Trial & Error | Bacon Wrapped, Blue Cheese Stuffed ‘Shrooms

I didn’t have a ton of time to make something worthwhile for a relatively impromptu BBQ with some friends today. Thanks to all of you readers for pointing out that the nature of an impromptu BBQ would imply little prep time. Nevertheless, it’s the least prepared I’ve found myself to be. And with a 6 month old daughter constantly in tow at this point, there’s not a lot of room to rejigger the schedule.

Folks were coming to the BBQ prepared. From salads and apps, to grilled veggies, steak, and ribs. What could I make that would fit the theme and make most in attendance happy without taking up my entire morning.

I’ve made stuffed mushrooms on the grill before. I usually go with Parmesan cheese to give the mushrooms a depth and sharpness you can’t get from cream cheese, ricotta, or even mozz. Today, however, I was inspired to try something different. The results are what you see below and I’d recommend this recipe to anyone.

Ingredients:

  • Whole cremini mushrooms (baby bellas would work too)
  • Blue cheese crumbles
  • Bacon
  • Toothpicks
  • Your favorite hot sauce (I’d go with something that mimics a buffalo wing sauce)

Directions:

  • Soak the toothpicks in water. The longer the better.
  • Set oven to 350. Insert baking sheet, but go with one that has a sizable lip so the remnant oil from the bacon stays put.
  • Prep mushrooms. Brush the dirt off. De-stem. Stand in baking sheet.
  • Cut bacon in half. Take the strips out of the package and cut them in half. Traditional bacon strips cut in half should wrap 1x around a mushroom with some overlap.
  • Wrap mushrooms. Wrap each mushroom with bacon, then stick a toothpick in at the point of overlap to hold it. I recommend sticking the pick in at an angle.
  • Stuff mushrooms. Fill it with blue cheese crumbles. Be generous and don’t worry if it overflows the top a bit.
  • Bake mushrooms. I’d go for 20 minutes. If you’re going to finish them in the oven I’d go 20, then remove, clean the baking sheet of the residual oil, and bake again until all is crisp. If you’re finishing on a grill, I’d go finish them on indirect heat on a grill for another 10.
  • Remove and let sit. After a few minutes, remove the picks (I told folks to do that but some forgot or didn’t hear me — my bad.)
  • Douse with hot sauce. This is a difference maker and I highly recommend finishing it with hot sauce. It will add an acid to cut the fat and will brighten up the dish.

It’s not complicated, but it’s satisfying. See for yourself. :)

Bacon Start

Bacon Oven

Bacon Grill

Bacon Finish

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TMLFYI… | Pudge

Your Dadiji tells a story about how chubby daddy was when he was younger. I know, you look at me now and say “what do you mean ‘when you were younger?’” To which I say, stop being smart.

I had generous layers of adipose covering all parts of my buddy for some time. I know, you look at me now and say “what…” ok, I’ll stop with that joke. But yes, I my pudge was omnipresent and well distributed. But nowhere more effectively than on my thighs.

When bathing me, Dadiji used to have to pinch apart the rolls on my legs, make sure they were dry, and then lightly dust them with powder so I wouldn’t get a rash. Also, when describing the girth and rolls on my leg it’s nice to say “lightly dust” to invoke the work of a pastry chef, because they seem to go hand-in-hand. You should listen to the way her voice changes when she tells the story, and the way she pinches about her fingers to demonstrate every time she does as well. It’s adorable. You’re gonna love it.

There aren’t too many pictures of my legs from back in the day. Lucky for us, we have yours. I imagine they looked something like this? What do you think Dadiji? Anaiya Pudge

Today my love for you is all pudge. There’s simply no better word for it.

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TMLFYI… | Mamu

Hi Mamu,

What a great weekend. And thanks for spending your birthday with me. I know you don’t like to talk about your birthday, so let’s make it our little secret? I know we’ll have plenty of those. I also think it’s good for you to start embracing the fact that you won’t be able to say no to me when I want to find a new way to celebrate your birthday. I mean, go ahead and try. Really. It’s going to be adorable to watch.

You are a man of few words, except when you have a lot of them to share, at which point, you become a man of many powerful and interesting words. I learn a lot from your words, so please keep telling me your stories. I’ll always listen. I’m promising you that now in advance of a future Mami (Nani and Nana made me write that!)

There are a lot of great memories formed from this weekend and many more to come (are we going to see fireworks at some point? What ARE those but they sound loud so I plan on crying, and I know everyone’s going to be ok with it.) But the picture below, well, that’s probably my favorite.

Happy Birthday, Mamu. Thanks for bathing me. Thanks for hanging out with me. And thanks for being my Mamu. I’ll cherish this picture for the rest of my life. Maybe we can talk about it that day when you’re walking me down the aisle (that’s what Mamu’s do, right?)

Love you,

Munchkin

PS – What’s an aisle, by the way?

PPS – I know that Nana, Nani, Mom and Dad are going to put this in a frame for you so you can put it at your desk at work. We want to make sure it’s a good frame though and the stuff they found in Martha’s Vineyard was the opposite of classy. And we know you have high standards.

Mamu

 

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TMLFYI… | Busted!

BustedI caught you red-handed and I thoroughly enjoyed the exchange. Maybe you thought, after all the delay it took to make it into your room, that you were in the clear.

I wouldn’t blame you.

But I heard the clicking for a good minute or two. I heard no squealing from you so my curiosity was piqued. When I walked in to find your hand gripping at your mobile with no intention of relinquishing, I couldn’t help but smile.

Then, things got better.

You looked over at me and smiled. Big. Wide. Like you do better than anyone in the history of the world. And my heart melted, but I was in conflict. Because you hadn’t let go of the mobile yet! What I thought was a smile was actually an admission of guilt, blended with a refusal to concede to releasing the mobile back into its circling routine we were so used to.

Smile.

Acknowledgement.

Stubborn refusal.

Yup. You sound like ours. And we love you like hell for it. Even though we all know that you were squarely busted.

 

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TMLFYI… | Wicker

Wicker 2

“pliable twigs, typically of willow, plaited or woven to make items such as furniture and baskets.”

I haven’t started a blog post off with a definition so I figured I’d go that route. We all know what wicker is, but I’ve never stopped for a second to define it. The plant-based origin makes tremendous sense but I also appreciate wikipedia confirming that we now allow wicker to be made of other materials as well.

It’s definition not withstanding, wicker is also a pretty wicked texture. Discretely there’s a contrast in fibers for those elements woven over and under. Bends, tucks, all side-by-side no matter the direction. As you take a slightly more distanced view, individual waves turn into an undulating sea of consistency. Depending on the piece of furniture, this can go on for what seems to be infinity. I am still captivated by wicker. When I sit in a wicker chair I will repeatedly catch myself running my fingers along the grain enjoying what the rising and fallingWicker of textures feels like against my fingertips. Varying speeds. Varying pressures. Wicker is one of my favorites.

Which is why it was so neat to watch you interact with wicker for the first time yourself. I took so much pleasure in watching you reach for and work with the patterns presented. First under your feet, than as an aspirational lean a bit further ahead, and finally, a forceful grasp at the edge of the table. We didn’t get to spend long immersed in this ebbing and flowing of fibers (at your lovely Neeru Masi’s place, mind you) but for what time we did get, I can tell you, the two of us made the most of it.

In the moment, I enjoyed your reaction to something so utterly simple and yet something so amazingly captivating for me still, to this very day. One of those “simple things” moments that’s so simple you actually Wicker 4forget about it. But as I looked back on these photos and reflected back on the moment, I realized a more powerful layer of pleasure on my end: watching you experience something for the first time. You are my first true world of firsts. And I am committing to immersing myself empathetically in your firsts so I can relive them with you and always find the beauty in those things, in those places, where you find inspiration and beauty.

It’s why wicker has gone from the furniture we use on our patio, to a symbol for how I need and want to be as your father.

In some ways, my time has come and past. The greatest thing I can do for this world is commit to seeing the world through your eyes and supporting you as you make your way. And perhaps the greatest thing I can hope for, is that you see yourself and all of your beauty and potential, through my eyes. Unwavering. Unflinching. Unconditional. But that’s a separate story.

Today we’re talking wicker. All that from wicker. My inspiration to be a better father and person. Now we have this post, and these visuals, to keep me honest if there’s every a question.

Wicker 3

 

 

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TMLFYI… | Happy Trailing

Anaiya Joovy

I’m a bit without words. We’ve seen you roll. To and fro, from your belly to your back and then in reverse. We’ve watched you spin on your side, in plain view on your playmat or through the baby monitor in your crib.

But today, we put you in your Joovy Spoon and we watched you move, all on your own.

Sure, it was backwards. Sure it was obvious that your feet come in contact with the floor only with extraordinary stretching and reaching on your part, and even then, every 3rd or 4th attempt. But that whole backward, thing is just ok. Know that. Because, isn’t that life, baby? A few steps back before you catch yourself and propel yourself forward to meet the world? And when you do, we know, it truly is “look out world.”

Happy trails to you, my love.

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TMLFYI… | Gripping

Anaiya Sophie

I originally thought of making this post about friendship. But I’m not sure Sophie’s as much of a friend to you as she is a servant always and fully in your grip, under your thumb, at your mercy. I also thought of vice as an amplifier for the grip you’ve got but I feel like there’s going to be an opportunity to better use that in the future (perhaps in a less flattering way, like when you grab a fistful of someone’s hair and won’t let go.)

So we’re settling for gripping. Today my love for you is gripping. And like the rest of us, Sophie is not only fully in your grip, but completely under your thumb.

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My $.02 | No Father’s Day Required

I’m happy to share one and celebrate one on everyone else’s behalf, but I don’t want one. I don’t need one. I don’t deserve one. What’s more important is how we interact with each other every single day for the rest of our lives. How I make you feel. How you feel because of how you’re treated and loved. And the highest expectations in the world that I hope you have of me.

  • Tell me when you don’t feel as loved as you need to feel, munchkin. And I’ll listen. If I’m being consistent and transparent about my love for you, I will know, based on the confidence you have in yourself and in everything you do.
  • Tell me when I’m putting too much pressure on you, munchkin. And I’ll listen. If I’m being fair with you, I will know, based on the happiness you express in your smile and your actions every single day.
  • Tell me when I’m being too easy on you, munchkin. And I’ll listen. If I am inspiring you to be better, then I’ll know by the goals and standards you set for yourself.
  • Tell me when I’m being too hard on you, munchkin. And I’ll listen. If I’m supporting you the right way, then I’ll know by the manner in which you do the things you do.
  • Tell me when I’ve disappointed you, munchkin. And I’ll listen. If I want you to trust me, I will know, based on the increasing faith you place in my perspective and counsel.

I don’t need a Father’s Day. I don’t want a Father’s Day. I want you to have the ability to tell me, every single day, where and how I can be a better Father. And I will celebrate you as a daughter, an exceptionally loved daughter, every single day, based on the baby, girl, and woman you become over the years.

No day required. Just you. Just this.

Tutu

 

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TMLFYI… | A Teardrop

ANAIYA--TearAbsolute silliness, the world will tell me. But it works for me. It’s obviously not sustainable nor is it remotely realistic. I’ve actually already failed.

But I’ve committed to myself that when I’m around you and you cry, I will drink your tears. By holding you in my arms, by squeezing you like nothing else in the world matters, and by slurping whatever teardrops are rolling down your cheeks with an insatiability I wish I could direct to all aspects of my life.

“Daddy drinks your tears.”

So today my love for you is a teardrop. It has worked so far. And I’m willing to do it for as long as it works, and I’m willing to try it for the rest of your life if there’s a chance it will work ever again.

That’s fatherhood, I guess. From where I stand right now, that’s an example of fatherhood.

I love you, munchkin.

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My $.02 | Family and Handoffs

What a great family weekend in the Poconos. We haven’t spent nearly enough time with the family, which means you, my loveliest of little ones, haven’t built that connect yet either. We’ll get better about it. There’s no choice. These are the people who raised me and every single person in one of the following pictures has had such a profound influence on my life, it’s disappointing to me how little time you’ve actually spent with them. That is on me to fix.

I can talk about the Poconos in so many ways. A few highlights:

  • Dadaji being your formal stroller pusher. He likes predictability and schedules. And now he’s got one very clear place to own the relationship with you.
  • Dadiji filled with pride. When you smile. When you turn. When you eat. When you do anything, I swear I can see her heart swell from the outside in.
  • Dadi Naniji. One of the sweetest and most purely loving people in the world doing what she does best with everyone, with you — loving.
  • Hitu Dada Mama. One of the quirkiest members of the family and one who will undoubtedly become one of your favorites. He’s always behind the scenes but he’s always there. Like in the pictures…never the subject, always enabling. And he was the first one to hold you each morning because he was awake, there, and waiting. Like he always is.
  • Charu Dadi Mami. She’s going to make you stronger and she’s going to make you laugh. And she’s also going to make you famous with her photography. With so many boys around, she’s one reason you’ll be spoiled and supported unconditionally.
  • Chetu Dada Mama. The baby whisperer. You already have some amazing photos with him but they don’t capture his thirst for life. His will be a pair of arms and a lap that you will always gravitate to — every child does.
  • Prity Dadi Mami. She fought hard to have you sleep in her room but we were silly parents about it. :) It happens. She’s  the one who made this weekend happen and you’ll see, that when family events happen, she’s such a powerful glue. She was the first person to welcome your mom to this side of the family.Massage
  • Tito Foi. If there’s a person who loves you and thinks about you more, please let us know. She gave you one of the longest, most relaxing, and most public (there was quite an audience) massages you’ll ever have. Expect more such pampering through eternity.
  • Suraj Kaka. The human jungle gym. Not just for kids, for adults too. It was his first time meeting you but you can see the love in his eyes. You’ll always be protected when he’s there. He’s truly all heart.
  • Holly Aunty. For many of us, the first time meeting her, so you were in no different a place. But she embraced you the right way, and you’re going to have a friend for life in that one — for now though, we’ll jus tfocus on commenting on each other’s Facebook walls. :)
  • Sohum Kaka. Daddy’s older brother. He’s off to San Francisco to become Teacher Man, and do what he does best — make other people better. I couldn’t be happier that he got time with you before he left. You know, he was the first baby Daddy actually remembers holding and changing diapers for?
  • Neil Kaka. Swoon. That’s what most people do around him and I’m sure this time will be no different. But I think, he’s met his match. And you can see it in his face and the way he talks about you to his friends. The swooning is going the other way. And you know he’s made so many trips to see you here in Jersey City — though maybe it’s because of Daddy’s fridge, too?
  • Eeshan Kaka. He took you to your first coffee shop, you know. Eeshan Kaka is saving the world starting with North Carolina, so it was great to make sure you got extended time with him here. He’s got a mind and brainpower that reinforces your pedigree — and compensates for Daddy in so many ways.
  • Amu Kaka. He’s been the same personality since he was 12 months old — and it’s bound to be one of your favorites. We’re going to drive down to visit Kaka while he’s at Delaware, and we’re going to let him carry you and push the stroller. Because that’s a great way to pick up girls. The problem might be, that based on how he looks at you (and tweets about you), he may miss all the action around him.

That’s part of your family, munchkin. Look at all that love. And if it’s hard for you to read all this, maybe it’s better for you to check out the pictures below. One of my favorite goodbyes. As a man who has struggled with goodbyes for ages (one of the best parts of my childhood were when your Dada Mama’s used to come visit almost every Friday, one of the worst parts of my childhood were when they would leave on Sunday) this brought me to tears. Every person having their own unique moment with you. Every person smiling at you smiling back.

It’s the one thing I think everyone in the world needs more of. It’s the one thing I want most for you: to feel loved. Always. Unconditionally.

As your family hugged you, kissed you, reinforced their love for you, and then passed you along to the next in line, I couldn’t help but feel certain that you are one who’s loved in ways that go beyond any form of measurement. And that, makes Mommy and me, the happiest people in the world.

Now, to the handoff!

Holly

Suraj

1-Nani

2

3

4

5

7

8

9

10

11

 

Feeling loved?

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