The Dabble

-food with a side of life-

Greg’s Family (My Family) and Chicken Marsala

Let’s talk about Greg’s family…I mean my family by marriage…that doesn’t sound right still. Sounds mean to me, as if they aren’t people I’d choose to be in my family but in reality, I adore them. I would be their friend regardless of Greg. Say I met them at an event, I would come back for more…I’m not saying this right. I’m infamous for this kind of thing. (Shut-up Annie and move on.)

I mean geez, they raised and influenced my husband whom I love very much so how could it be any other way. I’ve been around his family for about 8 years. I’ve seen his younger siblings grow to near adulthood and it makes me kind of teary-eyed because I remember those young days. It’s bittersweet.

Greg’s family calls him Gregory but I only call him Gregory when he’s in trouble. They have just as many insider stories and quotes (I think I’ve got a handle on most of them) as my family. I love that. Mitch the dog or Mitch the person, that’s a funny apple, dontcha wish…these are all part of their family stories while growing up. Many of their family videos I’ve seen and I’m fairly certain that when we have children, they will be adorable and come out wearing glasses with Greg’s cute smirk that has clearly been there since birth. I hope they have his personality too-I worry too much sometimes.

His siblings are interested in different professions and have shared and varying talents but people can usually tell they are related by looking at them. They are pretty well known in their area of the world. There’s Greg’s oldest brother Ted, next comes Greg, followed by Paul, Sam and the only girl and youngest, Leslie.

Greg is often told he looks most like his brother Paul, except Paul is thinner and has blonde hair. Not that Greg is overweight- he’s actually fairly thin too. His hair will soon be grey because he takes after his dad who went grey around age 30 so he has dark hair (which I love) with reddish hairs in his beard (from his Irish side) and grey on the sides of his temple at age 25. I can see this in Ted too. Greg welcomes this because he believes that will better represent his wisdom and make him look older. Whatever, honey. He kids.

Ted is about 2 years older than me (turns 30 in January) and I am 2 years older than Greg, Leslie turns 18 in August (she is mature for her age) so we are all fairly close and can understand the social/generational jokes and tidbits. Although, I’ve noticed that his family didn’t really watch a lot of the shows or were aware of the music in mainstream society growing up, so when I comment about something, sometimes they have no idea what I’m talking about and I just look like a weirdo. I think that’s just dandy, those aren’t important anyway but that’s how I sometimes relate to others.

They listened to classic rock growing up (I think because their dad did and adore cult classic movies like Back To the Future and Indiana Jones…which used to be a Christmas tradition to watch in their family). They’ve rubbed off on me and I feel more like who I was meant to be for some of that, mixed with my family’s quirks. Beyond those things, I have to explain what something was/is but then again, I was super-influenced by the mainstream growing up (it just soaked into my brain) so we’re on both sides of that issue. I’m not really that way any more; I’m on the outskirts mixing alternative and mainstream with a preference for the alternative side.

It’s become better the older they’ve become and probably partially due to other people in their life bringing up things that I do…or not because I’m kind of an odd fish. Plus, it’s been somewhat fun to introduce these tidbits and I love their influence on me. I would call it even, maybe.

Ted is working hard in California with his wife Hong (a lovely lady all around) creating software for cell phones. Hong obtained her Masters and works in the special education field; we both have psy as our background. Their one year anniversary is coming up (it seems like yesterday) and her Vietnamese family is very gracious and loving.

Paul is a few years from graduating from college. He is a very talented musician/guitarist, studying that field at Ball State. Sam graduated highschool last year and is a history buff. Sam might be going into the military but for now, he’s working hard and loving life. You better be, Sammy but not too much (wink).

Leslie (I can’t believe this) is starting college in the fall. Congratulations on the “full ride,” Les! (Even though you are going to Indiana University…which is one of Purdue’s rivals and our alma mater…Ted, Greg and I graduated there and Paul began studying at Purdue so she might be getting some jabs) Leslie is a tall redhead that towers over me at almost 6 ft…I’m 5’3” (almost). She is an accomplished ballet dancer and smartypants…the entire family is full of smartypantsers, bound for greatness. I think she is studying the non-profit side of performing arts so that she can help others find the happiness that she did through performing and she has a head for business. All of Greg’s side has a head for business-it’s bred into them.

Greg’s dad, who shares his name (named after Gregory Peck), closed his long-running construction business last year (thanks to the economy) and is now using his leadership and knowledge improving a gravel company. When he was younger, he was moved around state to state quite a bit and had a rough life (his mom was a bit off). He has interesting stories to tell. Eva, the momma, is a wonderful real estate agent working her bum off in these hard times. She’s really accomplished a lot in her own company. She was, from what I hear, a character in drama throughout highschool. They are both active in their community, supportive and when their kids need advice, they are always there. They will give it to you straight with love. They work well together as a couple, complementing one another. I think Greg and I are similar.

I can’t leave out Auntie Leslie in Arizona. She is little sis to Big Greg (my nickname for Greg’s dad). Her husband Richard is a funny man-I met him about a year ago in California and their marriage reminds me of the relationship portrayed between Julia Child and her husband in the movie Julie & Julia (they are great together). Uncle Phil, I don’t know him very well but I have seen his artwork and he is talented and living in Arizona near Auntie Leslie. That side has a killer sense of humor that has definitely influenced the entire family. Then there’s cousin Christine and her husband Jeff, also important characters to the family dynamic. Christine is an outgoing individual that shows and trains horses in Maryland. We both have crazy curly/wavy hair. Her husband Jeff is a nice guy that clearly loves his wife. Then there’s Uncle Bill, in Texas, with his family-he is Eva’s brother. He is a kind man. There are more but these are the people I’ve met…I’ve heard about some others but I will leave them out for now.

I don’t know where I’d put Greg and I. How do you describe something you’re a part of? How do you describe the individuals? I will just say and then there’s us, in Minnesota, floating around in attempts to get to a place that is more us. Annie writes about food and reads articles about her interests in psychology. (I clearly don’t know what to say about myself.) Greg is her loving, supportive husband that is a talented “wood engineer.” Both have great families. They know that there’s more to come for them and from them.

Auntie Leslie provided today’s recipe and I’m glad she did. I’d always heard about chicken marsala but for some reason, felt intimidated to make it. I don’t know why, it was quick and flavorful. My younger self would’ve said “really with the dried cherries, mushrooms and wine?” but adult Annie says “hand it over, please” (because you should always say please and thank you-I was raised right). Thank you, Aunt Leslie!

Have a great weekend! See you on Monday.

Chicken Marsala with Egg Noodles

Chicken Marsala
Serves 4

1 cup of sliced mushrooms (of your choice)-pat them clean with a damp paper towel
4 (4 ounces each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I halved mine and pounded to thin them but you can cut them into similar sized pieces)
flour to coat the chicken
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp onion, chopped (or shallot)
1/3 cup dry Marsala wine
1/3 cup heavy cream-optional
½ cup dried cherries
cooked egg noodles tossed with extra butter-optional

Dredge the chicken through the flour on a plate, after rinsing and patting the chicken dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on each side. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over med heat and add the chicken. Cook until browned on each side. This might need to be done in batches. (Don’t crowd the chicken.) Remove the chicken from the skillet and add the onion and mushrooms, cook until softened. Add the chicken back to the skillet and add the wine, cook until the wine turns a golden color. Add the heavy cream to the sauce and stir. Turn the heat to low/medium and simmer for a few minutes and stir occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the dried cherries when the sauce thickens. You can serve with egg noodles and extra butter melted over the top, maybe some chopped parsley too. Serve hot.