Tag Archives: New Jersey

A New Year… A New Pork Roll, Egg & Cheese!

Living in New Jersey, a pork roll egg and cheese is a necessary evil.  Evil – because of its deliciousness and high calorie content and necessary because… well it’s just “Jersey”.

English: A package of Taylor pork roll (Taylor...

People in North Jersey call it Taylor Ham (the best brand) and people in South Jersey call it Pork Roll.  The fight is almost as passionate as “sauce” vs. “gravy”.  Gravy wins hands down – but that’s another blog.

After having one of the shittiest years and the shittiest New Year’s Eves (yet another blog), I decided to treat myself to a twist on the normal, well-known PEG.  Maybe I’d feel better about “stuff” – and I do!

My original blog about the wonderful PEG can be found HERE – and nothing can mess with perfection.

I don’t want to mess with the crème de la crème of NJ breakfast sandwiches, but I do want to offer you a gourmet alternative.


My Gourmet Pork Roll, Egg & Cheese – Is There such a thing?

2 slices of long-sliced Italian bread (I used Paramount sliced semolina)
1 tbsp apricot fruit spread
3-4 slices of cooked pork roll  (you can use pancetta instead)
1 egg – fried (I like my yolk cooked)
1/4 c crumbled Gorgonzola
3 tbsp butter
salt & pepper

Tools needed:  a panini press or something heavy to weigh down the bread (I used the latter)

Cook pork roll in some Pam until browned and cooked through.  Set aside.

Cook egg in the same pan to desired doneness.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  The flavor of the pork roll will permeate the egg – yum!

Assemble sandwich:  Spread fruit spread on bottom half of the bread.  Add pork roll, egg and crumbled Gorgonzola.  Melt butter in a clean pan and add sandwich – presentation side down. Press with something heavy.  Cook until golden brown, flip and do the same to the other side.

Cheese with be melted and the sandwich with be delish!

Serves 1.

Try it out and let me know if you like it.  It mixes the saltiness of the Taylor Ham and the sweetness of the fruit.

And for all you Jersey guys and gals – let me know how it compares to the original!

© 2013 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010

Hurricane Sandy’s Lost Pets

Please share this Facebook page.

LOST PETS

The east coast needs you!

 

My Autobiography – from 6th grade?

Recently I have been redecorating my home office/craft room – looking for painting ideas on the Internet and basically overhauling the whole damn thing.

I have been wanting to change the decor in that room for 12 years!  Twelve years!

Finally, it seems like a reality – but I’m not quite there yet.

Scouring every inch of shit I’ve accumulated has been a real chore but maybe finally I’ll get my ass organized.  I’ve come across bill from 1993 and other crap that I promptly burned in my chiminea – because that damn shredder keeps crapping out!

Anyway, I cam across a lot of sentimental items as well:  pictures, mementos and my 6th grade autobiography.

It’s so funny to see what I thought of the world at 12.  That was 33 years ago!  I can’t believe I’m that old!  Damn!

So I thought I’d share some excerpts with you.  Now keep in mind that after I graduated college I became a translator in New York, the 6 years later a French & Spanish teacher.  Here we go:

Table of Contents (including page numbers of course!)

First Born
Kindergarten to Third
Fourth to Sixth Grade
My Future Plans
My Thanks
To Get This Information
Pictures

A full 14 pages!!!!!  Remember that this was pre-computer – 1979.  This is not the complete “work”….

… At two years I was potty trained and at four months I used to climb out out of my playpen by putting my toes and fingers in the holes and climbing out.  I couldn’t stand my pacifier or playpen.  I used to climb out of my crib and my parents couldn’t figure out how I did it.

I swam at two years and stopped my bottle at two years old, when my mother threw it in the garbage.  I walked at eight months and was a pain in the foot.

I cried a lot, my mother said I was born with my mouth open.  I never slept, my mother had to play country music mostly “Tiger By The Tail” by George Jones and dance me to sleep, but I still wouldn’t go to sleep…

…When I used to do something wrong I used to hide under my Aunt Mary’s bed.

My mother said I was always quiet and good, and never touched anything when I went out.  I used to sit by my mother all the while, I was very shy like my father…

…I was promoted to first grade when I had Mrs. Romano.  We had a play and I was a sunflower.  For Halloween I was a flower girl with a pink gown.  Mrs. Romano left to have a baby, and that’s when Mrs. Tobie took over.

When I was in second grade I had Mrs. Forstenhausler.  She was a very good teacher.  We had a play and I was an Arabian belly dancer.  I looked exactly like Jeannie on T.V., even my hair and shoes…

…When I was eight years old I made my First Holy Communion

…I was in Brownies from second to third grade.

When I was eight and a half I started twirling at the Masonic Temple in Bloomfield… But then she transferred the Bloomfield girls to Nutley to the Elks Club and we became the “Elkettes”.  Then I was asked to take private lessons…

…Fourth to Sixth Grade.  I went to Mrs. Little’s class and developed many nicknames but one still sticks called “Apollo Creed” because I always put up my fists…

…At nine years of age I started competitive twirling, modeling, strutting, etc…

…I’ll soon be going to North Junior High and I’m a little bit scared about the whole new thing.

My hobbies are:  twirling, swimming, crafts, ceramics, ice and roller skating, biking, modeling, diving, dancing and many more…

…I have been in numerous twirling contests and beauty contests…  All together I have about ninety trophies and medals…

…I will certainly try to get into Miss America when I grow up.

My Future Plans.  For my future I would like to be a Psychiatrist.  I have thought about being an actress but with a hundred to one chance I won’t get to be famous….

It’s so weird to read this.  Lemme see…  I did want to be a doctor but when I realized that I couldn’t stand the sight of blood – that was out.

Miss America?  After Essex County Junior Miss (which I did for MY MOTHER) I was DONE.  D – O – N – E, done.  Pageants weren’t for me.

I can still twirl, and I still consider my hobbies to be crafts, roller skating, swimming and if I was younger and still clubbing my nights away – dancing!

Some things have changed, some haven’t, but I’m still Jacqui.

How different or alike are you all these years later?

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Stuffed Tilapia Steamed on the Grill

I love fish and seafood.  Flounder, tilapia, trout, catfish, shrimp, scallops, lobster – you name it!

I can eat it every day – my husband is a different story.  I have to invent new ways to make the same fish taste very different.

This summer I’ve done the foil packets, the steaming, the grilling, the everything, so I decided to try a stuffed filet.  I have never been successful in finding a recipe that I liked, thus decided to create my own.

Here it is – or at least I think it is but I didn’t write it down until this morning:

Jacqui’s Stuffed Tilapia on the Grill

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, unpeeled and chopped
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (if using larger shrimp, coarsely chop) – soak in white wine for a few minutes before cooking
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay
  • 2 tbsp ea of fresh lemon thyme & dill
  • white wine
  • 1 cup Panko
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 thin pieces of tilapia or other whitefish fillets, such as lemon sole, flounder or haddock (about 2 pounds total)

Directions

In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil. Add the onion and zucchini. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned, about 6 minutes.

Add the shrimp, approx 1/4 c – 1/2 c wine, herbs and seafood seasoning and cook, stirring, until the seafood is just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not over-wet.  Remove from the heat.

Add the Panko and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stuff filets and place in a Pam sprayed grill-safe foil baking pan.  You may place extra stuffing alongside.

Pour white wine over fish – just to coat – and sprinkle with Old Bay.  Cover with foil and cook on grill until cooked through – maybe 10 – 15 minutes depending on thickness of fish and temp of grill.

Serves 8.

Enjoy!

What are your favorite summer seafood recipes?

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Drive-By

Yesterday I had a dentist appointment.

Said sarcastically:  I’ve only been living at the Jersey Shore for 12 years (cough, cough) and my dentist, eye doctor and lady parts doctor are still an hour away.  I could never bring myself to leave them.

So I kill several birds with one stone.  I get my teeth cleaned, visit my mom in the cemetery, visit my dad and feed him hamburgers, subs, ribs and other artery clogging fare and sometimes I even get to see a friend or two.

After an hour trip up the parkway I popped in on Daddy with subs from Jersey Mike’s.  Did I say I was definitely cheating on my diet?  We chatted, caught up and I fixed his TV.

Aside:  My father and his TV issues are massive.  He wasn’t able to watch TV for an entire day because the remote wouldn’t work – and God forbid he called me to ask for help.  No.  He waited until I went up yesterday.  On Monday when I called him, he explained the dilemma and I schooled him in the art of using the DTV box to change channels – voilà TV!

So back to the TV repair daughter… I looked at the remote and realized the 9 was depressed.  I unjammed the number and snap!  The TV turned on and the remote worked!  He thanked me a thousand times, like I cured cancer (I wish).  I love my Dad!

At 2:30 I headed over to the dentist’s, and by 3:30 I was back in my car, top down, music blasting.

Should I ride by my old house?  Maybe I’ll see Skippy or Aunt Dolly?

2012

I gave in to my inner voice and swung by the old homestead.  Wow!  Does it look different!  They built a driveway (we had none) and a carport and an addition.  It looked nice.  It brought back so many memories!

When I returned to my dad’s house, I showed him the pictures.  I’ve been dreaming about that house a lot lately and those pictures made my father dream about it last night too.

He was telling me this morning that he was thinking about how many different people lived in that house.  Originally the house was three rooms (pre-addition) and a small upstairs.  My dad told me there was a host of boarders and tenants that lived with them.

Daddy was a cry-baby (his words, not mine), so he slept with his mother (my Nanoo) in the back bedroom where my Aunt Tootsie and Aunt Mimi also slept.  My Uncle Joe and my grandfather slept in the front room (I always knew it as the parlor) and the tenant d’année lived upstairs.

Imagine all those people in 3 rooms?  Crazy.  The Depression.

In between tenants, when my dad and his siblings got older, he and my Uncle Joe slept upstairs.

Over time tenants came and went, the family grew, moved out and then moved back in with and without their spouses and or children.  My Aunt Tootsie was the first of the family tenants.  Uncle Joe came next.  Then my mom and dad moved in and I came along 4 years later.

After we moved out when I was 4, my Aunt Mimi who was widowed by her 26-year-old husband (he died of testicular cancer) moved in.  I’m not sure of the timeline, but the next person that moved in was my Aunt Tootsie after my Uncle Teddy died.  Mimi moved downstairs with Nanoo and Aunt Tootsie stayed there until she fell ill and moved in with her daughter.

Now it was time for me to move in.  This was my third apartment after leaving my parents’ house.  I quit my job and went back to school for my Master’s Degree and teaching certification.  My parents offered to pay my rent for me but I wasn’t going to make them do that.

My Aunt Mimi asked me if I wanted to live upstairs in my old house, rent free.  Nanoo had already died a while ago and she was very lonely.  So I moved in with all my shit – furniture, clothes – everything!  My dad painted for me and my mom decorated the kitchen with black and white checked contact paper to give the room a little pizzaz.

I showered downstairs and was allowed any overnight guests.  LOL!  That didn’t work.  I had been dating my boyfriend John (now husband) for a while and he used to stay over and I would pretend he showed up at 6 am to see me.  I would go as far as to walk down the stairs, answer the door and walk on all fours back up so it would sound like 2 people coming in.

I was nuts!

Everyday when I came home, Mimi had to hear ALL the events of the day – no matter how mundane.  She and my mom were like the FBI!

I lived in that house for almost 3 years before I got married and moved in with my husband – right up the street.

All my apartments were in the same few block radius.  I went from Evergreen to Entwistle and then down to the end of Entwistle and back up to Passaic Ave – and now I live at the Jersey Shore – but that’s another story.

I loved living in my grandmother’s home.  It was so familiar and brought back so many memories.  I wish that we would have kept the house in the family – but I guess we all have to move on.

Move on but never forget all the good things.

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Grilled Chicken Sausage & Peppers

Summertime always makes me think of cheese steaks at Midway on Seaside Boardwalk, funnel cake, zeppole and of course a nice sandwich of sausage and peppers.

If you have a grill, there is no reason to use the stove – it makes the house too hot in the summer and makes the AC work too hard.

I’ve been grilling my sausage and peppers for years.  The grill gives the dish a great flavor and it’s done in no time.

Last nice I decided to try a chicken sausage instead of my normal HOT sausage & peppers.  I bought the Premio chicken sausage.  Don’t buy the fully cooked one.  It will not be the same.  You can also use any combination of peppers you like.

Here’s my recipe.  I hope you try it and enjoy it!

1 large package of Premio uncooked chicken sausage (about 8-12 links)
2 cubanelle peppers, sliced into chunks (does that make sense?)
2 poblano peppers, sliced into chunks
1 jalapeno pepper, chunked
2 long hot Italian peppers – left whole
5 or 8 mini mixed color bell peppers, chunked – I used orange, red and yellow
1 large onion, thickly sliced
5 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
light agave syrup
salt & pepper
hot red crushed pepper
Italian seasonings
extra virgin olive oil
grated Pecorino Romano
a handful of mixed, fresh herbs – I used basil, oregano, rosemary & thyme
a grill fry pan – one with holes in it

Take out sausage and bring to room temperature.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine all peppers, onions, garlic, a large drizzle of agave, a few good shakes of Italian seasonings, salt & pepper & red pepper flakes to taste.  Drizzle with olive oil and mix well.  Adjust seasonings and amount of oil if needed.

Heat grill & cook sausage, flipping until browned all over and cooked through.  Do not overcook!  Meanwhile, place fry pan on grill and dump in pepper mixture. Cook until vegetables are charred and softened.  Remove when done and place back in bowl.

Add a handful of Pecorino and fresh herbs to pepper mixture.  Mix well and adjust seasonings.  Slice sausage and add to peppers.  Mix well and serve.

Serves 4 – 6 depending – maybe 8 – who knows.  All I know is that I served two and it was well received and almost gone!

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

My Life As A Jersey Girl

For the first 4 years of my life, my mom, my dad and I lived upstairs from my paternal grandmother (aka Nanoo) and my Aunt Mary (aka Mimi).

We lived in 3 rooms.  A large old-fashioned kitchen with a big white sink like you would see in the movie A Christmas Story, a large living room with a scratchy yet pristine couch, a smaller flowered love seat that pulled out into a bed, a big reclining chair and a console colored TV.  The bedroom was small with a full-size bedand a small closet.  That was the only closet space in the entire apartment!  Oh wait!  Maybe there was one in the living room.  I can’t remember.

My Nanoo in her kitchen

We had a half bath with a toilet that was so tiny, if you were an adult your knees would hit the pipe directly in front of the bowl.  Showers and baths were taken downstairs at my Nanoo’s but my mother used to bathe me in the large tub adjacent to the kitchen sink.

We had no air conditioning, so we spent most of our warm evenings on the porch swing chatting with the neighbors.  This is the late sixties and early seventies, when you knew your neighbors and actually spent time with them.  This is before everyone got too busy to see each other face to face, before families started moving away from each other instead of living on the same block or in the same house for that matter.

Playing the organ in my Nutley kitchen

This was a time when we all gathered for Sunday dinner at 1:00 in the afternoon to enjoy a giant pot of gravy with meatballs and sausage, and a huge bowl of macaroni (not pasta) that my mom and maternal grandmother (aka Grandma) slaved over for a couple of days just to get the perfect flavor.

My dad and I were always disappointed when mom made a roast beef or some other non-macaroni Sunday dinner.  It just wasn’t the same without the smell of pork and beef wafting through the house.

In the Nutley kitchen with my cousins

In the summers I swam in my Uncle Al’s pool next door.  He really wasn’t my uncle but calling a neighbor or a cousin aunt or uncle to show respect was an upheld practice.  My Aunt Ann (aka Tootsie) also had a pool that we would swim in.  She lived on the next block up the hill from us.

My Nutley childhood is full of fond memories of people, events, smells and daily life.  It was simpler time.

In 1971 we moved to the next town over.  It was only a 5 minute drive but it seemed like a world away.  No more running downstairs to see Nanoo and Mimi.  No more running up the block to visit Aunt Tootsie.  No more running across the Pipeline to visit my Tata (my Nanoo’s sister) and my 2 cousins that were my age, Bobby and David.

I was alone in Bloomfield.  No friends.  No family.  Just mom and dad.

My Poppy (my step-grandfather – really my great-uncle) helped my dad put up a 18 foot above ground pool.  It seemed like days that they were digging.  My dad

In my pool

was a perfectionist.  Everything had to be smooth and level.  When it was done, I couldn’t wait to jump in!

I spent day and night in that pool.  I was part fish.  I learned how to swim underwater first (I had been swimming since I was 2) and then I gradually mastered the art of freestyle.  My dad was a great swimmer who could hold his breath longer than anyone I knew.  He would stay under water for what seemed like hours but was really A LOT of minutes.  It was unbelievable.  No one could match or beat his breath-holding expertise.

One day a neighbor down the street came over with his daughter and introduced himself as Dick and his daughter Susan.  He thought that we might be the same age – and we were.  Susan was my first friend and more importantly, my first BEST friend.  But Susan is another story – I’ll talk about her later.

Back to my my new house…

We finally had air conditioning!  Two units!  We all slept downstairs until I got a little older, then we moved upstairs.  Then we had 2 units downstairs – one in the

My 1st bedroom at our new house

dining room wall and one window unit in the den (once my parent’s room, then the den, now my dad’s room) and one in each of our bedroom windows’ upstairs.

We could NEVER have all 4 on at the same time or they would trip a breaker.  Two at a time my father said.  So during the day we had the downstairs 2 running and at night the upstairs 2.

He used to come in my room to wake me up (I was NEVER a morning person) and bitch and moan because I kept the AC so cold.  He’d walk in and say, “Jesus Christ!  I can see my breath in here!”  I loved it cold in the summer so I could snuggle underneath the covers.

During the summer we spent most of our time in the half finished basement watching TV, eating, playing games (this is when I wasn’t in the pool).  We had another kitchen in the basement and my mom did most of her cooking downstairs 1.  because of the heat of the summer (even with AC) and 2.  because she wanted to keep the upstairs clean.

Did I mention that my mom (and her mother) were OCD, clean-crazy Italians? ALWAYS cleaning the house.  You could literally eat off my grandma’s floors – they were so clean and shiny.

We weren’t ALLOWED to use the front door.  The living room was for company

Sitting in the livingroom

only.  Food was definitely off-limits there.  I wasn’t allowed to sit on my bed after it was made.  My mother always said, “Beds are for sleeping, not for sitting.”

That about sums it up.

My bedroom floor was covered with an itchy indoor/outdoor block carpeting.  It was an ugly gold and I hated stepping on it.  My walls were hidden with white wood paneling and wooden beams framing my bed.  My furniture was a dark, early American clunky set that was popular in the seventies.  One wall had ceramic Hummel’s that my mom made but I was not allowed to put up posters or anything like that.

I loved Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson but posters of the Jackson Five or Puppy Love were out of the question.  Phyllis put her foot down.

We had a half bath upstairs complete with a built-in vanity and a little faux fur covered chair.  It had a big sink that I loved washing my hair in.  All my makeup (when it was time for makeup), hair stuff and other toiletries were tucked away in  3 out of the 8 cabinets.  I loved that part of the house!

The kitchen was an open galley-like kitchen with a wall oven and a stove top.  My

Singing away in the kitchen with Grandma & Poppy

mom set up a small “ice cream table” with 2 chairs so we had someplace to eat besides the dining room – which happened to be adjacent to the kitchen.

The living room had a wall of built-in bookcases and cabinets from floor to ceiling.  It housed all the books we loved to read:  Reader’s Digest, how-to books, nature books, encyclopedias and all the treasures that I bought from the Weekly Reader and various book fairs we had throughout the year at school.

The curtains on the front windows were made with material from Germany or Austria that one of my dad’s bosses brought back for my mom.  They were pretty, white, lace curtains covered by a heavier material drape.

The entire house was wired for sound.  I mean it was ahead of its time.  We had speakers in the livingroom, kitchen, basement and everywhere else – all hooked up to a stereo system complete with turntable, radio and 8 track.

It was cool!

I loved my new neighborhood and my new friends.

To be continued….

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Related articles

Is Monday a dirty word?

Now that I’m off for the summer, my days blur into nights, weekends into the weeks and times and dates are virtually non-existent.

Today, I even forgot to feed my cats dinner.  They ate this morning and have dry food out all day, but for some reason I completely spaced.  Maybe because Bailey, my male cat whose stomach can be used as an alarm clock, was snoozing at the top of the stairs all night long and didn’t bug me to feed him.

Anyhoo… besides vacuuming 2 times today, I did absolutely nothing except make 2 cocktails, drink them and pass out.

Yeah – that about sums it up.  My Sunday in a nutshell.

So now it’s 10:30 pm on Sunday night (I know it’s Sunday because Sookie is on and I know it’s 10:30 because I’m on my laptop) and I’m sitting here watching Newsroom, while Peaches snuggles next to me, trying to figure out what to write for my blog tomorrow and I’m coming up with nothing.

Partially because I have a raging sinus headache and partially because I don’t seem to give shit about anything for some reason.

I have nothing to reflect on tonight because my week has been filled with NOTHING.  Say it with me… NOTHING!

N-O-T-H-I-N-G!

Did I learn anything this week?

  • I learned that I have to shave ALL my areas daily.  I mean – who ever heard of 5:00 shadow on their legs?  Spending your summer in a bikini brings out the beast in my ability to grow hair.
  • I learned that like senior citizens, I now keep track of when I poop.  Furthermore I am jealous of people who poop everyday.
  • I learned – rather re-affirmed – that my cats may be the neediest pets on the Earth.  They don’t leave my side for a sec.  Why can’t they be normal cats who hide and hiss?  Not beg and cuddle and cry constantly.  I love them – who am I kidding?
  • I learned that I know nothing that goes on in my neighborhood.
  • I’ve also learned that I don’t care what goes on in my neighborhood as long as it doesn’t directly involve MOI.
  • I learned that with idle time all I can think about is sex and food – and don’t seem to be getting either.  Damn diet!  Damn husband.

But alas… enough of my rantings.  As you can see it’s a short list.

So tomorrow is Monday and I think I’ll go visit my dad and bring him food and pop over to the cemetery to visit my mom.

Monday WAS a dirty word.  It will be one again in September when I head back to work.  I relish my weekends then.

Is Monday a dirty word for you?

Boy!   I hope my next post is back on target…..

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

The 1980s: Fashion Fierce or Fashion Fail?

With the recent passing of one of the greatest disco icons of my life…

Donna Summer,
I grew up with you and loved you.
Rest in peace.

… I began thinking about the countless fashions I’ve adored and endured in my life.

Since the 80’s were so fun and carefree, I decided to focus on that fabulous decade.  Fabulous for fashion?  Maybe not – but watch any raunchy 80’s movie and discover a whole world of fashion do’s and don’ts that I’d love to revisit.

My favorite 80’s trends:

  • BIG Hair!  I think we all know why I love the trend…  I still have big hair!  Stiff Stuff & Aquanet abounded.  Now I use Helmet Head.
  • Whorewear.  You could dress like a slut and no one thought that you were a stripper!
  • Parachute Pants.  I loved my red parachute pants!  I haven’t seen any since though.
  • My “O Ring” Bracelets.  Madonna rocked these and so did I!
  • Flash Dance Shirts.  I loved the whole off-the-shoulder sexiness.
  • Zipper Jeans.  Not jeans with zippers!  Jeans with ONE zipper that zipped around the crotch and allowed the pants to split in two.  We had no “stretch denim” back in the day.  Skin tight and dangerous!  AKA:  Easy access pants – LOL!
  • Chinese Shoes.  They only came in black.  It’s probably the last time I enjoyed wearing a flat shoe!
  • High Top Wrestling Shoes.  So comfortable!
  • Work Pants.  Bought at the Army/Navy Store in Bloomfield Center with pockets.  A day later the pockets were sewn shut so they didn’t make you look fat.  Loved them!

1980’s Trends I’m Torn About:

  • Jellies.  So cute but so brutal on the feet!  The blisters were BAD!
  • Neon.  Whether a shirt, pants or chunky 80’s jewelry – I’m split about this one.  Neon seems to be back at your local Joyce Leslie or Mandees.
  • Perms.  Everyone had them.  I have a love/hate relationship with them.  My dad has a picture of me in the living room with a perm.  I was never a fan – but I did re-try the perm in 2007.  Let’s just say I currently have no perm.
  • Leg Warmers or Socks and High Heels.  Let the picture speak for itself.
  • Head Bands.  Different than today’s head bands.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Stretchy Pants.  Leggings to the modern generation.  I lived in these.
  • The Glove.  Whether you modeled Michael Jackson or Madonna, the glove was a huge trend.

Despised 80’s Fashion Trends:

  • The Nylon Purse.  Beige to boot.  I hate beige.  Check out Fast Times At Ridgemont High for a visual.  Yuk!
  • Crimped Hair.  Another way to fry your hair.  I still have a crimper – just in case!
  • High Rise Bathing Suits.  What was that all about?
  • White Keds.  Deemed “nurse shoes” by not-so-nice jerk offs from the 80’s.
  • Army Pants. Harem Pants. Pleated Pants.  So manly.  So MC Hammer and able to carry shoplifted items in your crotch.
  • Power Suits.  That whole Working Girl thing was overrated.  Wearing sneakers to work in the city SUCKED.
  • Shoulder Pads or anything worn on Dynasty.
  • Swatch Watches.  Not my style.

So…. these are a few of my 80’s fashion do’s and don’ts.

I lived it.  I loved it.  I wore it.  And sometimes I regretted it – but it was all good!

Fierce or Fail?  BOTH.  What do you think?

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Italian GRAVY! Not sauce.

I wrote this post back in March of 2011 – maybe even before then.

A friend of mine asked for my gravy recipe so I’m going to include it at the end.  Here you go Allie:

Gravy is my comfort food.  When I talk about gravy, I’m talking about the RED stuff you put on macaroni – not brown gravy.  If you’re a North Jersey Italian-AmericanGRAVY is where it’s at.

I was always taught that tomato sauce comes out of a can.  What you put into that tomato sauce makes it gravy.  I firmly believe this with all of my heart.  There was nothing better than a pot of my Grandma’s gravy (or my Mom’s) cooking on the stove on Saturday night and all morning Sunday.  We had our Sunday dinner at 1 pm in our house and the whole house smelled incredible.  Sunday was always macaroni day for my family.

On occasion I remember my mom making roast beef or some other dish on Sunday.  My dad and I were always very disappointed when we didn’t feast on Rotelli or Shells with a big piece of hot Italian sausage and a delicious meatball.  It was torture.

On Saturday night Mommy and Grandma would make the meatballs and brown all the meat in the oven.  My dad and I hung around the kitchen waiting for the meatballs to be ready.  We would grab a small Dixie cup and plop one of those bad boys atop and eat it like a hot ice cream cone.  When Grandma made the Brasciole I would steal the Pignoli nuts that she rolled inside and eat them by the handfuls.  My mother always had to hide the bottle.

Then the gravy-process started in that giant white, porcelain pot set on top of 2 grates so the gravy didn’t burn.  The browning of the garlic rocked as it wafted through the house and the neighborhood (if the windows were open).  Neither used onion or tomato paste (I do) so spices, herbs, crushed tomatoes, water, grated cheese, sugar and the magic ingredient “pepperoni” were all tossed in the pot, brought a strong simmer and cooked for an hour or so before adding all that yummy browned meat.

I watched like a ravenous dog waiting for a treat to drop on the floor as I stared at the CREATION.  Meatballs, hot sausage, sweet sausage, steak, pork bones (spareribs) and sometimes even a piece of veal were blended together to form, quite frankly, a mouth-watering masterpiece.  My mouth is watering now.  Fortunately I learned how to make a kick-ass gravy and meatballs to boot.  I actually went back to my great-grandmother’s recipe and made it my own.  When my husband tells me that I make the best meatballs and gravy that he’s ever eaten, it makes me glow with pride and happiness.

I miss the days when we spent every Sunday having a family dinner in the middle of the afternoon.  I miss that giant bowl of pasta and an equally giant plate of meat.  I miss the good Italian bread and the salad that we ate with or after our meal.  Those were the days.

It’s before everyone got too busy to make time for family.  Weekly quality time with a family who loved you and who you loved back.  The older I get, the more I long for those days as there are more and more of us in the earth than on it anymore.

Every time I smell my gravy cooking on the stove, it fills me with wonderful memories and actually transports me back in time.  I see it.  I hear it. I smell it and I taste it.
Gravy IS my comfort food.
GRAVY is my time machine.

GRAVY IS RED.

So here’s MY recipe… get cooking!

Grandma’s Gravy Via Jacqui 

x virgin olive oil
5-6 garlic cloves minced or sliced
1 handful of fresh basil torn or much less dried basil
1 handful of fresh oregano chopped or much less dried
1/2 handful fresh thyme or less dried
a pinch of red pepper flakes or more
red or white wine
1 can tomato paste
sea salt or grey salt & pepper to taste
1/2 handful sugar or more depending how sweet you like it
3 -4 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes (I like Tuttarosso, Luigi Vitelli, Whole Foods brand or Rienzi)
water – 1/2 can of each can used
1 large onion minced (red or yellow)

Meat:  meatballs (RECIPE HERE), pork & beef brasciole, 1 stick pepperoni – cut in half then in pieces, sausage – also you can add spareribs or a piece of pork, steak etc.
1 c or more of grated pecorino romano

Salt & pepper all meat (except meatballs).  In a large stockpot or dutch oven heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil & brown meat on all sides.  Set aside in a large bowl.

Deglaze the pot with a little red wine and allow to burn off while scraping brown bits off bottom of pot.  Add 2 tbsp olive oil and heat.  Add onions and stir.  Cook until starting to get translucent.  Add garlic, red pepper flakes, any dried spices and a pinch of sugar.  Cook, stirring until garlic starts to brown.  Add can of tomato paste and stir to combine.  Cook for a bit, stirring.

Add crushed tomatoes and approx 1/2 can water per can of crushed tomatoes (for desired consistency).  Add wine (maybe 1/2 c), fresh herbs, salt, rest of sugar, a couple of pieces of pepperoni and grated cheese.  Stir to combine.  Cook until bubbling then lower to a simmer.  Make sure to stir occasionally – do not burn.  Cook for at least a half an hour – ideally 1 hour.

Add all meat and accumulated juices after an hour and cook over low heat – stirring occasionally.  Cook for 1-6 hours.  The longer you cook it, the better it will taste. 

Serve with pasta.

From Jacq’s Kitchen

© 2012 J. H-M. and CultureChoc2010.