Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve, Last Week of Food for the Year Plus a Little Sadness

Good evening, everybody. It's New Year's Eve, about 7 PM Texas time. I hope all of you are with loved ones and I hope all of you are setting up for a fantastic celebration to bring in the new year. 2012. I was riding in the car with Madeleina today and we were headed to get a steak--which we have not had in weeks--and then fireworks and it suddenly occurred to me that she has been with me more than a decade. A decade! That's a long time. And her decade was up April 9, 2007, so she's closing in on a decade-and-a-half. Wow! I have loved her a long time, if you include loving her spirit 40 years before I actually got to meet her.
I am very glad she's my daughter.
She just laughed and said that she remembers me when my hair was brown and my beard was dark brown with a bit of red, rather than gray hair and white beard. Ah, so while my older brother is dragging me up in age after him, my youngest baby is pushing me up from the bottom. Damn. Couldn't they just have left me alone at 41?
So this week we ate well. I don't remember all the meals but I do remember that the day before Christmas we had a vegetarian lasagna packed with garlic and onions and broccoli and spinach and yellow and green squash. Plus tomatoes, of course, and good ricotta and good parmesan and good mozzarella. That was a good meal.
Christmas we had corned beef and cabbage with boiled potatoes and good mustard. That was freaking divine.
Day after Christmas we had my version of fajita: Garlic/onion/scallions in good olive oil. When the onions are see-through I added the marinated skirt steak sliced thin and browned that with lots of butcher cut black pepper. When that was near cooked I added half-moons of roma tomatoes, sliced red and green pepper and onion slices. Plus good spices, many of them from Peru: Achote, a little cumino, paprica. Then some good white vinegar for bite, and then finished off with chicken stock for a juice--mixed with pan juices--and plenty of fresh cilantro. Served over rice. WOW!
Next day, Seafood Soup. I got a pound of shrimp, peeled them, and cooked the peels, dry, in a thick sauce pan, till they were bright red. Added onion and celery ends and water and pepper. Cooked that down for a couple of hours, replenishing water as need be, till I had about 2 cups of shrimp shell essence.
In the big pot I cooked diced garlic and onion and celery in olive oil, added the shrimp, then diced tomatoes, then a couple of ounces of a decent Hennessey I keep just for those occasions but otherwise never never touch. When that burned off I added the shrimp shell essence, a nice dash of very hot Crab Boil and then (TOTAL CHEATING) two cans of Campbell's cream of tomato soup, a cup of milk and half a stick of butter.
When it was rolling I added fresh calamari, cut small, and scungilli, cut small, some mussels, fresh, half-a-pound of crayfish. Let that cook for a minute, then added a big handful of fresh cilantro. Let that cook for two minutes, then added nice angel hair pasta, not too much, and served the soup with a very very good rye bread that Emily brought in--and has been kept in the freezer--a few weeks ago. Apple slices were served on the side to cool the stomach. MAN, THAT WAS GOOD!!!!!
Next day, hamburgers: Just good old fashioned hamburgers on hot buns with sauteed onions, tomatoes, dill pickles, mustard and ketchup--Heinz, of course. Served that with mixed veggies.
Next day, Thursday, I was going to make a rice mash--ground beef, garlic and onions and diced tomato--but changed my mind and made Cuban beef with yellow rice. Colored the garlic rice with achote, and to the well cooked and grease drained beef I added garlic, diced onions, diced tomatoes, a can of good black beans, a can of good pinto beans, more diced tomatoes, a can of chicken stock. When it was the texture of a good beefy tomato sauce with a Spanish flavor, I added dried culantro from Peru, fresh cilantro from Mexico, a bit of white vinegar, a couple dozen small hot charapita peppers from Peru--substitute good fresh jalepeno slices if you don't have charapitas--and you won't--though they are a poor substitute. Served over the yellow rice. That was served with sliced cucumber with lime just to keep the stomach cool and the ulcers at bay. MAN, THAT WAS GOOD!
Yesterday it was sauteed salmon with roasted sesame seeds and garlic served with a slice of left over veggie lasagna. MAN, that was GOOD!
And tonight it's a sauteed chuck steak with garlic and sliced onions. Served with sliced new potatoes simmered in chicken stock. With steamed broccoli and sauteed organic beefsteak tomatoes topped with sauteed garlic in olive oil and shredded parmesan cheese. With good black pepper, hold the salt.
And in the oven, because we're pigs and it's New Year's Eve, is a fresh loaf of semi-sweet chocolate bit/walnut studded banana bread. If there is any room. I'm full just talking about the meals we had this week.
The good part was that Chepa visited a couple of times, and so did Marco and Italo came for dinner and a movie a couple of times.
The excellent part is that Madeleina is better at the piano after 6 days than I was after three years.
The sad part is that Chepa and her boyfriend--who came to town for the occasion--and the babies, went to Chepa's sister's house. And Italo and Sara and my grandbaby Taylor Rain went to a friends' home.And Marco is staying in his den. So Madeleina and I have this wonderful food and a table worth of fireworks and nobody to share it with. And that's just freaking sad. How the hell did I break this family up so badly? Dammit! Note for next life: Don't f. with your family. They're important.
So we'll eat well and set off some fireworks and call in the new year and hope it's the best year. But in our hearts there is a little hole because both Madeleina and I know I messed it all up a long time ago. And most of the time you don't see the tears, the rent in the cloth, but on special days it seems there's a microscope blowing up everything.
So we're sad but we're good and we're strong and we'll go blast those fireworks anyway. And then eat a couple of bites of steak and broccoli, making sure we leave enough room for a bit of chocolate/walnut banana bread.
Happy New Year, everyone. Be safe/be loved.


Kuchinta said...

Happy New Year, Peter! May 2012 be full of sweetness for you and your family.

streetdoc said...

Het Pete my name is Frank I'm a paramedic for the Philadelphia Fire Dept and I just wanted to tell you that your book is awesome an inspiration! When you talk about your family Ialmost feel like I know them so I'm surprised and sorry things didn't work out especially after some of the battles you went through (when your son had renal failure) I hope you continue your expeditions in 2013 because I would love to join you I would of this year but due to scheduling I couldn't. Keep up the GREAT work and happy new year!