June 2009

Over the years, my husband Lynn and I have done away with almost all of the birthday and Christmas gift giving.  If one of us wants to buy the other one a gift, we do so, if we don’t, we don’t.  That said Father’s Day and Mother’s Day is definitely a no brainer – as in definitely a no gift giving day. (What would we actually give each other gifts for? Having sex and getting pregnant?  Please. )

Not only are no gifts exchanged, I don’t think we even “did” anything for Mother’s Day this year.  Actually, I don’t have any recollection of the day at all.  Lynn probably was gardening or working on the basement (at this point a 10 year project) and I’m sure I was either doing laundry or food shopping or cooking.

When I checked my calendar around the week of Mother’s Day, there were no entries for that “magic” Sunday at all but two sorry entries for the day after:

1.  Take the car in to be serviced.

2,  Take Rachel to the dentist.

How exciting is that?

My problem with Father’s Day/Mother’s Day (besides being a “holiday” designated solely by the card industry), is that there’s so much pressure on you to enjoy a “day” thinking about being a parent, not being a parent or thinking about your own parents. 


What happens if you hate being a parent, are not a parent, hate your own parents, or your parents are dead and you are lost without them?  Isn’t this some sort of cruel card industry torture?

A popular chain steak place by us had banners posted at least a month before Father’s Day saying they were open at 11 a.m. for dinner.  Unless you’re working the overnight shift, who wants a steak dinner that early in the morning?

Ok, so even with the hype and my distaste for following the masses, I gave in.  If I had to do a “Father’s Day” fest – it was going to be ultra-retro.  As in, shrimp cocktail for an appetizer, followed by a steak, some sort of potato, a salad, and the ultimate American dessert – brownies.

Luckily for me, rib eye steaks as well as shrimp were on sale that weekend otherwise I would have had to go to Plan B. (There was no plan B but whatever.)

Let’s start from the top:  Shrimp Cocktail.   I bought them, I cleaned them, I steamed them, I put them on a fancy plate overlapping the edge and made my own easy cocktail sauce: ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice and fresh ground pepper. 

Next up: Steak.  Open package.  Put on grill.  Salt and pepper.  Unless you’re brain dead, this is pretty simple.

Side dish: Potato?  Ok, I could do French fries or mashed or hash browns.  Suddenly, “old school” potato skins came to mind – crispy skins that had their innards scooped out to cradle butter, cheese and bacon.

Ok, so maybe everything else was pretty straightforward and I cheated a bit with the potatoes.  I used pancetta instead of bacon, grated some spicy jalapeno monterey jack cheese on top and then added some fresh chives that I snipped from the garden.    

I realized I didn’t have salad that was worthy so I steamed some fresh asparagus, made a quick mustard and lemon vinaigrette, put it on a plate and sliced up some fresh avocados and grape tomatoes tossed with a little olive oil. 

Dessert? Yes, I could have made brownies but let’s face it, the chocolate molten cake that Jean-Georges Vongerichten perfected for EVERYONE IN THE WORLD was easier (and quicker) than making brownies. It took five minutes to make, seven minutes to cook and when I took them out of their ramekins and plated them, a fresh strawberry was placed on top.

The molton cake recipe?  It’s straight out of Jean-Georges Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef (Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman). 

And yes, Lynn, the “father of the day” thanked me.  Who knew such a retro food meal would elicit such a nice response?

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