From this Summer: A dream of waves

I saw you there.

I was standing on the beach, enjoying the warmth of the sun and listening to the rhythmic beat of the waves as they crashed onto the shore. The wind was strong, carrying a coolness that countered the heat from the noontime. Seagulls floated up on the warm drafts, hovering over the shoreline before diving down into the water after a tasty morsel of some sort. I saw you there.

You were standing beside me. No wheelchair, no cane, just you. You faced the ocean with me, your hair tied back with a few strays whipping in the wind across your face. You looked at me and smiled, a devilish grin if ever there was one.

“What the fuck are you doing here, brother-dear?” she asked me, adding a laugh at the end that made me smile. “I mean, why are you STILL here?”

I tried to respond,  but the words wouldn’t come. They stopped at the top of my throat, choking me slightly. My smile faded as I realized you weren’t beside me anymore. You had moved effortlessly towards the shoreline. I made a move to catch up, but my feet were stuck in the sand, holding fast to my ankles. I looked up again and you were standing in front of the waves.

“Haven’t you learned anything? You need to go. You need to move on” You stepped into the water, the first wave crashing into your legs. The second coming to your waist. You looked back at me and smiled again, shouting over the crashing waves. “I love you, but you need to go!” The final wave came, crashing over your head and you disapeared beneath the waves. The seagulls seemed to cackle a bit overhead.

I could feel the tears again, running down my cheeks. The wind was suddenly silenced and the waves ceased. A crushing pain enveloped me, burning pain where my heart and soul should be. I crumbled to the sand, sobbing.

Waking up then, I could still feel the sand under me, still smell the salty air and hear the distant call of seagulls. I fumbled in the darkness for the light, finding none, I sat on the edge of the bed, staring into nothing. The pain in my chest subsided, the tears ran dry. I could hear your words resonate in my head. I knew what you meant. I know what I have to do. I can’t live the way I have been.

I’m terrified of making that move. The unknown, the unpredictable, the craziness…part of me wants something new, something outside my routine and outside my comfort zone. I need my sister here to kick me in the ass. If nothing else, the inertia of being thrust forward by my sister’s foot would be a great help in getting over my fears, my self doubt. I need you, I miss you.

I drove to the beach in the dark. The sun was barely starting to makes it’s presence felt on the distant horizon, turning the sky purple, the stars still denying it was morning. I sat on the beach, feeling the real sand beneath my feet and between my toes. I sipped my coffee, enjoying the beat of the waves and the morning birds hovering over the surf. Your voice came again to me, softer this time, not struggling to be heard over the waves. You whispered, “Move on.”

I closed my eyes and pictured your infectious grin.

I brushed off my feet and hopped in the car. I hope I have the strength you think I have. Starting the motor, I looked back down at the beach.

I saw you there, waving.

I turned my car out of the beach and headed on down the road

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Christmas Kitchen Rockstar

I realized something important today. I’m a rockstar in the kitchen. I’m a certified, club filling, multi-million cd selling, crowd pleasing rockstar when it comes to cooking. I may not be arena rock level, rock n roll hall of fame inductee or legends of rock on VH1’s Where are they Now? but dammit, I am a hell of a good cook. I chop, slice, dice, bake, baste, braise, broil, sautee, whip, chunk, stir fry, chill, blend and boil with the best of them.

Ok maybe not the best…I’m sure if I was in the same kitchen as Gordon Ramsey, I would be reduced to a crying little heap in the corner, but the food I manage to create kicks some ass.

Today was Christmas, and, as has become a tradition with my family, it was my time to just go wild with the menu and cook up a storm. The menu was simple enough:

Steak Roulade: pounded out a 3lb piece of steak, layered it with garlic, spinach, feta cheese, parsley, green onion, mozzarella, salt and pepper,then rolled it up, tied it together as a roast, seared the outside and then baked at 300 degrees for 90 minutes or until thermometer reads rare (I know, real precise, but its the only meat thermometer I could find). Cover completely with tinfoil and let rest. Any carryover heat should continue to cook the meat to medium rare or medium.

Mixed veggies roast: sliced various veggies: carrots, red onions, green pepper, sweet red pepper, summer squash, zucchini, fennel, garlic, added some basil, oregano, salt and pepper, drizzled with olive oil, mixed and placed in large roasting pan to cook at 400 for 40 minutes,then finished under the broiler for 15 minutes.

Garlic smashed potatos: an old standby. 5 lb bag of red potatoes, 2 sticks of butter, one small container of half and half, chopped parsley, chopped green onion, several large heaping tablespoons of diced garlic, salt and pepper. (I know how fattening this one sounds, but damn its good…)

Gravy: made from the left over juice from the roulade. Bring to boil and sift in 1/2 cup of flour, whisk until thick.

Cranberry Sauce: from a can, nothing special.

So seeing all this on the table in front of my mom and my brother in law, I began to think “I wish I had a bigger audience” and just as that thought popped into my head, my brother in law looked up and said “You should have stayed in the restaurant busines because I would pay for a dinner like this.”

Today was a great day, full of good memories, family and some damn good food. I can think of no better way to connect with family and friends than sharing over a meal that has been lovingly prepared. But I realized, I need to expand, I need a broader audience. I’ve outgrown the band and need to experiment more with my style. I don’t know if I want to open a restaurant, with no formal training in cooking other than just years of experience running restaurants, not sure how qualified I am….but it would be fun to try.

If you are reading this, then you are my friend and we need to cook together sometime: whatever you want to cook, I’m down with it. Barbeque? Hell yeah! Italian? No problem? Hot and spicy latin food? Ah, you know me too well….