In Acciaroli, Italy, a remote village of only a few thousand people — if that many — there’s a staggering number of centenarians — 300 — and experts don’t think it’s a coincidence. That’s why researchers from the University of California, San Diego and the University of Rome, La Sapienza are teaming up to study them. The coastal city is located south of Naples, next to the Tyrrhenian Sea, where locals often get around on foot and enjoy a Mediterranean Diet that relies heavily on the herb rosemary. Rosemary is thought to improve memory, and to help with blood circulation and the nervous system. The Mediterranean Diet as a whole is rich in fruits, grains, vegetables, and seafood.Source
A tabloid headline. Dark secrets. Maybe they’ll publish my blog at the grocery checkout next to the other tabloids. Did you hear broccoli is splitting with red kale? Broccoli has now taken up with asparagus. Go figure. My prediction it won’t last. Besides, asparagus is too good for him (switch the gender thing around if you prefer). It doesn’t matter, it’s not a dream match.
Enough of the tabloid news. I don’t want the paparazzi hanging around my front door. The HOA has strict rules against that kind of behavior. Then again, my HOA has strict rules against everything.
Pop quiz: What’s the key ingredient for a salmon slider?
Did I hear you say salmon? You did your homework last night. Go to the front of the class. I use salmon with an attitude. That’s right, salmon needs an attitude. How do you pick salmon with an attitude? It’s free spirited salmon. It’s wild salmon. I like wild salmon from Alaska. When I get my wild, Alaskan salmon, I can almost hear it say, “I’m going to give you a healthy heart. That’s my job.”
If you’re wondering what the yellow stuff is on the plate with the salmon, it’s EVOO. I put my salmon filet in EVOO and make it double, not make that triple healthy. My heart is doing backflips and I feel like hitting the balance beam after I do my floor exercises. Score me a perfect 10, por favor.
I live in San Antonio. Guacamole goes with everything. I even rub it under my arms when I go out. Only kidding, I don’t want the Guac Squad knocking at the door. How hard is it to make Guac (Guac is guacamole’s nickname). It’s not. The hardest thing is picking the right avocado, that’s a crap shoot. Pick firm, but not too firm (lot of help, right? NOT). Mash up the avocado, add a bit of lemon juice. I add crushed red pepper and it’s ready. Be creative.
Here’s the deal with a salmon slider. First, onions, a poblano, toss in a jalapeno and a bit of rosemary all in my already heated on high pan. The EVOO is sizzling, BAM, the mix starts sizzling right away. I keep an eye on it. Make that two eyes on it. I have Spotify playing in the background. George Strait is trying to make it to Amarillo by morning.
When the veggies are about ninety percent done, I turn the heat down to medium and add the salmon. I put the cover on the pan, check Twitter, post a photo to Instagram, and check my text messages. Time to flip the salmon, cover the done side with the veggies. Five minutes later, it’s ready for plating.
Man oh man, it doesn’t get any better. You’re going to love it. Your heart will too.
“You sanctify whatever you are grateful for.” Anthony DeMello
It’s easy to be grateful when the sun is shining, I’m feeling good, everything is going my way, and each card I turn up is a winner. Why shouldn’t I feel grateful, I deserve it? Or, so I think.
Then life happens. I’m walking across a personal desert. The sun, which I once praised, is now threatening me with its scorching heat. My strength ebbs. I can’t turn a winning card. Grateful? Grateful for what? Or, so I think.
Sorrow and suffering taught me important lessons. I learned to be grateful for all that was. I am grateful for all that is. I will be grateful for all that comes my way. Each morning and evening I recall events with a grateful heart.
A good cup of coffee. Safe shelter. Friends. Neighbors. Daughters. A beautiful sunrise or sunset. A good workout. A chance to pray. The birds that visit the feeder. The ripe cherry tomatoes. The red roses, rosemary, and basil that grow in my garden. The warm sun, or rain. A text, email, or call from family or friends. The list goes on.
It’s all gift. When I receive a gift from someone, I send a thank you note. In like manner, I give thanks to my loving God for all. It’s all good.
Some word combinations drive me nuts (I apologize for any offense I caused almonds, walnuts, pistachio’s, Brazil nuts. I’d add peanuts, but peanuts, everyone knows you’re a legume. I don’t mind you crashing the nut fiesta, but be proud of your heritage.). What’s that? Did I hear a resounding, “No offense taken?”
The word combination I’m talking about is shrimp salad. For a growing guy, shrimp salad is an oxymoron. I need a shrimp salad like I need a hole in the head. Forget the simile, it belongs to my dad and I used it in a previous post. Shrimp salad is something that will cost me at least twelve bucks at a restaurant and I’m supposed to be happy with six grilled shrimp stuck in arugula, drizzled with the super secret, locked in the vault, even Wikileaks couldn’t hack into the file, recipe. I’m not talking the cost for drinks, appetizer, and tip. The snooty waiter expects a 25% tip, the extra ten percent is for the snoot factor. I leave feeling hungry (I suggest to my friend we head out for pizza, por favor).
My dilemma, I like shrimp. So I’m going for it. I’m making a man-sized, growing boy, kind of shrimp salad. Modify how I make it fit your appetite. I work out an hour and a half a day. I have to stay in shape to blog. That’s what my doctor told me. I don’t care if she’s a veterinarian. She’s patient friendly.
I’m keeping it simple, not for you. For me. I can juggle a Giam exercise ball on a good day. Yes, that’s one large, inflated ball that supposed to work the kinks out of my back. I start with the bowl. Of course, I choose a large bowl. I fill it with baby spinach and baby kale. Make sure it’s washed. Mom always told me, “Ray wash before eating.” The same goes for salad greens and the bowl. It gets lonely in a large bowl without friends, ever try it? It’s not fun. Let’s have a party, no RSVPs needed. Grape tomatoes, almonds (I made peace with the nuts, recall?), softened cranberries, Modena vinegarette, and a healthy splash (guy measure – what’s a tablespoon? Something to set on the table – so lame – don’t write the lame joke police) of EVOO.
It’s almost time to bring shrimp into the picture. Hold that thought. I don’t know about your shrimp, mine are mighty particular. They refuse to jump in the pan until it is the way they ordered it. I know a couple of people like that, not anyone reading this blog – you all know who I mean. Fill in the blank, right?
I put the skillet on, spray it with Pam and add two splashes of EVOO. How much is a splash you ask? Enough to swirl around the pan and see my reflection in the EVOO. I toss in rosemary (no, not a human being, the herb, and basil. Check out the first photo below, that’s rosemary and her friend basil. I have the skillet on high, the EVOO is telling me it’s ready – small popping noises. I toss in the rosemary, basil, and a scooch of garlic. I mush it all around until the garlic browns, and then …
IT’S TIME FOR THE STAR – OR, I SHOULD SAY STARS. Yes, they arrive, ready for red carpet. There will be no prisoners, no leftovers, no waiting for lunch tomorrow to finish these babies. They’re hitting the digestive track tonight. It’s a six-step process – not hitting the digestive track, but in the shrimp prep.
Step one: Buy frozen, already cooked, peeled, and deveined shrimp.
Step two: Take the bag of shrimp out of the freezer.
Step three: Count out the number of shrimp you want to eat – I counted 16.
Step Four: Put them in a microwaveable bowl and nuke them for 45 seconds, mas o meno. They should feel chilled, but not frozen when you take them out.
Step five: As soon as the garlic is brown, toss (lovingly) the shrimp in the pan.
Step six: Sautee the shrimp with the rosemary and garlic and any other seasonings until they are done.
Check the photos below: Looking at the bottom photo is making me hungry.
It’s not going to take too long. No time to check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or call mom. Well, I can’t call mom, she’s with dad and Babe looking down on me and sending me a LOL.
Here’s the finished product. The green stuff at the top is guacamole. Fresh blackberries and strawberries for desert. It’s Texas, I have to have a Texas-sized iced tea to go with my meal.
I live in south Texas. South Texas. If you are unaware of a south Texas factoid, taco time is a south Texas tradition. Since today is Thursday, I could call it Taco Thursday. Hold that thought. Every day is taco day except for burrito or fajita day. Guacamole doesn’t have its own day. Not to worry, I want to start a petition drive to make June 11, Guacamole Day. Why did I pick Junio once? The only truthful answer I can give is that I’m right brained, random, and skip around my thoughts like a bee on rose bush flitting from flower to flower. Babe always told me the way I think is the reason she would insist on hiring electricians, plumbers, tree pruners, and anything that requires concentrated attention for more than ten seconds.
It’s time to get down to serious Taco Time business for a guy dancing alone. Since my concentration wavers after ten seconds, I go with a single guy’s trusted friend, slow cooker. The only decision I need to make is eight hours or four hours. How hard is that? Let me think about it, I’ll get back to you in an hour (guy humor).
If I use the slow cooker, it’s twenty minutes prep time tops, walk away and come back eight hours later. Talk about a walk in faith – the slow cooker told me to chill, it’ll all work out.
I like to make my cooking life easy. The biggest problem with a slow cooker is clean up – NOT SO FAST! I buy cooking inserts and place one in the slow cooker. Right after I line the slow cooker with the liner, I add a whole jar of low sodium, high on the heat salsa. What’s a taco without the heat? Check it out.
So far, thirty seconds. I walk to the fridge, open the freezer. I’m in luck, one baggie of chicken filets. I didn’t check earlier. This is one of the reasons, I don’t qualify to be a pilot, surgeon, or electrician. I place the frozen chicken in the slow cooker, hustle to the yard and pick some rosemary and let it add color and flavor to mix.
The rosemary and chicken holler the fiesta is boring, they need company. I hear a knock on the door, open it, and I hear, “Let the party begin.” It’s poblano pepper, jalapeno pepper, onion, and red pepper. Tagging along behind the group is basil.
I put the cover on the slow cooker, set the time for eight hours. Hasta luego baby. In a couple of hours, it is smelling good. I toss in a bit of red pepper (I wasn’t kidding about the heat), take a long slow breath because it’s smelling so good. I put the cover on the slow cooker and a bib on me because I’m drooling.
I had a good day and didn’t worry about dinner. A half hour before dinner, I go to work, set the table, make a salad, and a dish of first of the season strawberries and blueberries. It’s easy. It’s healthy. It’s yum-oh. And, it’s Taco Time. I kept the tradition alive.
I’m going to make a Stir Fry, shrimp and veggie meal. Making this meal is easy. It’s healthy. And, it’s fun. I try to put lots of love into my meals.
I planned ahead for this week when I went shopping over the weekend. I bought red, green, jalapeno, and poblano peppers. The peppers invited two of their BFFs, sweet onions, and mushrooms. So sweet onions went into the shopping cart. As for the mushrooms, I bought the already sliced kind. I want to save my fingers for blogging.
It didn’t take me long to decide on the star for this meal. Do I hear a drumroll? The announcer speaks, “And, here’s shrimp, straight out of a great appearance in the Gulf.” You know my dancing alone, single guy rule, “HEALTHY & EASY.” I bought frozen, already peeled, deveined, and cooked shrimp. I might get three meals out of the bag.
I’m going to make a Stir Fry, shrimp and veggie meal. I’m a visual guy. I see things in my mind’s eye before they become real. In my mind’s eye, my meal looks so good, the Food Channel wants me to compete with Bobby Flay. In my dreams, right? I’ll answer that, right!
Making this meal is easy. It’s healthy. And, it’s fun. I try to put lots of love into my meals. That’s a lesson Babe taught me. She’d say, “Ray, always give thanks for the food, the people who farmed it, those who harvested it, and the people who brought it to the marketplace.” Babe was spot on. I’ll show how I prepared this meal in steps.
Step one: Get the veggies ready for fiesta. I sliced and diced my way through red, green, and poblano peppers. I’m only feeding one guy, so I used a half of each type of pepper. I placed the remainder in baggies for another meal. I sliced and diced a chunk of onion – that’s how a guy measures, in chunks. I poured EVOO over it and tossed the veggies together. I wanted them to get to know each other a bit better before dinner. Let’s call it an icebreaker for veggies.
Step Two – Turn up the heat. I spray my pan with Pam and add a splash of EVOO (guy speak) and turn up the heat to high. I put the glass cover on the pan and wait a minute or two for the popping sound. When I hear it, it’s time for the veggies, They hit the pan with a nice sizzling sound. I cut some fresh from the garden basil and rosemary and add it to the mix, put the top back on and watch ESPN for a few minutes. Every once in a while I have to go to work and turn the mix over. In the meantime, I take the shrimp out of the freezer. I think fifteen is a nice number, no, I’m not preparing food for a Quinceañera (note the number 15). My friends tell me my sense of humor is a little out of step. I pop the shrimp in the microwave for one minute to mostly thaw. Then, I toss (I was going to say dump, but I’m watching my guy speak language) the shrimp in with the veggies. I grab my iced tea take a long sip, check out ESPN again. I flip the combo around like they’re doing the salsa on a Friday night and I’m ready for the next step.
Step Three – Adding the money – Well, not actually money, but the green stuff, which is money because it is so good for your health – I add spinach and chopped kale. I don’t add them until the veggie’s and shrimp are nearly done. Here’s the deal with spinach and kale. They cook quickly.
I made myself a healthy meal. It was fun to cook, great to eat, and it was easy (good thing I’m buddies with the dishwasher). Check it out: