Archive for the 'food and life' Category
Recipe: Eat Meatballs When I PassAuthor: Chris PerrinNovember 5, 2009
It was unseasonably warm for Halloween, but that was okay. I was outdoors to help bury a friend. Andy Rupf passed away at the age of 40 and there we were, standing around where his ashes were to be interred: saddened, confused, maybe a little angry, alone even in a crowd. As the preacher raised his hand over Andy for the final time and we said “Amen” five us congregated together. Four friends I hadn’t seen in a year. Or more.
Ironically that we met at his wedding. Now his funeral brought us back together.
The funeral had been nice, but surprisingly joyous. Friend, family, pastor, all had been touched by Andy. By his quirky sense of humor. By his love of life and Star Wars. During the ceremony, we listened to Ray Stevens and a song called “Code Monkey” (Andy was a programmer), we watched as his niece gave a eulogy using grammer rules that would have made Yoda proud.
Some laughed. But I couldn’t get over the fact this was a funeral and I would never see my friend again.
As we stood huddled after the interrment, the question arose, like it always does. “You want to get something to eat?” We all did. “Where do we go?”
Despite being about eight blocks away from Jasper’s, I didn’t want to say “Jasper’s.” Everytime I see Chef Jasper, he’s always so full of life and excitement about cheese or produce or wine or mostarda. It felt wrong to bring four people from a funeral to that.
“Jasper’s?” I said. It felt wrong not to.
We drove there and parked. I peered into his office where Chef Jasper saw me and waved me through the door since he didn’t have keys to unlock the office. He met us in the Marco Polo’s deli section of his restaurant with a warm handshake.
“What are you all here for?” he asked with a smile.
“We just got done with a funeral.”
“Oh,” the smile faded. “What are you having?”
“I think I have them talked into the Chicken Saltimbucco, Chef.”
The smile returned and he was off into the kitchen.
There was something about standing in line that maybe lit a spark. The wonder of the dishes perhaps. The description of the Chicken Saltimbucco. The promise of good food, I don’t know.
But a trickle of conversation had started by the time we sat down. Mainly about sports, but also about work and life.
Still, it wasn’t until we were all seated that it arrived: a plate of 8 meatballs cooked for who knows how long in the Mirabile family Sunday gravy (or at least it’s closest made-from-scratch restaurant equivalent.) I looked across the deli to where Chef was yelling out orders like a culinary cop directing traffic and he winked.
I smiled. I had almost ordered a meatball sandwich, but the chicken salt was a tradition.
It took my friends all of maybe three seconds to tear into the meatballs. Where there was a few words here and there before, there was only the sound of happy mouths as we ate the meatballs held firmly in Italian bread. I don’t know, I might have burped. Probably did.
But it was the strangest thing. Maybe there was happy juice in the meatballs, but I think in the end, it was just really good food that turned that earlier reserved, quiet conversation into something genuine. It might have been just me, but as we ate our food, I felt happy again. Restored somehow.
I’m not going to say that the Andy-sized hole in my soul was filled up with meatballs. I still miss my friend and I have to live with the fact that I’ll never see him in this world again. Even worse, as I look out from my desk, I can almost see where Andy’s body lies. I hope he’s off in a better place where he doesn’t have to wait to get on a WoW server and where lightsabers are real, but since he’s in Heaven he doesn’t have to worry about losing an arm. I hope he got his beer and pizza. I hope he’s happy.
Andy’s funeral taught me one thing. I always said I wanted my funeral to be a funny affair. I wanted everyone to be happy remembering the good times we had, but when given that chance for Andy, I couldn’t do it. Selfishly, I want my friend back.
So I think that when I pass, I want people to be WAILING. UPSET. TEARING THEIR CLOTHES IN DESPAIR.
Well, that’s not true. I want everything to be short. I want the preacher to come up and say I was a man of God. I want someone to play “I’ll Back You Up” by Dave Matthews Band. I want Tina and E to know that I loved them both and then I want it over. No more time dwelling on me.
And wherever you are. Whether you think I cared about you (I did), remembered you (I did), or called you a friend (I did) or, I want you to find an Italian place and some friends. Remember all the goofball things I did and all the recipes I made you try that you liked and all the recipes I made you try that you didn’t. Share with each other and remember the good times. Try to forget when I was cranky or stubborn. Do that for me.
But most importantly, do one other thing. Smile and order a plate of meatballs.
Yes, I am posting this after the ep is over, but I haven’t watched. I am really looking forward to it when I get a chance to watch it in a few minutes.
Until then, know that my Fantasy Top Chef knockout pool selection was Mike I. See you soon!
Okay, here’s the scores. It was an interesting week since there was not one Quickfire winner, but four. Though there was only one Elimination winner. To be fair, all four chefs earned their respective fantasy owner 1 fantasy point for their quickfire win. So after that week, the standings are as such:
Olathe, KS 66062
Recipe: Cook With Your Kids: TacosAuthor: Chris PerrinJune 26, 2009
So I am playing around with different features here on the blog. Since I am the proud father of WellDone, Jr. and because my friend Carissa asked, I really got inspired to start thinking about ways I can get the kids into the kitchen.
Now, to me, cooking in the kitchen with kids means two things: chaos and the inappropriate use of sprinkles (seriously, pick up a kid’s cookbook and see how many recipes they have involving candy and sprinkles. It’s sad.) While I can’t do anything about the chaos, I will promise you that these recipes won’t sugary or too simple. We want to teach kids to cook, right?
On the other hand, these recipes won’t involve complex knife skills, deep fat frying, or grilling since all you need is one of these plus a kid with an independent streak and you have disaster.
With that being said, grab your kids and your aprons. It’s time for
In this case, we’re going with beef tacos since they’re pretty simple. As long as your child is tall enough, he or she (or they) should be able to do all of the cooking with minimal exposure to grease splatters or heat. Also, with the help of your grocery store, this dish can be made without even needing a knife.
I am a married man, but I have a second love.
If you know me, then you may have guessed what this illicit love is. Hopefully, you’ll keep this little secret to yourself because I am going to go out on a limb and tell you. I love food.
I love everything about food. The taste, the smell, the color, writing about it, thinking about it, watching it get cooked. I love that little sizzle that onions or meat or tofu makes when it hits a hot pan with oil in it. Sadly, I think I love food too much. Since at the time of the writing I currently weigh a dizzying amount of weight. And so even though I love food, I am trying as hard as I can to separate myself of it.
Some call it releasing weight, some call it dieting, some call it slimming down, but whatever it is, I am trying to make that little number on the scale drop by about 120 from where I started. Basically, I am trying to reinvent my body and reinvent myself.
The good news is that I enjoy exercise. I like lifting weights, playing racquetball, swimming, and the feeling I get when I look down at the elliptical and say “Ha, I OWNED you for 30 minutes!” (even if the truth is more like I was in awful pain and hated life for all 1,800 seconds I was on the [bleep]ing machine.)
There is, however, one thing I won’t give up. I am pretty sure that I am unable to give up my love of food, so I am not going to try. Instead, I am learning a new concept: moderation which I think comes from the Latin for “[Bleep]ing [bleep] of a [bleep] I’m still hungry, but I am not licking my plate clean” or something like that. Basically, to acheive this moderation-thingy, over the past several weeks I have been doing four things:
- I am leaving food on my plate or, depending on the meal, putting it in a doggie bag. This tactic works better with an attentive waiter who can get my plate out from under my nose quickly, but it does work.
- I am slowing down. I am trying as hard as I can not to shovel food anymore. Instead, I am taking time to taste each bite, savor the different flavors, and then swallow. Since I am eating less (per #1), I still want to engage in the culinary pleasure of eating and slowing down is one way I am doing that. Overall, I am finding that my enjoyment of food has actually increased.
- I am avoiding temptation. No buffets or Mexican restaurants for me except for one meal a week. All chips are out of my house as are Jelly Bellys, Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream from Ben and Jerry’s, etc.
- I earn my rewards. Anytime I want something, say like a Dr. Pepper or a treat, I make myself earn it. That means going to ju jitsu or the gym and working for it. In the end, this means that instead of depriving myself and risking a slide back into my old habits, I am accepting a slower pace of weight loss in exchange for a lifestyle I can do.
Now, I promise not to turn into a health freak. I am going to try to do more healthy recipes, but that’s more because that’s what my readers seem to want. (This of course excludes next January where I will do a second Unresolution month, but that’s another story!) I wouldn’t normally even talk about this type of thing except it’s been on mind so much and that’s from where these little vignettes come.
So is it working? I’d caution a guess and say yes. Last week I lost 13 pounds. Tomorrow I face the scale again.
Wish me luck?
(Thanks Rick for the pic!)
I know, Where Life Meets Lunch is my Sunday series, but BlogWellDone, Jr. had a surprise for all of us when he invited himself down to see Grandma WellDone which in turn necessitated that I drive an hour each way for a quick dinner. Sort of like the $100 hamburger…without the airplane.
Anyway, here’s to playing catch up!
I don’t think it will come to anyone’s surprise that:
- The economy isn’t doing so well
- In turn, a lot of restaurants aren’t doing so well
And, of course, “isn’t doing so well” is a euphemism for we’re in a bad way. Perhaps as bad as we’ve seen since the Great Depression. Still, “isn’t doing so well” seems to induce less indigestion that the other term and will hopefully keep you in the mood to eat something. I mean, this is a food blog after all.
Anyway, I’ve been relatively lucky. Most of my friends have kept their jobs and those who haven’t have landed in better situations than when they started.
Also, most of the places I like to frequent for food and drink aren’t out of business, either. At least not yet.
I just have this distinct feeling that that is coming to an end. I don’t want to name names or anything, but the last couple of times I’ve been to two of my favorite restauants have been downright depressing. Where there used to be people waiting to get a table, people packed into seats, and patrons staying around to enjoy after dinner cocktails, now there are only empty seats, empty glasses, and empty cash registers.
Even worse, if you really look, most restaurants are going about their business differently. Portions are subtly smaller. Where once salads came swimming in dressing, now they barely have any at all. Rice bowls which used to be heaped to overflowing are now filled only to level and more rice costs $1.50. Even hot sauce is starting to cost money.
Sadly, the over-attentiveness of the wait staff, used to serving ten tables at once, is not a good thng when you’re the only full table in the section.
I wish I had a solution. There’s one place in Kansas City in particular I am more than a little worried may not be around much longer. This is the place where I celebrate my special occassions. If I am on my deathbed tomorrow, my wife knows to go get me a meal from this place. And tomorrow it may be gone.
All I can do is stand by and wait and hope that nothing happens to it. I go there when I can, but the economy has affected my family just like it has affected everyone else’s.
So, yes, there is frustration in these words. I wish I could do more. But more importantly, there’s caution. If there’s someplace you love to have a good meal, go there now. While you can.
Nothing stays forever. Especially not in a bad economy.
Well, this series has come to an end. After many days and many delicious recipes, today will be our last day talking about Dancing Deer products. For now. Even before I blogged them, I was a fan. Nothing has changed that!
As you probably know, Dancing Deer CEO Trish Karter rode more than 1,500 miles to promote awareness for Family Homelessness. She has done a great thing. She talked with people, shared with them, and fed them. I only wish my blogging efforts could compare.
To celebrate the final day of blogging about Dancing Deer products, I want to end with the first idea I ever had about what to do with Dancing Deer brownies:
Dancing Deer Brownies Wrapped in Phyllo Dough
We used to go to a restaurant called Coyote Grill here in Kansas City where my wife always ordered the brownie wrapped in phyllo dough. I couldn’t not let this series end without sharing it with all of you.
Mom…Happy Mother’s Day, even though I don’t think you read this blog, nor am I terribly sure you know what a blog is exactly.
Today, we’re going to celebrate the fact that 30 years ago (give or take a day or so) you, in a rush of horrible puns, gave birth to a strappling young baby boy who would later grow into a strapping young lad who somehow turned into me. In order to celebrate this act, we’re going to be going to Heroes for brunch. (For those not in the know, Heroes is probably the finest non-Mexican restaurant in all of Warrensburg, MO and was a natural choice for a Mother’s Day brunch.)
Ah the Mother’s Day brunch. The culinary institution of Mother’s Day.
I have to admit, I’m jealous of the Mother’s Day brunch. As a father, I am quite sore that there’s no Father’s Day brunch. I mean I totally understand that the idea of the Mother’s Day brunch is to give busy moms a fantastic meal so she can take at least one meal off.
On Father’s Day…nothing. Is there a Father’s Day buffet? No. Instead, I’m supposed to get a new grill implement and I’m supposed to stand over the grill and cook. What’s up with that?
I want a Father’s Day buffet. I want the meats I am to have grilled all in a line for me buffet style. I want variety. I don’t want to have to work for it.
I mean I’m not saying I do the same amount of work as my wife does…but I still don’t want to have to cook!
Okay, so I admit it. I missed a day. I messed up. I was at a convention and I just missed a post. So in order to make up for it, I will write the post I missed yesterday and do another post on Dancing Deer baked goods. Hopefully that will make things right.
With that being said, I wanted to talk about:
If you know me at all, you know I have issues with the term “comfort food”. In my mind, it’s too close to “stress eating” or “eating when unhappy”. That’s bad, mmm kay?
However, with that being said, there is something about eating the certain foods that can get you through a rough spot or an illness or just take you back to happier times. I know when I get sick, all I want is hot and sour soup and wontons. When I visit my grandma, I want her chicken and noodles.
Dancing Deer CEO Trish Karter’s ride to raise awareness for family homelessness got me thinking about comfort foods. As she talks with women across the country struggling with homelessness, she is going to ask them about the foods they miss. I never thought about it before, but if I am homeless, the chances of getting my favorite comfort foods are pretty much out the door.
I mean does the Chinese delivery guy go the shelter? Would there be a communal stove to make chicken and noodles or tuna fish patties and noodles for my wife? I’m guessing not.
It’s adding insult to injury that people who are homeless, even if they can find food, probably have little to no chance of having their comfort food. In the grand scheme of things, not being able to have their favorite meal may seem like the least of their worries. Still, think about the last time you struggled with the bills (let alone getting tossed out on the street)…wouldn’t your favorite treat have given you a moment’s respite against the worries of the day?
All I can hope is that for the few women that Ms. Karter talks to (few in the grand scheme of the larger problem), she can provide some comfort. Carrying around a load of brownies on her bike might not be feasible, but it is my sincere hope that those she talks to might get their own bag of brownies in the mail like the ones Dancing Deer sent me.
Sometimes a little comfort can go along way.
I know I’ve been talking a lot about Dancing Deer’s CEO Trish Karter’s ride from Atlanta to Boston over the past week and I will continue to do so for a while longer because I vowed to post about it once for every day she’s on the road.
That includes these little vignettes I call Where Life Meets Lunch.
Today I want to talk about waste because I think it fits into this topic and it’s something with which I am intimately familiar as a food blogger. I think food bloggers waste food all the time playing with new flavors and generally wasting food in plating and making things look presentable. Also, maybe I am just talking about me, but I know I cook recipes I don’t necessarily intend to eat just so I can snap a picture.
For instance, a recipe I wrote is going to appear in The Kansas City Star Magazine (maybe even today), and a professional photographer had to come by and snap a pic. However, I didn’t have the time to fix the recipe so I bought all the ingredients, assembled the dish and let the photographer take his shot. Then I threw the ingredients away. Yes it was wasteful, but I simply didn’t have the time for anything else.
In general, I should be more disposed against waste. Still, as I spend the next week or more writing recipes and sharing facts about children and families who are going without… well… maybe I should be a little more concerned about giving and a little less about consuming needlessly.
As I do this, I also want to just give more. This, in many ways, will be easier to do than stopping overconsumption. To give more, I want to remind everyone about kiva.org and the BlogWellDone lending page (I took this idea from 101Cookbooks.) Also, shortly Anna Bassaham and will be doing a service project involving food and fashion. And in general, I think I’ll just try to give a bit more food to others less fortunate than I.
Not much of a Where Life Meets Lunch, I realize, but I find when I promise things on the blog, they happen.
Welcome back! Itâ€™s Day 4 of Dancing Deerâ€™s CEO Trish Karterâ€™s 1,500 mile bicycle trek from Atlanta to Boston, which she is doing it to raise awareness for family homelessness. Hopefully youâ€™re following her progress on Dancing Deerâ€™s website. As a point of personal pride, I would like to say that I did, in fact, post on the 22nd. WordPress has it recorded on the 21st. Just sayin’.
Anyway, for today’s entry, we’re going to make:
The Best PB&J Ever
Why are they the best ever? Because we’re making them with Dancing Deer brownies.