Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Fucking Lasagna

Be The CheeseBruce Springsteen tells the story of how his father never called Bruce's guitar the "Gibson guitar" or the "six-string guitar". It was always "the goddamn guitar."

I'm starting to think that I should use similar nomenclature with my famed lasagna recipe. (My secret is more sauce than any reasonable human being would use. So much that there really isn't much difference between corner pieces and center pieces, except on a philosophical level.)

The problem is that after making The Fucking Lasagnas, as they shall henceforth be known, I need about 6 hours on a fainting couch. Which I'm never gonna get because people are coming over to eat lasagna. And yes, that was lasagnaS. Plural. I can't remember the last time I made only one lasagna. It's gotta be two - one cheese and one meat, for the benefit of our friendly neighborhood vegetarians.*

*Mainly, this is my cousin/godson who insists on calling my lasagna "Dave's lasagna" in honor of my brother, with whom I co-developed this recipe. Dave doesn't even make lasagna this way anymore and in fact, the last time we discussed it, Dave was firmly in the pro-baked ziti camp, as it is much easier to assemble. (I agree, but I have fans to please.) When I object, said godson calls it "Jen's Dave's Lasagna". I threatened not to let him have any if he kept doing that, but he knows how hollow that threat is. The things we tolerate for love.

Anyway, so making lasagna means boiling noodles (because I'm just agin' no-boil noodles), making sauce from scratch, shredding mozzarella by hand (because I'm not paying extra for pre-shredded cheese), cooking ground turkey in a skillet, then assembling two lasagnas side by side to assure equal sauce and cheese distribution.

Not only is this tiring, but there are a lot of ways where this can go horribly awry. I'm not even talking about the minor burns on my fingertips I get from touching the noodles because I refuse to rinse them in cold water, because that would wash away the starch, and then the only thing holding the sauce to the noodles would be gravity and good intentions.

So here's what went wrong with last weekend's batch:

First, the noodles we got from Fresh Direct didn't include boiling instructions. Fuckers. You shouldn't be allowed to put pictures of peasants on the package if you're going to start with that no boil nonsense. The instructions were either bake for x minutes, or boil for 4 minutes and then bake for an additional 20 minutes in the pan. Sigh.

So I started boiling the noodles we already had, then with 4 minutes to spare, I stopped shredding cheese and tossed in the other noodles. Which, having cooked for only 4 minutes, and having been tossed in several at a time instead of one at a time, emerged in several large blocks. Which His Awesomeness had to pry apart under the faucet because by this point, I was a nervous wreck because...

when I looked for the ground turkey, it wasn't in the fridge. It was in a tote bag under several bags of chips. Fortunately for everyone, HA went back to the store to buy more because if I'd gone, I would've strangled the bag boy who'd placed them there the PREVIOUS DAY. You see, I handed the bag guy, man, whatever my tote bags and he started putting my groceries in one of them. Then walked away to answer the phone. With the bag in his hand. Which is how I ended up putting everything but the chips into the bag he'd left behind, oblivious to perishable item he'd packed and walked away with.


Oh, and before all this, I discovered that the fresh garlic we'd bought at the food co-op was from a mutant strain. It contained dozens of wee tiny mini-cloves. I finally had to give up trying to peel them the normal way and just crushed them and removed the skins from the remains. I've never seen a clove of garlic like that before and probably never will again. It's like the entire universe conspires to drive me crazy at lasagna time.

I always give myself 2 hours to assemble the lasagnas. Pardon me, the fucking lasagnas. As I'm about to start, I never fail to think that it can't possibly take me two whole hours to assemble two lasagnas. It's my speciality. How hard can it be? And then it takes two hours.

Not including recovery time.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Clearing Out My Brain

2 : :rage:I'm starting this on my phone because I'm on the subway on the way to yet another doctor's appointment. It's starting to feel like I have a day job just going to doctors. And of course I can't schedule more than one appointment for one day because they all have different schedules.

OMG if this guy next to me doesn't close his legs ima gonna lose my temper and ask him nicely to stop invading my space and pushing my bad knee into the pole.

Is there a nice version of "dude your balls are not that big, close your fucking legs already"?

While I was typing that the guy on the other side of the pole who was taking up an extra space by putting his giant backpack on the floor in front of the seat next to him just got up, so I moved. And big balls guy took the opportunity to slouch and spread out more.

God, this is a symphony of bad subway etiquette today.

Seriously, autocomplete? Guessing what word I'm typing one letter before the end is hardly helpful.

All these little stresses on top of the big stresses are, well let's just say that I'll be listening to Appetite for Destruction* later and singing along loudly. God help my upstairs neighbor if he comes down to complain. (*How fucking adorable is it the first sentence of the Wikipedia page for Appetite for Destruction? I'd like to think that if 1989 Guns 'n Roses were told that someday there would be an encyclopedia entry for their debut album, they would've responded by giving the finger to whoever was telling them that.)

Speaking of neighbors, thanks to the post office for leaving my next door neighbor's package at my door by mistake. I forgot her name as soon as she introduced herself and she's really friendly and remembers my name and now I don't have to admit to her what a dumbass I am and ask her to tell me her name again.

The one time I actually tried that, the woman was totally offended. We'd only met a few times and I had a cocktail in my hand. Cut me some slack woman who I had a cooking club with once but who I haven seen in years and has since forgotten me too.

So much for charmingly admitting I'm an idiot.

OK so roll call of the big stresses:
  • Visiting the kid every weekend, which is awesome but involves a 4 hour drive. It also means that we have only 1 weekend day to do everything we need to.
  • Toe surgery delayed until after my walking-heavy vacation. My podiatrist is going to hook me up with a new cushiony thing for my toe so that I might be able to wear sneakers at least. But if I end up renting a scooter or wheelchair because of my freaking toe, HA is going to be in serious trouble since the toe is all his fault. I'm not sure I even mentioned it, but I stubbed my toe on a suitcase that SOMEONE should've put away 2 weeks earlier when he first returned from his fancy movie business trip. I thought I broke it, but it turns out that I exacerbated a hammer toe and now I can't really get my foot into any shoes without owies.

Of course thanks to the migraines, he does most of the cooking and dish doing, so what the hell could I make him do to make it up to me? Make him do more than ALL the laundry which it the amount he does now because the competition for dryers at the laundromat drives me insane. He's offered to push me around in a rented wheelchair, so maybe that can be his punishment. That way, he has to drive.


And on the trip home, the couple next to me were performing Brooklyn Italian-American stereotype performance art, complete with play fighting of the verbal and physical kind. And an idiotic conversation about where the wife was going to buy a mushroom on the way home. Not a plural amount of mushrooms, just one. Apparently. The green grocers next to their subway store doesn't carry mushrooms and apparently this is such an ordeal that th husband even asked if she wanted to meet him at home instead of having him come along while she bought a mushroom.

I couldn't read anymore as soon as they showed up, but thanks to my precious Kindle, I could switch to a game, which they still distracted me from, but less annoyingly so. On the downside, you can't hit anyone with a Kindle, since, you know, expensive electronic device. And the rules of civilized behavior.

I'm starting to understand the appeal of suburban sprawl - less human contact. Who woulda thought that would be a good thing ?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Like the F-word, a sigh is appropriate in so many situations, and can mean so many things.

Things that have made me sigh in disappointment and frustration, because my stress has been increased and my faith in human beings has decreased:
  • The plumber's no show last Thursday.
  • The owner's vague promise that "they'll be there by 11" on Tuesday (today). Does that mean the plumber will be here by 11, so the porter will be here to break the tile before that? Does that mean the tile busting starts by 11? How early can "by 11" be? They could show up at 8 am - that's by 11. (We checked with the porter last night who said he'd stop by at 10 to let me know what was going on. 45 minutes later, he hasn't come by yet.)
  • A bureaucratic delay in my toe surgery that may mean I can't have the surgery before a walking-intensive vacation in early June. Since I can't currently wear sneakers all day without pain, this could be a problem. A problem I can fix by buying a second pair of sandals, the kind of which that should be as comfy as sneakers, but with open toes. (to a suggestion? Leave 'em in the comments. I already have a pair of Birkenstocks, but we'll be doing so much walking that I won't be able to wear the same shows 2 days in a row.
  • The load banging the porter and plumber are making in the 4 minutes since their 10:53 arrival. Yesterday's migraine was all the way out the door and waiting for the elevator, but now he might be coming back in to stay after all.
  • Blogger's insistence on Times New Roman as a default font. Seriously, blogger? A serif font online? You shoulda known better than that in 1999.
Things that have made me sigh in contentment:
  • This weekend's visit with The Kid. It's one of many steps it'll take to become a family, but it's nice to take a moment and notice it's happening. And, of course, the long drive home gave us plenty of time for that.
My grand return to driving didn't happen. The damp weather meant that Monday's migraine was already knocking on the door and HA and I were both afraid that the added stress of driving would invite Hector the Migraine Fairy right on in. Since I'm not having foot surgery this week, I should be able to pitch in this coming weekend.

Most of what we need to do on these visits is hang out, so we took her to the Palisades Mall. Holy fuck and half, that place is huge! They have a ferris wheel, and a merry-go-round, INSIDE the mall. They have an ice skating rink. They have a LIVE COMEDY CLUB. They have more big anchor stores than I could count. They have so many kiosks that sell just sunglasses or cellphone cases that I stopped counting after 5. And am IMAX movie theater.

In contrast, the mall I grew up with in Brooklyn is Kings Plaza. We had two anchor stores (Macy's and Alexanders, later Sears). We had a sunglasses hut kiosk - one of them. You could probably fit more than 5 Kings Plazas in the Palisades Center. I know I could probably find out the square footage with some simple google-fu and do the math, but I don't feel like wrapping my brain around it all.

We had lunch, then The Kid showed us her favorite stores. She mentioned that there was a bedding set in Target that she really wanted for her dream bedroom, so we bought that. We'll take her shopping for curtains and blinds after we've measured the windows. It hadn't even occurred to me to take her shopping for those things - dumbass me was thinking we'd have to run to Target on one of the days that we don't go to visit her. Of course, us city kids are mall-deprived, so what the hell do I know?

Then we hung out in the food court and played Uno and mancala. Then dinner, and making plans for next weekend's visit. She says she's going to teach me to throw a football, which I already know how to do. CATCHING a football is completely different matter, so maybe she can teach me that.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Okay, Okay!

Kid's HeadThe Kid. 

Well, there's a lot that's none of your damn business unless the kid decides to start her own blog and share it with the world herself. But I can tell you one very critical important piece of information.

She is Team Jacob.

Phew! You have no idea what a relief that is. Of course, she was going to be into Twilight - she's a 13 year old girl. But Edward is a really bad boyfriend. I mean, the guy sneaks into Bella's room and watches her sleep while he's still considering whether he's going to date her or drain her of every delicious drop of blood she's got. 

I can't help but feel that members of Team Edward need some deprogramming to save them from real-life stalker boys.


So we met and chatted for about an hour with the kid, her therapist and her social worker. All the visits after that will be just the three of us. There isn't a whole lot to do in Way The Hell Upstate, but we'll figure something out. It's more about spending time together until she feels comfortable with us.

So yeah, so far, so good. It looks like we're a go. Yay!