P.J. Rossi

Tonight

 

Dedicated to my beautiful and amazing mother, Roseann. 

I love you with all my heart and soul. We’ve always joked that we would leave this world together, many years from now, old and grey, with an entire lifetime of happy memories to look back on. I promised you I would always be there to take care of you, to laugh with you, protect you and make sure you always felt loved. For as long as I can remember you’ve been my best friend, my rock, and my world.

It’s been almost seven months now since we received my diagnosis, and through it all you’ve been my strength and the driving force that keeps me fighting. I can’t help feeling like I need to keep apologizing for the situation we now find ourselves in, though I know you’ll also keep telling me that it isn’t my fault. I also know that while this is my body’s battle to fight, that you are also the one staring down every parent’s worst nightmare. Despite the odds, you’ve never once let me give up hope and you’ve always made sure I knew we were in this together. I pray to god and will remain ever hopeful that the time never comes where someone need show you this. But should that time come, it is important to me that you know how blessed and thankful I am to have spent my 30 years of life with such a beautiful, loving, kind and gentle woman. I want you to know that no matter what happens in the months ahead, that I am not afraid. The only thing about any of this that terrifies me is the thought of being taken away from you. I hate knowing what this all has to be doing to you inside, and wish I had the power to make it all go away.

Despite everything we are going through right now, I still feel like the luckiest person alive because I have you. I won’t ever give up, I will continue to fight, and no matter what, I will ALWAYS love and be with you.

I love you to the moon back lady. xoxoxoxo

~ ❤ Forever, your baby boy.


Tonight


 

I’ll miss the snow and the summer sky

And all the love in your eyes

When all that we are, becomes what we were

Remember no one loved you more

Remember the fun

And I’ll live again

I promise it’ll be okay in the end

In a cradle of white light

I’ll sleep with the stars tonight

Forever the child of an angel

Forever the moon in my eyes

I know that this time, I’ll be gone for a while

But I hope you’ll think of me and smile

Though I have to leave

It doesn’t mean that I’m gone

So hold me close as I follow my dreams tonight

I’ll wait for you in the light

Forever begins tonight

The hardest part

Is hurting you

The hardest part is seeing you cry

Look back on the years

Remember my love

And when you close your eyes I’ll be there each night

I just need one more kiss goodnight

Before I leave your arms tonight

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Rudolph’s Redemption

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” might be the deepest of all the Christmas Classics. It definitely is among the most animated ones. There can be no doubt. Maybe you think it’s sappy, or outdated, or just part of the stupid song. Not so. There is more, here, than meets the eye. There is substance beneath the veneer of stop-animation and the lyricism of Burl Ives. There is a truly valuable and timeless lesson therein. 

Rudolph is a treatise on acceptance. It is a very basic story about the fact that what makes us different, what often makes us hated, mistreated, ignored, or berated … those are the things worth having. Those are the things that define us. It’s not the 99.9% of genetic makeup that we share with monkeys that makes us special, is it? It’s that 0.1% … that last little bit. Rudolph couldn’t help his nose being red any more than Hermey could help loving teeth. Those toys … those misfit toys … they were MADE that way. All of the characters in this story find redemption, ironically, because of the very parts of their being that made them hated. This special teaches a fundamental character trait. It shows that one should value others, not judge them. It tells us to love one another, and not to mistreat our fellow beings.

Rudolph was driven away in shame, Hermey was belittled into quitting his job, and the toys were abandoned and ostracized for not conforming to what some idiot kids thought a “toy” was supposed to be. Well screw those kids, I’ll take a misfit toy over a regular one any day of the week. I want the nesting doll that ends in a mouse. I want a bird that swims. I want a water gun than shoots jelly. I want a polka dot elephant. I want a cowboy riding an ostrich. I want a sinking boat and a plane that can’t fly. I want a train with square wheels on its caboose. I want a damn Charlie in the Box! I want an elvish dentist and a radiant reindeer. I want uniqueness. I want different. Conformity is boring. No one remembers any of the other elves’ names or any of the other reindeer kids, either. If I didn’t watch the special every year, I wouldn’t even remember that they gave some of them names at all. They are uninteresting, unimportant, and banal. But the weirdos stick with you. The oddballs came through in the end, when no one else could.

Hermey de-toothed the bumble and made it tame. The toys were found by Santa and given to (presumably) less judgmental, more grateful children. And Rudolph …well, without him, there wouldn’t have been any presents at all that year. Despite all of their so-called flaws, these hated and undervalued people came right back to help those who persecuted them in the first place. If that isn’t a Christian ideal consistent with the very essence of this purportedly holy day, then I don’t know what is. I can’t think of a single other animated classic that has anything nearly as moving at its core, save perhaps “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer could be played at any time of year for people of any age and it would still ring true, however. That is somewhat unique among the holiday classics.

So, this year and all years hence, I ask you all to lift a glass of eggnog to the greatest, simplest, and purest of all Christmas messages! It is a toast to Rudolph, Hermey, and to all the Misfit Toys out there. It is a toast to our selves. It is a toast to redemption and a toast to acceptance. If you can’t do at least that much this holiday season, then you’re no friend of mine.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and a Joyous Whatever Else You Celebrate!

Heresy

Vilify

Everything your faith fails to justify

Just turn a blind eye and never question why

Mindless ignorance personified

Always take the facts they find

Claim they’re falsified

From behind scared eyes

You comply

Raise someone else’s voice up to the sky

Surrender, lose control, get those hands up high

Go on now and testify

To your alibi

With His book of lies

Undefined

The scriptures start to fly like battlecries

Anything that’s different must be crucified

Rather than be unified

We are “purified”

As our worlds divide

Gratify

In His holy name, pray, as hate multiplies

Let the people die so He is satisfied

The blood used to buy

Their “eternal lives”

But they’ll realize

In the end, they were His sacrifice

Perfect Shrimp Pad Thai

Seventy-five years ago, when Phibun decided to give Thailand’s culture a makeover by decree, pad Thai was a recipe that had yet to be introduced into the country’s cuisine. Rice with chili paste, leaves, and salt were the staple, subsistence food at the time, and Thai people bought meals from Chinese food vendors.

The exact origins of pad Thai remain disputed to this day. According to some, Plaek Phibunsongkhram announced a competition to create a new, national dish. Phibun’s son, however, went on record to say that his family prepared the dish well before Phibun ever actually made it government policy, but could not recall who specifically was responsible for its initial creation.

The dish’s roots are Chinese, and its full name is kway teow phat Thai. Translated from a Chinese dialect called Hokkein, kway teow means rice noodles. The entire name means stir-fried rice noodles Thai-style. Noodles and stir-frying are predominantly Chinese, and it was likely immigration that introduced the practice to Siam. Flavors like tamarind, palm sugar, and chilies were the Thai’s subsequent influence on the dish over time.

By publicizing the pad Thai recipe, Phibun turned one potential take on stir-fried noodles into a national dish. It was his belief that by doing so, pad Thai would improve the diet of a people who primarily lived off of rice, and that cooking pad Thai in clean pans would improve national hygiene.

More than anything, it was Phibun’s hope to unify the country by promoting a uniquely Thai dish. Despite its Chinese origins, pad Thai stood out greatly from the variety of wet or dry noodle dishes sold by Chinese vendors. It was part of Phibun’s nation-building strategy to develop “Thai-ness” and impose a “Thai Great Tradition.”

Within several years, vendors selling pad Thai filled Thailand’s streets. Phibun’s son called it “Thailand’s first fast food.”

In summary, the popularization of pad Thai was the work of a military dictator who survived multiple coups, World War II, and who believed that his political future, as well as the future of his country, were both at stake.

And now, without further ado, I give you this American’s take on a Chinese influenced Thai tradition. I put a lot of thought into this recipe, and took special care to ensure that I kept its ingredients as authentic as possible (no peanut butter or ketchup). I hope that you enjoy the final product as much as I did!


Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 23 minutes, approximately

Total Time: 1 hour, approximately

Serves: 4


Ingredients

  • 14 ounces stir-fry rice noodles (I used the Thai Kitchen brand located in the “International Foods” section of the grocery store)

  • 2 beaten eggs

  • ¼ cup fish sauce

  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce

  • ¼ cup coconut milk

  • 5 ½ tablespoons toasted sesame oil

  • 12 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 1 cup diced firm tofu

  • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms

  • 1 cup bean sprouts

  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic

  • ¼ cup diced shallots

  • 4 fresh jalapenos, seeded and diced

  • ¼ cup unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped (I actually used walnuts)

  • ½ cup diagonally sliced green onions

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


Directions

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Place noodles in a large pot or bowl and cover with the boiling water. Allow noodles to soak for 8 to 10 minutes or until noodles are soft but firm. Drain and rinse under cold, running water for 30 seconds. Drain well and set aside.

rice noodles

In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, sriracha, and coconut milk, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

pad thai sauce

In a wok, heat ½ tablespoon of sesame oil over medium-high heat. Just before the oil is smoking, add the egg, stirring constantly until set. Set aside in small bowl.

Next, heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Just before the oil is smoking, add the garlic, shallots, and jalapeno and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the shallots and jalapeno are tender, stirring frequently.

shallot mixture

In the wok, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons of sesame oil over medium-high heat. Just before the oil is smoking, add the shrimp and cook until pink, stirring constantly. Add the cooked shallot mixture, tofu, mushrooms, and bean sprouts and cook for 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms and sprouts are tender.

shrimp

Add the reserved noodles and egg and stir until all ingredients are combined. Pour the sauce mixture into the wok and toss until well distributed. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to steam and simmer. Add the peanuts and green onions and cook an additional minute.

Remove the wok from the heat and season with the lime juice and cilantro. Serve hot.

Enjoy!

Shrimp Pad Thai

Perfect Shrimp Pad Thai

Regret

In this moment of silence

Don’t pity me my pain

It’s here in isolation

I fall on your disdain

For all that pulls me under

I know there is a Hell

There’s nothing I know better

I know it all so well

Shamed into my solitude

And left with little care

Lost within my speechless grief

My glorious despair

I had hope and I believed

But yet the sun still set

And darkness fell upon me

To bathe me in regret

Carry On

Try to find the strength you need. To calm the doubts in your belief. If you’ve the will, you know your spirit will not break.

If you have strength, then you’ve belief. If you show love, your heart still beats. You’re never quite as lost as you may think.

Though far from shores you’ve yet to reach. Without a star to cross the sea. No avenues of light to guide you to the answers you can’t see.

Seeking fortitude of heart and mind. But who can guide the lost and blind? And who but you can make in Hell yourself a Heaven?

Face your fears, and face your shame. Face the idols you have made. And raze them back unto the dust from which they came.

Be not a servant of the weak. Be the light and change you seek. Leave no stone unturned, and find the strength to carry on.

Hot and Fiery Lamb Masala

Masala is a word of Indian origin, meaning mixture of spices. For instance, the term “garam masala” literally means a “hot mixture of spices”, and is a combination of ground roasted cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom, cloves, and other spices.


Prep: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 40 Minutes

Yield: 4 Servings


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of ghee* or 1 tablespoon of sunflower oilSunflower Oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped

Onion

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

Cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

Coriander

  • 2 bay leaves

Bay Leaves

  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed

Whole Black Peppercorns

  • 3 teaspoons mild paprika

Paprika

  • 1-2 teaspoons hot chili powder

Chili Powder

  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Minced Garlic Cloves

  • 2 inch (5cm) piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped

Ginger

  • 1 x 26-28oz (750g) jar or can of crushed tomatoes or tomato purée

Crushed Tomato

  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Heavy Cream

  • 1/2 cup cashews, ground

Ground Cashews

  • 10oz (300g) leftover roast lamb, coarsely shredded or sliced

Roasted Lamb

  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sea Salt and Pepper


1. Heat the ghee in a large, deep frying pan over low heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Now add the cumin, coriander, bay leaves, peppercorns, paprika, and chili powder while stirring. Cook for a couple of minutes longer until fragrant.

2. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a few more seconds while stirring. Pour in the crushed or puréed tomatoes, cream and nuts. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat slightly, and add the lamb. Simmer for 25-30 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Masala

3. Serve hot over basmati rice with a crisp green salad on the side.

Masala Over Basmati

Variation: Stir in some fresh spinach or 1 cup of frozen peas, thawed, for the last 5-10 minutes of cooking.


*Ghee is clarified butter that is used in Indian cooking. You will find it in specialty Asian markets and it will give your masala an authentic touch.