Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Slump Day

I took my ten-year-old daughter to see Taylor Swift in concert last night.  It's sort of a weird experience to  feel pure delight in watching your daughter revel in what is clearly a pre-teen blast at the same time as feeling decidedly OLD.  If the average age at this concert was 18, then it was skewed by the likes of me.  Nor did it help to realize that the icon on the stage was born 4 years after I graduated from college.  I suppose I should take some comfort that if Ms. Swift follows the typical trajectory of the young and famous, when she's my age she'll be on her 4th husband and her 5th trip to rehab.  But I'm not so sure.  Given the 20,000 screaming 6th-grade girls that filled last night's arena, it seems that the true hallmark of success is to be able to belt out a pop hit in a size 4 body while you flip back your blond curly tresses.  I fall decidedly short of that standard.  Indeed, even my daughter shook her head in disdain at my efforts to rock with the rest of the crowd.  She kindly advised that not only was I embarrasing her, but more importantly, I was embarrassing myself.  Ouch.

It didn't help when I woke up this morning to find that once again, inexplicably, I had significantly aged overnight.  It seems to happen about 3 or 4 times a year, although recently I've noticed that it is occurring with increasing frequency.  It's the damnest thing.  You go to bed with one face and body and the next day you wake up with someone else's--and it's not Taylor Swift's. No.  It's someone with a few more wrinkles, a slacker jawline, and someone who has mysterious dark spots that simply can't be written off anymore as "freckles."  Sigh.  And perhaps the worst thing when I am feeling fat, lumpy, and uninspired, is that I cook the same way.  It's a day to make stuffed peppers.   They've been around FOREVER--sort of like me.

Stuffed Peppers

1.  Take one pound of ground beef and toss into it the following:  2 handfuls of rice, about a 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, about 2 Tbs of parsley flakes, and one egg.  Don't bothering measuring--as I've come to realize at this point in life, in the end, it doesn't really matter.   Mix well. 

2.  Slice the heads off 5 large bell peppers--about 1/2 inch from the top.  Cut out the seedy innards of the pepper.

3.  Stuff each pepper about 3/4 full with the meat mixture.  Don't overstuff them; they expand when cooking and will burst open if you do so.  Place the heads back on each pepper to sort of seal the pepper.

4.    Stand the peppers in a saucepan that will just fit them.  It's ok to squish them in a little; if they move around too much all the stuffing falls out, which as I think about it, is pretty much the same principle as exercise. 

5.  Pour two 27-oz cans of tomato puree around the peppers and set the pan over a medium-low heat to bring to a slow simmer.  The puree should come up to just below the tops of the peppers.

6.  In a separate pan, saute until transculent 1/2 of one onion, and then gently stir into the puree surrounding the peppers.

7.  Go ahead and toss in two cloves of garlic; it's in the refrigerator anyway.

8.  If there is any leftover meat mixture, form it into small meatballs (about the size of a quarter) and drop them into the puree.

9.  Continue to simmer, and after about 30 minutes check the consistency of the sauce.  If it's horribly runny, add a can of tomatoe paste.

10.  Serve each pepper over a generous helping of white rice and smother it with the sauce.  Pour yourself a large glass of wine and think about how you know you're old when you actually LOVE stuffed peppers instead of feeding them to the dog like when you were a kid.

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