Unfortunately, or fortunately, for those of us who love our kitchen, it’s back to school, and that means back to regimen and the age-old question: “What’s for dinner?” Listen, even with my love affair with my pots and olive oil, I find the question itchingly irritating every time it comes up. It evokes the same irritation as “Mom, by tomorrow I need…” and “Can I have money for…”
Every season I struggle with bringing life, enjoyment and appreciation to fall cooking. I find fall depressing because as a true Cancerian, there should be no other freaking season but summer, OK? Messy buns and my grill…we hold hands in a summer romance from May to Labor Day. But, like a typical summer fling, it dries up with the leaves, cooler weather and pumpkin lattes. Bah Humbug until Thanksgiving.
This week marked the second full week of school and everything else, so I wanted to share a recipe or two that was not so bad and might help ease you back to weeknight meals.
If you want to destress yourself before you start stressing about dinner, always remember that something that can be made ahead, has few ingredients or can be made quickly is your best friend.
Last night, I did this, minus the bread bowls:
Easy, quick, and very yummy. Well, let’s face it, anything that has even a partial cream base is going to be good, even if it’s mixed with newspaper and crazy glue.
This is, oddly enough, not a Paula Deen penning, despite the dairy fat and the bacon. However, it was just as yummy. One pot, a side of bread and a salad, and poof…they can all shut up, cause this one is GOOOOOOOOD.
As I have gotten older, the thought of dying has become just a little too real. When I was a kid, I was like, “who dies? Only old people.” As I got older, and after losing my mother at 62, she still seemed old. I was 28, and although the most heinous and horrendous and unthinkable thing happened, I still thought my mother was old. But, now that I am 52 and I actually know people that are my contemporaries who have passed on, the thought becomes a stabbing one at least once a day. And, as a cancer survivor, the bite is an unescapable sting.
So, when I get the death thought in my head, I prepare a list of things that I want my family to bury with me so the congregation at my wake won’t weep, and just say, “Ok, so she was a weirdo after all. She thinks this stuff was important? “Yes, so next to the rosary beads from Mondo Cattolico, and montage of selfies with Al, and a portrait of me, Al, and the kids, I need the following:
PORELESS MATTIFYING PRIMER FROM TARTE:
I know what you’re thinking, but I want my girls to give this to my embalmer before they start the makeup process. It is the best out there. smoothing and spackling my middle-aged skin, still scarred by the war wounds of teenage cystic acne. I use it even without foundation to bring back, way back, the natural radiance of newborn skin. Then, keep the tube tucked to the liner of the box so everyone will know I was the only corpse without a cake face.
JERGENS WET SKIN TANNING MOISTURIZER:
This miracle stuff has saved me hours and dollars in spray tanning. I used to tan once every 10 days to minimize cellulite and varicosities. Now, I don’t even have to put a towel on my body after the shower. It gets slapped on (I slap because they say to pat dry, so I slap first), and then I dry off, and we look like paradise in Ibiza. This means I can wear a mini to the pearly gates. I want the tube tacked next to the floral rosaries that are cemented on the inside satin sheet covering the “hood.”
MY INSTACART ACCOUNT:
Not quite sure you could bury an account, but maybe for this one I’ll take a screenshot to throw on the “board.” Every day, my shopping savior cruises me virtually through the aisles of Wegman’s, Shop Rite, CVS, Petco, Acme, and Uncle Giuseppe’s. If I didn’t die from a heart attack, it’s probably because of Instacart. Out of paper towels? No problem. Razors? Easy. Basil? Sure thing. From the comfort of my car, my kitchen table, the bathroom or wherever…Julia Child! In as much time as it takes to say, “Crushed San Marzano Tomatoes,” my Instashopper is at my door, wrestling with my dogs, and I never had to get out of my workout gear. I mean, really, who can live, or die without that kind of service?
The thought of someone going through my texts and contacts is enough to bring myself back as an apparition and haunt the shit out of you. Not that I have anything to hide, but it’s like my security blanket…even in death. As I take my last breath, make sure my phone is in my left hand (I am a righty) …so when the rigor sets in, it’s in my grasp for all eternity.
MY STARBUCKS APP AND NITRO COLD BREW:
This might actually be a game changer. Nitro Cold Brew has awoken me from the depths of despair and naptime many a day. I only need 1-2 shots of caffeine a day, but this takes the place of any amount of caffeine I could possibly need. It might even counteract embalming.
KAT VON D EVERLASTING LIPSTICK (ANY SHADE) AND THE SHADE + LIGHT FACE CONTOUR BRUSH:
Her lipstick will stay put until a grave rising apocalypse or the next resurrection…whichever comes first. There are so many shades to choose from, and I’m sure Valentina will pick the right one from my collection, which would probably overwhelm even a Sephora sales associate. Her contour brush has two ends to it, one angled for bronzer and contour the other a puff ball for the apple of your cheek. What I will do at the pearly gates with this device I have no idea, but hey, looking good never hurt anyone. At all times.
ELASTIC HAIR TIES:
At 52, I am so lucky to still have good hair, so I am trying not to sound annoyed about this feature which, well, can be annoying at times. In the summer, I never have my hair down…it can be bulky, frizzy, and it’s curly. Whoever invented hair ties (in my day, hair elastics), you are probably dead, but I can’t wait to have a posthumous toast. You have kept me in good style, while just learning to throw up my hair in 15 seconds. I’ll make sure they thrown in a Wet Brush, and we can do up some dos.
Ok, I can’t take a company with me, but please refer to them in my eulogy as my materialistic, fashion mecca. Not much to say here except they have outfitted me now for many years, saving months and money of fashion magazine subscription cash.
MY WEIGHTS AND ELASTIC WORKOUT BANDS:
I can’t ask my trainer to come with me, because that’s selfish and unfair…he’s young and handsome with his whole life ahead of him. What I can ask for, though, are my weights and my bands. They were a major life changer for me during a midlife crisis and have sculpted my body back to a decent mold. I didn’t say Gladys Portuges sculpted, but good enough to show off some biceps, and if you press on my thigh, you can feel my quad. Very exciting for this chubby teenager to rock something at 52 that I couldn’t when I was 20.
I really hope I still have them when I expire. Not for the reasons you think. For the most part, I hated them my whole life. I had a little body, a tiny back, and these disproportionate monsters, that pissed me off every time I wanted to buy a top that may have looked snug, are now my buddies. When I realized God gave them to me to feed and bond with my children and pass that love and dedication of nursing to other moms who may have been more inclined to bottle feed, I knew why they were there. I have learned to love them more than I ever thought I would. It was scary when I was thirteen and the boys in school used to trash me as “Big Linda,” but now, I would be proud to say, “what’s the matter…your wife has ant hills and you are angry?” I hope God gives me the opportunity.
To those people I would like to take with me, it’s very, very simple. Believe me, it’s not going to be because I love you. I can’t wait to start penning that one.
Mr. Rogers: Henrietta Pussycat, can you say LIBEL?
Henrietta: Meow meow.