A Sense of Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving but a week away, this year will be somehow be quite different.
For reasons that are for the most part mysterious and unknown to me, I’ve lost my sense of smell.
I didn’t leave it anywhere per se but it has all but dissapeared.
I’m confused, angry, sad and have nothing to blame my emotions on.
I can’t even smell my own farts, for God’s sake.
That alone can drive an old Boy Scout crazy.
The biggest problem in my mind is that I’m also a cook.
And I love cigars, beer and my amazing smorgasboard of aged pipe tobacco.
Sucks to be you, Michael.
Sense of smell is such a primal and primitive thing and something I’ve always taken for granted. Until now.
My mouth is now filled with odd and nebulous specters, the whispers of ghost flavors manufactured by a stumbling brain trying to make sense of what the hell is going on with my sleeping nose. And what my brain creates is pretty much horrible, nasty crap.
I really miss the taste/smell of a nice cup of coffee or tea, my spaghetti sauce simmering, fresh cut summer grass, Pamela’s Apple Crisp slow baking in the oven.
I miss the smell of people, well, certain people (you know who you are). Wow. That was a weird one.
I’m even missing the smell of me.
Feels like a small part of me has inexplicably disappeared.
The ENT confirmed that this was not an allergy complication but more likely the result of a viral infection (flu) that cold cocked the pants off my olfactory nerves.
So what does one do when they have to cook for Thanksgiving and the potatoes taste the same damn way as the carrots?
I’m thinking that this is one of the reasons someone came up with something called the ‘recipe‘.
I can’t trust my non-existent sense of taste and smell anymore but I’ll be damned if someone else will put their mitts on my Butterball.
In my heart and mind, I’m jarred to the core on this one but I also know that there are people counting on me to do what I’ve done for the past 33+ years. And will continue to do.
I can promise that this house will be filled with all the familiar smells they’ve come to know and love.
And although I won’t be able to truly take it all in this year, the smiles I hope to see as they come through the kitchen door on Thanksgiving is all I’ve really ever needed anyway.
For now, I’ll continue to pray that my missing sense decides that there’s no place like home for the holidays.
~m

One Happy Mick

Our sense of smell is acute and amazingly discerning allowing us to associate aromas and smells with our seemingly unlimited banks of memory.
How about the smell of a box of crayons?
Yeah, that’s a good one.
How many wonderful memories can you come up with there?
I thought so.

I think the holidays tend to elicit the strongest evoking power for obvious reasons.

  • Christmas = peppermint, balsam, sweet baked goods and . . .
  • Thanksgiving = roasted turkey, cranberries, cinnamon,
    clove and . . .
  • Easter = floral scent (Easter lily), marshmallow peeps (yes, they have a scent), hard-boiled eggs (alright, not so good)
  • Saint Patrick’s Day = corned beef and cabbage

When my mother was alive and well no Paddy’s Day went by without her making the Irish dish.
I’ve missed riding out to the house knowing full well my mother would have a pot full of it on the stove and delight in stuffing me silly.
Her corned beef would be cooking all day long and truth be told it must have taken weeks to get the cabbage stink out of the place.
It’s remembering days like those when I really start to miss her.

I worked the entire weekend and had no time to stink the fill the house up with those sacred aromas (you’re welcome, sweet Irish daughters ‘o mine).
It looked like I might go without this year and I must say it thoroughly depressed me.
Murphy + Saint Patrick’s Day = Irish Turkey and a freshly poured Guinness Stout
There’s a restaurant in Boston called Jacob Wirth’s and it’s said to be one of the oldest in the city. Someone mentioned that they may possibly be serving the traditional dish. (Check their link and read the menu. Yeah, huh?)
I called and sure enough, it was on the menu.
Knowing how popular this restaurant is, I had my doubts as to whether I’d actually get a seat.
I opened the old creaky doors and spied an open spot at the bar and immediately sat down.
Perfect, I thought. (And ironically it was right in front of that beautiful Guinness spigot)
The bartender promptly brought me a menu which I politely pushed away, “No need for that; Corned Beef and Cabbage, please.”
I asked for a large ice water but changed my mind when I saw him pour a Guinness with a 2″ frothy head.
He served me my dear Stout and I raised it slightly to the heavens and toasted my Madre for the many years of awesome corned beef and cabbage dinners.

My meal came minutes later and I dug in.

If you’re wondering how my lunch was, it wasn’t like my mother’s but the last place I wanted to go was back to work.
I wanted to stay at Wirth’s forever.

As they say, all good things must come to an end.

I left Jake’s with a stomach full of Irish Turkey and one heavenly Guinness under my belt.
And I was one happy Mick . . .

~m

Game of the Century

You didn’t think you’d get away without something about my Patriots, did you?
I’m not going to jinx them by saying the game will be a blowout or that Eli Manning will choke or that Tom Coughlin will gag on his Motorola headset microphone.
No, I’d never say that.
I will however say, how cool is Gisele?
I can see why Brady loves this woman.
I saw this picture online and immediately fell in love.
Pretty face, awesome smile, flat tummy, blue jeans, blonde hair, and a Boston Red Sox shirt.
How in God’s name do you improve on that?
You just can’t.
Whatever happens, I pray it’s a great game.
And I pray the Patriots silence, for one and for all, those that say the G-Men will prevail.
G-Men? Sounds like a transsexual metal band.
On the menu? Chili, shrimp cocktail, chips and dip, Guinness, cigars . . .

Wanted to take care of a tag as well.
I’m not a big tag guy but Deanna has asked and I’m delivering.
She’s a favorite commenter here at S&M and has a nice blog herself.
Without further ado . . .

Name seven famous people you’ve met (or weird facts about yourself)

I’m going with the famous people but there’s more than seven so I thought I would just list them. I would usually be a bit more creative and tell you a bit about each encounter but I’ve been riding too many single level trains this week making writing virtually impossible.
In no particular order here’s my personal list of “brushes with greatness” . . .

Robert Cray, Billy Joel, John Hiatt, Peter Cetera, Joe Cocker, Steven Tyler, Joe Sample, Steve Gadd (Musicians)
Lenny Clarke, “Bobcat” Goldwaith (Comedians)
Carlos Fuente, Litto Gomez, Rocky Patel, George Padron (Cigar makers)
Dwight Evans, Rich Gedman (Boston Red Sox)
Stephen King (author)
Ethel Kennedy (non-classifiable for many reasons. There may be a future post on Ethel)

There are more but I’ll stop there.
Google any name an prepare to be amazed.
I’ll be far away from the blog for the rest of the weekend.
Have a great Super Sunday, folks.
Talk to all of you next week.
I pray to God I’m smiling.

later gators,

~m

you will know

I saw this and thought, “What a perfect Christmas post.”
Stuart Shepherd is a good looking and compassionate man but sorry ladies, he’s married.
This will probably be my last post until after Christmas so I’ll wish all of you a day of blessings, good cheer and the surroundings of family.
Christmas Eve may briefly call me back to the blog.
We’ll see . . .
Don’t forget to make the French Toast Casserole
for Christmas morning breakfast. Awesome.
If you don’t make it, you’re missing out on some very serious and delicious calories. (Yoiks!)
Merry Christmas!

paz, folks . . .

~m

Ginny's Beef Stew

You asked for it.
I delivered.
Mom lives on.

Ingredients:

2-2 1/2 lbs. Chuck (for stew, lean)
2 – jars (or cans) of Onions, plus the juice
2 – jars (or cans) of Carrots, plus the juice
2-3 lbs. Potatoes, skinned, cubed and microwaved for 7-9 minutes
2- cans of tomato soup
1- can of Beef Consomme
opt. tarragon, Worcestershire sauce, ground clove, basil (my touch)

Saute beef in butter until brown.
Add onions, carrots, water (or beef consomme) to cover beef. (don’t worry about adding too much liquid, it cooks off)
Simmer all for 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
Add potatoes and cook for 3/4 of an hour or until beef is tender (and potatoes!)
Add the tomato soup and heat through.
Serve with a nice, warm and crusty loaf of bread and a glass of aged Merlot and see a sliver of heaven. Nice.

~m

ps. any questions regarding the recipe, email me.
Enjoy.

Ginny’s Beef Stew

You asked for it.
I delivered.
Mom lives on.

Ingredients:

2-2 1/2 lbs. Chuck (for stew, lean)
2 – jars (or cans) of Onions, plus the juice
2 – jars (or cans) of Carrots, plus the juice
2-3 lbs. Potatoes, skinned, cubed and microwaved for 7-9 minutes
2- cans of tomato soup
1- can of Beef Consomme
opt. tarragon, Worcestershire sauce, ground clove, basil (my touch)

Saute beef in butter until brown.
Add onions, carrots, water (or beef consomme) to cover beef. (don’t worry about adding too much liquid, it cooks off)
Simmer all for 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
Add potatoes and cook for 3/4 of an hour or until beef is tender (and potatoes!)
Add the tomato soup and heat through.
Serve with a nice, warm and crusty loaf of bread and a glass of aged Merlot and see a sliver of heaven. Nice.

~m

ps. any questions regarding the recipe, email me.
Enjoy.

Boston meme (4Lass)

boston-sunset-700.jpg

Lass hit me with a tag several weeks ago to do a meme.
And though I’m not big on meme’s I figure I owe her one.
Lord knows, I’ve managed to snake my way out of a few of them but this one was actually interesting in many ways.
And the fact that Lass is a good friend and has been on my blogroll since I started this whole blogging thing.

Without further ado here are a few of the “bests” in my area.
I’ve decided to give you a tour of Boston (my second home).

Best Place to Eat:

This one is almost impossible to answer in a city like Boston.
There are just too damn many great restaurants.
If I had to pick a few I’d have to say L’Osteria on Salem Street in the North End. This is your quintessential Italian bistro. When the warm crusty bread and salad make you think you’ve died and gone to heaven, you know the meal will knock your socks off.

After having the Veal Piccata, I’m still searching for my socks.
Another incredible restaurant is the East Coast Grille in Cambridge @ Inman Square.

It’s mostly a fish type of place but beef dishes are over the top (ask my wife).

This funky little place is unique. Period.
I had Grilled White Pepper Crusted Tuna with House Pickled Ginger, Aged Soy Sauce, Pacific Farms Fresh Wasabi, Grilled Vegetables & a Spicy Bok Choy Salad.
This meal had me moaning (once again, ask my wife).

I can’t wait to go here again. My birthday is in January so . . .

There’s the Rattlesnake on Boylston Street with the best damn catfish Po’ Boy I’ve ever had in my life.

I’ll wrap this up with Al’s State Street Cafe with their State Street Special: prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil leaves and thinly sliced plum tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar served on a crusty French baguette.

Hungry yet?

Best Shopping Mall:

Not really a mall but a wonderful place to hemorrhage multiple Franklin’s; Faneuil Hall
Click on the link and take a “virtual tour”.
If you’re a woman, send hubby to the Union Oyster House.

You’re going to be a while . . .

Famous Landmark:
Should be plural for Boston.
Driving into the city via the Mass Pike the Citgo sign in Kenmore Square greets you (and every other Red Sox fan).

After that the Pru (Prudential Center) and the John Hancock buildings can’t help but catch your eye. They’re huge and stunning. I take them for granted. Shame on me.

There’s Paul Revere’s House, the Old North Church and last but not least Fenway Park.

Best Tourism Attraction:

The Freedom Trail

Symphony Hall

&

Fenway Park (again)

This list could go on ad nauseum.

Best Place for Kids:

Museum of Science
is a pretty safe bet.
It’s huge, loud and a ton of fun.
(once you find the effin’ place)
The frozen “Duck Pond” on the ‘Common” is great in the winter months for skating, the summer months for swimming.

Popular Outdoor Activity:
Walking, running, skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, ice skating, roller blading.
It all happens here.

Breath-taking views:
Top of the Pru doesn’t suck on any given night and a four hour ride north of the city will put you in North Conway, New Hampshire in the heart of the White Mountains.
On a clear, fall day the view is spectacular.
Ever seen leaves explode in technicolor?

Only Found In:

Yawkey Way (Fenway Park)
You haven’t lived until you’ve walked this stretch of pavement on a Red Sox gameday.
The smell of simmering sausages and onions is a sacred thing.

The Zakim Bunker-Hill Bridge is a magnificent structure that connects Boston to Chelsea and beyond; awesome during the day, a religious experience at night.

Berklee College of Music; my alma mater. Scary. Cool school.

Newbury StreetBoston’s very own “Rodeo Drive”.

Though this list could turn itself into a book, I’ll stop here.

Should ever you find yourself in Boston, drop me a line.

I’ll meet you at Foley’s for a Guinness or three.

~m

Recipes of the heart

It was a cold, brisk November night several weeks ago that Pamela and I went out to dinner (a rare occasion), not an expensive “date” by any means; a burger and a shared salad along with a few Shipyard Pumpkin Ales which were quite good, one or two and you’ve had your fill of this delicately spiced brew.
Maybe it was the up and coming holidays that turned on the “memory” faucet for me but for some reason I began thinking about my mother. (big surprise, huh?)
When I think about her, I really miss talking to her.
I wonder if that feeling will ever stop?
The two just go together, I guess.

It was no surprise that I found myself on Sunday afternoon making a big pot of Beef Stew, a recipe that I adopted from her.
The simple act of cooking something she used to make brings her back to me, in a quiet and introspective kind of way.
She’s almost standing next to me in the kitchen and to be honest, I love it.
Strange, huh? Not really.
After Thanksgiving dinner, I found a great seat on our “way too comfortable” living room couch and joined my daughters while they watched “Ratatouille”, the Disney flick (and a real good one at that).
I’m not giving anything away regarding the movie but now and then souls and memories intersect for reasons unknown.
This simple children’s movie spoke to me deeply.
Sheesh. It’s Dizzney.
Go figure. (one scene in particular)
Should you ever care to watch it, maybe you’ll understand where I’m coming from, maybe not.
I’ll just say that special dishes are such a beautiful and lasting thing in terms of our deepest fields of memory.
Our minds literally refuse to forget the special foods we ate and loved as children.
They bring us back.
Way back.

It was no surprise to me that the beef stew came out as good as it did.
The simple act of re-creating a recipe my mom once made me feel so good.
Maybe she had more to do with the end result of the beef stew than I did.
I like to think of it that way, anyway . . .

~m

ps.
My mom’s beef stew recipe is up for grabs for anyone that wants it.
If there’s enough interest, I’ll post it here at S&M.

Marinated 'Shrooms

Thanksgiving is next Thursday.
If you like fungi, check out my own recipe.
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
basil leaves
peppercorns
crushed red pepper flake
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2-3 bay leaves
Heat all to a boil and simmer 1o mins
Add 1 lb to 1 1/2 lbs cleaned, sliced mushrooms
Simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Cool and serve.
These ‘shrooms rule.

~m