or two from her Dad, bravo! And, Lombardi’s IS the bomb… I’m just saying (too).

  4. Catherine says:

    “Is this breakfast? Or dessert? It’s delicious either way. Good enough, in fact, that I lifted my ‘No Nutella Recipes’ rule for this post.”

    Ahhhh… another rule. I don’t remember it making your “food rules” confession.

  5. I went into my Mom’s purse once as a kid….once. Never again. To this day I won’t go in a purse. Mrs. G will ask me to get her something from her purse and I’ll just bring her the whole thing.

    I don’t recall a no Nutella Rule, either. I gotta admit…I’ve never had it. Heard lots about it, but don’t really know what it is.

    Both your daughters’ breakfasts look good to me right now. I’d gladly eat either one.

  6. That’s so funny! I had a roommate once who used to eat all my good food. I was a starving actress at the time, so taking my leftovers were especially cruel and unusual punishment as I could make a taco last at least three meals. That’s when I learned to hide food.

    In fairness though, my kids and husband need to hide food from me. My kids have never experienced the taste of a peanut butter cup on Halloween. Know why/ Cause I eat them after the kids are asleep. Yeah. I’m THAT mom.

    But now I’m eating healthy. No one wants to steal broccoli.

    Lisa
    http://sheslosingit.net.

  7. Catherine says:

    At least I leave them the Candy Corn and Mary Janes not to metion the marshmallow peeps and Black Jelly Beans in their Easter Baskets :)

  8. I love reading your posts…they always make me smile…..I don’t have any kids so I don’t really have to hide anything….and I eat healthy so my husband really doesn’t steal anything either….now my dog….well that’s another story :-) (ps…..clicked your facebook page….if you ever visit my posts…please click on mine too….I’m a newbie)

  9. I no longer have to hide and squirrel! One of the benefits of your kids being gone…look forward to it, don’t be a weepy empty nester…there are benefits and not hiding stuff is one! Great post…again, darlin!! xo Ally

  10. That french toast looks so delicious! Really want to eat it right now ;)

  11. You are the only other person on the planet that I have ever heard mention porcupine meatballs—one of my very favorite childhood foods. In fact, in an upcoming blog where I pay homage to lowly ground beef, I will be using a recipe for them….

    I too, buy coffee ice cream, as nobody else in the house will eat it. A pint can last me a few weeks, but the guys go through a half gallon in two days…but they still don’t know where I stash my Cadbury cream eggs and Cadbury mini eggs.

    I love nutella, and will try this devilish French toast this weekend!

    • I look forward to seeing your recipe for porcupine meatballs. I also wanna know your sides. My mandatory porcupine meatball sides are: buttered egg noodles and canned English peas. This is a major comfort food for me.

  12. That french toast looks AMAZING! Thanks, Catherine! I agree. It does get a little sad when there isn’t anyone around to raid your stash. But the first 36 hours of solitude will probably be quite relaxing. ;-)

  13. Zanitea says:

    Ha! This definitely triggers memories of other food hiders I know. One of my best friends is a candy hider, I will have to send her this post. My roommate in collage used to hide her milk in over sized plastic soda cups in the fridge

  14. Red licorice. I hide red licorice.

  15. Breakfast and dessert. :)

  16. Love this. I used to have to hide stuff from my family growing up, but now my son and husband seem to know where all the boundaries are, and don’t cross them. Is it me, or is it them? Don’t know, but it works.

  17. Nutella, I’ve got to admit that I love that stuff. As an unrepentant chocoholic I always have a stash on hand. My take on the stuff is that since it has hazelnuts and nuts are good for you then I can eat Nutella and not feel guilty. Now, where did I put that spoon …

    • Robin – I’m not anti-Nutella. I’m anti-mainstream. It seems every other blog these days features a Nutella recipe. (For similar reasons, I have a ‘No cupcake’ rule here.) ;-)

      • Nutella recipes? I could not find any years ago and made my own up for cookies in which you do not add any additional sugar due to nutella is wayyy to sweet as it is. I don’t like the stuff, but did not know this til I purchased it.

  18. Looks like I will have a lot to think about being an adult! But you do the job fine :D
    This french toast makes me absolutely drool everywhere, caramel nutella and banana? *melts*

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  19. Oh. I cannot wait to try this French toast. (Or rather, email it to my hubby-to-be, as breakfast is HIS responsibility! Teehee.) So delighted you lifted your “Nutella ban” for this recipe!

  20. Need to know the BEST Pizza place in SW FL…is there one? We can’t find it! We’ve been here for 10 years from NJ…we’re starving for REAL pizza!! Help!

  21. Reblogged this on The Unorthodox Epicure.

  22. Adam, I’m fortunate that my hubby & I don’t share the same cravings. I leave his chips & dip alone and he steers clear of my Cadbury Eggs. (Loved your dresser drawer stash, by the way!) We do arm wrestle for Little Debbie Nutty Bars though. :) His family, on the other hand, resorts to stealth filching during family reunions. Some are even blatantly overt. The “rule” is that everybody feeds their own families during the week until the communal potluck on Saturday. My brisket vanished between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. (despite an indelibly labeled Ziploc) and my pasta salad was history before that. (To quote my sis-in-law: “I don’t care who you made this for; I’m having some!” as she helped herself.) The proffered justification was: “Everybody likes your food better because it’s… well… homemade.” :) Enjoy those covert treats!

  23. I’ll be giving this recipe to a friend in @turkey…as i know she has some Nutella at the moment….she’s making brownies with hers…here’s the link
    http://ayak-turkishdelight.blogspot.com/2013/07/simple-chocolate-brownie-recipe.html
    if you want to take a look.

  24. “That searing heat is my insurance that no one will dip his chip into my bowl.”

    I think you pretty much always have a line that makes me laugh out loud. Thanks! I LOVE this.

  25. Some of the most dastardly crimes are those carried out by the sneaky sticky-fingered thief who pilfers other people’s food. I guard my food with the single-minded determination of the Secret Service so I’m picking up what you’re putting down here, Adam. And GAH! I NEED that Nutella French toast!

  26. It’s sad when the stash is found out. Our teenager has only one rule, if it is already opened up, it’s fair game no matter where it may be found. I feel your pain…
    *anna

  27. What baffles me most is when working in a large corporate office, finding things missing from your lunch bag. Joining friends at the small square laminate table after retrieving lunch bag from the community fridge, only to find a missing sandwich … or your chips gone. I mean C’mon. Whoever did it wasn’t picking on one person, everyone who ate in the lunchroom fell victim. Creepy.

    Great post as always Adam.

    • OK, Lea Ann. I have a confession… As a high school freshman in the marching band, I learned early on that one of our trombone players kept his lunch stashed in the bell section of his horn case. Someone (presumably his mother) made a very nice ham sandwich. I helped myself regularly and used my lunch money to shoot craps.

      Now, it’s out there.. I feel better.

  28. And I thought I was the only one with the ‘secret stash’. The mini Reese’s peanut butter cups do have to get moved around a lot though – I think my husband has a better nose for them than the dog. It’s funny that you would bring Catherine’s purse to her rather than reach in & grab what she needs. My husband does the same thing & when I tell him to just grab my wallet it’s like I’ve asked him to stick his hand in a snake nest.
    That French toast is truly a work of art and your baby girl is a rock star. They can both stay here if they make breakfasts like that. My favorite meal to eat & least favorite meal to cook. I think it has something to do with needing to have your eyes open in the morning to make a successful breakfast.

    • I was hunting for some small torque screwdrivers just this past weekend and found some of my stash that I’d forgotten about. (That’s how much I stash!) — As for breakfast… You’re right. It’s a great meal, but not always easiest or most desirable to cook. That’s where pancakes for dinner come in real handy. ;-)

      • I’d say that was a double surprise – being able to find what you were looking for AND getting a treat. At my age, some days I’m lucky to be able to find myself.
        You do pancakes for dinner too? I always felt like a lousy mother when I did that.

  29. Both breakfasts look delicious (and well styled too), however my vote goes with the savory.

  30. Joe Reaves says:

    I feel your pain through all the “lost” Lucky Charms, pepperoni slices and cans of Sun-Drop. My hiding places have become few and far between. Not only do teenagers have a great sense of smell, they also have a sixth sense that enables them to hone in on all my hiding places.

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