Archive for March, 2011

My Funny/Yummy Food 4 Thought Column 10

March 22, 2011

                  Night of the Living Deadbeats

 When I was 13, I delivered the New Haven Register to 60 customers and neither rain, nor blizzards, nor outbreaks of acne prevented the semi-swift completion of my appointed rounds.

That paper route taught me responsibility, money management and most importantly, how to fold a newspaper so you can toss it. This skill comes in handy later on in life when, when…okay, so it never comes in handy.

 I remember my crush on an older woman of 15 named, Lorraine DiNicola and, of course, I remember “The Living Deadbeats!” Ah-oooooo. Even now, as I write their name, the wind whips up, my skin crawls and my mind reels with recollection –or should I say “collection” because that’s the mistake I made on Friday evening: thinking I could collect a blasted penny from the biggest deadbeats on earth or under it. Ah-oooooo!

THEIR house on Church Street was shrouded in darkness as black as newsprint and the news itself. It was a home where collection hope faded and the welcome mat was buried alive under dunning letters, court orders, and hundreds of notices stamped: “FINAL NOTICE BEFORE IMPENDING LEGAL ACTION.”  It was the home of Igor Genetti and his horrifically cheap wife, Mrs. Ginnetti. Ah-oooo!

Whenever she appeared, I knew I was doomed to an eternity of excuses and postponements.  Each week, what stories rose from her painfully thin and purple lips…

“I don’t have any change.”

“I couldn’t get to the bank.”

“I couldn’t cash my paycheck.”

“I don’t have anything smaller than a hundred”

“I just sent my kid to the store with all my money”

“I mistakenly glued my wallet shut”

“We were just robbed”

And so forth. 

Mrs. Genetti would ask me to come back on Monday. I’d stop by on Monday and she’d tell me to come back on Wednesday. On Wednesday she’d say we were close to Friday, which was payday so why didn’t I stop by then? And, of course, on Friday, she’d tell me to come back on Monday and we’d start all over.  

This routine would sometimes last six to eight to 10 weeks, which would mean the bill would rise and rise until she’d decide to pay and ask how much it was and I’d have to say “$14 dollars.” Boy, would she howl then! “$14 dollars?!  No way! I’m not paying you $14 dollars. It can’t be more than 2 weeks. Igor…”

This was the signal for Igor Ginetti—part-time fiend and full-time accomplice—to appear and say things like, “Vot are you trying to do, suck the blood out of us, drive a stake through our hearts, send us to an early grave?!” Ah-oooo!”

With trembling hands, I’d try to fight back. I’d hold up my accounting ledger with eight weeks of records in it. At first, they recoiled at its sight. Then, like stale garlic, or a bent cross, the effect of the ledger wore off and The Living Deadbeats would laugh in the face of it. “Ha, ha, ha, do you think you can harm us with your sketchy records, paper boy? We’ve drawn blood from department stores, collection agencies, and Small Claims Court. We don’t fear your little ledger. Ahoooooo!”

What could I do? I invariably caved and told them to pay me for two weeks. It was a coward’s way out, but I did live to deliver the Register and fight another day. Besides, I still had to collect at Lorraine DiNicola’s house and maybe tonight she’d be home alone and I could finally tell her what I’d be meaning to say forever… “Y…your family owes for eight weeks!”  

                                                 EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA LASAGNA        
“EXTRA EXTRA eat all about it. Writer invents new dish and shares recipe with readers hungry for something new and delicious. When asked to comment, Ardito said, ‘This is a classic combination of two all time greats. Imagine regular luscious eggplant parmigiana layered with scrumptious lasagna noodles? People have to try it and yes, it takes time to make, but I don’t care how full your plate is, you gotta’ put some of this on it. Its EXTRA EXTRA good!’”
What Youza Need  (for two casseroles)
2 large peeled eggplants
2  casserole dishes (8” x 8”?)
2 16 oz cans of Italian crushed tomatoes

4 sheets of lasagna noodles cooked in boiling, salted
 water 4 minutes only

¾ cup parmesan cheese

1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella

2 cups or so olive oil

2 to 3 cloves minced garlic

½ cup parsley, chopped

3 tbsp oregano

Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste

1 tbsp garlic powder

7 leaves fresh basil

2 bay leaves

1 medium onion, chopped

6 eggs (for eggplant wash)

1 ½ to 2 ½ cups flour

1 cup red wine

What Youza Do

Lotsa short cuts here. First, fergetabout salting the eggplant. Also, don’t fry the eggplant in olive oil on top of the stove. Baking it in the oven is easier, faster and a bit healthier. Slice the eggplant into ¼” rounds. Cut extra large rounds in two. Take two large sheet pans (with sides), spread olive oil lightly over  bottoms. Now, you’re ready for the egg/flour wash. Beat eggs in large soup bowl, add salt and pepper. Add flour to another large soup bowl and season with salt and pepper. Dip each round of eggplant in egg wash (both sides), then dip the round in the flour (both sides). Put eggplant on pan and fill both pans that way. When done, salt and pepper them (yes again) and sprinkle on oregano. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Flip eggplant once and remove when golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Lower oven to 325°.

Make marinara sauce. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in 2 qt pan, fry out onions until translucent, add garlic for 10 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, 2 tbsp oregano, basil, bay leaves, garlic powder, wine and simmer for ½ hr.

Put sauce in bottom of casserole dish. Add layer of eggplant, add parmesan cheese, mozzarella, layer of lasagna noodles and more sauce. Add another layer of eggplant and repeat process. Should make 3 or 4 layers with no more than 3 layers of lasagna noodles, but 2 may do just fine. Put sauce on very top, parmesan on top of that. Make other casserole, bake both at 325° for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melted and casseroles are bubbling. Yum and thensome!