GOOD EVENING, SPORTSFANS. Or, GOOD MORNING BOOK-FANS. GOOD AFTERNOON LOVERS OF BOARD GAMES. AND WHICH EVER TIME AND PERSONAL RECREATION OF CHOICE IS APPROPRIATE.
I'm Jon O'Guin, back again with another of my cooking notes. Why? Because I hate sleep, like making people laugh, and have recently given myself more me-time to cook in. SO YOU ALL GET TO SUFFER. (Laughter is a sign of suffering, right? I may have been running this whole thing wrong.)
So, as some of you know, my Birthday is at the end of the month. And as fewer of you know, my family are a pragmatic, economical, and non-expressive bunch. The examples are many and occasionally mildly offensive or worrying to outside eyes. Things like my brother Stephen and I only referring to each other through sexual slurs, or the amount of times we've calmly pointed out the logical flaws in an emotional family member's argument, most famously encapsulated in the exchange: "Great Grandpa says he hates the retirement home, and he's going to shoot himself!" "Tell him to go ahead, we all know he doesn't own a gun." Simply beautiful black humor, sarcasm, and repression. To the point where, if my parents get upset by this. I will receive a phone call, which will consist of my mother lecturing me about making us look bad over a speaker phone, because the need to lecture a child shouldn't stop one from making dinner, while my dad makes an even more offensive joke in the background, to which he and I will laugh, and I will get in trouble.
The joke he made about that shrimp can't be repeated in polite company. Or any company, really.
Knowing as much of my family as you know now, it should come as no surprise that "drive six hours to see our eldest son on his birthday" ranks just above "Shoot self in face." on my parent's to-do list . Some days, it's not even that high. BUT, luckily for my small amount of desire to see my relatives, and my large desire to receive gifts in honor of continuing to exist for a year, my brother's college starts in mid-September in Spokane! So my parents are forced to drive across the state to drop him off, at which point, harassing them to drive an extra hour to see me is much easier!
This year, I have heard at every family gathering (so, both of them: Christmas, and my cousin's Wedding), and my monthly "Still alive" phone check-ins, that my parents and brothers are actually proud of these notes: they like to show off to co-workers, friends, and other patrons of the bar they're currently drinking at, the 'funny son'. This being the highest amount of praise I've ever received from them, I decided to milk this puppy. (NOTE: That is a joke. Please do not actually believe that my parents don't love me. They are wonderful parents, who I thank in small ways every week, for raising me better than many people I encounter. And if you actually believe me, my mom will call me, my dad and I will laugh, and I WILL GET IN TROUBLE.)
So we decided to make Jambalaya. Well, that was a lie. See, no one in my family makes decisions quickly or easily. We will be arguing about where to get dinner in the car, on the way to the restaurant. So the actual process on making this note went: My family arrived in town around 11 AM. I was tired from watching horror movies with friends until 6 AM, because I make poor life choices. (Though I recommend The Frighteners and Stage Fright for anyone who wants their horror with a laugh.) My mother and father take one look at my kitchen, and decide to spend the next hour washing my dishes, throwing out my dry goods, burning my sheets, throwing away a lamp I inherited from my great-grandmother, and generally purging my home of any evidence that I lived there.
(In their defense, apparently in the 4 months since I last used my flour, some tiny ant things had infiltrated it. Man, I need to bake more, I guess.)
Purge complete, and crime now illegal once again, we ventured to Walmart, where we spent about 40 minutes replacing and upgrading my home, (I no longer use cooling racks to dry my dishes!) and another 30 literally just trying to figure out what we're going to make. My brother hates spicy things. I don't like seafood. We don't have a lot of time to cook, because I want to kick ass at trivia with my parents (Seriously, my mom is one of the few people who can reliably destroy me at trivia games.)
So, noting my brother's dislikes, and my own, we decided to make Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya. So we can all be unhappy together.
He made me retake this picture so he could care less in it. That's the kind of person he is.
We also decided to make Red Lobster biscuits, because Oh My God, you guys, they're so good. Like, render me into a white girl good. "Pumpkin Spice Latte"/"I can't even!" good. Like, I am literally dead, good. I've been watching too many Vines.
So we start off, as any family cooking does, crowding too many people into a kitchen, and yelling at each other about the recipe. It didn't help that we had two differently sized boxes of Jambalaya, and they had two DIFFERENT RECIPES, so I was reading one, and my dad was reading the other, and we both thought the other was high. After sorting out our problem, my dad and I heckled my brother as he cut an onion ("You gonna cry, baby?" may have been uttered.) , which we took half of, and cooked in some oil. After it softened, we added the rice mix, and two cans of tomatoes, to get our Jambalaya started. Now, if you wanted to make this the authentic way, we'd probably laugh at you for being a poser. In the crazy, topsy-turvy world we live in, effort and intellect are mockable, and Swag is the only commodity worth appreciating
I prefer to keep my fruits and starches separate, but equal.
Then you add a bunch of water, and simmer that shit for like, 15 minutes. 10 minutes? One of the two. Anyway, while my brother, dad and I have been mocking each other, my mother has been busy deveining the shrimp! As some of you may know, I am not a general fan of shrimp. I blame the texture of bad shrimp, which is most reminiscent of a Goodyear tire. If I wanted to bite rubber, I'd try and eat the Michelin Man again. However, I do like the idea of deveining shrimp, because I like things that are strangely barbaric, for modern times. I mean, like, we killed this thing, for our consumption, and are now rooting around inside its carcass to throw out the bits that aren't as tasty. That's like, Stone Age tech right there.
Anyway, while she was doing that, we again bullied Nathan into cutting the sausage, because I was resolute that I would not do any of the actual cooking in this note. So we had nate cut up an andouille sausage, and some polish kielbasa. Which gave us an image we couldn't not laugh at:
A grown man wearing cargo shorts?
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Meat Banana. Seriously look at that. the two drawn back peels, the gentle arc. It's like Poland heard of bananas and went "We can do that with ground pig." Which is a disturbingly common phrase in Poland,really. Of course, we made a great many monkey and ape- what's that? You don't see a banana there? You think it looks more like a penis? That's ridiculous! How absurd. That doesn't look anything like a penis. You all have perverted minds, I tell you. Taking a simple joy like Meat Banana, and turning it perverse with your smut! Next you'll claim that this image of him slicing the meat on the bias has some hidden perversion as well!
Look, an upside-down snail!
Anyway, you take your diced dicks and gutted shrimp carcasses (carci?), and toss them in the pot too. Then you simmer that shit. In the meanwhile, I hope you pre-heated your oven, because it's cheddar biscuit time! All you need is water, butter, and cheese! How much cheese? Well, the recipe says 1/3 cup. To which my family looked each other in the eyes, and, as a group, laughed. It was creepier than those scenes in movies make it look. Though our unified laughter reminded me: if you ever want to see a surreal experience, get the O'Guins together, and get them exasperated. The last 20 minutes of our time at Walmart sounded like it was delivered in surround-sound: Any joke, comeback, or snipe one of us thought of, another said at the exact same time. It was like watching "Love is An Open Door", but with disdain and sarcasm. (Mom:"Where do we find ground beef?" Dad and me:"Did you check the floor?" *both high-five*)
So, you get your biscuit mix, add cheese (more than recommended) and water, and you stir that bastard good, just get your hands in there, you know. Just dig down deep.
This is what being molested by a pink octopus looks like.
That nausea-inducing cacophony of carpals done, you break that blob into like, nine balls, and you bake it.
Meanwhile, the jambalaya has turned into something that looks like food. While you wait for them to finish, entertain yourself. My job was harder here, because I had to entertain myself and my family. This is also the moment my brother made a grave error: I asked him to install one of my air-freshener scents, and he picked Maple Town Bakery.
That name is not accurate. This scent should be called "Maple-ocalypse". "Maplecaust" "Canadian Sweat". He plugged it in, and the maple beat him to the kitchen. My apartment smells like I'm a Maple Dealer. Like the scent of pancake topping has soaked into my furniture. I say "aboot" now.
Oh look, the food's done.
To counteract the Maple Menace, I show my family the Best of Richard Ayoade on Youtube, a series of clips so entertaining, it forced my father to literally squirt water through his nose.
Our stomachs full, funny bones tickled, and my house now reeking of breakfast, we decided we'd done our best, and went to the bar to wash our shame away.
Wait, wait. I see it now. Damn it.