- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Dads are distinct individuals, so it is difficult to generalize about our appetites — except when it comes to Father’s Day. Then there are definite do’s and don’ts, maybe even some stereotypes, that make up the recipe for an ideal day.

Attitude is one ingredient, and the correct ‘tude for the day is indulgence. This means there are plenty of things dads don’t want to hear.

We don’t, for example, want anything to do with self-improvement. Forget herbal remedies to cure baldness. Instead, we want to wallow in what we are. Our advice to family members thinking about gifts for dad is to think of his bad habits and buy items that support them.

Also, do not mention the “C” words — calories, cholesterol and (heart) congestion. Do not give him books that warn against them. Do not give him an exercise video showing how to reduce them. Reduce is a dirty word on Father’s Day.

Instead, bake the guy a pie. Or give him a bottle of his favorite liquid, which is probably not bottled water.

On the plus side, there are plenty of words a dad would love to hear on an ideal Father’s Day. Two of them are “I agree.” An acceptable variant of this welcome wording would be “You’re right.” These are sentiments that are rarely uttered in a father’s presence these days, especially in his own home.

Saying them requires the speakers to listen, however briefly, to what their dad is saying. Pretending to be interested as dad rants about how to cook a steak or the correct way to hold the steering wheel or who should be our next president requires some acting ability. But most children are pretty accomplished at deceiving their parents.

Another phrase that is music to a father’s ears is: “Do whatever you want.” On most days of the year, we dads work at tasks that other people — bosses, family members, society — expect us to perform. We go to work. We yell at the kids. We attempt home repairs. Father’s Day offers us the chance to do something merely because we want to do it, without being sneaky about it.

On Father’s Day, we can sit in our family room and still be free from family responsibilities. It’s a great feeling. Usually, we can’t think of much to do with our few hours of newfound freedom, other than sitting still and downing several cold beverages, but this annual brief taste of liberty keeps us content for another year.

Although we dads do care what family members say about us as they sit around the supper table on our day, we also care about the food and drink that is put on the table. On Father’s Day, we want to feel primal, like we are at the top of the food chain. On Father’s Day, the hunk myth matters. We hunger for a hunk of meat, a hunk of fish or a hunk of melon.

In that spirit, I have drawn up a menu of my ideal Father’s Day fare. It would start with a crisp, cold beer, probably a Pilsener, served with fresh garden-grown radishes and enjoyed as I sit watching a baseball game. The combination of good beer and fresh radishes is always a winner, even when my favorite team loses.

Next would come a big Caesar salad loaded with croutons and anchovies.

The main course, depending on my mood and what’s available at the local seafood market, would either be fresh soft-shelled crabs sauteed in butter or a standing rib roast coated with salt and pepper and cooked over a charcoal fire.

Bottles of wine — a chilled Muscadet with the soft-shells, a big cabernet sauvignon with the roast — would be poured into my never-empty goblet.

As for dessert, it would have to be strawberry-rhubarb pie, for two reasons. First, June is when the strawberries are ripe and ready to be paired with rhubarb. Second, the pie reminds me of my Dad, who died several years ago.

Whenever my Dad heard me complain that rain was ruining my day, he would say, “Don’t worry, son, it is good for the rhubarb.”

As a child, I didn’t know or care what that bit of paternal wisdom meant, that dark days can produce a good crop, but now when the rain falls, my father’s words often resonate in my head and I find myself saying, “I agree.”

Strawberry-rhubarb pie

This recipe is a variation on one from “Chesapeake Bay Cooking With John Shields” (Broadway Books).

Pastry dough (recipe follows)

1½ pints strawberries, stemmed, divided

2 cups diced rhubarb

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Sweetened whipped cream

Prepare pastry dough, and roll it out to line a 9-inch pie pan. Flute edge of the shell and prick the bottom with a fork.

Press aluminum foil into bottom and up sides of the shell, and cover foil with dried beans as a weight to prevent crust from swelling during baking.

Bake in preheated 425-degree oven for 8 minutes. Remove foil and beans, return crust to oven, and continue baking until crust is light brown, 10 to 20 minutes. Cool before filling.

Place half the strawberries in a pot. Mash with a fork or potato masher. Add rhubarb and sugar. Combine cornstarch with ½ cup water, the lemon juice and salt in a small bowl, and stir to dissolve cornstarch.

Add to strawberry-rhubarb mixture. Cook over medium heat until mixture is thick and rhubarb is tender, stirring often.

Pour strawberry-rhubarb mixture into pie shell, then top with remaining berries. Cover and chill. Serve garnished with whipped cream sweetened with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla for 1 cup of cream. Makes 1 9-inch pie.

PASTRY DOUGH:

1½ cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

½ cup vegetable shortening

Pour water into a measuring cup and fill with ice cubes to chill. Set aside.

Sift flour and salt together into a mixing bowl.

Work the shortening into the flour with your fingertips or a pastry blender, until the mixture is the consistency of coarse meal.

Add 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix with a fork after each addition.

Dough should be just moist enough to hold together. Form dough into a ball, wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before rolling.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide