These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things… PAZAZ™ Style!

With the holidays fast approaching lets look back in time to a simpler more ingenuous time when poems, prayers, and promises were more important than Facebook, cell phones, and linked in.

Fall introduces the beautiful colors of reds, oranges, and yellows that beckon us to the representative symbols of the following holidays… pumpkins for Halloween, turkeys for Thanksgiving, and prime rib for Christmas. The most important aspect of all of the above holidays is the connection we have with each other.

Almost every family has recipes that we connect with our mom, our grandmother, or other close relatives. This connection through food is the centerpiece of some of our most important holiday memories. Halloween recipes not produced by the aforementioned family members but are fun none the less, include; “Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Skulls”, “Bloody Red Wine Pasta with Mozzarella Bats”, or even “Frankenstein Snack Cakes”. These treats will bring a real sense of spookiness to the dinner table while providing memories that will not be forgotten.

The more traditional holiday, Thanksgiving is where our family recipes took root and then were passed down from generation to generation. The turkey is the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving table, so it’s no surprise that cooking the perfect bird can feel like an overwhelming task at times. Following this recipe will provide a wonderful experience for the 12 guests this bird will feed.

Turkey Recipe

  1. One Whole fresh turkey or frozen turkey that has not been injected with sodium solution (20 lbs)

  2. Turkey Brine for infusion of wonderful cider, sugar, and spice.

A. 2 gallons of water

B. 3 cups apple cider

C. 2 cups of brown sugar

D. 3/4 cup kosher salt

E. 3 tablespoons of green peppercorns

F. 5 whole bay leaves

G. 5 cloves of minced garlic

H. 3 large oranges peeled and cut into large strips

I. 4 rosemary sprigs, leaves stripped

3. Remove turkey from its packaging and remove the bags with the neck and giblets from the cavity. Rinse the neck and giblets and put them in a plastic bag in the fridge.; you’ll need them for the gravy. Rinse the turkey thoroughly with cold water. Place the turkey into the large brining pot. Pour in the Brine and place in the fridge for 16-18 hours so the brine can effect its magic.

4. Preheat oven to 275 degrees

5. Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse thoroughly inside and out. Soak the turkey in cold water for 15 minutes, the rinse again and dry.

6. Truss the bird or tuck the legs and wings however you like. Place the bird, breast side up on a rack in a large roasting pan. Cover the whole pan, tenting the bird with heavy-duty foil so that it’s well sealed. Place in oven and roast turkey for about 10 minutes per pound. A 20 pound turkey will be about 3 1/2 hours.

7. When it’s time to remove the turkey from the oven (mix together 2 sticks of butter, 3 chopped rosemary sprigs, and 2 tablespoons of julienne orange zest). After you’ve removed the turkey from the oven increase the temperature to 375 degrees. Remove the foil and set aside. (Put your favorite stuffing in the bird at this point if you’d like). Rub the butter mixture over the skin of the turkey getting in all of the crevices. Insert a meat thermometer into the thigh near the hip joint. Place the turkey (uncovered) back into the oven and continue roasting, basting, brushing with the juices from the pan every thirty minutes, until the thermometer registers 165 degrees. This process will take another hour and a half to 2 and a half hours depending on the size of the bird.

8. Remove from the oven and cover lightly with foil until you are ready to carve.

Side dishes suggested with this wonderful turkey recipe would include but not be limited to the following: mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, green beans with bacon, stuffing (of course), green jello with shredded lettuce inside and mandarin oranges topped with miracle whip, gravy (of course), and no Thanksgiving dinner would be complete with out crescent rolls and cranberry sauce.

This is the season to forget the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in and pray for our communities, families, and friends. Next week I will outline a wonderful recipe for prime rib for that very special Christmas dinner. Also, an unusual twist on the tradition as I outline vegan recipes for Thanksgiving and Christmas that will bring healthy alternatives to your holiday table.

Dear Friends Are Truly Gifts

This is a tribute blog for one of my dearest and oldest friends, Mark Mckenzie. I’ve known Mark since the third grade. Mark is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, his humor could light up a room. It is very rare to know someone your whole life and feel the same way about them as the day you met them.

Mark and I lived in the same neighborhood, Bret Harte, in San Rafael California. We were in Cub Scouts together, when I joined, his mother was our den mother. I remember making paper mache masks at their home like it was yesterday. I really felt like we were great artists creating wonderful, priceless art. That is the way Mark’s mom made us feel with her praise and adulation. That great part of her lives in Mark to this day. It is very rare to have any relationship that lasts for over 50 years but especially one that means so much.

Mark and I were in a couple plays in high school together. We still talk about the wonderful experience we shared being in the musical, “Oh, What a Lovely War.” To this day we still laugh about the muscial scenes during performance when Mark and I would be in the back of a crowd singing during the musical. Mark didn’t have much of a voice and so he would make frog noises during the large choir songs that would leave me literally crying, I was laughing so hard. Mark’s parents were in attendance as were mine and because of Mark’s timing and uncanny ability to capture a crowd our collective parents were howling with laughter.

During my college days Mark experienced the joys of Pioneer Week in Chico California arriving there on my Kawasaki motorcycle after a long drive from Marin County California. This is another memory that we laugh about to this day which entailed witnessing a girl attempting to drive through the girl’s dorm, a group of guys crashing a car into a poll and summarily destroying said car with their fists, and a myriad of other acts that shall be withheld due to a statute of limitations issue.

Mark and I went through the experience of meeting wonderful women we fell in love with and married, had children, then divorced, while sharing priceless conversations, dinners, and excursions on a boat driven by another third grade friend… John Greene. We were as close as brothers can be growing up in a much simpler time which has morphed into this much more complicated time.

Through-out most of our lives we chose the hospitality industry as our profession. Mark was an exceptional server at La Gare restaurant in Santa Rosa California. Both of us started our careers in the restaurant business at the Caprice restaurant (which is still open) in Tiburon California. We’ve both learned our profession, grown as people sharing very special life time experiences. Mark is a guy that will do anything for you while always finding the humor in situations others would find rather uncomfortable.

If one is judged by the amount of laughter they’ve brought into this world, Mark Mckenzie will stand at the front of the line bringing his heart warming smile to all of us that crave that wonderful human interaction.

Today Mark informed me that he has stage four lung cancer… and its spread through-out his entire body. This blog is a small tribute to the man that has brought so much joy to so many. For all of those that have heard this kind of news as it relates to friends and family… it tends to hit us like a sledge hammer to our hearts. All we can do is pray for a peaceful conclusion to a life that made this world a better place. I believe I am blessed to have known my dear friend, I will never forget… Mark Mckenzie.

Lets Hear Some Good News, PAZAZ™ STYLE!

It seems that for the most part we only hear bad news. The good news apparently doesn’t sell but the bad news does. Well, whether it sells or not here comes some good news.

Recreational vehicles are a great way to tour the country, see the sights, and experience the many nuances of vistas, towns, and people along the way. But thanks to a dedicated father/daughter team (treading on the border of inspiration) they’ve become a lifeline for people who’ve lost their homes to California’s latest spate of devastating wildfires.

The brainchild of Woody Faircloth, the nonprofit “Emergency RV. org” pairs folks who are willing to donate their campers to a worthy cause with those in need. To date, Faircloth often with his 9 year old daughter, Luna (along for the ride), has delivered 95 motor homes to California area wildfire victims who otherwise might wait months for emergency housing.

Faircloth first got the idea for the charity in 2018. Like many that year the Colorado based father was tuned to the news coverage of California’s deadly “Camp Fire” which incinerated 153, 336 acres destroying hundreds of homes during Thanksgiving Week.

The story of a man who’d lost pretty much everything but managed to escape the inferno in his mobile home resonated with Faircloth. Inspired by how blessed that man felt just to have a place to spend Thanksgiving, Faircloth asked Luna what she thought about finding an RV and delivering it to a family so they could have a place to call home for Christmas. His daughter loved the idea and so the idea turned to action out of compassion for others.

Fairchloth launched a GoFundMe campaign to finance the first RV that he and his daughter dropped off in California. As word of their journey spread, people started reaching out to him via social media offering to donate their motor homes, and from there, EmergencyRV soon took shape.

Over the course of two months Faircloth and Luna have made the 40 hour round trip from Denver to California and back three separate weekends. Many of the mobile home recipients are firefighters and other first responders whose tireless efforts battling the blazes did not prevent their own homes from going up in flames.

One such man is George Wolley, who lost his own home to the Dixie fire on August 4th. “We fought the fire until we couldn’t fight it no more. We couldn’t stop it. We did our best. ” Wolley relayed this story to the Associated Press. “Before I got the RV, I felt like I was a burden on everybody that helped me… I slept in tents, my car…. the RV gave me a place to go.”

While his organization continues to grow and evolve, the original sentiments behind Faircloth’s humanitarian efforts remain constant. He’s grateful for the many blessings he has and blessed to be in a position to help others.

There are so many stories of people helping others from random acts of kindness to larger efforts, global efforts, that bring attention to the connection we all have with each other. It’s important to realize how many of us are blessed to live the life we live. Sometimes when our community needs our help we are there to lend a hand to lift others out of the circumstance they find themselves in and thus create a bond that makes where we live so much better.

Steven P. Pody wrote:

“Who can tell? Who can tell?

Like ripples in a pond,

how far a pebble of good intent

impacts the world beyond?”

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ™ “The Magic of Cooking” Kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING kitchen tools.

Two Gems from the Gem State…PAZAZ™ Style!

In the panhandle of Idaho there are two things you can almost always count on. First there is the unbriddled beauty that rears its head around every corner. Then there is the other not quite so positive aspect, which is the service in most restaurants. Apparently training the service staff in most cases is an after-thought.

We were at a very nice restaurant in Sandpoint Idaho called, “41 South”. Before we even got our appetizers the server had dropped two “F” bombs. The GM (a young man from Vegas) was so high, chewing on his lip with his hand shaking from side to side so violently that the wine really had no chance of ending up in the glass. He quickly disappeared while blurting out something about allergies… never to be seen again.

However, every once in a while you stumble upon a real gem with beautifuly crafted food, a wonderful winelist and service to match. These are the restaurants you want to recommend and visit the next time you’re in that neck of the woods.

Terraza Waterfront Cafe is just such a restaurant, located on the beautiful lake Coeur ‘D Alene, Idaho.

The cuisine represents a montage of Latin American cuisine. From the Andean peaks, Amazonian rainforest, Patagonian glaciers, Inca ruins, and the exciting night life… welcome to Terraza Waterfront Cafe.

The menu checks the creative box with Elote Cakes made from corn, queso fresco, and cilantro. The Peruvian Ceviche (which is gluten free) is comprised of albacore tuna, shrimp, and rockfish. The Roasted Beet Salad was the best I’d ever had. The dish included tamarindo citronette and spiced pepitas, The Taco Plate which gives you a choice of three different tacos, or the same kind if you prefer, includes Crimini Cauliflower with chili spices, salsa roja, salsa carbon, and cilantro. The Carnitas is infused with salsa verde, shaved cabbage, pickled onion, and cotija. Finally there is the Chicken Taco with salsa cruda, sweet onion, cilantro, and manchego cheese.

Rounding out the lunch menu is Grilled Fish with a chili lime spice, salsa pina, jicama slaw, and crema. The Carne Asada lights the taste buds on fire while the Argentinian Chorizo is a sausage lovers dream. I of course have gone vegan so I have to live vicariously through others when it comes to their fish and meat culinary experiences.

As wonderful as the food, service, cocktails, and wine selection are, the location is even better. Easy to access in a very up scale neighborhood (looks like the homes on Balboa Island in California) the peaceful waterfront, boating, and general ambience is captivating. So when your in Coeur D’Alene make sure you set aside an afternoon to enjoy this very special restaurant.

The other must go to town and restaurant is the town of Wallace Idaho and the Blackboard Marketplace restaurant. Wallace is the only town in America where every building is listed in the historic registry. This happened because the government wanted to put a highway through the town and the miners and other locals found a way to stop them with the historical registry designation on everything.

Another unique aspect to the town of Wallace is a manhole cover in the center of town which proclaims Wallace, “The Center of the Universe.”

The Blackboard Marketplace includes unique shopping, dining, and a relaxing experience which feels like the old west meets the creative new west. One wall in the restaurant has a blackboard with chalked figures of famous movie stars. Other notable conversation pieces include old mining equipment and two televisions that are playing old 50’s and 60’s black and white shows. But its really the quality of the food and the timely service that bring people back again and again.

The dinner menu includes well crafted dishes such as the Beef Tartare. This dish is filet chopped and served raw with capers, bacon aioli/egg/crostini. The Ahi Tuna has an Italian herb crust finished with a white balsamic vinaigrette/lemon aoili/capers. Unusual but equally tantalizing is the Lobster Corn Dog with a corn/saffron citrus aioli. Entrees include a beautiful hand-crafted Lasagna with bolognese, mozzarella and Parmesan. If you love Osso Bucco this is the place with the braised lamb shank served in a red wine demi’glaze accompanied with a potato puree.

On a side bar I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a side tour that was the highlight of our trip to Idaho. The Sierra Silver Mine Tour, Inc. is a must see tour. Marty takes you inside the Sierra Silver Mine and actually fires up the equipment and explains the procedures for safety and mining the oar. This was by far one of the most informative and valuable experiences in understanding an important part of Western United States history.

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ™ “The Magic of Cooking”, Kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING tools.

We Are So Blessed

 

Sometimes we forget that the important things in life are free. The love of our friends and family, the random acts of kindness we share or experience, and the natural beauty we gaze upon that literally takes our breath away.

The stories and connections with others adds to the fabric of our existence weaving a tapestry of experiences that makes up our social DNA. This fabric is woven in the many interludes between others, some so short but so important that they reflect but a whisper in time. As we add to the layers of these interactions our life becomes a wonderful book with the players in it coming in and out of our collective space. This spice is the spontaneity which reflects moments we may never forget.

It’s funny, yesterday I saw a police officer ascending the escalator at work as I was descending. I thanked him for his service and he acknowledged the greeting with a heart felt pleasantry. Such a difficult job and I’m sure so few actually thank them for putting their lives on the line to keep us safe. On a another note, sometimes just holding a door open or pulling a chair out for a lady can change the tenor of a verbal exchange and thus the dynamic. Our social fabric is so delicate and fragile that sometimes a seemingly meaningless exchange can change an attitude or even make someones day.

From time to time I’ll watch a butterfly outside my window. I know I couldn’t catch it even if I wanted to because the beauty of a butterfly is in its flight. Like the hummingbird its flight is mesmerizing. The effortless gliding between flowers and trees takes my mind to a quiet place, a very peaceful place that brings a gentle solitude to the deepest part of my soul. This, like the sound of the ocean, a babbling brook, or even the expansive dance of a shooting star brings an inner joy… so very special.

Sometimes when I walk through a forest I feel the energy of the trees. They seem to breath life into all that is around them. Like the Ents in a Tolkien fantasy the trees in snow are like tall withered snowmen standing silently. I feel the trees have a story reflected in their rings that speak of years with abundance and those that were not. But the roots run deep and they speak of life’s struggle for survival and the triumph of living another year stretching to the sun above and craving the water below.

We are so blessed to be alive and with our senses take in the grandeur that is life. So often we miss the important sensory moments that could improve that inner smile. We all have a moving scale of what is important in that instance, in that nanosecond… but what is really important, what we are truly blessed to experience… is to love, and be loved in return.

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ™ “The Magic of Cooking”, Kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purhcase these AMAZING Kitchen tools.