Category Archives: Family
…at the old homestead. Hard to find a quiet moment.
To begin let me clear up some ambiguity in the title: this is about making small schnitzel, not about how to make schnitzel out of babies. If you’re here for the latter, I’m sorry you have to leave disappointed.
So: I discovered today why my mom and grandma always made these little bitty schnitzel barely big enough to cover a store brand hamburger bun (which happens because cold leftover schnitzel makes AMAZING sandwiches).
I discovered today instead of the last time I made schnitzel because I am stubborn, stubborn, oh so stubborn.
When I usually make schnitzel, I aim to create something that will cover at least half of a dinner plate. I cut nice thick slabs of loin or tenderloin and carefully beat it into a nice big floppy pork blanket. If I’m working with tenderloin, which is a slender muscle that doesn’t make big thick slices, I at least make the schnitzel big enough to cover a large hamburger bun with some hanging out the sides.
Last time, I broke out the tenderloin and went for the meat hammer… but we’d lost it in the move. Okay, fine. I have a decent rolling pin… oh, also lost in the move.
Wanna guess where my last resort, a large stone pestle, went?
You got it.
So that’s when I learned an alternate method of making schnitzel without pounding it outHAHAHAHA no. I am far too stubborn to learn so quickly when I’m not learning on purpose.
Guess what I did.
Go ahead. Guess.
You’re probably wrong because I BEAT THE PORK TENDERLOIN SLICES FLAT WITH MY FISTS. I made schnitzel in a savage, unreasonable, beastly way.
I have German friends. I expect they will have me assassinated in reprisal for my crimes against schnitzelmanity.
But today, today! Today I learned.
And the learning made me realize why my mom and grandmom made little bitty baby schnitzel.
There have been Germans knocking around my mother’s side of the family line for at least a century and maybe two (family history is, sadly, not my strength).
Perhaps grandma’s mom or grandma said to themselves, eh, this Old Country business with hitting the meat with a hammer forever is for the birds. If I just cut the pork thin enough, I can work smarter instead of harder or whatever that dumbass ’90s business cliche was.
Maybe grandma was the one who took laziness to its logical conclusion and stopped hitting the pork with a hammer altogether. Maybe it was mom. Maybe it was great-grandpa, who motivated them to stop hitting the pork with a hammer out of spite because he was a fanatic about hitting the pork with a hammer the proper way, dammit, and would yell at you about it like a jerk.
But someone stopped hitting the pork with a hammer and just cut thin pieces of pork off a tenderloin.
Which is what I learned to do today so I didn’t have to beat my this post is over goodbye.
…as to whether or not he digs his new digs. We humans, though, ARE sure. This is a definite improvement!
I’ve been silent here for a while. We’ve been moving. Goodbye 1968 sub-single-wide trailer home with slowly collapsing floors and significant amounts of black mold.
Hello 2nd floor apartment with balconies in a 100+ year old brick building that has been remodeled enough to (hallelujah!) have a modern amount of electrical sockets.
And there’s a real stove. For SEVEN FRICKIN YEARS I have cooked with electric skillets and hotplates because the trailer had a propane stove and it turns out it’s EXPENSIVE AF to cook (or heat!) with propane.
Finances, as always, remain tight. We’re just happy to be able to juuuuuuust afford to upgrade from substandard housing that would likely be condemned if anyone looked closely, to something decent.
If you’re not already, consider giving my family and writing a boost by checking out my Patreon page.Early blog posts and sometimes exclusive looks at rough drafts, even free ebooks.
Commander Kitty says thanks for reading.
This is a creation from my 4 year old son, Cuinn. Everest of Paw Patrol is flying a spaceship constructed from a stormtrooper Mr. Potatohead. Note the arm in front: that’s a laser cannon. Looks like a propulsion unit in the back with the stormtrooper mask. And the ship has eyes. Why? So it can see where it’s going, duh!
I’m surrounded by creativity and I love it.
We didn’t worry about the cat being stuck because have you ever seen a cat skeleton in a tree?
…A live action Jetsons reboot.
I get it. Gen X is hitting middle age and we’ve got about as much money as we’ll ever have as a generation. We’ve got kids and some of us have young grandkids (not me yet).
And we like to watch cartoony stuff.
And, it seems to me, we’re practically maudlin in our nostalgia.
We’re a great market for this crap, and so are the millennials whose ears we’ve talked off about how awesome our childhood stuff was.
But still. The world doesn’t need more derivative crap, not least because 99% of it is done AWFULLY. I’d rather see something new.
So today (Wednesday the 3rd of this brave new world of 2018) I had a mental healthcare appointment to keep (no emergencies — in fact, I’ve been feeling better than I have for the past 3 or 4 years). I first set up these appointments when the family car was working, but because I am a prescient prophet capable of seeing that driving 20 year old cheap beater cars means we’ll be carless from time to time when one dies, I chose a practice in walking distance.
And of course it’s winter when the car chooses to die, the jerky little bastard. And of course the Earth’s hat of cold air has lately slipped rakishly to the side and we’re under all that fine polar air right now while the precious icecap continues melting in frickin January.
But the walk isn’t so bad because it’s over freezing unlike the walk I had to take for yesterday’s appointment, and the legacy of a Wisconsin childhood is knowing how to dress for cold. Only my cane hand gets truly cold, and maybe my nose.
My appointment was on one side of a rectangular route with one of the two grocery stores in walking distance on the other side of it on the way home, so instead of taking the shorter route back home I figured I’d stop by the store as long as I was already walking and pick up a few odds and ends like some apples and pears for the children who, I am very happy to report, can chow fresh fruit like champions and do at every opportunity. Yay, nutrition!
I wasn’t planning on picking up enough things to justify taking along the collapsible cart I recently bought thanks to my Patreon patrons, so I brought an empty backpack. All good. Planning ahead.
But what I did not plan on — and I should have known better given my past experience as a manager in the grocery biz — was the forecast of 8-12 inches of snow in the forecast for tonight (there’s a bit less than an inch on the ground as I type this, and the snow is beginning to come down again after taking a break for nightfall) and what it would mean for my mission.
In Norfolk, Virginia where close proximity to the ocean gentles the temperatures, this is a MASSIVE BLIZZARD WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE OH GOD.
The grocery store was clotted with swarms of half-crazed customers. Like, a no shopping carts available, I got one of the last 6 or 7 handbaskets swarm of shoppers — and at that point, not a single snowflake had fallen yet.
Ew, a handbasket. I don’t like using them anymore, because they unbalance me due to my limp and bone-on-bone hip, and I already limp heavily enough even with the cane thankyouverymuch.
I almost decided to say screw it and head home. But, the kids want apples. And the wife’s upset tummy craves full-sugar Coca Cola (which horrifies me; as my grandma’s good little boy I cleave to her teaching that 7-Up is the magic tonic that soothes all ills).
So I shop.
Weather panics are weird.
Some of it is predictable. Half the bread aisle is blown out, as it always is when bad weather threatens. Apparently there’s something about blizzards and hurricanes and nor’easters that makes people crave sandwiches and toast.
The bottled water is also half blown out. Because if anything is scarce during a blizzard, it’s water which is LAYING ALL OVER THE GROUND A FOOT THICK JUST SHOVEL A FEW DRINKS INTO A BUCKET AND BRING IT IN TO THAW FER CRISSAKE. Also, since when does a blizzard knock out the water supply? Your pipes shouldn’t be freezing, because you should be running your water if it’s that damn cold. And the snow will insulate the crawlspace under your home. It’ll actually be warmer under there than it has the last 3 or 4 nights with the cold snap.
And, this is the one that really gets me, and I’ve seen it before (and it’s weirder than anything else I’ve seen in a storm except the guy who bought a whole cart full of frozen dinners because he was afraid the hurricane would knock out his electricity, or the woman who bought two dozen (!!) gallons of milk, also in the teeth of an approaching hurricane. WTF!) — the meat case is also half blown out. The hamburger is GONE. And three customers are standing next to the empty hamburger shelf asking each other if there’s any more hamburger anywhere else and when will the butcher bring out more hamburger?
People, if the blizzard comes and knocks out your power, I assume some of you have gas stoves. But not all of you! Are you planning on crouching in your dark living room gnawing a pack of raw hamburger like Gollum gnawing a fish? Do you figure hamburger will cook itself up if you toss it into one of the snowdrifts in your front yard?
Is there something about a snowstorm that demands you start a cookout?
Is there some theory I’ve never heard of that says you can save yourself from freezing to death if your home is heatless by covering yourself with ground beef?
People are weird.
We live in the middle of either a medium-large metro of close to two million people or seven mid-sized cities jammed shoulder to shoulder around the area where the James River empties into the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. It depends who you ask.
We’ve long been a family to enjoy a walk. Being temporarily carless at the moment, we’re walking more.
And walking, you’re more likely to find little oases of refreshing nature like those above.
They remind me of my childhood in rural Wisconsin, and reminiscence is good for writers. Right now I’m working on a novella, Carrying Salt To Heaven, and the current extended scene I’m working on involves a character from a bleak land being introduced to a huge, lush nature preserve.
Some of the sensory impressions of this little oasis, and my childrens’ reactions to them, and the childhood memories they awaken, are finding their way into the novella.
Get out and find stuff, however that works for you. Your art and life will be enriched for it.
[This post appeared a week before it posted here, on my Patreon page. Come say hello and see some public posts that haven’t appeared here!]
So, there’s today’s peek into my psyche. Maybe there are some clues there into why I often write about alienation and deprivation and internal turmoil. I don’t know, it’s so subtle… O.O
You can shop any day. Deals aren’t worth suffering for.
Whether you’re fishing or reading a book or hugging your loved ones, an extra-cheap television or whatever isn’t better. It’s not even equal. It’s a distant, distant 47th place behind all the other things that actually make you happy and make your life a genuinely better place to inhabit.