Waiting for my book deal

20 05 2012

How is it that my blog never got picked for a book deal or movie rights?  Oh yeah, because nobody reads it.  Their loss, this stuff is hysterical.  I was going to send this story in an email to my sister but it’s so awesome I’ve got to tell everybody.

The CSA started  back up a couple weeks ago and we’ve got turnips.  Not a whole lot, but there’s turnips.  Honestly I don’t know what to do with turnips at all, so I went hunting.  I found a few interesting recipes on Cooking Light, so I chose this one:

Turnip-Parsnip Gratin

We had no parsnips, so Karen went to the store and bought the sorriest looking parsnips I’ve ever seen.  You make do with what you’ve got, right?  So Sunday comes and it’s time for some barbecue.  We’re going to make some steaks, some chicken thighs, potatoes, and the gratin.  While the coals are heating up I get out the turnips and parsnips and begin peeling them.  Karen asks “What should I use to slice the veggies?”  and my answer should have been THE KNIFE.  But the recipe says to use the mandoline, and we’ve got a mandoline, and we haven’t used the mandoline for several years so I say “Use the Mandoline.”

What happens when someone uses a mandoline for the first time in three years?  They go to the emergency room, that’s what.  Almost immediately Karen slices off a large part of her thumb.  It’s still attached, but she needs stitches.  She needs to drive herself so I can stay home with the kids, reassuring them that Mommy’s okay.    So she goes into the bathroom to rinse her hand and get ready to go.  In the meantime I grab the parsnips and say to myself “I’ll finish the job, but I’ll be careful.  Not like Karen.”  Almost immediately I slice off a piece of the palm of my hand.  You know, the meaty part by your thumb?  Yeah, sliced it right off, no flap or anything.  I grab the towel recently put down by Karen and apply pressure.  It’s not bleeding too bad, unless I, you know, release the pressure.

At this point Karen comes out of the bathroom and sees me sitting there with a sheepish look on my face.  I show her the wound.  There is nothing to stitch; mine sliced clean off.  So Karen goes to the ER.  I have the presence of mind to tell her not to drive the new car, so she doesn’t drip blood all over it. From my first aid training and I know that you’re supposed to apply pressure to a wound to stop bleeding.  So I grab a rag and a ace bandage and wrap my thumb/hand/wrist as tight as I can and still move my fingers.

While Karen is gone I finish the gratin; it’s already cost us a pound of flesh, I’m making it for dinner dammit.  The potatoes were already in the oven and the coals were hot by this point so I put the steaks on the grill and finished making the gratin.  For the kids I ordered a pizza.  Karen came home with a very professional looking bandage.  Mine, not so much.

Karen told me “The doctor poked the flap with a needle to see if it was still viable.”  After several convulsions I asked her WHY DID YOU TELL ME THAT?

The gratin was excellent.  In case you’re wondering (and I know you are) we used fontanella cheese.


Doing the impossible

27 01 2011

My annual Super Bowl post is coming very soon.  For an opening act I thought I’d showcase once again why this blog is called Mark Ruins Dinner.

If you’re like me (and why wouldn’t you be?) you purchase convenience food at the grocery store because it’s quick and impossible to ruin.  You may have even asked yourself “How could you possibly wreck a frozen pizza?”  Here’s your answer.

The boys had some friends over so I thought getting a couple frozen pizzas would be an easy dinner that everyone would eat.  So I got one cheese and one pepperoni and put them in the oven at the same time.  After 17 minutes we checked on them.  At this point Karen said to me “Why did you put one right above the other?  You’re supposed to stagger them so the crusts cook properly.”  She couldn’t have told me that at the beginning.  Besides, I’m the homemade pizza guy now.  Anyway, we moved them apart so that the top pizza crust would cook, but it wasn’t that easy.  You see, the crust on the top one had started sagging through the oven rack.  But we did our best and moved it over.  But then Karen decided it would be a good idea to turn it, so that it would stop sagging.  In the process she ripped a hole in the middle of the pizza:

That’s the cheese dripping through the middle of the pizza.  I quickly got it out before it opened up like a black hole.  We had a heck of a time getting it out of the oven, but the boys ate it just fine.  Karen said it looked like a belly button.  I don’t think that’s a good thing for a pizza.

This doesn’t bode well for my Super Bowl pick.

Mark Ruins Football

4 09 2008

Football is here again, and I am rejoicing along with all those who will revel in NOT hearing those words “World Champion Patriots” all year long.  But we probably will next year, since they got the NFL’s easiest schedule this season.

Last year I made a simple suggestion to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that would improve my enjoyment of watching football.  He ignored it.  Since I’m used to being ignored (I have four kids you know) I decided to add another suggestion at the beginning of this football season.  So here it is:

End Zone Celebrations

The NFL is often called the “No Fun League” since they don’t allow elaborate touchdown celebrations.  I’m not sure why, maybe it cuts into time better spent on a commercial break.  But these celebrations are enjoyed by fans, players, and members of the media alike.  The only people who seem to dislike them are the owners.

My solution: I propose a new rule.  As long as it’s not taunting, any touchdown celebration goes.  Anything. (Remember when T.O. did the Ray Lewis dance in front of Ray Lewis?  Guts, my friend.)   You want to bring the whole team out and do the Hustle in the end zone, go for it (but practice, please).  So long as it’s tasteful and you keep your clothes on, it’s fair game.  You’ve got 45 seconds until the PAT attempt, it’s all yours, take the stage.  


For any other play celebrations are banned.  With a 15 yard penalty. Heck, I’ll make it easier.  Any scoring play is allowed a celebration.  I loved watching those kickers hurt themselves celebrating a 15 yard field goal.  That’s good television.  But other than that, get back in the huddle or back on the sideline.

It’s really annoying to see players who are supposed to be professionals celebrating after mundane plays. This is much worse than any touchdown celebration.  Remember the NY Giants’ defense a couple years ago with that silly “jump shot” celebration after every tackle they made?  On Monday Night Football, no less.  That made the game almost unwatchable.  Even Al Micheals commented that “This has to stop.”  

So that’s the rule: You wanna celebrate, you gotta score.

The above comments were not intended to be inflammatory and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Mark Ruins Dinner.  If you are a member of the 2006 NY Giants’ defense and would like to come and beat me to a bloody pulp my name is Neil O’Donnell. 

Why it took me over a year to paint the stairs

7 08 2008

I’m big on excuses.  I’ve got lots of excuses for why nothing gets done around the house.  But Karen has employed a brilliant strategy.  She’s been playing along with this whole “house hunting” idea, and because of this many of these projects have been completed.  

So, what’s my excuse been this time?  I hate heights.  Let me clarify.  I hate ladders.  My first summer job was with a roofing contractor, so as long as there is something solid under my feet I am fine.  But ladders bounce.  They move when you climb them.  I hate them.  And I could paint that whole stairwell with my paint roller on a stick, but there was only one way to paint that window.  And that was to put up a ladder over the stairs.  Note that I had to lean out over the stairs to get to part of the window.

Just so you know, that blue painters’ tape is very difficult to remove after a year.  But the window did get painted, and I put up the new blinds as well.

This is exactly how those blinds are going to look forever.  I’m too short to reach those strings, so they’ll never get opened or closed.

I’d have taken a picture, but where to begin?

28 07 2008

Ever have one of those meals where you don’t just ruin one thing, you ruin everything?  Read on.

This is (for the most part) a PG-rated blog, so I’ll say that dinner Saturday evening was a comedy of errors.   Karen and baby had come home from the hospital on Thursday, so I bought some steaks and was ready for a good cookout.  A friend had given us some vegetables from his garden, and coupled with some stuff that we’d grown, I could make a nice grilled vegetable dish, and all that was left was corn on the cob.  Karen wanted some mashed potatoes too, so that was her physical activity for the day.  And lastly we decided to steam some broccoli for the boys since they don’t like the grilled vegetables.

While shopping Saturday morning I assumed we’ve got most everything for the grilled veg.  I got a red onion just to be sure, but that’s it.  Come to find out all I had from my friend’s garden was two yellow squash.  Oh yeah, and the red bell pepper we’d grown had gone bad this week while we were at the hospital.  So now my grilled veggies consist of two yellow squash, a red onion, and some tomatoes.  No zucchini, no red pepper, no roasted garlic.  I suppose that’s when I gave up on it.  Karen tried it, but that was about it.  I went ahead and steamed enough broccoli for all of us. 

I then set about undercooking grilling the steaks.  I grilled them, covered them, and let them rest.  When I started slicing them I realized that they weren’t rare, they were in fact raw.  Nice.  Back on the grill they go.  After the second time they were at least cooked to temperature.

Broccoli.  Let’s see, it’s green and looks like little trees?  You cut them up and steam them for, how long is it again?  Maybe I didn’t cook them long enough, maybe the water stopped boiling.  Whatever.  They were undercooked as well.  I’d say it was like biting into a stick, but I didn’t even try it.  All I had was the steak, corn on the cob (made by Aliyah), and Karen’s mashed potatoes. 

I was so frustrated I left the dishes where they lay and cleaned up the remnants of my failure the next morning.  I’d blame this one on the new baby, but you’d never buy it.  What’s this blog called again?

Chicken revisited

15 07 2008

A dad in a hurry + a grill that’s too hot + too much chicken on the grill at one time = Mark Ruins Dinner.

Should I have known better?  Yeah, probably.  Here’s a picture of the chicken after it had been on the grill for 5 minutes:

Impressive, huh?  Karen knows that it’s bad news when I’m cooking dinner and all of a sudden I run upstairs to get my camera.  After I took the picture I moved the smaller pieces to the gas grill where the veggies were cooking.

You know, that Weber cookbook Karen got me last year has a reference at the beginning that tells you how many briquets are needed for low, medium, and high heat.  I should probably glance through that.

My first Giveaway: Name my child.

1 06 2008

Following up my first ever book review, here’s my first giveaway. Selling out is cool!

No one believes that Karen and I haven’t even really discussed possible names for this baby we’re expecting in about eight weeks. We’ve been calling him “What’s-his-name.” Truth be told, we’re running out of boy names. But we’re also running out of time, and I don’t think he’d appreciate “Undecided” on his birth certificate. That’s where you come in.

So how about this for a contest: Name our child. And I’m not looking for just any names. Only funny or weird names will be accepted (I already know what my sister’s first entry will be). Names that raise eyebrows and contort the faces of strangers.  We’ve all heard them at one point or another. Here’s a photo of the babe to give you inspiration:

Put your entries in the comments section, and add as many as you like. Karen and I will look at the entries in a couple weeks and our favorite will be the winner.

For a prize Karen and I were going to let you pick one of our kids (excluding Benjamin, of course), but that news item about the guy trying to sell a kid on Craigslist took all the fun out of it. Apparently you can go to jail for it, even if you’re kidding.

So the prize for this contest will be Mario Batali’s recently published cookbook, Italian Grill. Just in time for summer. So come on people, do your worst.

ADDENDUM: Karen is demanding that I tell you all, in no uncertain terms, that we won’t really choose our baby’s name from your list. That part is fake, but the giveaway is real.  And if you wanted to suggest, you know, real names that could be fun too.

Where do babies come from?

3 04 2008

This is the first in a series of posts aimed at educating my readers. I know that drivel you were taught in health class, it was all a pack of lies. I can tell you with confidence that there are many things that make babies magically appear from the sky. These include:

1. Purchasing more Christmas stocking hangers than there are people living in your house.

go ahead, laugh! Laugh!

We bought these when Aliyah was staying with us, but then she moved on campus. That makes this one her fault.

2. Having a car whose seating capacity is larger than your family.

This is what the kids call “dad’s car”

3. Having an unused guest bedroom in your house.

This is way cleaner than the rest of the house

This one is also Aliyah’s fault. Note that the color of the room is pink, guaranteeing that the child will be another boy.

4. Having a blog whose tagline starts with “Life with three boys…”

5. Being on someone’s blogroll who calls your blog “Ben and his THREE Brothers.”

6. Naming your blog “My Three Sons.”

I should have called it give me a drink

This is what I almost called my blog, but I’m nowhere near Fred McMurray’s height.

7. Putting off the vasectomy.

Okay, so maybe this is the real reason

In other news, Jared quits Subway for Pizza Hut

1 04 2008

Jonathan’s preschool spent a week talking about eating healthy things. To kick things off they went to Pizza Hut on Monday for a field trip. Pizza Hut. When I think about healthy eating Pizza Hut is the first thing that comes to mind, right after McDonald’s and Taco Bell. Isaac had this same preschool teacher so I know this Pizza Hut trip is one of her favorites.

Quick question: what time would you schedule a field trip to Pizza Hut for a bunch of 4-5 year olds? That’s right, 9:00am. The kids just had breakfast and they’re full of energy, and they’re asked to come in and sit still at booths and tables. In the meantime the parents hope they don’t start pulling the light fixtures from the ceiling.

For God’s sake Jon, sit down!

So we all pile into this tiny little dining room in a restaurant that is really designed for delivery. We’re waiting and the kids are starting to act up a bit when I notice the teachers huddled in a circle talking in hushed voices. Then they start counting kids and adults. They’re seeing about fire codes and all that. I hear one teacher report 31 kids (including siblings) and another report 34 adults (including six teachers). Maximum occupancy for the restaurant? 54.

Four teachers head back to the school. I start thinking “I am so blogging this.” Apparently they didn’t have to send any of the students home. They take the kids back to show them how they make the dough, and the different stages it goes through. I was impressed at the size of their stand mixer. Then they let the kids make their own pizzas.

Leave some for your classmates please

What I meant to say was the pizzas already had sauce and cheese on them, and the kids could put more cheese and / or pepperoni on them. And when you ask a 5 year old to put pepperoni on a pizza you get lots and lots of pepperoni. Much more pepperoni than any pizza should have. In the end, the kids picked most of it off.

i didn’t want it anyway

The kids ended up having a good time. Of course they did, they got to eat pizza at 10:00am. I can’t wait for the next great field trip idea: tooth care week at the chocolate factory.

American Idol Viewer’s Guide

14 01 2008

American Idol returns tonight, isn’t that great?  Since I have no self respect any more I can proudly say that I watched every episode last year (yes I voted for Jordin).  You have to wonder what poor soul will be chosen as a finalist, only to serve as Simon Cowell’s personal punching bag until they are mercifully eliminated.  Has anyone ever asked if these contestants get paid for making Fox all that money?  Just asking.

Anyway, as I said I have one full year of American Idol watching experience.  A harrowing experience it was, too.  And since I don’t learn from my mistakes I’ll probably watch every show this season as well.  But I did learn some things along the way, and since I’m a nice guy I thought I’d pass them on to the world at large.

Mark’s Guide to Watching American Idol

1. Don’t watch it live!  Tivo, DVR, whatever you call it, USE IT.   There are so many ads during the show that you shouldn’t have to subject yourself to the myriad commercial breaks as well.  Wait until about a third of the way through, then start watching the recording.  As soon as you see the number to call pop up on the screen and hear Ryan Seacrest say “To vote for…” click fast forward.  You’ll finish on time, I promise.

2. Keep the mute button close!  Press the mute button any time Seacrest and Cowell start talking to each other.  Watching those two trade bad insults is more painful than Shrek the Third.  Those two need to get a room.  Seriously.

3. Don’t watch the elimination show!  Every week Fox takes an hour to tell someone that their dream is dead.  This hour is pretty much a complete waste of your time, but then so is this blog.  Last year we’d fast forward through the whole show and just watch to see who got sent home that week.  This year we’ll probably just skip that show altogether and look at Fox’s website after 9:00.  That way you don’t have to endure all the contrived suspense music and lighting as they make the announcement.

4. Visit votefortheworst.com!  For those of you wondering why Sanjaya stayed so long last year, it was probably these guys.   As the name implies, this website’s aim is coordinated mass voting for the worst singer still in competition.  They pick their pony and ride them until they’re eliminated.

5. Mention American Idol in your blog as often as possible!  Maybe your hit count will triple.  Hello syndication!  Hey, I can dream, can’t I?