Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day

As the long holiday weekend kicks off, I wanted to take the time to reflect on Memorial Day. Most of the readers of this blog are probably aware that Memorial Day was created to honor the men and women who have served in the US military. I seriously doubt that anyone high school age and under knows that, to them Memorial Day is just another day off from school. I don't blame them, I blame their parents. People like me who never took the time to tell their kids what Memorial Day is about. Sometimes a parent can learn from their child as my wife and I did.

My son, Joel, was one of those kids that was never inspired to do well in school, because he did not like it. He did well when he was tested on end of year tests and on the SAT, so he had the brains just not the motivation. His best friend Saul, had decided at an early age to go into the military as soon as he turned 18. After 9/11 Saul started badgering Joel to join the military with him. Joel never mentioned anything to his mom and I until his senior year in high school 2 years later. After many hours of heated debate, we reluctantly decided to sign the papers to let him enlist. (Joel was only 17 when he graduated so we had to sign before he could join.) To make a long story short he left the Marines after 4 years as a Sargent. He had received 3 Purple Hearts and numerous other medals and accolades. While we had several terrifying moments receiving a phone call from the US Government telling us he had been injured, thankfully none were serious. After 4 years he came home with all of his limbs and with a new out look on life.

For most kids that would have been the end of the story, but once again Joel decided to surprise us. One of the things he got out of the Marines was discipline, after hanging around for a year after getting out of the Marines he decided to go to college. While attending college he decided that he wanted to become a pilot. After looking at all of his options he joined the ROTC for the Air Force deciding it was the best and cheapest way to learn to fly. Joel is once again excelling at his duties and has been given several scholarships by the ROTC to get through school. Right now he is in Alabama attending an officer training school. Making his parents proud once again.

This Memorial Day as I think about the veterans I have known over the years, the one that makes me the proudest is the kid that used to blow of his homework and play video games, the one that argued with me about taking the garbage out or walking the dog. So mom and dads remember they may not always listen to you or agree with you, but they can still turn out to be kids that you will be proud to say are yours.

Love you Joel keep being you and you will go far. And happy Memorial Day!

Joel and his girlfriend Meghan McCloskey.

PS For those of you wondering I have not been posting lately because my camera died in a big way. The local camera repair shop could not fix it and they have sent it to the manufacturer to see if it can be repaired. I should know the verdict on Tuesday. Hopefully, within a week after that I will have it back or I will will have a new one.

PSS Just so no one can say I ignored food in this food blog. Here is a link to my favorite side dishes that would be perfect for a Memorial Day picnic. Baked Potato Salad and Barbecued Baked Beans.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Baked Potato Salad

With warm weather and picnic season upon us it is time for my favorite potato salad recipe. This is different than other potato salads because the potatoes are baked and the ingredients are typical baked potato toppings. Things like chives, bacon, sour cream and cheddar cheese. This is another recipe where I measure with my eyes and not with cups and tablespoons, so taste and adjust as you see fit. Most of the time I use low fat mayo, sour cream and cheese for this and garnish with real cheese. If you like a creamy potato salad let the potatoes cool before adding the mayo sour cream mixture. If you add the mayo sour cream mixture while the potatoes are hot they will absorb more of the mixture making a dryer version.

Baked Potato Salad
2-3 lbs cooked potatoes, cut into bite size pieces I usually use Yukon Gold, but used Red Bliss in the batch pictured
1/2 cup sour cream, I use low fat
1 tbs mayo, I use low fat
4 strips bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled into small pieces. Reserve 1 tbs for garnish. I usually use center cut bacon
1/4 cup chives or green onions, cut into small rings, reserve 2-3 tsp for garnish
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese, reserve 1 tbs for garnish

Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and fold together until everything is coated with the sour cream mayo mixture. After it is all mixed together top with the reserved garnishes.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tilapia Topped with Shrimp, Asparagus and Spinach

Have you ever seen a recipe and just knew you could do it better? A while back I saw a recipe where the person fried fish, shrimp and asparagus and then stacked them on top of each other. This weekend I decided to see what I could do to improve this dish and here is my results.

Tilapia Topped with Shrimp, Asparagus and Spinach

2 tilapia fillets
12 shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup baby spinach leaves
4 to 6 asparagus spears, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 tsp butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 lemon, juice and zest
2 tsp parsley finely chopped
Non Stick Spray
1 cup cooked brown rice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray 2 individual baking dishes with non-stick spray. Place 1 tilapia fillet in each dish. Top fillet with 1/2 of the spinach, then place the 1/2 the asparagus on top of that. Top the whole thing with the 1/2 the shrimp. Then sprinkle with 1/2 the lemon juice and dot with the butter. Bake for about 20 minutes, until shrimp and fish are done.

Remove from oven then remove fish from dish. Add rice to the dish and mix with the butter and lemon left in the dish. Place the fish on top of the rice and garnish with the parsley and zest.