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FROM THESE ISLANDS I RISE- free book currently on Amazon

Filipinos, Asians, Fil-Ams, mixed peeps, Asian-American people, people married to Islanders or raised by them or with kids from ‘there’:

You need to read this- it is free on Kindle right now!

Christine-Marie Liwag Dixon wrote this and it is definitely a testimony to being Filipino and mixed in North America.

I loved this. As a fellow mixed race Filipino-American, I could identify with so much of Liwag Dixon’s writing and poetry. The emotions behind her writings ring true and clear. I am also a person who also has a foot in both worlds, to some extent, and I identified very strongly with her poetry.

She was my co-writer for the screenplay we just did- a brilliant pianist and musical talent, and a prolific novelist, poet, and journalist.

Feel free to read and leave a review.

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Some Pictorial Instagram Highlights from Our Month Away From Blog (lots of photos)…

I am seriously lazy right now and supposed to be cleaning the upstairs. I let a lot go to seed when I was recovering from my illness. I dusted and cleaned for about thirty minutes this afternoon- and now I have to try to get the Maisie to go down for her nap.

I’ve gone most vegetarian since my kidney infection- and I’ve upped my water intake. We have cut out red meat almost entirely (the others in my house still eat it).

This was Maisie’s breakfast today- Filipino Adobo Fried Rice, with a fried egg and sriracha

Maisie had photos done with her brothers in early October:

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All of my children in one photo #love #kittyleephotography #family

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She wore lots of cute outfits:

We went to visit my late grandparents’ house, it is now a law office:

me, on same staircase, as a baby:

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Me at the same age #nostalgia #sweet #family #memories

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We got dressed up for Halloween Trick or Treating:

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It's healing nicely #happyhalloween

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My little giraffe #happyhalloween

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We experienced unseasonably warm “Indian Summer” temps here in Michigan (in November!):

She went to her first art gallery show with Mommy and Daddy (and brother and Papa):

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Taking Maisie to her first art gallery show #momlife #memories

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Maisie's daddy

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Toy Giraffe Tuesday: Maisie, Her Giraffe, And Late 1940s-50s Vintage Toddler Dress

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vintage baby dress and toy giraffe

Ever since R bought that 2.5 ft toy giraffe for her birthday, she’s been OBSESSED with it.

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Today it hit it’s pinnacle: she refused to eat or go anywhere without it. She cried every time you took it away, even for a minute.

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We haven’t named it yet, but she calls it “G’affe”.

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Today’s outfit is a late 1940s-early 1950s vintage baby dress I found on eBay. It is made of cotton and dotted swiss. I adore retro baby dresses- the quality and construction (and price) can’t be beat! I should have ironed it, but I have no time for that.

I really wonder how my grandmother dealt with 4 daughters and all those dresses to iron! I know people say that they ‘sprinkled the dresses with water’, but the details are sketchy. One of my friends showed me how to iron puffed baby sleeves and it is kind of like those Imelda Marcos butterfly sleeved Filipino dresses.

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it’s poor neck gets a lot of twisting

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the giraffe gets more kisses than we do!

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non-giraffe shot

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more G’affe kisses

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Pet Peeve #102- When HIS Family Members Treat Maisie Like A Non-Entity (and him, too)- or Crazy CAN be NON-VIOLENT, too.

See these 2 people- they MATTER. Maybe not to his own family, but to me and mine.

See these 2 people- they MATTER. Maybe not to his own family, but to me and mine.

**this week has been MONUMENTALLY BAD for us. I am almost ashamed that I’ve ranted so much on this blog, but what the hell… only real place I can do it**

Pet Peeve #101 can be found HERE

I have actually known about this for a few weeks, but didn’t know the SPECIFICS until a few days ago when we spoke to another family member of his.

Background:

R is the 2nd child (and youngest) in his family. His only sister had her son (his family’s first grandchild) 2 months before Maisie was born. His family pretty much treats him like a non-entity. They live 3 blocks away from us and never come to see him/Maisie. They bought two houses next door to each other so that they could move his sister and her hubs in next to them while she was pregnant. They’d previously lived DIRECTLY ACROSS THE ALLEY from the 2 houses. His sister is 13 yrs older than he.  They (R’s mom/sister/nephew) take walks daily, but never walk by our house nor stop by. We ALWAYS have to come to THEM. I’ve never once asked (nor have I needed) them to babysit my daughter. They help raise little baby Milton because R’s sister is a veterinarian and works- as does her hubby.

They once told me that we could not look baby Milton in the eyes for the first 30 minutes we were there, lest it upset him. R’s father is always told (when he picks up Maisie) by his mother/sister “Put her down, you’re making Milton jealous”. He generally drops her after they say this… except for a month ago during R’s birthday dinner and the father got glares from his wife/daughter as a result of his ‘not obeying’.

Fucking give me a break- this boy is only a year old! This is even unhealthier in other ways than MY dysfunctional family.

Also, there is the racist thing. They’re not happy that I am half-Asian and that Maisie looks Asian. R tried to shrug it off as “Dad was in Vietnam” (give me a fucking break- he never left Stateside)- or “My grandpop was in the Pacific Theater” (OMFG, SO WAS MINE).

Here’s the perfect RACIST example:

We had previous issues with his parents in the past. This is from a post to my Facebook in 2011 when I had a miscarriage and his father INSISTED he drive us to the hospital for the d&c:

What happened when we drove to Kalamazoo for the procedure, or, Am I being too sensitive here?

December 22, 2011 at 2:42am

On Monday when we had to go to Kalamazoo for the D&C, R’s dad offered to drive (which was fortunate because R was hit with another stomach ailment and had a bucket in his lap the entire way).

I was nervous about the procedure and cramping slightly because of the dose of misoprostal/cytotec they had me take the night before. 

I sat in the back seat while R sat in the front passenger’s seat, hugging his puke bucket.

Suddenly, R’s dad starts talking, prefacing his speech with “I don’t want to offend you, but… ” then goes on to inform me that I am high risk at my age being pregnant. 

I acknowledge this fact and try to keep the tone pleasant… I mean, that’s the whole reason I was going all the way to Kalamazoo to see an obstetrician. 

Somehow, his discourse changed to “Asians age overnight- you can go to bed with someone who looks 16 and wake up with something that looks 60”.  He also implied something that made me reassure HIM that I wasn’t trying to make ‘retarded babies’.

He went on and on about the Asians and their aging overnight for about 10 minutes, as if to drive the point home for me somehow.

I didn’t let him have it then because I was a) in shock that he’d SAY something like this to me, ESPECIALLY at this time as he was driving us to surgery for the miscarriage and b) I was terrified about the procedure itself and c) it was 4 am and I was so tired.

Anyway, I’ve had a lot of time to think about this over and over since then and am floored at the ill-timed racial slurs (to be honest, he’s mentioned this 4 or 5 times before, but usually when he’s drunk) and insensitivity.  I also am really angry about it.

We were supposed to go to R’s parent’s for Xmas Eve and I am not comfortable going at all.  Because I know that Ray would never say a peep to his parents about this, I texted his mom tonight and told her I wouldn’t be going and why I wasn’t going.  I am depressed enough right now and the thought of that drive there/what that man had the balls to say to me really pisses me off.

 I put up with stupid, insensitive things from my parents.  I do NOT have to put up with them from HIS parents.  I am sick of being treated like some foreigner.  His father’s asked me before how long I’d been in this country– hello, I was born in St. Joseph, MI.  He’s mentioned the overnight aging thing before.  Hell, I think he doesn’t mention the black genetics because I happened to find black ancestors in HIS genealogy (which seemed to shut down his genealogical endeavors immediately, lemme tell ya).

I may be a little sensitive right now, but I don’t think it’s wrong of me to feel uncomfortable considering the circumstances– or angry. I had to type this out because I have been so upset over this (and y’all know, if I am so upset that I keep my mouth shut for 2 or 3 days mulling things over before spewing them here, it must REALLY bother me).

Needless to say, I did not speak to these people for a few years after that. I calmed down a lot after Maisie was born because in my mind it was only the right and fair thing that she know her grandparents on his side. He has NO OTHER relatives here in Michigan except for his folks and sister’s family. The rest live in Philly and he barely knows them.

Anyway, on his nephew’s birthday on the 4th of July, his parents INSISTED and MADE SURE we’d be there for his 1st birthday party. Of course, I had no problems with this- I come from a large family (however effed it it may be at times) and want Maisie to know her only cousin on his side. His mother helped cook for the party, it was all very nice. I took the photos of the children together and thought nothing of it until a few weeks ago when I casually mentioned to R’s mom that we’d be having a small ‘family only’ cake party for Maisie’s 1st birthday on the 10th of September. We planned on having a bigger party on the 19th when R has a day off.

R’s Mother: “We can’t come on the 10th, we fly out to Vegas that morning- we’ll have to do something on the 9th”

I told her (nicely, because I was still kinda gobsmacked- they’ve been to Vegas 3x in the last couple of months for FUN- it’s not like they’re poor and have to save all year for these vacays- this is a COMMON THING) that we were busy on the 9th.

I was so shocked- but kept a cool facade- that I couldn’t even respond to that.

I learned later on (a couple of days ago) that they planned the trip so they could take BABY MILTON back to Vegas (not his first trip) and that it was the only day they could because his daddy had that weekend off… Gimme a BREAK. They KNEW when her birthday was. They were AT THE HOSPITAL WHEN SHE ARRIVED. She is their only other grandkid.

The mother is passive-aggressive as hell. She even likes to talk about how much ‘Milton loves Vegas’, as if it hurts us.

She says things with a pleasant look on her face, like: “I would have had an abortion with R, but his dad likes babies, so I had to keep him” OR (when I was pregnant with the one I miscarried): “Just so you know, I don’t touch or pick up other people’s babies before they’re a year old”.

What HURTS is how they treat R and my baby. No amount of money can replace kind words or even a loving interest that R craves from them.

Early on in our relationship, we were having problems. Being the mother of three sons, I suggested he call him mom and talk it out with her- that’s what I would expect MY kids to do.

He called her and chatted for an hour. He felt so good after… until a few days later, when we saw her face-to-face and she said:

“Oh, you know the day you called and talked and cried on the phone? I put the phone down and did laundry”

WHAT.THE.FUCK?!

R’s father is also a doozy- as long as I’ve known them, he’s told R (as if by ROTE):

“You know son, the reason why we can’t have a close relationship is because ‘a daughter’s a daughter all her life, but a son’s a son til he takes a wife’- and that’s why I am closer to your sister”

This man LITERALLY says this nearly every time he sees R. It’s ridiculous. They do it with these bizarre-ass smiles on their faces, too- never raising voices, nada. Like they’re saying “Oh, the sky is blue” or “Isn’t that a pretty flower?”

So, after SIX LONG YEARS of never seeing R even address this, he finally broke down and cried a bit over it today.

Yeah, they throw money and cars at him… and I always ask WHY he accepts them.

His answer, through his sadness: “Don’t you think I KNOW that’s all I will ever get? I take it because that’s all they ever do for me”.

He accepts these crumbs because he knows he can never possibly win their love. Not with this baby. Not by himself.

I can’t really relate, these are wealthy, spoiled people problems in my book. I just get more pissed off the longer I witness it.

If he tells his dad that he’s done something, the father will say:

“OH, I’VE DONE THAT *FIRST*- YOU ONLY DID IT BECAUSE *YOU ARE MY SON*”

Watching him try to bend over to please them for years has broken my heart and this finally did us all in.

I told him, under NO circumstances, will he be carting her off to them during the holidays or to show her off.

R said, much to my surprise: “You’re right- if they want to see her, they can come over like EVERYONE ELSE DOES”

I have never seen him stand up for himself or Maisie before today- even though he didn’t say it to their faces (they never do that in his family), it was startling and HUGE for him to do this.

MY PARENTS are much older than his, in poor health, and yet they still come 14 miles nearly every day to visit with Maisie.

His are 3 BLOCKS away and won’t even come to her birthday.

In my opinion, because this was so spur of the moment and she didn’t even bother to tell us until asked to Maisie’s birthday- this was a calculated move on their parts, just like everything else.

R, for the first time in his life, tears streaming down his face, agreed.

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

My folks and so many other say “Oh, they’re missing out- don’t get worked up over it”, but I needed to write this out- to vent this- to shout this- because IT’S BEEN EATING AT ME ALL FREAKING MONTH.

Tomorrow is her birthday. I wish them a bon voyage to Vegas.

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Something horrible happened to us yesterday- If you have a parent with bipolar and/or dementia, you’ll understand- maybe

the boys and maisie before the shit hit the fan yesterday

the boys and maisie before the shit hit the fan yesterday

I am super exhausted and depressed today. My lupus is flaring from the stress and I can’t get out of bed.

I will probably get a lot of flack from relatives for posting this, but I simply don’t give a SHIT. I cannot fathom bottling this up and hiding this like we have for so many years. It’s killing us all.

I am rarely ever depressed and spent most of yesterday crying- so did my oldest son, Sam.

My lack of depression is due to years and years of therapy, high doses of vitamin D3 (NOT antidepressants, they don’t work for me), and changing my mindset/lifestyle.

Yesterday was my youngest son, Connor’s, 17th birthday. For the first time in years, all three of my sons were home for this occasion.

Connor's birthday yesterday- he loves his Papa so much

Connor’s birthday yesterday- he loves his Papa so much

Sam, the oldest, recently moved home from Chicago, where he’d been at college and living for quite a few years. Jay, my middle, spent a year at college in Houston, TX with his father-before that, he’d been living on his own. Only Connor and Maisie are at home now.

My mother has battled her entire life with Bipolar NOS. When I say “battled”, I mean she mostly battered US when she lost her mind and had her cycles, because she surely didn’t get help for it. There was nothing to be done about it when I was growing up- psychiatric medications and treatments simply did not exist as they do today. To compound things, she now has early dementia at 71- which is likely due to small strokes from her Factor V Leiden genetic clotting disorder (which I also have and take heparin daily to prevent. I had 2 small TIAs- little strokes- before being diagnosed). Her memory isn’t the greatest, at least the short term. Her long term has always been selective at best as well.

Little things have ALWAYS ‘triggered’ her. To her credit, she’s been much less violent since getting older/dementia, but it’s still no cakewalk.

When she is “GOOD”,she is funny, charismatic, charming, engaging, loving. When she is “BAD”, someone may end up in the hospital, things destroyed, people may get hurt physically.

I feel so horrible for my poor father, who has always had to care for her and now is in bad health himself. She leaves on the 21st of September to go back to the Philippines and we’re all waiting with baited breath for this.

I have a unique form of PTSD, my therapist says, due to years of abuse from her. It is called “Complex PTSD“.

When she goes off, I FREEZE… and fall to pieces, as if I cannot defend myself at all. Oddly, if anyone ELSE tried the same shit she did to me, I would defend myself and others probably to the death. I am so not submissive- except with her, I turn into a scared, anxious, frightened child again. What I have is not uncommon in people who suffered long term physical and mental abuse as children- and luckily, I am not as bad off as my poor sisters.

As a result, I want better/calmer/more peaceful for my own kids. I cannot live like this anymore. I can’t. My older 2 were exposed to her/my mom helped raised them and the oldest is very like me in his responses- the middle is EXACTLY LIKE HER, down to the bipolar and rages. Connor was not around her much during her worst times/when he was small because I lived in Wisconsin. He’s probably my most well-adjusted kid. I am a much different type of parent with my younger children than with my older 2. I feel guilt and shame when I think back and realized that I ALLOWED my mother’s ‘wisdom’ and will to color my parenting style- and that I left them with her at all, truth be told.

Now she also has dementia on top of this and my dad and I are the only caregivers she has in this country. My siblings won’t help- they live too far away and she’s much more abusive to those girls than to me. My oldest sister can handle her to a certain extent, but the poor woman recently was diagnosed/is going through a horrible lupus flare and works 12 hours a day.

So, anyway, yesterday I tried to make EVERYTHING perfect: I baked Connor’s favorite- a New York Cheesecake with sour cream topping. R bought cookies and snacks for my mom. The boys tidied up the house, made coffee in preparation for their grandparent’s arrival. It was just the children, my ex, R, and my parents. We were so excited.

Poor R hadn’t showered that day and left his ball cap on because he felt grubby and had been running around town buying last minute gifts and food goodies. The boys rough housed in the dining room like old times. My oldest, Sam, got on the piano to play “Happy Birthday” so we could all sing while Conny blew out his candles.

My parents arrived and mom sat down. R came from my office with his hat on. She yelled at him that it was disrespectful to wear a hat indoors and he said “I haven’t showered”- AND SHE LOST HER FUCKING MIND ON HIM.

So, R STORMS out, the door slams- which isn’t like him at all, but she is always mean to him, calling him “That fucker”, etc. She starts screaming at ME, at Connor, at EVERYONE. She SCREAMS at Jeff about him ‘allowing’ R in our house and Jeff says quietly to her: “Mama, I have no idea what’s going on”- so she screams more and chucks her car keys at his face.

In the midst of this, I am behind Jeff and holding my baby in my arms. I see the knife near the cake and whisper to Connor- “grab the knife, please hide the knife”- because I HAVE SEEN HER TRY TO STAB PEOPLE IN THE PAST. I am getting yelled at and holding my baby and looking at my feet, scanning for escape routes just in case, just flight or fight mode x10000.

My older sons eventually somehow get her out to the porch and try to calm her down. Jeff says to me “I want her to leave”, but nobody makes that move. I can’t call the police, because she has DEMENTIA on top of this and my father can’t afford the damned bill of hospitalization again so close to her departure date for Manila. Dad ended up finally taking her home and I spent the rest of the night worrying how he was faring at home alone with her, but I did not dare call him lest it cause her to go insane again.

It went from joy to feeling like a fucking FUNERAL.

We eventually were able to blow out the candles and let Conny open presents, but his poor face was so sad. I won’t even post the videos. They make me cry every time I watch them. We took C out for a huge dinner at our favorite restaurant. He received a new Xbox One and tons of games for his birthday, which he did not expect at all.

I kept having flashbacks to an earlier birthday party at our old house, many years prior- I think it was Sam’s- when she threw hot coffee in my face and I had to lock myself in the bathroom and brace the door closed with my legs while calling 911 because I LIT THE BIRTHDAY CANDLES BEFORE SHE TOLD US TO. This was when she was still reasonably young and healthy…

…or the time when Sam was 4ish and Jay was a year old and I lived at their house. It was winter and I wanted to take them outside to play in the snow. Jay was bundled in his little snowsuit and Sam was almost ready, but she lost her mind because we COULDN’T FIND A GLOVE. I was not dressed, barefoot, in the snow holding my baby. My father was outside, too. I had a DREAM OF THIS EXACT SCENARIO A MONTH PRIOR BEFORE THE SNOWS CAME AND TOLD MY DAD ABOUT IT- in my dream, she shot us all and our blood was over the white snow. My dad called it bullshit when I told him about the premonition…

Dad and I were in front of the house and she came outside. Dad held baby Jay and she tried to beat my father with a snow shovel. She abruptly went back inside the house and I exclaimed “OMG DAD, THIS IS EXACTLY LIKE MY DREAM I TOLD YOU ABOUT!!”- so he tosses the baby to me and sprints to the barn.

I only got as far as to hide behind the tire of one of the cars with my hand over my year old baby’s mouth.

I hear the door open and I see her with the shotgun and she is SCOPING. Suddenly, I hear shots fired- I peep around the corner of the car where I am crouched and SHE IS SHOOTING INTO THE PUMPKIN PATCH.

She went back in and I ran to the barn where dad was and said “WE HAVE TO CALL THE POLICE- WE NEED TO GET HELP” or something similar.

He agrees and I walked BAREFOOT IN THE SNOW through the woods holding my baby- where she cannot see me (we lived on an isolated 20 acres, about 1/8th of a mile from the road) to the neighbors… and called the cops (this was before cell phones).

When the cops came, my dad told them I was lying.

Did I mention that my dad was ALSO a cop?

When I asked my dad later why he lied to them, his answer was:

“What good would it have done anyway? It’s embarrassing, yadda…”

So I took my children to my best friend’s and moved far away for many years.

Since my middle son started to go through similar as a teen, I have been a HUGE ADVOCATE for getting healthy mentally/mental health screening/therapy. My father never came around and didn’t support this at all until my middle boy moved in with him and he had to go through this himself.

Hiding and making excuses for mentally ill loved ones is DANGEROUS AND LONG LASTING IN IT’S DAMAGE.

I am still crying typing this. I can barely function today.

I hate untreated bipolar. I hate abuse. I hate dementia. I hate living in fear.

If you want to beat someone- become a dominatrix. If you want to be beaten, hire a domme.

DON’T FUCK INNOCENT PEOPLE’S LIVES AND YOUR OWN.

My 2 stories are mild ones in my family. I have more that are far worse.

If anything resonates with you, if you’ve been through the same, I send you hugs.

If you are like this- get FUCKING HELP NOW- YOU *CAN* DO IT. DON’T WAIT TIL IT’S TOO LATE AND YOU’RE 71 YRS OLD AND HALF YOUR FRONTAL LOBE IS GONE.

End of my rant.

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Soul Food Fusion Feast: Collard Greens, White Truffle Sriracha Macaroni and Cheese, and the Works!

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my mom found the nicest collard greens today at a tiny farm stand run by two little old men

So my mom went to a tiny farm stand today in Benton Harbor, Michigan that was run by two little old men. It was more like a few boxes next to the road with their home garden produce for sale. They had the most BEAUTIFUL collard greens I’ve seen in a long time- clean, no insect holes… and some great sweet corn. She picked up a garbage bag full of greens, another bag of fresh corn and sweet banana peppers and later showed up at my house.

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Cleaning and shredding the collards

As luck would have it, R brought home a slab of artisanal hog jowl bacon the day before- delicious small batch stuff. I secretly wondered what I’d do with it- and my mom provided the solution! She cleaned the greens while I sliced up the onions and bacon.

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hog jowl bacon and onions at the bottom of the pot

I filled the pot with the washed and torn greens, onions, bacon, chicken stock (to cover), threw in a whole hot pepper, garlic powder, black pepper, a spoonful of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.

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getting ready to simmer the greens for a few hours

The entire thing was brought to a boil, then covered and simmered for a few hours- it’s done when the bacon is very fork tender.

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White truffle sriracha macaroni and cheese ready for oven

In the middle of our cooking, my dad called to tell me that his bestie from Oregon, my Uncle Bill, was in town. I told them to come on over and I’d cook a big spread for everyone. I quickly thought up a menu to go with the greens and rice I’d planned for mom and me.

I decided on homemade macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob, basmati rice, cornbread, and two types of cucumber salad (thanks to a box of cukes and zucchini my dad pulled out of the van at the last moment). I did a German type sour cream cucumber onion salad because my uncle was fond of it- and a Malaysian cucumber onion salad with sambal. I fished a few sweet banana peppers out of the garbage bag full of corn- and roasted the peppers. Later, I cut them in strips and dressed them with fresh raw crushed garlic, lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.  When my dad asked where the meat was, I sent R out for a bucket of chicken to go with it all.

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though it was pretty, next time I WON’T bake it. It’s MUCH creamier when the sauce is just mixed in with the noodles.

This mac and cheese was quickly improvised- a box of elbows boiled al dente, a white sauce with 3 cups of various cheeses melted into it, spices, sriracha, white truffle oil- easy peasy.

The next time I make it, I will not bake it, even though it’s pretty when baked. Baking dries it out a bit and I prefer the creaminess of the sauce. My uncle wanted the old-fashion baked with breadcrumbs type, so I whizzed up 4 slices of buttermilk bread in the food processor. I mixed those crumbs with butter, white truffle oil, paprika, and a little salt- and topped the noodles with some sliced tomatoes (that my mother dropped off from another aunt’s garden 2 days prior), then covered the thing with the breadcrumb mixture. I baked it at 375 for about 20 minutes (when the bread crumbs were browned).

It was an amazing meal! I am surprised that I was able to pull everything off at the last minute- especially with how chaotic my house has been from renovating!