A Year without a Microwave

Sheila and I haven’t had a Microwave Oven since we left California and purchased our house in Oak Park more than a year ago. The kitchen in our new house has plenty of plugs; but we never got around to buying one.  I remember at some point we realized that it was missing, but it was accompanied by this epiphany that we didn’t care enough to go get one or even have it take up the counter space.

Mr Microwave just isn’t missed, in fact we wonder if he was really our friend at all, or just some type of malevolent enabler. The first thing that comes to mind is this:

Microwave ovens heat up frozen food more than just about anything else. Just about everything frozen is crappy.

Chicken nuggets, popcorn, burritos, tamales, day old pizzas and other goodies are all fodder to be “nuked”. When you don’t have your own food cyclotron in the house, you just might actually grab an apple out of the fridge instead. You cook with your kid. Hang out in the kitchen. Make a salad. Get inspired by Food Network.

The missing microwave means that I have eaten less junk food than I can ever remember. We, as a family, make and eat our meals together, take our time and really savor the ingredients. My 9 year old daughter is working on her “knife skills” and can identify various ingredients, herbs and spices in her food, and rattle off recipes like a contestant in Hell’s Kitchen.

We participate in the “Slow Food Movement“, originally begun in Europe to fight against all the fast food stores that were popping up. The rules are simple and are more than just good for your body:

  • Eat Foods that are in season
  • Eat as much locally grown food as possible
  • Cook everything as a family
  • Use old family recipes and create more of your own.  Write them down.
  • Teach your kids to cook and prepare food with you
  • Sit down and eat together and enjoy each other’s company

— It’s good for the soul.  Sometimes we eat later and in front of the TV, but we stay very close to the above rules, and it has really made a difference. Adios, Microwave, and all the foods that came with you.

You are not missed, in fact, we rarely remember that you exist.

Advertisements

Motorcycling Runs in the Family

Miami, Arizona, 1936.

I never knew my Dad as a young man.  He was almost 50 when I was born, an age that I haven’t quite reached yet.  I knew some of his friends as I grew up, and he was a legend with respect to all the stories that circulated about him.  During the 20’s he rode the rails all over the United States to race tracks to train horses and do maintenance work, and he even made the Indy 500 part of his circuit for a few years.  He came back to Miami in 1935 to settle down, get a career and get off the road.  He was 24 years old.  The depression had started when he was 18.  He joined the Miami Police Department.

Danko Gurovich in 1936 with his brand new Harley Knucklehead. John Welch is in the center.

Continue reading

How I Stopped Smoking in Less than a Week.

When I first started working at WMS, it was a high stress job.  I had moved out to Chicago from Northridge ahead of my family, it was snowing and the only distraction was the Irish pub around the corner from my corporate apartment (You can’t swing a dead cat in Chicago without hitting an Irish Pub).

I had quit smoking for about a year and a half when I was 45, and now here I was, 47, smoking again after leaving a high-stress job in Santa Barbara with a pathological CEO.  Chicago, a family 2500 miles away, a new job and a pub around the corner converged into a critical mass, and there was no way I could quit.  My smoking had accelerated.

After the first month there, the guy we hired as our architect came on board.  Ed is a great guy.  He smoked too.  We would go outside and burn some tobacco and discuss how we were going to create a foundation for the project we’re working on. Continue reading

Petrana Gurovich’s Meatless Pinto Bean Recipe (with Copper Hills variant).

Petrana’s Meatless Pinto Beans

(The Copper Hills variant is this recipe plus the stuff at the bottom!)

Petrana was my Dad’s mother.  She came to the U.S. in 1901 — through Ellis Island. When she and her husband, Elia, landed, they were met by a man that spoke Montenegrin and he gave them tickets to go to Montana where a job was waiting for them.  For the entire time on the train, they only ate ham and eggs, because that was the only thing that Elia could speak in English.

Elia worked in the mines around Helena for a few years until 1908, when he heard about a large masonry dam being built in Arizona.  Elia was a trained stone mason, and he moved to Miami, Arizona to work on Roosevelt Dam.  When the dam was finished, he settled in Miami and began working at the Miamii Copper Company as a Blacksmith.  He built up enough money to purchase a boarding house where Petrana fed her family of four children plus boarders, and Elia worked in the mines and distilled Loza Rokeya, which is basically grappa, a family recipe that is still made on our family farm back in Spuz, Montenegro, to this day. Continue reading

Petrana Gurovich's Meatless Pinto Bean Recipe (with Copper Hills variant).

Petrana’s Meatless Pinto Beans

(The Copper Hills variant is this recipe plus the stuff at the bottom!)

Petrana was my Dad’s mother.  She came to the U.S. in 1901 — through Ellis Island. When she and her husband, Elia, landed, they were met by a man that spoke Montenegrin and he gave them tickets to go to Montana where a job was waiting for them.  For the entire time on the train, they only ate ham and eggs, because that was the only thing that Elia could speak in English.

Elia worked in the mines around Helena for a few years until 1908, when he heard about a large masonry dam being built in Arizona.  Elia was a trained stone mason, and he moved to Miami, Arizona to work on Roosevelt Dam.  When the dam was finished, he settled in Miami and began working at the Miamii Copper Company as a Blacksmith.  He built up enough money to purchase a boarding house where Petrana fed her family of four children plus boarders, and Elia worked in the mines and distilled Loza Rokeya, which is basically grappa, a family recipe that is still made on our family farm back in Spuz, Montenegro, to this day. Continue reading

The “Danko Special”

If you’re looking for Danko’s Salad Dressing, it’s here.

When I was a young man, I worked at my Father’s Restaurant on the line at nights.  One of the most often-ordered dishes on the menu was the “Danko Special”.  It was a dish that my dad developed — we ate it out our house for as long as I can remember — it consisted of a dish that had some Yugoslavian accents, some 1950’s-60’s-style dining accents, and just a little bit “magic dust “sprinkled on it by our Cordon Bleu-trained chef, Michel Gehin.

The Copper Hills Restaurant Burned down in 2001, and the Danko Special hasn’t been served in any commercial form since 1991. I want to release this recipe to those that remember ordering it, others that wonder just what the heck all the fuss about the Copper Hills might have been about, and finally as a recipe that you’d enjoy. This recipe is for all of you that have ordered it in a some “past life”. This special time for me seems so long ago; I never thought that there would be a Globe Miami without a Copper Hills. You know who you are, and you’re all part of my extended family. Continue reading

The "Danko Special"

If you’re looking for Danko’s Salad Dressing, it’s here.

When I was a young man, I worked at my Father’s Restaurant on the line at nights.  One of the most often-ordered dishes on the menu was the “Danko Special”.  It was a dish that my dad developed — we ate it out our house for as long as I can remember — it consisted of a dish that had some Yugoslavian accents, some 1950’s-60’s-style dining accents, and just a little bit “magic dust “sprinkled on it by our Cordon Bleu-trained chef, Michel Gehin.

The Copper Hills Restaurant Burned down in 2001, and the Danko Special hasn’t been served in any commercial form since 1991. I want to release this recipe to those that remember ordering it, others that wonder just what the heck all the fuss about the Copper Hills might have been about, and finally as a recipe that you’d enjoy. This recipe is for all of you that have ordered it in a some “past life”. This special time for me seems so long ago; I never thought that there would be a Globe Miami without a Copper Hills. You know who you are, and you’re all part of my extended family. Continue reading