Evanston news delivered free to your inbox!
Thanksgiving is over and we’re in the long, slow slide toward Christmas. Carols are playing, decorations are sprouting up like chin hairs and well, ‘tis the season to be jolly. Unless of course, you’re Gabby. While she is always ready to jump up and dance when “Brick House” comes on, her default mood is Dorothy Parker meets Bette Davis. So this season, we welcome the first annual Gabfest: pet peeves, irritations, aggravations, regrets, advice and an occasional recipe. Why? Because otherwise she will lop someone’s head off and end up in the clink before you can sing Auld Lang Syne.
“Ask the question”
Since when did this become a thing? Talk about redundant! What else are you going to ask, besides a question? The word “ask” means a question follows. I believe people use this phrase to try and sound sophisticated and yet, it has the exact opposite effect. Think of words as you would gallons of gas, dollar bills or your Grandma’s brownies. You want to hoard them, not give them away willy nilly. When you catch yourself saying this idiotic phrase, put on a hair shirt, use Nair as shampoo or self-flagellate with palm fronds if you must but I beg you, knock it off immediately before I hunt you down and make you watch my kid’s viola recitals from 2001.
You do not do something on accident, you do it by accident. “On accident” doesn’t even make sense. In fact, my spell check has underlined it in blue as I write this. Because it is not a phrase. So don’t use it. You will sound like an eleven-year-old who is desperate to be a thirteen-year-old. Can you think of anything worse?
“Broke down,” “Broke down crying,” “Broke down and cried”
Really? What year is it, 1950?
This phrase makes my blood boil. Most people are aware that to cry is to express a human emotion. Sadness, frustration, anger, disappointment, joy. It is cathartic, it is necessary, it is inevitable and it is a wonderful relief from the effort it takes to just plain get through a day sometimes. To cry is not to break down. Breaking down implies helplessness, neediness, perhaps an emergency. Call 911! Someone is shedding a tear! And they did it in public! Where is the SWAT team when you need it? And just what should we do to those who break down, a public flogging? Burn at the stake? To be shamed for crying is inexcusable and reflects very badly on the commentator or journalist who shames normal people by using this phrase, ever. Why is it even used at all? Because writers/journalists are too lazy to do without the time-worn cliches they use without question or creativity. Shame on them and shame on their editors. May they be sentenced to nothing on their holiday table except Susan Stamberg’s Pepto Bismol-colored cranberry relish.
I believe it’s called a pregnancy. And pregnancy deserves the awe and respect of everyone gazing at it. And by the way, people gazing don’t always have the right to be commentating. Keep your gaze to yourself, mister. A pregnancy that is starting to show should not be reduced to a stupid, cutesy phrase just because of a little alliteration. Catering to the lowest common denominator is a bad look, even if you’re TMZ and that is what you’re famous for.
Does one go missing? I believe you are either missing or not missing. I do not believe you go missing as in travel to a missing place, which is what that phrase suggests. Someone might have been missing, but they did not go there. Missing is not a destination, like Cancun for instance. You go to Cancun. You do not go to missing. I know there are accepted phrases like “go berserk,” but “go missing” is not in this category. Let’s get back to the basics, people, and refrain from using phrases that originated on Kojak.
Big parenting regret
When I gave my kids cell phones, around 7th grade, I did not say, “When you sit down to do homework, the phones all go in a bowl in the kitchen and they stay there ‘til morning! You can check it once after homework and before bed but warn all your friends that your ogre mother has gone berserk (see above) and is a mean tyrant but that is the law in this house.” I just didn’t have the foresight or the energy for the argument, I admit. And while they seem to have turned out OK so far, this is one thing I regret a lot. Don’t be like me.
They twist my spinal cord into a noose in which I want to hang myself. Chew with your mouths closed, people!
The perfect soft/hard boiled egg
I happen to like a cooked egg that is liquidy in the very core but firm where the yolk meets the white. To achieve this perfection, take my advice. Bring a pot of water to a full boil, drop eggs in gently and boil for nine minutes exactly. You don’t have to turn the heat down but you might want to if it looks like it will boil over. After nine minutes exactly, either dump the eggs in an ice bath or run cold water over them for a while. De-LISH! Eating them warm is like sticking the moon into your mouth. Store refrigerated and if you want to bring them back to the liquidy state, put one in a mug of very hot water for a few minutes.
Wonderful holiday appetizer (unless you’re lactose intolerant)
Serves 22 normal people or 12 people like me
3 C cranberries
⅓ C dried currants
3/4C firmly packed light brown sugar
⅓ C water
1/8 t each: dry mustard, ground allspice, cardamon, cloves, ginger, crushed red pepper flakes
2.2 lb round of brie (1 kilo, 8 inches in diameter). This can be hard to find for less than a year’s tuition at Northwestern. Believe it or not, Whole Foods used to have a 2.2 round for under $10. This year, no. If you need to, you can use four normal size rounds and place them in a 2×2 grid.
Combine spices, cranberries, currants, sugar in non-aluminum pan. Cook over medium-high heat until most but not all the cranberries have popped, about 6-8 min., cool to room temp before using.
Carefully cut the top rind from the cheese. Put cheese on a foil-lined baking sheet. Spread a thick layer of cranberry glaze over the top. Use it all. It will pour over the sides as well. (It can be assembled up to this point and refrigerated but should come to room temp before baking). Bake at 300 til just soft and warm, about 12 min (I find this isn’t long or hot enough. I crank it to 325 or even 350 and bake til it starts oozing so I know the center is soft) To serve, use the foil to move cheese to a larger platter (I serve it on the cookie sheet). If it’s not oozing, you can move cheese off the foil (but, why bother?). Decorate with mint or fresh cranberries if desired.
Your diners will LOVE it.
Have a Diet Coke and think of me. Better yet, have an open checkbook and donate to worthy causes.
Happy holidays and Happy New Year!
Dear Gabby appears in the RoundTable every Monday. Yes, Gabby is an advice columnist – but not just any advice columnist. Because that would be boring! Gabby combines wisdom with wit. And a pinch of snark. She is not a trained therapist by any means, but has seen and loved many in her day. Her aim is to make you think while she makes you laugh. Gabby welcomes all questions and queries and is only too happy to hear your opinion, no matter how much it may diverge from hers. Write to Gabby at firstname.lastname@example.org.