I can’t sleep, I’m hungry, I miss the kids (I don’t care if they’re all grown into adults, they’re still our kids and I miss them), which woke up memories…including the one where Brian gave a particular vegetable a new name. Our oldest son is a bit of a clown, fine, a lot of a clown. Goofy, charming, generous…wait, this blog is about food.
There are some foods hubby and I don’t like and will not cook. We refused to be proper parents and force our children to eat such foods. We were pretty lenient parents and had only a few rules: Everyone sits at the table as a family for dinner, no phone calls (Telemarketers who often called during dinner were subjected to verbal repartee, depending on who answered the phone and how far dinner had progressed. Let me mention here, we do not drink alcohol. The best way to avoid a second call from any telemarketer was to have Brian take over. He had two spiels: He would ask personal questions, starting with “Hi, how are you? Do you live in America? Did you have a bowel movement today? Did it float or sink before you flushed it…Hello, hello?” Or, he would simply say, with a trembling voice, “My daddy/mommy is DEAD! Thank you SO much for reminding me!” Click.), and – where was I? Oh yeah, the rules: You must at least taste one bite of something before announcing you don’t like it. We ended up having some interesting times involving food. And some odd conversations, usually instigated by one of the kids. Here are some foods I’ve tasted and refuse to allow in my house…
Brussels Sprouts: Who decided these weird green balls were food? They’re innocent enough until you plop them in water and start to cook ’em. I’m sorry, but I will not eat something that smells like month-old rancid gym socks that the dog pooped on!
Cabbage: Fine eaten raw, but when cooked, see reference to Brussels Sprouts.
Escargot: Nope, you can’t fool me with a fancy French name and lots of garlic. Those are snails, probably the same ones that were crawling on the Cabbage…
Calamari: Another fancy name – Italian, this time, but these are small squids, dipped in batter so they can be disguised as fried clams. Strange rubbery texture and I always think those tiny sucker pads are gonna attach themselves to my throat on the way down. And, of course, I always flash on Kirk Douglas battling the giant squid in that movie…and you wonder why I dislike swimming in murky water?
Liver: My mother, aunt and older sister were Registered Nurses, yet they ate Liver. Bile and other nasty body shit passes through or is stored in the Liver (that’s what the child-me believed – I think I spent most of Biology class trying to save the frogs from being dissected and didn’t really absorb much else – anyway, I still believe the Liver is a poop organ). Pile on all the onions you want, I know there’s liver in there somewhere, nope, never, not gonna eat some critter’s stored poop, thank you very much!
Um, gee, I’m no longer hungry. There were some strange-looking foods I liked and inflicted upon, er, cooked for my family. Fried pizza dough – yeah, I know most people call them fritters, but in my birth family (mostly Italian), it was fried pizza dough. Pull chunks of dough off the main ball and plop them in a deep pan half full of hot oil (We didn’t have deep fryers back then). When one side was golden brown and the dough had puffed up, you carefully turned it over with tongs to fry the other side. Only took a minute or so, then you drained them on paper towels, tossed one or two into a paper bag half full of confectioner’s sugar, shake a few times, remove, eat. Oh, heaven! Sunday mornings, often at Aunt Harriet and Uncle Fred’s house, eating his homemade bread and her fried pizza dough…odd, I don’t remember eating anything else on those mornings…like eggs or bacon… Imagine my shock to get a fritter at the state fair, with a tiny bit of butter melting on it? I was offended and asked, “Where’s the confectioner’s sugar? It HAS to be covered in it!” Sacrilege! I promptly threw it away, uneaten.
There was a dish I loved and it was fun to eat, too! Stuffed Artichokes. I decided to introduce my meat-potatoes-and-salad family to this wonderful dish. Yes, our children ate salad. When we’d go to Mickey D’s for lunch, they’d get Harpy, erm, happy Meals and I’d get a salad. Guess who ended up nibbling on fake fried chicken bits (I know they’re fake – even the dog won’t eat ’em!) while the kids chowed down on greens?
I took the artichokes out of the fridge and set them on the counter. I chopped off the stems as straight as possible so they’d sit nicely upright in the pot. Across the counter, in the dining area, our two adorable elementary school children and their demonic preteen brother were attempting to finish their homework before clearing the table for dinner. Brian jumped up and asked, “What are those things?”
“Artichokes. They’re a vegetable.” I’m sure some eye-rolling occurred because, like, duh, yeah, they’re GREEN, Mom!
With a gleam in his eyes, Brian grabbed two of them and placed them in strategic positions on his chest. He danced around the kitchen, singing, “Look, we’re eating Alien Breastoids!” I hung my head, wondering why I married the class clown, who then imparted HIS weird genes to our oldest son…
That first experiment didn’t go well. The kids liked the stuffing, but not the whole pull the leaf free, bite down, scrape the surface with your teeth, chew, swallow routine (You don’t eat the entire leaf, at least not with this dish.). To them, it was a tedious way to receive a bit of a part of the artichoke, and they refused to touch the heart. I got to enjoy four artichokes that night, and the kids did at least TASTE the dish, so it was a small success.
Many years later, I decided to cook artichokes again. Almost adults, the kids now had tasted them elsewhere – in restaurants, at friends’ homes – and liked them. I giggled and said, “We’re eating Alien Breastoids tonight!” Silence, blank or mortified stares…not one of them remembered that first experience with artichokes…
I don’t cook much anymore, it’s too embarrassing…
6 whole artichokes
1-2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
salt and pepper to taste
Snip off the pointed tips of artichoke leaves, and cut off the stems. Wash and drain. Holding artichoke firmly by base, firmly rap the top of it on a hard surface; this will open it so it can be stuffed.
In a medium bowl combine breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, cheeses, oregano, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, salt and pepper; mix well.
Press about 1/2 cup of stuffing into each artichoke, trying to fill in each leaf. Tightly pack stuffed artichokes together in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add enough water to reach half way up artichokes and add 3 tablespoons oil.
Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour, or until leaves pull out easily.