Mrs. Crappy has a rule pertaining to the Polar Bear Plunge coming up on New Year’s Day. She doesn’t mind that I’m dumb enough to jump in the freezing cold Monongahela River, but she maintains — correctly, I will grudgingly admit — that I’m not allowed in the water unless there are enough friends along to pull me out.
At the moment, I know Jenda is going to show up at the Mon Wharf on Thursday morning. And with all due respect to Jenda, that’s not enough.
Have you always watched the spots about the plunge on the news New Year’s Day and kind of wondered what it would be like? It’s kind of like this:
And let me tell you, boys and girls — the bragging rights are unparalleled. And this could be the year you finally do it.
Specifics? I have specifics. We swim sometime between 9:15 and 9:30 a.m., but you’ll need to be down on the Mon Wharf by 8:30, or you may not make it down there at all. When you get down to the wharf, head towards the Point and look for the red Honda Element flying at least one Ohio State flag; the river bottom and shore is easier to navigate, which means you’re out of the water faster.
Oh, and we usually go get breakfast and beer after.
I have plenty more advice, none of which Jenda needs. But if some newcomers — like, say, you — let me know in the comments that you’re plunging, I’ll be sure to share.
No matter how much I complained about it last night, I’m happy I watched the championship game — it was the best title game I’ve seen in years.
I don’t know if Aunt Annoyed Angel watched last night’s title game, but I guess it doesn’t matter; by virtue of her eerily accurate tiebreaker choice, she’s the winner of the Eighth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown).
AAA was one of eight people — including My Mom, who apparently is some kind of college basketball savant, having one our family’s Clark Kellogg Trophy for the third straight year — who finished with 12 points by correctly picking Louisville as the eventual NCAA champion. But her tiebreaker of 157 was just a single point off the actual total of 158 points, and she is our EAUCNFFC champion and winner of our generously donated Bocktown gift card.
I will admit to being nervous as I scanned the tiebreakers from our 12-Point Club, because two of you — Casey and Calipanthergrl — each picked 142 points. I had flashbacks to last year’s tie — until I saw AAA’s entry.
As I mentioned before, this was a rough year. And that makes me that much more appreciative of everyone who participated, whether as a contestant or as a sponsor (by which I mean Bocktown’s Chris Dilla). You guys are what makes this fun — well, that and the actual basketball — and I can guarantee we’ll be back again next year for NAUCNFFC.
After three weeks of labor — or maybe it just seemed that way — our friends Abby and AJ welcomed their son Andy to life outside the womb this morning.
And that means Derrick is the winner of our Kuftic Baby Pool.
Cindy and Jaci both came up with Tuesday morning entries, but Derrick’s pick of 9:30 a.m. Tuesday was just an hour a day off Andy’s 10:30 a.m. Wednesday arrival. For his correct pick, Derrick wins $22, or half of the pot to which you guys so generously contributed.
The other twenty-two bucks? That’ll be on its way to North Carolina shortly, perhaps to cover a portion of a case of diapers, which, I’m told, aren’t exactly cheap.
Or perhaps for a nice bottle of wine for Abby, because it sounds like she could use one in the very near future.
Thanks to all of you for playing along. Congratulations to Abby and AJ. And welcome to Andy, from all of us.
UPDATE: As Derrick pointed out on Twitter, I pretty clearly don’t have any idea what day it is. Fortunately, my confusion didn’t change the outcome.
UPDATED UPDATE: Derrick also said he’s giving Abby, AJ and Andy his share of the pot. Hey, that’s an entire case of diapers! Or TWO bottles of wine! Thanks, Derrick.
However, you may not be aware that Baby Kuftic is ready to make an appearance any time now. And that, my friends, means we have just enough time to put together one of our patented baby pools.
Here’s the deal: A 15-minute slot of your choice costs $2, and slots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. As this picture was taken today, at 40 weeks and one day, it’s fair to say that time slots starting as soon as, uh, now wouldn’t be out of the question. In the interest of full disclosure: Abby said on Twitter today she’s experiencing what she calls “pre-labor.” As I have very little experience with this sort of thing, I can only assume that means we’re getting close-ish. And that’s all the information I’ve got, boys and girls.
If you win, you’re going to split the pot with Baby Kuftic. Entry fees can be PayPal-ed to me at my UC Gmail address. If you don’t know that, say so, and I’ll make sure you get it.
SO WE CAN ALL SEE WHAT WE’RE PICKING: Please leave your entry as a comment here. I’ll do my best to keep up with publishing them over the next couple of days.
Good luck everyone. Especially to the pregnant lady and almost-new dad.
Who takes three days to make one serving of grilled pizzas?
Me. And pretty much only me.
My quest for the grilled pizza began sometime late Saturday morning, when we began our endless discussion: what’s for dinner? We knew we wanted to grill something, as we wanted to take advantage of last weekend’s glorious weather. Mrs. Crappy would have been happy with cheeseburgers, but I was bent on something fancier.
I don’t recall which one of us came up with grilled pizzas, but I know it took a while to get to the final decision, as Mrs. Crappy shot down all manner of grilled seafood, as well as flank-steak fajita recipe that I was dying to try. But once we got there, it all seemed pretty easy. I remember with great fondness the grilled pizzas I had that one time at Michelle’s house, and after I looked up the recipe (it’s here), we headed off to the grocery store while happily chattering about the toppings we were going to use.
I grabbed the Kitchen Aid mixer (first time using the dough hook!) when we got home and put together the ball of sticky dough we would use in an hour or so. For whatever reason, bread has always been massively intimidating to me, but Michelle’s instructions were perfect and I plopped the ball in an oiled bowl and waited for it to rise.
After nearly 2 hours, it had started to puff up a little bit, but by then it was 9 p.m.; Mrs. Crappy was cranky, I was hungry and we settled for beer and Spaghettios. In addition to that rather unsatisfying* option, we faced a dilemma: would the dough hold up in the fridge for a couple days? I work on Sunday nights, so we would be waiting until Monday to try the pizzas, and I wasn’t sure the dough would hold up that long.
The internet assured me it would — we might even get the added bonus of a sourdough-esque twang in our pizza crusts after all that time — so I wrapped up my precious ball and stuck it in the fridge, ready for me to grill as soon as I got home on Monday night.
Except that on Monday night, I was looking at what seemed to be a rapidly approaching wall of rain**, as well as a wife whose interest in grilled pizza had waned considerably since the weekend. Fine, goddammit — I’ll make my pizzas on the grill pan.
Which, for the most part, worked OK. As per the recipe, I browned one side of the rolled-out crusts, took ’em off the heat, topped them and threw them back on to finish.
I was really pleased with my topping choices, and generally pleased with the overall result. I did, as usual, learn some things for next time:
The grill pan technically worked, but it’s not the best way to do these. Covering the grill pan steams the dough too much, and controlling the cooking speed is difficult; I had to finish mine in the microwave to have melted cheese AND a crust that wasn’t burned.
I thought I rolled the dough thin enough. I was wrong. I like a very thin, very crisp crust, and my dough patties needed to be MUCH thinner.
I liked the slightly sour taste that an extra two days of fermentation gave my crusts, but if I want to cut my grilled pizza production time to, you know, a single day, I need to either A) leave myself extra time for the dough to rise or B) buy fast-rising yeast. Caveat: I pretty much don’t have any idea what I’m doing when it comes to cooking with yeast (see: Great Failed Homebrewing Attempt of 2011), and if someone who does has tips to offer, I’m all ears.
Roasted garlic. I mean, why not?
OK, I don’t want you guys to get the wrong idea. I destroyed the kitchen while cooking Monday night — always a sign that I’m enjoying myself — and in spite of all the griping, the pizzas were delicious. And I’m pleased to know that next time I make them, they’ll be even better.
*I normally LOVE Spaghettios — but not when I’ve been thinking about homemade pizza for the entire day.
**That rain? It didn’t show up until about an hour after I cooked, ate and cleaned up the kitchen.
You know what will instantly wash away all of the hassles of the previous year?
Jumping in an icy river on January 1.
After my initial doubts, I went back to the Mon for the fifth-straight year — and I’m glad I did.
This year was not without some unusual problems. Jenda somehow managed to break her finger, probably while climbing out of the water; and while we all usually end up with some scrapes, Sorg had one cut deep enough that he got himself bandaged up by the EMTs who watch all the idiots — and by that, I mean us — every year.
I’m especially proud of the first-timers who we conned into joining agreed to join us on Tuesday morning. Frank is perfectly suited for such foolishness, Bob DROVE FROM MORGANTOWN SPECIFICALLY TO PLUNGE, and my co-worker Jenny — despite hyperventilating about this for pretty much two days prior to the event — showed up in her bathing suit, even while claiming she hadn’t yet made up her mind. Like all the others who have joined us for the plunge, they all rocked on New Year’s morning and are all certified bad-asses in my book.
My friend Michelle — who showed up again to take pics of the craziness — noted that once I’m out of the water, I always seem to have a smile on my face. And that’s probably why I did it again. And will do it again. And again. And again.
Happy new year, yinz guys. I hope we’ll see you on the wharf in 2014.