Tuesday, May 29, 2007

No surrey with the fringe on top...we went for the whipped cream instead

This was me and my family last year on the Memorial Day weekend - we took our traditional jaunt to Ocean City where every May, we go down the shore that Sunday, gorge ourselves on Brown's donuts and Mack and Manco's pizza, after which we ride a surrey for four hours to try and work off the calories. The following day, Memorial Day, was always spent with a party at our house where their friends wandered in and out all day scarfing Gary's rather incredible burgers and then, since all of their pals are musicians, we'd be treated to the world's best jam session in our living room.

Well, needless to say, we didn't make it down to Ocean City this year for the first time in like...forever. I sulked for a bit but have finally come to the conclusion that yes, Julie and Eric are adults now; long held traditions are reduced to 5x7 pictures in our photograph album, and damn it, everyone knows that he who stands with one foot in the past and one in the future (worrying, that would be me) is pissing on the present.

So I came to terms with the fact that Eric wasn't available Saturday because he had a backstage, all access pass to this year's Jam on the River courtesy of guitarist extraordinaire Scott Metzger who was playing at the concert with Eric's pal and Crescent Moon bandmate, Ween's Dave Dreiwitz as Bustle in Your Hedgerow. Last time Bustle played in New York Eric sat in on a song or two and I was tempted to go myself but yeah, yeah, realized once again Eric doesn't always want his groupie mom going to every show, even though she repeatedly assures him it's for the music, not just to watch him...and that she has been going to concerts for over thirty years, sometimes spending her entire week's paycheck for prime seats.

Anyway, it wasn't just Eric who wasn't available -- Julie had to work, teaching a recording class on Saturday and working at the restaurant for a double shift on Sunday.

"Want to go anyway, without the kids?" Gary asked me, knowing that I was putting up a brave front and was seconds away from a major meltdown...i.e., tears and several bittersweet walks down memory lane.

"No," I barked. "It won't be the same."

So just as I was about to totally wallow in misery, Julie came over for coffee early Saturday morning (I ran out of filters, she said sheepishly), I casually threw out the following comment to both Julie and Eric, who hadn't left for the River Jam yet, never expecting the response.

"I don't suppose you guys and any of your friends want to come over Memorial Day for a barbecue?" I asked hopefully, although with both J&E being vegetarians, it would call for major improvisation on our usual holiday menu.

"Yeah, we can do that," they both said. "How many people can we invite?"

"As many as you want!" I shouted, practically jumping up and down with glee.

So they left, and I woke Gary.

"Guess what! We're having a party here on Monday!"

He groaned, rolled over, and put the pillow over his head.

Nah, he didn't really do that. He smiled from ear to ear and immediately started planning the menu.

Both Julie and Eric had been raving that the very best veggie burger they ever had was courtesy of Houston's Restaurant so I said, "Hmm...I bet if I go on line I can find the recipe and Daddy will make them for you."

Stupidest thing I ever said. Oh, I found the recipe alright. I have to post it just so you can see what it involved:

Houston Restaurant's Veggie Burgers

4 tablespoons hickory barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon molasses
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon oat bran
2 tablespoons onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped canned beets
1 teaspoon beet juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pickled jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 egg white, add more if needed (to bind)
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 slices monterey jack cheese (optional)

1. Stir together barbecue sauce and molasses. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mash beans. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the barbecue mixture (reserving remaining for brushing) and remaining ingredients -- rice through egg white. Form into four 6 oz patties.
3. Heat olive oil in a cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium. Grill burgers for 2 minutes on one side. Turn and brush with remaining barbecue/molasses mixture. Top with Monterey Jack and grill for another 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.
4. Serve with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and mustard on a bun which has been grilled in butter.

In other words, by the time Gary made these burgers, he could have cooked an entire Thanksgiving dinner.

But oh, did he love doing it. And oh did J&E love eating them.

Though naturally we had a couple of disasters -- right in the middle of grilling, Gary's barbecue decided to self-destruct and the whole thing somehow did not go crashing to the ground but rather tilted on this bizarre, precarious angle which allowed Gary to finish cooking while juggling hotdogs and burgers on a decided slant. While he was dealing with that, I had to cook the veggie burgers in a skillet on the stove. Oh my god. I mean, if you look at the above ingredients, you will see that what I basically had to work with was a very wet mixture. I tried vainly to shape it into some semblance of a burger patty; then had to refrain from touching or turning it in the pan because I just knew those suckers would fall apart, rendering all of Gary's hard work for naught, so I nervously hopped from foot to foot in the kitchen, praying I wouldn't fuck up.

Hey, I used to be an awesome cook until Gary and Julie outdid me and now it's a lot easier to defer to them.

Except when I'm stuck with a mixture of beets and oatbran dressed in sheep's clothing (har har) as a hamburger.

Somehow, it all worked out.

So we ended up having ten of their friends here (I think -- I wasn't about to stand there and count); we made way too much food; Julie made an outrageous key lime pie for dessert which ended up pretty funny because she made home made whipped cream in that fancy gadget of hers which requires whippets...err...I mean, nitrous oxide cartridges to make it work...anyway, when she squeezed the handle whipped cream shot up everywhere, all in her hair...it was pretty fucking funny.

Naturally she blamed the cartridge, not the Sangria she also made and was drinking...oh my god, I had one glass of that stuff and was slurring my words.

In a good way, in a good way.

No jam session - after dinner everyone played baseball -- oh my god, we were such a normal family yesterday it was ridiculous.

And in two weeks, Eric leaves to play Bonanaroo, and after that, he immediately heads to Nashville and meets up with Julie at Adrian's house for rehearsals and then it's the Belew east coast tour and the start of a lot of summer insanity -- my mind is still coping with the fact that they'll both fly to Quebec July 10-12, leave for Tokyo July 13, and then Eric has to be in Germany July 28.

But that's not until mid-June; in the meantime I intend to enjoy my kids as much as possible -- in fact, pre-party yesterday Julie and I went out for breakfast and then shopping downtown and we had a freaking blast, just doing girl stuff and giggling.

Tomorrow I'll be in New York for the Backspace Writers Conference; I just got invited to two lit blog parties in NYC Thursday night and it appears I need a serious cloning machine because I'm also supposed to be part of the banquet at what looks like a luscious Italian restaurant called Dopo Teatro and who can't love a restaurant called "Dopo"...then I find out Eric will also be in NYC at the Knitting Factory at 6:30 that night with some heavy hitters in the music world...arghh...somehow I have to figure out how to do all.

Nice problem to have, huh.

I'll have the laptop with me in NYC and may have time to post again before I leave tomorrow morning...I'm thinking it would be a lot of fun to blog from this event assuming I'm not scarfing Ketel One martinis at the Algonquin bar in my down time but then again, assuming I can type, that would be one hell of a post, huh.

Anyway, I do have lots of other news but I can't blab yet so...