I should just walk

The only sandwich you can eat in my car
The only sandwich you can eat in my car

After almost two decades along my journey through motherhood, I finally felt as if I’d grown out of the minivan phase and could log the remaining miles in a vehicle that wasn’t the mom jeans of the automobile industry.

It’s not that the van didn’t serve it’s purpose (of aging me 15 years) for a time when the kids were smaller, but it was time to move on and up to a more age-appropriate and respectable car.

Despite being born and raised in Detroit, purchasing a new vehicle is not one of my favorite things. I certainly like driving a nice car, but the procurement of said automobile is painful and tedious in my opinion. The negotiating process makes me want punch babies, so I have abandoned this task to my conflict-loving husband many years ago.

It’s worked out well until now.

On our recent new car purchase, my husband dutifully chose, negotiated and secured our family roadster. My only request was that it wasn’t a minivan, and all doors must open instead of slide sickeningly along a Cheeto-laden track. All that was left for me to do was drive in the old van for the trade-in assessment (which I had judged to be about 46 cents and a tetanus shot) and pick up the new car. I see now it was here when things took their turn down a dark path.

Conversation with salesperson as I waited an hour for appraisal on trade-in. (I can only assume it took this long to pry an old sippy cup from the dash board covering the VIN number.)

Me: So while I’m waiting, can we look at the car since I haven’t seen it yet?

Salesperson: We have to special order your car, we don’t have it here.

Me: That’s okay, I can look at something similar.

Salesperson: We really don’t have anything close to what you ordered on the lot.

Me: (Confused.) Um, okay. How about if I just look at a brochure?

Salesperson: (Looks nervous. Exits quickly.)

15 minutes later Salesperson returns not making eye contact.

Salesperson: I’m sorry, we have no brochures and I can’t even show you a depiction online because yours is so different that IT WOULD CONFUSE YOU.

At this moment I should have grabbed the keys to my old van, prayed the thimble of gas I left in it would have held me past the dealership driveway and returned immediately to the compound where Moms like me aren’t subjected to confusing things like paint and interior color differences.

But I didn’t. I guess I was indeed confused wondering why my husband had purchased a vehicle enrolled in the witness protection program and why my new car was as embarrassed to drive me as I was of my old one and it hadn’t even seen my jeans yet.

And while this was annoying, insulting, asinine and unacceptable; IT WASN’T A MINIVAN and therefore worth the humiliation.

And ultimately my personal safety, because before I had time to preset my radio to the folk music and NPR stations, I had to make an emergency return to the dealership when I noticed a slight problem with the brakes: I had none.

Driving into the dealership service department:

Me: (Shaking)This brand new car has no brakes. I can’t believe I made it here alive.

Salesperson: You probably have the emergency brake on–new cars take some getting used to and this one’s got a little more power than your van.

Me: The emergency brake is indeed on now because I had to apply it in order not to mow down the customers in your showroom because I HAVE NO BRAKES.

Salesperson: (Condescendingly.) I’m sure it’s user error. Why don’t you go into the lounge and have a glass of sweet tea while the mechanics look at it.

Salesperson returns 15 minutes later. Looks nervous, avoids eye contact.

Salesperson: Well, it looks like there are no brake cylinders in that car of yours. They all have to be replaced.

Me: How does that happen?

Salesperson: Not real sure–should never have passed inspection. Regardless, it’s unsafe to drive.

Me: No shit.

Salesperson: I’ll tell you what I’m going to do–I’m going to set you up in a rental free of charge while we order new parts.

Me: That’s the least you could do…

Salesperson: Let me put you into this nice minivan for the time being….

So it turns out I really wasn’t ready to put the minivan in my rearview mirror after all.

Salesperson: No shit.

**********

 

IMG_1778

 

The Best Roadtrip Steak Sandwich Ever

1 loaf of French Bread
1 nicely-sized flank steak
1 jar of roasted red peppers
1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
1 4 oz. package of goat cheese
arugula
olive oil, salt and pepper

1.) Grill flank steak seasoned with garlic salt or salt and pepper on the grill or grill pan on the stove about 6 minutes per side or until medium rare. Set aside to rest at least 15 minutes. Slice steak thinly on an angle against the grain.

2.) Cut French bread in half on an angle and then slice down the middle horizontally so you have two sandwiches. Drizzle the bottom bread slices with olive oil then lay the steak slices all along the bottom.

3.) On top of the steak, layer the peppers, goat cheese, and avocado. Top with arugula, and drizzle with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Replace top bread slice, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill for a couple of hours to let the flavors develop, but not too long so the bread and arugula gets soggy.

4.) Pack in cooler and pass up every fast food joint on the interstate in your new or old car.

 

©2013 Tracey Henry

43 is the New 22. Or Something

There’s a certain inevitability on any given radio dial in the Year of Our Lord 2013, that at some point within a 3 minute time period, you will be subjected to a Taylor Swift song. Whether this entertains or tortures you is your business, but for me, it provided an unexpected birthday gift this year.

With just a little tweaking to her smash hit “22,” Taylor gets me. So, thanks, T-Swizzle for capturing exactly what it’s like to turn 42.

(Obviously sung to the tune of 22 )

It feels like a perfect night to pull up our hipsters
Way past our solar plexes uh uh uh uh
It feels like a perfect night for Pinterest at midnight
Errantly texting strangers uh uh uh uh
Yeahhhhh
We’re savvy spent clever and jaded at the same time
It’s miserable and premenopausal oh yeah
Tonight’s the night we forget about the laugh lines, it’s time uh uh

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 42
everything will be alright if you keep my wineglass full
You don’t know about me and I can’t remember you
but everything will be alright if we just keep Spanxing like we’re 42, 42

It seems like one of those nights
Outback’s too crowded too many school kids
It seems like one of those nights
We ditch the sitter and end up sleeping instead of eating
Yeahhhhhh

We’re savvy spent jaded and clever in the best way
It’s juvenile and geriatrical oh yeah
Tonight’s the night when we forget about the backaches
It’s time

I don’t know about you but I’m feeling 42
Everything will be alright if you keep my wineglass full
You don’t know about me and I can’t remember you
Everything will be alright if we just keep Spanxing like we’re 42

After I spent an insane amount of time rewriting this simple song, I realized that I didn’t even turn 42 this year–I’m effing 43 which is such a 42 year old thing to do that I could have added another refrain.

So here’s some damn sugar and chocolate with booze in it.

Happy @#$% birthday to me.

************

22, 42....Tiramisu
22, 42….Tiramisu

 

Tiramisu for 22 at 42

3 eggs, separated
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1 cup strong coffee (because who has a cup of espresso laying around?), divided
1 cup sugar, divided
1 T. brandy
2 T. Kahlua or coffee liqueur

1 1/2 packages of lady fingers
1 cup heavy cream
2 T. cocoa and/or shaved chocolate

(If you’re a normal cook and not a Food Network star, you probably only have 1 hand or stand mixer in your kitchen, so included are some hints for that.)

Beat egg yolks, 1 tablespoon coffee, 1/2 cup sugar until well combined. Add the mascarpone and beat until smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from mixing bowl and give the bowl a wash and final rinse in cold water.

Whip egg whites and a pinch of sugar until fairly stiff; gently fold into your mascarpone mixture, just until combined. Don’t over mix.

Rinse the mixing bowl out in cold water again, dry, and whip the heavy cream with the remaining scant half cup of sugar. (You can adjust the sugar here to taste, and add a teaspoon of vanilla if desired.) Set aside.

Mix the last of the coffee with the Kahlua or brandy in a shallow bowl. Dip a lady finger quickly, and then line the bottom and then the sides of a 13×9 glass dish or trifle bowl with the cookies. Layer half of the mascarpone mixture, sprinkle with cocoa, then repeat with a layer of dipped ladyfingers. After two layers of cookies, cheese and cocoa, top the top with the whipped cream and cocoa. Drizzle with some Kahlua if desired and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill 4-5 hours, but it’s best overnight.

Sing “Happy Birthday” (or any Taylor Swift song) loud and proud.

 

©2013 Tracey Henry

Let’s Dish

Sangria
Sangria

For the past decade, I’ve been bringing you the very true and very ridiculous stories from my side of the picket fence. We’ve been chatting about kids and carpools, husbands and holidays, life, liberty and the pursuit of snappiness. And hopefully sharing a few laughs in the process.

We’re still going to do that, okay?

But as the new title suggests, I want to mix things up a little differently. Closer to the way I do with my family and friends in real life–at a cozy table with full plates, glasses and conversation.

Oh, we’ll still chew the fat on exercise class and vacations, but we’ll add something a little more savory while we’re doing it. I’ll share my stories, recipes, menus and delicious experiences and let’s see if we can’t get through our crazy days together. We’ll play with our food and eat while we play.

So pour yourself a glass of Sangria, and let’s dish.

***************

 

Sassgria for a Crowd

3 bottles of cheap-ish, sweet, red wine (if you use your good stuff, you’re doing wine a disservice and tormented grapes will haunt you for the rest of your days.)

1 cup simple syrup

3/4 cup brandy or blackberry brandy

1 orange, apple and lemon or lime sliced

2 whole cinnamon sticks

1 liter of club soda, seltzer water or Sprite

Prepare a simple syrup of 1 cup sugar dissolved into 1 cup of water in a small saucepan on the stove. Remove from heat when sugar has completely dissolved and set aside to cool.
Make your “mash” by placing slightly cooled syrup, 1 bottle of wine, brandy, sliced fruit and cinnamon sticks in a small pitcher and chill for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight. Chill remaining bottles of wine and club soda.
When ready to serve, combine mash with remaining bottles of wine and top with club soda right before serving. Make sure each glass had a piece of fruit and a designated driver.

–SD

 

©2013 Tracey Henry