Confession No. 72 – Like you’ve never been hungry?
Cloth-upholstered overized chairs are comfortable. Wooden bar stools, not so much. The same can generally be said of the GMC Suburban vs. the Smart Coupe, first class vs. coach and 800-thread count sheets vs. a nylon sleeping bag. From there, comfort zones can vary widely.
And that can make me uncomfortable.
I’ve never been shy about saying ‘no’ to going to the store to buy certain products — by themselves. It’s true. I refuse to stand in line to pay for a package of hot dogs, a can of chili and a bag of buns. I have a real problem with the cashier knowing what we’re having for dinner. But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Being the only person in a restaurant, or the first person in a buffet line, is as uncomfortable to me as public speaking is for most other people. Fact is, I don’t want people watching me load up on fried chicken, porcupine meatballs and more than my fair share of banana pudding. Also, I can’t fade the kitchen staff hanging out in the dining room, watching the front door, as they eagerly await the first order of the night.
Speaking of restaurants, I find it extremely awkward when the server sets a plate down and someone has that look. Everyone knows it. It’s the expression someone gives when disappointed — almost always because he imagined the meal differently. ~ Send it back or eat it. But that look makes me feel guilty that my meal came out looking perfect.
It sounds weird, but I refuse to patronize fast food joints that broadcast my order on a kitchen loudspeaker. In my hometown, it’s Jack in the Box. Should I care? Probably not. But, when it’s not great food to begin with, I’ll pass on such a place if I don’t feel like getting out of the car. On a related note, counter service attendants who insist on saying ‘Order number 58 — A half-pound burger, large tots, okra and a side of gravy’ are in danger of bringing on a boycott. Why give me an order number, for crying out loud?
And restaurant coupons? No way that I’m mentioning them ‘at the time of order.’ In my mind, that’s almost a guarantee that your ‘free’ pizza will have fewer pepperonis, or that you’ll get the Whopper tucked away in the very back of the warmer.
When the 411 becomes TMI
I’m a talker. A big talker. Want to shutter me? Just use scientific names for body parts — male or female. Despite that I’m fairly well read, I’m also juvenile when it comes to talking about anatomy. I much prefer the slang versions.
You can also shut down a conversation with me real quickly when you say ‘We’re trying to have a baby.’ When a woman says that in my presence, she might as well tell me that she and her husband are doing the hibbity dibbity on a regular basis. And when a guy says it? He should go ahead and trade in his truck for a Volkswagen convertible, as he has just lost his membership in the ‘man’ club.
Also, guys, I congratulate you for your brief role in your wife’s pregnancy. But, wait a few weeks before you tell me the news. I don’t need to hear that your wife is only a few days into the whole nine-month gestation period thing.
One more thing … I know we’re adults, but I really don’t want to know about the effects of fiber or extra iron in your diet. I know how things work. No need to explain it to me.
When I’m my worst enemy
Consider this TMI if you will, but I want the world to know that I wash my hands before and after. (It’s true. I can’t remember where my hands have been. I’m sure they were idle at some point, and you know what they say about idle hands.) Needless to say, with that much washing comes the possibility of some extraneous splashing. That accidental ‘wet spot’ in a peculiar place on my pants (from washing my hands) — it too makes me uncomfortable. I’m still in control … for now, anyway. I promise.
I’m not so much in control of my satellite radio. I tend to turn the music up on the road. And, because I have old co-workers who now work on certain ‘channels,’ I tend to tune them in. Sometimes, I turn on the car while the radio is blasting Musical Youth’s ‘Pass the Dutchie’ or M.C. Hammer’s ‘Too Legit to Quit.’ If you happen to hear this blasting from my speakers, I swear … it’s not a CD.
I do occasionally make the choice of wearing a pink shirt. Pink is simply red with some white mixed in. Nothing more. When people comment that ‘real men wear pink’ (and people usually do), it makes me feel like doing something illegal. Ease up on the throttle.
Finally, I know we’re in a meeting. But, I’m always thinking about food and my stomach growls often. I’d like to not make that obligatory motion with my hands (pressing my gut) when the internal alarms begin to sound.
So, for all of these reasons, quit shooting glances my way — as if you’ve never been hungry.
A side and a sweet
If I’m going to gripe and moan like the Grinch that I am, the least I can do is offer up two holiday-worthy recipes. So, I bring two of my favorites to the table this time around. First, a comment about Roasted Brussels Sprouts: I’ve read many times that these will make a Brussels sprouts-lover out of anyone — even if that person hates Brussels sprouts. Well, let me just tell you that that’s malarky … at least in this house. The roasted version adds another flavor element, or two. And roasted Brussels sprouts are divine. But, they are still Brussels sprouts. Claiming that a hater will all-of-a-sudden become a lover is like saying Coke with lemon tastes like lemonade. —— Buttermilk Pie is a Southern thing. It’s simple. Sweet. Smooth. Comforting. And it’s not to be confused with Chess Pie, which includes cornmeal.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
w/ Bacon and Pomegranates
1½ lbs – Fresh Brussels sprouts
4 slices – Thick bacon, chopped
2 tsp – Freshly ground black pepper
2 TB – Vegetable oil
2 TB – Kalamansi juice*
½ cup – Pomegranate seeds
Preheat oven to 375º F.
Trim Brussels sprouts of bruised leaves and tough stems. Slice in half, from top to bottom. Toss with bacon, black pepper and vegetable oil.
Roast for about 30-40 minutes in casserole or oven-safe skillet, stirring halfway through. The Brussels sprouts should have some dark crispy edgesn.
Finish the dish by tossing it with Kalamansi juice and sprinkling with Pomegranate seeds.
*Kalamansi are commonly known as Calamondin in the U.S. You can substitute 1½ TB of lemon juice and ½ TB of orange juice to replicate the flavor of this tart citrus fruit.
This is one of those dishes where less is more. However, there are a few ingredient add-ins worth consideration. Just toss them with the Brussels sprouts, bacon, black pepper and oil before roasting.
- 8 – Shitake mushroom caps, sliced thinly
- ½ cup – Hazlenuts, blanched Almonds or Pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
- 3-4 cloves – Garlic, sliced thinly
- 1 – Small onion, sliced and caramelized
2 cups – Sugar
½ cup – Butter, softened
4 TB – All-purpose flour
2 – Eggs, beaten
1 cup – Buttermilk
1 tsp – Vanilla
1 – Deep dish (9” – unbaked) pie shell
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Cream the sugar and butter. Add the flour and eggs; combine. Add buttermilk and vanilla (and any optional add-ins); mix well. Pour into pie shell.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean from filling. The top of the pie should be slightly crusty and brown. This is delicious at any temperature with a dollup of whipped cream.
- 1 tsp – Nutmeg
- 1 tsp – Cinnamon
- 1 tsp – Freshly grated lime rind -and/or- 1/2 cup – Unsweetened coconut
- 1 tsp – Freshly grated orange rind