I realized it was time for bed when one party goer — who shall remain nameless — started meandering around my living room with a large bottle of distilled sugar cane in one hand. Periodically, and with great insistence, he issued what he evidently felt was an urgent query:
“Are you a pirate?”
The existential conundrum was swiftly followed by a confident declaration:
“Because I am! I’m a pirate.”
The individual in question then proceeded to tip back the bottle of tawny and empty a goodly quantity of its contents into his gaping maw, after which he would offer whichever person, dog or plant that happened to be in his line of sight, “a pull.”
Being of Irish and Scottish descent, this wasn’t my first time at the rodeo, of course. When I invited a few friends over to sample a batch of homemade beer that our friend John had brewed up (I occasionally stirred a pot of barley and kind of babysat thermometers while John and Stephen did the dirty work) and toast to Stephen’s birthday, I was prepared for the usual outbursts of emotion, song and dance that often accompany strong drink. I stocked up on carbohydrates, proteins and sugar; I proffered bacon and cheese pretzels, lasagna and of course, my favorite chocolate cake (courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated — yum!)
I even found something that the men and children could beat with sticks when they became cranky: a pinata. I’m going to start bringing them with me to family reunions, weddings and funerals, and the second things start heading south, as they inevitably do, wah-la: Pinata time!
After demolishing the contents of the pinata, my fridge and our batch of Brown Ale (which we decided was good, but not great — next time we’re trying a lager), some of the heartier souls found their way to our liquor cabinet, and my secret back-up stash of pretzels and dip. The pirates set sail. A tiny, but extremely heartfelt and fervent dance party to power 80’s music ensued. Air guitars were proffered, high kicks were executed with far too little attention to form, high fives were issued and frequently missed.
Shortly before surrendering to my wiser instincts and heading to bed, I found myself dancing with Stephen and Penny to Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” and sharing one last piece of decadent chocolate birthday cake.
I woke up to discover a superannuated back scratcher carved in the shape of a tiny hand waving to me just outside our bedroom; I found photographs, strangely askew on our shelves; one half of a pinata smiling in a rather threatening manner on my multimedia shelving rack, the other half was spewing candy from its keister on my little dining table; there were dishes to be done, beer glass rings to scrub, and yes, over-served victims of the previous night’s more ambitious and enthusiastic beverage and snack enthusiasts.
What does one prepare for the over-served? Hair of the dog? Black coffee? Burnt toast? After many years of long and bitter experience on Sundays following large gatherings with my brethren, I’ve found that those “solutions” either merely delay (hair of the dog) the symptoms of an overtaxed, toxic liver attempting to emerge from the boozy brine it’s pickling in, or just makes the sufferer even more jumpy and jittery (coffee), or just taste bad and irritate the already tetchy (burnt toast).
What does work? Time, water, the cysteine in eggs (it breaks down the toxin acetaldehyde), a bit of protein for energy, and foods high in vitamin C, B and potassium.
Below, check out my recipes for Bacon-Fridge Veg Pasta and Random Poultry Hash.
Bacon-Fridge Veg Pasta
Makes 4 servings
- 1 TBSP butter
- 2 strips bacon, minced
- 1/2 small onion, minced
- 1 medium carrot, minced
- 1 stalk celery, minced
- 1/2 cup corn (frozen is fine)
- 1 cup canned whole tomatoes, crushed
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, whole
- 12 ounces whole wheat pasta
- salt and pepper to taste
- red pepper flakes, to taste
- 1 ounce Pecorino Romano, grated, plus more for sprinkling
- Prepare pasta according to package directions, and set aside, reserving 1/2 cup boiling water. (The water is nice and starchy from the pasta so it’s better for thickening sauces than regular water).
- Melt butter until bubbling and just slightly brown in medium sauce pan. Add bacon and cook until golden, but not totally cooked through.
- Add onions, carrots, celery, corn and cook until soft and turning golden, about 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste as you go.
- Add cherry tomatoes and cook until a few pop, about 3 minutes. Add tomato puree and cook until warm through.. Add cooked pasta, pasta water and cheese and cook until the cheese is melted and the pasta is warm. Garnish with more cheese, if desired.
Nutritional Breakdown for Bacon-Fridge Veg Pasta: About 450 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving. Full of Vitamin C, fiber-rich whole grains; a good source of protein, too.
Cost Breakdown for Bacon-Fridge Veg Pasta: About $1.50 a serving.
Verdict / In the Future: I’m agnostic on the corn. I like the added touch of sweetness, but I think I will eliminate it next time and go for a more traditional, straight-forward basic fresh veg pasta.
Random Poultry Hash
Makes 4 servings
- 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, chopped into bite-size pieces and boiled in salted water until fork tender, about 15 minutes.
- 2 TBSP butter, 2 TBSP olive oil, separated
- 1 strip bacon, minced
- 6-8 ounces of leftover, cooked poultry. Turkey, chicken, duck, whatever. In a pinch I’ll use beef or ham too. Cut it into bite-size pieces.
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced fine
- 1 stalk celery, diced fine
- 4 eggs
- salt, pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, fresh garden herbs, hot sauce, soy sauce to taste
- Melt butter and warm 1 TBSP oil in large saucepan. Add bacon and cook until golden, but not cooked through.
- Add onions, carrots and celery and cook until soft.
- Add potatoes and poultry, mixing, stirring and frying over medium-high heat so everything is warmed through and developes a nice, flavorful brown crust. Season as you go to taste.
- Meanwhile, crack eggs into teacups to keep them separate. Heat up remaining oil in large skillet and, when hot, add eggs, salt and pepper to taste and fry until crispy on the edges and the yolk is cooked to your liking. (I love it a bit leaky). Serve over hash.
Nutritional Breakdown for Random Poultry Hash: About 500 calories and 17 grams of fat. Full of toxin-busting proteins and rich, butter-soaked carbs. Loaded with protein.
Cost Breakdown for Random Poultry Hash: This is a total fridge-cleaner — about $1 a serving.
Verdict / In the Future: In ideal world, I would have had fingerling potatoes hanging around, and a better mix of veg; it would have been a healthier, but equally decadent meal … but this one did the job.