My sister had all her kids by C-section. They’re all pretty normal, except whenever they leave the house, they go out the window.
When the doctors perform a C-section (cesarean section) they make an incision, and bring the baby out via the abdomen rather than, well you know. They stitch you back up, and instruct you to stay still for a week or so until your incision has healed. When my sister had her first baby, she asked me to babysit for a week while she recovered. I did. I loved it. I told my sister that whenever she had another kid, I’d do it again.
I had no idea at the time that she’d go on to have four more kids.
The doctors should have put a piece of Velcro on her stomach. My sister had kids every two years, like clockwork. At one point I was babysitting a newborn, a two year-old, a four year-old, a six year-old and an eight year-old. My sister used cloth diapers. Not on herself, on the kids. So whenever the kids peed or pooped, you had to take off the diapers, shake ‘em out, and put on a fresh one—with safety pins. And then put on a diaper cover. Babysitting was hectic. Crazy.
It was exhausting, yes, but I actually didn’t mind it. Whenever my sister and her husband needed a break from their precious little monsters, they’d ask Uncle Slimmy to come up for a while.
Babysitting five kids is like living in a tornado – it’s a whirlwind of activity. Get ‘em up, get ‘em dressed, make breakfast, get lunches packed, cut chewing gum out of their hair and then get them off to school.
After school, you pick them up, drive ‘em around to all their after-school activities, go home, make dinner, clean up, make sure they do their homework, and then put ‘em to bed.
The next day, you get up and do it all over again for the ingrates.
One especially hectic morning, all the kids were running around screaming. I was trying to make sure all five were dressed; I was making school lunches and trying to get everybody ready for school.
I’m not good at breakfast. I can cook you a dinner that will make you cry tears of joy, or at least not make you sick, but breakfast for me is some fresh fruit, maybe an English muffin.
I rarely eat cereal, especially the kind kids like to eat – Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch, Count Chocula. But when you need to feed the little monsters in the morning and you’re in a hurry, cereal is quick and easy. You just fill a bowl and grab some milk.
Which is what I did that crazy morning – except when I grabbed the milk carton, it was empty. Well, there was a drop. Kids love to do that, don’t they? They’ll drink out of the carton, and leave the last drop so they won’t have to throw it away.
So there they are, five kids seated at the table, bowls filled with cereal, clock ticking, and no milk. The kids had a rare moment of silence. They all looked at me, wondering what I was going to do next.
I looked at the clock. We were running way late. I grabbed a liter bottle of Coca-Cola and poured it over the cereal in each bowl. They first looked at me like I was crazy. Then suddenly they all just thought it was the coolest thing in the world. They ate it up. They left the house that morning on the highest of sugar highs.
No one got sick, so I’m marking it down as a successful meal.
Breakfast was a crapshoot, but I almost always had a nice home-cooked dinner for the kids when they got back from school. Spaghetti and meatballs. Chicken Parmigiano. Cacio e Pepe (Italian mac ‘n cheese).
But one night, I realized we had nothing in the fridge. It was too late to go to the store and come home and cook. So I ordered Chinese food. Only one problem – they didn’t deliver out in the sticks where my sister lived, meaning I’d have to jump in the car and go pick it up…
My favorite car ever? My Jeep Wrangler convertible. I loved that car. It was a manly man’s car; stripped down of all luxury. No radio. No AC. No back seat. A canvas top. Canvas doors. Plastic windows. It was a rough ride. I loved to put the dogs in the back, smoke cigars and drive around.
When the weather was nice, and you had the top down and the doors off, it was heavenly. It was basically a two-seater. Which posed a problem that night. I couldn’t leave the kids home alone while I went to pick up Chinese food.
I didn’t have enough seats or seat belts to strap them all in. What to do?
I put the two youngest in the front seat and strapped them in together. The other three I put in the back, and covered them with a big blanket. It looked like I was trying to smuggle illegals. I told them to shut up, and I gently drove to the Chinese place, picked up dinner, and drove back.
It was only a few miles. I took it easy on the brakes – I didn’t want those kids rolling around the back of the Jeep. I’m just glad I didn’t get stopped by the cops.
After that, the kids wanted me to drive them around all the time in the back of the Jeep. I didn’t want to press my luck with the police, so I’d drive them around the property, through the cornfields, over the hills. They loved it.
I did an all-ages show one Christmas in Towson, Maryland. The nieces and nephew were just kids, they came down and sat in the front row. It was the first time they’d seen me on stage. To this day I remember how good that made me feel to see them there. None of them fell asleep, like people normally do at my concerts.
I introduced the kids to the crowd, and then asked them to come up on stage and sing with “Uncle Slimmy.” They were mortified. It was the first time I ever called myself Uncle Slimmy. The name stuck. The kids didn’t come up on stage that night—but they’ve been coming to Slim Shows ever since. I thought they’d have more sense than that.
I was honored when my oldest niece asked me to sing “End of the Rainbow” at her wedding three years ago. She just had twin girls. She didn’t name either one “Slim”. But it does make me a great uncle.
Great Uncle Slimmy.
HALIBUT PANKO FISH STICKS
My Mom was a great cook. But when she was in a rush to get dinner on the table for us kids, sometimes she’d pull a package of Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks out of the freezer and heat ‘em up. When I was trying to come up with a recipe for a piece of halibut, I decided to cut it into pieces the size of Mrs. Paul’s, and make my own fish sticks. I’m a genius, ain’t I?
How did fish get to be so expensive? The halibut I used was $28 a pound. That’s ridiculous. What’s even more ridiculous is using that expensive halibut to make fish sticks. But they are so ridiculously good.
I love panko bread crumbs. I mean, I don’t eat them out of the bag, but they’re great for frying. Panko breadcrumbs are all the rage right now. I understand why panko breadcrumbs are so popular. They’re light, crunchy, delicious, and have a great texture.
Where the hell were they a few years ago? It’s like balsamic vinegar – up until ten years ago, nobody knew what balsamic vinegar was. All we had was Progresso red wine vinegar.
And now? We have 500 varieties of balsamic vinegar. We’ve got $600 bottles of balsamic vinegar made by monks in Montepulciano.
As far as the fish goes, you can use any thick, firm-fleshed white fish — halibut, sea bass, or grouper. Cod would be an inexpensive alternative. The best way to cut these filets is into rectangles, about four inches long and about an inch wide.
Another thing – don’t bread the fish in advance. Dip and fry, that’s what I always say. If you leave breaded filets sitting around, they get gooey and don’t fry right. And you know what Nat King Cole said,
”Straighten up and fry right!”
1 pound skinless halibut filets, cut into rectangular pieces
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
½ cup canola oil (or olive oil)
2 cups panko breadcrumbs on a plate (you might not use them all)
Here we go…
Rinse the fish and pat dry with paper towels. Put the fish on a platter.
Take the eggs, and put them in a shallow bowl. Add salt and pepper. Beat it!
Heat the canola oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. You can use canola oil for this, because it doesn’t smoke at high temperatures. But I’ve used olive oil many times with great results.
Grab a piece of fish. Dip it in the beaten egg, let the excess drip off.
Then roll it in the panko breadcrumbs. Press each side in, make sure the panko sticks to each side of the fish. Put it on a plate.
Do this with all the pieces of fish.
When all the fish is breaded, take a pinch of the breadcrumbs, and drop ‘em in the oil. If they sizzle, the oil is hot and ready.
Place as many pieces of fish as you can in the hot canola oil. When you see the bottom edges of the fish turn golden brown – 2 or 3 minutes – use some tongs and turn them over. Don’t fork it – you don’t want to lose any of the juiciness, and you don’t want the fish to flake apart on ya.
Brown on the other side for about 2 or 3 minutes.
When both sides are golden brown, place on a plate with covered with a layer or two of paper towels.
You gotta eat this dish right away. Plate it up right quickly, garnish with parsley, and serve with lemon slices. My Caprese salad is the perfect side for these fish sticks.