I should know better by now

The corned beef and cabbage was utterly delectable.

The meat melted in my mouth with a salty tang.  The cabbage was crisp and delicately seasoned.  The mashed potatoes had enough garlic to give them a little zip, but not so much as to scare away any vampires.

If only I would have gotten more than a few bites in.

I should have known.

I should have known the moment I got the email from Jay, “Hey, a few of us are meeting for happy hour at the new place… want to join us for dinner with the kids after that?” … because it was a place we’d never been to before.

I should have known when we walked into the dimly lit restaurant, whose clientele was mainly businessmen and 30-something happy hour-goers… sans kids.

I should have known the minute they brought out the high chair that had not one crumb or speck of goo on it… obviously from lack of use.  Or the kids menu and crayons that had never before been used.

I should have known when I glanced at the kids menu and was blown away that someone could, in good conscience, charge $7 for a dish of mac and cheese.  Or, rather, $3 for plate of macaroni and $4 for the accompanying garnish of parsley and radish roses.  (Radish roses, really?  On a kids meal?  Who thinks up this stuff?)

I should have known when I glanced at the adult menu, and the list of brews was longer than the list of entrees.  Normally, I would have giggled with glee at this sight.  And yes, I did partake eagerly from the list.  But I should have known that it’s usually not a good indicator of a kid-friendly establishment.

I should have known that, 45 minutes after we had ordered, our food would not be there.  And that my supply of pirate booty, goldfish, and raisins would have dwindled to nothing.

The kids were restless.  They picked listlessly at their food once it came.  Intimidated by the radish roses, I suppose.  Chip writhed irritably in his high chair, and was only content while sitting on my lap.  At least for a few minutes, while I managed to shovel in a few bites of my own meal.

And when Whineapalooza 2010 started in earnest, I knew it was way past time to make our departure.  I packed up the diaper bag, left Bobo to ride home with Jay, and bolted for the door with Chip.  Who, by the way, screamed the whole way home.

The best part of the evening?  After we left, Jay had the waitress box up my meal for me.  And, as he was loading up Bobo in her carseat, placed it on top of the car.  One guess what happened next.

I may laugh about that tomorrow.  But, right now, I’m just missing my corned beef and cabbage.

We will be back.  We have to go back.  Because it was one of the best meals (er, few bites) I’ve had in ages.  My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it.

Except next time?  We’ll go without the kids. 

Because I know better now.

The turkey said Google, Google!

Everything was all ready.

The tables were set.

The 16 paper handprint turkeys Bobo and I made were cut, glued, and set out as placecards.

The pies were cooling on the rack ordered and picked up from the bakery.

It was my first Thanksgiving dinner at my house, and I was determined that everything would be perfect.  There was just one thing left to do.

The turkey.

I had planned meticulously ahead.  I had researched spice recipes on the internet.  I had called my mother earlier in the week and grilled her about how to cook the perfect turkey.  (What kind of roasting pan should I get?  What are those little tinfoil snakes used for, anyways? How does your gravy turn out so good?  No one can make turkey gravy like my mom.)  I actually remembered to defrost the bird.  I had set the alarm to an ungodly hour so I could pop it in the oven.

I was fully prepared to cook the dickens out of my first turkey.  Or so I thought.

The morning of Thanksgiving the alarm went off at the crack of dawn.  I stumbled downstairs and groggily turned on the oven to preheat.  With one eye open, I lugged the turkey out of the fridge.  But when I took it over to the sink to wash it out, something fell out of the middle of the bird.

When I saw it lying in the sink, I yelped and jumped back a bit.  For the love of God, what WAS that?

And then I knew.  Obviously, someone had left the frank and beans in the middle of my turkey.

A slew of questions raced through my mind:

What kind of sick joke is this, anyway?
Am I being Punk’d?
What exactly am I supposed to do I do with that?
Cook it up?
Throw it away?
Use it as a garnish?

It was too early still to call my mom.  And I was more than a little embarrassed to try 1-800-BUTTERBALL.  So I turned to my old standby.  Google.

In the wee hours of the morning, I sat at the computer, Googling the phrase “turkey penis.”  Not how I envisioned starting my Thanksgiving.

Eventually, Google straightened me out.  And, suffice to say, the meal (and the turkey) turned out just fine.  But I learned a few things that Thanksgiving day.

I learned that there are some phrases you should never, ever type into Google.  Oh MY.

I learned that you can cheat and use the pre-cut, frozen mashed potatoes.  And, if you add enough butter and cream, no one will know the difference.  As long as you carefully dispose of the packaging.

I learned that my mom really does make the best turkey gravy I’ve ever tasted.

I learned that being able to have four generations of family sitting down at my dining room table is something to be thankful for, indeed.

I learned that tryptophan has no effect on children under the age of four.  Especially after three pieces of chocolate pie.

Most importantly, I learned that store-bought turkeys come with the neck and the gizzards inside the bird.  And I learned what a turkey willy does not look like.

Thank you for that, Google.

I hope you all are endowed with a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Mama's Losin' It
#4. Describe a memorable Thanksgiving.

That’ll do, Pig

I love to cook.

Unfortunately, the elaborately planned, well-balanced meals I used to make for my husband before we had kids have made way to Mac and Cheese, carrot sticks, and a side of ranch (for extra calcium).  And while I’m not a gourmet chef by any means (we can’t all be Kludgy Mom, for Pete’s sake), every once in a while, I’ll plan ahead and make something that I actually like.

Kalua Pig would be one of those dishes.  In yesterday’s post, I mentioned making Kalua Pig, and a couple of people inquired about the recipe.  So I thought I’d share.

There are actually a couple of ways you can get really good Kalua Pig.  You can:

  1. Book a flight to Hawaii and go to an authentic luau.
  2. Dig a pit in your backyard, and throw in some lava rocks.  Kill a pig and wrap in banana leaves.  Roast slowly for 8-10 hours.
  3. Cheat and make it in the oven or crockpot.

Since banana leaves are hard to come by in these parts, I usually opt for #3.  But, just so you know, there are other options as well.

Kalua Pig


  • 4-5 lb pork butt 
  • 2 cups apple cider 
  • 1 tblsp liquid smoke 
  • 2-3 tablespoons hawaiian salt (regular sea salt will work) 

Directions: The night before the feast, rub pork with salt and place in crockpot. Add apple cider and liquid smoke. Turn crockpot on low and leave it to cook for 10-12 hours, flipping pork over halfway through. Take meat out of the crockpot and shred. Gorge yourself silly.

    That’s it!  It’s actually very, very easy to make, and it’s a dish my whole family loves (kids included).

    One other caveat I will mention… around here we don’t call it Kalua Pig.  Because when my kids think of the word “pig,” they think of this:

    Funny thing is?  When I change the name to Kalua Pork, they hastily gobble it up.  Because, as I’ve learned, pig is not the same thing as pork… at least not to a toddler.

    I’m a sucker for a bargain

    These days, what can you buy for a quarter?

    A quarter will buy you ten minutes at a parking meter.  Or “candy” from the vending machines in the women’s restroom.  Or 25 one cent stamps that you can use to offset all of those USPS rate increases.

    Or, if you’re in the right place at the right time, a quarter will buy you one of these puppies:

    (And yes, I’m referring to the sucker, not the kid.)

    Imagine my amazement when I found these little gems at the grocery store the other day.  While the kids and I were waiting in line at the checkout counter, I saw them, tucked between the chapstick and Britney Spears in the magazine rack.

    Lord only knows how long they had been sitting there.  My guess is a long time, because they had slowly been marked down from $2.50 down to the bargain price of 25 cents.  There they sat, positioned strategically at shopping cart height, waiting for some toddler to spy them.  And for some sucker of a mom to buy them.

    That day, the sucker…who bought the suckers…was me.

    Now normally, I don’t even consider buying stuff like this.  But the kids were being real troopers that day, and I wanted to reward them with a little treat.  Plus, you can’t beat that price.  25 cents?  It’s a bargain at twice the price, I tell you.  And I never turn down a bargain.

    I now know from experience that a quarter can buy you:

    • A sugar-laden monstrosity that is your dentist’s worst nightmare.
    • 15 minutes of golden silence while said monstrosities are reduced to a mere stick and dripping, sticky puddles of goo.
    • 2 pairs of puppy dog eyes looking adoringly at you like you’re the best mom in the world. 
    • A sugar high like you wouldn’t believe.  And 45 additional minutes of saccharin-induced chaos.

    And, despite the ensuing chaos, they were totally worth it.  Two quarters which were, quite possibly, the best bargain I ever found.

    Mama's Losin' It
    Prompt #1: Describe a time when you saved BIG.

    Fugazi: It’s what’s for dinner

    I made Fugazi for dinner tonight.  It’s a staple in our house.

    What’s Fugazi, you ask?  Well, it’s not to be confused with fusili, which are those cute little spiral shaped pastas. 

    Fugazi, as defined by the Nerd Mafia, means:

    1. Artificial, fake, false.
    2. Something that has no substance.

    I struggle with getting my kids (the little ones and the big one) to eat their vegetables.  So, when it comes to preparing meals and snacks for my family, my motto is: “When life gives you veggies, make Fugazi.”  In order to do this, I’ve had to get deceitful creative, innovative and, at times, downright sneaky.

    Here are my top 7 ways to prepare Veggie Fugazi:

    1. Fugazi with a side of meat.

      My kids, like their dad, pretty much think bacon is a fifth food group.  And really, can you blame them?  Mmm, bacon.

      But bacon is pretty handy for dressing up vegetables.  My theory?  Green beans, brussels sprouts, salad… if you put enough pig in a dish, they’re bound to get a bite of vegetable, even inadvertently. 

    2. Meat, fugazi-style

      When the bacon runs out, I whip out the fugazi meat.  Veggie sausage (not to be confused with Tofurkey, which I feel should actually be outlawed) is actually pretty tasty.  The kids gobble it up, and I don’t think they even realize it’s not actual sausage.  I’m actually not sure how many veggies are actually in veggie sausage, but at least the cholesterol/actual food ratio is a little more reasonable.  Unlike bacon.  Mmm, bacon.

    3. Crunchy Fugazi

      Veggie Booty is another staple in our house.  We go through a few bags a week.  Hey, there’s veggie in the name.  That counts, right? 

      Personally, I think the stuff tastes like cardboard.  But the kids go nuts for it.  And, it’s also pretty funny to see Chip sitting at his high chair, pointing to the pantry and screaming, “More booty, more booty!!”

    4. Fugazi with a side of Ranch

      I hate using this one.  But it works.  Kinda like the bacon thing.  When in a pickle, I’ll whip out the ranch dressing.  Because ranch makes everything better.

    5. Fugazi in a can

      Ah… there’s nothing better than fresh, crisp green beans, sauteed in a little butter and garlic.  To me, anyway.  My kids, however, won’t touch the things. 

      They prefer their green beans fugazi style.  As in, limp, dull, and canned.  Artificial green beans, if you ask me.  But, seeing as how they used to be vegetables at one point, I can’t complain too much about this one.

    6. Pasta Fugazi

      What type of Nerd Mafia man would I be if I didn’t make pasta?  And I’m not just talking about good ol’ Mac & Cheese; although that is another staple in my house.

      When I’m feeling particularly sneaky, I’ll make Lasagna Fugazi; otherwise known as vegetarian lasagna.  I’ve found that if you puree spinach together with the marinara sauce, even the most eagle eye little toddlers can’t pick out the green parts.

      I’m also a fan of the spinach and tomato flavored pasta.  It doesn’t taste that great all by itself, but when you throw in some cheese and bacon, it becomes an instant hit.

    7. Fugazi Bacon

      This one may be on the list, but I can honestly say I’m not crazy enough to try it.  I know what would happen if I dared to make faux bacon for my family.  All out revolt.

      And I have to say, they’re right about this one.  Some foods simply aren’t meant to have a vegetarian equivalent.  And bacon would be one of those. 

      I’ll get creative with the vegetables.  I’ll make substitutions where I think I can get away with it.  But one thing’s for certain. 

      Fugazi Bacon?  Will never be found in our house.

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