Friday, December 18, 2009

Angela's antipasta will change your life!

This all started back when I worked for a kinda major (winkwink) retail establishment. When I first started there, I worked overnight stocking shelves. It's not the most glamourous job nor is it the hardest intellectually, but believe me, some people can do it well and some people cannot. This is when I first met Angela. Honestly, I was super afraid of her. Or maybe afraid's not the word for it. I respected her boundaries. Yes...yes that's probably the best way to put it. She was (by far) the best stocker they had. It sounds silly to type that, but it's true. Just her method alone made her the fastest most productive member of the team.

At first, I didn't work with her very much. We would all start in health and beauty every night and this was the only time I would be able to (secretly) watch her work. I was careful not to take her aisle (shampoo) and even more careful not to get in her way or ask if she needed help. I don't know if I was so much conscious of it then, but now I realize that I really aspired to be as good as her. Strange as that may sound, but I didn't want to be one of the stockers everyone else was complaining about behind their back. So I watched her and kept track of what she was doing in health and beauty and her other usual departments.

Until one night. One night, we were put together. Oh, my nerves! It was like all my training and prepping had boiled down to this one night. The one chance I would get to impress her with my not-at-all crappy stocking skills.

We worked together for about a week and nothing really happened. I must not have pissed her off (or I'm sure we would have been seperated) but we also didn't talk or bond or anything. Things felt awkward for me. I didn't want to get in her way, but it was kind of impossible not to when we were in the same department. Conversation was limited to what we were doing with displays and general complaining about what the day staff had screwed up. Until finally, we happened to be stocking in the same aisle and one of us made a joke, the other countered, and that was it. Friends at last!

After that, we primarily worked together. Mostly (I think) because management quickly discovered how much we could put away when teamed together. Not to brag or anything (haha), but we were putting away a large chunk of the product for the team in some of the more difficult, fiddly areas (health and beauty, infants, housewares, and seasonal foods). What we got out was amazing when I think back to it. I really don't know how I managed to work that much and that hard and overnight no less (not even kidding, some nights I would work on less than an hour of sleep). Even funnier, sometimes we would spend almost the whole time before first coffee just chatting it up in infants doing barely anything (there're perks to working in the department furthest away from everyone). Most people wouldn't have even made it out of that department by the end of the night let alone had the time to go and finish two more.

Enough of my bragging -- I just really love merchandising and stocking. I really do. I also love assembly line work. Weirdo!

Right. So the first Christmas after all this she was telling me about how she always made antipasta as gifts for everyone each year. I'd never heard of it before, so I got her to explain what it was and what was in it. It sounded terrible, to be honest, but she insisted it was so good and super addictive. On our final night before Christmas eve, she brought me a small jar to try. "Eat it with Ritz crackers!" she said, "You're gonna love it!"

Crackers purchased, jar opened, and oh. my. gawd. It really was delicious. It really was fantastic. I thought it was about the best thing ever concocted!

Last year, I asked her for the recipe, intending to make it as gifts for friends of mine. She gave it to me, I whipped it up (or destroyed my kitchen -- messiest recipe ever! Curse you cauliflower!), and it was exactly as I had remembered it. Everyone I gave it to raved over it and whatever was left over, Idle Husband and I devoured in less than a week. Nothing says Christmas to me like this anymore and after all the baked goods, I decided I had to make up a batch of this for us to enjoy. I mean, how can I not go through this season without it?

I'm curious about the name of this dip now, because after searching for it on google and on wikipedia, I keep getting 'antipasto' and every picture shows plates of meats and cheeses. That's not what this is. But this is what Angela called it, so I have only that to go on.

I'm not going to string you along, it's a lot of chopping, but with a food processor, I think it takes me about an hour, start to finish. So depending on how you decide to do your chopping, you should seriously spend an afternoon and make this. It will change your life.

Angela's Antipasta

1 cup finely chopped cauliflower (about 2 [2 1/2] larger florettes like from the bottom of a head)
1 cup finely chopped ripe olives (drained)
1/4 cup finely chopped green olives (drained)
1/2 cup finely chopped pickled onions (drained)
1/4 cup oil
1 can finely chopped mushroom pieces, drained (10 oz)
1 small green pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper (I have yet to use this, I usually just go with green and omit it)
2 1/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 cup (or 500 ml jar) sweet mixed pickles, finely chopped (no juice)
3 tblsp sweet pickle juice
1 (7 oz) can tuna, drained and flaked
1 (4 oz) can broken or tiny shrimp, drained and flaked

I cannot stress this enough: Chop all this stuff. Chop it real good. I just measure the ingredient (heaping) in my measuring cup, dump it into the processor, chop it super fine, and it seems to always work out to the amount needed. You shouldn't be able to tell what the ingredients are. That's the fineness, peeps. Also to be noted, I don't freak out if my processor misses a few. Whatever, so what, who cares!

Put the first five (5) ingredients into a large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat. Add the rest of the ingredients except the tuna and shrimp. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add tuna and shrimp. Stir

Jar as you would jar anything and let cool -- or try to! Serve with Ritz crackers (or whatever other crackers you like, but these are the recommended brand). Try not to eat the entire thing. It will be hard.
Makes about 4 large jars (three at about 500 ml, one at about 375 ml)

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