Two Sweaty Teenage Boys, A Small Car, and a Long Road Trip

As most of you know, this weekend I had the opportunity to compete again in the Aetna Healthy Food Fight.  The winner won’t be announced until Monday or Tuesday, but that will be a whole ‘nother story.  This story is about actually getting to the fair, and cooking my dish.

This year, the cookoff was held in Dallas, at the Texas State Fair, a 5 hour drive from my Texas Hill Country home..  My husband Greg and older son Reagan would be getting sworn in to the Texas Guard this weekend, so they would be neither  joining me, nor staying home to hold down the fort.  Since a wise parent does not leave a 13 year old boy home alone for the weekend, and despite his impassioned pleas otherwise, Max had to go with me to Dallas.  A wise parent also does not allow said 13 year old to bring another 13 year old boy with him on a 5 hour road trip, but we all make choices we hope to live to regret.

I actually love Tuff Hale.  He is a regular fixture at my house, and is like another son to me.  But when he is at my house, and the boys have had enough of each other, or I have had enough of them, I can simply retreat to another room, or go out for some retail therapy.  Not so while trapped in a car for 5 hours.

I think also important to mention that I drive a convertible VW Beetle.  When the top is down, it is huge—endless fresh air, no roof above my head.  Freedom to crank the radio as loud as we please, sing at the top of our lungs. Plenty of fresh air and freedom to breathe.  It is the latter that I would come to miss dearly.

We left for Dallas immediately after the boys got out of school.  Actually, immediately after they got out of football practice.  Teenage boys are not fond of showers, deodorant, or keeping their sweaty shoes and socks on their feet.  Did I mention my car was small?  A 5 hour road trip in a small car that smells like a locker room and sweaty gym shoes feels more like a 7 hour trip.

Also, teenage boys do not tend to have pleasant taste in music, or tasteful senses of humor.  One of them was looking up dirty jokes on his smart phone, which gave me the opportunity to understand that teenage boys do not have filters, and do not inherently understand the concept of “inappropriate humor”.  We will call these “teaching moments”, and there were many.  I wish I could say that at least the jokes were funny, but alas, I cannot.

The other child spent NO LESS than one hour looking up and repeating “yo mama” jokes on his Ipad.  Yo Mama So Fat…..Yo Mama So Dumb…..Yo Mama So Ugly….Yada yada yada.  After a while, I became so numb that literally all I heard for the last 20 minutes was “yo mama, yo mama, yo mama, yo mama…”  When the Ipad was threatened with a hasty demise (by being hurled out the window at 75 miles an hour), the jokes finally stopped.

There were some more cerebral road games, such as naming the (car, animal, food) that starts with A, B, C…….And so on.

Finally, we arrived in Dallas at around 10pm.  Have I mentioned how I hate driving in the city?  I think I have taken for granted living in a town with 5 stop lights and no interchanges.  No more….We arrived at our hotel at 11pm.  We wouldn’t have gotten there that early if it hadn’t been for Lola, the lady that lives in my cell phone navigation software.  Thanks Lola, you’re the bomb!

I cooked first thing the next morning at the State Fair.  My cousin Julie and her family (Josh, Tate, Case) had driven in from a nearby town to see me and cheer me on.  It has been 15 years since I had seen her, so that was nice, and glad our boys got to meet.  One should always know ones people, I think.

The session went well.  I was pleased with my dish, and I think the judges were too.  One should always ply the judges with Tequila, I think.  You can see the complete recipe below, from an earlier post.  Here is a picture of my presentation dish….

Pecan Crusted Tilapia, Reduced Margarita Sauce, Strawberry Peach Salsa

I won’t know until later this week if I advance to the finals or not, but I had a blast trying.   It was dreadfully hot at the fairgrounds, and ridiculously expensive.  The boys opted to ride one carnival ride, and then go back to the hotel to swim…I opted to pull the shades in the hotel room, and settle in for some cold, dark, silent time…….Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Let’s discuss the ride home another time.



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Categories: Food, Texas


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