He’s Leaving

The phone rang, it was early on a Sunday to have his mother calling, he picked it up anyway.

“Nick, I’ve had it, I want your father out of here, I’m sending him to you.  You can take care of him.  He’s a liar, and I’m done.  I’m getting a divorce.”

“Woah, wait Mom, what is going on?”

It was already apparent to Nick what was going on.  The battles between his Mom and his sister in law had gone on for years.  Her testimony proved that this was the case.  Apparently his Pops had forgotten a poignant remark his sister in law made during their last visit, and left Moms on the line being accused as a liar.  Italian women never take well to that kind of thing.

“Put him on”

“Hey Nick,” his soft spoken father said into the phone.

“What the fuck is going on?”

“I didn’t remember her saying that, I do now, but it’s too late.”

“Do you really want to be crashing on my couch?”  Nick asked, referring to his aged lounge in the front room of his small apartment. “Surely, you don’t want that.”

“Well, I wouldn’t mind.”

“Ok then, let me know when you’re coming.  I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“Do you want to talk to your Mom again?”

“No thanks, talk to you tomorrow.”

A thousand thoughts raced through Nick’s head.  He was the oldest of three children.  His parents, though not perfect by any means, did the best they could with what they had.  It was truly baffling that after 35 years of marriage, Nick’s mother was going to kick his 70 year old father out of the house.  It didn’t make any sense.  When talking to others, he can vividly remember some of his friends saying that their parents should have divorced long ago, but instead inflicted suffering on themselves and their children.  Nicks parents did not fit that bill.  He used to think of them as a shining example of what a successful marriage could look like.  But here he was, looking at the prospect of having his Pops as a roommate.  Not only that, but the impeccable image he had come to admire in his own life was shattered right there during a 5 minute phone call.

Nick called up his brother, because after all, it’s his wife who’s causing shit.  He was at work and bitched about having to deal with this shit while he was working.

“Well it’s your wife, and she’s your fucking responsibility, so deal with it.”  Nick intoned angrily into the phone.

The rest of Nick’s night was spent going over the possible outcomes.  His father, now retired, living with him in an unfamiliar city, with nothing to do was not an ideal situation.  However out of love for his father, Nick decided he would endure and move forward.   He couldn’t shake the feeling of being played a pawn in a fucked up game.  He also entertained thoughts of kicking his brother’s ass but ultimately decided that was the wrong focus.

A couple beers later, it was time for bed, as that sort of emotional ride took a lot out of Nick.  He dreamed intense violent dreams over the course of his 8 hours.

The next morning, he got out of bed and grabbed his cellphone, immediately calling his father.

“Hey Nick”

“Hey Pops, what are you doing?

“I’m walking the dogs for the last time.”

“Jesus dad, she hasn’t relented?”

“Nope, she’s at work or something, maybe she’s having an affair.”

“Oh come on Pops, don’t talk like that.  What are you going to do?  My couch is still open.”

“Well, I slept on the couch last night, and I slept like shit.  I’m so tired I can’t do anything. I think I’m going to find a place here to stay, and if not head your way.”

“If you’re that tired, you shouldn’t make the drive here today.  Get some rest and then come this way, I’ll take the couch and you can crash my room.  How are you feeling?”

“I feel sick.”

Then, as if prompted by some unseen jukebox, Nicks father sung into phone, with his soft aged voice that was all too familiar, his own version of that classic John Denver song:

“The sun is up, I’m outside the door. My bags are packed and I’m ready to go.  I don’t want to leave, I’m so lonesome I could die.”

Later on, he couldn’t name the artist, he just said, “I thought it was appropriate.”

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

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Red’s Brazilian Shrimp Soup

I was in my local market the other day, picking up a porterhouse from the butcher.  The cat behind the counter is a guy who I had talked to a while back, during football season.  He’s a Bears fan, poor guy.  At any rate, when I first met him, I was grabbing about 2 pounds of shrimp as they were on sale.  He had asked what I was going to do with them and I broke down the recipe to him.   Fast forward to a few days ago, he says to me, “I’m so glad it’s you, I made that recipe and man, it was amazing.”  Little recognition felt pretty darn good.  Plus this is at least 2 months later.  Apparently, he got put on late shifts and missed my shopping window.

Today we’re going to look at a soup, traditionally called Moqueca de Camarão.  Moqueca is a traditional Brazilian stew like soup, based off of salt water fish, coconut milk, and a number of other ingredients.  Brazilians have been making this soup and different variations,  for the last 300 years.  I love making this soup because it fits with my minimalist cooking aesthetic.  I loathe doing dishes, so anything I whip up in a single pot is pretty keen in my eyes.  Cooking this meal will typically take about 30 minutes.  The longest part of the process is cleaning the shrimp.  This is a straight up comfort food that is warm and spicy enough to feel good in winter, yet light enough to make during summer.  It tastes even better the next day.

This is what you need:

  • One large pot.  I use a 5 qt. pot from Ikea.  (I didn’t even have to put it together.)
  • 2 lbs. of shrimp (you can use more or less depending on your tastes.)
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic.  Smash them with a knife, wait 5 minutes, then dice them
  • 1/2 cup of roasted red peppers diced (more or less depending on your tastes)
  • 14 oz or a single can of diced tomatoes.  Get the ones with chiles if you can find them.
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • juice of two limes, or about 1/4 of a cup
  • Sriracha or the chile pepper sauce of your choice
  • 1 can of coconut milk (14 oz.)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Here’s how we do it:

I find it easiest to prep the ingredients prior to cooking, so I have them all on hand and ready once the heat is on.  Firstly, we’re going to heat our olive oil in our pan on medium heat.  Next, throw your diced onions into the pot and cook them until they are translucent.  Do be careful not to burn them.  Next, throw your diced garlic, red roasted peppers in and cook for around 4-5 minutes.  Please don’t burn the garlic.  Then take your can of tomatoes, about a 1/4 cup (more or less depending on your tastes) of diced cilantro, and your shrimps and toss them in that bad boy.  You’re going to cook these guys until the shrimp turn from translucent to opaque.

Right after adding the shrimps

Right after adding the shrimps

Once that is done, we’re on the home stretch.  Add your coconut milk and as much sriracha as you’d like.  I eye ball it because I love spicy food, but you can play with it.  At this point, we just want to heat the coconut milk through, you don’t want to boil it.  Once that is heated, we’re pretty much done.  Add some salt and pepper to taste, and mix in  your lime juice.   Server this garnished with some cilantro, and prepare to have your taste buds knocked into orbit.  This is some good stuff.

If you can’t eat shrimp, or find shrimp, and I only buy it when it’s on sale, you can sub in any white fish instead.  Crawfish would probably work, even chicken.  But as Joshua the butcher said, “the coconut milk just seeps into the shrimp and it is so tasty.”

Ready to be grubbed.

Ready to be grubbed.