We clinched it a day after Halloween, but these pumpkins are perfect predictors of the #HoustonStrong baseball victory.
Photo (and carving) credits to my friend and colleague Adrian V., and a shout-out to all of my colleagues who were in this World Series for Our Town journey together for the last several weeks at work. We wrung our hands and fantasized together, every day. One said, “I’m not really superstitious, but I sure hope the series is over soon so I can change my underwear.” 🙂
The Astros were launched in 1962, and this is our first World Series win. As the Tom Petty song goes, “The Waiting is the Hardest Part”. But now, as Queen said, “We Are the Champions”. Woohoo!!!
After all of the trials, tribulation, trauma and troubles from Hurricane Harvey, this victory is really sweet for H-Town. #HoustonStrong, indeed!!!!!
But here’s a shoutout to L.A. – your team was awesome and a formidable opponent. #Respect
My son and I did some reorganization of his room a couple of weekends ago, a natural progression as he moves through his sophomore year in college. At this stage, just as many items go into the giveaway pile as the “must keep memories” box in the attic.
We did find some treasures, though, as we processed a whole chest of drawers bulging with the history of his childhood, the objects providing a physical testimony about his youthful interests and experiences.
There were signed baseballs from his Little League days, those times when he earned the game ball from his coaches, men who seemed like titans to us at the time but were simply eager Dads looking to provide a good experience for their sons. Unbeknown to us, our little one was a “late bloomer” in Little League. The coach called me one spring night back in 2004 to tell me he had drafted Thomas onto his team, and asked me about his experience.
“Experience?” I was confused.
“Yes, what positions has he played?”
“None, this is his first season.”
“Really? He hasn’t played before? He doesn’t know anything about the game?”
“He’s only 6 years old?!” I was still confused.
“My son started just shy of his 4th birthday. We even have pictures of him playing catch in his diapers as a toddler.”
This is going to be a challenge, I realized. Only 6 years old and he’s already behind.
Despite this inauspicious start, Thomas acquitted himself admirably in his 8 years in Little League. A lefty, he became a dependable and sometimes awesome pitcher, and a capable hitter, delivering mostly singles and doubles. He never really mastered the art of stealing bases or sliding, which told us to focus our college scholarship hopes and dreams in other areas. This is why we call him our Musical Millennial rather than our Pitching Prodigy.
We had some really good times during the Little League days. Championships won and lost, good-natured rivalries with his classmates on other teams, frenzied times between the pickup at after-school day care and the 6 p.m. warmup on the baseball field when dinner was a 30-second microwaved “quesadilla” (really just a flour tortilla fold-over with grated cheddar cheese thrown in) eaten in 60 seconds. During the off-season, our backyard was the sandlot, with girls and boys from all over the neighborhood passionately playing their positions and breaking a window or two, just like it would have happened in the movies.
Good times. But I digress. Tonight, we’re watching Game 7 of the World Series, Astros vs. Dodgers. Go Astros!
Back to the treasures. Among all the game balls my son earned in his days as a player, we found other baseball mementos. Two “signed balls” from the Astros, those give-aways with the facsimile signatures stamped on them that you get for being one of the first 5,000 fans at an important game. They’re from the 1997 – 2005 period; the signatures include Larry Dierker (manager), Billy Wagner (pitcher), Matt Galante (coach), Craig Biggio (catcher, 2nd base and outfield) and Jeff Bagwell (1st base). Good times.
There was also a super-special memento from my Dad. He was a junior executive for Exxon in his early 30s, and snagged this commemorative bat back then. It was before the merger with Mobil changed the company name to ExxonMobil, and back in the days when the tiger was the mascot. I loved watching baseball with my Dad. And that carried forward to watching baseball with my son. Memories and mementos…
As I write, it’s the top of the 7th in the 7th game of the 2017 World Series matchup between the Astros and the Dodgers. Of course, I’m rooting for my hometown ‘Stros, but whatever happens, it has been a great ride. Baseball really is the national pastime.
Our college student, the musician (majoring in Jazz Composition and having a great time at the University of Texas at Austin), was coming home for the weekend. I called him earlier in the week to find out his requested meal for our quiet dinner at home on Saturday night. It seems like there is usually a big event going on when he comes home, so it was nice to plan on just chilling out, having a family dinner, and watching our Houston Astros play (if they managed to stay alive in the American League Championship Series).
Me: “Did you decide on your meal request?”
My son: “Risotto.”
Me: “What kind of risotto?”
My son: “Well, I don’t really like shrimp in risotto…just the normal kind.”
Me (wondering what ‘normal’ means in the risotto context): “Well, without a protein in it, it’s a side dish, not a main dish. Do you mean the kind with garlic and lemon and capers?”
My son: “Capers…oh, Mom! I know what we can for the main dish…”
In unison: “Chicken Piccata!”
We hung up happy, as we love, love, love piccata-anything. We had a plan.
With the menu chosen, I still needed to understand what “normal” risotto is; I haven’t made risotto without some kind of protein in it for years. I know from listening to my son rave that his Dad (my ex-husband and friend) makes a killer risotto, so I went right to the source: “how do you make your risotto? The main ingredients, I mean.” He answered right away:
Excellent! Now that I understood the “normal” context, I was able to concoct something lovely following his framework, sautéing about 1 1/2 cups of cremini mushrooms and a couple of chopped green onions in butter first, separately, and setting them aside, then, in a deep and heavy-bottomed pan, sautéed half a yellow onion and a ton of garlic, adding the arborio and toasting it quickly before beginning the time-consuming process of adding stock a bit at a time, which I had boiling on the back burner.
After all the stock was absorbed and the rice had turned creamy, I added the mushrooms, grated a bit of hard cheese from the fridge which might have been Parmesan or Romano, but I think it was more likely Manchego (it was in a baggie but not labelled, which is how we roll here at Glover Gardens and I hope you can still respect me). Rummaging around, I found the rest of a container of Boursin cheese, about 1/4 cup, and then threw it in for good measure. Some salt and freshly ground pepper, and then – Yum!!!
I turned to Epicurious for the Chicken Piccata recipe, using this one. It was great, and all I did to enhance it was to double the lemon and capers. That’s also how we roll here at Glover Gardens.
I had intended to round out this classic meal with steamed broccoli and more lemon, but forgot to buy it during the Saturday grocery run. What to do? I needed something bright, with acidity, crunch and contrasting flavors to complement the richness of the risotto. Rummaging again, I found a fresh jalapeño and one lonely carrot and decided gather a few more strange bedfellows and throw together a quick and perky salad for three.
Perky Salad (serves 3)
1 small green apple, chopped in small pieces
1 carrot, peeled and then shredded with the peeler
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
10 grape tomatoes, quartered
1 green onion, sliced
1 1/2 TBSP white balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and toss.
The result of this college-student-comes-home requested dinner was delightful, and I’m very grateful to be reacquainted with “normal” (delicious!) risotto. I’ll be making the crazy Perky Salad again soon – it was a wonderful foil to the warm richness of the risotto and the chicken and would go very well with grilled meats, too. The white balsamic vinegar is a real winner, adding the perfect tanginess.
And finally, the whole evening was made perfect by the results of the Astros-Yankees Game 7 of the National League Championship Series we watched together – Go Astros!!! The video below is from USA Today Sports, and beware if you visit – the haters are already hating that they Yankees didn’t win and ensure the “perfect” World Series matchup with the Dodgers, and their comments are really nasty. Sigh.
Well, haters or not, World Series, here we come!!!