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I’m a Mess

I’m not kidding when I say I watch Hoarders to feel better about myself.

Well, I’m not a hoarder, and I feel really bad for anyone struggling with that issue. See, I have a big fear of filth, dirt and cooties. I am one of the biggest germaphobes there is. I apply hand sanitizer with an antibacterial wipe. You should see it when I stay at a hotel – man, I hit that place like Hazmat. However, I am guilty of “cluttering.” Yeah, I make mini-tornados all around my house.

I definitely am a messmaker. In fact, that’s one of Jay’s nicknames for me … typically used when I’m cooking. I love to cook and experiment with new recipes. But look out. When I’m in the kitchen, there is stuff flying everywhere – measuring cups landing here, sauces flung there, vegetable peels stuck to the wall, flour poofing all over the place. I don’t know what happens. I always start out organized. I neatly put out my cutting board, bowls, whisks, measuring cups, whatever; and, of course, a garbage bowl like Rachael Ray taught us. Though I don’t have a fancy $35 dollar garbage bowl; I use a plastic grocery bag (Mom would be proud).

It’s the same thing when I make jewelry or other crafts. I have stuff everywhere. Plus, if I set a tool or component down to get back to later, when I need it, I can’t remember where I put it. When I used to work for The Man I’d do the same thing with my pen. Doesn’t matter that I just wrote something with it five minutes prior; I could never find that thing on my desk.

So as for my clutter issue, me thinks it’s just subconscious adult rebellion from growing up under the watchful eye of Mary Ann. That woman ran our house like a well-oiled machine. We had to make our beds every day (Um, what? We’re just going to sleep in them again in 16 hours. Ask me if I make my bed today …) Once, she even did the “dime test.” She bounced a dime off our sheets like they did in the military to see if they were stretched tight enough. I can’t remember if she was joking then or not. Probably not. So she wasn’t too proud when my dime hit the sheet and stuck like glue. Mom was cleaning our house 24/7. And my sisters and I had to help clean it. We had serious chore lists, people. Maybe you’ve seen that post. Along with vacuuming, dusting, floor-scrubbing, dish-washing, lunch-making and yard work, Mom would always have special tasks for us to complete. We actually had to clean the leaves of fake house plants with vinegar. We polished and shined my Dad’s work shoes. We cleaned our combs with old toothbrushes. We soaked and scrubbed shoe laces. Holy crap, I’m not sure if I’m still talking about my childhood or summarizing the film, Mommie Dearest.

I actually like having a clean, uncluttered house. I work on it every time we’re expecting company. But I will likely never file everything in my office stack of papers which is now seven inches high. I will probably never sort through my box of photos and get them in fancy little frames to put on the wall. I will probably never organize the pantry. I will probably never sort the random jewelry-making components piled all over my work desk. I will probably never go through all the random flower pots on the side of the house and paint them and plant something in them like I planned. I will probably never go through the crap stuck in the seat pockets in my car.

But that’s cool. It doesn’t matter. I’ve got better things to do. The truth is, I probably will eventually file that stack of paper (at least by April 15, 2015), and sort through the photos, and maybe even organize the pantry. But I’m pretty sure the mess-making will continue in the kitchen.

“Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.”

I love that quote. Not sure who should be given credit for it … Harriet Van Horne … the Dalai Lama … Life’s Little Instruction Book. Maybe my Mom.

messy

Today’s Jay’s birthday. The big one. Well, the big one until the next decade rolls around. Jay is in a class by himself: he has so much personality, and is always coming up with the funniest things. And I’m not just talking about his famous food concoctions. No, one of his latest goals is to be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. If you asked me, I’d say he was trying to break the world record for the most Selfies and Photo Bombs. I think Jay created Selfies. Here’s a picture below, taken by Jay somewhere around 2001 with a Kodak camera, when no one really knew what a Selfie was:

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I remember thinking what a weirdo he was. Cute, but weird. Who takes pictures of themselves? Of course, then I saw Dave Attell take pictures of himself on “Insomniac With Dave Attell” when he was pub crawling with complete strangers. Now that was funny.

Here’s another Selfie Jay took circa 2003:

jay selfie mirror

Now that’s a fancy version of a Selfie. Taking a picture into a mirror? Somebody loves himself.  I also remember all the times in the past Jay would sneak into staged photos right when they were being snapped – which is now known as photo-bombing. Guess he invented that, too. Jay’s photo-bombing rubbed off on my Dad. Here’s Papa Don photo-bombing us. Jay was taking another Selfie and I just happened to be in it:

selfie with dad photobombing

Actually I guess Jay’s quite the revolutionary. So back to the Guinness Book of World Records. He got my attention with the word “Guinness.” Jay has many talents, and the one he’s working on now should result in, as he claims, making him the guy who can catch a grape in his mouth thrown from the farthest distance. He’ll often ask nieces and nephews to throw a grape, peanut or M&M at him so he can practice catching. Sometimes it lands in his mouth. If it doesn’t, he eats it anyway.

You know before the Guinness Book of World Records was established, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! was the world authority on oddities, extraordinary feats and weirdness. I should know; this is my Uncle:

Uncle Gardner

Yep, that’s my Great, Great Uncle Gardner Taylor. He was a blacksmith with very strong ears (“cauliflower ears” as my Dad called them) who fashioned hooks to an anvil and lifted said anvil up by his ears: 150-something pounds of anvil. He made it into Ripley’s Believe It or Not! When I was a little kid, I remember my Grandma showing me an old postcard Uncle Gardner sent her featuring him doing the same thing. That’s when I realized I came from fancy lineage. Let’s see if I married into it.

I’m amazed by all the electronic devices and handheld toys kids have these days. I mean, Portable NES, PSP, Retro Duo, tablet, Kindle Fire, iPad, portable DVD player,  laptop, smart phone … just to name a few. I’m not even sure I’ve got those names right.

You know what kind of fancy electronic device my sisters and I played with as kids? A calculator. Oh yeah, that would entertain us for hours. It was a huge step up from writing on foggy car windows with our fingers during long car rides. You remember these clever calculator combinations, right?

Naturally:

hello

And the ever popular:

hell

And the more fancy ever popular:

ohhell

Not to mention a few other words I shouldn’t list here. I tried to recreate this amazing number/word phenomenon on my smart phone, but when I turned it upside down, the display just went sideways and turned into some crazy Albert Einstein-worthy display of symbols I’ve never seen before in my life.

Besides the calculator, we had just as much fun playing on the phone back then … a rotary phone nailed to the kitchen wall with a long cord that we could barely wrap into the adjoining family room to have some privacy during our allotted 30 minutes of talk time. I can’t remember it now, but there was a number we could call to make the house phone ring. My sisters and I would dial the number … dragging one number around the dial, then another, until finally all seven digits were dialed. When the phone rang, we’d pick it up fast and say “Hey, so-and-so, your boyfriend’s on the phone!” Then so-and-so (one of the sisters who wasn’t in on the prank that particular day) would pick it up … and hear that loud whistle that escalated and escalated then dimmed, and escalated and escalated and dimmed. It was hysterical. Unless my older sister Tracy was the unwilling victim, cuz then she’d beat the crap out of me.

Sometimes my Mom would get trapped at the front door talking to the gardener for a half hour, and she was too nice to dismiss him, so we’d have to pull that phone trick to save her. Wait a minute, we had a gardener???! But I had to eat Friday Night Casserole???!

I love Friday the 13th. I don’t care what all you big babies think; there’s nothing unlucky about it. Friday’s my favorite day of the week, and 13 is my favorite number. So what’s not to love? Well, I guess the movie Friday the 13th. And I’m not talking about one of the 1,400 remakes. I’m talking about the original 1980 version I saw in the theater when slasher flicks were just gaining momentum. The thought of Jason still scares the crap out of me when I’m camping near a lake. Which is every summer at my Dad’s. The original Friday the 13th was pretty cheesy now that I think about it; but back in the day, sitting in a dark movie theater and seeing that stuff on the big screen, along with the crazy “Ch-Ch-Ch-Ah-Ah-Ah” sound effects, was much scarier than renting a copy of Freddy vs. Jason and watching it on TV while texting and tweeting.

 

Fri 13th

My high school boyfriend took me to see the original in the theater when it came out. He thought for sure I’d be the one to freak out. I was fine. Until the end of the movie when you think it’s over and (Spoiler Alert!) suddenly What’s-Her-Face was lying in the boat in the middle of the lake with her hand in the water like an idiot, and Decomposed Jason jumped up from the watery depths and grabbed her. Holy sh*t! That was the precise moment when my boyfriend was pulling on his jacket sleeve, and he flailed back like a little girl, slamming his arm into my face. It was like Decomposed Jason was actually attacking me. Yeah, that freaked me out.

Then I went and saw Friday the 13th- Part II the next year with my bro Dave. Dave was sure I’d be trembling or freaking out throughout the massacre, so he told me he better hold my large Dr. Pepper drink during the movie. Um, the first time Jason jumped out at one of the dumb-ass camp counselors, Dave shot that Dr. Pepper in the air, and it landed on me.

So regardless of the movies, I love Friday the 13th. Of course, those movies aren’t half as traumatic as what I saw in the store the other day. I was in one of those big box grocery stores, which shall remain nameless, and something caught my eye on the top shelf. I don’t know why. I hardly ever walk down that particular aisle, and I rarely look up. But I was searching for the good tuna in a can – you know, solid white albacore, not the chunky, regurgitated bottom-feeder fish stuff that probably contains some of Jason’s soggy skin cells. And shudder, up on that shelf … there they were … together:

 

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Really?? Deviled Ham AND Spam — no, Spam SPREAD??  Throwing up in my mouth again.

A Wee Irish Tale

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Today I thought I ‘d treat you to … no, not recipes involving Guinness … and not another recipe for Shepherd’s Pie … and certainly not a recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage (that’s disgusting). Not all Irish people eat that. But you’d be correct in assuming we all loves potatoes … and drink like fish.

No, I thought I’d treat you to a little Irish Tale – based mostly on facts researched by one of my relatives. A wee story about my ancestors. Whether you believe it or not is up to you.

Once upon a time, in a country far, far away (Ireland) there were these “Coens.”  The name Coen was originally derived from something like Comgahn, which apparently means “twin,” and which would explain the two-fisted drinking. Not sure how the name got shortened to Coen; probably just lazy.

I imagine these Coens were potato farmers, or sheep-herders, or something else as exciting. They tended their land and animals when they weren’t at the local pub. I’m not sure what happened back then in Ireland, but at some point there was trouble. Maybe religion. Maybe fighting. Maybe gambling. But, my guess is the Coens were moonshiners. Whatever happened, that Coen clan was kicked out of Ireland. But I know a lot of them are still there, my Dad visited the Emerald Isle once and saw about 250 Coens in the yellow pages (or green pages, whatever Ireland has). Anyways, way back then, Australia had a penal colony, where all the criminals from Ireland, Great Britain and other fancy places were sent. And that’s where that handful of Coens were sent. Some of them must’ve done their time, and then established their own little drinking towns down under. If you look on a map of Australia, you’ll see a little town named “Coen” on the northeastern tip. Really! Look it up. Or look here (just squint really hard):

australiahttp://www.australia.edu

The bustling town of Coen, Australia is in the outback, and apparently the only way to get there is by four-wheel drive motorhomes. Well, if you know my family, you’ll know that’s the white trash luxury way to travel anyways, so a true Coen family reunion isn’t completely out of the question. Put another whiskey jug on the barbie! You’re all invited.

Hey! It’s Friday Night Casserole’s Third Anniversary! You know what that means … a re-posting of the original FNC blog post, “the” Friday Night Casserole. The recipe of all recipes; I mean, the most disgusting recipe of all recipes you’ve ever heard.

I launched FNC on Mary Ann’s birthday, January 31st, in 2011.

Mom would be 71 today. I’m pretty sure she’s celebrating with something besides Friday Night Casserole. I just hope she’s enjoying all these ridiculous posts and crazy recipes as much as my three readers and I am.

So as tribute to my beautiful mom (pictured below in her Graduation photo), and in celebration of the third year of FNC, I give you, once again, “the” Friday Night Casserole.

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There were two kinds of Fridays in our house: Pay Day Friday and Casserole Friday. We loved Payday Friday. Dad would come home from his job at Mare Island with a wad of bills. Sometimes he’d let us hold them. Then everyone would hop into the wood-paneled Ford Station Wagon and head for A & W, or the family restaurant Palby’s for a big night out. Ahhh, A & W … sitting in the station wagon parked next to the scratchy-sounding order-sign-machine-thing. My family ordered burgers and root beer—in those fancy frosty mugs of course—however, I always ordered a fish sandwich and grape soda. And yes, they all made fun of me. Except for Coleen who also preferred the fish sandwich. She thought you weren’t allowed to have a burger until you were an adult. She finally had her first Big Mac at the ripe old age of 10. Tracy had to wait till she was 11.

Now for Palby’s: if you never lived in Vallejo or visited the bustling Solano County metropolis with its abundance of 1970’ish restaurants, you might’ve missed Palby’s. Sucks for you because Palby’s was awesome. Palby’s was on Highway 80 between Vallejo and Napa in the area that’s now known as American Canyon. Palby’s was like a freaky dinner theater for kids. Look out the window and there were peacocks. There were seals. But we didn’t eat them. I preferred the deep fried shrimp myself. I recall my little sister Pooh always ordered the ribs and proceeded to happily get the sauce all over her face. Thinking back, Palby’s seemed like a Winchester Mystery House for kids, because there were all these different rooms and areas with fun, trippy things to see. Or maybe there was just the lobby and the main dining room and I had an over-active imagination.

Sometimes on Payday Friday, Dad and one or two of us kids would just pop over to Munchie’s on Sonoma Boulevard for 10 cent hamburgers. Munchie’s was a burger joint in a cool round building that sold cheap hamburgers and fries, and we just liked saying “Munchies.” Or, sometimes we’d just grab 300 tacos from Taco Bell, when all they really had was tacos.

But, if it wasn’t a Payday Friday, and you didn’t make plans to get in trouble and stay after school—or better yet, offer to babysit for the neighbor’s heathen kids—you were going to experience Mary Ann’s Friday Night Casserole. God have mercy on your soul.

Ingredients:

No rules apply!!!

Check the cupboards for stray cans of stewed tomatoes, cream of mushroom soup, deviled ham or anything else that resembles vomit. Next, go to the fridge and grab any and every leftover you can find saved in old margarine and Cool Whip tubs—these are important casserole ingredients.

Leftover examples:

Pork ‘n Beans
Kentucky Fried Chicken Cole Slaw
Canned spinach
Taco meat
Chopped up Fish Sticks
Creamed Chip Beef Sauce
The last slice of Olive Loaf luncheon meat that will never be eaten
Macaroni and Cheese
Spam
White Rice
Filling for Stuffed Bell Peppers
Bread heels
Chicken Pot Pie
Deviled eggs
Creamed corn

Directions:

Throw all of the ingredients you found into a 13 x 9 casserole dish. Feel free to add canned tomato sauce or a packet of onion soup mix to make it fancy.

Bake at 350 degrees. I’m not sure how long you’re supposed to do this. Just hang around the oven to make sure nothing explodes.

Serve to your happy family. Well, they were happy before dinner. Now they hate your guts and are secretly flipping you off below the table. A few of them might be dry heaving into their towel bibs. You will definitely want to plan a huge dessert for later in the evening, perhaps a nice Jello Mold.

Really, do any of those words go together? Chipped Beef? Beef on Toast? Creamed anything on toast?

Also known as Sh*t on a Shingle, this delicacy was served up in my house often when I was a kid. Yeah, it tasted like sh*t on a shingle. Looked like it, too. Not that I’ve ever eaten a shingle – or the other part for that matter. It’s no wonder that on Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast night I’d go outside and eat all the apricots off the tree in the backyard (which I’d then puke up all over my bedspread in the middle of the night).  Well, I had to eat something.  And it sure as hell wasn’t gonna be that creamed stuff.  Strangely, people actually like Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast. My Dad did; my sisters did, too. I think they still do. Mom would use those fake packaged Land O’Frost luncheon meat slices to make this. You know, the kind that costs about 12 cents a package. It’s quality sh*t.

Jay would probably love for me to make this — though I’m not going to. But hey, if you like mushy bread swimming in a creamy flour yuck sauce with fake meat, then by all means, fix this one.

This recipe results in about 2 cups of gravy, enough to feed four lucky family members.

Ingredients:

5 TBS butter

5 TBS flour

2 Cups of milk

2, 3 or 10 packages of Land O’ Frost Luncheon Meat (either Beef, Pastrami, or whatever; it doesn’t really matter)

Salt and Pepper

8 pieces of toast

Directions:

Throw all the ingredients in the garbage and go out for Fish ‘n Chips. Oh, wait … that was my wish when I was a kid. Here are the real directions:

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add flour and whisk to make a roux. (That sounds pretty fancy. I don’t think Mary Ann knew she was making a roux.) Add the milk to the pan. If you add warm milk, the gravy will be done faster, in case you just can’t wait to get to the dinner table with the stuff. Use cold milk and it will take longer (recommended – there’s always the hope that a friend or family member will show up at the door with a pizza before this creamed stuff is finished). Warm or cold, whisk the milk with the roux constantly until thickened. Chop up those fine slices of luncheon meat and add to the cream stuff. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over toast – about two pieces per person.

You’ll know you’ve got the recipe just right if it looks like your dog barfed (or something else) on a wet piece of Wonder Bread.

shingle

 photo: http://imgfave.com/view/1635688

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