Monday, November 10, 2014

This Legacy...

... Starts at 7:30pm.

(Said in the voice of Sophia Petrillo from the Golden Girls) Picture this: San Jose, 1938. A group of guys decide to meet in a basement on Mondays at 7:30pm.

What those guys would do, I can only imagine. As it turns out, one of those guys (also the resident of the house where that basement was located...), was Jimmy (Cheech) Lacitignola - my Grandpa (Gramps/Papa Jim). He met with 6 of his closest friends in that basement on 6th Street in downtown San Jose every Monday, with out fail, at 7:30pm.

Except when they didn't.... The United States entered WWII in 1941 and most of the 7 joined up and got shipped out. Those that stayed state-side would send over care packages. They all returned safely, and resumed their meetings. More guys were invited to join, and the club grew.

Soon it was official - they were members of the 7:30 Club. They organized dinner-dances where they'd take their wives/girlfriends out for a night on the town, they had BBQs in the summer, and Christmas parties in December. The Club (as we've always called it), began to thrive.

They struck up a deal with a firehouse on 8th street - The Club would meet in the room upstairs on Monday nights. When the firehouse was closing down, they would gather enough money to purchase the building, and convert it into the Club Room we know today. That building celebrated it's 100th anniversary last year - a big milestone for The Club.

Momma Lynn grew up in this club, quite literally, as did I and my sister, Colleen. In 1991, Papa Leonard would become a member of The Club, and join the ranks with Gramps, Uncle John, Uncle Art, and Cousin John.

Summers were my favorite time - for obvious reasons - but few so poignant as The Club's family BBQs at Alum Rock Park. These events were awesome for Little Lauren for many reasons, most notably: Alum Rock Park was far, like really far, which meant a lot of time riding in the car - something I loved. There was a huge playground where Colleen and I could swing for what seemed like hours before dinner, and there was always a raffle! Gramps would buy us tickets and we'd hope beyond all hope we'd win some money (Colleen won often, I wasn't so lucky).  Later, these BBQs would be moved to Lake Cunningham Park, which was equally as far, but I was older, so it just seemed like a pain to get there.

Fast forward: 2012, Papa Leonard would invited Frank to attend every guest dinner The Club had, and Frank would go to most of them. However, Frank is a part of his own Legacy: The Sons of Sicily of San Jose. Unfortunately, the SOS meets only once a month, on the first Monday. Which also happened to be the Dinner Night for The Club.

Eventually, The Club would change their Dinner Night to the 2nd Monday, and Frank would be able to join The Club while staying in the SOS.

Last night The Club had a Thanksgiving Celebration. It was so much fun, with Bingo, a raffle, delicious dinner, and lots of laughs. Now that Frank is a member of The Club, it feels as though my Legacy is even stronger. There are hundreds of photos on the walls on The Club Room, so many of them of Gramps,  I feel very close to him while I'm there.

We don't often get to choose our Legacy, and I feel so fortunate I am a part of this one...

I'd like to dedicate this post, and all others like it, to James (Jimmy) Lacitignola. We're all in this because of you, Gramps! Thanks for being so bored way back in 1938!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Busy Sunday, Heavy Eyes...

It's a case of the Mondays...

Welp, In this little posty, you'll get a few things: a recap of the weekend (which is why I've been absent for over a week), a few photos, and a recipe! Wow, you lucky dog!

But first, my favorite: HALLOWEEN!

This will be short and sweet: I was inspired to dress as a devil this Halloween. It was a first for me. I remember almost every costume - 50's girl, hobo, witch, prairie girl, hippie, water polo player, Poison Ivy, Medusa, female pimp, Jem, peacock, Bride of Frankenstein, white-trash mom, Ursula, etc.

In short, I was listening to Fiona Apple back in March and  hear "So what would an angel say? The devil wants to know...." And so, Friday night I donned horns, a make-shift red tutu, face paint, and a devilish grin. Success? I think so... You be the judge!

Next: Frank's Birthday!

My lovely husband turned 30 on October 16th. He was marginally freaked out about it. So I schemed with Momma Lynn & Janet to throw him a surprise party. It went off without a hitch on September 27th. He was seriously surprised (read: I wasn't sure if he was going to cry, pass out, or shit his pants), we had delicious food, an awesome football-themed dessert bar, lots of beer, and  I'm quite certain everyone had a great time.

Of course, I am forever in the running for the award of "Best. Wife. Ever!" So I also purchased 2 tickets to see the Forty-Niners take on the the St Louis Rams on November 2nd. I gave him said tickets on his actual birthday. Again, he was really surprised.

Well, yesterday was November 2nd. We attended the game and had a great time. We sat in fantastic seats, became high-five friends with the folks around us, and had a somber walk to the car after Kaepernick fumbled the quaterback sneak and lost the game. But I was having a great hair day, so I wasn't too upset.

Lastly: Yam, Apple & Onion hash (served with pork chops and stuffing)

Ok, so, it's fall. Like, for real. It's been getting colder and colder, and it even started raining - praise the Lord, California is in desperate need of rain! In any case, I've been wanting to try this concoction my brain came up with, so last week I went to the butcher at Safeway and told him how much I hate cooking pork chops because they're always tough and dry. He hand-picked 2 delicious chops for me and told me how to cook them: liberally salt and pepper both sides, dredge in plain flour, and brown in a butter/oil combo, about 5 minutes on each side. They were delicious!

But onto the yam, apple, and onion hash! I typically make a whiskey glazed yam & apple casserole for Thanksgiving/Christmas. So I took a page from that recipe, and made this. It was a success! Frank and I both really enjoyed this meal. I served it with Stove Top stuffing I happened to have in the pantry.

Yam, Apple & Onion hash

1 medium sweet onion, coarsely diced
1 large yam, peeled and cubed
2 cooking apples - I used Granny Smith
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter†
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup whiskey*

In a large, high-sided skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add yams and butter to pan and cook another 8 minutes, until yams are tender, stirring occasionally. Add apples, cinnamon, and honey to the pan. Cook over medium heat for another 3 minutes. De-glaze the pan with whiskey and let simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.

*If you're not a drinker/don't have whiskey, use a sweet, clear soda, like ginger ale or sprite and use just 1 tsp honey. You'll get the same sweet when you de-glaze the pan with out the alcohol.

† And for those eating clean, watching starch, etc. this recipe is Whole30 compliant if you omit the butter (you can use ghee) and replace the whiskey with water or approved chicken broth.