Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Awaiting the ripening of cherry tomatoes.

This year I have not had the money to finance my passion for heirloom tomatoes like I have in the past. And this year is the first year I had a digital camera to document my achievements. So this is my achievement this year and my anticipation for the first signs of pink on the sweet little round orbs that are teasing my taste buds.

History can date the tomato back to around the Thirteenth Century, when the natives of Central America began growing and using the tomato as a food source. The Spanish Conquistadors are credited with spreading the tomato, through their ocean voyages, to southern Europe, the Caribbean, and the Philippines; where they eventually distributed themselves around the world. Tomatoes were thought to be poisonous by some peoples because they are classified among the nightshade family of plants. Thought the plant itself is toxic, the fruits are enjoyed both cooked or eaten raw.

Tomatoes are found in so many delicious recipes, you can go for years and make a different dish every night. I have one recipe I love using fresh tomatoes to make a salsa called Pico de Gallo. The recipe follows.

Southwestern Chicken over Pasta Alfredo
with Pico de Gallo

4 Servings Pasta of choice, cooked, drained, cooled and set aside
4 Chicken breasts, boneless and pounded to equal thickness
Blackening spice

Alfredo Sauce
1 quart heavy cream
5 egg yolks
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
Parmesan cheese, grated

Pico de Gallo
2 medium sized tomatoes, diced small
1 small onion, diced small
1 small jalapeƱo, diced small
Small handful Cilantro, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

Make Pico de Gallo and set in refrigerator to allow flavors to develop.

Mix together ingredients for Alfredo Sauce, minus the Parmesan cheese and set aside.

Season boneless chicken breasts with the Blackening spice to desired level of heat. Lightly coat the bottom of a heavy skillet with cooking oil and heat to medium high. Place the chicken breasts in the skillet, with the smooth side of the breast down first, and turning to cook the other side. Cook chicken through.

In a separate sauce pan, heat 3/4 of the Alfredo Sauce until it begins to bubble around the edges. Add your pasta and sprinkle some Parmesan cheese in the pan. Make sure you do not overload you pan when completing this step. Make in two batches if necessary. Sauce will begin to thicken, make sure all sauce is heated through and pasta coated. Use reserved sauce if necessary, or store in refrigerator for up to a week to use at a later time. Remove pasta from heat. Sauce will thicken more as it cools.

Arrange pasta on plates, placing chicken on top. Sprinkle additional cheese on top and finish with nice spoonful of Pico de Gallo.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Promote The General Welfare - What Happened To It?

"Promote the general welfare". Directly from the Preamble of the Constitution of the United States of America. I want to know what ever happened to "Promote the general welfare"? Before I go any further, I want to state that I am not a political person. I am however, a person who believes in fairness all around. I would like to see honesty and compassion prevail in this world. Now, with that said, on with my train of thought.

"Promote the general welfare", what ever happened to that?? Lately it feels like promote the welfare of the rich people and corporations. Or whoever lines the pockets of the politicians. I don't care if it is a "campaign donation", it still influences the person getting the donation. The rich are getting richer and all the tax breaks and the poor are getting poorer and just a little "stimulus" check. What a laugh!!

Just as an example, I'll use the ever increasing price of gasoline. This has created such a gigantic snowball effect. Increases in food costs, utilities, consumer goods, service fees, everything!! Everything except our paychecks, that is. It costs us more to drive to work, buy our food, pay for utilities! But our paychecks remain the same, except now they have to go alot further!!

The people with money seem to get all the donations. Money, tax breaks, clothing and products for endorsements, only to name a few. My back is getting a little tired of carrying all these rich rear ends around. Especially now that my health is no so good and I can only work part time. I am actually not supposed to be working at all, but I can't get my bills paid that way.

So yes, I want to know what ever happened to "Promote the general welfare"? It has gotten lost somewhere. We need to find it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Re-Discovering Myself

Recently, I have been trying to figure out what to do with myself. Since my Heart Failure in January, I am trying to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life. At least for the next couple of years. I keep trying to figure out what I can do to support myself financially, that I am good at and have an interest in. For the past couple of years, I have been pondering my various skills and interests to plan for my future when I am no longer able to be a chef. But circumstances have pushed that up by many years now.

I have so many interests and am good at a lot of things. I cook, I create, I write, I garden, I craft. I love paperwork, of all things. I have been rolling around the idea of bookkeeping for years now. I want to try and get classes in as soon as I can afford them or get some financial assistance, maybe a grant or something. Or I'd like to use my culinary skills and sell items through a website. Where I live is fast becoming a wedding destination and hand made food gift items are picking up. I could even ship for people getting married in other areas.

With all of these ideas, I get so excited and even mock up website ideas or menus. But, then I loose my drive. I become insecure and afraid to proceed for fear of failing. I think a lot of that follows me from my childhood. My father, may he rest in peace, was an alcoholic. He never encouraged us to do anything but get a job when we were old enough and get out of the house. I want to let you know though, before he passed away, he quit drinking and was a very encouraging father. But we were all grown up by then. And some scars are still there.

I think I will get a business plan of some sort together and set up a meeting with a local restaurateur whom I worked for for many years. He is a very shrewd businessman and I value his opinion on the economics of our area. But I am intimidated by him also. I do not want him to think I am stupid.

My Mother's Heart Is Mad At Her - Again!

My Mom is in the hospital today. She has to have a pacemaker put in. Actually, she is in surgery as I write this. My Mom had Heart Failure six years ago. We tease each other about being on some of the same medications. I had Congestive Heart Failure in December of '06 and again in January of this year. My Dad always said I was just like my Mother. Except he was trying to make it an insult. Little did he know when he was trying to insult me, he was actually complementing me.

My Mom was in the store getting groceries when she felt funny tingling in her left arm and she felt dizzy. She was smart and asked for medical assistance and not blow it off and drive home and ignore it. Her heart rate was only at 30 beats per minute. That is way too low!! The doctor said that the electrical impulses in the top chamber of her heart short circuited and the impulse was coming from the bottom of her heart. But it was not strong enough to keep up. Hence, the necessity for the pacemaker.

I live away from my family and having to deal with health issues from long distance is not fun. I have placed many long distance calls these past two days. I would have gone home and given my support in person if I was not financially strapped right now. I'm not sure what I would have done if it was more serious. My sisters would have probably had to Express me some money. My heart condition has put me out of the work force full time right now. I am a professional chef and I am no longer able to handle the demands, or the heat, of the job.

Joyous news!!! My sister just called and my Mom came through the surgery with no complications!! The doctor said her pacemaker will keep her heart rate above 60 beats per minute. We all figure she will have so much more energy now. And maybe her memory and concentration will improve. She had been showing early signs of dementia, but maybe this was the problem. Time will tell.

I'm Still Alive

I haven't been paying much attention to this site for awhile. Evident by the last time I even wrote anything for it. I wonder if what I have to say is interesting to others and should I be writing a blog?? Then I think, this is for me and is a journal of my thoughts and emotions. I always tell people that getting your emotions out is good and to not keep them bottled up. But I do hope someone will get some insight from my ramblings. :-)