I was inspired over the weekend in a number of ways. My wife’s cousin and daughter spent the weekend with us. They were in town to compete in the Houston Marathon, sponsored by my former employer, Chevron. The inspiration was due in part to this very fit 65-year-old man running 26.2 miles at an 8:00 +/- pace, but also due to his healthy diet on exhibit. The Friday night before the Sunday race he swirled into he kitchen, found that we had a decent supply of ingredients and whipped up a fabulous meal. I had picked up some skinless chicken breasts intending to grill them, a bunch of asparagus, fresh spinach and some cauliflower – he wouldn’t touch the cauliflower. So in he dove, he coached Kathy on how to cook the penne pasta to his liking, al dente he says….Kathy knew what he meant. Why didn’t he use a term this country boy would better understand like, firm – not soft. He allowed me to grill the chicken without interference, a country boy can grill just about anything as long as it won’t crawl off the grill. He put his recipe together that included the grilled chicken, asparagus, olive oil, butter, fresh ground black pepper and the rosemary picked from my garden moments before adding to the skillet – he really wanted fresh basil but the freeze hammered the basil! My wife encouraged the addition of some yellow bell peppers – that added some nice color and flavor.
I liked how he prepped the asparagus, he placed it into the broiler until just beginning to carmelize – I have done the same on the grill and it is really nice. He chopped the asparagus into mouth sized chunks and added everything together in a large skillet. Once mixed and heated he placed the entire skillet into the oven under the broiler element until the penne pasta was just showing signs of golden brown edges. It was excellent!
The cooking inspiration he provided the next morning included the spinach. He sautéed it in olive oil…..he is a big fan of good olive oil…..I had to run off and buy a bottle of first press oil …. it is worth it. Once the spinach was wilted he added some eggs and yum…..a nice healthy breakfast. That Saturday morning’s inspiration also included the Houston Chronicle and an early morning call from my friend John.
The Saturday Chronicle had an article on winter garden vegetables and on the side a recipe very similar to the spinach and eggs I saw prepped that morning. First John sent me a text message while I was just finishing my early morning workout at the gym. I called him back…..texting is ok but with my fat fingers and wanting to better connect to the real meaning of his message, I chose to “talk” to him. I had not yet read the paper so he filled me in. He said it looked like an article that I could have written – on top of that, the mix of winter garden plantings was almost a perfect match for the seeds that went into his garden bed on Christmas Eve! Santa really does know Best! Too funny. I came home and smiled while reading the article, yes I could have written it. The recipe also caught my eye. It was similar to the breakfast cooked by cousin Billy, albeit with a few more added for flavors, and it included alternative greens that I could easily supply fresh from behind my garden fence. Kale was the first choice but they suggested trying turnip greens among several other greens choices… I had both kale and turnip greens. Now if I could just figure out how to better use those beautiful turnip globes attached to the greens?????
I just finished my breakfast of eggs cooked with chopped and wilted kale and turnip greens (I used both), some soy sauce, sea salt, garlic and fresh ground pepper. The kale was less than 5 minutes out of the ground and the turnip greens had been picked and washed the evening before, you can’t get much fresher than that – that is the blog title hook ….. who knows how old the store-bought eggs were but – the results were – sehr gut, muy bueno, molto benne and in Texan – damn good!
Cousin Bill – Thanks for the inspirations……the healthy food choices, the after dinner discussions on personal choices for living healthy, the inspirational personal best you ran on Sunday as well as the friendship……. While visiting with your son-in-law’s father Don, I also realized that you have touched him too – he spoke of your influence on him and his health choices. I too may have also inspired Don after his visit to my little garden…..he is ready to go back to Arlington, TX and add some raised beds in his yard. Changing the world a few words and examples at a time! eh? (that’s a Canadian term found at the end of any sentence – not able to be directly translated)
Bless all y’all!