dad from day one: Pickles and Ice Cream

Thirty-four weeks.

So the legend goes, pregnant women get crazy cravings for weird food combinations.  The token pairing of pickles and ice cream has become so familiar that it’s now a swanky maternity clothing store.  But is it a funny cliché or simply a reality?  For us, it’s the real deal.

Though my wife has not once dealt with morning sickness throughout the pregnancy, she has definitely battled leg cramps.  Of course, I’ve documented how she’s overcome them, by giving her body a surplus of the nutrients the baby is taking.  Yet since then, as our baby has been getting much bigger, the discovery of pickles (which provide electrolytes) and ice cream (which provides calcium) has helped ensure those leg cramps are kept at bay.

And hey, I’ve got no complaints.  Last Friday night we had to make an “ice cream run” after dinner at the house.  She chose a box of fat free Vanilla frozen yogurt, while I chose a low fat French Silk Chocolate.  As usual, she liked mine better.  Her secret to eating low fat ice cream is this- add two spoons of peanut butter and a little Hershey’s Syrup.  Some might think this defeats the purpose of low fat ice cream.  We’d rather live in ignorant bliss.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

Pickles Make for Good Reading Material- Episode 5

If the only way you could eat any meat was by actually killing the animal yourself, would you still be a carnivore?

hunting-the-trail

I am aware that I am a hypocrite. Because if I could only eat the meat of animals that I killed myself, I would dang near be a vegetarian. Fish don’t really make sounds or look at me, so I could kill them. And eggs. Plus they don’t have to suffer such a violent death as noise-making, blood-spilling cattle, chickens, turkeys, and pigs.

The thought of eating the veins, muscles, and fat of what was recently a living being is so weird. But still for every lunch and most dinners, I eat a meal consisting of cut-up chunks of animal flesh. And aside from the act of slaughtering an animal, there’s the cleaning and processing of the carcass.

The only animals I have a desire to kill are the ones that want to kill me. And so far no grizzly bears, killer wolves, rabid foxes, spitting cobras, or hoof-punching deer have tried to attack me. Just mosquitoes. And they deserve to die because they’re trying to steal my blood. And blood is life. They are trying to kill me; therefore they deserve to die.

When it comes down to it, I’m a vegetarian at heart. Just not in action. The main reason I’m not a practicing vegetarian is because I don’t see how that would be a practical lifestyle.

snail

We plan so much of our lives around eating. When people get together for more than a few hours, a meal is often involved. What if I went to dinner at someone’s house and they grilled out hamburgers for me and there was no salad available? What would I eat, just a bun with ketchup and onions and pickles?

Often vegetarians eat portabella mushrooms instead of meat. Maybe I could do that with pickles. Put a slab of pickles in between two buns. I can see it now, taking the nation by storm: Pickle Burgers, because…

pickleburger_large

“If you don’t hear that crunch, then it ain’t worth the munch!’

Pickles Make for Good Reading Material Table of Contents:

Episode 1 http://wp.me/pxqBU-1X
Episode 2 http://wp.me/pxqBU-20
Episode 3 http://wp.me/pxqBU-26
Episode 4 http://wp.me/pxqBU-4o
Episode 5 http://wp.me/pxqBU-ef

Icebreaker for Conversation: Would You Forever Trade All Home Cooked Meals for Infinite Free Meals at Restaurants?

Pickles Make for Good Reading Material- Episode 4

Something strange happens when a guy realizes he has married a wonderful cook: the desire to eat at restaurants starts going away. I began noticing that I was having trouble deciding what to order from the menu when we went out. Not necessarily because the items weren’t presented well or because there were too many things to choose from, but simply because what I would want to order was something my wife made perfectly a few days before, and it just didn’t make sense to overpay for too much of something I can get at home anyway.

In the likeness of Brewster’s Millions and Super Size Me, I had a thought. What would happen if I was made this offer by a magical Eastern European man: For the rest of my life, I would have completely free access to any restaurant in the world, but that was the only way I could get food for the rest of my life.

It would be pretty awesome, no longer having to pay for groceries. No more cooking, no more doing dishes, no more trips to the grocery store. Whatever I was in the mood for, I would simply go to that restaurant and order it. Every meal. Free. At my command. And I wouldn’t have to tip. In fact, the restaurants wouldn’t let me if I tried.

All that money saved on food.

But most restaurants aren’t open 24 hours. So for holidays I would have to order food to-go to plan for future meals. And part of the stipulation is this: If the restaurant doesn’t sell it, I can’t eat it or drink it. No more trail mix. No more Cliff Bars. No more homemade cookies.

If I wanted 4 pickles at once, I would have to go to a place that gave me a pickle spear on the side of the sandwich like McAllister’s Deli does, then specially ask for 3 more. But those pickles are the bland kind.  I like my pickles so spicy that it clears my sinuses.

Or I’d have to order fried pickles from a German restaurant. But I don’t always feel like eating fried pickles. There’s something unmatchable about the sensory involvement of reaching down into the cold yellow vinegar water of a pickle jar.

I would kindly tell the magical Eastern European man “thanks, but no thanks”. Then he would disappear instantly. But I would immediately feel a brief, cold breeze rush past my shoulder. That was the magical Eastern European man, symbolizing both the rejection he felt and the depravity that a “restaurant only” lifestyle would have brought me. No more “covered dish dinners” at family reunions in the basement of my grandmother’s house at Thanksgiving means no more deviled eggs. Bogus.

old man

Missed Episode 3?  It’s right here…

https://nickshell1983.wordpress.com/2009/09/09/pickles-make-for-good-reading-material-episode-3/

Pickles Make for Good Reading Material- Episode 3

At some point in most people’s lives, they receive an unlabeled manila envelope in the mail.  They open the envelope only to find an unmarked VHS tape.  Then they struggle to find their VHS player underneath a bunch of stuff in the junk closet.  They play the tape.


 

A sophisticated man in a tweed jacket with a pipe tucked in the pocket introduces himself.  He explains to the viewer that also in the envelope is a check for $50,000.  The catch is that the money has to be spent within one month and it can’t be used for charity, vehicles, electronics, clothing, Internet investments, advertising for the intent of profit, food, home repairs or upgrades, education, medical bills, or gifts for other people.  The man in the video admits that he really liked the 1985 movie Brewster’s Millions which he is basically stealing the concept from, just on a smaller budget.


 

When that day comes in my own life, I have already decided how I will spend the $50,000.  Though the rules clearly stated I can’t use the money for advertising with the intent of profit, it didn’t mention advertising with no intentions of profit.  I would purchase “deep thinking” billboard signs.  The content of the sign would be designed to encourage deep thinking and healthy conversation for passers-by.


 

The first idea I have for a billboard would be one that said, “There are 3 words in the English language that end in ‘gry’.  ‘Hungry’ and ‘angry’ are the first 2.  What is the third one?”  This is a riddle someone got from an e-mail forward back in 1998 that they read to me.  After several years of trying to figure it out, I realized that there must be no 3rd word.  So that would probably make a pretty good billboard to keep people’s minds going.


 

I have mentioned before that I want to punch teenage boys in the face that wear those annoying, pointless, attention-grabbing t-shirts that can be found in the $9 section at Wal-Mart.  Smart Alec comments like “I’m out of my mind.  Be back tomorrow.”  Or the shirt that has a camouflage design but has neon orange letters that say “You can’t see me”.  However, there are some I made up that would work pretty well on a billboard.  To be driving down the interstate, and see a billboard that reads “What?”  Or “You tell me.”  That would be alright.


 

But my favorite billboard to try out would be one with a giant pickle where the middle had been hollowed out with a knife.  The caption would read:  “Welcome to Pickle Holler.”  This would cause people to engage in a healthy debate with others in the car.  Some would say it means that they are passing through a country neighborhood called Pickle Hollow but because of the cultural language difference the word “hollow” is pronounced “holler”.  Others would realize that the picture is a play on words because the pickle has been hollowed out.


pickle-sickle

Pickles Make for Good Reading Material- Episode 2

 

There’s nothing like that childhood feeling of hearing the campy music of an ice cream truck coming near.  So much excitement, so much anticipation.  Everyone loves delicious ice cream.  But just because ice cream is universally the best thing a kid can get from a travelling salesman, it doesn’t mean that other good things can’t be sold in these trucks as well.  Obviously.  There are also Book-Mobiles.

But what else?  One of the best questions in the world that often goes unanswered is this:  Why not Pickle-Mobiles?  What a perfect idea when people are grilling out in the neighborhood.  The Pickle Truck pulls up just in time!  The perfect accessory for the perfect burger.

BBQ pickles.  Mustard pickles.  Cheese-filled pickles.  Candied pickles.  Super Sour pickles.  Frozen pickles.  Beef jerky flavored pickles.  Vanilla pickles.  Tossed salad pickles (comes with Ranch tipping sauce).  Caffeinated pickles.

In neighborhoods where the Pickle Truck really proves to be the most successful, a pickle buffet would also be incorporated into the event.  This would play up to the international, regional, and dietary preferences regarding the love of pickles.  The options would include, but not be limited to the following…

Aspartickle:  Pickle sweetened with Aspartame, causing it to have fewer carbohydrates but still leaves the person feeling like they should have just got the pickle they really wanted because artificial sweeteners will never really be the same thing as sugar.

Fiberickle:  Pickle coated in flax seed to ensure regularity.

Mexickle:  Pickle wrapped in a burrito with refried beans.

Chinickle:  Pickle fried in a doughy batter that causes the person to still be hungry after eating it.

Heart of Dixickle:  Pickle deep fried in sausage bits, dipped in A-1, then wrapped in a buttermilk pancake.

Wickle:  Pickle with a chicken wing bone surgically planted inside, to give the feel of eating a chicken wing.

pickle_detail

Giving in to the Addiction of Pickles

Pickles Make for Good Reading Material- Episode 1

Sunday night as I looked in the refrigerator for a delightful snack, a jar of Texas Pete pickles caught my eye. Much of the time, if I start eating pickles out of the jar, I end up consuming about 1/3 of the pickles before I can stop. And it’s not uncommon for my digestive system to reject them shortly afterwards. But I still go back a few weeks later and do it again, every time.

But this particular night, the sight of only three pickles left floating in that green water actually took me back to science class in college. I thought of the weird animal fetuses I saw in jars in the back closet, feeling bad for even looking at them. So I didn’t eat the pickles Sunday night.

Twice a year I eat an anchovy pizza, for good measure. Tonight was the night. Anchovies, onions, and jalapenos. The owner of the brick oven pizza restaurant delivered the pizza personally to my table and told me I am the 5th person ever to actually order anchovy pizza in all his years of running his local chain of restaurants. The combination of anchovies, onions, and jalapenos combined really gives a pickle sort of flavor. I call it Pickle Pizza.

So for the times I am tempted to eat 1/3 of a jar of pickles, I just have to remind myself: Pickle pizza!

How to Hang Out with Friends and Have Fun

 

An instinct we had as kids is that we always knew how to hang out, without a plan or agenda. In the way that Adam and Eve were not at first aware of their nakedness, we used to have the blessing of being unaware of social awkwardness and social cues. It’s an ability that began to escape us sometime around junior high. When I was a kid, it didn’t matter which friend I was hanging out with after school or spending the night with, we never got bored or recognized that we were about to run out of activities or subjects to talk about.

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that as kids we knew “how to play”. Though I may not be a girl, I remember my sister and her friends always seemed to be playing “House”. Females socialize. Males, on the other hand, compete.

As boys we would go outside, often to the woods, to play out some sort of good guys/bad guys scenario. Our version of “Cops and Robbers” was more like Ninja Turtles Vs. Shredder. Bikes and water balloons were often part of the plan. When we got tired, we’d go inside and play Nintendo until we had regained enough energy to initiate a wrestling match on the carpet. And there was the trampoline too. Hours of fun.

But as adults, we don’t use “playing” anymore as the main way to interact with our friends.

It’s not as simple as an adult just to tell a friend, “Let’s hang out at my house after work today”. In many cases, the hanging out is done outside of the home. Instead of playing like we did as kids, adults talk and “catch up”. But there is always a staple to bring the people together. It may be sharing a meal, going to watch a game or movie, or a showing up at a party associated with a holiday or sports event.

But the most simple and common thing I see is people going out for coffee, beer, or wine. The drink serves as a campfire. In the same way people gather around a campfire and find comfort in it with those around them, a drink of choice magically sets the fertile environment for good conversation no matter the location. If by chance the friends find themselves in a noticeably quiet moment, it’s easy to fall back on the easy conversation piece: “Starbucks is wonderful”, “Good beer”, or “I love this wine.” Obviously it’s good. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be the modern day campfire.

The one exception and yet another reason to love Paul Rudd in a bromantic situation…