It is on this day that I think about my Mom and Dad.
Saint Patrick’s Day would find my mother in the kitchen cooking her corned beef and cabbage.
And God help you if you didn’t stop by for a plate and a pint.
I miss them both dearly on this day but know in my heart they are here with me as I serve my own
a dish they both dearly loved.
Danny Boy is for me Mum.
Miss you, Ginny.
Blessed be Ireland and all those from County Cork. [my roots]
It is on this day that I think about my Mom and Dad.
Many people know the magical story of my winning of a beautiful CharBroil grill back in September of last year.
I never win anything but somehow I won this amazing grill.
This isn’t a story about the winning but one of the grill itself.
And yeah, it’s awesome.
I have named him ‘Ted‘.
This Tru-Infrared grill has changed my thoughts and feelings about gas grills in general.
It used to be that gas grills produced dry burgers and drier pieces of burnt chicken but that has all changed.
I remember ‘working the dancefloor’ with so many grills over the years because of hot and cold spots.
The ‘dance’ would add another 20 minutes to my cooking times because every single piece of chicken or beef cooked differently.
The grill I currently own called ‘Ted’ has changed my mind about gas grills.
I cook breakfast on the sideburner (not stinking the house up with bacon grease) and rotisserie pork shoulders for supper.
There’s no more ‘working the dancefloor’ with this grill.
All surfaces are equal.
Cooking times are less, burgers and chicken are always juicier with some serious char marks.
This grill gets quite hot, folks.
My oldest daughter, Sarah and future SIL, Jonathan, bought me a Charbroil rotisserie for Christmas.
I made a pork shoulder last week that was simply amazing.
It was like crunchy bacon on the outside, tender and moist on the inside.
The thing is, I did nothing.
I watched in amazement as this huge churning chunk of meat came to fruition.
Charbroil has changed the life of my family for the better.
When Dad is cooking something on the grill these days, it IS special.
My thanks go out to all the wonderful folks from Charbroil especially, Michael Williams of the Charbroil Social Media department.
Michael has been a wonderful representative of a company that I will forever endorse.
We have traded many emails [how many, Michael?] and I would feel comfortable having him to my house for a nice meal someday.
Think about it, MW.
For all your grilling needs?
Look no further than Charbroil . . . .
Awesome company, awesome products, the best in support.
End of story.
About a month or so ago Pamela decided that we needed to modify and improve our eating habits.
We shied away from calling this a diet and settled on what we consider to ultimately be a change
What we’re doing is in no way groundbreaking but it does make a lot of sense.
Based on your height and current weight you are allowed X number of calories a day.
Pamela said, “If you want to drink Guinness all day, you can. But when you’ve reached your calorie limit, you’re done.”
Obviously a diet consisting purely of Guinness draft would never work for me.
Just for shits and giggles I did figure out that I could have 12 glasses of the dark magic to equal my daily allotment.
My employer wouldn’t like it nor would my MD (who already put the kibosh on my past Guinness intake)
One or two beers a night doesn’t seem like much in the scheme of things but it does add up over time.
I’ve since limited myself to several on the weekend.
I am breaking my own rule tonight as I write this by having one but I have counted it and still have 600+ calories to consume before bedtime.
I have lost close to 14lbs since embarking on this diet change and I have noticed some changes in my body.
It’s easier bending over and the edges of my underwear don’t roll up anymore like a tightly made burrito from Taco Bell.
And I will need to look for some new khaki’s and pants soon because when I tighten my belt the trousers reek of hillbilly feng shui.
Maybe I just need a rope belt.
Walking is easier and sleeping is more sound these days so I’m thinking I’m on the right track.
But with everything good comes something not so good.
I am realizing that two visits to 5 Guys Burgers in one week is not a good thing.
Fried Clams are not my friends anymore (sadly) and Ben and Jerry’s should actually be illegal.
I think back through my eating history and just wonder, ‘what the hell?’
But fried clams are sooooo good.
As is Chunky Monkey ice cream.
But I also want to be around to see my grandkids, too.
You can’t have both.
Fried clams or grandkids?
How about fried grandkids with a side of Chunky Monkey?
I digress . . .
At 53 years old, I have seen the light.
It’s not pretty to look at but it has shown me that the food I was eating was killing me.
Sodium, saturated fats, sugars and little bastard carbs have been swirling around my body wreaking havoc on everything from my triglycerides to my cholesterol and more.
Now before you start thinking I’m going all health-nut on your ass, I’m not.
We all make choices everyday in terms of the food we eat.
I’m just thinking we could all do a bit better.
This little nugget came to me after a friend inhaled an entire plate of Dan Dan Noodles from P.F.Chang’s a week ago.
(I call the restaurant Poof Changs)
On a whim, I checked out the nutritional value online and was gobsmacked.
One order of Dan Dan’s supposedly serves three people, not one.
One serving contains 990 calories.
Sat Fat: 23gms
Sodium: (a drum roll, please) a whopping 6190mgs!
I do hope I was reading the chart wrong and maybe I was.
A dish with over 18,000mgs of sodium can’t be possible, could it?
Your heart would just stop, yes?
Either way at over 6K mgs of sodium, divided three ways you’re still talking close to one daily allotment of salt.
Smack my ass and call me Sally, that’s a shitload of salt.
All I’m saying here is you should weigh your options in terms of what you eat.
I will get off my dietary soapbox now and go back to wherever it is that I go when I’m not writing.
It’s a low-sodium place these days.
When our friends from Australia get here in October, Mark wants fried clams.
I’m hoping he’s up for splitting an order.
I want him around for a long, long time . . .
and you guys too.
A year ago about this time the talk around town (and Facebook) was all about Pamela and me going to Australia.
It seems like yesterday but it feels like years since we were talking about it.
That said, here I am still reminiscing about the 2 weeks in time that I will not soon forget.
I began writing about our journey a while back and stopped short for reasons that now elude me.
Let’s just say that life sometimes gets in the way.
Please forgive me.
My last post got us to Townsville in Queensland where Moe and Mark live.
I remember descending into the small airport and thinking, “So, this is where we Skype every weekend,” not knowing that there was much more than meets the eye behind this place called Townsville (aka, Paradise).
After taking a badly needed shower, Pamela and me proceeded to do what you do on holiday.
We sat our asses in the backyard and had a few drinks, a few cigars and talked about our flights over.
The QLD sun was hotter than I thought it would be and I found a slice of shade to sit in.
I kept mentally pinching myself as if to notify my tired brain that I was really sitting in Oz;
being that far away from home can disorient you into believing you’re not really there.
I got the piss taken out of me 244 times that afternoon. (yeah, I counted)
The plan for the day was to chill out for a bit and go to Mel and Steve’s
(Moe and Mark’s daughter and son-in-law) later that day for our first authentic Australian barbecue.
The details of our first afternoon are a bit foggy but I do remember shitting my pants on our drive over when Mark went into the first Aussie roundabout I had ever encountered.
I mentally made the sign of the Cross knowing I was about to die because he was going the opposite way that people in the States go.
After getting through the roundabout I once again made the sign of the Cross and began a deeper understanding of the phrase, ‘DownUnder’.
Please pass me the vegemite.
We arrived at Mel and Steve’s and got a tour of the place which was under some serious renovation.
With the help of Caleb and Lucas (M&S’s sons) we toured the house which was in a transition phase.
In about six months this place would be a palace.
I still badly want Mel’s kitchen which was any true chef’s dream.
Appetizers came out; Prawns (huge ass shrimp for you folks in the Northeast, but they’re sweeter than shrimp), Cabana and cheese (Cabana is like a really nice mild but spicy kielbasa), fruit, veggies and more than one could ever eat. [just you wait for my description of the amazing Brie in Victoria]
But Steve had a plan for me in terms of Australian beer.
XXXX Gold: (rat piss in a can, and Steve told me I could just toss it, which I did)
Toohey’s New: (not bad but reminded me of Sam Adam’s lager, which I hate. I drank it though)
VB Victoria Bitters; once again not bad but not much better than Toohey’s.
James Boag; a total winner for me, hands down. A great beer with flavor and strength to boot.
With multiple beers under my belt I watched in amazement as Steve grilled our food.
The smell coming off the grill should be made into a MAN cologne. [truth]
Snags, lamb chops, steak and grilled onions made my stomach yearn for some food.
Snags, btw, are beef sausages and not available in the US.
The aroma of grilled snags is simply wonderful.
Steve also made some snags w/ vegemite.
How do you spell AWESOME?
We sat and ate a BBQ that just blew my mind (and our caloric count for the day)(like I was counting, right?)
Life was very good that night at Mel and Steve’s.
To them we were in a sense strangers but they made us feel like family.
And maybe we were; I like to think that.
The blazing sun had set hours before we got done eating and it was time for yours truly to look at the Australian night sky.
Me, Mark, Steve, Caleb and Lucas went out into the front yard.
“There it is,” Mark said.
As he was pointing, I saw it.
I’ve loved stargazing for as long as I can remember but never have I wanted to see something as bad as this.
“The Southern Cross.”
I gazed at it, totally spellbound, tears forming in my eyes.
My first night in Oz was now complete.
That was until Mel brought out the Pavlova.
to be continued . . .
ps. Snags and eggs? I love you.
With hundreds of red-winged blackbirds falling dead out of the sky in Louisiana,
more tornadoes than the NOAA can count,
earthquakes the magnitudes of which the world has never seen,
tropical cyclones that can only be classified as deadly and a massive oil spill that was the worst
environmental disaster of all time, I thought it was high time for some good news.
Some funny news.
Maybe even some fake and made up news.
Anything but the bullshit the media gives us.
Just scanning the web I found a number of interesting stories.
Thank you Google.
Like THIS one.
Heartwarming and true.
Or THIS one.
Not so heartwarming but probably true.
Or THIS one.
Not heartwarming at all but damn funny in a very dark and Pan’s Labyrinth kind of way.
There, you feel better already, yes?
And no, I am not getting up at 3AM to watch the Royal Wedding.
I need my beauty sleep, for God’s sake . . .
During my lunch hour today I wanted to drop off a fountain pen for repair.
This meant a walk to Downtown Crossing in the shopping district,
an area swarming with people today due to the warm summer weather.
The Bromfield Pen Shop is a place I have dreams about with all their pens, cool ink and exotic paper.
It’s the only place in Boston to take a sick pen; the patient of the day: a Mont Blanc fountain pen.
As I walked down Washington Street, grilled sausages, onions and red and green peppers assaulted my olfactory senses.
I was hungry and had multiple thoughts of mustard.
Spicy, brown mustard.
I was limited on time so I dropped off the pen and didn’t chance a look at the new inks
that had undoubtedly come in.
I am a big-time sucker for creatively colored inks.
Thank my lucky stars I didn’t have the time to spend money I don’t have on inks I really don’t need.
And ink is sooooo cool.
You have no idea.
I left the pen shop and walked up Bromfield Street when I saw a sign for a tres cool sandwich shop.
I walked in and saw a line longer than the bank on payday.
I would settle for a grilled chicken sandwich from Burger King. (yummy, right?)
I sat down to eat and noticed an older black man panhandling right outside the front door.
This guy was a bit different though.
He wasn’t asking for money, though he did hold a large BK cup in his hand.
I watched through the glass as he mouthed ‘hello’ and ‘have a nice day, now’ to the many people walking by.
He was polite and generally unobtrusive for a needy guy.
And he was needy.
He stood about my height (5’8”) and had on ratty clothes, the overall effect topped off
with a weathered Boston Red Sox hat.
His toothless smile seemed almost innocuous. . . inviting.
You almost wanted to forgive him though he’d done no wrong, if that makes any sense.
As a rule, I don’t give money to street people.
I might offer a piece of fruit or a bottle of water if I have an extra.
I reached into my BK bag and took out an order of French Fries that I hadn’t ordered.
I brought them up to the register and told the woman that waited on me that I hadn’t ordered them. She waved her hand in a ‘no comprende’ way and said ‘keep them’.
I haven’t been eating fries lately and decided my windfall would be a snack for the man outside ‘working the street’.
I ate my lunch and continued to watch this man smile, say hello, give directions and take whatever this unblinking society would give him.
I finished my sandwich and grabbed the bag with the fries (still sufficiently hot) and left.
I walked up and handed him the bag and said, “Here, eat these. You do eat fries, don’t ya’?”
You would have thought I’d just given him a winning lottery ticket.
He smiled and said, “Bless you, my brother. Bless your heart.”
I walked across Tremont Street and through a warm, sunny Boston Common back to work,
oddly happy to have been sincerely blessed.
Some thoughts from many years ago (2006)
Seems like yesterday . . .
We had my father over for Easter dinner on Sunday.
My sister wanted to pick him up and bring him over; something I believe she had to do.
I think she fears there won’t be many more left to share.
Sadly, I would have to agree.
Actually, I would have agreed over a year ago.
I have to give her credit for going through the rigmarole of getting him ready,
seated safely in the car and bringing him over to our house.
I’ve been there, done that and bought the t-shirt.
My father has a difficult time walking these days reminding me more of Charlie Chaplin than the man I once called “Dad”.
It’s an unfortunate physical side effect of a brain at war with total neurological disintegration.
We eventually got him into my living room and plopped him down in my favorite chair:
one, because the chair is just so damn comfortable
and two, because when we finally let him go, it would be impossible for him to miss it.
We all sat down to eat and my sister and I filled his plate with ham,
green beans and Au gratin potatoes, all of which we cut up into pieces to make it easier for him to feed himself.
And feed himself he did.
He ate everything on the plate.
Either my cooking was really good that day or where he’s currently staying is really bad.
Whatever the case, it was wonderful to see him enjoy a meal.
He didn’t speak a word as he ate.
My wife caught him stabbing at an empty spot on his plate.
She gently rotated his plate to where the food was and he was none the wiser.
The rest of the afternoon went off without a hitch.
After eating, we ushered him back to my chair where he fell asleep; perhaps shuffling through his own little world of monochromatic movie screens and silent dreams . . . a sleeping Charlie Chaplin.
We woke him an hour or so later and got him back into the car.
As I fastened his seat belt, I looked at him as he peered over the rims of his glasses and I said,
“No Boston Marathon for you tomorrow, young man.”
I’m sure he didn’t understand a word I said but knew enough to do a little chuckle and mutter, “Yeah”.
He plays the game so well most days so why the hell can’t I?
For me, the Easter cupboard was somewhat threadbare in terms of holiday revelations
and personal epiphanies but I did get to marvel over the way my Dad still gets through his days.
In many ways, he’s graceful in a way I may never be.
As long as his surreal movie keeps playing,
I’ll continue to watch him as he shuffles through his seemingly silent and black and white world,
just like Chaplin.
Welcome to Malarky Monday!
(the *I Spy edition)
This is the one day of the week that we offer up some
of the crazy stuff we find floating around the web.
We hope to make you giggle, spit, laugh, cry until it hurts and ultimately smile.
There’s nothing here that will take a boatload of time so be sure to visit
my fellows in hijinx!
This week I ‘spied’ some serious and epic fails on the net.
Here are several leviathan food fails.
Anyone for some canned chicken?
I spy wicked disgusting.
How about a bacon rifle?
I wonder if it can fire a fried egg?
I spy a stupid guy way too proud of a pork product.
Or my personal favorite: Meat Water
Mmm, mmm, mmm
You just can’t beat the combination of ground beef and aged cheddar.
I didn’t even mention the ease of portability.
I spy a drink that’s light years away from thirst quenching.
Last but not least this hysterical cat clip.
I spy a seriously funny cat.
Happy Malarky Monday!
I run into many interesting people during the course of my day in Boston.
This morning a customer took me by surprise with a true story that was just too damn funny not to share. I am not making this up folks.
May not be suitable for reading the kids before bed either.
I made mention of the fact that I had made chili on Wednesday when BLH said, “I gotta good chili story for ya.”
In the (somewhat) paraphrased words of BLH:
“This was several years ago when I was living next to two gay guys.
Great guys, too.
They did their thing, I did mine, ya know?
Live and let live, I say.
Anyway, my kitchen window looked right into theirs as it was less than 15 feet away.
So this one summer day, I’m making chili.
Beautiful day, windows open, music on and I’m chopping up onions and garlic and Habanero peppers for my chili.
I leave the kitchen for a minute to go and take a piss and resume my cooking.
It’s not even 2 minutes later that ‘Mr. Willy’ starts to heat up.
Like really heating up.
I look at the Habanero peppers now nicely chopped and look down at my crotch and think, “Dear God, no.”
Within 5 minutes, I realize that ‘Mr. Willy’ needs some serious medical attention.
This is getting painful.
And really hot.
I get a facecloth, soak it in cold water and drop my pants right there in the middle of the kitchen.
It didn’t take long to realize that all the wet facecloth did was move all the hot stuff down to my
two soon-to-be ‘Hot Mexican jumping beans’.
I was in too much pain and making too many oohs and ahhs to realize that I was also gathering something of an audience 15 feet across the way.
With my crotch turning into a smoking Mojave desert, I was getting desperate.
(Is that steam?)
Christ, I’m on fire down there!
I suddenly remembered buying a big container of sour cream for the chili and
waddled like a penguin over to the fridge.
I ripped open the container like a madman, took a fistful of the cool white stuff
and began rubbing it in gobs into the raging fire down below.
My oohs, ahhs and general sounds of relief were obviously misinterpreted by my now smiling neighbors across the way.
There I am with my pants down, breathing heavy, and sour cream smeared all over my crotch.
A proud Kodak moment for me, ya know?
I’m close to my mother so I told her the story, and man, did she laugh.
Two weeks later, I’m out to breakfast with her at a place she frequently goes.
The waitress brings my breakfast of fried eggs, home fries and bacon
but on the side of the plate is a small tub of sour cream.
I asked the waitress, “What’s up with the sour cream?”
She winked and said, “Your mother says you really like it.”
(I am laughing hysterically now)
You’ll be thinking about this every time you make chili now, right?”
Yeah, BLH, you are sooo right.
Was it a funny Thursday morning for me?
You betcha schweet bippie.
Thanks for a great tale, BLH
You have total attribution.
I just hope I did you some justice.
(BLH’s version is much funnier but has a different rating)
Hopefully ’Mr. Willy’ has found some cooler climes by now.
And, BLH, I hope you were using low-fat sour cream.
That regular stuff is just plain nasty . . .