Thanks Dad!

16 Dec

“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.”     – Julia Child

Unlike Julia Child, I started cooking because I loved eating – thanks to my dad. Eating was an adventure for my dad. He pored over cookbooks and magazines to learn more about the newest, trendiest foods. My dad would sit my brother and me down for a lesson in eating a pomegranate – showing us how to carefully suck  the delicious juice off each seed. We snacked on pear slices and thinly sliced Muenster cheese – and smoked oysters and sardines. Our turkey was smoked, not roasted, and the salami we savored was chewy and dry – following weeks of “curing” (dangling from a string in the pantry). My dad knew where every ethnic food market – and restaurant – was in the Twin Cities and we routinely accepted – and expected wondrous new food at every turn.

In other words, my palate was determined at birth. It’s all good for the most part. But while most people are happy with a bowl of cold cereal for breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch and steak and potatoes for dinner – I always crave variety and out-of-the-ordinary food. My typical breakfast is a Kim’s Magic Pop (similar to a rice cake) spread with Hell’s Kitchen’s (a Minneapolis restaurant) fabulous peanut butter. Lunch typically consists of a corn tortilla (purchased at my favorite Mexican market)*, baked until crisp and topped with refried beans, chopped lettuce and green onions. Dinner time is when I really get creative – stir-frying a variety of veggies and meats with the assorted Asian sauces I keep stored in the refrigerator – or experimenting with yet another new entree using boneless chicken breasts. Lately I’ve been experimenting with stuffing chicken breasts with a variety of fillings.

Food can and should be an adventure. You should relish (pun intended) what you eat. Here are some ideas to mix up your meal time:

  • Scramble eggs and wrap in a warm tortilla for an on-the-go breakfast; season with Tabasco sauce or Frank’s hot sauce
  • Mix up a homemade smoothie with assorted fruits and skim milk
  • Stir craisins (dried cranberrries) into instant oatmeal; sprinkle with brown sugar
  • Fill a sandwich wrap (available in the bread section of your grocery store) with Olive Muffalata** and shredded cheese; optional, zap in the microwave for 20-30 seconds
  • Spread pocket pita bread  with hummus and fill with chopped tomatoes, lettuce and onions
  • Create a “chopped salad” with leftover meats and veggies – chop into bite-size pieces; add garbanzo beans and chopped olives; drizzle with olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar

More ideas to come in the new few weeks. Take a chance on a new food. Life is too short to rely on the same old, same old breakfast, lunch and dinner!

* El Mariachi Restaurant, Grocery and Bakery is at 2750 Nicollet Ave. S. in Minneapolis. 612-871-5200

**That Pickle Guy: Olive Muffalata – I perfer the spicy version. Available at Whole Foods.



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