Southwesterly Salad

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If you buy a cooked rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breasts, then this is a no heat in the summer salad. Even if you bake the chicken breasts like I do, it’s a low mess recipe and perfect for tiny kitchens. When I bake the chicken breasts, I dust them with a little salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.

Dressing:
• Small plain Greek yogurt (usually around 5 ounces)
• Juice of one lime
• Quarter cup or so of olive oil
• Two tablespoons of minced cilantro
• Half teaspoon each of cumin and garlic powder
• Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Salad:
• Around two-thirds a cup of cubed chicken per person
• Around two cups roughly cut romaine lettuce per person
• Around a quarter of an avocado per person
• Sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, red peppers and red onion

As always everything can vary. The chicken could be turkey, or maybe smoked turkey, maybe scallions instead of red onions…corn kernels…the leftover fried onions from Thanksgiving….a hit of Ancho chili peppers or Siracha in the dressing…

Copyright © 2016 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Horiatki with Pasta

Greek Pasta 2

This is always my first ‘welcome to summer’ recipe. Although tomatoes won’t be in around where I live until July, they are not the star here so I don’t mind using those Kumato ones. This is a definite tiny kitchen recipe: just one pot for the pasta.

Pasta options: After trying penne and some sort of short ziti, I’ve settled on conchiglie. You could try bow ties or rotelle; there’s probably a lot of fun pastas that would work here.

Other options: You could add some oregano or maybe some sliced Pepperoncini.

Time note: I usually mange to get everything chopped and ready to go by the time the pasta is ready.

For this four person version, you’ll need:
• One pound conchiglie pasta
• Half cup of mayonnaise
• Quarter cup of white wine or rice wine vinegar
• Half cup of good tasting olive oil
• One to four or more cloves of garlic
• Four or five Kumato tomatoes
• Around eight or ten Kalamata olives
• Half a small red onion
• One cucumber
• A handful of parsley
• Around three ounces or more of crumbled feta
• Fresh cracked pepper
• Sea salt flakes

Get the pasta water going; add salt if you want.

Then get a big bowl, big enough to hold all the pasta and the rest of the stuff. I have three white mixing bowls that nest together, I use the largest one.

In a two cup Pyrex measuring cup, add the mayonnaise. Slowly add the vinegar while stirring, then slowly add the olive oil while stirring. Run as many cloves of garlic as you like through the garlic press ( I used four big ones) and add to the mixture. Add pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cut the tomatoes into a small dice. Put them in the bowl and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Cut the olives into a small dice and add this to the mayonnaise mixture. Next cut the red onion into a small dice and add this to the mayonnaise mixture. Skin the cucumber and cut it in half; with a spoon, remove the seeds, then slice into strips and cut into a medium dice. Put these in the bowl around the tomatoes. Finely chop the parsley and add it to the bowl.

When your pasta is done, run it under cold water to cool it. Once it’s cooled, add it to the bowl and mix together. Then add the mayonnaise mixture and combine, and then add the feta and mix until just combined.

Put in your bowls and serve with? In my house it’s water with lemon.

Notes: For olive oil, I use Columela— it has a sort of spicy flavor, for sea salt flakes, I use Maldon, and for pepper, I use the Tellicherry variety. I use table salt for anything mixed in or cooked and save the sea salt flakes for finishing or roasting. Using these ingredients adds a little extra flavor to the dish and they’re getting much easier to find now.

Copyright © 2016 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Hoisin Tsukune Bentosh

Futon

If my mother saw me eating this, she would scream. When I was a kid, none of my food could touch. Sometimes we would have Swanson’s TV dinners and one section would invade the other; she would have to cut all of the mixed stuff out. And even then, I wasn’t happy because the molecules had been in contact. This was one of the first bowls I did. It was originally a bento box and I wondered how it would taste together. I was super surprised that I liked the combination, especially the rice and the cabbage salad. This is another recipe that can work in a tiny kitchen: you only need one burner —or a rice cooker—and a toaster oven for the meatballs.

Meatball options: I have been using ground chicken breast. I seem to like the kind of mild flavor here, but you could really use any kind of ground meat— pork, turkey, even tofu. I’m also thinking about swapping out the scallions for chives or chopped spinach.

Rice options: I used basmati when I took the picture because I’m trying to use up a ridiculously enormous bag I bought at an Indian market. I usually make it with short grain sushi rice, but I would really be happy with any rice— even brown rice. I also think quinoa would be a good option.

Cabbage salad options: This can really be anything. I used savoy and red cabbage, but green cabbage or napa or any cabbage you want will work. I have been adding carrot and scallions, but you could really use a lot of different things: peppers, radish, what else? kale?

Sauce options: You can use store bought hoisin sauce to coat the meatballs if you have one you like. I used to have one I liked, but it disappeared, so now I make one that is a little more tomatoey than most traditional ones. You could also add peppers or Sriracha to the sauce to take heat level up.

Time note: The meatballs take me around 10-15 minutes to make and then 25-30 minutes in the oven. Everything else comes together while the meatballs cook— unless you use a rice cooker, in which case the rice can take around 50 minutes.

For this four person version you’ll need:
• Around a pound to a pound and a third of ground chicken breast
• Two cups short grain white sushi rice
• Half cup or so of Panko
• One large egg
• Tablespoon or so of grated ginger
• Eight scallions
• One to four or more garlic cloves, depending on taste
• Toasted sesame seeds
• Four cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
• One cup finely shredded red cabbage
• One large carrot grated
• Rice Vinegar (around a half cup, plus two tablespoons)
• Two tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
• Half a cup of ketchup or chili sauce
• Quarter cup of soy sauce
• Two tablespoons of brown sugar or honey
• Two tablespoons of rice vinegar
• Two tablespoons of orange juice (if you have it around)
• Around a tablespoon of canola oil if cooking rice in pot

Cooking equipment I used:
13×18 sheet pan for meatballs (or toaster oven pan)
Pot for rice—I used a 3 quart saucepan, or rice cooker

Get the oven going at 400º F and then start on the meatballs— unless you’re using a rice cooker, then get the rice going first. In a large bowl, beat the egg. Finely mince three scallions (white to light green parts) mince or run through the garlic press one to four cloves of garlic depending on taste (I used four) and mince or grate a tablespoon or so of ginger. Add all of this plus a half cup of Panko to the egg. Now I get my sheet pan out and put it next to the bowl. Add the ground chicken and mix everything together. I usually make the meatballs around two inches diameter, giving me around fourteen meatballs. They’ll spend about 30 minutes in the oven to get brown.

If you’re doing the rice on the stove top, get the pot going on high and mix one tablespoon of canola oil and two cups of rice in the pot stirring for a minute to coat the grains before adding three cups of water. Bring to a boil and then cook on low for 20 minutes.

Now get the cabbage salad ready. Finely shred (I used a little hand-held mandolin) around four cups of Savoy cabbage, put in a large bowl, and coat with around a half cup of rice vinegar. Finely shred around cup of red cabbage and add that, then grate a large carrot and add that, then finely slice three scallions (white and light green parts) and add that, tossing after each addition. Then finely slice the two remains scallions on a diagonal and set aside to garnish. Toss in two tablespoons of toasted sesame oil. Set the salad aside but keep tossing it every few minutes while you make the sauce, tasting once or twice to see if it needs something more. Sometimes I add a little sugar, sometimes I add some red pepper flakes.

I usually make the sauce in a two cup Pyrex measuring cup. Combine two tablespoons of brown sugar or honey with two tablespoons of rice vinegar to dissolve and then add around a half cup of ketchup or chili sauce, around a quarter cup soy sauce, and around two tablespoons of orange juice (I only add this if I have it around). Taste it to see if you want to add more soy sauce or whatever.

By now the meatballs should be done. In a bowl, toss the meatballs until coated with however much sauce you want. Then you can layer the rice, cabbage salad, meatballs and top with scallions and toasted sesame seeds. I try to pause for a moment her to appreciate how cool it looks before I dig in.

Copyright © 2016 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Polpetta Bentosh

Italian Meatball (1 of 1)

I never thought I would like meatballs with lemon in them, but over the years I kept seeing recipes putting lemon in meatballs, so I thought I would give it a try. Now I hardly ever make any of my four standard meatball recipes— recipes that took many moons to perfect. The lemon also goes really well with spinach and probably other greens too. I’ve been alternating between two sauces: one is Marcella Hazan’s classic with the onion and butter— which I won’t put here since it’s easy to look up— and the other is a kind of basic sauce with a little wine kick. These meatballs are all beef, but you can make them with a combination of beef, veal, and pork, or you can make them with ground chicken or turkey. I’m using 90% organic grass-fed beef because I think it has the most tender texture and a really clean beef flavor. I also usually make this with gemelli pasta but I could only find strozzapreti. Really any pasta could work here.

Put a rack in the upper third and get the oven going at 400º. Line your sheet pan with parchment or foil if needed. I like this recipe best when I make a panade of a large slice of crusty Tuscan or Italian bread in milk. If you want to do this, you need to get this going first. In a small bowl, break the bread into small pieces and add about a half cup of milk and then use a fork to kind of smush the bread and milk together; you’ll need to keep coming back and smushing it while you work on the other stuff. You may need to add more milk. If you don’t want to use bread, you can use a half cup of panko or bread crumbs or even eight smashed-up saltines. You can soak these in milk or just add to the rest of the mix. In a large bowl, beat up one egg. To this you add around a tablespoon of lemon zest, around a tablespoon of lemon juice, a teaspoon of crushed rosemary, finely chopped or pressed garlic (I ran four cloves through the garlic press last time I made this so you may want to start with one), and around a teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Now add the bread mixture or crumbs and the meat and mix everything together. I usually have the baking sheet next to the bowl. Now you can make the meatballs. I have been making them a medium size, around two inches. Once you have them done put them in the oven. They’ll take around twenty, twenty-five, maybe thirty minutes to get nice and brown. Set your bowls on the stove to warm.

Next up is the sauce. As I mentioned before, I’ve been alternating between Marcella Hazan’s classic sauce and this basic one. In a large saute pan (you’ll need room to put the meatballs in later) add a few tablespoons of good-tasting olive oil and get that warming while you finely chop a small yellow onion or half of a large one and add to the oil. Turn the heat up to kind of sizzle but not brown the onions. Add a teaspoon of salt. Finely chop or put through the press however many cloves of garlic you want (I used four again). Add the garlic to the onions and saute until the onions are sort of translucent. Now deglaze the pan with a half cup of red wine and let it reduce to about half. Now add one 28oz can of crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. You can taste it now and see if it needs more salt or some pepper. If you think you want more sauce, you can add a 14.5oz can of tomato sauce. Let this kind of simmer/bubble. When the meatballs are done, add them to the sauce.

There’s a little bit of a lag here depending on how you want to do this. I like to let the sauce simmer for another fifteen, twenty minutes after I put the meatballs in, so I usually don’t start the pasta water until the meatballs go in the sauce. I use the time to clean up the prep area or go through the mail, whatever. So depending on your timing— gemelli takes about 12-13 minutes— get your pasta water started, salting it if you want, and get out the colander. Also get the spinach out— I use an 8oz container of fresh baby spinach. You could try kale or Swiss chard; they may need an extra minute. When the pasta is three minutes from finished, add the spinach, mixing it with the pasta as it wilts. You could probably add the spinach to the sauce— and I may try that— my worry was it would make the sauce taste bitter.

Once the pasta and spinach are drained, it’s ready. You can top with some Parmesan or Romano or both. A friend mentioned maybe goat cheese or feta. I’ll have to warm up to that idea a little bit. I guess fresh basil too— that wouldn’t clash with the spinach, would it? I’ve been garnishing it with a few fresh spinach leaves.

For this four person version, you’ll need:
• Around a pound and a third of 90% lean organic grass-fed beef
• One pound of gemelli pasta
• Large slice of Tuscan or Italian bread or baguette
• A half cup or so of whole milk
• One large egg
• One lemon
• Garlic cloves (I used four in the meatballs and four in the sauce)
• Salt & pepper
• Olive oil
• Small yellow onion
• Half cup of red wine
• 28oz can of crushed tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Organic)
• 8oz baby spinach (or other greens)
Optional: fresh cracked pepper, Parmesan or Romano

Cooking equipment I used:
• Saute pan (I used a 6qt All-Clad lidded pan)
• 13×18 sheet pan for meatballs
• 7 qt. stock pot for pasta and spinach

Notes:
For olive oil, I use Columela or Nunez de Prado— it has a sort of spicy flavor and for pepper, I use the Tellicherry variety. I also use grass-fed organic beef all the time now— the flavor, and especially the texture, are better I think.

Copyright © 2016 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Hark! The Cookie

Monster Cookie

Common name: White chocolate chip mint chocolate cookies.

I wasn’t going to put any recipes on my blog besides the Bentosh series, but then my younger daughter and I made these cookies. I have to put this here in case my house burns down or the armageddon happens or some other tragedy so I can insure it will be safe somewhere in cyberspace.

So, ok, this was my younger daughter’s idea for a holiday cookie, based on her love of peppermint bark, that we cobbled together from various cookie recipes. I always like to say you can use whatever brands you want because I don’t want to be a food snob, but the truth is the ingredients really make a difference, especially when it comes to desserts. I learned this many moons ago when I first made Georgetown Cupcake’s chocolate ganache cupcake with regular butter, Hershey’s cocoa and chocolate chips. I couldn’t figure out what was so great about these cupcakes. For some reason, I decided to make them with their recommended ingredients: Plugra butter, Valrhona cocoa, Callebaut chips, the whole deal. And WOW! So it’s not that they won’t be good without all these special ingredients, but they won’t be great. I think it was mostly the chocolate that really made a difference, so I didn’t sweat it here when I realized I had only regular salted butter.

6.5 ounce bag of starlight mints or box of candy canes
8 ounces of butter (two sticks), I used regular salted butter this time because that was all I had
1/4 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2/3  cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 cups of flour (I used Gold Medal)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Guittard Cocoa Rouge)
1 teaspoon baking powder
12 ounces of white chocolate chips (I used Guittard Choc-Au-Lait)

Get the butter and eggs out to soften and get up to room temperature (this usually takes a half hour or so).

Get the oven going at 350˚.

Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats (such as Silpat) if needed.

Bash the candy into something around the size of Red Hots or M&M Minis. Careful here. The first time I used a rolling pin and now it is covered in pock marks. I had better success placing the candy between two layers of heavy duty zip lock bags and using the flat side of a meat mallet on a plastic cutting board. I have also used a food processor, but that just turns it to mostly dust (it also gets the machine really hot and etches the bowl).

Combine 2 cups of flour, 2/3 cup cocoa, and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Set aside. I don’t usually sift the dry ingredients together unless it’s a cake or cupcake.

With a stand or hand mixer, cream together 8 ounces of butter, 1 cup sugar, and 2/3 cup brown sugar. Scrape down as needed. Add the eggs. Mix until all mixed together.

Scrape down the bowl and begin adding the dry ingredients in three additions. Scraping down between each addition. This is to help incorporate the dry ingredients and also to keep you from having a flour bomb go off.

Once everything is thoroughly mixed, fold in the crushed candy and white chocolate chips.

Now you can decide what size you want the cookie. I used a large ice cream scoop that holds a ⅓ of a cup. I baked 5 cookies at a time on a large baking sheet. This made a ‘monster’ size cookie between 4 and 5 inches across. I baked these for 14 minutes. I did one sheet at a time, although if I would have turned the convection on, I could have done three sheets at a time.

Let cool slightly and eat.

Nostalgia is for Shit! (Says Mary Anne)

Freedom

And happy Thanksgiving to you too!

When I was a kid, my dad would sometimes come for Thanksgiving. My mom made chicken because she said turkey was too dry and we’d choke on it. But sometimes the chicken didn’t get cooked all the way through; my mother called this ‘al dente.’ It’s a wonder she didn’t kill us. The McCormick chicken gravy was always loaded with lumps I would squish against my plate; it was one of those gross things you can’t resist doing. Then there was the frozen brick of Bird’s Eye creamed onions that would become a congealed mess with a little hit of ice at the center, Bird’s Eye cut green beans with freezer burn because they were bought back in February when they were on sale, a wobbly cranberry sauce wearing the impression from the inside of the can— this was strictly for the grown-ups, stuffing— sometimes it was ‘homemade’ with Wonder Bread, sometimes it was Stove Top. We only got Bird’s Eye or Stove Top on Thanksgiving, the rest of the year it was Econo Buy and Montco. The only thing homemade here was the mashed yellow turnips (rutabagas nowadays)—despite the acrid dried parsley. This is the only part of of this space-age convenience meal I still make. With fresh parsley. Italian flat-leaf parsley. Organic Italian flat-leaf parsley. Purchased after the grower tells me a charming story about how his great, great grandmother came over from Italy with one parsley seed in her pocket and how he honors the earth buy planting only when the earth is in energy alignment with the spirits of the rootsayers.

All this ‘pilgrim’s bounty’ landed on a vinyl tablecloth with a turkey print all over it: the chicken on the good china platter inherited from my grandmother, the ‘blue plate’ dishes from the Americana promotion at the A&P, various flatware from promotions at the Grand Union, goldenrod colored plastic glasses made To look like logs from god only knows where. Then it would all go to hell. My mother would start with my dad. I would just keep eating and hope it would blow over. Sometimes, I would try to add small talk about stuff like the price food going up or gas or some pertinent economic issue, but that didn’t help, the argument was like a rolling stone that bounced over any obstacle in its path. Finally, my dad would put his napkin on the table and get up and leave. “Well, it’s just you and me now,” my mother would say defiantly. Sometimes there was a ham instead of chicken. This was suctioned out of a candy corn shaped can for the gourmet treatment: a lattice pattern of knife slashes across the top dotted by cloves so it looked quilted, finished with pineapple ring, and soaked in a brown sugar sauce. This would pair with canned candied yams and, in a nod to our German heritage, Bird’s Eye German-style green bean and spaetzle; for dessert, a Hostess apple pie a la mode (my mother took French in high school, of which she remembered exactly two phrases: a la mode and merci beaucoup).

When my father couldn’t visit, Thanksgiving took a strange turn. Sometimes we would join my Nana, who was not my grandmother but a lady who used to babysit me. We would celebrate with her fortysomething daughter (who still lived with her), her fiftysomething son (because his grown kids by his ex-wife weren’t speaking to him), and his girlfriend. The first time we went, I remember I was impressed with the table setting: gleaming silverware, china plates with gold trim, crystal glasses, a lace tablecloth, real candles, and a real flower centerpiece. Nana showed me a dish she was making: sweet potatoes with mini marshmallows on top. Wow. Marshmallows for dinner! I told her I wanted a lot of that. It is still one of the top ten worst things I ever put in my mouth. Then BAM! Dinner is served! Her son is clearly loaded and now he’s waving an electric knife back and forth over the turkey and god only knows what he’s talking about. His girlfriend’s wig is askew and she apparently subsists on little bottles of Jim Beam. Is she trying to limit her intake? Nana’s daughter has been slacking off on the lithium again and tells everyone “you need to be careful because they can hear you.” Who’s they? But the real entertainment is when, out of nowhere, a black cat jumped onto the table. I watch as cat hair, highlighted by the light from the chandelier, slowly settles on everything. I’m full. Amazingly, this scene would repeat itself almost exactly every time we had Thanksgiving there. Strange.

Sometimes Nana was abducted by her family in New York, so my mother took another stab at Thanksgiving. It would be a trendy Friendsgiving now. She would invite Nana’s daughter and some people she met around town who didn’t have anywhere to go. Normally, this would seem like a very nice thing to do, except these particular people didn’t have anywhere to go because they were living in hotels and they were living in hotels because that’s where the state put them when the state closed down all the mental institutions. Thomas, my mother said, was a real American Indian, a fact that he advertised by wearing lots of turquoise jewelry over his polyester three piece suit. Every chance he got, I got a BIG hug from Thomas. My mom said Thomas told her this was the best Thanksgiving ever. No shit. Then there was Judy, she used to be a nurse at Massachusetts General. She was already lit when she arrived and staggered up the stairs, so my mother paired her with Billy who was so drunk he had wet his pants and didn’t even notice. Maybe he spilled something. It was hard to tell. Then Isabelle and her little dog. She wasn’t a former mental patient but she was deaf and very, very, extremely, loud; at least she was sort of normal. She had a it tough and worked her whole life in some lace factory. Then there was Betty Boop (not her real name). She had been a Rockette and on national TV with the June Taylor Dancers on the Jackie Gleason Show. My mother loved Jackie Gleason and would talk endlessly about him like she knew him, which was kind of strange. Anyhow, Betty went nuts after the birth of her second kid and spent many years in and out of mental institutions and getting shock therapy. Now she spent all day wheeling her dog around town in a baby carriage while drinking coffee, smoking, and wearing way too much make-up. And then there was Harold. Ugh. He wanted to get it on with my mom and kept grabbing her and trying to kiss her. My mom was always like, “Oh, he’s harmless.” I would have just the worst spinning feeling from all this. Please Dear Lord let it be over.

With the cast assembled, my mom loved to play dictator, everyone had their little job. We put a little pressed wood table together with a rickety card table and threw a stained tablecloth over the whole thing. The tables weren’t the same height, a fact that no one seemed to notice since everyone tried to place something across the ledge only to have it tip over and exclaim, “Oh my goodness! What happened?”.  My mother set this all to music. She had only two records: one was Mario Lanza’s The Student Prince and Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker by Boston Pops. Once the food hit the table, it looked like a bunch of raccoons had gotten into the trash. Isabelle sat her dog on her lap feeding him the whole time until he finally puked. My mother was like, “Oh don’t worry, let me get you a napkin.” Dog puke stinks. Everyone made sure to compliment my mother profusely; this was the best meal they ever had. And I was the ungrateful little snot sitting in the middle of this. Future organic flat-leaf parsley using snot.

Once, I was looking at Norman Rockwell’s famous Freedom from Want painting on my mom’s calendar— my mom loooooved Norman Rockwell and would buy anything with his stuff on it— and I told my mom’s friend Mary Anne I wished my Thanksgivings were like that and Mary Anne, who was one of twelve in a big Irish Catholic family, looked at me like I had three heads and twelve eyes and said, and I quote: “Are ya kiddin’ me! Rockwell is a goddamn twisted sadist. Nobody’s goddamn Thanksgiving is like dat, he’s like fucking Walt Disney and everything’s all fine an dandy. Let me tell ya: nostalgia is for shit and you can take that to the bank.”

But she didn’t stop there, she pointed to the picture: “Lemme see here. Ok, ya see Gramma back there? She look like some nice old lady, right? She’s serving da turkey like it the goddamn baby Jesus an the damn thing is drier than kindlin’. Granpa? He’s stickin’ close to her so he can maybe get a leg. All he thinks about ‘gotta get a leg, gotta get a leg’ over and over like a dog. ‘Cause that’s what she trained him to be, her goddamn dog. My folks ain’t here ‘cause they on the back porch fightin’, cousin Billy ain’t in the picture cause he’s passed out on the couch, cause there was three pubs between his apartment and Gramma’s house, my sister Margaret, she ain’t here cause she away at a ‘school’ for pregger girls and Gramma says God is gonna to punish her good. My brother Billy ain’t there ‘cause he a fag and Gramma says he goin’ to hell. Patty ain’t here cause she got divorced and Gramma says she goin’ to hell too. Cousin Danny, the guy in the bottom right, he divorced too, but he gives Gramma special candy so apparently he ain’t gonna go to hell. Ya see that old lady behind Danny, that’s Gramma’s sister Betty. She ain’t never been married. She doesn’t give a shit a bout nothin’ so long as she gets dessert. Behind her, ders my sister Catherine, she fuckin’ perfect, she go to mass every day, everybody go on and on and on ‘why can’t youse be like Catherine.’ All dat church don’t do her no good ‘cause she’s the meanest bitch I ever seen. And Gramma is gonna leave her all her jewelry; well who cares! Ain’t nobody want all her ugly shit anyways. That young guy up by Gramma— I‘m jus smushing all together like 20 years or somethin’— anyways he’s my brother, he’s up front cause he told Gramma he was thinking about goin’ in the priesthood; Gramma looked like she had a hit a dope, ya know what I mean? So now he’s her favorite. If he gonna be a priest I’m fuckin’ Einstein, ya know what I mean? No way he’s gonna be a priest, he fucks everything he sees. Gina tells me he’s been giving everyone the clap an he got fired at A&P for sticky fingers. Dat guy behind him, dat could be Uncle Jerry; I don’t know too much about him; he might been a nice guy; his wife died now he practically lives at the pub. He practically lived dare before, but now it’s full-time. Oh, and dat couple on the bottom right, I’m gonna make them my Aunt Jean and her husband, I forgets what his name was, anyways they take the cake! They talked Gramma into getting a loan on her house for ten grand. Very, very, very big money, you hear me? Hey were gettin’ in on the ground floor of some deal that was gonna make Gramma rich, everybody rich. I dunno what happened, but six months later they was vamoose. Gone. Many years later, I heard they was maybe in Florida, but we ain’t never seen them again. An get dis, the goddamn hairy Labriola family down the block? Everybody say, ‘Oh why can’t we be like those people, they love, love, love, each other. Nobody ain’t never passed out on thems front steps. Family, family, family, all about family. Everybody love. Even when they fight. When they fight, it sound like a goddamn opera, when we fight, it sound like animals.’ Well, you guess what? Two days before Christmas what happens? Angelo Jr. stabs to death he’s father Angelo Sr.! Well he had a heart attack at the hospital, but it was cause he got stabbed. Nobody ain’t never got stabbed at my house! Thanksgivin’ ain’t like that picture for nobody, dat’s made up shit to make us people feel like crap. Oh, and den, after Joe and me got married and we’s went to his house….don’t get me started. So dare’s your happy fucking Thanksgivin’. Jus be glad youse ain’t dead. Everythin’ else is gravy, GRAVY! Ya hear me!”

“Oh, and Merry Fuckin’ Christmas, don’t even get me goin’ on that one!”

“You makin’ me hungry talkin’ about Thanksgivin’. Lemme see what you has in the fridge here.”

Copyright © 2015 MRStrauss • All rights reserved