Confession No. 58 — Confidential to my parents: Your curse is in full swing … and then some

It’s happened. Again. For the fourth time.

That curse placed upon me that I would have children much like myself? It’s alive and well.

My parents had to hear about such incidents as the time(s) I was chastised at daycare for using profanity. The director, after once hearing me call someone a ‘shit damn,’ called me over and smeared hot salsa all over my tongue (true story), before reporting my behavior to Dad and Mom. I was about four and I don’t know that I deserved double punishment, but it happened and I was able to grow up without extensive therapy.

And then it all came back to haunt me … again … only a few months ago.

The family was eating Tex-Mex at one of our favorite area dives, when our four-year-old grandson (the fourth ‘child’) observed that we weren’t sitting in our regular spot.

“Those people are sitting in our table,” he said, as he stood in his own area of our booth.

“Sweetie, that’s not our table,” my wife responded. “This is a restaurant and at a restaurant we get to sit at whatever table is open.”

“Those bastards,” the little 4-year-old responded, as he cast a cold stare toward our ‘regular’ table.

Not pictured: Other parents staring.

Just this past week — his very first ever on a school campus — the boy stormed from his classroom and ran all the way down the hallway of his school screaming “I want my mommy and my duck!” He took his sideshow along the shortest possible route to the principal’s office. Being the gentle soul that she is, he received nothing more than some comforting. I, on the other hand, received some ribbing about what I must be doing to that poor child to cause such outbursts.

Outbursts were always a specialty of mine. Not including that cribbage game several years ago during which words — and multiple beer bottles — were tossed around erratically, I’ve had somewhere in the neighborhood of 376 of them in my lifetime. My wife? Not so many.

But her outburst on the streets of Manhattan as a little girl (Mom wouldn’t buy her a slice of pizza) was one for the ages. The favor has been returned. Tenfold.

The multiple payback incidents were mostly committed by our calmest child. Sure, Alexandra has had her moments, but none in her 14 years as memorable as the fits she threw when her mother would leave home for work or to run a quick errand. Heck, some of those meltdowns even happened when she snuck into the bathroom for a quick shower.

It never failed. Each time Catherine walked out the door, no matter how quietly, Alexandra stormed from the house screaming at the top of her lungs. Neighbors regularly opened their doors to see a three-year-old running the quarter-mile length of Chestnut Lane yelling and crying. And then there was me. Dad. I chased her down each and every time, carrying her home over my shoulder as she pounded my shoulder blades with her tiny fists and upped her volume a few decibel units. Talk about feeling like chopped liver.

I also felt like chopped liver about 35 years ago at my father’s family reunion, where my brutal honesty was met with a sharp pinch to my collarbone.

“Y’all need to come visit us some time,” a distant family member of Dad’s said.

“Yeah, we do,” he responded. “Between work and kids, it’s just tough to leave town.”

“Especially since we never have any money,” I intervened.

Fast forward three decades to our early years on Chestnut Lane. Our neighbor was an elderly woman who outlived her husband and son. She was kind and welcoming, but also cried almost every time we spoke for more than five minutes. Naturally, we felt badly for her. Enter Christopher, who at age five, decided he would make everything better.

“Hi Miss Mary,” he greeted her as she answered her front door.

“Well, hello Christopher,” she responded.

“I brought you these,” he said, handing over some used but freshly washed and folded dish towels.

“Why … Thank you, Christopher,” she said. “Why are you giving me these towels?”

“Well, Miss Mary,” he said, “My parents are always saying ‘poor Miss Mary,’ and I thought these might help.”

The dish towel episode might have been spawned by the curse placed upon my wife by her mother. A much younger Catherine passed the hat around her neighborhood, telling everyone that her family was poor and broke.

There are certain aspects of the curse that have not come to pass. But, knowing that I did some dirty dancing at my wedding (on video, no less); once told a family friend, who called for my dad, that my parents were in the shower — together (it was 2 in the afternoon); and drove two preachers to cussing, I know there’s more to come. Plenty more.

But there’s also some payback on the way. Like my parents before me and theirs before them, I’ve placed a few curses of my own.

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Through all of my years in Boy Scouts, I cooked almost every meal for my group out in the wilderness. I had a few specialties, but ‘hobo’ dinners were always a favorite. I think part of the reason is because everyone was able to participate in building his own meal — sort of like a Mongolian BBQ (or Kramer’s ‘build your own pizza’ scheme on the Seinfeld television series).  Another advantage to dinners cooked in foil is that they can also be breakfasts and desserts, lunches and midnight snacks. Cook them on your grill for and avoid taxing the air-conditioner, or any significant cleanup. And, have fun!

Foil Dinner Packets

Easy and delicious. Clockwise from top left: Classic ‘Hobo’ Dinner; Squash, ‘Shrooms & Onions; ‘Upscale Hobo’ Dinner; Bubble & Squeak; and Thai Coconut Shrimp.

Make foil ‘cookware’

1. Tear a long (about two feet) sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil, or 2-3 sheets of standard aluminum foil. You’ll want to stack the standard foil sheets.
2. Spray inside surfaces lightly with oil, if necessary, then place ingredients in center.
3. Bring the (lengthwise) ends together and fold 2-3 times to create a seal — but not too tightly (leave some room for steam to circulate). Fold in the ends to create a seal.

Classic ‘Hobo’ Dinner
Place 1/4 lb. ground beef in center of foil. Top with desired amount of 1-inch-cube potato chunks, sliced carrots, celery and onion. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Seal foil. Cook over a low grill for about 30 minutes. — Serves 1.

Squash, ‘Shrooms & Onions
Spray foil lightly with oil. Combine three thickly sliced yellow squash, 4-5 quartered white button mushrooms and half of a small yellow onion, sliced. Place in center of foil. Season with desired amount of Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top mixture with 3-4 pats of butter. Seal foil. Cook over a low grill for about 15 minutes for crisp-tender vegetables, or about 25 minutes for well done. — Serves 4 as a side.

‘Upscale Hobo’ Dinner
Place 1/4 lb. ground beef in center of foil. Top with 4-5 quartered white button mushrooms, a few onion slices and a TB, or two, of cheap red wine. Season with freshly ground black pepper and Kosher salt, as desired. Seal foil. Cook over a low grill for about 15-20 minutes. — Serves 1.

Bubble & Squeak
Spray foil lightly with oil. Place 1 cup of sliced smoked sausage in center of foil. Top with 2 cups chopped fresh cabbage and a small handful of 1-inch-cube potato chunks. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top mixture with 2-3 pats of butter. Seal foil. Cook over a low grill for about 30 minutes, rotating occasionally and flipping for about 5 minutes at some point during the cooking. — Serves 1.

Thai Coconut Shrimp
Spray foil lightly with oil. Combine 1/2 lb. peeled deveined shrimp with 1/4 cup coconut milk, a stick of chopped lemongrass, 1/8 cup chopped fresh cilantro and one finely chopped Kaffir Lime leaf (use a couple Tbs of lime juice as a substitute). Season with chile garlic sauce, as desired. Seal foil. Grill over high heat for 5-7 minutes. — Serves 1.

Comments

  1. The mendacents around your parts appear to dine in pretty fine style. No dumpster diving for them.
    Best,
    Conor

  2. This has to be my most favorite (so far) of your posts! You forgot to mention the “other Adam” in daycare who did atrocious things (there was no other Adam!), the embarrassment you have never gotten over (to the best of my knowledge) when your Dad took us out to eat and forgot his wallet, or the things you and your sister did to one another during your shared pubescent years. You, my son, still have a lot of the curse to get through. As the mother of grown children, I have to let you in on a secret – it is absolutely delicious when the curse you placed on your kiddos comes true in spades. Revenge is best served cold!!! Also liked your recipes as we are leaving in a week or so for a two week RV trip to Charleston and Savannah which means I need some ideas for quick and easy meals. I am not a fan of ground beef but chicken could be substituted in these. Could they be cooked and frozen then warmed?

    • Yes. And yes, Mom. And ground beef is what I used because I felt nostalgic. You can use chicken, although I think you should keep it on the bone. Try pork ribs or pork tenderloin medallions. I almost made beef fajitas, but opted to stuff the two garden-fresh peppers for my bride. You can really cook anything in foil.

  3. Adam,
    I loved this post. My Mom’s favorite story about me involved our neighbors across the street. They let their dogs roam and in those days, we didn’t have a garage (it was a carport). Our garbage cans were placed outside in the back yard and these particular dogs were constantly knocking over the cans and spreading garbage over the back yard. Mom would grouse and complain that they never fed their dogs. One day when we were visiting them, I turned to the neighbor and asked: “Mrs. Hooper, why don’t you feed your dogs?”

    To which she replied: “Well I do, honey. Why do you ask?”

    I said: “My mama says you don’t.”

    Anyway, great ideas for Hobo dinners. I do similar things with parchment paper in the oven. Will definitely try the Thai Coconut Shrimp!

  4. juanitascocina says:

    So, there was the time when my kid told the lady cutting his hair how he had just gotten in trouble for hitting his grandfather in his “junk”…

    Or the time that he told the lady at the store that her hat was ridiculous and funny.

    Or the time that he asked the principal why she was so fat.

    *sigh*

    A few months ago, I watched him have an adult conversation in which he was able to adequately ask the person how their summer was going, and he used good manners. I just keep telling myself all those other exchanges were just practice.

    I’ll take the shrimp packet.

  5. What a wonderful post! You made me laugh out loud. And I love that your mother still has stories to share in the comments. Your family reminds me a lot of mine. In a good way.

  6. fransiweinstein says:

    Lovely story. Very funny. Lovely photos too. Now you’ve made me want to cook.

  7. Another great & yummy post!

    I agree…what we say to our kids comes back to us…my son remembers us telling him our Siberian Husky was part wolf!! Which she’s not! Oh…we were probably just trying to impress him…who knows…I say,”Never take life too seriously…”

    I love your sense of humor!!

  8. Tea Foodie [by Zanitea] says:

    Cool post. A lot of these would be great to take camping!

  9. Oh, I feel your pain. I spouted off a few gems in my day…When I was in kindergarten, my mom accidentally whacked me in the face with a wooden spoon–I guess I startled her or something, and I wound up with a black eye. The next day, my teacher asked what happened & my answer was, “My mom hit me with a wooden spoon.” My mom said for weeks after whenever she’d come to pick me up, the teacher would just glare at her. My son has unfortunately picked up on my love of the word “jackass,” and it’s come up at very inappropriate times! All that aside, the foil packets look delicious….I love cooking stuff in foil.

  10. that is a persistent curse that I too have been put under :-/

  11. One must also be very careful of who one marries, if one is to avoid such curses. I was an ideal child. Yep, really. I did what I was told, never lied, yada yada yada. But my husband was a ring-tailed tooter. And his legacy has become my reality. After a three hour drive to the hunting cabin a few years ago, with my boys quoting the movie Tommy Boy the whole way, Max (then 8) wound up sitting at the dinner table across from an empty chair. My dad’s very large friend came and sat down right across from Max. I saw this flash of thought shoot across Max’s gaze, as he sat more erect and turned to face Paul directy. I went all slow motion Matrix-like across the table “Noooooooooooooooo”….But I couldn’t stop him before Tommy Boy would come to haunt me forever. “I can actually hear you getting fatter………”

    • C’mon, Christine. Are you saying that you never embarrassed your parents? Not even once?

      • None that they can recall….remember, I am the same person who, after 17 years together, my husband has no reason to believe that I fart, or do the thing that follows….I was shy, pensive, pious, and altruistic. I once drove 15 minutes back across town to Michael’s, when i got home and discovered they had failed to charge me for a tube of fabric paint ($2)…the nuns at Catholic school did a real good job of turning out an uptight, rigid, square! All of the curses were spent on my two younger sisters. Luckily, I outgrew most of those traits, and did, in fact embarrass myself a few times, but long after I had moved away.

      • And yet, isn’t this the same girl who was dancing on a speaker and fell on to her husband to be and that’s how they met? Something’s not adding up.

  12. What a feast, and how easy to make! No wonder it was so popular on RecipeNewZ. So now it is featured on our “hall of fame” Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/RecipeNewZ Congrats!
    p.s. Great story too to go with the food :-)

  13. Congrats on the hall of fame Facebook page Adam. In a way I dread the curse that will be coming our way, either I nor Mrs. G were lil angels growing up.

  14. I once brought my parents 70′s-era dinner party to a halt when I got tired of playing with the daughter of one couple, marched into the dining room, and announced, “Katy keeps asking me to play Doctor and I don’t want to!”

    Love the foil packet cooking and the make-your-own spin sounds like a great idea for my next cookout with friends.

  15. I hear about your mouth and you dissed my “tossed salad” that was spoken about in pure innocence as play on words, or so I thought!

  16. I was horrified when my son told his teacher that we were poor.

    • Indeed, Carol. I’ve gotten those same calls from school officials, including one this past year in which the headmaster said “your son said you couldn’t afford the dual credit tuition.” what I’d told my son was that I couldn’t afford to drop a few hundred bucks on a class that he was going to mess around with. Damn kids.

    • So, I’m late to this party, but it works the opposite way as well. I was trying to impress upon my kindergarten child how lucky we were to always have plenty to eat and a roof over our head and I used the term “rich”. She then proceeded to tell everyone who would listen, her soccer coach, random cashiers, and her teachers that our family was rich. Anyway, stopped by for the hobo dinner ideas and enjoyed the post. I’ll add you to my reader.

  17. pi314chron says:

    I hope your following my “Randa Lane…” blog will be as much as fun as I am already having in following yours! Thanks a bazillion!– :)

    -R-

    • My pleasure. (I thought I already followed. I must’ve hit a ‘like’ button at some point and just figured I was following you. When you mentioned that earlier, I couldn’t find you in my reader. Thanks for the heads up.)

  18. Reblogged this on Never order barbecue in a place that serves quiche! and commented:
    This was great. I’m STILL laughing! Kid, gotta love ‘em.

  19. Thanks for the follow on FamilyFavoritesfromtheHeartland.wordpress.com. Love your site!

  20. Just found you page, love these recipes, will try them on the grill. But they sound so tasty that I would love to try them in the oven this winter, I`m new to the grilling and foil packet cooking, just tried one a long time ago, and would love to try these in the oven. What temperature should they be on and for how long? Thank you, loved your article, my older sister and myself was deathly afraid of our dad and we would never have done a lot of these things that were mentioned, but as our dad got older and more kids kept adding to our family he mellowed somewhat, so yes, the younger ones definately embaressed our parents.

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