A Look Into the PAST… PAZAZ™ Style!

spring is about to spring pazaz style

The world looked alot different in “The Days of Future Past.”  Time seemed to slowly creep ahead at a snails pace. Perhaps it was because of the long summer vacations in-between school years.  Or maybe it was that precious time in our lives when everything did move at a slower pace. There were no cell phones, no internet, not much technology of any kind. At least not for those of us in the middle class…. and that was just about everyone.

Delivery was only available through the post office, but milk was delivered to your door by a milk man, and most kids still believed presents were delivered by Santa. I guess most of us possesed a beautiful sense of naivete due to a lack of news which was only disseminated at 6pm by the big three, ABC, NBC, CBS.

We didn’t understand the concept of “AGENDA” and so most of us believed what we were being told through the newspaper (the biggest form of communication), our transistor radios, and of course the nightly news. Did we really need to know about death and destruction locally, domestically, or internationally? Probably not.

In those simpler times one of my favorite activities was the “sleep over.” The “sleep over” consisted of two children selling their respective parents on the idea of sleeping at the other kids home overnight. This “logistically” ment that the rotary phone would be on full communication display. The two parents (usually the mom in each family) would be spinning that rotary dial until a connection was made and the agreed upon date, time, and any other instructions would be convyed. In most cases this was sprung on the parents at the last minute which then resulted in a scramble the kids couldn’t really comprehend. Seemed simple, drop off, pick up and dinner in-between.

As kids we didn’t understand the expanded dinner issue, time schedules, or the most important aspect… “Where does that little neighbor kid sleep?” We only knew one thing, and that was the reality of expanded play time. Expanded play time was the essence of all good friendships. It ment expanding our imagination to make up games, torture the little brother or sister, or avoid being tortured by the older brother or sister. It also ment no homework (which was a huge bonus of course) and then we could improve upon our creativity through what we did best…. play. Most of my friends would recieve on their report card,  so and so” is a good kid but tends to look out the window too much.”

Of course we looked out the window. That’s where the playground was and we were only thinking of which game we wanted to play first in the way too short recess period. When that bell rang we all turned into Carl Lewis and exploded out of those desks to our most important destiny… play time. I always thought they got that part of school backwards. We should come to school and play for most of the day while we’d hear the bell and go into the classroom for 15 minutes,  then the teacher would blow the whistle and then we’d go back to what we did best…. play.

My parents kept me busy with violin lessons, acting, gymnastics, swimming, and even summer school. This provided them with much needed “me time”, and at the same time helped broaden my horizons and expand the framework of knowledge and appreciation for the arts. I really never acknowldedged their effort until much later in life. I think as a kid we are all so focused on ourselves that we seem to lose focus on the big picture. My parents were gifts sent from God to give me the best opportunity to become a person they could be proud of. That was certainly a rollercoaster ride for them!

Now they are gone and I look back with a quiet respect and love for all they did for me. If their compassion, intelligence, and love could be duplicated… this would be a better world.

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.




Friends are Gifts

friends forever

As time becomes an envelope we open and close to assimilate different stimuli into our sphere of influence, one thing remains constant, and that is friendship.

Friendship comes in many different forms and is (in most cases) fleeting. Those relationships we are blessed to have our whole lives are as rare as rare can be. From little kids to older and wiser adults these friendships will be tested in a myriad of ways. There is something however so strong when it comes to a frienship that has lasted virtually our whole life. There are certain experiences that only the two of you can laugh about and relate to. There are stories only the two of you can share with each other that reminds us how truly special that person is.

In the beginning our connections/associations are based on simple principles such as, “Does that person like me?” or “Do they like the same things I like?” As life gets more complicated we base our friendships as job related, club related, community related, or family connections.

However, in the end “All” relationships are based on trust. This is the foundation of any strong bond between two people.  As we find out later in life (as we take our eyes off of ourselves and put them on other people) life is about beginnings and endings. If it’s a geographical disconnect, that person could come back into our life at anytime. But if its the tragedy of a loss of life then that ember of love and moments together will only become a memory to rekindle in times of introspection.

Last year I lost two very dear friends within months of each other. One gentleman I had known since the third grade. The other dear friend I’d known since the early eighties. Both of them gave their friendship unconditionally within a framework of laughter and timeless experiences we shared that only we could relate to and honor.

That is why sharing moments with dear friends, old or new, becomes such a precious gift as our time together is not guaranteed.  The vicissitudes of life change circumstances beyond our control which is why we should honor and hold so dear those conversations and connections that are so fleeting.

Putting off getting togther with friends is certainly commonplace. But what if we knew this would be the last time you’d see that person? Would you make a herculean effort to spend just one more day with that person to tell them how much they’ve ment to you and what a gift they are? Of course you would.

In the future remember that friendship has its ebbs and flows just like life. Those friends you may never see again will remember at some point what a difference you’ve ment to them. The laughter and even the somber moments are vignettes we share in the play we call life until the curtain closes that last time.

Enjoy the gift of friendship and keep it close to your heart because in the end all we have are family and friends. Let’s remember the times we spent together creating a bond of trust and love that will never be forgotton for as long as forever is.

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




Simple Recipes, PAZAZ Style!

pazaz premium bakewareWhen I was much shorter I saw my mom had a couple cook books. I figured that (at that time) she wasn’t using them too much. She’d gone from using them alot, to some, to not at all. After I was out of highschool (other than special occasions) she would open a can of Campbells soup and pour it over whatever protein was on the menu for that night. It was actually pure genius and nothing could have been simpler than that.

The cookbooks she had were everything from good houskeeping cookbooks to “The Joy of Cooking”. I took one look at that book and decided that at that time I would have to defer that semblance of creativity and enthusiasm for another date and time. There were items in that cookbook I couldn’t pronounce, and even if I could, I didn’t know what they were.

The idea of me learning how to cook started when I worked at the French restaurant, The Caprice, in Tiburon, California. This overture into the unknown was the first interlude I had with fine dining and the desire to actually cook myself.

Fast forward to now and we are inundated with cooking shows. The formula of conflict, competition, or pre-prepared meals being magicaly pulled from an oven has run its course with me, especally having been in the business my whole life. Within the confines of our own home we can have the tools needed for the preperation of an exceptional meal. Those restaurants and cooking shows can never replicate the love that we have for those we care about and how that translates from the plate to the stomach.

Keeping food simple is the key to a duplicatable experience, and one that is much appreciated. There are several million options but I will focus on just a couple easy to prepare dishes that don’t take all day to prepare. First we have to pick the protein keeping in mind what preperation we will choose and the skill set we have to execute the dish.

Before we start keep in mind that the success of any dish depends on the ingredients we choose. Wild caught salmon versus farm raised, and organic vegetables versus greenhouse are important distinctions that will help elevate your dish from the ordinary to the sublime.

I will choose Salmon for this example. Of couse we could grill it, broil it, poach it, saute it, smoke it, or even cook it sous vide style. However in the spirit of keeping it simple we will grill it. Having said that, now comes the choice of what type of briquettes, flavored wood chips, or even hardwoods. Cedar plank has become popular but for my taste I prefer apricot wood to reveal other subtle flavors in the fish.

The fish should be properly cleaned and prepped prior to placing on the grill surface. Lightly salt and pepper the fish always placing the salmon on the grill skin down cooking the thickest part to 120 degrees for approximately 12-14 minutes. I like to place a little oil on the grill surface to make sure the fish doesn’t stick. Then upon retrieval from the grill let the salmon rest. After plating the salmon drizzle a little dill oil and lemon over the top.

Prior to “letting the Salmon rest” there is the starch and the vegetable to consider. Many restaurants prefer mashed potato to rice as an accompaniment to the protein. Not I. I prefer Jasmine rice with its nutty and floral character accentuated with a fluffy texture. Served with this would be several different vegetables that are easy to prepare and yet set a standard above the usual afterthought.

Poach brussel sprouts in boiling water with a little sea salt and pepper. Take out when they are lovely bundles of delicousness and place them in an alfredo sauce you have already prepared. The textures consisting of the salmon, rice, and vegetable morph into creamy and course, complimenting the flavors a reflection of salty, savory, and sweet.

The interesting mosaic of color paints the canvas with a landscape that creatively reflects the love and thought that went into this culinary expression.

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ, Kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING kitchen tools.

Waterfalls and the Magic of Solitude

magic in nature bidwell park chico pazaz bakeware
Magic in Nature – Bidwell Park

As water falls into pools of quiet deep thought the answers we seek are the illusions of wisdom we hold close to our heart. The walks along paths through forests and glens appear to captivate the senses in a way that frees the best part of whom we are and how we see the world.

Everything seems so simple as sung by those that have felt the deepest expressions of musical sonnets. And yet, we find within our souls the wonder that is life and its nuances that carry us to our next adventure. Our experiences/adventures take us in many cases to uncharted territories that expand our horizones and deepen the layers of interspection.

The simplicity of staring in a vacuous manner at the beauty before us frees us from the complexity of dissecting the picture that unfolds within our spacial consciousness. To see the efortless scene changing within the framework of a picture is both inspiring and bewitching. Our base line ebbs and flows to the samba of movement provided by wind, water, sunlight, insects, birds, deer, and all those wonderful expressions of nature we will never see but only feel somewhere as a sixth sense.

For me it is the sunsets and the projection of different colors… the way light dances across the horizon that is most entrancing. And then there is the prospect of an unparalleled visionary involvment that combines the sensory with the sublime where imagination grips a beautiful memory that erupts over the embers of a thought we will never forget.

To become stress free within the body of nature and therefore experience it to our fullest requires the untethering of those obstacles that hold us to the constraints of the greatest hindrance we will ever know… the six inches between our ears.

This Blog is sponsored by PAZAZ. The Magic of Cooking and the Kitchen tools for the discerning chef that make this an unparalleled cooking experience. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purhcase these AMAZING Kitchen tools.