40

May 27, 2021

I just realized that I haven’t let myself eat in 40 years.

The real kind of eat, where you actually sit at a table and are hungry, and you think of the very thing you want.

I am fucking Caesar salad bitch.

I am that girl, with the Coach handbag, who claims that she isn’t that hungry anyways.

I hate that girl, but she’s fundamental. She is the thing I know.

 

I was better when I was pregnant. Let me tell you, I was aces about the eating and holy crap, my girls were still so small. I couldn’t even do that right.

So I sit. And am adamant that I haven’t fucked up my most precious things about food.

 

And I don’t even know what to say to you.

But maybe, there’s a little part of you that gets it. That makes you gasp for air because yes.

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Rachel is having a party. I hear about it first in a school hallway, by the hanging hooks of coats and mittens. Rachel is blonde and athletic and popular, if being popular in the fifth grade is a THING, which it is. I hear them whispering, the girls with the painted nails and Kissing Potion lip gloss in three flavors. I check the mail, hoping. A week later, I’m still checking.

I get my delayed invitation on notebook paper. The front of it has a tracing of an exploding balloon on the front, emblazoned with “It’s Gonna Be a Blowout!”

I am wildly exited. I, relative unpopular person, have been invited to Rachel’s party. Kevin Gasvoda, the boy I have an endless crush on, will be there. He’s got spooky green eyes and vampire incisors and is often sarcastic, which I sort of think translates to mean because he makes girls cry with his words, including me. But he’s beautiful, that boy, with his flashing teeth and wavy hair.

There are about a million ways this party could go bad and a million ways I could blow it with Kevin Gasvoda, but I am up for the challenge.

I march up the stairs and wave my invitation. My mother is plucking her eyebrows with deadly verve, but she knows I’m in the doorway.

“What?” she says.

“I,” I say with enthusiasm and gravitas, “Have been invited. To Rachel’s party.”

“Isn’t that lovely,” my mother says. “Let me see the invitation.”

I hand it to her.

PleasemomcanIgodearGodpleasemomletmegothisisabigdealRachelinvitedmeMama.

She hands it back to me, flick of the wrist. “You aren’t going.”

 

I swear I feel my heart hit the floor and go all the way down, down to the creepy basement.

“No! Mom! You can’t say I can’t go. You just can’t, you seriously can’t. Everything–seriously!–depends on this party.”

“You’re not going,” she says, and then turns to look me in the eye. “Period.”

 

My mother is the biggest, meanest bitch on the planet, I swear. I am livid.

“Why?” I holler. “Why can’t I go?

She looks at me. Dead shark eyes. Waves the paper invitation in front of my face.

“This,” she says, “Is no excuse for an invitation.”

“What do you mean?” I huff. “Everyone got that same invitation!”

“No, they didn’t,” she says, still calmly plucking her eyebrows. “I saw the real invitation on Renate’s (neighbor) refrigerator door, for Karen. It’s a real card invitation, and she got it a week ago, and you only just got yours, now. People must have cancelled, so you got this.”

 

“God, so what?” I cannot believe that she won’t let me go for the dumbest reason on the planet and Kevin Gasvoda is going to flirt with a girl and it won’t be me and I’m going to miss it and dammit.

She turns and gives me her full attention. She rips the invitation to Rachel’s party right in front of my face and lets the pieces fall to the ground.

“I will tell you what’s what.” Her eyes are blueblue.

“You. YOU. Are not a last-ditch invitation. If you are not first choice, you are no choice at all. You will NOT! By God. Let someone treat you like secondhand goods. And you will not be attending that party.”

 

And that was the end of it.

I did not go to Rachel’s party.

I did not get to see Kevin Gasvoda kiss a girl named Sherry, which apparently happened.

And for years, I thought my mother was a bitch. A stick-in-the mud, outdated, rule-following, Southern, high-maintenance bitch.

 

But of course now I know better.

Thank you, Mama, for giving me a lesson that I will never forget.

A lesson about my own worth.

I didn’t think I needed it but damn.

I need it still.

 

Happy Mother’s Day week.

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Magic Miso Dressing

February 3, 2021

Yeah, so I know I haven’t bothered posting recipes in a while. When the whole pandemic started, cooking felt so cozy. I spent March and April making afternoon popcorn on the stove with plenty of butter; stirred chocolate chunks into brownies, had chicken noodle soup bubbling at the ready.

And then. You know what happened. It happened to you, too. Cooking ennui and downright burnout happened. I could blame myself but I don’t. Both girls were home and had completely different schedules, as did my husband, who has been going through the work equivalent of Chinese water torture. This resulted in a lot of extra meals made at weird times for different people. It still isn’t over.

People at my house are also depressed and despondent on different schedules, so at any point one or more members of the family lose their appetites altogether. The only living thing in my house who still appreciates food is the dog.

These are dark days for a cook, I tell you.

But one of the good things that came out of the pandemic are recipes like the one I share here. It’s easy. It’s versatile–I mean, this shit is good on anything. It’s especially magic on any kind of vegetable or rice bowl or protein. You can quadruple the recipe and just keep it in your refrigerator for whenever. It’s not too spicy or assertive for most kids. Add it to stir fry and viola! Your job is done.

So here’s my latest Mommy’s Little Helper (it’s legal, so yay).

 

 

Miso Ginger Sauce for Broccoli, Snap Peas or other Damn Stuff

serves 4

 

Mix together:

2 tablespoons white miso

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon honey or pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sliced scallion (optional)

dash of chile flakes, if desired

Set aside (or you can double/triple this and keep in your refrigerator).

 

Heat 2 tablespoons neutral oil (canola, peanut etc.) in a skillet and add 8 cups broccoli florets (or a mixture of any veg–mushrooms are brilliant, as are Brussels sprouts, snow peas, zucchini, sliced onion, blahblahblah). Cook 2-3 minutes until starting to char. Add about 3 tablespoons water and cover/steam 2-3 minutes. Add miso mixture and toss to coat. Top with sesame seeds and scallions, if desired. Hoover down. Try to relax and really taste it. Do not ponder the futility of it all.

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We Can’t Lose

January 26, 2021

The Gentle

January 4, 2021

The Death Horse

December 17, 2020

The Girl From Southie

December 13, 2020

20

September 14, 2020