Friday, July 10, 2009

its amazing how life changes for you....or is it the other way around?

I was thinking last night in my delirium of working out(an hour of cardio and then thirty mins on upper body strength training) Of how fortunate I am at this point in my life? While I wont go into the past the less said about that the better, I will comment that in my life I have been very ....lucky?

I say no not at all. There are some people in my life who would say that there is no such thing as luck. Some would define it as a higher power, others would just say the happenstance of life has its effects. I find that most people who believe in luck show a certain ignorance of the understanding of how life works. So when I here people use the word lucky I smile and wonder if they are breaking it down more for a simpler way of thinking.

I believe that when an unexpected good experience happens it is more earned than luck. For example when I was a young child my brother and I would both talk about how much we wanted to travel the world. It was almost an obsession for both of us. This desire has become a reality Spencer and I both have traveled extensively. Me throughout Asia and Spencer in Europe and Africa. Now these are two boys who grew up middle class in the Midwest. We took vacations but mostly to Michigan and Wisconsin. My point is that I believe "luck" is nothing more than a coming together of desires. One side has a desire for it the other has a desire to give it.

I heard the other day on the radio about a woman who wanted to take her daughter to some concert. She could not afford tickets but she took her daughter down to the concert and when she got there a man gave her two tickets to this concert cause his daughter had gotten sick and could not go. Is this luck? Divine intervention? or just right place right time? I would say none of the above. Luck is a fortuitous chance happening. That lady was somewhere where there was a possibility of this happening nothing fortuitous there. If it was divine intervention then the man would have knocked on her door and given them to her. Right place right time might be a little closer but who is to say that we are not always in the right place. I believe that in this world when there is a strong desire you will be drawn to that to which you desire.

When my last relationship ended I was convinced that I must be cursed. That for some reason I was not meant to be with someone for any lengthy period of time. I was to be a confirmed bachelor and that to put another person through this was not going to happen. I started to date....a close friend of mine refereed to it as sport dating. Nothing serious nothing commital. And I stuck to that idea...for a while. I set my life and lifestyle to be in this mode. But all the time I hated it. I didn't like the idea of not being able to share a certain closeness with someone. To be able to bare my soul completely good part and bad part alike was something I believed was not going to happen. At nights being completely alone was something I hated even when there was someone else in my life. Can someone be completely alone even if there is someone else in your life with you. Absolutely I never knew how lonely I was until recently. I used to tell my girlfriends or wives that if I left or they left me don't look around for me cause I wont be there I'll be gone. That tells me there was not a full commital there that something was held back. I can say that in every relationship up to the one that I am in I ALWAYS held something back. little something that was mine. Some would say that was a form of dishonesty. Probably. I still wrestle with this to this day. But I held out hope that something would change. Throughout all this I was putting a list together in my head of what the perfect partner would be. And how would I do things differently the next time.

Whats that saying about the definition of insanity. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time. It occurred to me that this is exactly what I was doing. Not to mention the fact that I was always going after the type of woman who always needed to be rescued. I would find these "strays" and try to save them. Funny thing was they never seemed to want to be saved. HA!!!

This time I didn't really plan and plot what was going to happen rather I just held a desire for the right woman to come into my life. I was convinced that this person never existed. Or if she did she would want nothing to do with me. Yes I admit I have a very low self esteem. I worry every day that something I do will not be accepted or wanted. I assure you it gets old and tiresome for me too. As a chef every meal I make I worry that people will not like it. I get stage fright every day. And with my relationships I worry about the same thing. I need to be needed. I need to be loved in order to be successful. I remember a time when I had a boss who like me and liked what I did. I was very productive in the position. Then that chef got transferred to another kitchen and a new chef was brought in who was a yeller and screamer....constantly berating everyone. Needless to say I failed. I made silly mistakes... was always second guessing myself. I lasted about three months and requested a transfer to a new property. That kind of failing hurts. It puts the feelings of being a failure in your mind. The same I am realizing is true with my relationships. When there is no longer a need for you or that you are not wanted its a painful feeling.

Which brings me to last night. I wished for Kelly.... I dreamed about her.... I remember thinking about her or someone like her years ago.... not just her looks, she's beautiful, but her soul, her spirited personality, her amazing strength and fortitude. In other words a strong beautiful smart woman who knows me as well as I know myself. But I know this, she didn't come into my life by luck or by chance.... we were drawn to each other. We talked to other night about how we met by chance...deep down I know she doesn't believe in chance or luck either. She knows we were drawn to each other and even now I know that she is reading this she will find some way to try to explain why its not just the way I said it. She will have a drawn out explanation of how she sees it. But that is fine deep down I know. I will just smile give her a hug and a kiss and know that the insanity is gone, finally, life is pretty good.

Its amazing how life changes for you?....not really you change life. Those out there that take on life like some predator who lays in a tree waiting for the prey to walk underneath you so you can fall on it. You can have that. You're shorting yourself. To me life doesn't come at me I go at it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Scott Made Kelly a fajita steak salad

It was one of those days that everything was coming at me at once(I wont elaborate but sufice it to say that Kelly was right there beside me through it all) and I wanted to thank Kelly for being there for me. So when I asked her the usual 2pm question "what do you want for dinner?" I got a response for something she had not requested for a while. "Street style beef fajitas". Being on a self imposed regime of curbing my food intake(in other words not eating like a Jr High football player) I started to work on what we could do. We didnt have flour tortillas, lettuce, fat free sour cream and her favorite ingredient cilantro, I swear she would put that on her cereal if she could. We did have some corn tortilla chips though. I also remembered that I had some flank steak at work. So off to the store I went. Got three bunches of cilantro some fat free sour cream(I am thinking lately of getting greek yogurt and putting some vinegar in it and seeing if that might improve the flavor)and a bag of tossed salad.

So off to the kitchen(I wish I had a bat pole to slide down)

5# flank steak also called london broil or the French call it a Bavette.
2 bunches of cilantro (one for the fajita's and the other to chop up and put in Kelly's store bought salsa)
1 bag of frozen pepper onion mix
1 bag salad mix(I like Dole's Meditranian mix)
any chunky salsa
fat free salad dressing
corn tortilla chips
fat free sour cream
fat free cheese

Spice mix(Pay attention this is the important part)
I teach a class on campus on home cooking and I give the students a recipe for a basic spice blend to use on the grill and then let them modify it according to what they want it to tast like. The following is the basic blend then adding a southwest twist to it.

2 part garlic powder
2 part onion powder
1 part black pepper
1 part chili powder
2 parts paprika
3 parts kosher salt

southwest twist
2 parts cumin
1 part chili powder

Mix the spices in a coffee cup and if you have leftovers just set it by the stove and occasionally throw some in what ever you are scramdled eggs

season the meat heavy with the spice mix and allow to sit for half an hour at room temp

On a HOT!!! grill put a cast iron skillet and allow to get hot
add peppers and onion mix with a bit of the seasoning blend(it should sizzle very loudly and the smell will be immediate)

on the other half of the grill put the steak on

A flank steak is best when two things are done to it, Marinate for as long as possible, cook it slow and allow it to get med well done. I normally eat my steak a bit above still alive and barely "mooing" but I like this cut medium well.

once the steak is done allow to rest for 1o mins. I just turn the grill off cover and go prep the rest of the meal.

The prep is easy just assemble any ingredients you want as a salad or in a flour tortilla and go for it.

One of the things I like to do in this is cut the meat outside by the grill... it cuts down on the mess inside(for which I am famous for making). Then serve Al Fresca.

I just got and IM

"can we make jamaican jerk chicken?"

I guess I know what my next blog will be huh?

Bonne Appetite!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why I hate hotel rooms

I am sitting in a hotel room in Chicago for a week long conference and am for some reason reminiscing about all the times I have been staying in a hotel for work. Over the years I have been on jobs cooking that have taken me out of town some for extended periods of time.

Kelly and I talked about it the other night. She and I were comparing staying in a hotel for work vs staying in a hotel for a vacation. Last night she and I stayed at a casino went to the beach and did some shopping and a bit of gambling. Tonight I am in a hotel having spent the whole day at a conference in the suburbs of Chicago. You tell me which I enjoyed more....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Scott Cooked Kelly Lettuce Wraps

The dinner was going to be postickers from a recipe I found on another website... I will try to put the sight up in the blog but if not its on my blog roll. When I asked if potstickers sounded good the response was "yes but". So the suggestion was made why not make lettuce wraps. So I was off and running.

I looked up the history of them and I cannot seem to find anything that gives a good origin. I have had them as street food in Thailand as well as in South Korea. The restaurant PF Changs seems to have made them popular here in the states. The basics of the recipe is a Asian stir fried meat stuffed into a lettuce shell. Sort of a stir fry meets taco.

The complicated thing was to get a rich flavor of the spices and meats and not use any fat in the cooking process. Not an insurmountable challenge. So here we go.

1# chicken breast(cleaned no skin and ground in a food processor till it looks like hamburger)

1 tbsp fresh (Not canned, not dry but fresh) ginger

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 cup chopped green onions

1/2 cup soy sauce (low salt is best)

1/2 rice wine vinegar

no stick spray

1 head of iceberg lettuce


2 tbsp toasted sesame oil( I put in a super hot pan and let it smoke a little, it burns off some of the fat)

The trick to doing this is to have all your ingredients done, chopped and ready to go.

In a HOT!!! wok or heavy cast iron pan spray the no stick spray (its going to smoke a bit) and put the chopped garlic and ginger in allow about ten seconds(as long as it takes you to grab the chopped chicken) toss once and pour in the chicken (all of it at once)

Stir the chicken mixture occasionally(allow it to brown some on the bottom of the pan) When the chicken is finished pour in the soy sauce and the vinegar and allow to reduce. Add the green onions at the end. Serve with any favorite oriental sauce such as teryaki or hoisin. Stuff the meat in the lettuce leafs and enjoy.....

OH!! beware this can be a bit messy so probably not something you want to let the kids eat on a new sofa....

Bonne Appetite

Saturday, June 13, 2009

BBQ Cookoff

Well since I screwed up my ankle playing softball I thought this would be a good time to talk about yesterdays competition.

I must say I was excited to be invited as a judge for a cooking competition. I was also a little apprehensive. I don't like to give bad news to amateur cooks. They tend to take things personally. When judging a competition you are not looking to hurt someones feelings you are judging them by their skills. If your skills suck then your food is going to suck. But I was more interested in going to see an old friend Keith Angell who is the Executive Chef of Grillmasters in Zionsville. The other judges were guys I either knew of or have admired. Thom England is one of the premiere culinary minds in the city and Neal Brown is kinda the mad scientist of chefs in the city. So to be sitting next to these guys was kind of a cool thing if nothing else just meeting and BSing with a bunch of chefs.

Kelly was great she was at my side all day and it was funny she kept telling the chef judges where and when we had to be. Then during the judging she would leave then come back(I found out she was going out and looking at the dishes as they were coming in and then letting me know what dishes she wanted to try and which ones she was not interested in. Very cute. We sat in on the classes that Chef Keith was teaching and it was fun to be able to just sit and relax and watch another chef have to work.

We started off with the appetizers or rather it should have been called the lets wrap it all in bacon. Shrimp, beef, chicken, jalapenos, water chestnuts, and asparagus. The memorable one was the asparagus wrapped with prosciutto and phyllo dough it needed a sauce though. That was the thing no one wanted to put in sauce with their meals. There was also a grilled oyster on the half shell that was amusing(yah I said amusing) There was also a grilled scallops on a avocado mousse and a BBQ chicken pizza that was really good. Kelly told me she tried one that was straight out of the oven that was even better. Now if you are a true foody you will know that most of those dishes are a little outdated for restaurant food but remember that these were all amateurs cooking. It was funny the last appt to come through was a trio of everything wrapped in bacon(go figure!) and one of the dishes was a bacon wrapped jalapeno and holy shit was it hot. All the chefs were grabbing water and I think Thom Englands head didn't stop sweating for half an hour.

The entrees.... ribs ribs ribs.... very little originality. There was a smoked lamb chops with a mint crust that was rather nice. All the fish dishes were WAAYYY over cooked. The one that I liked and remember was a perfectly done fillet of beef stuffed with a roasted garlic butter. Very tasty. The ribs were one of the dishes that was a subjective thing. I was surprised to see how UN-tender most of them were. of the 4 or 5 ribs entries only one struck me as being done properly. There were several tri tips again all of them seemed to be a little tough. I did like the sides that a lot of folks put up. There was a sweet potato dish with a cinnamon butter that i am going to have to go into my kitchen and try to recreate. It was yummy and all the other judges were of the same feeling. I thought that the dishes were creative in the type but were needing more work in presentation.

Dessert. After 36 course up to this point I was happy to see my favorite course to come up. When out walking and looking at the competitors I was seeing ice cream churns and baking pans. Very cool... There was the usual grilled pineapple and cherries. There was a really good pineapple upside down cake that had obviously made their own cake batter from scratch. There was also a entry that they had cored out a pineapple and stuffed it with cake batter and pineapple and baked it that was very cool. But the clear stand out was the chocolate melt away hearts with fresh whipped cream. It was funny all the judges tasted it then set them aside to eat later.... Always a good sign.

All in all it was a good day of networking socializing and eating WAY!!! to much food. I came home took a nap and generally was in a food coma for the rest of the day. Kelly was getting hungry around 10pm and asked if she could fix some hamburger helper. After the kind of day I had nothing sounded better.

In light of todays BBQ judging I thought I would post this funny email

Note: Please take time to read this slowly. If you pay attention to the first two judges, the reaction of the third judge is even better.

For those of you who have lived in Texas , you know how true this is. They actually have a Chili Cook-off about the time Halloween comes around. It takes up a major portion of a parking lot at the San Antonio City Park .

Judge #3 was an inexperienced Chili taster named Frank, who was visiting from Springfield , IL . Frank: “Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge’s table, asking for directions to the Coors Light truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn’t be all that spicy; and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted and became Judge 3.”

Here are the scorecard notes from the event:


Judge # 1 — A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.
Judge # 2 — Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.
Judge # 3 (Frank) — Holy crap, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that’s the worst one. These Texans are crazy.


Judge # 1 — Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.
Judge # 2 — Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.
Judge # 3 — Keep this out of the reach of children. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.


Judge # 1 — Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick.
Judge # 2 — A bit salty, good use of peppers
Judge # 3 — Call the EPA. I’ve located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I’m getting shit-faced from all of the beer.


Judge # 1 — Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.
Judge # 2 — Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.
Judge # 3 — I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally, the beer maid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. This 300 lb. woman is starting to look HOT .. just like this nuclear waste I’m eating! Is chili an aphrodisiac?


Judge # 1 — Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.
Judge # 2 — Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.
Judge # 3 — My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted, and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I’m burning my lips off. It really ticks me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw them.


Judge # 1 — Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers.
Judge # 2 — The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, garlic. Superb.
Judge # 3 — My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I crapped on myself when I farted, and I’m worried it will eat through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that Sally. Can’t feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my butt with a snow cone.


Judge # 1 — A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.
Judge # 2 — Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. **I should take note that I am worried about Judge # 3. He appears to be a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.
Judge # 3 — You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn’t feel a thing. I’ve lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they’ll know what killed me. I’ve decided to stop breathing it’s too painful. Screw it; I’m not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I’ll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.


Judge # 1 — The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.
Judge # 2 — This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 farted, passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he’s going to make it. Poor feller, wonder how he’d have reacted to really hot chili?
Judge # 3 - No Report

I will report on the BBQ cookoff in the next day or so after I come out of this food coma

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Scott Fed Kelly BBQ Fork Pulled Chicken

Its always interesting to me when I get a request through email that starts off with the saying "can we have this". I take it as a credit to my skills that there is never a question of do I know how to make it but more of a request of would you make this for me.

It wasnt until I was with my Irish Lass that I started to appreciate healthy cooking. When the public comes to me for a meal the last thing on their mind is healthy eating. Oh they want to give the appearance that the meal they order is healthy but to actually consume a healthy meal....well thats just Un-American. Hence the nations problems with obesity.

But hear lately I have been challenged to start looking at the meals I prepare at home. Watching the calories, fat content, how many carbs and most of all keeping it healthy.

The recipe was a crockpot dish of BBQ chicken. While I like using crock pots I know I can do better. Using the oven to handle the roasting of the meat as it cooks down will give the dish a richer deeper flavor. The addition of red onions also should help give the chicken a sweeter flavor without putting in any additional calories.

The seasoning of this dish is going to be fun as well. I like to make my own seasoning mixes. Its to the point now that Kelly knows when I make the seasoning mix and when I grab one of the celebrity hack chefs pre-made mixes.

The theory behind any pulled meat is that the meat is cooked down to the point that a push or pulling of a fork will cause the meat to fall apart. This is accomplished through several methods. The first and easiest is to use a peice of meat that is already naturally tender. The tenderloin of beef or pork comes to mind. The problem with using that cut of meat is its expense, up to $18 a pound. The second method is to marinate the meat and let the marinade break down the meat before the cooking process. The third way is to cook the meat at a very low temprature for a very long time. I like to use a combination of the last two.

The history of bbq meats is not from a single source. The French do something simular and call it confit, the British and Irish have been makeing stews using this method. But the origin of American bbq can be pointed to the deep south and pre Civil War. One theory is that the slaves used to take the cuts of meat that were detirmined to be unusable and cooked them over an open flame in and outdoor kitchen. Through the use of vinegars and mustards the meat would tenderize to the point of being enjoyable.

The recipe I got from Kelly was from a healthy weight loss website. I like seeing those recipes cause they let me know a direction to work towards keeping the dish healthy and fat free.

So on to the recipe

2# boneless skinless chicken breast
1 cup local lowfat ketchup (I was skeptical of this but found it to be a little sweeter than the normal ketchup, it actually reminded me of the Ketchup I used to eat with my fish and chips when I was in England)
1/2 cup of rasperry vinegar (it was all I had in the kitchen)
1/4 cup worsteshire sauce
1 16 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup of diced onions (white onions are ok red onions would be better)

1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp garlic salt
2 tbsp dried basil

lay the chicken in a heavy bottom pan (preferably a cast iron skillet) mix all the ingredients in a bowl and pour over the chicken. Cover the top of the pan with aluminym foil and bake in a oven at 250 degrees for about 3 hours. Pull the chicken from the pan and break up with a fork. Place the skillet on the stove and turn on to high heat and cook the liquid down until it is nice a thick and pour the sauce over the meat. Serve on a low fat bun and a nice tossed salad.

Bonne Apetite