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Passions: My family (have 4 grandsons), standing next to my grill at the lake on a warm summer day with a beer or 3 in my hand, and the Montana Grizzlies football team.
Pet peeves: Whining professional athletes' salaries, boaters who run across my fishing line while I'm trolling, and women who insist on driving while I'm behind the wheel (not you sweetheart, you make critical navigational observations).
Fell in culinary love with Italian (Sicilian) food in the mid 80's. I spent a year in Sicily sharing an apartment with two other guys. We were all married and trying to live without any adult (female) guidance. We split up the daily tasks, and I ended up the cook. Since my cooking experience was all grill oriented, my roomies ate a lot of grilled chicken and Italian Sausage (the Sicilians make wonderful sausage) until I got my feet on straight. It all started one evening when we went to a Restaurante for dinner. The head waiter patiently tried to tell us they were closed, but my limited Italian/Sicilian (they have many dialects) presented too big an obsticale to communication. Out of frustration, he seated us on a balcony overlooking a private wedding party. What a wonderful meal we had. He served us small portions of 5 or 6 types of pasta, salads, and gelato. We were embarassed about crashing the wedding, but expressed such joy and interest about the food, that we were invited back. I spent some time in the kitchen over the following months learning what I could. When I did any traveling, I always tried to find small family type restaurants and would make every effort to meet the cook. I was invited into more than one small kitchen, and learned a lot from these friendly and warm people. What I learned is simply summed up as follows:
- The same recipe is seldom made the same way twice in the smaller kitchens. The ingredients on hand were used. Try to be flexible.
- Simplicity and freshness of ingredients is a key. Shop every day for vegetables and meat.
- A smile and love of the task at hand comes out in the final result.
- Never disagree with Mama in her kitchen.
Although ingredients are not quite the same, I have had some success getting close to some of my favorite Italian dishes. Some of the names have changed (I have the memory of a musk ox), but I always try to remember the smile and the joy of the task at hand.
A word about my reviews...I do not rate recipes that I do not like. Too many people have different tastes and a bad review may scare someone (who would enjoy the recipe) off.
About my picture...I'm the one on the left in the lower forground. The guy on the right is my good friend John Wayne.