TBT: Eat, Drink, and Peter Paul and Mary

It would make more historical sense to do a tribute to something on The Challenger explosion, but I'm not even gonna attempt make that funny, and I'm not in any particular poignant mood.

Anyway, January 29th happens to be the day in 1962 that Peter, Paul, and Mary signed their first recording contract with Warner Brothers, and maybe it's not in the Top Ten of great historical moments, but it does have a certain Butterfly Effect that reverberates to what I do now.

Folk music is kinda weird.

It's born out of . . . well . . . music that regular folks play. Not too many chords. Not too many keys.

There aren't any set rules, but there is usually a banjo player.

The songs are usually allegorical, when froggy goes a courtin', or metaphorical when we wonder where all the flowers have gone, and the format is usually a pleasant ABAB. (Not to be confused with ABBA the Swedish pop group)

 I'm a lover of the ABABCB form, which is far more pop than ballad.

I can blame The Beatles for that.

(Some might consider it AABA, but I think if you are gonna have a separation between verse, chorus, and bridge, you're gonna need a third variable.)

Anyway, returning to the Greenwich Trio, back in the early sixties (I say like I was there), there was a great divide among folk musicians (partisan politics, you might say)

Now either you have the squeaky clean Lawrence Welk acts, or you've got Pete Seeger and the Weavers getting derailed because of the Red Scare. Remember, this was a time when social security was well funded.

So you've got this great divide. Squeeky clean versus dangerous subversive.

Enter Albert Grossman, the man who sees that there is money to be made in the middle.

Co-founder of the Newport Folk Festival, he puts together a music trio, clean-cut, non-threatening, kids next door, who just sorta happen to slip in some Dylan songs in between renditions of "If I had a Hammer" and "Puff the Magic Dragon"

Who's got time for revolution when you're frolicking in the autumn mist?

Does anyone not get misty when Jackie Paper dies?

And no . . . it's not a referendum on smoking pot. Marijuana hadn't been invented in 1962.

Opium. Now there was a helluva drug.

But what's exciting about Peter, Paul, and Mary being signed to one of the biggest record labels in the world isn't the idea that the way to get heard is to be bland-ish, it's about how the quietly subversive souls who walk in the front door and sneak the cool kids in from the back.

Yeah, okay, for every Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, you're gonna end up with like twelve John Denvers.

But that's okay.  Who hasn't caught themselves enjoying a John Denver song?

Nobody.

That's who.

And you can make the argument it is the uncompromising, very vocal, revolutionaries that manifest change.

They certainly influence it.

But it's the kids who play nice who are more likely to move the chains.


What to Eat Wednesday: Super Salad

What to Eat Wednesday is a new Wait . . . Dad? Recipe Series . . . cause . . . you know . . . why not? There will be no rhyme or reason other than whatever tasted exceptionally good the previous week, but you may notice I'm a huge fan of quick easy cheap meals that are high in protein, minerals, and fiber, and relatively low on carbs. I say that with the full knowledge that I will be sharing a cast iron lasagna recipe very soon which meets none of the previously mentioned criteria. Since it's new, please send along feedback about either the format or the recipes themselves or share with me your meals that you want me to try. Thanks . . . 

Super Salad:

Ingredients:
Purple Cabbage
Leafy Stuff
Beans
Meat

Seasonings:
Good Olive Oil
Good Balsamic Vinegar
Salt
Red Pepper Flakes

Okay . . . so salads are pretty basic. Cut stuff up, put stuff in bowl. Grab a bottle of something from your refrigerator door, don't look at the expiration date, toss and serve. No big whoop.

You can get one in the drive-thru at Mickey Dees.

However . . . most of those salads . . . and I hate to break the news to you . . . well that's not true . . . I love droppin' the knowledge bomb . . . however, none of those "salads" are very tasty, and they aren't all that good for you. In fact, they're kinda terrible for you.

On top of which, if your idea of a salad is some ice-burg lettuce and ranch dressing (which is delicious BTW) you might as well serve chocolate chip ice cream as your vegetable course because cacao comes from trees.

Okay . . . so what makes a great salad? Flavor, texture, color, and healthfulness. You can put those in any order and gravity you wish. You can also add cost. I make about eight of these salads a week for myself and my wife at right around $1.25 per serving. You can't even buy a cup of coffee for that.

Alright . . . lettuce begin:

Purple Cabbage and Kale:
Now . . . you may be thinking I'm gonna dive into all the healthy reasons to eat these . . . well pfffffth. Yeah they have fibre, vitamins, minerals, are low in calories, high in antioxidants, whatever. But I'm all about the CRUNCH. I wanna meal I can masticate. It soothes my inner caveman. Half the reason the whole middle-east is so cranky is because they eat nothing but curry flavored mush. Blechk. Purple Cabbage (Red Cabbage) and Kale are super crunchy, don't wilt before lunch time, and the deep purple and vibrant greens are not only perfect for you Instagram people, they also make you feel like you're chewing up Seattle's defensive line.

Go Patriots.

Beans:
The two I like best here are kidney beans (for their sweetness) and/or black beans (for their meatiness). Garbonzos and Pinto are okay, I guess. Why beans at all, you ask? Cause . . . well . . . the problem most people have with salads (other than rejecting health food like it was a bowl of malaria) is that they're not filling. Beans fix that problem. A half a cup of legumes hits your gut like a quarter pounder. Feel super fat and poo it out quickly . . . that's my new motto. And they also add in a fair amount of vegetable protein for all my vegetarian readers. (Of which there is one).

For everyone else . . .

Meat:
Skip this if you're just looking for a good side dish, but for the lunchenours, anything goes here. My hierarchy goes like this: Leftovers (Chicken, steak, salmon, pork chop, whatever). My next go-to is about a half a can of tuna. Try to find the stuff that has dolphin parts in it so that Greenpeace has something to protest. Without cute animal conservation, they might put their energies in campaign finance reform and I like my gas prices low and my corporations evil. Next is any kind of deli meat that you're using for your son's sandwiches (Sliced Turkey) and if you want to throw caution to the wind, dry salami will make you feel like a man and not some sissy dieter.

Now for fashion . . .

The Dressing:
First . . . throw out all of the dressings in your fridge. Not the Ranch. That's a sauce. But everything else must go. And it must go for several reasons. First, they're all expired anyway. You know it, I know it, Santa Clause knows it. Second, with all the sugar and salt and preservatives, they are downright terrible for you. Terrible. Lastly, they really don't taste very good. Especially not when compared with a simple splash of olive oil and vinegar and a pinch of table salt. Anyone who has ever fallen in love with Rachel Ray (guilty) knows that. Drizzle the oil, splash the vinegar, sprinkle the salt as gently as if it were Peter Pan's fairy dust. Be conservative cause you can always add. Tilt your bowl away from you, and with your fork, stir the bottom up and towards you until all the ingredients glisten. Take a big bite and check for flavor. If you haven't over done it, it should be easy to tell if it needs more vinegar or salt.

Additions/Warnings:
Carrots, broccoli, bacon bits, handfuls of parmesan cheese, (as you can see in the picture) salads are cool in that you can add to 'em whatever you want. So go ahead . . . add whatever you want. However, the more you complicate it, the longer it's going to take to make. More flavors mushed together to actually produce less flavor overall and if you're a household instead of just a loner, you might end up putting in something that someone doesn't like and then you're screwed before cocktail hour begins. Keep it simple. Keep it crunchy. Keep it real.

Keep it real.



HTT: How to Waiting

So the complete manuscript of my first novel is on a publisher's desk right now, somewhere in the upper regions of Washington State, just kinda sitting there.

I couldn't tell you if it's been read yet, or if it's buried with a hundred other manuscripts, if a very nice rejection letter is being crafted, or if the entire office has been waiting to get their hands on it before they drop a "Happy Bomb" in my eagerly waiting lap.

Or any particular combination of any of that.

I have no idea.

And the waiting is brutal.

At this point I'm not sure if I should be picking out a tie for an interview at McDonalds, reading books on transcendental meditation, or highlighting passages to read for my Fresh Air interview.

Or any particular combination of any of that.

I have no idea.

The way it all works is this: You send off a proposal which includes a brief description, a synopsis, and the first fifty pages. Every publisher gets about a thousand of these things a month, so it's needle in a haystack. You've got to have a good articulate idea, a well crafted storyline, and be able to put enough cool words together to sound like you're more than just a typist.

Generalizations like "It's a coming of age story with a happy ending!" or "It's a love story . . . but get this . . . there are vampires!" will get your email address quickly forwarded to the spam filter and the only writing you're bound to be doing over the next part of your life is answering questions like "Why  are you interested in this position?" and "Tell me why I should hire you."

or . . . you know . . . blogging.

Anyway, after hitting the "Send" button, you get a quick response that says "Gee, thanks, don't call us, we'll call you . . . in 4-6 weeks."

I got mine in the middle of Week 8.

Yes, of course I counted.

And I'm not butt-hurt in the slightest, I got outrageously lucky. They approved of my needle.

The next part is you send off the compete book, and after you hit "Send" you get another quick response that says "Gee, thanks, we'll let you know in 3-6 weeks, please be patient."

But being patient, no matter how close you are to Maharishi Mahesh, is really the one thing you can't do.

It's the middle of Week 6 now, and every time my inbox makes that little "ping" sound my heart drops another 4 inches. I have to keep a good supply of those airport vomit bags within arms reach.

It's like being at the top of a roller coaster ride and you're in a panic because your safety bar never clicked in all the way.

Anyway, I pondered this this morning because I've discovered that both with music and with writing, I've been spending such a vast amount of time waiting for responses, that I've developed a technique for dealing with it without even knowing I was doing so.

So for today's How To Tuesday I thought I'd share a few of my best waiting methods, not that it will ever be easy, but, maybe just maybe, a little easier.

First thing you do after hitting "Send" is to treat yourself to something fantastic. Steak, mashed potatoes, a super hoppy IPA, and if my SO is agreeable, a ten minute foot rub. These are me things. You can go get your nails done, take a day trip on your motorcycle, or pick a fight with Edward Norton. Whatever. All you want to do here is to trick your brain into thinking that every submission is a celebration.

Second thing you do is plan to treat yourself on the day of the response, for good or for bad. I have a cigar I've been saving and before I tell a soul what happened, I'm going to sit out on my porch with an  unreasonably expensive bottle of wine, and remind myself how decadently wonderful life is when you get the chance to stop and think about it.

Next . . . plan for the next step. If it's a "No" the that's okay, you know where you are and you can do it all again with particular ease. If it's a "Yes" then remind yourself to be humble and act like a professional. There are speed bumps coming that you can't even begin to anticipate.

Okay, so now you've tricked your brain into thinking life is good, and you've got a mental roadmap for the day after tomorrow, if ever tomorrow comes, now is the time to keep the crazy at bay.

You gots to get busy.

I'm particularly lucky in the fact that I'm a father, a husband, a house wife, a musician, and an amateur genealogist. There's algebra to learn, backs needing to be scratched, dishes to do, shows to prep for and I still haven't found proof that my great grandmother's claim to being related to the Mayflower passengers is anything more than wishful thinking. I'm never not busy.

Okay, so let's say you've got productivity skills. Next is how to keep those late-night/mid-afternoon demons from messing with your sense of self worth.

Easy.

Read.

Get lost somewhere/someplace else.

Curl on the couch with a hot cup of chamomile and follow Alice down the rabbit hole. Join the fight against Voldemort. Dance with dragons.

Pro tip: Stay away from Nietzsche and Shel Silverstein. Fredrick will lead to excessive drinking, and the Giving Tree will turn you into a bawling mess.

Other things to avoid are Neflix and shopping malls. You don't want to talk yourself into purchasing a leather recliner with a massage function and I somehow breezed through every episode of "The West Wing" only to stand up and realize no one in my house had been fed for four days and the amount of gray in my beard had quadrupled since the last time I stopped shaving.

And last but not least, unchain yourself from your email for long stretches in the day.

I check in the morning with my coffee, the afternoon; in the dead space between rehearsals and picking up my son from school, and after dinner.

Any more than that and you're likely to develop heart palpitations.

As I said, waiting is never going to be easy.

Sorry about that.

It's just something you have to do.

And by "You" . . .

I mean "Me"






Big Screen Debut

A few years ago, during a nice little family visit, my dad took me out to lunch and we decided to leave his dog, Lila, in my backyard while we got some burgers.

Now Lila, not including the exuberances of her youth, is one of the most wonderfully behaved, gentle dogs you might ever meet. Yet . . . we did sorta abandon her in a strange backyard and in her panic she tore a big whole through my screen door.

Not a big deal.

At all.

I honestly couldn't have cared less.

But there was the fact of a big gaping hole in the screen door and somehow, through some strange trick of the psyche, I had gotten it into my head that fixing a screen door was an incredibly challenging process. I must have read something, or heard something, or ate a bad piece of fish.

I don't know.

Because being daunted . . . is not . . . I repeat . . . is not a thing I do.

And it's not like I'm unfamiliar with handy-work. I've got all my own tools. I've built bicycles, rebuilt car engines, erected massive stage sets, crafted furniture, installed flooring, and have a virtual Master's Degree in smithing medieval weaponry for a six year old. In ten years of home ownership, there isn't a single appliance I haven't brought back to life in some way and I've never even considered hiring plumber.

But somehow, securing a little mesh to a metal frame seemed beyond my talents.

And then it got worse.

I went out and priced replacements and found that because out doors are all custom sized, the mega DIY stores didn't carry the screens big enough for our door and even the internet was no help.

I went so far as to price an entire door replacement and saw estimates that ranged from a television set to a mortgage payment, and I just gave up.

For years . . .

I shit you not . . .

YEARS . . .

I have been looking a that big ugly hole and not only have I felt helpless to do anything, I've been aggressively insistent to everyone else that it couldn't be done.

Weird.

Like really weird.

But I was totally convinced.

And I didn't want to hear another word about it.

So my dad and step-mom pop up for a visit, and like always, he looks at that big hole, gives me a scowl, cause he knows I'm being ridiculous, and offers for the millionth time to get it fixed, either with me, or for me, or in spite of me.

But I can't, I won't, so just change the subject.

Who do you like for the Super Bowl?

So we have a nice visit, say our goodbyes, make plans for the future and I go back to my spot on the couch and try to drown out the rest of the world. Fa la la la la.

Drowning out the rest of the world is a very unhealthy habit I have when I'm working on something and I've reached a particular impasse that I can't fully seem to wrap my head around.

I'm there now. I don't know how I got there, or how I'm gonna get out, but until I do, I'm a bit of a glassy eyed shell of a man.

And I'd like to think that it's an "artist" thing because moping about is a right of passage for writers and musicians . . . but to the people around them . . . it is certainly a dick move.

My wife will only put up with that shit for a day or two, letting me suck the joy out of every room I'm in, and then it's whooping time.

Actually . . . there's no whooping involved. (Though I'm perfectly open minded about experimentation.) No . . . she's found that motivating me to accomplish something else is a remarkable anti-biotic to my creative chlamydia.

Now . . . ladies . . . do not . . . I repeat . . . do not consider this advice to drop a 'Honey-do' list on your man's lap any time he's been on the couch for more than five minutes.

Just because there's nothing good on TV that doesn't mean it's time to mow the lawn.

What I'm talking about is a very specific set of circumstances wherein I'm in a very particular funk and she can tip-toe through my labyrinth and flush out my minotaur with a garden hose.

The garden hose, in this case, being a certain hole in a certain screen door.

"Get up"

"Okay"

"You're taking me to the home store and we're gonna get that screen fixed."

"Okay."

"I'm ready to go . . . like now."

"Alright, lemme just, do a thing."

"What?"

"I gotta measure the door."

"Fine. I'm ready to go when you are."

And so I got my tape measure out, removed the door from the sill, took measurements, and away we went.

We wandered the aisles for a minute or two, found the screen door stuff, which consisted of exactly three things:

Rolls of mesh.

Some rubber tubing to seat the mesh.

A little plastic tool to push down the tubing.

That's it.

But . . . aha! . . . I was right . . . there's not a single roll of mesh that's long enough to cover our stupidly big screen door.

We'll have to special order something . . . shit . . . which means finding someone and talking to them.

But wait!

What's that up there?

There's a super-sized roll for larger projects. I only need 33" by 90" and that roll up there that I swear I never saw that last time I looked is 64" by 96"

But it's gotta be dreadfully expensive.

But it wasn't.

It was like a whole $12.

Turns out , I've paid more for an over-cooked steak than I did for all the things I needed to fix that screen.

Okay . . . so we get home and there's still about 35 minutes of daylight left and I've got the home project juices flowing, it's now or never baby.

My impossible project?

Yeah . . . that took, like, almost an entire fifteen minutes.

I only took the lord's name in vain once. And that was because the light had faded and I didn't notice a little ripple in the fabric in the upper corner until I had already cut the screen and reinstalled it in the sill.

So there's a little ripple.

So what?

The innards of my house, once again, get to taste the fresh spring air. And at about 2:00am this morning, I solved the allegorical paradox that had been making me an insufferable snot for a week.

So the moral of the story is this:

When things get messed up it's really never cool to blame the dog,

Also, most things in life are only as complicated as your head is interested in making them,

And if you get the chance to marry the right girl, go ahead and do that.

That's a thing you should do.










Wordly Five

So the king of Saudi Arabia died.

Ho hum.

It's the top news story on every outlet this morning except for Yahoo! which is still enthralled by the off chance that Tom Brady has been deflating his balls.

Yahoo!'s got their shit together.

I say that because, yeah, you're gonna hear about Abdula's spending money on education and infrastructure, and how Saudi Arabia is a US ally against ISIS, but let's be honest, it's still a country where a man can divorce his wife by saying "I divorce you." three times. And you can get stoned to death by being a little bi-curious.

But give it time. Once Walmart and Comcast go global, that'll be the end of such nonsense.

Say hello to the new gods.

Small "g"

Anyway, this isn't about the death of an old man, it's about this morning when listening to NPR, and I heard an analyst refer to the dead Saudi dude as "Seeming to be avuncular."

Avuncular?

Now there's a word that I would not have even understood a week ago until I wrote an entire blog about it.

It's last week's Friday Five:

http://waitdad.blogspot.com/2015/01/avuncular-five.html

Ever notice how a word or idea will pop up randomly and then repeat itself in quick succession? Someone will use a word or phrase, or quote or idea, and then you'll hear that same quote or word or phrase a little bit later in a different space, or context, completely unrelated to the first instance.

I remember that the word "Suss" followed my wife around for weeks.

There was a study done (because of course there was) on this very phenomena, and it was determined that it was a trick of the mind. Our brains are hard wired to pick out patterns and redundancies. We might hear a word like "Suss" all the time, but it doesn't register, until that one time when it registers, and then we can't NOT hear it.

But Avuncular?

It's a cool word with a very specific definition but it only has so many opportunities to be used in polite conversation.

I don't buy it.

Not that I'm saying there is any direct connection between my satirical take on the birth of my nephew and the death of a king, but we're all only a few degrees from each other, so isn't it possible to assume that my blog, having been read by a total of 12 people might have put the word on someone's lips, someone who might have said "Avuncular" out loud at maybe an airport somewhere that happened to be the same airport that a certain snobby NPR analyst was at as well and he's essentially been waiting an entire week to use that term?

Hmm?

It's not that crazy . . . is it?

So let's run a little test.

Here are five cool words that have no real business in most of our daily lives that I selected at random in the dictionary. Your job . . . if you choose to accept it . . . is to let me know if any of these words pop up in the next week or so, cause if I'm right, and they do, well . . . I don't think it'll change the world . . . but it might make it feel like a cooler place.

First Up: Impugn
Impugn means to call into question or to challenge. It doesn't mean to block up. You can't say "That car accident is impugning my commute." And it's only sorta related to the word Impunity, which is to act without question, like a certain dead king. Calling things into question, with a reasonable amount of politeness, has the advantage of keeping us all honest. A little more impugning and maybe Walmart will start offering health benefits and livable wages.

Second Word: Titillate
I actually love this word. It's so onamonopiaticaly perfect. It means exactly what it sounds like, and exactly what you think it means, and really, is there anything more titillating than boobies?

Third Word: Lassitude
It means weariness. I sip coffee and surf the internet in my morning lassitude. If this one pops up, then I will personally change my business card to read "Professional Word Stylist"

Fourth Word: Sanguine
This one caught me by surprise because I assumed it meant melancholy, but it doesn't. It actually means hopeful. Not to be confused with sanguinary which means blood thirsty, but it is possible, as I consider all the writing I have to do today, in my morning lassitude, that rather than being daunted by the whole process, I can be sanguine about it.

The funny will come.

Fifth Word: Beatitudes
If you didn't grow up going to church, then you probably know this word as being something churchy. If you did grow up going to church then you probably have some vague memory about the beatitudes being something that someone said at one point or another. Hell, you may even know exactly what these are and are comforted by that fact, but for those who don't . . .

So this dude Jesus comes back from 40 days/nights in the wilderness and delivers what is later known as "The Sermon on the Mount" (Starting to sound familiar?)

In that sermon he delivers the eight Beatitudes (Blessed are the poor, the meek, the peacemakers, yaddayaddayadda . . . )

You know what I'm talking about.

If you've forgotten, Google it. Won't take long. It's not a proclamation or a set of laws as much as it is a simple plea to recognize the good in one another. A call for social awareness that has been widely acclaimed to be the most delicately kind of all the major philosophies.

Nietzsche is one of the few people to have negative things to say about them. But he was a dick.

What caught my eye wasn't necessarily the beauty or simplicity (though there's that) or even the hard to miss point that Jesus was a hippy socialist (though there's that too), it was the fact that the Beatitudes get so little air time.

In a world dominated by the dogmatic laws of the Ten Commandments and humorless reactions to the image of the Prophet Muhammad, it really answers the question about what's so funny about peace love and understanding.

I impugn you to consider what might be, if a dead, seemingly avuncular king exhibited even one of Jesus' blessed traits?

What might be, if instead of Brady's deflated balls, we had the Beatitudes on the tips of our tongues?

The thought almost titillates me in my sanguine lassitude.


TBT: Bacon Makes Everything Better

On this day, 1561ish, Sir Francis Bacon was born.

This was an important dude.

I'm not gonna list his accomplishments because . . . frankly . . . if you're reading this then you too have as much access to Wikipedia as I do, and legally/morally I should be listing off source when I write these things . . . but daddy ain't got the time.

One thing I didn't know about him is that he is known as the grandfather of the induction method of reasoning, also known as the Scientific Method, and or course also known as the Baconian Method.

My own Baconian method is to place a sheet of eight slices in the oven and bake it at 385 until it looks crispy, but not too crispy, yet that's a theme for a completely different blog.

And a stolen Simpson's line.

See . . . referrences.

Anyway, when I saw that Francis Bacon was born on this very particular day, one thing came to mind and one thing only . . . 

Wasn't he the guy that some people think wrote a large part of Shakespeare's plays?

The answer is yes.

He's that guy.

People who champion the idea are known as Baconians.

I would've chosen Baconites.

No . . . on second thought . . . I would've gone with Baconeers.

The Baconeer theory has long been shelved, even though there are stll those that consider it feasible (chief among the Baconeers is renowned  english actor Derek Jacoby, who you might know as the good senator in Gladiator). So the Baconeers still have boots on the ground. As it were.

The leading explanation as to why Shakespeare is Shakespeare and not Bacon is because bacon, being the father of empiricism, was also an author, an essayist, an orator, a jurist, a scientist, and served as both the Lord Chancelor and Attorney General.

Based on the amount of phallic insinuations in the first act of Romeo and Juliet, Sir Francis Bacon probably didn't have a lot of time for finely crafted dick jokes.

But the Baconeers still insist that it would have required a man of exceptional genius to do what Shakespeare hath done, cause comedy is really, really hard. 

(Note the finely crafted dick joke) 

Actually the nail in the coffin for the Baconeer Theory isn't in Shakespeare's genius, it's in his mistakes.

His historical accuracy was laughable sometimes, and he had a tendency to put cities in places where they weren't. There's a good chance that Sir Francis Bacon actually owned a map of Italy, and being the father of the scientific method suggests he would have looked at it before placing the town of Verona on the Mediteranian Sea.

(It's landlocked in the north, BTW)

And Shakespeare was, how shall we say it, a little countrified in his time. Perhaps a bit provicial compared to his foul mouthed bretheren. His word choice now is undefiably beautiful, but some of it then, was probably considered downright rube-like.

So, it's a tough road for Baconeers.

But . . . for Baconologists . . . the idea of him not being Shakespeare doeasn't have to be a tragedy. The man gave us science as we know it today.

Bacon put people on the moon.

Shakespeare gave us Keanu Reeves as Don Jon.

"I . . . uh . . . I uh would rather be a canker in a hedge, then, you know, like a rose in his grace. Whoa."

Anyway, Sir Francis died of pnuemonia supposedly while studying the effects of freezing temperatures to preserve meat.

Seriously.

Dude gave his life for the safety of backyard barbecues and even though he was English, I think America owes him a great deal of gratitude for that one fact alone.

Now, unfortunately, National Bacon Day, is already a thing.

It's December 30th, BTW.

So, I propose Bacon Week.

Not a full week.

Just the four days following Martin Luther King Day.

No direct connection . . . it would just be easier to remember.

Of course bacon must be consumed copiously . . . but you have to apply inductive reasoning to your convection ovenings.

Using an "If/Then" hypothesis, and documenting your findings.

"Cause if not now . . . then when?"
Hamlet (sorta)

Whatcha Do All Night? Split Pea Soup

What to Eat Wednesday is a new Wait . . . Dad? Recipe Series . . . cause . . . you know . . . why not? There will be no rhyme or reason other than whatever tasted exceptionally good the previous week, but you may notice I'm a huge fan of quick easy cheap meals that are high in protein, minerals, and fiber, and relatively low on carbs. I say that with the full knowledge that I will be sharing a cast iron lasagna recipe very soon which meets none of the previously mentioned criteria. Since it's new, please send along feedback about either the format or the recipes themselves or share with me your meals that you want me to try. Thanks . . . 

Split Pea Super Soup
Ingredients:
1 Cup Dried Split Peas
1 Chicken Breast
2 Cups Kale (Shredded finely, no stems)
4 Cups Water

Seasoning:
Salt
Olive oil
Hot Stuff.

Okay, so maybe Split Pea Soup isn't everyone's idea of comfort meal. In fact, it has all the trappings of room temperature baby food out of those little glass jars. I remember opening those jars and smelling that faint musty smell and thinking "My god, how can this child eat this?" But . . . luckily . . . it was one of his faves before he learned about M&Ms and for a while was the only thing he'd eat. That was nearly a decade ago.

So flashing a bit forward, I was tasked to pick up some lentils in the dried food section of my grocery store and since I clearly think of myself as the kind of person who can easily identify a barrel of lentils without looking at the labels, I came home with a two pound bag of split peas.

They were so vibrantly green, I just assumed they were the freshest lentils available.

And they were so big too.

Big, vibrant green, fresh lentils.

And then I started boiling them, and instead of swelling up like lentils do, these got soft and mushy and fell apart.

I realized I had discovered a new food.

Or these weren't lentils at all. These were split peas.

I don't know how to cook split peas.

But not wanting to back down, especially with an In&Out Burger so close if everything fails, I made it all up as I went along, and it turned out damn good. Like the kind of good that you consider making this a "once a year" kinda meal. But it's so simple, so cheap, and I have a two pound bag of the stuff, so . . . anyway: Here's how to do it.

The Meat: Chicken is pretty straightforward. I like to sear each side in a pan and then place the chicken in an oven safe thingumabob @ 385 for 45 minutes. It's best to overcook chicken, cause . . . you know . . . death. The potential for dryness is why I add it to the soup rather than making it a side dish. The important thing about chicken is that anything that touches anything that touches anything that touched the chicken, in it's raw form, is likely to kill you. And it's not a peaceful death either. Make sure you clean and sanitize everything in a hundred yard area. Have a tank of gasoline and a blowtorch ready as well. Remove from oven, chop into pieces.

The Split Peas: Add water to a pot, bring to a boil, add peas, turn heat to simmer. Wait until mushy. (About 27 minutes and 32 seconds.)

The Leafy Greens: I used to be a spinach man. Squinty Eyed Popeye. But the problem with spinach is that it too can kill you, it wilts to nothing when heated, and I can never seem to get through an entire bag without it getting slimy. Kale does none of that. It's my new bestie. Simply take a stalk, rip the leafy stuff from the fibrous spine, and shred the leafy stuff finely. Toss the stalk. Good to go.

(Warning: Trader Joe's has a bag of pre-shredded kale which sounds like a great idea, but they didn't remove the stalk from the goos stuff, and it has a weird smell. Don't buy it.)

Assembly: Once the chicken is cooked and shredded, mix it into the mushy pea soup (the soup should be a little watery, if not add some) Once the chicken is mixed in, then add the kale on top and cover the pot with a lid so that the steam can soften the leaves. Wait 6 minutes and 13 seconds, uncover, stir and serve.

Additions/Substitutions: You can probably use any meat you like. Pork is a nice choice, as are bacon bits. Especially bacon bits. Fish is probably a bad choice. But "Via Con Dios" Anyway . . . you can use spinach instead of kale, but you'll have to use a lot and it will get super wilty/slimy and split peas have enough gross textures as it is. Add salt wherever you like. You can add it to the water for the peas, you can add it to the chicken before you cook it, you can even add it to the whole pot once it's assembled. I suggest letting people add whatever salt they want. Garlic salt is ridiculously fantastic on this dish.

Also: Hot sauce, pepper flakes, what ever your spicy tolerance is. Again, leave it to the end user to apply such things.

Try not to have any left overs. (I know that sounds counter intuitive) but for some reason, cold split pea soup looks kinda gross and it has to be reheated on the stove (not the microwave) in order to heat evenly. Gross looking and complicated to cook does not make for a convenient lunch.

Serves 4ish (with bread)
Cost per serving: $2.00 (without bread)
Time: Is of the essence.
Via Con Dios means Go With God.