My brother-in-law is one-of-a-kind person. The man is an engineer, brilliant and creative, but also one of the most absent-minded men I’ve ever known. It’s fascinating and fun to witness when he gets an idea, becomes excited like a child and rushes about to make his idea or new creation a reality.
It’s often times even more fun to witness how the whole process goes awry and undoubtedly falls apart in some humorous way.
As an example, this is the man who hand-built a custom wood-carved dining table seating 12, but forgot to measure the doorway to the room in which he was building it and so was unable to get it out of said room for months. That is the absent minded genius of my brother-in-law.
Years earlier I was able to be witness to one of his famous idea-creation-fiascos that remains one of my favorite stories to tell.
My sister had recently met Dave and as the holidays neared, they decided to host a family gathering at Dave’s condominium. My parents, aunts, uncles and cousins were all invited and we were all to bring a dish for this family pitch-in dinner. Dave, undoubtedly wanting to impress his girlfriend’s family, had decided to create one of his culinary masterpieces, a huge gourmet “Hot Pocket” filled with gooey cheese and savory meats.
For those who are unfamiliar with “hot pockets,” it is simply a dish consisting of cheese and meats and/or cooked vegetables baked inside a flaky pastry shell. The bread makes the “pocket” to which the “hot” ingredients are stuffed inside. It’s similar to a stuffed croissant, yet being the American version, it is nowhere near “light and dainty.” This is a full-on meal of bread, cheese and hearty goodness, or at least that is what Dave was hoping it would be.
When we all arrived that evening, we brought our various dishes and placed them in the kitchen, unwrapping them and preparing them to be served. As Dave and Natalie poured the wine and we gathered around to chat, Dave’s hot pocket spectacular was still baking in the oven, not quite ready to emerge from the womb of heated bliss, baking it to toasty perfection.
As we mingled and laughed, sipping wine and catching up on each others’ lives, a strange smell began to linger in the air. Some wretched smell of burning Gruyere assaulted our noses. The moment the scent hit upon Dave’s nostrils, he jumped from the chair and ran to the kitchen, opening the oven only to uncover a burst of flames billowing from within. The Hot Pocket was on fire!
Without a moment’s hesitation, he reached under the sink, grabbed the small red fire extinguisher, aimed it toward the window of flaming cheese and let loose the white chemical powder exploding onto the flames and everywhere else in the kitchen.
It had all happened so fast, like an impromptu snow blizzard gushing forth from the inside of the kitchen, that we barely realized what had happened. As the chemical flakes steadily fell and settled upon everything in the kitchen, we slowly began to realize that all the food we’d brought was now doused in a chemical substance definitely leaving it un-edible
I can’t remember what we ate for food that evening, but I do remember we all laughed at the situation and congratulated Dave on both causing the fire with his ideas of a fancy feast, and for saving the day.
If my brother-in-law wanted to make an impression that holiday, he certainly did – one that we’ll never forget and truthfully, will always cherish, because this is the sort of story that makes Dave who he is and why we all love him as the newest member of our family.
Recipe: Dave’s Hot Pocket
- 2 cups sliced zucchini and/or yellow squash
- 1/2 cup chopped portobello mushrooms
- 1/2 bag baby spinach
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 jar pasta sauce
- 12 ounces pizza dough (give or take)
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium, then cook the turkey, zucchini, and yellow squash. Once the turkey is no longer pink and the squash is starting to soften, add the mushrooms, spinach, and garlic (optional). Once the spinach has started to wilt, add the pasta sauce, and cook until heated.
Meanwhile, grease a baking sheet and roll the pizza dough out flat. Add the mixture to the center of the dough and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. (Depending on how thinly you roll the dough, you may have filling left over — it works well atop pasta.)
Fold over the edges and try to cover most of the filling. Brush the outside of the dough with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for about 17 minutes, or until the dough turns golden brown. Serves 4-6
Any ingredients can be added and it’s up to you to choose what you like! Just be sure to keep a fire-extinguisher nearby in the case your hot pocket gets a little steamier than expected…