Posts Tagged ‘Dads’

Pizza ala Coen

Today is a very important day. It’s the birthday of THE Papa Don of Friday Night Casserole fame. So I figured it would be the perfect time to pay homage to Papa Don’s favorite food ingredient in any recipe:  hamburger.

My Dad loves hamburger…in spaghetti sauce, whipped into a fancy meatloaf, in Porcupine Balls, in Sloppy Joes or just by itself…wait! never by itself; it would certainly need some Heinz Ketchup. So why the “Pizza ala Coen” post you ask?

When I was a kid, Mary Ann made homemade pizza. Not a doctored-up frozen pizza—of course, I don’t even remember frozen pizza then. I do remember ‘pizza in a box’ though. I believe it was Chef Boyardee. There was a pouch of dough stuff and a can of pizza sauce…basically bland tomato paste. You were on your own for toppings. Oh look, here it is:


I don’t remember the cheese part. Probably for good reason. I don’t think Mary Ann ever used Chef Boyardee more than once. We did eat a lot of Nujo’s Pizza in Vallejo though. That was the best pizza in the area when I was a kid—in fact, Nujo’s is still alive and kicking on Georgia Street. I was sad to leave Nujo’s behind when we moved to Napa in the early ‘70s, that is, until we discovered Silverado Trail Pizzeria. I can still taste the greasy deliciousness of those large pizza pies. Yes, they were on the famous Silverado Trail in Napa. Unfortunately, they’re closed now. I’m not sure how long ago they closed their business, but it was a sad, sad day for pizza lovers. I’m not kidding when I say they had the best pizza I ever ate…probably better than any pizza from New York or Chicago—though I’ve never had a pizza from New York or Chicago. I’m just saying.

The combination pizzas at Silverado Trail Pizzeria left an impression on me, and if I close my eyes and try really hard, I can still taste them. The same is true for Mary Ann’s “Pizza ala Coen.” She made her pizzas from scratch, and Pizza ala Coen featured Papa Don’s favorite ingredient: hamburger. And onions. You’d think little kids would turn their noses up at that combination, but it was quite the contrary. We loved Pizza ala Coen. Especially when served up with large glasses of RC Cola.

I found my original copy of her infamous pizza recipe. I copied it from Mary Ann’s, and mine cheats with a prepared roll mix for the pizza dough. Sue me. This is actually a simple recipe, so the next time you think you need to order pizza delivery, give this one a try:

These days I add mushrooms and onions to my pizza, but back in the day, Pizza ala Coen featured hamburger and onion. If you like the original recipe, you can thank Papa Don, as he was obviously the inspiration. And since my Dad thinks I post goofy ‘old’ pictures of him on this blog, I dug up a few smooth pics in honor of his birthday. Happy Birthday King Cool!  (I imagine we probably promised you many years ago that we wouldn’t call you that anymore, but I think it’s appropriate today.) Love ya Dad!

Papa Don cutting a rug with his sister-in-law Terry

Papa Don’s first passport shot. I think it’s smooth. I may get a comment from him that he doesn’t like it.

Papa Don dancing (again), this time with Phyllis. He’s looking like a bad-motha-shut-your-mouth with that hat.

Jay always sneaks into the background when people are taking pictures. Here’s Papa Don giving him a taste of his own medicine. This is where I get my sense of humor. Thanks Dad! Happy, Happy Birthday!


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I was going to skip a blog post this week, because I’m in mourning that the Wheelmobile passed me by last night on the way to my Dad’s place. It was heading south on Hwy 5 and we were heading north. Apparently my Dad said they were in a town about 40 minutes away last week or so for contestant auditions. And I didn’t know it. Because he didn’t know how much I want to be on that show. I kick a*s on that show — at least from the comfort of my own living room. And now I don’t know where they’re headed because you can’t find any information about the Wheelmobile’s next destination. At least I can’t. So my dream to be on Wheel of Fortune and win the million dollars is on hold again. Sigh.

But then I found some inspiration. Today I asked my Dad, “Hey, what’s fun to do in Coos Bay?” And he laughed. I guess not much. But Jay pulled up the local paper on his phone and discovered there were “zombies” invading the Coos Bay area today. And the article encouraged people to dress up as zombies or as zombie fighters and come on down to the city center for some fun. And the article encouraged the zombie fighters to bring weapons, well, toy weapons. Imagine an innocent Oregonian traveling through deserted downtown Coos Bay and spotting a few zombies limping along. A lot of Oregonians around here have gun racks in their trucks. Hence the title of this post.

I had to see this. Jay told me just to watch it unfold on the news tonight, but I don’t watch the news. We headed down there, and it turns out there was an actual Zombie Festival with a band and vendors and everything. These people love themselves some zombies:

And zombie-related appetizers:

I must admit, I do love a good finger food:

Ah…a zombie scooby snack:

I think I recognize this guy from the original “Night of the Living Dead”:

Here’s Papa Don at the Papa’s Doggs vendor, unknowingly being stalked by a zombie:

Fortunately, he survived. Which is more than I can say for me. I just found out Phyllis is making Porcupine Balls for dinner. I don’t make this stuff up, folks.

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Welcome to a regular post that’s usually called “What’s Jay Eating?” You may remember me telling you that all of us go up to my Dad’s place on Tenmile Lake for the Fourth of July weekend. That’s what we all did a few weeks ago. It’s lots of fun–the lake, games, poker, food, beer, ATV’s and what not. There’s a few campground areas on the property where we all camp out. There’s also a boat dock where we hang out and the guys try to catch fish. Why Jay fishes, I’ll never know. He hates fish. I guess it’s a guy thing. We all eat our meals up at the house. Most of those meals consist of hamburger or some other meat. I’m not a huge meat eater—don’t get me wrong, I love the taste of most meat, I just try not to eat too much for health reasons. But the breakfasts. Yum. There’s always lots of eggs, potatoes and your basic breakfast meats—bacon, ham or sausage. This is when I indulge in the meats.

On our first morning I came in to the kitchen to find my Dad making this:

See, his dog Cocoa was recently diagnosed with diabetes and she needs a special diet now. This dish consisted of some fancy-schmancy dog food, served up with some broiled chicken breast—all smashed together. But that’s not too scary. What’s scary is the green pitcher he’s using: (Flashback: Powdered Milk) Yes, after 40 years my Dad still has that pitcher. Poor Cocoa. Well at least that wasn’t the end of the infamous pineapple juice inside that green pitcher. It was just homemade chicken broth. My Dad poured that chicken broth over the mixture and Cocoa was eating like a queen. While Cocoa scarfed that up, here’s what Jay ate:

That’s a bowl of oatmeal that he threw some bacon in. I guess that is either completely disgusting or a morning serving of heaven. And here’s Jay eating it, just to show you I don’t make this stuff up.

What’s that fancy walking stick there with him? More about that later… Not to be outdone, Papa Don made his own concoction later that day. I have to wonder, is this where Jay learned his culinary talents? My Dad served up strawberry shortcake for everyone, except me, I hate strawberries. Yes, I’m weird, whatever…more strawberries for everyone else I say. But Papa Don made his strawberry shortcake fancy. He started with the poundcake, then added his strawberries. Then I think he followed Jay’s lead by scooping chocolate ice cream on top. But then things got out of control. He poured milk into the dish to “soak up into the cake” he said. Soggy cake? “Get thee away Satan!”

And again, just to prove I don’t make this stuff up:

That’s Papa Don eating his soggy strawberry shortcake. There’s almost nothing worse than soggy cake or bread. Just me? Regardless, my Dad and Jay were having fun with their disgusting food concoctions until THIS happened:

That’s Jay’s foot with its fancy new bruise. He got into a fight with his dirt bike and ended up hobbling around in pain the whole weekend. When we finally made it home, we visited the hospital. Yes, we spent the actual Fourth of July in the emergency room:

Jay’s pretty grumpy in this picture. At least nothing was broken. Just badly sprained. And I’m talking about Jay’s ego. It could’ve been worse. And I mean that literally. Here’s the view out of the emergency room window that day. Someone in there that day was certainly pretty unhappy about spending the Fourth of July in the emergency room, only to finally get out of there and try to remember where they parked their car:

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My Dad, the infamous Papa Don, was outnumbered as you know. Four daughters. Never got the chance to name any of us Brian. But he eventually got a son-in-law named Brian, so I guess it all worked out. Although our house was filled with estrogen, Papa Don was determined to throw a little testosterone in wherever he could. He taught us to ride our bikes and threw a ball around with us every once in a while.

I can recall a few Christmas mornings when it was apparent Papa Don had won over Mary Ann in the gift-purchasing department. Instead of finding dolls or Barbies under the tree one year, we found a train set. I have to admit it was pretty cool. Though I’m not sure how fun it was, because Papa Don hogged it. Then another year we found Hot Wheels under the tree. I imagine boys loved the little cars and what-not, but all my sisters and I found exciting were the orange Hot Wheel tracks. Those things were awesome for sibling-whipping. But I did like the trains and cars. I guess I was a bit of a tom-boy growing up. I rode my bike every chance I got, climbed trees and ignored my dolls long enough so that my sisters had to become surrogate mothers to them.

Regardless of whether we were girls or boys, Papa Don made sure he fulfilled his parental duties. Besides playing monster with us every day when he came home from work, Mary Ann made sure he helped out in other ways. For example, dragging four little girls to the spendy beauty salon would be unheard of. (Well, there was that one time when Mary Ann took us to the hairdresser for fancy David Cassidy shag haircuts — the shag haircuts that were glorious until we jumped into our little pool later that afternoon.) The rest of the time we visited “Papa Don’s Discount Salon.” Mom would line us up on the couch, hand Dad the scissors and turn him loose. Tracy would go first. Dad would place her on his lap and get to work with those scissors. He was strictly a Bangs Specialist; he wouldn’t mess with the rest of our hair – that was Mary Ann’s territory. She’d roll our hair up in torture curlers every Sunday night. Papa Don had no formal training in cosmetology as far as I know, so our bangs usually ended up looking something like this:

Yes, if you look closely there are some bangs left there. That’s me on the right and Tracy in the middle holding our younger sister, Coleen. Coleen didn’t have much hair at that time, so she only had to sport the fancy bow. As you can see, what we didn’t have left in bangs, we made up for in curls, thanks to Mary Ann’s torture curlers.

My parents must’ve also figured there was no need for a dentist in our early years. When we had a loose tooth, Papa Don would step in as DDS. Unlike other fancy dentists, he only needed one tool – the dreaded pliers. Yes, the pliers from his tool box. If he saw us wiggling a loose tooth, he’d tell us to go fetch the pliers and come sit up on his lap. We’d go get the pliers and bring them to him, usually crying — or fake-crying just for the drama — and then crawl up on his lap. He’d tell us how the Tooth Fairy would be bringing us some money for the tooth, which would help a little. Then he’d demonstrate how he was going to pull the tooth, just to show us that it wouldn’t be a big deal. He’d place the pliers on the loose tooth and tell us that when we were ready, he’d grab the tooth with the pliers “like this” and then pull it out “like this.” Then he’d tell us to let him know when we were ready. Of course, while we were sitting there drumming up the courage to give him the go-ahead, he’d grin and show us the pliers, already holding our tooth. It was magic. It was complete smoke and mirrors. And it worked every time. Dad would pull our tooth right out from under our eyes, literally, and we never felt anything. Then we’d skip into the kitchen for a popsicle or a serving of tasty jello.

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Well, I have to admit, I’ve been lazy this week. I haven’t come up with a fancy new post for today. Okay, I haven’t actually been lazy; I just haven’t been able to find the time to come up with a snappy new recipe or quirky memory, and Jay is no help. He hasn’t come up with one of his crazy concoctions for weeks.

We’re getting ready to head up to Papa Don’s place for our annual Fourth of July weekend and our evenings have been a little busy. Plus, after writing all day at work, sometimes it’s a bit of a challenge to come up with some groovy dish of Mary Ann’s to make fun of. So I thought I could recycle a few of my older posts for you to look at. Don’t be mad—I’m not a machine people! But I didn’t want to leave you empty-handed, so on top of a few re-features of Friday Night Casserole, I’m also listing a few funny blogs I think you should check out.

Here are three of my favorite FNC posts:

Got Powdered Milk?

Grandma Coen’s Elbow Macaroni & Red Sauce

Shepherd’s Pie

And here are three of my favorite blogs. These bloggers are real, and funny, and real funny.

The Good Greatsby
He finds the time to post something LOL funny almost every day. Plus, he owns a cool smoking jacket.

Accidental Stepmom
She inherited five youngins and raises them with good humor.

She has her own five youngins, and plenty of trials, but she rises above it all.

And if that still isn’t enough, look over at the right sidebar at “Dessert.” You are in for a treat.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July! I’ll be thinking of you when I’m up at my Dad’s. No doubt I’ll be taking notes for future posts while I watch Papa Don whip up Beer Pancakes and while jockeying for my position in the kitchen amongst my sisters, Phyllis, babies, dogs, brother-in-laws and other invited guests. All while indulging in fatty food, microbrews and poker. Next Friday’s post oughta be good…

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If you’ve been following this blog, you’re familiar with Papa Don, otherwise known as my Dad. Papa Don was a cool Dad to grow up with. He wasn’t always called Papa Don, he was just Dad, but my niece called him that as a youngin, so now we all do.

Papa Don was born cool. Just look at this baby picture. Does this kid have attitude, or what? He’s even motioning with his hand, like, “C’mon punk, you want some of this?”

In high school, Papa Don was apparently a bad-ass. I guess one time some punks were picking on my Uncle Bobby, his younger brother, when some kid ran up and said, “Hey man, don’t you know his brother is Don Coen??!!” They all beat it outa there.

Papa Don and Uncle Bobby have an Aunt Betty Lou that is very close to their age. Back then, Aunt Betty Lou was dating John, who later became Uncle John. Betty Lou and John used to like to park outside her house and neck, or whatever you called it in the ‘50s. But there was a bright street light that lit up their car, so my Dad and his friends would throw rocks to bust out that street light so Betty Lou and John could have their privacy. Then the city would come out and fix it, and then Dad and the gang would go and bust it out again.

When I was about eight, I sprained my arm by tripping over our cat, Midnight. I wasn’t the most graceful child. I don’t remember quite what happened, but the cat darted out in front of me while I was walking on the front lawn. I remember going straight down on my elbow, while my older sister, Tracy, and my best friend, Randy, also ended up on the ground, rolling with laughter. I was in agony and they were enjoying it. I had to go to the emergency room to get an x-ray and Dad was sitting there right next to me. I was babying my arm by bending it and holding my hand up near my shoulder cuz it hurt like crazy if I tried to straighten it out. The doctor came over and reached for my hand and said he was going to take the x-ray. Well, before I knew it he slammed my arm straight out on the table. I gasped and screamed and my Dad bolted straight up and went for the doctor. I think he was going to open a jar of whoop-ass right there in Kaiser Hospital. The doctor apologized over and over saying that the “surprise straightening” was the only way to get an x-ray cuz I wouldn’t like it if he had to slowly straighten out my arm. So my Dad calmed down a bit. Lucky for that doctor.

When my sisters and I were little, Dad would come home from his job at Mare Island and we would rush him, begging him to play “Monster” with us. He’d chase us around the house acting like a growling monster and we’d run and scream until the youngest, Melissa, would freak out and cry and beg him to stop. Then he’d settle down in his favorite chair while Mom made dinner and one of us girls would serve him a big icy glass and a bottle of RC Cola. We fought over serving him, cuz it meant we would get some of that delicious cola. Every once in a while he’d pour some for us in our color-coordinated plastic cups. We’d take a big drink and it was so strong it would make our eyes tear up.

There was a small section of the kitchen floor that would fill up with empty RC Cola bottles that Dad would let us recycle at the local liquor store. Yeah, back in the ‘70s the liquor stores had lots of candy, too, so they’d allow us in without an ID. We’d put all those RC Cola bottles in our little red wagon and venture out to the Wagon Wheel Liquor Store to cash them in. We usually had enough so we could each buy our favorite candy—mine was Skittles. I think my Skittles only cost about a dime then, so I guess that whole wagon-full of bottles added up to about 40 cents. Wow, that’s less than a stamp costs these days. Oh well, at least my Dad can still beat up your Dad.

Happy Father’s Day, Papa Don!!

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Chapter 2 – Gluttony

They say that Gluttony is the second of the Seven Deadly Sins. Well, if it really is a sin, Jay is going to hell in a hand-basket…or a rocket. The definition of gluttony is “excess in eating or drinking.” (Uh-oh…drinking in excess is also gluttony? Sorry Coens.) Jay does eat in excess a lot. He just loves food; he can’t help himself. He will be full, to the point of being uncomfortable, and still keep eating. When I turn on the Food Channel, I’m still surprised that Jay hasn’t replaced Adam Richman on Man vs. Food. There should be 300 trophy t-shirts from restaurant challenges in our closet.

Jay isn’t overweight like you’d expect. You’d never know he was a gluttonous fool. He even takes pictures of food at family gatherings. Sometimes the result of Jay’s indulgence isn’t pleasant for him…or me. One time we were up at my Dad’s and Jay was eating everything. My Dad’s wife Phyllis makes fancy little snacks that she sets out on the counter, and one time she had left some of the treats out all day by accident. I’m guessing they contained some sort of dairy product because after dinner (and after indulging in large amounts of Phyllis’ creations), Jay said he didn’t feel so well. I saw a glaze come over him…he jumped up from the table and tried to make it to the bathroom. He didn’t quite make it, well; actually he made it to the bathroom wall, and the floor, the lid of the toilet and the wall behind the toilet. He immediately went to lie down, and yes, I had to clean up the mess. If that isn’t true love, I don’t know what is.

After Jay felt the rush of fame acquired after the first “What’s Jay Eating?” post on this blog, he decided to let me know anytime he felt one of his “concoctions coming on.” Now I grab the camera and follow him into the kitchen to watch the master at work. This usually happens within 15 minutes after a full dinner. This special creation below came about after a healthy and hearty meal I fixed for him comprised of tri-tip steak, mashed potatoes and spinach salad. See, I do feed him. As I write this, we just finished a full dinner and he is relaxing on the couch with a 10-pack of miniature Hershey Bars, two huge Lemonheads and a bag of some Cinnamon Toasty cereal. And that’s probably just the beginning. Oh no, he just turned on Man vs. Food. Oh well, at least I’ll have more material for my next post.

Here’s how one of Jay’s concoctions plays out. First, he sets out all of the ingredients:

He starts layering them in to a huge bowl. Jay starts with a foundation of Rocky Road ice cream, and then adds some mini shredded wheat cereal and crunch berries:

Then he cuts up some fresh strawberries to make it fancy:

Next, he drizzles on some chocolate sauce for good measure:

Adds milk:

And tops it all off with some Sour Patch Kids.

I hope he makes it to the toilet tonight.

Note: I just asked Jay to proof this. While I was semi-gagging he proclaimed, “There’s an art to eating that bowl.” So now he’s an artist…

P.S. Check out this funny blog: http://thegoodgreatsby.com. I won his Caption Contest this week, so you know he has good taste!

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