This past weekend, my family and I traveled Northward to visit some dear friends of ours. These are people who, when we get together, we just talk, talk, talk, the kids play, play and play and we laugh ourselves silly with…for days on end. And, in the case of this weekend, it began with the peppermint martinis (adults only), hit a super-high note with some righteous snow tubing and ended on a bittersweet note where no one wanted to part ways. Good times are like that.
One particularly fun part of visiting these friends is that they just happen to live one town over from where my husband and I attended college. SO, needless to say, when we head up there, we cover a lot of bases. Our kids have now gone on campus several times in their young lives, seeing where we took classes, what buildings were special to us…history, memories, the whole shebang. I’ll tell you…there is nothing more sobering than walking along on a campus that you attended 20 years ago…with your children.
On one hand, it’s fabulous to introduce them to that part of your life. Might they be able to catch a glimpse of your younger selves? On another hand, it’s quite frankly the most bizarre thing ever. Those pathways that you remember walking at 2am, the bars where eh-hem, eh-hem, oh hey, there’s that frat house (my finger just slipped and I typed Fart House-ha), there’s that hill where we used to sled on cafeteria trays…remembering all these things with your children there, bopping along in front of you…it’s completely surreal. And that’s because, in a corner (large or small) of your mind, you are still the age you were when you were on campus. I’m walking along, feeling 20 (ish), but oddly enough, these two small beings keep referring to me as “Mom”. There’s something hinky with this math.
Nostalgic, bittersweet and happy all rolled into one. My older daughter left campus with a fabulously cozy new college sweatshirt. My younger with a stuffed mascot. Part of our history is now their present.
Memory-lane aside, one place we were sure to hit on campus was our most favorite, most beloved pizza and wing joint.
My husband talked about this for days leading up to our Northward visit. Our friend called ahead of time to make sure they were open on the day we had planned to go. This was serious. The kids wanted sweatshirts and mascots-we wanted THAT pizza. We wanted THOSE wings.
We pizza-d, we winged. It was blissful, due entirely to the fact that nothing tasted different by one iota. We flew back in time, to a wonderful, magical era when one could inhale a plate of 20 wings and half a pizza and not gain a single pound (*sniff*).
This time, four adults shared 20 wings and nine people consumed two pizzas. The beers on the table were accompanied by lemonades. New times, but good times.
I’m not even going to attempt to find a wing recipe that rivals the one that we sunk our lips into this past weekend (there’s just no touching that recipe) but this is in the zone and delightful in it’s own right.
There’s just no mascot to go along side it.
Asian Hot Wings, courtesy of the Pioneer Woman
Canola oil, for frying
24 chicken wing parts (12 wings separated into 2 pieces)
3/4 cup plum jelly
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (less of you’d like less heat!)
3 to 4 assorted hot peppers (serranos, jalapenos, and so on), minced fine
Thinly sliced (julienne) carrots and cucumber, for serving
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Heat 3 inches of canola oil in a heavy pot to 375 degrees F.
Add half the chicken wing parts to the oil and fry them until they’re golden brown and fully cooked, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the other half of the wing parts.
Add the plum jelly to a bowl. Then stir in the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Add the brown sugar, ginger, red onions, garlic, red pepper flakes and hot peppers. Stir to combine, and then pour it into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the sauce until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat.
Place the wings in an ovenproof dish and pour the sauce over the top, reserving some sauce for serving. Toss to coat, and then bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
Place the wings in dishes, and then spoon extra sauce over the top. Serve with cool vegetables to go with that delicious heat. (You might want to have a glass of ice water handy, too.)