Fathers Day

fathersday-kipner-shhSome men BBQ ribs. Others grill hearty steaks or shrimp with an array of specialty South American hot sauces. My dad, however, does not. He holds myriad talents, but cooking is not one of them. Or, so I was led to believe.

Since I was old enough to ask for dinner, my dad has continually told my brother and me that he can’t cook. "Lizzie!" he'd yell to my mom, "Quick! The kids need some food!" His panic palpable and contagious. Before long, we’d all be yelling for our mom’s swift and seemingly effortless intervention. Initially, she tried to tell him to make it himself, but each time he would make it so poorly - too much butter, too little jam, toast with too burned edges - that we decided we would never ask him to make anything again. Even the simplest jobs would go awry. "Oops!" he'd exclaim with questionable enthusiasm from the kitchen. "I've charcoaled the popcorn again!"

Realizing his efforts would cause more cleanup than help, my generous mom (who admittedly loves to pamper those whom she loves) began a routine of breakfast in bed that she’d never be able to get out of. Once my mom spoils you, there’s no going back. “Lizzie!” he’d call out from their room, desperate for more attention. It became an addiction, this attention. It was like crack. “WMC?”

We came to understand “WMC” to be an acronym for “Where’s my coffee?”

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bbq sauce
With Father's Day coming up it was time to consider what barbecue sauce we are going to use to slather-up the "man food". This one is definitely in the running!! This was also a great way to reuse my Republic of Jam jars...I love them. Anyway, this sauce is pretty awesome and it keeps a definite taste of Dr. Pepper...I love that. The ancho chile powder also adds a nice depth of flavor. Make this for the man in your life....he will love it. Oh yeah...the women will like it too.



 Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce
Adapted from Saveur

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion, minced
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 (12 ounce) can Dr. Pepper soda

Heat butter in a 4 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onions; cook until soft, 4-6 minutes. Add ketchup, vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire, paste, chile, salt and pepper and soda; bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, about 30 minutes.

– Recipe courtesy of The Noble Pig

cartoon-of-dad-and-babyI have never purchased a Father’s Day card...never had to! Once, I jokingly told my mother I was going to give her a Father’s Day card, as she served as both my mom and dad, but she asked me to buy her a Manhattan instead. She was a great ol’ broad! Jim Beam 1, Hallmark 0.

My father left the family before I could remember him ever being a part of it, so two capable women – my mother and grandmother raised me. There were only a few times while growing up that I felt an uncomfortable absence of a father in my daily life, yet I harbored no ill feelings toward that “missing person.”

That can of worms was opened on June 5th, 1987, the day I became the father of a beautiful baby boy, named Matthew, and when resentment and deep disappointment toward my father bubbled to the surface. How could anyone not want to be a part of something as special and important as caring for his child?

Feeling unprepared for fatherhood and seeking the wisdom I was certain I’d missed without a “man around the house,” I joined a men’s group called “Sons Without Fathers.” After my very first session the moderator took me aside and told me how lucky I was that my dad wasn’t around. The rest of the “father-less bunch” had had their sperm donors living in their homes with them, but were emotionally absent. They were there and yet not there, which I can imagine is even more hurtful. I left the group a couple sessions later feeling sympathy for the men, but not enough in common to stay. Plus, I came to realize it’s not about the proximity, but rather input.

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sunshining.jpglaraine_newman_cameo.jpgYou want to know just how wonderful my husband is? Well, in 2004 my dad died and my grief was crushing. I gained 40 lbs. and cried at the drop of a hat for about 2 years.  Chad got a .mac account in my dad's name and starting emailing me as my dad during certain milestones like my birthday.  Not only did Chad completely capture my dad's way of speaking, but he kept up the derisive insinuations my dad would make about him just to make me laugh. Notice how he refers to Chad as 'what's his name' and 'Chaz'.

My dad's nickname for me was Pie. I don't know why. I still miss my dad terribly, but the pain isn't as bad anymore. These emails my husband writes are so vivid and represent my dad's sensibility so accurately, that for a brief moment, he is with me again.  How lucky can ya get?

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robin_sm.jpgAt six years old, I sat down after Sunday morning cartoons and wrote my very first story.  The illustrations were nothing to speak of, but the premise went something like this:

Bugs Bunny becomes a priest and takes over my parish church, Good Shepherd. 

Unexpectedly, he looks very sharp in a vestment.  He delivers a sermon that lasts only one minute long, and then Mass is over.  From the pulpit, a carrot is loudly, unabashedly chewed.  Before we all genuflect and skedaddle, one young lady is called forth from the congregation (myself, of course.)  And in an exercise of Divine intervention, Bugs makes an exception for me, little two-more-years-till-communion me, and lets me taste the sacramental wafer.  The end.

I gave the story to my father, a British Catholic in the tradition of Evelyn Waugh, and he loved it.  At a time when he mainly intimidated me (his accent, his suits and cigars, his bowls of spicy radishes) I found in his appreciation of this story a common thread for the two of us to hang onto. 

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