Oct 082019

I can remember most of the anxieties and uncertainties that I had as an adolescent and young adult, because, well, they were anxieties and uncertainties. They were unpleasant. They significantly occupied my consciousness.

As I got older, naturally, they became easier to understand. I could more easily discern my role in them. I could evaluate different reactions to them. And, as my children grew, I started considering how I would help them with these anxieties.

So, of course, now that it’s time, there is very little commonality between what I was anxious or uncertain about and what they are anxious or uncertain about.

Different kids. Different world.

It’s generally agreed that being a parent is a difficult job. But until children are two years old or so, it’s only a question of endurance. You almost always know exactly what to do. You just have to have the time, money, and energy to do it.

Then, that “know exactly what to do” stays manageable for several more years, but starts getting gradually slipperier. It lurches a bit at puberty’s onset.

And then, finally, in late adolescence, it falls off a cliff.

 Posted by at 3:21 pm
Sep 232019

Back when Madison Square Mall was a thriving retail center, one of the best places to eat there was Steak Escape. They made hot subs on a flattop grill while you watched. They specialized in cheesesteaks, but my favorite was the Grand Ham. It had thin slices of deli ham, onions, and peppers, spiced fairly robustly, with provolone melted over it.

I started messing around trying to capture the vibe of that sandwich a couple of years ago. I’ve gotten pretty close. I keep it occasional to preserve some novelty, but it vanishes reliably when I make it for dinner.

You need:

  • 2 big French bread baguettes (the ones at Publix are perfect)
  • 4-6 lbs. deli ham (typically I get shonuff deli meat for half of it, and supplement with lunch meat of reasonable quality)
  • 1-2 white onions, julienned
  • 2-3 bell peppers, julienned
  • Light olive oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • 12 slices provolone (I prefer non-smoked, but it won’t blow up if you use smoked)
  • Dried parsley

As you can see, the numbers have a lot of slop in them. This isn’t a recipe of great precision. Scale it up or down as needed.

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Sauté your onion and bell pepper in a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Slice your ham into thin strips while that’s happening, and stir the veggies occasionally.
  3. When your onions start getting some translucence about them, cut the heat to medium. Dump your ham in and mix well.
  4. Give the skillet a light-but-all-over sprinkle of garlic powder, a healthy splash or two of Worcestershire, and several good grinds of black pepper. Cook a few more minutes until your ham gets some character.
  5. Cut your baguettes in half crosswise, and then hinge-cut each of the four pieces to hold the good stuff. Spread them out in an ovenable fashion. (I use a cooling rack on top of a deep cookie sheet for this—same setup as baking bacon.)
  6. Divide the skillet contents among the four buns. Top with three slices of provolone each. Shake some dried parsley over the top.
  7. Bake until the provolone just begins to brown (go 10 minutes, and then check every 2).
  8. Remove and allow to cool just a bit.

Eat! (I like mine best with Cape Cod kettle chips.)

 Posted by at 6:33 pm
Jul 312019

A Limestone County family has filed suit against e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL (and 35% owner Altria, parent of Philip Morris) and a local merchant, wishing to hold them responsible for their 17-year-old son’s nicotine addiction. The WAFF story, which embeds the legal complaint, is here. I started smoking cigarettes regularly in March 1987, just short of […]

 Posted by at 10:41 am
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