My daughter and my husband are both Pisces. Which makes sense; they’re both dreamers, compassionate, and devoted.
When my daughter turned one I made her a little vanilla cake with buttercream frosting.
She dug into it with such gusto that I felt pride charge through every inch of my body, and ever since then, I’ve set myself up for a grand baking production at the end of February to mark each tandem birthday celebration with a phenomenal cake.
This wasn’t my daughter’s doing or my husband’s for that matter. This was all me.
My daughter, from ages 4-12 would have been happy as a clam with one of those neon-frosted generic sheet cakes from the local grocery store. They spray paint your favorite Disney character to a tee and what six-year old wouldn’t want that?
But as she entered her teenage years, she sorta caught on to Mom’s crazed obsession with the culinary arts. Got a bit more demanding. Slightly picky. After all with said parent, she could. Requests trickled in during middle school. But this year, her first high school year, she demanded we have A Meeting over the matter.
On the agenda were several birthday cake options. We went back and forth on a few classics and steadfast favorites: chocolate with fresh strawberry frosting, red velvet, and Oreo Cooking Crumb.
They all fared well during our talk, but it seemed something was missing.
Remember, my daughter is a Pisces. She’s devoted.
And it seems her taste buds are devoted to anything bacon.
So of course, the conversation swung to chocolate bacon cupcakes. They were her favorite. They seemed the indispensible choice for marking her fifteenth birthday. Bypassing all the tradionalists, they were elected the chosen dessert.
If you’re wondering what happened to my husband, where is his vote in the whole matter, let’s just say, he’s an easy-going guy with a healthy appetite who knows better than to get in the way of two gals and chocolate.
The morning before the big day I set up all the ingredients for the cupcakes, but when I went to preheat the oven, it was a smoky, greasy mess.
After a few minutes of futile scrubbing, I decided to take the plunge and self-clean the oven. This, for those who do not know, is when you voluntarily ask your oven to burn itself clean for three hours. The doors lock and the oven screams “HOT” as 1000°F temperature effectively destroys all the crud that has accumulated, in my case, from over ten years of hyperactive baking, roasting and broiling.
I’ve always been a bit skeptical of this feature.
High heat and locked doors is not a good thing in my book.
But I had no choice.
The smoke coming out of that thing was unbearable and I had to get these cupcakes done.
I took a chance and self-cleaned. Things clicked shut, fans went off, and the entire electric panel light up and hummed quietly, and, after three hours, as promised, the oven emerged sparkling clean.
I was so excited I texted my close foodie friends! Some even got a picture, as if I were announcing a newborn.
But when the evening came and it was time to bake, the oven failed.
Sure, the electric panel light up and hummed quietly, but no heat came.
I re-texted my foodie friends:
WTF? Oven dies NOW? Gotta get the bacon cupcakes going for tomorrow!
The wonderful thing about such mishaps, especially if they occur late at night, is that it justifies any sort of rash, shopping spree, specifically for cool appliances you’ve been wanting to get but have had no particularly good reason to get them.
This is how I ended up with my new toaster oven that could roast a small calf.
A quick ride to mall, an even speedier purchase, and the new toy was mine.
My daughter came along for that ride, joking about how her dad was going to kill me. But her dad just smiled when he saw me enter with a huge box.
“You wanted one forever,” was all he said with a sigh.
“Well, I can’t let the girl down, you know, she needs her birthday cupcakes,” I justified.
She did need her cupcakes and I got the toy to bake them for her.
I am Sagittarius: hopeful, philosophical and straightforward, but most of all, lucky to have two cool Pisceans in my court.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs, coffee, buttermilk and oil. Stir just until blended. Mix in 3/4 of the bacon, reserving the rest for garnish. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly.
Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack. When cool, arrange the cupcakes on a serving platter. Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting and sprinkle reserved bacon crumbles on top. Dust with additional cocoa powder.
My daughter insisted I become socially active. After all, it’s 2014 (her words, not mine.) Luckily for me it is 2014, where there are plenty acceptable, almost mandatory, paths for social shortcuts. This seemed like wonderful stuff for an introverted writer who spends excessive amounts of the day in front of a computer, until I understood the extent of work required to upkeep one’s social network.
My daughter offered to teach me, insisting it would be okay.
“Trust me, you can handle it,” she commanded. Wearily, I agreed, stepping beyond the boundaries of Facebook and into the Wild West of Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Tumblr, gently guided and instructed by my teenage daughter, who is extremely forgiving to my crusty old mind.
“Mom, you should really ask your successful Hollywood friend to send you a shout out,” she assessed one morning as she did her daily spot-check on the multiple social sites she had set up for me. Her fingers tapped away at my iPhone and her voice carried the professionalism of a seasoned Head Hunter.
“He has to tell me to shut up?” I queried, anxious. Had I pissed Thomas off lately?
“Shout OUT, Mom. It’s when they promote you on their Twitter account.” She is too good-natured to roll her eyes at me.
“Ah,” I mumble, making a mental note to ask to be shouted at.
I am grateful for my daughter’s guidance. The day feels squeezed already trying to manage my limited time writing The Great American Novel, raising children, baking bread, and the other precious events that cannot be put on hold, like dying that stubborn white out of my hair.
Now I have to shine with snazzy pictures, clever phrases, and pound signs?
The hair will have to wait.
“You need to put your food out there,” my daughter informs me. “Promote your site.” This seems obvious enough for her, but she is smart and sensitive and comprehends the challenge such a concept poses for me. After all, I am the only human being she knows who still reads an actual newspaper each day.
“Start with lunch today,” she instructs as she hands me my phone and steps out of the car. I watch her curls bounce away as she enters her school and vow to not let her down. After all, doesn’t she have Personal Branding first period?
For lunch I prepare turkey-cilantro sliders. The pale, lean ground turkey had been taunting me in the refrigerator, doubting my skill to make its fat-free pallid presence into something memorable. It would have been easier to grab the slabs of porterhouse steak to its left: a dash of salt and pepper and a hot grill and voilà! Or transform the porcinis perched on the last shelf into garlicky slivers sparkling with olive oil, minced onion and a squeeze of fresh lime. If I’d introduce some Arborio rice, steamy chicken broth and a sloppy dash of white wine I could promote the whole experience to a creamy mushroom risotto. The trick is to tease that risotto, just a half a cup of liquid at a go, and sturdy, patient, stirring. Of course, I’d add freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano towards the end. It’s a marvelous, nutty wonder, a simple remedy that eludes many home cooks.
Yes, these would have been clean, quick victories, but I had my daughter on my mind. I wanted to make her proud, and I knew the quickest way to her heart would be with a juicy slider.
I went to work sautéing some shallots. Shallots are usually sold in a plastic mesh bags next to your garlic and regular onions. Perhaps you’ve passed them a zillion times and not noticed.
Grab a bag and toss it in the lower drawer of your fridge.
They are like onions, but with a mellower, almost buttery flavor, another culinary treasure passed up by many home cooks.
I diced my shallots really fine and plopped them onto a heated skillet with a drizzle of olive oil. Then along came the garlic. I sautéed them until they were transparent in color, a minute or two.
I placed the ground turkey into a medium-sized mixing bowl and went to town adding the usual suspects for sliders: a raw egg, fresh breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, oregano, and the onion/garlic mix I had just made. A half a cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano would grace this dish as well.
A quick trip to my garden brought back some snipped basil leaves and cilantro, which I minced and threw in. A wave of spicy freshness made me smile and feel grateful for my garden and the sun on my face.
Now for some condiments: a squeeze of Ketchup, a scoop of tomato paste, and a spoonful of coarse-grain mustard, simply because I couldn’t find the Grey Poupon.
At this point my wedding band and that other funky ring I got in the art show in Buenos Aires came off. I knew what I was about to do would get messy.
The dog stared.
He hoped I would drop a clump of meat.
But I didn’t.
I worked quickly and thoroughly, using my hands to blend all the flavors together and form tiny little balls, two inches in diameter. As I did, I put the skillet to heat on medium-high.
The dog was persistent. Hopeful.
He stayed, resigned to the fact that I wasn’t giving any samples, and just kept me company.
The sliders went on the grill with a happy sizzle. A few minutes on each side and they were done. I set one up real nice, on a warmed bun, nestled amongst a bounty of lettuce, fresh-sliced tomatoes, pickles, onions and jalapeños. Mayo and mustard and ketchup went in as well.
I found my prettiest placemat and positioned the meal just so, taking the photograph as the sun shone graciously on my creation, making it twinkle.
It was time to think of something hip and snazzy to say. But wait, did this have to be 140 characters? Was that rule for Instagram or Twitter? I was overcome with a wave of confusion as I struggled with my social media ineptitude. I longed for my daughter’s fast-tapping fingers to readily snatch the phone from me followed by her calming, controlling voice that sighs on automatic, “here Mom, let me do it.”
But she was in Biology now and I would have to fend for myself.
epic sliders @alonamartinez #lunch, #sliders, #turkey, #no filter, #tap tap
I couldn’t remember most of the vital tips my daughter had shared with me during my crash course in Social Media. I certainly had forgotten all the hip language to use. I did remember that hashtag was something powerfully important, so I went to town with that. Then I posted it on every site she had opened for me, just to be safe and sat down with my newspaper for a quiet and quite delicious lunch, grateful for both my daughter’s savvy guidance and the ink staining my fingertips.
If you want to get fancy this Valentine’s Day and thin out the wallet the options are endless.
Or you can declare this true love and go for the no-frills, unpretentious dish of a Crock-Pot simmered meal.
The one where you just plop five ingredients into the Slow Cooker, hit the ”start” button and get on with your day.
Because, love-struck or not, your day has to get on, does it not?
No one else in going to make breakfast for the children.
Or make sure their completed math homework is in the backpacks.
Or, heaven forbid, make and pack everyone’s lunch.
No, you’re still on, whether Cupid is on duty that day or not.
It takes a certain relationship clearance to get to the stage of the garlicky, Slow Cooked, just-thrown-together meal, I admit. So, maybe if you’re not there yet, if you’re still lighting up the bathtub with rose-scented pink candles every night and inviting your special someone to join you, you may want to skip this part. Just scroll down to the bottom, where the recipe is. You’ll be using it soon enough. And you don’t want to miss it. It’s real good.
Those of you with clearance know who you are.
You’re the ones who shove the lacey thong in the back of the lingerie drawer and wear the cotton control tops sold in bulk from Costco. Thank goodness. Some things just need to be held in.
Perhaps you’ve slacked a bit on the body-waxing regimen, always producing a perfectly logical explanation:
Who has time?
If God intended me to have hair there, so be it!
What’s another ten days?
And, of course, the ultimate clearance for relationship clearance: you have to have heard each other’s farts.
You have come to be okay with it.
Accept that it happens more often than not.
That, yes, he is cute, has good shoulders, perhaps even holds the door open for you to walk through (if you’re into that sort of thing, of course) but man, can he let one rip!
When you are good with that, pull out the Slow Cooker.
There’s enough stuff to get right each day, anyway.
Aside from all the kids’ needs, that is.
For example, if you live in the real world and have to show up for work at an office or such, there’s prep for that. Not all of us have a fifty-person Oprah team to make it happen. Good for her for bravely showing us her before pictures with the puffy makeup-less eyes, the Spanx-less bod, the bedhead hair. But of course, she shows us the after pictures as well, the ones where she is dazzling- a beautiful, perfectly sculpted, glittery, mega-watt smiling Oprah! The Oprah we will remember, adore, hold a grudge against, beg to emulate, and forever compare ourselves to. Damn! And she is actually sixty years old already? At that point, standing in front of the mirror before the sun has risen with no one but the dog to cheer us on feels tough enough.
So, trying to woo someone with an individual serving of Beef Wellington just because it is February 14th may push you over the edge.
I grew up in a Latin American country, one driven by (and proud producer of) stellar telenovelas: sappy tales drenched in passion and redemption and love and love and love. Dia de los Enamorados is hardcore there. So, I understand the temptation to create an elaborate culinary artwork drizzled in a truffle oil reduction.
And still, I will tell you:
A man is a man is a man.
And by this wise sentiment I mean to say:
If you serve a man a huge hunk of delicious, juicy meat that has been gently simmering for ten hours in a tasty sauce he can easily scoop up with a crusty baguette, he will love you for it. And if you go nuts on the carbs, load up with white rice (perfect to soak up the sauce), throw in some tiny baked potatoes and skip the salad altogether, don’t even mention roughage, why, then, you are in for a night to remember.
A man’s heart is through his stomach! They don’t make that shit up.
So, yes, you could debone a trout and poach it just so, I mean, if it makes you feel better. I can give you a killer Orange Saffron sauce, if you’d like.
But do yourself a favor and stick with me on this. It’s low-maintenance and sublime. You’ll both sit through dinner and not say a word, because you are that close, that connected, that language is not even needed.
Or because you’ll both be too busy chowing this amazing meal down.
If you bring up Oprah in the conversation, non-chalanty, of course, in between bites and slurps, I bet you’ll both agree she’d even dig serving this meal to her beau, Stedman. Whether they’re sharing a quiet evening in her Montecito, California estate or enjoying the ocean breeze at her Hawaii farmhouse-style homestead, she’d be singing your praises for enlightening her with such an easy and wonderful lover’s day recipe.
Something strange started to happen along my mother-baker way.
I began cutting crusts off things.
And I love crust.
Crunchy, chewy, hearty, crust.
There’s nothing quite like it.
But then I had children.
(Ahhh, it’s always the children…)
And crusts started coming off.
No one was safe.
It was the Reign of Terror all over again, only, instead of heads, it was crusts.
Perfectly good sandwiches, really, better off with the crust, were decapitated, sneakily and with sharp knives. No questions asked.
Battling the undisputed precision of Zorro.
One minute whole, proud units of flavor, the next, an emaciated, emasculated memento of its former self.
From there the cruelty continued and I moved on to baked goods.
Cute toddlers have a way of wrapping themselves around my heart and making me forget reason, a feature most potent when said toddlers are mine. Those grubby faces and clover honey eyes, (goodness my, those eyelashes!) practically forced me to do it when they stared up at me and pleaded,
“Mommy, the one without the crust,” signaling with a dirty finger the cube of brownie smack in the center of the pan.
And so I complied.
What else does a mother do?
And carved that one piece for the child.
Dug it out like an Aztec priest would dig out the beating heart of their bravest warriors giving themselves to their sun god atop the Great Pyramid of Tenochitlán.
Sloppy like that.
People would cheer when that beating heart emerged into the sunlight in all its glory.
In my house, two children cried out in glee when the crustless gooey brownie finally came out.
“Yes, Mommy! Yes! Me too! Me too! I want that one!” The other grubby toddler now pointed to the partner brownie next to the vacant space.
You know how it is with revolutions.
It only takes one, then all the others follow.
So I spent years carving out the guts of my delicious concoctions.
Grandma’s Famous Fudge Brownies.
Jane’s Lemon Bites.
Mississippi Mud Bars.
You name it. They were all destroyed In The Name Of Clover Honey Eyes.
Until one day my husband stumbled upon the massacre I left behind.
This husband of mine is brilliant, you see, you must understand this to understand fully what happened next.
He catches every detail of life.
If the paint has chipped on the upper right hand corner of the far wall in your office, a room he rarely enters and you spend your entire life in, he will catch that.
If the woman three seats down in the doctor’s waiting room, the one coughing incessantly into the plastic plant to her left, was your former boss’s sister you both met once twenty years ago at a fundraiser, he will remind you.
And yes, if the butcher’s wife isn’t the killer, even though the movie has set you up to swear, to believe, to know it is her, but you’ve failed to pick up on the slight twitch in her left forefinger, a clue fundamental in realizing she was not able to proceed with the crime, why, yes, Husband caught the twitch the second it first happened and promptly let you know four minutes into the whole thing: she didn’t do it.
Talk about a spoiler alert.
If you deduct a trace of annoyance in me, why, I’d be obliged to call you perceptive. But rest assured, my irritation is rooted in jealousy, nothing more, nothing less.
My office ceiling can be falling on my head and I would not notice.
My former boss’s sister could have donated 20 million dollars to my personal cause and I still would not remember her.
And the killer? I would have been stunned to learn it wasn’t the wife even after the big twist was revealed and the credits were done rolling.
For the most part, I consider myself fortunate to be paired with such a hyper-aware partner. It’s good to have someone remind you to look up and notice how awesome the cloud formations are or that your accountant has begun parting his hair on the right side. And then, of course, there are the times when such hyper-awareness works in my favor.
At the destruction of my Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Brownies.
Nothing was left on the battlefield but crusts.
All the plump crustless bodies were packed away in a Tupperware safely for the children.
Who were no longer toddlers, I may add, but rather gangly teenagers trapped in that odd vortex between child and adult.
Hopelessly addicted to their crustless goodies.
Husband sees the baking pan.
A pan whose scraps I am about to discard.
“Why, this is wonderful! You’ve left me all the crusts!”
And there was joy and a bit more twinkling in his eye fueled by That Feeling of Love.
You know the look when Guy and Gal first hook up and every action is coated in that adoring stare?
I was being stared this way now. A stare that celebrated me. Utterly and completely loved me.
Of course! Husband swore I had cut out the crusts just for him!
He grabbed a long piece of cut-up crust and took a hearty bite.
“Hmmmm, perfect,” he munched loudly.
And after that, he took what was left and dipped it in his coffee.
“Just like that,” he continued.
The piece was thin and long and crunchy with chunks of chocolate warming to a melt and the scent of spicy cinnamon filling the air as it gave way luxuriously to the steamy Arabica blend.
“Great idea,” he concluded after wolfing down two crust pieces. “Make sure to separate the crusts every time!” He added, contently taking the last sip of his, now sweetened, mocha.
I could take this moment to clarify to him. To explain the History of The Crusts. How I didn’t mean to do it, it all started with an innocent grilled cheese sandwich years ago and now I just can’t stop. How, unlike the butcher’s wife, I don’t have a twitch on my left forefinger. But, I choose not to. Adoration is intoxicating and I don’t want to spoil that. Instead, I offer a sweet smile and make a mental note. Sometimes things are better left unsaid.
6 oz. chocolate chips *the better the chocolate, the better the brownie! Splurge!
¾ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350°F
Beat sugar with butter until light and fluffy. You can never do this long enough, so, best to put it in your stand mixer and pop in that old Jane Fonda Aerobics VHS you have hidden behind Your Life.
Beat in eggs, one at a time.
Sift flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, or be lazy like me, plop it in a bowl and stir it around with a whisk. Same thing, I promise. Same enough, at least.
Stir into the batter.
Stir in chocolate chips (remember, you are denying yourself the imported fancy fruit from Spain in order to afford fancy chocolate chips. I know reaching for the old standards feels safe, but, trust me, try something exotic and dark.
Stir in nuts.
Place in greased 13x9 pan. Spread more chocolate chips on top.
Bake 25-30 minutes.
Cool in pan.
Cut the crazy way: a long slice alongside the border of the pan (about ½ inch thick for the best crust pieces). Save these strips for coffee and great husbands. The inside will now be crustless, ready for spoiled children.
One of the benefits of being the parent of a teenage daughter is that you never run out of topics to argue over. This keeps the air nice and tense, the vocal chords perpetually warmed up and the white hair coming. Issues with ulcers may also flare up, but I’ll keep that to the privacy of the closed bathroom door.
A sense of humor is indispensible to surviving this stage of your child’s life.
Remember, this is the child [most of you] chose to have.
Hell, if you are like me, you planned it, right down to the romantic lovemaking by the fireplace.
So don’t go telling me you want to give her up now. You asked for her, you got her.
Plus, you know you’re going to be a bundle of nerves when she leaves for college, which isn’t so far away now. You know this. She reminds you constantly:
“Mom, what are you going to do when I go to college?”
I’m gonna blast “Born In The USA” without anyone rolling their eyes at me?
I’m gonna watch E! and follow it up with The Insider because I can, because I do wanna know who wore it the best and why Michelle Obama has had enough?
I’m going to do a heck of a lot less laundry?
She’s not waiting for those answers. She’s waiting for the true response. The one that I avoid. The thought that when my daughter will be gone, in three and a half short years, it’s going to be awfully quiet and argument-free around here.
I’m not really sure what I’ll do with a war-free zone.
As I said, everything is up for grabs right now, now that we are in the thick of it. My trench is dug deep and I try to make every effort to stay tucked in there, head down while the bullets fly over.
Today the artillery of choice is football.
Not fútbol, football.
Fútbol, I can grasp. Growing up in Venezuela, my ears rung with accolades for the soccer greats, Pelé and, the more colorful, Maradona. Sure, Venezuela is a country that favors baseball over all other sports, but still, it has always been equally infected with the South American passion for fútbol, and hearing the sportscasters battle over the loudest and longest goal announcement during the World Cup was always a source of amazement and joy.
But their impressive lung capacity amounted to yet another colorful anecdote I’d tell once I moved to the States as an adult.
Football, I got nothing on.
No understanding, no interest, no desire.
The few times I’ve tried to watch a game, I get restless and frustrated and distracted.
“Why are they stopping every two seconds?” I’ll demand to the poor sucker who is trying to convert me to the sport. “Where’s the double scissor? Where’s the hip fake? Why aren’t there any Chilenas?”
Remember now, this is way before Beckham came to the U.S. to spread the soccer love.
The poor sucker trying to educate me on the wonders of football is usually my husband. Which explains why he hides out a lot in the tiny room off of the garage. The one with a TV and a small fridge stocked with beer.
“Are we going to watch the Super Bowl this weekend?” my daughter, the General, attacks.
Don’t let this innocent question fool you, this is an attack.
“Hmmm?” I say, drawing out the m. I’m not an imbecile, I am strategically stalling. I’m sure it is in all the military handbooks.
“The. Super. Bowl. This. Week. End. We’re watching it, right?” She asks, with a triple serving of eye rolling.
I’m at a crossroads here. A delicate moment. I know, good God I know, that my teenage daughter, who has never watched an entire football game in her life and has no friend, brother, or boyfriend connected to football, has absolutely no interest in watching the Super Bowl this weekend. I’d go so far as to say that she’d most likely get restless, frustrated, and distracted sooner than I would.
I’m sure there is something more fast-paced to Tweet, Snapchat, or Instagram.
But she stands there defiantly; head cocked up, and takes a step closer to me, waiting.
“Hmmm, well…I hadn’t really…ummm…your father is out of town this weekend…so…I…just..ahhhhh.”
I talk like this on purpose, you see. All discombobulated. Helpless. Distraught.
It’s giving her an imminent sense of victory, this confused, flustered mother she has to contend with. Between you and me, it’s really my Trojan horse.
My daughter is a bit thrown off now.
She loves a good battle with her mother (what teen doesn’t?) but it is no fun for her when her mother doesn’t battle back. And on such an obvious topic! Mom hates football! This was supposed to be a no-brainer!
She gives me a few more seconds to gather up my motherness and start my rant:
Absolutely not! I won’t stand it! I can’t bear to see these guys pile up on top of each other! And for what? A bunch of undocumented head injuries that catch up to these poor fellows twenty years later? My goodness there are better things to do! Read some Proust! Make your bed! Figure out why the left light bulb in the bathroom won’t stop blinking!
She waits. She is an extremely impulsive girl, but, for this, she has the patience of a Siberian tiger waiting quietly to pounce on its prey.
I give her my most overwhelmed look.
My daughter has a heart of gold.
Did I mention that?
Did I tell you how she baked cupcakes and sold them on the street corner when she was a wee bitty kindergartener? She made a whopping $75 and turned around and gave it all to the Red Cross to help the people of Indonesia after the devastation the tsunami brought. And now? Now that she is a hormonal teenager with the required list of teenage drama, did I tell you she still pays close attention to others, making beautiful video collages of family members for their birthdays, picking out the most personalized and thoughtful gifts for friends and teachers, calling her grandparents overseas just to say hello?
She is a treasure, this obnoxious, battle-hungry teenage daughter of mine.
So when she sees me stumble, she can’t help herself, she helps me up.
“It’s okay, Mom. We don’t have to see the whole game. Maybe just the commercials? They’re supposed to be the best part.”
I want to hug her in that second. I want to hold her and count all ten fingers and toes, like I did that fateful day I was blessed with her almost fifteen years ago. But she is so big now! Bigger than me! And every day she reminds me she will soon be gone.
So I do the second best thing. I climb out of my trench and join forces with her, because two generals are better than one.
“How ‘bout I fix up some wings, we plop down in front of the television, and see how it goes?”
She smiles and I’m not sure if it’s because we will see the game after all or because I’ve thrown food into the mix.
“Okay, mom. But I get to blast the volume and put the couch where I want it, right up close to the screen.”
I could fight that, I could. Remember, you never run out of topics to argue with a teenager daughter: it’s bad for your eyes, we don’t move the furniture around, nothing is going to get blasted.
But I’m calculating something I thought I’d never find myself calculating before: we only have four more Superbowls to argue over before she leaves home.
Christ, you’ve been so good, what with the steamed tofu, the insurmountable amount of roughage and no bread! No bread!!! Congrats on all that, really. But ditch it for now. If people judge, tisk, mumble, “those extra pounds are never going to lose themselves,” go ahead and tell them: “The chicken wings made me do it.” And then give them one of these. They’ll understand.
3 lbs. frozen chicken wings
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
I usually decide what I am going to eat three minutes before I want to eat it. With this dish, it’s better, not critical, but better, if you have a bit of foresight and let it sit in the fridge overnight. If you don’t, the world will still rotate on its axis and Senators will still get caught saying stupid things when they don’t think anyone’s watching.
In a bowl, toss the wings with cumin, curry and salt. Let sit. Preferably overnight (in the fridge.)
Preheat oven to 400° F
Place wings on an oiled baking sheet (or better, place a strip of aluminum paper on the baking sheet and grease that.)
Bake for 10 minutes.(Note:If you didn’t do the overnight thing and have frozen wings, bake for 15)
Turn the wings around and drizzle with ¼ cup vinegar.
Bake 10 minutes (15 for frozen)
Flip wings again. Combine remaining ¼ vinegar with Worcestershire sauce and drizzle over wings.
Bake an additional 3-5 minutes.
Note: Things may get smoky, alarms might go off. This is a perfect opportunity to get a little workout in! Do jumping jacks with the kitchen towel near that damn smoke detector. It’ll all be worth it in the end, and plus, with a good cardio in, there’s less guilt about the 3 lbs. of wings you are about to inhale.