In looking for a comparison with my relationship to smoking, I drew a surprising number of parallels to the band Weezer. They both stink! Joking. I actually love Weezer. And smoking. So there’s one. The band’s been together for as long as I’ve been a smoker (two decades, if you count my off years). They threaten to break up as often as I try to quit. Their latest album is supposed to be like my latest pack: the last of the last. Even their name is an ominous portent of my respiratory future. Okay, maybe I’m grasping at straws. Can I at least stuff them with tobacco and smoke the crap out of them? I can’t? Well, shit!
Yes, it’s true, The White Trash Gourmet is once again forever quitting cigarettes for good. It’s nothing I haven’t done before. I hung it up for the years surrounding each of my pregnancies (and I’m still waiting to be thanked for a resounding lack of birth defects). I started at fourteen for the same reason everyone does: It was badass and it made me feel great. There’s no deeper poetry to it. I’m certainly too young to play the ignorance card—Lucy and Desi weren’t around to sell prepackaged cancer to my childhood. I simply spent too much money on the privilege of incrementally killing myself. Of course smoking is bad for me. That Surgeon General’s warning printed on the box? That’s a dare. And you never dare a Capricorn. We’ll push you down the stairs, set you on fire and inhale the ashes.
Do I seem ornery? Whereas I would normally calm down with the rich, satisfying taste of tobacco, the most I can (tragically) offer now is the rich, satisfying taste of venison. It won’t help my sanity any, but it will make me fat now that I don’t have a steady stream of stimulants to regulate my metabolism. Win-win.
Bambi With Purple Sauce (Venison Backstrap Medallions With Dried Plums)
- 1 lb venison
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/2 tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp grape jelly
- 1/2 cup dried plums/prunes, cut into quarters
Cut venison into approximately 1 1/2 inch medallions. Season with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Sear each side of venison for approximately 2 minutes. Remove to plate. Add shallot and garlic to skillet, sauteing for 1–2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until the sauce reduces to a syrup-like consistency, about 15–20 minutes. Add venison back to skillet to reheat. Serve with sauce drizzled over the top.
Trial and error (and error and error) has taught me that I can’t quit alone. Luckily, I spent a month’s worth of smokes to enlist something called Green Smoke for help. They’re like real cigarettes, but fake and have the added bonus(?) of depleting batteries. I can charge them at any USB port, right alongside my iPhone 4S… that will likely be playing Weezer. See what I did there? I brought it all back around. Circular. I’m good like that.