Irish Diet

Grumpa Joe is in need of some serious weight loss so he fell for this diet, hook-line-and sinker.

My Weight Loss Coach

My Weight Loss Coach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An Irishman was terribly overweight, so his doctor put him on a diet. 

“I want you to eat regularly for 2 days, then skip a day, then eat regularly again for 2 days then skip a day …
And repeat this procedure for 2 weeks. The next time I see you, you should have lost at least 5 pounds.”

When the Irishman returned, he shocked the doctor by having lost nearly 60 lbs.! 

“That’s amazing!” the doctor said, “Did you follow my instructions?”

The Irishman nodded…

“I’ll tell you though, be all the saints, I tot I were going to drop down dead on dat turd day.”

“You mean from the hunger?” asked the doctor. 

No, from the bloody skipping!” 

But I Love Him

Garden Angel

Garden Angel

Saint Peter sat at the pearly gates when AJ showed up. She asked for entry. Saint Peter asked her to tell him her life story.

AJ began. I was born to fabulous parents, they never fought nor argued, they brought me up a loving, gentle, caring person. A couple of years after I entered the picture, my parents presented me with a glorious gift, a sister. Sis was my responsibility to get to school everyday. That sounds easy doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t, Sis didn’t want to go, so I would up shoving her while I held the back of her collar.

During high school, I had an admiring boy friend, Elwood. He wrote poetry and left it in my books. He wrote about his true love for me, but somehow, I didn’t think Elwood was my type.

After high school, I got a job and took a bus to work everyday. One day, the bus driver a handsome dark-haired man a little older than I struck up a conversation. Soon we fell in love. We married. We went on a honeymoon, it was wonderful. We came home and my problems began. He beat me. He left me helplessly black and blue, but I loved him. I thought, I will become a better wife so he will treat me nicer, but he continued to beat me, but I love him Lord.

A couple of years later the beatings continued. I became pregnant. What a happy day it was when my son was born, now I loved two men. The beatings continued. My family wanted to kill my husband, but my mother put a stop to it, because he loved me.

As my son grew older, he watched his father beat me, I couldn’t leave him now Lord, because he loves me. My sister came to my rescue and took me to her home, but he called and told me how much he loved me and how sorry he was, and I went back to him, because he loves me.

My son started drinking and taking drugs in eighth grade. I didn’t say anything, because he had such a hard life watching his dad beat me so often. I couldn’t leave them both now could I, because I love them?

Sis got a phone call from a stranger, a woman, asking if she could get in touch with me. The stranger was in the process of annulling her marriage to my husband. How could he? He loves me.

My son is a man now, but he is always stoned and always in trouble with the police, but he loves me. Eventually, sonny boy commits a felony and gets caught. He spends time in prison, while his father continues to beat me. I can’t leave them Lord, they love me.

Eventually, I got smart and filed for a divorce. It was hard because my religion doesn’t allow divorce. He calls me on the day I get the decree, Free at last, except he tells me how sorry he is, and I go back with him, and he physically hurts me, but I love him.

Years go by and I finally disappear, I left them without telling him or my son where I am, but they love me Lord, and it is hard to live without them.

They find me. My son needs a place to stay, he has no job, nor does he want one. I love him Lord, so I take him in. Then my son tells my ex where I am, and he shows up. He loves me Lord, but now he has my son who is six-foot three and two hundred pounds standing between me and him. He doesn’t beat me anymore, but he certainly gets verbally abusive. I tell him to get the heck out and he goes away, for a while. He returns with gifts to make amends, and I let him visit, because he loves me.

Life is bearable for the first time in sixty years. Sonny lives with me and protects me, but I am very forgetful now, and Sonny must watch me constantly. My ex comes and goes, and every once in a while I throw him out, but I love him Lord.

My son disappears at times after his welfare check comes. I suppose he is off buying and using drugs with his friends. He comes back when he is out of money. Sis tells me again, and again to throw Sonny out, but I love him.

Sonny disappears again, and my memory is failing me Lord. I don’t have food in the house, and I am hungry. I knock on my neighbors doors asking for food. My friends share with me and I am happy. They tell me to kick Sonny out, but I love him Lord. A few weeks later he leaves me again, this time for a week or more. I walk out of the condo to find some food and help. I walk to the priest’s home and ask him for help. He promises to send someone soon. The police come and take me home, but I still don’t have food, and I am hungry Lord. I begin knocking on doors in the neighborhood asking for food. Many doors slam in my face, then the police come. This time they take me to a hospital, and they admit me. I don’t remember where I live anymore, nor my phone number. I remember Sis, and her name, and where she lives. The hospital calls Sis. She comes to visit, I can’t tell her about Sonny abandoning me because he loves me. Sis knows anyway, I didn’t have to tell her.

Saint Peter, for the first time in my life, I found a place where I am happy. Sis, and the Public Guardian found this place where nuns take care of me. The best part is that my ex and Sonny didn’t know where I was, but I know they love me.

Within a month, they found me again. They began to visit, and sweet talk me like they did before. This time, though the sisters are aware of their intentions and they watch the visits. I am truly happy, I go to mass daily, I have food three times a day, I have met new friends, and once a week, Sonny comes to visit. Sometimes he brings his father with him. I love them so.

Lat week, something strange went on in my head, and I fell smashing my head and hurting it even more. Then, I had a stroke which left me completely limp and in a coma.

Sonny has been with me right up until the time I saw the light where I saw Jesus standing at the end waving to me. I lifted myself up from the bed and walked toward Him. He took me by the hand and walked with me. Now I find myself talking to you.

“Why didn’t you ask us for help,”  said Saint Peter.

“I kept forgiving my ex and my son because that is what the Lord would do, and because they love me.”

“AJ,” he said, “Prepare yourself for some excitement.”

“What kind,” she asked?

The pearly gates began to open and there behind the gates a huge crowd cheered, all clapping, whistling, and shouting for AJ to come in.

AJ stood in shock, but soon a smiling woman she recognized stepped out of the crowd and ran toward her with open arms.

“Mom,” I yell, “he loves me.”

“AJ, you are home at last.”

Read the Fine Print

Today I did not get my way. There were three things on my agenda: Take a walk, write a chapter, and begin compiling tax records.

The day was sunny and bright, but a chilly forty-five degrees this morning. In my old age I am becoming a wimp. I figured I could delay the walk until it got a bit warmer. Then I noticed Peggy fixated on a credit card bill.  She does that at times when she is in a quandary about something. I cleaned junk mail from my phone and searched the internet for a recipe to use for the chicken breast that I defrosted yesterday. I have Food Network as a book mark so it didn’t take long to find a hundred recipes for Chicken Parmesan. I went to Gianna’s first, and decided it took too long to make and classed as expert. Then I searched for Emiril. He kicked up his recipe too much for me, so I looked for the words, easy, simple, and short. I found a recipe by the Food Network Kitchens that fit the bill for easy and short. The next thing was to see how many of the ingredients I had on hand. Rats. I needed seven items ranging from spices, herbs, cheeses, vinegar, bread crumbs, to crushed tomatoes.


Peggy came to me with the document  she studied so hard.

“How can I cancel this credit card account?” I scoured the fine print and decided a letter was in order. She balked at that.

“Couldn’t we just go to Bank of America and cancel this thing out.”

“I don’t know, I never cancelled a credit card before.”

Her fixation now changed course and she prepped for the trip. In the meantime, I longed to prep for a walk.

“I’m ready, but I’m wearing a sweater it still too cold for me.”

That was the beginning of the end. We sat and waited forty-five minutes at BOA to see a personal banker who completed the cancellation in less than a minute.

The next stop was to get the things I needed for the Parmesan.

“Let’s go straight to the fresh produce section so I can get the fresh basil first.” I scoured a forty-foot long aisle of every conceivable kind of vegetable and greenery one could imagine but did not see basil.  Thank goodness there was a forty-ish something chubby guy stocking a shelf at the end. I asked him if they had fresh basil.

“Sure,” he walked me right to where it should have been, except there was none there.

“I’ll go see if there is any stocked in the back, wait here.”

We circled the banana pile for a few minutes while we waited. He came running back all out of breath.

“Sorry, but I had to chase the manager down, we expect to have some tomorrow.”

“I’m buying this for this evenings meal.” The manager arrived to save the day.

“We have some dehydrated basil that is as good as the fresh stuff.” He darted to the onion kiosk and reached under the pile of yellow onions to find a bottle of dehydrated basil. I’m sure he was the only one in that store that knew they had bottled herbs and just where they stocked them.

Peggy and I ran around the rest of the store searching out the remaining items on the list. We passed through the bakery department, and I noticed Peg missing. I turned to see her coming toward me carrying a Lemon Cream pie. “Can I have this,” she asked?

“Of course, it’ll go good with the chicken parmesan.”

Next, I passed the wine department. “I need a reward for doing all this cooking,” I told Peg.

“Yes you do.”

I selected the wine with care, making sure it fit my criterion of costing less than six dollars a bottle.

Finally, we made it to the checkout. There were long lines at each register, so I dove right for the “Limit fifteen items” and beat out a silver-haired lady who gave me an evil stare. We waited behind four others. Peg stared at the tabloids as we waited, and finally put one into our basket.

“Well, you got your wine,” she said. I must have given here a disapproving look without realizing it.

We arrived home at 3:30 p.m. It was time to begin preparing the chicken parmesan.

I never made parmesan before, so I kept reading and re-reading the recipe to make sure I was getting everything right. The pots, pans, serving dishes, and pantry all banged in noisy preparation, and an occasional “oh shit.”

“What oh shit.” Peg asked?

“Nothing, I just bumped the bowl with egg whites and slopped it all over the countertop.”

It all came together and I served at five-thirty. The last move was to uncork the wine bottle and pour some Cabernet into the bell-shaped wine glass. I so looked forward to that first taste of wine and the chicken.

IMG_0378 IMG_0379

“Ugh! this wine is the worst stuff I’ve ever had. Look it even has bubbles around the rim of the glass. The Winking Owl is superior compared to this stuff. On a scale of zero to one hundred this stuff comes in at a two.”

While we were cleaning up, I took a good look at the label to memorize the winery so I never, ever buy this stuff again. The label clearly stated Cabernet Sauvignon, but under that in smaller print it says “Premium Dealcoholized Wine. Contains less than one half of one percent alcohol by volume.”


“No wonder this tasted like crap,” I exclaimed to peg.

“Why,” she asked.

“This stuff is grape juice.”

With that, she began a hearty a hearty laugh that she could not stop.

The chicken parmesan turned out perfect.

A Dinner to Remember

Thanksgiving oven

Thanksgiving oven (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thanksgiving day 2012 will be one I remember with great detail for the rest of my life. Most of the family came to give thanks, and those who could not make it were in our thoughts and prayers.

Peggy and I planned this one out so we wouldn’t be stressed. We shopped early, taking advantage of sales as much as we could. We made a menu, and stuck to it. As a special treat I bought a smoked turkey breast from a local restaurant called Smokey Barque. Peggy pre-made her salads the day before, and I baked my first pumpkin pie using the pumpkin that grew outside our back door. I prepared all the ingredients for the stuffing the night before, and we set up the table too. By eight o’clock Wednesday evening we watched TV. We retired early to get an early start on Thursday morning.

The plan was to cook the turkey in the roaster-oven and to use the conventional oven for the stuffing and the sides.  We scheduled everything to finish by four o’clock. I put the turkey in the roaster-oven at one p.m. The roaster cooks fast, (about half the time of a conventional oven) and I was more concerned about over cooking than I was about serving it raw. While the turkey cooked, I assembled my first-ever casserole of green beans, mushrooms, and french fried onions smothered in butter, and a can of cream of mushroom soup. I mixed the stuffing and added my mother’s secret ingredients (cooked turkey gizzards and eggs). The manufacturer of the roaster advised against using it for a stuffed bird.

All was well. At two o’clock, I tested the turkey with a thermometer and the needle ran right up to 130 before it slowed to a crawl. It needed at least another hour. I read e-mails while it cooked. At three-thirty, I checked the temperature again. What? The thermometer needle stopped at 100, my trusty roaster-oven died, just as the door bell rang and our first guests arrived. That’s when the fun started.

What do I do? Thank God I had a three pounds of smoked breast resting on the counter top. Three pounds of meat will not suffice for eighteen people. What do I do? Placing the big bird into the conventional oven would take another three hours minimum, and it would interfere with all the sides that needed finishing, like reheating the dressing, my casserole and two dozen rolls.

E-E-E-E-KKK! Within two minutes of my scream the remainder of the guests walked in to find me in a frazzle.

My daughter-in-law Peggy came to my rescue. Peggy works for a restaurant in the adjacent town of Orland Park twenty minutes away.

“Do you want me to call and see if they have a whole turkey?”

“Yes, yes please do.”

“They have whole turkeys but they will need a couple of hours in the oven to heat up, do you want sliced instead?”

“Yes, yes.”

“White and dark or all white meat?”

Being a retired decision maker I sprung into action with an immediate “all white”  without conferring with anyone else.

Peggy and her daughter raced to get the turkey. In the confusion, I took my eyes off the rolls, and my daughter said, “Dad, do you want me to take the rolls out?”

I couldn’t believe she asked instead of acting. One tray of roles was black on the tops the other turned dark brown as we watched..

Dinner finally hit the table at six, after a miraculous recovery and team work by the girls who took over after seeing me lose it in a frazzle of nervous spasm. My last rational act was to put the big bird into the conventional oven.

I said grace, and could not resist including my favorite target. I asked if everybody saw the chair at the end of the table.

“I invited a very special man to attend today, but he had another engagement. He is the Empty Chair.”

“Who is it Dad?”

” I can’t tell you his name but his initials are B.O.”

Dinner began and all was well.

Our last guests left at nine o’clock. Peggy and I hurried to tidy up the little that was left after the Team cleaned the kitchen. I tested the bird and it was at 170 and climbing. I pulled it out of the oven to rest while we finished.  By now, I was so tired I could barely stand. Yet, the job of carving and prepping the bird for the freezer and the roaster-pan clean up lie ahead of me. I finished and went to bed.

The last thing I heard was the clanking of dishes, as Peg unloaded the dishwasher before joining me.

This morning, I pulled a spoon from  the drawer to eat my cereal, and realized it was dirty. I sorted through the tray and realized everything was dirty. Then I inspected the china so neatly stacked and tucked into the dust case, everything was put away dirty. The light went on above my head. The girls rinsed and stacked the dishwasher, but we never turned it on.

I guess I wasn’t the only one tired last night.

NOTE! An autopsy of the roaster oven revealed a melted wire feeding the heating element. RIP.