tb-two* photo galleries
Well, for one thing, it's the coolest high school newspaper in all the land. Watch our video and find out more.
Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
Bitter. Not the taste of the food, but my feeling about this entire weekend of cooking. Let me start off by saying I LOVE food. I’m great at eating it, and when I actually do cook, the food is usually good. Throwing me in a kitchen, however, is like throwing a grenade into a fireworks factory. Things can go wrong. For special occasions, though, I risk it. Take homecoming, for instance. I have found that for such events, women like effort. Unfortunately, I do not like that word, preferring to think that spending $100 on a date would suffice for cupid to do his little arrow thing and the world would be at peace.
Then I met Judy.
Judy Walls is the Apron Simple Meals lady at the Holiday Centre Publix where I work. Judy showed me the beauty of simple meals. Sometimes on break (and occasionally when I wasn’t) I would sneak over to the back when a manager wasn’t looking and pester Judy for samples. She showed me how easy making a nice meal really could be. So I decided that if high school students are going to spend so much on homecoming tickets, and dresses and suits, and makeup and shoes, why shouldn’t we spend a little bit less on dinner and make it more personal?
I borrowed some recipes from Judy, because coming up with my own would take too much . . . well, you know, that word. I went shopping and after, yes, some effort, I managed to whip up two classy, romantic meals suitable for your special night.
First up was a menu I thought would be a piece of cake, but even though the meal was much more complicated than the piece of (caramel cheese) cake I served for dessert, it was a winner.
MAIN: French Bread Sausage/Pepperoni Pizza. It’s a tad classier than regular pizza, and simple to make. I started out with a long loaf of Publix French bread, sliced it lengthwise and spread pizza sauce across the halves. Simultaneously, I sauteed some cut-up pork sausage links for about 5 minutes in butter. When the sausage was done cooking, I placed some mozzarella slices on the bread and topped them with the sausage and some pepperoni slices. It went in the oven for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
So far, so good. Then I fancied it up a little.
SIDE: Potato Leek Soup. I put a pot on the stove and placed three peeled, cubed potatoes in the bottom of the pot. (Lesson learned, people: DO NOT put the potato peelings down the garbage disposal; you WILL clog the sink and the resulting gook WILL get all over you when you try to clear the pipes.) Next, I covered the potatoes with chicken broth and simmered for 10 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes were nice and tender. While the potatoes were simmering, I chopped two leeks and sliced up about a half pound of bacon, and sauteed them together in butter in a pan until the bacon was golden brown and crispy. I mixed this in with the potatoes and broth and added a cup-and-a-half of heavy whipping cream. Mashing the potatoes in the pot produced a thick, creamy, really tasty mixture.
DESSERT: Caramel Cheesecake. Made by Publix, all I had to do was put it on a small plate and drizzle chocolate syrup over it.
• • •
My second menu contained a little more upscale main dish that was surprisingly much simpler to make than the French Bread Pizza with Potato Leek Soup.
MAIN: Scallops Newburg. A lot of people don’t like seafood, and a lot of people don’t like scallops, so I would ask your date how she feels about the bite-sized bivalves a week before homecoming. You can ask that question without ruining the surprise of you putting out the effort, too.
I placed a pan on the stove for about two to three minutes on medium heat, and then dropped in a half a stick of garlic herb butter. When the butter melted, I placed a pound of bay scallops into the pan, cooking them for about two to three minutes or until the scallops turned opaque (fancy word for no longer clear-looking). Then I added a can of Campbell’s Cream of Shrimp soup, three ounces of cream cheese and ¼ cup of cooking sherry (Mom is going to need to go out and buy some if there isn’t any in the house, but don’t get too excited, the alcohol burns off when you cook it). Next, I mixed the soup, cream cheese and sherry until it was all blended and cooked it for an additional five to seven minutes on low. (Another lesson learned: Overcooked scallops take on a rubbery consistency, so watch the clock.) While the scallops were in the pan, I heated up a package of frozen, microwavable mashed potatoes for three minutes, mixing in the remaining half stick of garlic herb butter and heating for another three minutes. Scoop the mashed potatoes onto a plate and serve the scallops over the potatoes. Yes, it’s lots of butter, but this is a night to splurge, remember?
SIDE: Bowtie Pasta. Okay, I know pasta is a starch, like potatoes, and that it is the same color as potatoes, and that the Newburg sauce is sort of in that same color family as well. I can’t help it, pasta sounded good to me as an accompaniment, and it was. I tossed it with some tomatoes, black olives and feta cheese. Go for a green salad if you must.
DESSERT: Red Velvet Cake. Once again I was lazy and went with the Publix bakery option. Their red velvet bar cake with cream cheese frosting is spectacular. I served this once again on a small dessert plate with drizzled chocolate syrup.
Presentation is everything. For the fancier meal, I got a rickety old table from my girlfriend’s garage and put a gold patterned tablecloth over it. I nestled the food plates on red napkins placed on top of gold chargers. I used a candle and champagne glasses filled with Welch’s Sparkling White Grape Juice (red juice with the pizza). Classy. (Even if I did get carded at Publix when I bought the grape juice.)
Fortunately for me, my girlfriend lives on the water, and the second story of her house was the perfect setting for these romantic dinners. Sit your date down and enjoy. Even if you mess up, you can laugh about it, and remember that there is always dessert to fall back on. Your date will appreciate the effort (ow) that it took to create this meal, and you don’t have to tell her how easy it was.
Michael Newcomer is a junior at Tarpon Springs High.