Friday, September 16, 2011

September 9, 2011

It's a time to reflect. We often go about our business, only thinking of ourselves and doing things for us. We know deep in our hearts that things we had said have thin walls and things that we have done have no regrets. Who are we actually kidding?! Absolutely no one. We lay in our beds and stare innocently at the ceiling. Are we perfect in life? No! Are we the sole reason why mistakes happen? No. Don't think you're the only one, because you're not. You're not the Picasso on the wall. You're not the one who took the greatest fall. Look at yourself! How perfect you are! How dare you be so golden! What were you thinking?!

I often reflect on bad times. Not too much good has happened to me this past calender year. But, I do know of one thing for sure: there is no love greater than a love from father to daughter. It's my big girls' birthday! She is now a teenager. I asked her what she wanted for her birthday dinner this year. She said, "You know what I want. I want breakfast. I want your scrambled eggs, bacon and your famous cheese grits." That's my Savannah. A true Southern girl!

I found this assignment written by my daughter not to long ago that she had written earlier in the year, not knowing it was about me. What a tribute! This was written by her. I hope you enjoy it!:

Dear principal,
                         It would be amazing to have my dad come and talk at my school. He is a chef, so he can talk about nutrition and cooking. He has different health issues that he can tell students how to handle. Last, and most important, he is my role model. After reading my essay, I believe you will consider inviting my dad to talk to the students of my school.

                        First of all, my dad is an amazing chef. He can teach people all about cooking and nutrition. He can teach kids health tips. He loves teaching kids about how to stay fit and healthy. Since he's a chef, my dad could even demonstrate cooking healthy meals, unlike other speakers. I promise that the kids will have fun watching my dad talk and demonstrate.

                       After that, my dad could talk about different ways of handling different health issues. He can really relate to what he's talking about, because he has quite a few health issues. He found out he had diabetes at the age of 46. A lot of kids would be able to relate to that. He could talk about ways to keep your diabetes under control. He was born with a hole in his heart and has many other heart issues. He also has equilibrium issues, which means he has trouble with his balance.

                      At this point, I would like to explain why I would want my dad to be a guest speaker at my school. He is my role model. He taught me to stay strong when things got harder. My dad taught me responsibility by making sure I was doing everything I needed to. Last of all, he taught me to be brave and look on the bright side.

                     I would love to have my role model, my dad, come and be a guest speaker at my school. While he is speaking to the school, he can give tips about nutrition and cooking. It is a proven fact that kids are better cooks when taught young. He could also talk about handling some health issues. It would be even more amazing for me, because my dad is my role model. I hope you will definitely consider my dad as being my schools' special guest speaker.

What a tribute to your dad! This was signed by the teacher. Wow!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 8, 2011

When I think of fall, especially the time of year when it's not quit fall, but more summer (and you want it to be fall right now), I think of lovely Macaroons. When I make them, it's a 2 day process. The time is worth the wait, because we're not talking about just Macaroons here, we are talking about Pina Colada Macaroons. In a recent find of culinary exploration, I found what I believed to be the perfect Macaroon Cookie. Then I realized I could make it better really quickly. I saved the juice from a small can of crushed Pineapple and saved it for the Macaroon mixture. I added only about 1 tablespoon of Dark Rum to the cookie mixture and let it sit in a glass container in the refrigerator overnight. This helped develop more flavor and gave the cookie dough a complexity and edge at the same time. The next day, the dough was already done and baking started early to avoid a hot apartment. This recipe will surely bring a smile to your life, and probably even a laugh or two. And don't forget the milk. This is one tasty treat!

Pina Colada Macaroons

7 Egg Whites
2 1/2 cups Sugar
2 tablespoons Wildflower Honey
2 teaspoons Vanilla
1 pound of Sweetened Flaked Coconut
1 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 small tin of Crushed Pineapple, (using only the drained juice)
1 tablespoon of Dark Rum

Combine the Egg Whites, Sugar, Honey and Vanilla in a large bowl and place over a medium saucepan of simmering water. Cook and stir constantly for 10 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Combine the Coconut and Flour in a separate bowl and mix together. Remove the Egg White mixture from the heat and stir in the Coconut mixture. Now, put this mixture in a glass bowl or container, cover and refrigerate overnight. Heat your oven only to 300 F. Lightly spray 2 large baking sheets with Oil and set aside. Remove the batter from the refrigerator and scoop with a 2-ounce ice cream scoop and drop onto the baking sheets a few inches apart. Bake 20 minutes until golden brown, but still soft in the center. Cool 5-10 minutes on the baking sheets and then place on a baking rack to cool. Enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 5, 2011

It's not everyday that I have leftover raw chicken. Leftover cooked chicken? No, actually raw chicken! Let me explain. I made Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Lemon, Capers and Artichokes for dinner a few nights ago. I knew I had way too much chicken, so I divided it up, kept it in the refrigerator in the pre-seasoned flour with Salt, Pepper and Thyme, and gave it some wrap. Fast forward to last night. It was just the wife & I, and I kinda' knew my daughter was going to stay later at a friend's house and have dinner with her and her family. Spaghetti was on the menu and my daughter loves pasta! So, the kitchen was once again an experiment in process at the hands of my leftover raw chicken. Sometimes, I have a plan. Most of the time, I wing it. So tonight, I was winging it big. The first thing I noticed was a bag of frozen Stir-Fry Vegetables that catered toward Asian cooking. Took out a large saute pan, and placed it over medium-high heat with a couple of tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. While the pan was heating up, I cut up the pre-seasoned floured Chicken Breasts into strips. This was about 4 Chicken Breasts. I sauteed the chicken until it started browning and becoming half done, about 8 or 9 minutes. At this point, I cut open the bag of Stir-Fry Vegetables and laid it over the chicken. I then doused it with a good shot of Soy Sauce. Then, I added some Honey, Ginger Preserves, Siracha Thai Sauce, Cracked Black Pepper and some Thai-Style Chili Sauce. None of the ingredients were measured, it was a feel thing. Cover with a lid, reduce your heat to medium-low heat until the chicken and vegetables are thoroughly cooked. Give a stir and check for seasoning. This was served over healthy Brown Rice. The meal was complete and easy. Not bad for Leftover Raw Chicken!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 3, 2011

Listening to the sounds of the early morning, I was reminded of a place I lived not too long ago. It was a small town. The rooster down the road echoed every morning. Even though the roads were mostly paved, those of wealth lived on dirt roads. There was no liquer sold on Sundays. There was no liquer ordered on Sundays. But, if you had the right connections, you could find it on many given dirt roads. The train that ran through town stopped almost every hour. The whistle was the sole property of the driver. There were the ones who talked. There were the ones that walked, because by feet was all they knew. Yes, it was a small town. The crops were planted all year round. The cotton. The peaches. The pecans fell off the trees as the wind swayed into the branches. The convenience store, the Barbeque restaurant and the many hair salons were a meeting of the minds. Talk was for the fortunate. Listening was a priviledge. There were the churches, the family owned grocery stores and the big Supermarket down the road. If you were driving east or west, you were driving the other way. And if you were driving north or south, you were from out of town. The parades were official. The heat of the summer had no wind, and the winter wind had no heat. Everyone was a picture of somebody else. Football was played and talked about like it was politics. Because it was. There was the black and red. And there was the other, because it was not the black and red. The potholes in the road were filled with dirt and the potholes in the dirt were filled with rain that turned to roads that only the ones that lived on them could drive. The plain Jane ate the Mary Janes and the ones on the dirt roads owned the plain Janes. It was sad to leave a place of poverty set for life. I guess it's time to watch some football. My colors are not black and red. They are Green and Yellow. GO GREEN BAY PACKERS!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September 1, 2011

Everything goes better with Bacon! Crispy Bacon on a cool night with a stack of Buttermilk Pancakes was just the right idea for a Thursday night meal. When you cook the Bacon, always remember to use a cold pan and then bring the Bacon to temperature while it is cooking.(If you put Bacon on a hot griddle, it will cook unevenly and cause the ends to shrival up.) And don't forget to take your time with Bacon. Most people cook it over too high a temperature. I usually cook it on medium-low heat for 10-12 minutes, turning usually every 3-4 minutes. It will cook more evenly and the fat will be distributed better. Now the Pancakes! The trick in any pancake recipe is one easy step: separating the eggs and folding in the semi-stiff egg whites at the very end. This will produce a lighter and fluffier Pancake whether you like your Pancakes big or small. Remember to use butter on your flat-iron skillet and cook over a medium-low temperature. This will produce a tastier Pancake. Don't forget the syrup or your choice of toppings like fresh fruit or flavored chips. A stack of Pancakes and a few slices of Bacon make for a wonderful Thursday night.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

August 31, 2011

Leftover Steak is one lucky soul! It's a fact: I don't eat that much red meat at all. In fact, I rarely eat steak. But, when I do, I crave a good one just like everybody else. I don't need no fancy grill marks on my steak or a little stick poked in the middle of one after it arrives at your table. I want my Steak done right. I want it medium-rare. I want it juicy and well fed. So, when the leftover London Broil went in the refrigerator a few days ago, nothing was going to waste. The most simple of salads was about to be made. No instructions needed: just common sense. Don't be a wise acre either. You'll eat this on a hot summer's night after a hot summer's rain. Take a bag of your favorite salad mix and divide it evenly between 3 or 4 plates. Take the leftover Steak and slice thinly and into bite sized pieces. Scatter over the mixed greens. I had Basil-Tomato Feta Cheese crumbles, so I sprinkled them generously over the Steak. I then poured Balsamic Fig Dressing over the top. You could top with Dried Cranberries and Chopped Walnuts if desired. Remember: don't forget about the leftover Steak. Two Meals. One Steak.

Monday, September 5, 2011

August 30, 2011

Figs. Who would've known that I was the only one in the family to like them! An uncommon fruit, Figs were often part of my life, growing up as a child while visiting my grandparents in South Georgia. A summer treat that rang in with the heat and stung like a wasp if you weren't careful enough. The sweet Fig trees stuck out like a sore thumb. The nectar blistered through the skins like the sap that ran through the pine trees. It was a sticky tree with a vibrant fruit. Though I rarely ate them raw, I remember them more as a great preserve that was made in the summer and then really enjoyed in the fall and winter months. The gooey syrup was so sweet as it was mashed into the toasty bread and spread on with delight. The seeds within made for a texture that only purists could enjoy. There was something to this. It was homegrown fun. I remember my father picking those Figs off the tree in late August. He'd come home with sticky hands and 2 or 3 bites or stings from wasps and bees. It was all worth it to him. Always a grin inside and a laughter that has been passed down to me. Some things are passed down through life. Others are not cared for and are passed over. Sometimes, we can choose. Other times, we cannot. Figs always stand out to me like a weeping sack of love, on a small willow tree. The branches are hearty. The fruit is sincere. It will fall in due time.

Fig Preserves
3 cups of Water
6 cups of Sugar
4 pounds of Figs, rinsed and left whole
1 Lemon, sliced into 5 rounds
5 pint mason jars with lids, sterilized

Combine the Water and Sugar in a non-aluminum pot. Bring to a boil. Add the Figs, cover the pan and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the lid, add the Lemon rounds and simmer uncovered for another 45 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover the pot and let rest overnight. The following day, bring the fig mixture to a simmer and then fill into the sterile jars. Seal the jars. *Note: These preserves are great on Homemade Bread or just plain toast. Also great as a topping on Vanilla Ice Cream.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

August 28, 2011

Marination after the cooking process usually is not called for, but in this case: It Works! We often stumble and fumble through the kitchen of life, only to find that the ball of food is still attached to us, and we hadn't done anything to the food except glorify it into a shape of form not thought of before. Is this what happened to you last night at dinner? I'm going to share something with you: Simple Is Better! Last night was Steak. In fact, it was London Broil. I'm not a big steak person. Never have been. Never will be. It was on sale at a great price, so it was bought and then prepared. Gave it an hour out of the refrigerator to get to room temperature to come to terms with man. Splashed it with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil and gave it a good rub down. The piece of London Broil was almost 2 pounds. In a large casserole pan, combine 1/4 cup of Olive Oil, 1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt, plenty of fresh ground Black Pepper, 2 Cloves of Garlic that are minced and the juice and grated rind of half a Lemon. Now, turn your attention back to the London Broil. Heat up a large saute pan over medium-high heat and cook the London Broil for 5 minutes on each side. This high temperature will sear the beef and retain the juices within. After this is done, place the steak on top of the marinade mixture and turn every 4 minutes. Check for temperature. If you need less redness, put it in a 425 oven for 10-15 minutes. Let it rest and slice against the grain. This will result in a more tender chew. Enjoy this tasty piece of meat with a simple salad or even some nice green peas. The Lemon in this dish is great. Shine On!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 21, 2011

This may not sound appetizing, but dinner was totally off the beaten track. A thing we call Chicken & Waffles. You may not remember the 1970's. You may not remember what happened last night. You will remember the dinner of Chicken & Waffles: a tasty creation of southern California fare, in which Waffles are toasted and layered with a handful of Deep Fried Chicken Tenders and Country Gravy, and then topped with a thin stream of Maple Syrup. The crispiness of the Waffles with the deep-fried goodness of Fried Chicken, and then topped with maple delight is one taste that won't go away. Sweet and salty is the name of this game. We crunch. We munch. We eat a bite and we want some more. We explore our tastes. Give a little bit of time, and you'll make a better place for all. When you don't know where to go and you think you've lost friends, cook some Chicken & Waffles. Things will be better all over again.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August 17, 2011

One of the things I like about summers are the things that cool you off. In particular: Smoothies! They're a great summertime treat! When I think of Smoothies, I don't think of a particular flavor, but of making one of leftovers left behind. We often search for that perfection in mind, only to find one important ingredient not there, or not on the list. We often compromise with a foul substitute or a meaningless option. A lot of the times, we don't put two and together very well and think of things that might of been. Our feelings for that perfect Smoothie have gone by the wayside. Finding something that is refreshing and filling is also hard to come by. I wanted something different! The solution was solved: Peanut Butter and Frozen Banana Smoothies. The protein and potassium are offset by a pinch of salt and a dab of honey. Maybe I don't always know what I want, but the purpose of creating is never a dull moment.Wanting and needing to play and experiment with food is such an important aspect in the search for creative cooking. We may never know what's around the bend or coming around the corner.

Monday, August 22, 2011

August 14, 2011

Ice Cream has to be one of my favorite treats to beat a summer heat. When you combine the salt in the air and the cream from the dairy, no words can describe a great Ice Cream. A smile is all that is needed. The light at the end of a tunnel is always a little bit brighter, and the sheets that you have washed, are a little bit whiter. My favorites are Vanilla, Pistachio, Rum Raisin and Mint Chocolate Chip. I really don't know why these are my favorites. Part of it is pure simplicity. Vanilla is a base for all the toppings you could ever dream of. But a great Vanilla holds true all by itself if done properly and without hesitation. The other 3 you might say, are seasonal. But, in reality, a comfort of nuttiness, of portrait and of pure bliss, respectively speaking. They are all the flavor profiles I remember as a child growing up in California, Oregon and Florida. Things take on meaningful aspects while growing up. You can't take away the San Diego Beaches, the Portland scenery of mountain tops or the Orlando Chamber of Commerce photos. They all have a space in the back of my mind. They will never be forgotten. That's one thing that you can never take away from any of us: Childhood Memories. Most are good. Some are bad. All are precious to all of mankind. Homemade Ice Cream is a chore that is worth the wait! With few ingredients needed, Homemade Ice Cream craves a big spoon and a handful of friends. It's too good not to share. Today was special: Mint Chocolate Chip. It's no joke to say that time is precious. When you make Homemade Ice Cream, patience is key. There are stories to tell and many that are retold, over and over again. The Heavy Cream. The Sugar and Salt. The Bitter and Semisweet Chocolate Chips that we hold so dear. These flavors remain in our hearts. They are sometimes washed away, but never forgotten. It was so simple years ago. The back porch stories of old. Where did the time go?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 12, 2011

Look. And you shall see. Listen. And you shall hear. Speak. And you shall be spoken to. Inhale. And you shall smell. Touch. And you will be touched by the hands of God.

When all of our senses are used in the right way, all of our abilities are used in a collective and passionate understanding of one another. So, let's talk Burgers. It's one of the most satisfying meals man has learned to cook for himself. Whether you grill it, fry it or steam it, Hamburgers are a mindset of where Burgers have been, and where Burgers will go. The keys to any good Burger are freshness and forethought. If you start out with good quality Ground Meat, Vegetables, Spices, Herbs and Bread, you can't go wrong. Now, there is more to this story than meets the eye. A passion for knowledge of food and flavor profiles also play into a Burger, along with friends that are trusted and experienced. You want a Burger with depth. You want a Burger for juiciness. You want a Burger for gratification. You need a gentle hand and a hot pan or grill. You need to know when and when not to flip the Burger, lay on the Cheese and when to say: "May I have another? Please!" You stumble in and don't know where to begin, but you always know when to stop and lend a helping hand. You sigh. You lift up your heart, and that first bite takes your breathe away, and you simply just stop, and let your heart melt. When you add your choice of toppings, like Tomato, Lettuce and all the rest, you will no doubt put your Burger to the test. You sop up the juices that flow from your mouth, from the Bread that holds your life in your hands. You understand that heaven is only a stone's throw away. And with the wind in your face and your favorite 45 rpm playing constantly in your head, the rush of all that is life transforms your blood into gold. There is no place on earth for this Burger no more. Only a whisper remains.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

August 10, 2011

It's been raining a lot lately. So much, in fact, that the temperature has been quit mild the past few days. I must be praying a lot for cooler weather. It's working! So, a nice rain deserves a satisfying and hearty soup. Not too wise. Not too sweet. Built with character and love. Think as a good soup like liquid gold. Rich. Like the sun. It will make you glow within, and shine at the same time. A good soup demands time and patience. A little love can go a long way. The plan: Thai Cream of Butternut Squash Soup. It contains Golden Delicious Apples, Vanilla, Apple Cider and Pear Juice. It sounds complicated, but this soup is so good, it'll make your heart melt. Be careful not to over salt. Taste as the soup reduces down to your comfortable thickness. Then, re season if needed. You will enjoy this soup for years to come.

Thai Cream of Butternut Squash Soup

1 Butternut Squash, 2 pounds, peeled de-seeded and diced.
2 Golden Delicious Apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 Vidalia Onion, medium-sized, peeled and diced
4 tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 cup of Apple Cider
1 32-ounce container of College Inn Thai Coconut Curry Broth
1/4 cup of Pear Concentrate Juice
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1/2 cup of Half & Half
1/2 Vanilla Bean, sliced thin in half

In a large stockpot, combine the Butternut Squash, Golden Delicious Apples and Vidalia Onion. Set over medium-low heat. Stir in 4 tablespoons of Olive Oil. Let this cook, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 minutes. Pour in the Apple Cider and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the Thai Coconut Curry Broth and turn down the heat to medium-low. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes.(The vegetables should be soft. Test the Squash to make sure.) Pour this mixture into a blender, in batches, and puree.(Have a big bowl next to you to make things easier.) When the puree is done, add it back to the soup pot container and simmer over low heat for 25-30 minutes. In the meantime, in a small saucepan, pour in the Half & Half and Vanilla Bean. Let it simmer on low heat while the soup is reducing. When the timer goes off, add the Half & Half to the soup mixture.(Remove the split Vanilla Bean.) Adjust the Salt now if needed. This soup will make all your dreams come true. It tastes just like sunshine on a cold winter's day.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 9, 2011

The second I woke up today, I knew it was going to rain. It's not that I believe in superstitions. Quit the opposite in fact. You see, I have a nose with a barometer attached on the inside to predict current frontal systems. In layman terms, when I wake up in the morning, I can tell you if it's going to rain that day without looking on the TV to see the latest radar patterns. It can be a good thing, especially in Florida. It has been known to backfire on occasion. It happens! Yesterday, was no exception to the rule. I knew it was going to rain early, and I knew it was going to rain hard. I needed a hot breakfast today and Oatmeal was stuck in my head. I wanted something light and tasted like summer, before the rain: Peaches and Cream Steel-Cut Oatmeal. After I enjoyed this breakfast, it rained soon and then, most of the day. The Oatmeal did take me back to rustic roots and dirt country roads. The cane poles sittin' on the edge of the pond. Old Coke machines. Lazy days and summer haze. It's too bad summer only has 11 weeks to go in Florida. Imitation has it's drawbacks. Don't ever underestimate the power of liquid sunshine!

Peaches & Cream Steel-Cut Oatmeal

3/4 cup of Water
1/4 cup of Steel-Cut Oatmeal
A pinch of Salt
1 tablespoon of Butter
A pinch of Mace
A pinch of Allspice
1 teaspoon of Cinnamon
3 teaspoons of Sugar
1 Georgia Peach, cut in half, pitted and rough chopped
2 tablespoons of Half & Half

In a medium saucepan, pour in the Water and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the Oatmeal and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let it set for 2 minutes. Stir in the Mace, Allspice, Cinnamon and Sugar. Take the cut up Peach and put it in a bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Pour the Oatmeal over the Peach and then pour the Half & Half over all. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August 8, 2011

Talk about hard to beat! Some of the best recipes in life are those that need no fixing, no glorifying and no mind. We often search until the end of time for that recipe that we cannot live without. It could be the simplest salad. An easy appetizer. The dessert that takes only 10 minutes, but eats like it took all day. You know what I'm talking about! Now, I want you to go back in time when you knew the difference between right and wrong. Between good and evil. Between high and low. This recipe takes these qualities as a child, and puts it all together in one dish. I call it: Not Your Mama's Cornbread. This is that recipe you wish you had 50 years ago, when you now realize your life is halfway done. I'm not talking about Spaghetti and Meatballs. I'm not talking about Chocolate Creme Brulee. I'm talking Cornbread. Plain. Simple. Cornbread.

Not Your Mama's Cornbread

6 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
1 cup of Sugar
2 Eggs
1 cup of Yellow Cornmeal
1 1/2 cups of AP Flour
2 teaspoons of Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1 1/2 cups of Milk

Melt Butter with Vegetable Oil in the microwave for 1 minute. Blend in 1 cup of Sugar. (Now, brew a pot of coffee and start relaxing.) Add 2 Eggs to the Sugar mixture and blend together thoroughly. Stir in the Yellow Cornmeal. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the Flour, Baking Powder and Salt. Now, alternating with the Milk, stir in the flour mixture until all is combined and end with the Milk.(This will explain the cake-like batter that you are looking for. Pour mixture into a greased 8-inch square pan and in a 375 oven for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes better serving. Enjoy with Butter or your favorite Jelly, Jam or Preserve.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

August 7, 2011

Here's the deal with Cookies: as soon as the last one is eaten, it's time to make some more! This is not only a problem, but a solution all in the same sentence. Like so many of us before, we all long for the glass of milk and a stack full of cookies. It's a duo with nothing to lose and everything to gain. When we talk of milk and cookies, life seems simpler and complete all at the same time. No wise tales to tell. No stories of old. No lessons to be learned. Just photographs of father and son turning into one. A meeting of the minds and a handful of time poised in one frame of standstill motionless photography. Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodle and Oatmeal Raisin hit the list quick. Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice all make the passing grade. And then there's the ones we forget about: Chewy Ginger, Raspberry Torte and Shortbread. It takes no time to make a Cowboy Cookie, but a lot of patience to eat one. There are the Sand Tarts of the east coast and Petticoat Tarts of the west coast. There are those that have travelled from far away like Mexican Wedding and Russian Tea. Whoopie Cookies are a thing of the past that have come to be liked again. And when I think of older days and lost in my ways, the smell of fresh Cornmeal Cookies baking is as simple as it gets. Maple Walnut and Pumpkin Pie also bring a twinkle to my eye. Don't forget about Macadamia White Chocolate Chip. They are eaten quick! The ones I like to think about are the ones I call Leftover Candy Bar Cookies, like Baby Ruth and Butterfinger. It takes no time to make a batch or two when you've got the blues or need a friend to talk to. Cookies are like therapy in the most simplest of forms. And even if therapy doesn't turn out to form, Cookie Batter is just as divine. Two spoons. One great friend. A big bowl of Cookie Dough. Just like yesterday.

Monday, August 8, 2011

August 6, 2011

Little did I know my cat has a thing for Tuna. In the middle of making Tuna Melt Sandwiches for lunch, my cat wanders into the kitchen like a lost kitten looking for his last meal ever on earth. As I was figuring out the recipe on hand, the smell of the tuna came from 3 cans I was opening. He could tell what was happening the second I started opening up can number one. The smell perfumed the room into a small town fish cannery. All the fireworks were now going off for my Charley cat. It's not like he's already big: at last weight check he was over 19 pounds. Recently, he went on a diet and still managed to gain 2 pounds. In my opinion, he's just turning into an old man like me. Always watching what I eat and never doing a buffet, the pounds never seem to fade away. So, as I'm opening up these tuna cans, he comes out of nowhere, puts his head on the bar and starts crying like crazy. His ears are flecked straight back and his nose is as pure as radar. What a pushover for an old man like me! I drain the cans of the water and return the meat to a bowl. Of course, I take about a teaspoon of this tuna and generously put it in his bowl. All crying has stopped and I continue with operation Tuna Melt Sandwiches. I pull out the Mayo, Salt, Pepper, Pickle Relish and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds. I mix thoroughly and season with more Pepper and a squeeze of Wildflower Honey. This is successful. The large saute is then heated with a little Butter and Olive Oil over medium-high heat. Laid down some Potato Bread and a few slice scraps of Jarlsberg Cheese. Topped with a good mound full of Tuna Salad and leveled it off to cover the bread. Placed one more piece of cheese on top and then another piece of bread. Grilled about 2 minutes on each side. Watch your heat and turn down to medium if required. No more cat issues. Just me and my Tuna melt.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

August 5, 2011

The air-conditioning was singing most of the night and the doors that were cracked were now closed. A whisper could be heard across the street, but interpretation was hit and miss. The downpour that was finally meant to be last night, came in like a dinosaur looking for it's last meal. All that was left behind was pure steam. A window cleaner would've been a millionaire. The rain could have ruined the night, but fresh broccoli saved the meal. Do you remember those old-fashioned casseroles of 40 years ago? They're still alive and doing just fine. Trust me on this! I found a book at the library a couple of weeks ago, and I noticed some nice recipes. These were the ones that never go out of style or date. They take you back to a childhood memory or even, a country church dinner. Now, when I was growing up years ago, There was no lunch and dinner! There was dinner and there was supper. That was that! You see, my lunch was now dinner, and my dinner was now supper.(This became really complicated for an eight-year-old in the 70's. Part of it was time zone issues, and the other part of it was me being not that smart. I didn't understand how one day lunch was now dinner(I thought dinner was the night meal? And now, out of the clear blue sky, dinner was now supper! Am I missing something here? At least breakfast was still called breakfast. Holy smokes!) Anyway, back to the broccoli. This was pure heaven! This side dish was so good, you could eat it for dessert. The torn bread pieces. The sugar. The milk, egg butter,cheese and salt. And who could forget the star attraction: Broccoli. The key to this whole dish was the very rough chop of the vegetable and the broil the last 3 minutes in the oven. There was little fanfare when it was removed from the oven, but the fireworks flew off your tongue the second it entered your mouth. Sweet and gooey broccoli casserole that was so light and airy with a slight toast on the very top. They don't make these recipes anymore. They are found over again in sunken recipe books. Sealed with a kiss!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

August 3, 2011

It seems that there is a life after July: it's called August. One way or another, I'm going to beat this heat. Sticking my head in the freezer is becoming a standard traditional everyday occasion. Nothing scary to think about here. Just me and my freezer. The rains that used to wonder in, don't know any better. And even if they do, the steaming afterwards effect turns into a nice facial. August has always been the pinnacle of heat. The summer that has already established itself is a ticking hydrogen bomb. No swagger required. Ash and debris at no extra charge. They say that tropical storm Emily will bring a boatload of rain this weekend. I can only pray harder every day. Turn that light off every chance you get, but keep the flame within your heart burning like a summer campfire. Slow it down and make it last awhile. Slowly burning embers. Fireflies on the back porch. Light my fire and I will bring you warmth. Say my name, and I will grant you peace. Follow my heart, and I will call you my son. We often agree on where we want to be. Don't stop. He will be there for you. For me. For eternity.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Jly 30, 2011

The basil on the balcony was in full bloom as I walked across the endless. The rosemary and thyme were doing quit well also. I wanted to hug myself, but I think neighbors would've done a triple take. I learned from my mind and I created with my hands. It wasn't that hard. It was the middle of the summer. The humidity was high and the rain was plentiful. Don't talk about the heat. Too much to handle even for the brave. My bare feet are sweating at times, and I long for the smell of Stewed Rhubarb and Sweet Potato Pie. The fall was Three months away, but I needed it now. The Apple Cider. The motorcycle riders. The smell of the road. The country air. The I don't care. Was this too much to ask for? Was I being greedy for all the wrong reasons? Dinner was served over and over again, but no heart was being put worth. The sound of soul was a lovely thing. The Barbecue Beef Sandwiches were ready with melted 4-Cheese Mexican blend. The Butter melted slowly into the hot fresh Corn. A little spice. A little nice. My Sweet Potato Fries were infusing the apartment with smells of Cumin, Cayenne and Chili Powder. Spicy Sweet Potato Fries were the name of this game, and with Salt, Olive Oil and Brown Sugar: game was now on! The taste was bold and lively. It was a little heat. It was a little sweet. It was spicy enough for summer, but took me back to fall. Three more months. Waiting for Fall...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July 23, 2011

The air was filled with the smell of pure morning dew. No synergy existed. No fundamental notion of where we had been. The soundless beach was now given an ocean with no remorse. A stage was being set for all the world to see. Time was no more. No ticking clocks or minute hands. Only sounds with a single set of footprints. Was this what happened overnight? The light shined so bright in the sky and no one knew why. All the recipes of life were gone. They had vanished with the wind. No watermelon rind or meatloaf. No rice pudding. No sweet cornbread muffins. No grain or fame or glory be. Only scent above from sent above. There was no smell or taste. No right or wrong. No short or long. The carousel spun around and around, but it was an empty land. No fruit to bear. No clothes to wear. Water fountains were dry to the bone. It made you wonder. A lot! Was I late for the sky?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July 19, 2011

Do you remember the back country roads of yesterday? The winding hills of gone days by and honey bee stands. The lingering taste is still upon my lips as I sip a white and red of southern delight. The crisp characters and lovely hues. The picnic tables dressed for revenge as we sat on top of the wind and watched the world fall away. I wanted to know this country again that was only a stones throw away. All the lazy hazes were set up on cue and never a minute passed. The blinking yellow lights that never turned red. The warm summer nights as we lay in bed. I wanted to think of nothing all day. I wanted to lay in the lush of surroundings and time. I made it mine all day. The transformation was apparent. The heat was sweet. I didn't want to leave this world behind. All I wanted was this peace in time. No struggle. The road back home took on different angles and dressed me with many angels. I wanted to pass on slow motions, but time passed instead. It passed all day. No looking back and always moving forward.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 18, 2011

There was no rush to do this or do that. The road and clock were ours all day. Conversation was plentiful and meaningful. We took our cash, filled our tank and dropped off a few to the library. We even hand delivered a camera or two to be processed. We looked at ads and talked of light and pillow talk. The stop for lunch was appealing and suffice. The salad was fresh and the burger was divine. We laughed and joked and talked about tomorrow. The innocence of magazine never made it past page 3 and the glance of wishful thinking and make believing only lasted a brief afternoon. It was so fun. The no attitude and the low altitude saved grace from interfering. The lost art of love can be a genuine art in itself. But who's keeping track of time? The gas station? The window dressing? The TV weatherman? I learn a lot of days gone by and pies in the sky. The sweetness of life is so tasty. A bite. A smack. We lick our chops and want some more. The walk of life is distant, but never far away.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

July 14, 2011

I told myself that today was going to be different than the day before. I wanted to believe that truly in my heart. My smarts weren't that smart and my hand of cards looked like a weathered stack of old photographs. My hands were shaking all day. I couldn't talk right and I couldn't walk right. I put my change in my pocket and I headed for the rotating door. My head revolved for an opening into tomorrow. I tried to like what I saw, but the truth was too big: even for me. All I really wanted to do in life was shine. Not that much to ask. To make a walk in the park look like a millionaire talk. A salty grin was all that remained, and me asking why over and over again. Where had all the time gone. The plants in the garden were greener and the pie in the sky was further away. My mind wondered. Was this life? A beginning to an end. There were no more letters to send and no more reasons to bend the photographs. Life was now a snapshot of itself: a time gone by in the time of now. No notes to be played. No message to be heard. No fascination to the future. My coffee is a source of enlightenment and my pot is an empty decanter. The smoke screens of my mornings are often filled with haze, daze and struggle. From the time that I wake till the time I make is never taken for granted or forgotten. There will be a shine in my heart tonight. There will be notes to be heard again. There will be photographs to be taken and pies to be baking. The garden grows as does life: over and over again. Amen.

Friday, July 15, 2011

July 12, 2011

The sky was so much bluer than the day before. The wide open bloomed for a tumble and a fumble. The stairs of my complex looked down at the stares of my complex and my complexion melted from the humidity from above. The rain was flavored today of ash, cash and orange-cucumber blossom. The baby frogs jumped away and ice cream tasted better in the rain. Time to go with the love of flow as the splash of pool water filled our noses. We hid from our fathers and talked to our mothers about the countless questions of a 12 -year-old girl. They laughed and giggled all the way to the bank, store and even more. The lingering looks in the mirror turned into sleepy gazes and daily mazes. We walked a fine line all day only to find a little more to say. And when the day was done. And when the day was won. The sky turned bluer than the day before. The bees made honey. The salt was money. The sugar was as sweet as the air. We didn't care. We said "Goodnight", and yes "Sleep tight." The bed bugs stayed away all night.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 8, 2011

Little by little, we draw closer to those around us through love, trust and food. There are no magical ingredients that bonds those three items. We wish upon a falling star, and hope to God and pray to God that we are truly who we are. We search for those that take us back to days of peace and understandings of the heart. We talk in unison of times gone by and fill the voids with "How ya' been?" We walk the walk and talk the talk with never to mock. We cry together and laugh like crazy. We pray. We eat. We eat some more. We sprinkle our plates with cilantro, lemon zest and chopped cashews. We grate the nutmeg. We talk of the Caribbean, guava and island skies. The dream scape surroundings are a picture and a painting tied with swirling brushes of cumin, chili powder, mace and curry. The boil of shrimp oh so far away turns up at your doorstep where friends are welcome again and again. The toasted pumpkin seeds float endlessly from the sky, but we never ask why. We dive into spinach, fresh watermelon and balsamic fig dressing. We raise our glasses of Riesling and sip to today. The taste of Basmati is one that lingers, but never fades. We wait for dessert with open arms. The chips of bittersweet float forever down our throat with a touch of pecan and a hint of orange. We hug and tell one another goodbye. We are so blessed. We call and say "Thank you" and ask "Did you make it home okay?" These are the days I count. These are the days I count again and again.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

July 5, 2011

Simplified notions of red, blue and white. We catch our breath as a year of reconstituted glory slams into the financial debt systems of our souls. We live. We control. We sip out of our bowls. The tainted smiles are overgrown milk moustaches that are now climbing the walls around. We search for the truth. It gets harder to find the older we grow. The bullets have all landed and we search for the sky. We close our eyes and think of days gone by, the mooing of the cows in the pasture and Granny's apple pie. We lay by the light of the moon and put coins in our banks of love. We struggle with the here and now. The battle cries out for our new beginning and a day of rest. Resolution is a bitter affair. We conquer ideas to make light of our days. We grow beards and such to hide our emotions. We walk around in circles all day long. We sing a song. We count the notes of silence in between the harmony of our lives. We pray. We color our coffee with bittersweet and vanilla yesterdays. We want to play on the sidewalks again, but our hopscotch drawings are faded by rain: truth and comments.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July 4, 2011

Pull out the fried chicken and turn out the light, we're gonna' have a picnic with blanket in sight. It'll be a grand affair with all the latest trimmings. An all day affair with potato of salad and slaw of Cole. I might take a nap in a little rabbit hole. Give me a biscuit, give me a scone. I just wanna' feel like a brand new home. The rooms are all clean with footprints in sight. There will be ice cream, of course. Strawberry, coffee and vanilla. Three types with French, speckled and plain old-fashioned. Chocolate chips, fresh fruit and more, will be on hand, just like a little grocery store. The dogs will be running from yard to yard, hoping to find a scrap there or a handout here. The hot dogs will char on the outside with care. They'll be relish, ketchup and all sorts of mustard: yellow, spicy and maybe even Dijon. We'll pray for those far away to come home. The chips will be flying like little flying saucers as we watch "Born On The Fourth Of July" and listen to flashbacks of Billy Joel, Don McLean and Simon with Garfunkel. "The Boxer" will play like an anthem within, and the church echos with the sounds of silence. Watermelon will be sliced, hacked and eaten. The spitting seeds will be target practice. We'll save our doubts for battle and blank ammunition. We'll pray that we never see that day. Candles will be lit at the end of the night as fireflies spin circles around our alcohol breaths and smoking cigarettes. The booms. The pops. They are all in the distance. A train whistle blows while I'm sharing my confidence of New Years resolutions. I'll stuff my face with pies of apple, berry and maybe even of huckleberry. The forks will turn and the spoons will snore. We wish for the best and hope for the future. We start again and do it some more. Like never a time have we seen before. We sleep. We rollover. Can't wait until next year, then we do it some more.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 2, 2011

Puppy dog tails and summer moons,
Winding trails in the afternoon,
Can you help me to find my room?
Cat naps by the window sill,
Lazy days reading by the winter mail,
Can you help to find me soon?

Long ago and far away,
We see the signs to the future.
Maybe it's time to make it mine,
I won't a way to capture.

I'm sittin' in the kitchen in the month of June,
Waitin' for the heatwave that's comin' soon,
Can you help me, please me oh my?
I wanna' come home in the afternoon,
With flowers in hand that are in bloom,
Can you help me, I'm gonna' fly.

Waiting all day and taking my time,
I'm trying to be in the now.
Hoping today will be the day,
That I'll be taking my bow.
Learning to walk, again and again,
I see myself in the mirror.
Longing to be, I'll find my way,
Images in the mirror.

Long ago and far away,
We see the signs to the future.
Maybe it's time, to make it mine,
I wanna' be in the line of the future.
                                 Long Ago And Far Away-Todd Redfern/2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

June 30, 2011

Looking through the doughnut holes, I see photographs of long ago. The frames are dusty and the sun shines brightly upon them. The memories of the past creep on us like yesterday. We smile sincerely at the dry and the damp. The cold has brought us good intentions. The cream is poured slowly into the coffee, and we sip with patience. No hurry. The smallest speck of light is trying its hardest to peek through the open blinds into the living. We close our rooms and doors that shut. My balance is frail. The pail of water on my porch is half full from the days rain before. We long for more. My cat rubs on my dangling arm. My chair has weathered another storm. The secrets we keep within us for life. I shall tell one day when all is well. My cat snores. The waves lap endlessly on the shore and I break for repair. My wish of all and might have beens has stayed with me for decades. I ponder for the sake of serenity. The waves crash and the sun is shining just a little bit brighter. Today will be. The seagulls fly lower as the boats approach for their day at sea. And I see the wind blows. It's warm and inviting. The seaweed has swept across the beach and the wind is picking up momentum. I wipe the sand from my lips. The air is salty, but it's life. Gratitude is sinking into my soul. I look through another doughnut hole and I'm back to stay. The photos are stained. How true of life. How true of you. We look upon the who knows where and see a new horizon to the day. There are no holes in life: only sand in our feet and breeze in our hair. Take a picture and let it fall. The surprise of it all is within us.

Friday, July 1, 2011

June 29, 2011

We live in a company. Company of who we work for and the friends and relatives we keep in our communal bonds of friendship and heartbreak. We look high and sometimes too low for our friends. In all honesty, the trust of friends don't have to be sought out at all: They Just Happen. In the lightest of laughters. In the days of hardship and in the moments of bliss. Friends can also be a game of hit and miss. We establish our awareness of new, and before you know it: they're gone. In the blink of an eye, and you don't even know why. They say that friends don't need a reason: They just are. And did you know, that if you take the word friends and rearrange the letters, it spells "If Nerds". There are no issues with the trust of friends. You could say the most obscene or perhaps ridiculous, and hesitation would never be an issue. We look for comfort in them: as warm as a bowl of chicken noodle soup. There are the summer rains. The honey scented flowers. The waves on the beach that happen ever so often. The coffee is poured and dessert is served. There is no rivalry of sorts. Mine is yours and yours is mine. Not till the end of time, but for many years to come. We make fun of ourselves and the way that our laughs ring out loud. We take the time to find the time and talk like no one else. It's not always a cup of tea or a spelling bee, but always a hug for hello and a wave for goodbye. We talk about the dreams that are ours and the mistakes that we've made. We don't hold back on the memories saved. We drink. We pour. We drink some more. We are always on different time zones when we are away. A letter here. A phone call there. We check in from time to time, but always find the time in our hearts to listen to one another. It may be harsh. It may be true. We don't really care. We listen. We hold each other in times of grace and walk in the hush of rain. We don't care about the issues of the world. We look at each other with dignity and homemade cookies. We drop the chocolate chips on the floor. We pick them up and eat some more.

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 25, 2011

Listening to the sounds of frogs on my porch is a soothing effect of many levels. It's not so much the noise, but the silence. The longing of nature calling out so innocently in the night. The dripping of the rain. The wind howling like a lost child. The moderation of coffee and the intake of alcohol. We lay on the chairs of life that embrace our bodies to the sun. And we listen. We listen to nature like an owl in the woods on a hot summer night. His head turning in all directions to hear the faintest of memories. A crunch of the grass. Pine needles falling from the sound of the wind. Within all of us is nature. A longing to be in this world of unknown. Our eyes focus on objects that are in the distance. We smell the hush of dew in the early mornings. We breathe in. We hesitate to the night. We breathe out. And we drop our minds in the same instance. We try not to look back at the wrong and the right. We linger in the fallen leaves and put one foot in front of the other. We explore. We hug and embrace the passion within. And our heads turn again. We try not to move our hands, but the cobwebs are too deep. We rollover. We sleep. We cannot complete this absurd manifestation of why. We only know that joy is near. And so the night continues...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

June 24, 2011

They say that variety is the spice of life. They also say that laughter is the best medicine. So tonight, I'm cooking up some laughter. They say a great chef can cook anything from the simplest ingredients. Tonight's Dinner: Laughter, a medicinal affair. (In all honesty people, I'm totally winging it. So, let's make some laughter!) I think of laughter as warmth. It'll probably be of silly and rye. Most of my friends will say that it would be dry. It could be of liquid and far out in space. I wonder if I could give it a face. The insides would sparkle of glimmer and fireworks. The frame work of which would be sunshine and fishhooks. We'd lay in our hammocks and roll with the punches. Our fathers would gather and eat all their lunches. We'd sit by the pool and open the pop. Our minds would be dusted with mindful entertainment. Our souls would be submerged in ice cream basements. The taste of vanilla and sweet would be in the air. And sometimes the chicory would be too much to bare. With my coffee in hand and my other in motion, the waves of salt would cause some with emotion. The slap stick of knees would buckle under consent. My peers would be seeking the laws of repent. I'd wipe all the tears from my squinting eyes. I might even go catch some fireflies. The nights would be dark and full of despair, but the cackle of wisdom would be something to share. The purring of cats and the barking of dogs. The smell of the fresh as we cut into logs. I'd swear by the hair on my chiny, chiny chin that the silence of sunrise would warm us within. My shirt is now off and I must confess, that a bottle of laughter would cost quit a guess. There would be no price and pay for the right, while others would fuss and cause such a sight. The honey would stick to the bears fat cheeks and the world would be better with Pooh's by our feet. I'd cry out for embrace and fall to my knees, only to find out that laughter said "Please."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 22, 2011

One of the nicest words in the dictionary is friendship. It's pretty hard to explain, but easy to identify. It's not that complicated, but enduring to come by. I don't know the exact origin of the word, but I'm sure it goes back many, many years. I'm thinking Old World culture. European descent. Possibly derived in times of trouble and despair. When rulers held the world and the rest of us were just their slaves. Friendship comes in all shapes and sizes. It crosses many lines and tracks itself against many odds. It lies at heart. Not in the heart, but at heart. It is generational and holds many colors. It bears arms and waves white flags. It challenges us. Some of us challenge it. We try to take charge of one that will happen. Usually, this won't happen again. Time is non relevant in friendship. There are boundaries that are crossed and lines that are broken. There are words that are spoken and others that are whispers. There are laughs and chuckles. There are moments of hush. And there are screams of silence. There is wanderlust and tearing eyes with glances, nods and "How do ya' dos?" I've seen the sweat and the taste of tears. I've heard the rolling laughter that ends up on the kitchen floor. The taste of friendship is sincere. There is the sweet and the salty. The fruity and tart. The sour lemons that turn into cotton candy. So light and airy. I've seen the might have beens and the eventual comebacks. The cast-iron skillets were as old as molasses and we all know that friends can't be shaped. Some are hard and some are soft. A simple smile can go the longest of days. A hesitance can fracture a lifetime. Band aids come and band aids go. Scars are forever. We have to sometimes adjust to friendship. It may not be easy, but it will always follow through. The roads will be walked and the telephones will be talked . The dirt will taste and sometimes turn to mud. We throw our fits onto blankets by the fire. Some will turn into flames and others will be an open book with many chapters. Never knowing when to end and others right around the bend. To friendship: a toast to believing in all that may happen in life!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 21, 2011

Have you ever looked at the mirror and asked yourself Why? or Why Me? or Why Not Me? It's easy to do, isn't it? The nights of rain and the high heats of the day bring summer into the equation for another year. The days are longer and the nights are wiser. The mosquitoes have infiltrated to bearing their arms and the taste of ice cream is oh so sweet. We lay in the sprinklers and lay by the pool. Our teeth get whiter and our skin more older. The smell of barbecue is right around the corner of your nose and by the time you lick your lips, the source is already gone. There are the watermelon spitting seed contests and the sound of Coca-Cola being opened continuously all day. We sleep in our cars with no A.C. and build a bonfire in the backyard to roast our marshmallows and our fingers. We dare not watch those beauties by the pool. "Hello dear" is only a moments notice away. We sleep in late on Saturdays and we wake up too early on Mondays. We visit old cousins in states far away and get flat tires two blocks down the road. We listen to radio with memories of song and watch the newest movies with popcorn in hand. Popsicles taste better every year. The beaches are burning our feet and sand is getting in uncharted waters. We fish all day and drink beer all night. We get headaches, but never without notice. The salt is spirited and the sugar is divine. We sit on our porch with iced tea in hand and a fly swatter in the other hand. We throw rocks in the pond. We see the reflection of ourselves rippling away. Have you looked in the mirror today and asked yourself Why? or Why Me? or Why Not Me? Summer...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June 18, 2011

I remember the day my daughter was born. It seems like only yesterday. To me, she was the most beautiful thing I ever saw in my life. It was creation according to God's plan. I was now a father! And now, it was my time to shine. I don't think I ever really thought about what I was doing. But 12 years later, my daughter has become quit the little lady. I tried my hardest every day to teach her the lessons of life. Each day was an event. We'd go to the store and I'd teach her about nutrition. I would take her to the playground and teach her about physical education. I would give her the biggest hugs and talk to her about education. We would play with the dog or the cat and talk about consumption. When she was 3, she'd help me with Chocolate Chip Cookies. We talked about direction. She would get out her tea set. Tea would be served with lots of homemade discretion. I'd pick her up when she was down. I remember the day she learned how to ride a bike. I wanted to let go. I did. It was hard. She was off. When I found out that I was now a diabetic, she held my hand. Her grades never slipped. The tables were set every night and she would talk of science, playgrounds and how bad the lunches were at school. I made her lunch every day and she never made a peep. We were always honest with each other. She learned how to glide through the day and meet new friends easily. She always has that smile on her face and that determination in her eyes. When we moved, it was time to go. When we move back, she never lost her true friends. She wondered a lot and always looked forward to dinner conversations. We travelled together and learned of exploration. We walked and we talked about everything. We ate homemade ice cream and talked about cats, the smell of grass and why boys are bad. She never questioned me. I'd take a nap and when I awoke, she told me she had finished her homework. We played Monopoly and we talked about money. She never complains about not enough. I held her when the thunder struck and covered her when it rained. She knows I like my coffee with cream. She leaves me to football games. I take her to school and she walks so proud. I pick her up and I tell her about my day. She is a strong individual. I can't tell you how wonderful she is. Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 15, 2011

If I had a dime for every cup of coffee I ever drank. Man, would I be rich! I don't think it's the coffee itself, but the honor of who you're drinking it with and the time spent in the process. Yes, I have my times of solitude. Those are often less eventful, when writing is a sabbatical gone fishing or time of walking with just my mug and me. Sometimes, even over the phone conversations with old friends and relatives that are coming to visit soon. The Proud Mary of conversation is always about food. It could be the darkest hour of the night or the hottest day of the year, and I'd still be talking about food in one way or another. Remember the five senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight. In cooking, there is a sixth sense where all of these fall together like a wheel in motion. I call it Cause and Effect. It's the mental imaging of all those senses when you throw yourself into your work and all you care about is the enjoyment you give to others. The beating of a new heart. The glow of that smile. The warmth of recognition. A lot of times when I cook, it's not about me at all, but for others and making their day a reality. A change for the better. Even at 5:07 A.M. as I'm writing this, I'm thinking about the Bananas and Guava Paste sitting in front of my face. Last nights dinner was no exception to the rule. I had bought some Ground Chuck at the store the other day and I wanted something different. My mind kept wandering back to a juicy hamburger that just kept melting in my mouth. So, the wish was installed and I was creating again. I'm not a grill guy, so things are done in the oven or on top of the stove. I just started adding things to my Chuck and the creation for AWESOME! Salt, Pepper Egg, Milk, Italian Bread Crumbs, Barbecue Sauce and Maple Syrup. I think that was it. Formed it into four large patties and placed them in the fridge on wax paper. I let them sit for about an hour. When it was time to do the cooking, I removed them from the holding area and heated a large saute pan over medium heat with a touch of cooking spray. Placed 2 at a time in the pan and cooked for about 3 minutes on each side, covered with a lid that just only covered the burgers, not the pan itself. This causes a steaming effect that makes the burgers juicier because during the cooking process, you're not bothering  them. They're just doing their own thing. At the end, I covered with some Sharp Cheddar Cheese; put the lid back on, and cooked for another 45 seconds or so. Laid it on top of toasted Wheat Bread with Lettuce and Sliced Pickles. Cause and Effect! Served it with some Homemade Sweet Potato Fries that were baked with Cinnamon and Sugar and then drizzled with a pinch of Sea Salt. Cause and Effect! Solidified the meal with some fresh White Peg Corn. Then, to top it off: Sliced Watermelon for dessert. It was a great feast for a bright, but cooling mid-May day. The smiles were inviting. The conversation was lively. The wind blew through the open windows and Spring actually felt good. No banging on the door for unpaid bills. No thinking about tomorrow. Cause and Effect! Now that's Beauty!

Monday, May 16, 2011

May 12, 2011

Most of the time in the kitchen, I do whatever I want. Scratch that. All of the time. Today was no different. Many deals were scored on at the market and store this past week. So, with ideas in my head whirling around like the Tasmanian Devil, I go to the store to fill in the blanks. You really have to watch me, to understand how I react with food; especially at points of shopping and buying. When I say filling in the blanks, that's exactly what I mean. I see what I have on hand, what's on sale, and then I fill in the blanks to make it happen. Off to the market! Red Onion, Tortillas, Limes, Cilantro, Shredded Sharp Cheddar and two-for-one of the best pints of ice cream that are sold in this country. Thank two guys from Vermont! Obviously, I'm going Mexican. So, here's the concept. Fish Tacos with Pineapple Salsa, Cream Cheese with Pepper Relish and Tomato Jam, To The Max Nachos, Corn on the Cob and Mango Daiquiris. Not bad for a guy from San Diego. The Fish Taco itself is one of ultimate fabrication: Frozen Fish Fillets that have been masterfully wrapped in a flour tortilla, that have been warmed in the oven and then doused with Pineapple Salsa. The Pepper Relish was store bought, but the Tomato Jam was homemade. I simply put the two together and mashed with a half package of cream cheese. Brilliant! My To The Max Nachos are really not that special at all, but my daughter loves them anyway. It's just Corn Tortilla Chips with Chili, Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Salsa, more Cheese and then Sour Cream and Pepper Rings. The Corn was just standard fare: Corn boiled in water and sent straight to the butter. The Mango Daiquiris were actually a mix of mango and pineapple that had been chopped then frozen and mixed with lime, sugar, rum and ice cubes to produce a frothy pitcher of melting ice heaven. I talk a mean kitchen. Who's up for dinner?

Pineapple Salsa

1/2 cup of Red Onion
2 tablespoons of fresh Lime juice
2 cups of Pineapple, fresh cut into cubes
1 tablespoon of Sugar
2 tablespoons of fresh Cilantro, chopped
Sea Salt to taste

Cook the Red Onion over medium heat with the lime juice until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the Pineapple, Sugar and Cilanto. Stir together and turn off the heat. This will actually cook together and bring out more of the flavor. Pour the contents into a bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours. Season with a pinch of Sea Salt. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

May 10, 2011

The simplest things in life are often the ones that make you smile the most. Seeing a long lost friend. Fishing in a forgotten lake. Reading a great book again. Food and cooking is a lot like life: simpler is better. When you come home from a day when everything went wrong: Homemade Spaghetti Sauce. Fresh Garlic. Pasta. Hand-picked Basil from the garden. Tell me I'm in heaven. Homemade Sauce is just like a fine wine: the longer it sits, and stirs itself in the pot, the better it tastes. Of course, it must be served with a delicate touch. A hush. Seasoning must always be checked at the end. The reveal is often the most glorious part of all. The sauce has sat all day. Slow cooking its self into another worldly wonderland. Stepping back in time when Ellis Island was only a destination. Not a landmark. The hustle and bustle of NYC was now a heyday for the immigrants of tomorrow. Motorcars. Slums. Lively Conversation. Clothes hanging on high wire acts of generosity. Life before the America of today. No fancy cars. No mile markers. No A&P. No color TV. Only you and me. The world was so long ago. I hold you close. This sauce has crossed so many lines and still holds true today.

Spaghetti Sauce 101

1/2 cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
 1 large can of chopped tomatoes with juice
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Chopped Fresh Parsley
10 Fresh Basil Leaves

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. add the olive oil and get it hot. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes, cooking and stirring until translucent. Add the garlic and tomatoes, along with some sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Add the parsley and basil and cook an additional 10 minutes. Check for seasoning. Move to a blender in batches and puree. Put back into the original saute pan. Enjoy with your favorite pasta.

Monday, May 9, 2011

May 7, 2011

I couldn't believe the smell of something so simple as Southern fare. My mind and appetite wondered for something original at the farmers market this morning. I saw plenty of freshness. Green Beans. Yes. Green Tomatoes. Yes. Sweet Potatoes. Check. I stopped by the store to pick up some Yellow Cornmeal. The plans were being drawn in my head. Kentucky Derby 101: Ya' ever seen a Mint Julep talk? No, but I've seen one cry. So, the stage was set. Menu: Maple Pepper Bacon, Four Cheese Grits, Fried Green Tomatoes, Sweet Cornbread Muffins and Lace Cookies for dessert. If you've never heard of Lace Cookies, here's the explanation: a highly buttery and sugar cookie with a little flour and flavored with orange zest and crushed pecans and wrapped around a rolling pin to build a transparent like cookie with a lot of taste. It's a Southern Thing! Don't be caught off guard by this unmistakable beauty: it packs a lot of punch. Did my horse win in the Derby? And There Off...

Fried Green Tomatoes

1/2 cup Yellow Cornmeal
2 tablespoons of All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper
4 Green Tomatoes
1/2 cup Canola Oil

Stir together the first four ingredients in a shallow dish. Heat the oil in a large saute skillet over medium-high heat. Dip your tomatoes in the cornmeal mixture and coat both sides, shaking off any excess. Drop four slices into the oil and fry about 4 minutes per side. They should be slightly brown for overall appearance. Remove from the pan and drain on a cooling rack with paper towels underneath to catch dripping oil. Repeat process until all the tomatoes are done. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

May 5, 2011

It's the 5th of May. Four weeks after my initial pacemaker surgery. The last 28 days have been full of excitement and bitterness on one giant roller coaster. The pacemaker has been removed from my chest wound and now the infection must be totally withdrawn before the new vision of life is placed in my body again. My patience is wearing thin from my long lines of nurses and hospital food trays. My calender has been filled by over 40 doctor appointments since the start of the year.My soul has offered me rest and comfort. I still have a slow bleed from my pacemaker surgical scar. My next visit to my cardiologist will be on Monday to concur what is to happen next. My fear grows longer with each passing day. It's not the hours. It's the miles. Last nights dinner was a celebration of the Mexican holiday. No extra large burritos. No margaritas from the blender. A tradition of fulfillment of life. BBQ Chicken Tender Nachos, Yellow Rice, Sweet Cornbread Muffins and Chocolate Orange Creme Brulee. Only using what was on hand. I live for these moments! The Chicken Tenders were baked then tossed in a Carolina Vinegar Exilir pulled straight from the Smokies. Chips, then Diced Tomatoes, then Tenders, then Cheddar Cheese, then Salsa followed by more cheese. Layered on a greased baking dish and then broiled over high heat for about 4 minutes. Removed from the oven and placed on a bed of organic greens. Topped with Sour Cream and Peppers. The Yellow Rice was packaged, but I added salsa to the mix for enhancement purposes. The Sweet Cornbread Muffins are a stable recipe I've had for years: a blend of southern hospitality and sugar plum fairy visits. The Chocolate Orange Creme Brulee was a winner. A 2nd place award from the Citrus and Celery Celebration of Oveido, Florida in many years gone by. If it wasn't about the glory, it was about the guts. Happy bloodshed and Merry Cinco de Mayo! Stay thirsty my friends.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

April 28, 2011

1:16 P.M.

I really wish they could figure out this infection. More nasal swabs. More chest pus swabs. Another bad lunch. The machine keeps beeping until the nurse turns it off. I'm looking in all the wrong places for all the right answers.

Friday, May 6, 2011

April 28, 2011

4:15 A.M. It's been a long 48 hours. The infection from my pacemaker surgery has gone ballistic. I wish I could tell you the pain doesn't hurt, but I'd be lying. A large infectious blend of pus and tiny bubbles has emerged from my skin. Price has a toll to pay, even when you're not going through the toll booths. Don't mind me. I just had to turn off the news. My mind wonders in this hospital room. Again. The door has been left open from the nurse who has just redressed my wound. All I know is that it's going to be a long day. The breakfast was really bad. A lot worse than the dinner I had last night. The eggs were powdered, the jelly on my toast was surgar-free and the coffee was decaf. Thank God for the regular I grabbed from the nurses earlier. The smiles are hearty and the walks are brisk. The clock in front of me on the wall is moving like a second hand in slow motion. I hear the talk of nurses and so forth down the hall. The sun is new and gleaming through onto my notebook as I write. It's a nice day. The code orange that was called out on the intercom system minutes ago, has been cleared. The only dominate sound in my room is the sound of AC coming in through the vents. It's cold.