FATHER’S DAY/MOTHER’S DAY
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?