Confession No. 74 — You want New Year’s resolutions? Fine. I’ll give you New Year’s resolutions!
I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.
It’s not that I am without resolve. Or without hope for a better next year. I just see New Year’s resolutions as … trite.
But this time around, I’m taking a bite of hokey pie and laying it all out there.
On my health
A little more than a week ago, I had a hankering for chicken fried steak and all the trimmings, which included garlic toast and fried okra. Our home smelled like a diner for two days, yet I had no regrets. My to-make list for sometime during the next six months is already a cardiologist’s nightmare, with dishes like Nashville-style Hot Fried Chicken, puffed tacos — and nary a vegetable.
All of that in mind, I resolve in 2013 to keep my doctor appointments, take my meds and maintain my current weight, give or take 10 pounds.
Also, I resolve that I won’t get a flu shot — or complain about having the flu. There are already too many people out there who, every time they cough, (absurdly) claim to have the flu. Anyone who truly has the flu does not have the energy to tell everyone about it on Facebook. Just saying.
On my prosperity
Who doesn’t want to be prosperous? I’m pretty lucky as it is, but I’m tired of cheap beer anyway — so, what the hell?
No. I’m not taking a third job, since that could get in the way of my goals of a pantryful of spicy pickled sausages and a freezerful of bagel dogs. But I think I do owe it to myself to bling up my quaffing — even if that means canceling twirling lessons for my daughter and skipping a few payments on her braces.
That said, I resolve in 2013 to greatly reduce my consumption of 32-ounce canned beers in lieu of the 12-ounce bottled nectar that I fell in love with so many years ago. I’ll be spending $12 (on a credit card) instead of the normal $3 (from ashtray change). But, hey. That’s how prosperous people roll.
On being kinder, gentler
Being a nicer guy is easy for me … so long as I’m the target.
My bedroom is the only room in the house with a television that requires its own corner. My children, meanwhile, are watching Netflix in HD from the comfort of their (newer than mine) beds, while I’m in here staring at Eudora Welty-era wallpaper. (I am able to watch movies, so long as I have a Bic pen to help me un-jam the VHS tape.) Later, as my children are downloading videos to their phones, I’ll be trying to tune in a game on a clock radio with those little flip tiles.
So, yeah, I’m long overdue in being nicer to myself.
I resolve in 2013 to spend a lot more on me — and a lot less elsewhere. I think I’ll treat myself to something flat, wireless and expensive. Also, since so many people bitch about my choice in party music, I think I’ll bolster my collection of classic country, disco and classical music. Who wouldn’t want to nosh on appetizers and sip Manhattans while listening to a remastered version of Patsy Cline’s ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky?’
Oh, and while I’m at it, I’ll quit sharing my iTunes throughout the household. After all, I paid for them. I think there are a few folks around here who could benefit from buying their own iTunes — with money that they actually earned.
Yes. I’m thinking 2013 will be a good year. I wish I’d rediscovered this whole New Year’s resolution thing before now.
Other than the immensely talented musical group, black eyed peas are not allowed in my home. No one has an allergy, or anything like that. I just think they have a flavor similar to AJAX (don’t ask). Cabbage and other greens are fine, but I’m turned off at the thought of watching college bowl games in a house that smells like an Eastern Bloc hostel. I like some of the Italian and Mexican pastry traditions, but nah. Instead, I think I’ll go against the grain.
Though Fra Diavolo was the nickname of legendary Italian revolutionary leader Michele Pezza, the Italian-style Fra Diavolo sauce is an American thing. Fra Diavolo translates from Italian to English as “brother devil,” and refers to the spiciness of the sauce. My wife introduced me to the lobster version of the dish during our first Christmas Eve together. It was something her mother prepared every December 24th. Fra Diavolo is so quick and easy, though, that it deserves a spot in the regular round-robin.
Shrimp Fra Diavolo
1 lb – Large (26-30 ct.) Shrimp, peeled & deveined
4 TB – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 can (28 oz) – Crushed tomatoes
1 cup – White wine (preferably sweet, such as Pinot Grigio)
1 bottle (8 oz) – Clam juice
3 – Garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp – Ground Fennel seeds
1 TB – Dried Basil (or 3 TB fresh Basil, chopped roughly)
½ TB – Dried oregano (or 1½ TB fresh Oregano)
2 tsp – Dried red pepper flakes (or more, if you prefer a spicier dish)
Kosher salt & freshly ground Black Pepper
In a large saucepan, heat 2 TB of the olive oil to medium. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until aromatic — about 2 minutes.
Add crushed tomatoes, white wine, clam juice and next four ingredients. Raise heat and bring sauce to a light boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 20-25 minutes.
As sauce is cooking, sprinkle shrimp with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Bring a skillet to medium-high heat and add remaining 2 TB of olive oil. Add shrimp and cook until just pink — about 2 minutes — stirring regularly.
Add shrimp to sauce during last 5 minutes, or so, of cooking.
Serve over your choice of pasta (we prefer angel hair) and garnish with chopped fresh basil or flat leaf parsley, if desired.