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THOUGHT FOR FOOD

It’s here!  At great long last, one of my favorite times of year is truly upon us!  Autumn has been here for a while, but the autumnal holidays make it truly official! 
Of course in some ways we’ve had it going on a while…many cities have already sported then shed their arbor plumage, and of course there’s been that early snow….
Autumn  by rcw
….but from All Hallows through Thanksgiving’s final pie slice and prayer, it’s here!
That means time for apples, pumpkins, corn and cider….candy corns and horns of plenty, witches and settlers, ghosts and Spirits; it’s here!
Cooking takes on a special purpose as cherished, handed-down recipes sit side-by-side with someone’s adventurous creation. Pies, cookies, main courses….veggies, snacks, deserts….beverages…..tangible, sensuous feastings for the moment and for memory. 
My favorite thing to do, always but especially this time of year, is cooking with friends and family.  There’s nothing more fun and wonderful than putting on some tunes, getting into the proper frame of mind and cutting loose in the kitchen!
During the second part of November, I’ll be writing a lot about cookies, but will also take a moment to share a method of baking turkey that not only insures moisture, but guarantees that the white meat will be every bit as tasty and moist as the dark.  For now, all I can say is to have some brown paper or a paper bag ready.
Oh! Make sure the bag doesn’t have any ink on it.
For now here’s to frost on the pumpkin, ravens against the moon, stuffing and cranberries….and all the trimmings.  It’s Autumn! It’s here!
Enjoy!
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LIVING AND COOKING – Stuff and Stuffed Cabbage

Live goes on….and so it goes.
Sometimes it’s so crazy
sometimes it just flows…

Been going through the aging process, aren’t we all?  Remembering when things were so different.  Laughing at sounding so much like the “old heads” from our yesterdays. Funny how this window/mirror thing we glance through from time to time knows just which buttons to press. And when.
Gravity’s no friend, either.
But what the heck.

Someone asked me the other day if I wanted to die my now grey flecked hair.  I want to wear the process of my living, and what better place than my head?  Doesn’t mean I won’t trim the bangs now and then. But hey. The grey hairs are mine.  I earned ’em!

This is the kind of stuff that goes through my head some nights when I can’t sleep.  Err, well….I mean when I am still awake past 3 a.m..  Of course other nights hold different thoughts.  Tonight I’m thinking of my mother….the first person who taught me how to cook.

She had a large brood to feed on a limited budget but managed to not only feed us, but instill in us a good relationship with food, and interest in cooking and the importance of sharing meals with loved ones.  Her hair is the same soft, snowy white her father wore to his last.  It is beautiful to me.  Should I ever have the great fortune to sport the same feature, I’ll grow it long and proud.

Anyway, one of Mom’s dishes was a version of Stuffed Green Cabbage. I wrote a recipe for Stuffed Purple Cabbage in the blog “Fifty Five Is The New…” .  This dish uses the tight-headed green cabbage available at most grocery stores, farmers’ markets and green grocers.

It’s the one Mom prepared for us with her own special flair. She used canned tomato soup with 1/2 can of water per soup can, made her meat mix with ground beef, rice salt and pepper.  I believe she may have diced some onion or used some onion flakes in the meat mix too.

I remember the first time helping her steam the cabbage.  She showed me how to cut the great round things in half after taking off the outer leaves.  The halving not to occur ’til after a proper washing under some cool running water, of course.

There were carrots to cut in quartered lengths, onions to be coarsely chopped and, the funnest part of all, rolling the meat/rice mixture into steam limped leaves and tucking them sweetly into the bottom of a cabbage leaf-lined and sauced oval baking pan.  Mom would toss a few carrot and onion chunks hither and yon about the pan and between the swaddling morsels. Then she’d add some remaining liquid, cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake it for 45 minutes in an oven set to 350 degrees.  After 45 minutes she’d remove the foil and let it bake for an additional 15-18 minutes.

Anyway, we were in the mood for Stuffed Cabbage so I set about making it with what we had on hand.
Our last shopping foray garnered, among other things, a nice firm head of green cabbage so we were on the right track.

Oval pan

A quick pantry check showed no tomato soup around, but a can of chopped tomatoes.   Close enough.
We had plenty of rice, onion, carrots – even an oval pan!  Well, all-reet!

The plan was to make something similar to Mom’s original.  I was using ground turkey, diced tomatoes , a few fresh tomatoes, some left over broth from a previous evening’s roast as the broth, so there were going to be differences.

TURKEY AND RICE STUFFED CABBAGE with TOMATO and STOCK SAUCE

Ingredients for Stuffed Green Cabbage

3 lb ground turkey
1 1/2 cups cooked white rice
6 -10 carrots cut in quarters – reserve tips to grate into meat/ rice mixture
1 – 2 yellow onion(s) coarsely chopped
salt (optional) pepper (optional) to taste
2 fresh tomatoes, diced fine
1 large can diced tomatoes –
     if you prefer, 2 cans of tomato soup plus 1 can of water
1 large head of tight-leaf green cabbage
2 cups stock

Remove the outer cabbage leaves.  Wash the cabbage under cool water then chop it in half. Notice the hard section at the base of each half?  That has to be removed.  There will be some other hard features that will require surgery as well, but more on that in a bit.
The trick here is to use your knife more like a scalpel than a chopper for this maneuver.
You might consider using a smaller rather than larger blade for better control. Other than that, it’s a matter of cutting around the stem base and inner core. You’ll end up with something that looks like this picture.  It’s a bit helmet-like, or even “brain-like.”

 
Get the steamer water boiling and add the carrots. Put the steamer on the pot and start adding raw cabbage leaves to the steamer until it is only 1/2 full. Cover and steam for 5 to 7 minutes while you prepare the filling.

If you don’t have a stacking steamer you can soften the carrots a bit by par-boiling them. I just like to partially cook them ahead of time so everything else doesn’t turn to mush waiting for the carrots to be done.

The filling is simple.  Put meat in a bowl, add the cooled cooked rice, add spices to your individual taste, grate carrots this mixture. As the cabbage leaves soften, take them out of the steaming basket and lay them out on a large flat surface.

Pour some of your stock into the oval pan, so it just covers the bottom. Take any small pieces and line the bottom of your pan with them.

.  Put this ball in the center of one of the cabbage leaves and wrap the meat like a holiday parcel!   If you run into any hard pieces of cabbage….veins, bits of leave, etc. discard them.  They will not soften with cooking.

Stuffed Cabbage with Carrots and Tomaties

You may have more meat mixture than cabbage, that’s okay.  Just form little balls and place them round the pan. They will cook in the soon-to-be bubbling broth.  Distribute the carrots and diced onion around the pan, Pour the remaining broth over everything then top with diced tomatoes.

Wrap in aluminum foil and cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and allow to cook for 15 minutes more.  Serve with buttered rice.

Making and eating this dish dissolved the miles and other things between us. It was tasty and familiar, even with the differing ingredients.

As always, please feel free to share your recipes and ideas!

Enjoy!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Diane’s Turkey Parisian

Recipes are more than instructions on how to assemble a dish, they’re little scraps of memory….bits of days gone by remembered when put into service.

Diane Sciara my friend

Diane Sciara was my best friend from 1977 through 2008 when she finally lost her battle with Ovarian Cancer.
We shared a lot through those years….parties, people, events and recipes.  We used to entertain often, which  meant inviting friends over for a pot luck supper or other gathering which usually resulted in a great meal.

She had a way of throwing ingredients together and coming up with something imaginative and tasty. We were always trading recipes, even after we were no longer roommates.  The food holidays were important to us.  We’d start planning for them weeks and even months in advance – from entrees through snacks, even if we were celebrating the event separately.  We’d even discuss what to do with leftovers.  Now that’s a friend!

One of Diane’s specialties was a dish created using left over turkey, broccoli, cheese, cream of mushroom soup and bread crumbs.  She called it Turkey Parisian.   

While at the store the earlier today, I found a special on boneless/skinless turkey breast cutlets and immediately thought of my friend and her wonderful signature dish.  Two guesses on what we had for dinner tonight!

DIANE’S TURKEY PARISIAN

4 to 6 boneless/skinless turkey breast cutlets seasoned and browned
2 – 2 1/2 cups steamed broccoli
3 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, jack, etc)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (or make your own white sauce w/ mushrooms)
1/2 of soup can worth of broth, sherry or white wine (apple juice is a good substitute for sherry)
1 1/2  to 2 cups breadcrumbs or crushed crackers – I used crushed Cheese It crackers this time.
Poultry Seasoning, salt or low salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F 
Lightly spray or grease the bottom and sides of a square casserole dish. Line bottom of dish with a thin coat of breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs.  Then slice the turkey cutlets into manageable pieces and line the dish with them. 

A fine veneer of cheese

Sprinkle a fine veneer of cheese on top of the turkey pieces – don’t use all of the cheese, this is just a tad for flavoring.  While your at it, sprinkle some spices around too…but don’t overdo it!  We’ll be putting some more on top.

Spread the broccoli evenly on top

After the cheese bit comes the broccoli. Spread it out evenly across the top of the cheese and turkey.  Slice any pieces that seem too large.  This will make portioning – and eating- a lot easier! 

Pour sour/sauce over broccoli

Mix the cream of mushroom soup or your home made white sauce with the sherry, wine, broth or juice in a small sauce pan and stir until blended. It should thicken slightly.  Pour  this sauce over the broccoli.  

Cheese then bread or cracker crumbs

Next, sprinkle the remaining cheese over everything.  Make sure you get a nice, even coating over it all.  Then sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs over top.  Finish assembly with a final flourish of spice, then cover it loosely and put it in the oven.

Bake for 15 minutes covered.  Remove cover and cook for an additional 15 to 25 minutes until top starts turning golden and sauce and cheese are bubbling.

This is a yummy stand-alone dish that can also be served with other holiday left overs, salad and/or veggies.  Great for pot lucks, too!

So here’s to Diane and her Turkey Parisian! 
As always, please feel free to share your recipes, memories and comments!
Enjoy!

Diane’s Turkey Parisian piping hot and ready to eat!

End of the Month Souffe’

September 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, here it is….getting near the end of the month and our pantry is looking somewhat ravaged.  And why not?  Since stocking up 30 days ago, we’ve been cooking (and eating) our way through its contents.  But we still have enough left to get us through, providing we use our larder wisely.


Of course it helps to have planned for this eventuality. 


Every time I go to the store, I pick up a few “extra” things.  Call it insurance. I’d rather do that than be panic-stricken, wondering how to make a meal out of crackers and capers! (Although I might try doing something with that some time….stay tuned! 🙂 )


Looking around  the pantry today, I spotted the ingredients for one of my favorite things to cook….believe it or not, souffle. In this case, Tuna Souffle’-because that’s what we had on hand.   

Some people are intimidated by it…all the whisking and beating and thissing and thatting; so much to do!  And so many things to worry about!  White sauce, eggs, egg whites….ugh!  The first time I ever attempted one, it looked like….well, let’s just say it didn’t look like a souffle!  The thing didn’t rise and it was raw in the middle. Thankfully, mine was not the only dud. 


Our Home Economics teacher (shout out to Mrs. Schlosser) was there with patience and sympathy.

As she walked around the room examining each dish, the teacher pointed out what might have gone wrong.  In many cases we simply hadn’t done the eggs right.  Either the yellows had started to cook when added to the white sauce creating “scrambled egg islands,” or the egg whites weren’t beaten enough to help make the dish rise to the occasion.  The other problems were oven not hot enough, cooking time, oven doors slamming and not keeping the oven door closed until cooking time was done.  Picky! Picky! Picky!


When she got to my dish, the instructor nodded.  “What do you think went wrong?”  I looked at her squarely and said “I did.”  Naturally.  

Home Ec and I weren’t exactly getting along to that point. I mean, wasn’t I the kid who just about sewed their hand to the skirt they were supposed to be making for a class project?  The one who sewed the skirt pleats inside out once their hand was liberated from the sewing machine’s death grip? And wasn’t I the one who was transferred over to cooking to save myself from myself?


Now this….this….puffy cakey thing, for lack of a better term, was about to be my undoing!  Ugh!  


The teacher, a true saint, smiled.  “Looks like you didn’t do the roux correctly. Probably not enough flour.”  If cooking ever needed a CSI, she’d have been perfect for the job!


The next day we tried it again….and voila!  It worked!  The thing puffed up like it should and was done clear through!   All it took was a bit of patience and a lot of attention to details. 

Those two things still hold true.  Patience and attention to details. You can’t rush through making a souffle’…but you can use short cuts.  We’ll get to those in a few moments.  But first things first.


BASIC 4 EGG CHEESE SOUFFLE’

Pre-heat oven to 350°
4 eggs (white and yolks separated)
    1 cup milk,warmed
    1/4 cup flour
    1/4 cup butter
    1 1/2 cup cheese grated
    1/4 tsp creme of tartar (optional)
    FOR TUNA SOUFFLE’, add 2 cans of drained tuna, 2 diced green onions

Butter the bottom and sides of a large, tall walled bowl. It should be deep enough to allow your souffle’ to expand and rise to almost double its size.
Sometimes I coat this with a bit of fine seasoned bread crumbs or a mixture of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Set it aside.

Beat the egg yellows until they are smooth. They’ll probably even get a little lighter in color and stream evenly when you raise the whisk out of the bowl.  Set these aside.
The egg whites will be handled a little later…for now just make sure there are no bits of egg yellow floating in them.
Egg whites are finicky…they won’t whip up if there are any impurities hanging around, even if those impurities are other egg parts. Sheesh!

Anyway….
Prepare your roux by melting about 1/4 cup of butter in a deep pan, as it’s melting add 1/4 cup of flour and whisk, whisk whisk or stir, stir, stir while this cooks.  The flour/butter mixture should thicken and turn light brown.  (If you’re using whole wheat flour it’ll get darker than with regular flour). Turn off the heat but keep pan on the burner.

Add a small amount of the roux to the milk and mix. Set the burner on low,then add this milk/roux mixture back to the remaining roux while stirring. Stir until fully blended.  The roux will thicken the milk, which is a good thing.  If you go no further, you have made a white sauce.  Gee!  But we’re not done yet.

Tempering egg with a little roux

Reduce the heat. Add a bit of this roux stuff to the egg yellows while whisking. This is how you “temper” the eggs-that is, add them to a hot ingredient without partially cooking them first. Once you see that the eggs and roux have incorporated, add it all back to the remaining roux/milk mixture in the pan…continuing to whisk over a low flame.

Once this is all mixed together, you can add the cheese. Stir constantly while the cheese melts.  If you go no further, you’ll have mastered a basic cheese sauce.  Yay! But we’re still not done.  Turn off the flame and let this rest while you handle the egg whites.

This is a make or break situation.  Done right, your souffle will be light, airy, soft and moist.  Done wrong, you’ll have a dry, hard, springy thing that may or may not be edible.  Maybe as a bread? Hmmmm.

Beating egg whites
Eggs softly peaked

Watch carefully as your egg whites develop.  Some people use cream of tartar to help with this process, but its not necessary.  Sometimes it even makes them too stiff, but what ever is your preference so be it.
Personally I don’t use cream of tartar in souffle’, preferring it in meringue.

Folding egg white into batter

Now comes the next important step….folding the egg whites into the batter.  Notice I said “fold” not “stir” or “mix” or even “incorporate.”

Batter and prepared bowl

You want the egg whites to still be and act like egg whites, so the batter is going to look wrong.
Our Home Ec teacher gave us a hint that still rings true today…when it comes to souffle’ the wronger it looks the righter it is!

Next, pour the batter into the prepared bowl and put it in the oven to cook for 30-35 minutes.
While that happens, and if you want, you can make a nice simple sauce utilizing some of the steps we worked on at the start of this recipe. Of course, you’d use a lot less flour!  White sauce, cheese sauce, you name it.  Although not necessary, such a thing would add an extra dimension of flavor to the dish

WHITE SAUCE FOR SOUFFLE’
 1 cup milk
3 Tablespoons flour
3 Tablespoons butter or margerine

Put butter in pan, add flour and whisk over heat until butter and flour thicken.
Add milk and continue to whisk while this mixture thickens more.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can add other seasonings too. Some folk even add a bit of nutmeg.

The finished product, Cheese Souffle’ with White Sauce will be an unexpected surprise for end of month dining. You don’t have to stick to just cheese, either.  Add some tuna, chicken, ham or beef…veggies like diced onion, artichoke hearts, shaved carrots, peas…the sky’s the limit!

Thanks to my Home Economics teacher, I learned that cooking is more than a chore and that making a souffle’ can be a lot of fun.

Experiment! Enjoy!

Souffle’ with white sauce and salad

SHORT CUT!          SHORT CUT!         SHORT CUT!
 
Sometimes there just isn’t time to make a conventional white sauces. That’s why God made condensed cream of whatever soups! They come in lots of different flavors and sure cut down on the preparations!
Of course you’ll still have to make the roux, no way around that. The roux contains the flour that helps to hold the whole thing together. 
I learned that the hard way in Home Ec class.












Labor Day Memories and Grilling Thoughts

September 4, 2011 Leave a comment
Those grilling days of yesteryear

As a kid, Labor Day marked the end of summer. The final hurrah, the last chance to make any bragging points for the pending What I Did On Summer Vacation report all kids had to give when going back to school.  
The trick was to do something nobody else had done, or stand out in an admirable way-admirable to peers at any rate.

Our Labor Day Picnic sponsored by the local scout troop was a fairly good way to do both at once.  There a person could excel to greatness by simply winning a game or contest.  There were plenty of both to chose from….sack races, foot races, egg races…pie eating, hot dog eating and more.

Most of the time, the same kids seemed to win and why not?  They were bigger or smaller, faster or more coordinated,  or they could just plain eat everybody else under the table.  Simple genetics.   So, although I participated in the contests, I never expected to win and considered myself a well adjusted youngster for having come to that workable conclusion.

Oh, I still gave it my all….poised at the starting line, I looked the part of a true contestant.  But then, with head tucked down and shoulders rounded, I’d  launch forward at the whistle and fall flat on my face.

Call it my signature move. The first few times it happened, I became the subject of great ridicule.  That first week of school was hard enough without being pointed at, laughed at, whispered about and….the very worse thing possible-imitated.

But then as the years and Labor Day picnics came and went, I did my move so often, it wasn’t even noteworthy anymore.  In a weird form of cosmic irony, the very thing that garnered me a moment’s attention-albeit the wrong kind-wasn’t worth gossiping about any more.   Oh, once in a while somebody new would come along, point at me and ask, “Isn’t that the kid who….?”  But their pals would wave it off with a “Yeah, yeah…so what else is new?” Talk about embarrassing!  That really made me want to hide in the nearest locker, which unfortunately was two sizes too small.

I became indifferent to these Labor Day festivities….attendance was family mandatory, so there was no way to avoid the inevitable parental encouragement….”Go on now, get into the spirit of it.”  UGH!

As fate would have it, I did finally actually win one of those !&#%!&@$!#! races….move and all!

Rather than dreading the picnic that year, I decided to just go with it….enjoy it 
Psych myself into a different space, so to speak.  And it seemed to work.

A sense of peace, of readiness and determination came over me.

But even more….it was like the universe was agreeing with me for once.

I felt it, from the moment we set up our picnic table.  We’d finally gotten the prime spot, under the tree….it had usually been taken by the time our family got to the park. This told me the day was very special indeed.
Sure, there were the same kids, same hot dogs, same park.

But there was something different in the air as I stepped to the starting line. There was a confidence, a sense of ….possibility.

The starting whistle sounded and the race began with, of course, my signature move.

But I was able to regain my composure before kissing dirt this time…and I ran.  It didn’t matter to me if anyone was cheering or not. The only thing that mattered was the streamer up ahead, marking the finish line.

For some incredible reason, I knew before the race was even half over that victory would be mine.

I felt the streamer stretch across my chest and arms…and then, when maximum tension was achieved I felt that ribbon surrender with a snap to the inevitable force of my youthful determination.  I had won.

It wasn’t until I turned around to shake hands with my opponent that I discovered there wasn’t one.  Apparently the other runner tripped over a loose shoe lace a few feet back and was still recovering….a crumpled, teary-eyed heap left mangled in my dust.

I won a cheerleader’s style baton and tried to learn twirling….and almost gave myself a concussion when the thing came crashing down on my head after a missed catch.

These days Labor Day is much less strenuous.  It’s just us “old folks” here at home and we’re inclined to stay around the house and eat something grilled while watching a movie or playing music. A kinder, gentler celebration, if you get my drift.

Grilling Thoughts

Jack likes grilled anything….I think most of us do.  There’s just a special flavor you don’t get from any other method of cooking. As to which item(s) to grill?  It could be anything, from beef to fish, fruit to veggies…anything is possible if you just remember a few things.

Grill only items that will stand up to grilling!  Mahi Mahi fish works great!  But perhaps that flounder fillet you’ve been thinking about would be better if it were broiled or pan seared.  

The difference?  Thickness and texture.  Flounder is a thinner fish….it’s texture is less dense than Mahi Mahi.  I’ve seen some gallant efforts to grill flounder fillet….sad.  Very sad.

Try something out of the ordinary…Shish Kabobs.  Or a grilled corn on the cob side dish.  Or let ’em really think you’ve lost it-grill a pizza!

The sky’s the limit, when it comes to food and flying….so why not?   Explore!  Invent!
Enjoy!
Happy Labor Day!

>Warm and Fuzzy

>Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
It’s absolutely COLD, even in the house!  Now this is winter weather!  Not quite the cold like we have back east, but it’ll do for a memory.

What I love most is the smell in the air-first thing you get is a trace of something brought down from the mountains; must be snow.  I can close my eyes and remember that unique, sifting sound as flurries and flakes fell around us on our way home from midnight mass.  My mom, sister, brothers and I walked that night because the snow was so deep.

We threw a few snowballs, made snow angels and were pretty much soaked and frozen when we got home.  Hot chocolate and home made Christmas cookies soon had us warm once more.

I know the world is going through a million changes; some good, some maybe not so good.  I acknowledge the times in which we live but tonight I just want to think about something different, something comforting, like making snow angels and drinking hot chocolate.

So for today, Fifty Five Is The New Warm and Fuzzy, because sometimes that’s what’s needed most…a chance to snuggle deep inside a favorite blanket….safe…..warm.

Game

 When we were growing up, we played a lot of baseball.  Street style baseball, that is. There was a big cemented square a few blocks over and we’d have our games there; the bases marked with back packs, the flag pole and mailbox….professional all the way!

Ecology Prayer  by rcw

Our neighborhood was crawling with kids.  You could tell when school was out.  The very air was filled with our shouts, cheers and jeers.  One baseball game turned more interesting than usual when a swearing contest ensued at the bottom of the ninth. This was no ordinary dirty word challenge, not by a long shot! Although that’s how it began, on the heels of a well pitched fast ball.

Kids imitating adults harumping one another is funny to watch, especially in retrospect. Especially when it’s two of the local bullies glowering and bellowing.

Such was the case that day; bully number one lived across the street from our “ball park,” and was imbued with the sense that he owned the place.  Bully number two was from a few streets over and although he had no “legal” claim over the park he acted like it’s despotic king.   As it turned out they were on opposing teams which added to the competition’s attitude and tone of speech.

Each play brought a new round of colorful vernacular; Bully Number One accused Bully Number Two of being a momma’s boy.  Bully Number Two assured Bully Number One that he was…blankity-blanking with Bully Number One’s momma, so indeed he was a momma’s boy. 

Somehow the game commenced between oral onslaughts….each bully managed to score a home run during the third inning, but by the top of the fourth they were long past what each had done to the other’s relatives and had moved on to personal body parts being shoved up, down or through certain other body parts.

Bottom of the fifth commenced with the sex with field beasts options, the sixth was more of the same only kinkier.

I expected the seventh inning to be possibly a review of barnyard banality or perhaps something from the avian tradition but was surprised when the entire inning passed without comment until I noticed Bully Number 
One’s father leaning against his car talking with a neighbor.  Some of us were saddened by this development, after all we’d been witnessing some world class swearing there!  To our great relief, Bully Number One’s dad went inside shortly before the end of inning seven and our dueling duo was at it again.

The eight inning should go down on record as containing some of the longest, most elaborate curses known to humans, at least on the eastern seaboard.  Each started tame enough….”you’re a son of a…” but it took off from there, including bits about inferior genetics, drippings from such and such, mothers wearing army boots, fathers being chickens, everybody having sex with what ever came down the pike be it human, animal or vehicular…each descriptive punctuated with the usual four letter words just for spice.  

They started out across the playing field from one other, one on the pitcher’s mound the other acting as catcher.  Top of the inning had them glowering, hands on hips, stomping the pavement and spitting.  Bottom of the eight concluded with both bullies rolling on the ground, spitting, swearing, punching and yelling…neither one ready to end the debate.

By this time, every body else just stopped playing and watched the proceedings from a safe distance. Somebody ran and got Bully Number One and Bully Number Two’s fathers, who dutifully came and pried their respective progeny apart.  Adding insult to injury, the fathers forced their sons to shake hands.

The term “if looks could kill” seemed appropriate at the time, and looking back I have to agree with my original assessment.  Behind the blood, dislocated nostrils and fat lips, two pair of eyes burned hot like coal.
But shake hands they did before being allowed to go home for dinner.

Nobody ever remembered who won or lost the game that day.  I don’t think anybody really cared.  However we did come to the conclusion that Bully Number Two’s curses were truly top notch….even if he did suck as a pitcher.

For today, Fifty Five Is The New game…you never know what you’ll really be playing on the field until you get there.