12/31/13

Craig Griffin

Booze Letter
a selection from Eat, Knucklehead: A Cookbook

Eat, Knucklehead is a cookbook by Craig Griffin written as a series of letters from a father to his twenty-something son, accompanied by letter comics drawn by the mother. It will be released by Publishing Genius in October of next year. Here's an excerpt.

Hey Knucklehead, it’s your old man just sitting here living the high life. Thought I’d spare a minute and hoist a cold one to my favorite idiot and best goddamn pal. This one’s to you, kid aw crap I spilled and this is the good shirt sonuvaBITCH I’ll be right back—

Your mother says I have to finish the letter in my undershirt and I said fine it’s not like I don’t have something else to keep me warm and then she handed me the Beam just to keep me good and toasty. I love your mom so much, pal. I just stood up and danced around a bit celebrating how much I love the ole girl. She caught me, though, and she had that look in her eye makes me think my dance-floor magic is gonna be the subject of one of her letter comics. What a goddamn treat for you. Rarely am I caught mid-step. Thanks to your mom, someday my dancing form will be cave-painting famous as a glimpse of life today in the middle of the civilized world. Cha cha cha.

I die grass.

Sorry about earlier, waking you up. Sounded pretty rough. Considering it was eleven thirty in the goddam morning, I don’t feel too bad. Though I guess the fact that I was just calling to shoot shit and without any real purpose puts the blame squarely back on my steady shoulders. That’s okay. I felt for ya, kid, sure did. Just like that time you wrecked your bike. You walked in the house bleeding, your elbows and knees all cut up. You were in pain, but you were angry. I asked you what you did with the bike. “I left it there. I’m never riding it again,” you said. Remember, every time you say “I’m Never Drinking Again” another angel gets their eye blackened.

I bet it was fun, though. You get any numbers? Puke on anything valuable? Anybody throw their drink in your face? I once threw a drink in Uncle Dugger’s face just for the gas of throwing a drink in someone’s face. It’s probably more special when there’s actually a reason, though it’s hard to guess at what reason’s solid enough to justify wasting all that precious booze. If it’s really bad, a wad of spit or your open hand works. Better yet, knock your glasses together, curse the government and get the fuck over it. Easier said than done, I suppose. Part of me wishes Uncle Mac had just thrown his drink on me all those New Years ago, rather than, you know, tossing me all around the room like a goddamn puppet and then throwing me through the screen door. Helluva way to bring in the millennium.

Goddam Uncle Mac. Only time I committed insurance fraud – don’t tell anybody – was when he dragged your poor Uncle Andy’s pumpkin head across the pavement on Sheridan Avenue. We kept getting our names mixed up in the E.R., me calling him Andy. Racing wheelchairs around, all stitched up. Drunk off our mother-loving asses. Gotta be careful, pal.

And beware the beer goggles. Ha! You know what those are, don’t you buddy boy? Made me promise never to speak of it, but hell, it was, what, seven years ago now, right? Ancient history in the digital world. Of course we knew you’d figured out the lock on the liquor cabinet, and of course we knew every drop that wasn’t in the bottles. But catching you with your hand up that neighbor girl’s shirt and that overturned bottle of apple brandy, I’ll never forget it. Everyone’s a princess and a flag-bearer when you’re hammered, huh? That poor girl never lassoed a cowboy like you again. Could have been nothing but booze that made romance with her seem like a good idea. Your first hangover, yeah? There’s just nothing like that beautiful pain to etch a memory for life. Me blasting the AC/DC bright and early the next morning probably helped give that pain a boost, too. Hells bells, I’m getting misty.

I’m gonna take a sip of my beer and pour a little on the floor for all the ones we let get away. Reminds me of this one time with Uncle Pete. I was constantly falling on grenades for that bastard before he finally got around to marryin Tati Cassie. “Hey man,” he’d say, “This girl’s all over me. Cassie’s expecting me a half hour ago. Help a brother out?” Then he’d smile his shit-eating grin. Anyway, Pete gives me this speech one St. Paddy’s Day. So I distracted the Very Drunk Woman with a cigarette while ole Pete made a break for it. When the bonny lass realized she’d been left with yours truly, she shrugged, stuck her gum behind her ear, and started trying to suck the top layer of skin off my face. It was weird but I liked it. That mad woman gave me a look like “You’ll do,” nodded in the direction of her bed, and took off running. I watched her go, in awe and stupor. Then she stopped, turned around and waved c’mon to me. You may be having a hard time picturing your old man galloping after a girl, especially with my being against running anywhere but between bases, but run I did. I caught up with her and she slobbered on me and gave me wood and took off again. Well fuck if that second time I didn’t just let her go. See ya. Ya see? That jog totally sobered me up. Things could’ve gotten pretty shameful and goddamn beautiful. Who knows? Blue balls suck but may sometimes be a small price to pay.

Best to drink with people around whom, should the night go a certain way, taking off all your clothes isn’t the worst thing that could happen. You’re probably not surprised to learn that I’ve seen every one of your aunts and uncles in one or another stage of undress. Shit, you’ve seen some of em plenty of times. Your mom used to get so mad at me keeping you out by the fire so late when Uncle Jeff and Uncle Andy came to town. But after the introductory bottle of bourbon when ole Jeff would strip down and commence to preaching in his booming slur, your little giggle lit up the whole world.

Gotta be careful, though. You’ve got your old man’s fire, and it can be a powerful friend sometimes, sure enough. But when you’re drunk that heat can be hard to wrangle. The boys and I still chuckle about it, but getting thrown out of bars is not the greatest accomplishment. I still feel pretty shitty about making that stripper cry. Hell. Being an asshole gets old. Or it sticks. Thank Christ for your mother. Saved my life. Here’s to her, kid.

So I’ve got some weapons here to fight the hangover demons. And I stuck in some recipes that I use booze to cook. It’s definitely one of my favorite ingredients, when you’re not prioritizing it for drinking. There’s more of your requests here. Did I ever tell you that Greasy Baby Rat Stew started off as a hangover cure, when I could muster the strength to make it, or – on those rare times I froze some – heat it up? Watch out tho, pal, cuz with GBRS the hangover leaves your body in the form of TFG: Toxic Fucking Gas. I bet you probably know that already. Remember the time we had to open all the windows when all your aunts and uncles came for New Years? Jeff and Mac alone could probably have done all the damage, but there were twelve or thirteen of us letting fly. Folks driving by probably thought we housed cattle in the back yard.

Speaking of heating up, your Uncle Pants’ surefire hangover cure is in there. I put Tati Cassie’s Sloppy Lentils in there even though most of the time she makes them with just water. I like adding the wine. The green eggs are a favorite of your mother’s. There’s a few other gems. The Brined Beans will save more than one of your lives. That shit rocks!

I’ll leave you with this. On probably one of my favorite days of drinking, Jimmy T, Jimmy B and me had our first cocktail around seven thirty in the morning and proceeded to get flat back hammered before noon—Drunk Before Noon Day. That morning we sipped Bloody Mary’s, rode our bicycles, tossed a Frisbee in the forest and behaved like children serious about the fun we were having. You’ll grow up and develop your tastes for this style of beer or that age of bourbon. Or you won’t. But it’s in that communion that makes us like kids chasing smiles and wonder, where you’ll find the best booze has to offer. There and then the whiskey-glaze.

Love you, buddy,

Pa


GREASY BABY RAT STEW

1-2 POUNDS vegan Italian Sausage (I like FIELD ROAST) cut to baby-rat-length
1 package Shiitake Mushrooms, cut to resemble rat-tails and rat-feet
2 CANS Diced Tomatoes + 1 CAN water
1 Onion, chopped small
2 Baking Potatoes, cut up in bite-size pieces
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 Green Pepper, chopped up in lil chunks
1 CAN Tomato Paste
5-10 Vegetable Bouillon Cubes
2 Bottles Beer, 1 for drinking
1 shot bourbon
Liquid smoke
Flour
Olive Oil
Oregano
Basil
Maybe some salt and pepper

STEPS

1. Set up your crock pot, get it going on high, and toss your cans of chopped tomatoes in there – NO PASTE YET! – plus the can of water and one of your beers. Not the one you’re drinking, genius.

2. In a big flat pan, also known as a skillet, heat up a big puddle of oil til it’s smoldering.

3. Once the oil is going, throw the potats and onions in and cook them til the potatoes start to get brown, probably about two songs’ lengths. Gotta STIR THE MIX every minute or so to keep the potatoes from sticking to the pan.

4. Once the potatoes are just browned—NOT TOO DARK—throw the whole thing into the pot with the tomatoes and beer.

5. Put another little puddle of oil in the skillet and heat it up. It won’t take long because the pan’s already rockin.

6. Put the garlic in the oil, stir it around and count to thirteen.

7. Add the mushrooms and the bourbon to the skillet and stir that for a minute.

8. Dump the mushrooms, garlic, and bourbon mix into the pot.

9. Shovel a dime bag of oregano and a dime bag of basil into the mix.

10. Scoop the can of tomato paste in and stir it til it’s all mixed in well and there are no clumps of paste floating around.

11. Crumble up five bouillon cubes in the stew, then a small sip of Liquid Smoke, stir it and let it sit, lid on.

12. Watch an episode of Game of Thrones or whatever hour-long show you knuckleheads watch.

13. Dump the Italian “Sausage” pieces in there.

14. Test the soup with a spoon. Is it bland? If so, add another 1-5 bouillon cubes.

14. Watch another GoT episode.

15. By the third or fourth episode, eat up.

16. Be less hungover.


TATI CASSIE’S DRUNKEN LENTILS

1 shot Olive Oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeds removed and chopped
1 dimebag chili powder
1 14.5-oz can crushed tomatoes
Red lentils (enough to fill empty tomato can)
Water (fill the tomato can)
Red wine (fill the tomato can)
1 shot soy sauce
½ shot spicy mustard
1 dimebag brown sugar
salt and pepper

STEPS

1. Cook the onion and the green pepper in the olive oil in a skillet till they're softened, about the length of a Springsteen tune, then pour the chili powder over them and stir it all around, making sure that chili coats everything.

2. Put the onions and pepper mix into a crock-pot along with the rest of the ingredients. Stir, cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Cassie serves it on a bun with coleslaw and Swiss cheese or sometimes in tortillas, but I think they taste fantastic any ole way they reach your mouth.


GREEN EGGS

2 Corn Tortillas, cut in pieces
2 Eggs, beaten
2 shots Salsa Verde
Handful of Pepper Jack Cheese
Olive Oil
Cayenne Pepper

STEPS

1. Pour a softball-sized puddle of oil in a skillet and get it cooking over medium-flame.

2. Brown the tortillas in the oil, and them put them on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.

3. Over medium heat, cook the Salsa Verde in the skillet til it starts to bubble on the edges, then add the beaten eggs.

4. As they cook, stir the eggs into the Salsa Verde so that everything’s evenly distributed.

5. Once you notice the eggs starting to harden, add the cheese and the tortillas.

6. Stir as you count to 30. Don’t overcook, or the eggs will get tough.

7. Serve with a sprinkle of cayenne and add some salt if you want.


UNCLE PANTS’ SURE-FIRE REALLY-BAD-HANGOVER CURE

Any ingredients

STEPS

1. Walk to refrigerator.

2. Open the door.

3. Pull out something edible.

4. Eat it.


Craig Griffin's bio:

I have been the foreman on the line in a factory; I have proofread legal documents concerning Oprah Winfrey, the government of Aruba, and the death penalty clemency in Illinois; I have harvested cranberries; I have watched in awe as my alhzeimered grandfather, known for his prize tomatoes, mowed down an entire garden worth of tomato plants; I have taught literature, history, journalism and culinary arts in the poorest school district in Wisconsin, the oldest high school in Wisconsin, the poorest school in Illinois, including all of Chicago AND East St. Louis, and a banner school of President Obama's education policy; I have won the only baseball game played yearly in the country of Denmark with a walk-off, two-run double to right-center field; I have interviewed the inventor of the World Wide Web, the lead scientist on climate change policy in the leading country on climate change, and a prominent Palestinian hip-hop artist (three Different people); I have fallen head-first two stories onto concrete holding a roofing hatchet and only dislocated my elbow; I have been an illegal immigrant; I have been to jail; once, I was in love. Now I am trying to be an artist.

No comments:

Post a Comment