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.

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Danko’s Dressing from the Copper Hills, Miami, AZ

If you’re looking for the “Danko Special” Recipe, it’s here.

This is the House Dressing of the Copper Hills Motel in Miami, Arizona

My Dad got his house dressing from Navarre’s in Phoenix. It became Danko’s Salad Dressing in Globe-Miami, and was quite famous in the area.  This popularity was carried up and down Highway 60 by the travelers that stopped at his Best Western Restaurant and Hotel over the 35 years from the time my Dad built it, until he sold it in 1990.  The dressing disappeared after this; Navarre’s was long gone by then and the new owners changed the entire menu.

This salad dressing is Atomic Age stuff.  1950’s/1960’s Steak House Salad Dressing. Red flocked wall paper, dark woods and antique mirrors, with burly middle-aged male waiters. Men with coats and ties, ladies in cocktail dresses, stoles and alligator clutch-purses.  Ashtrays on the table.  Rumaki appetizers. This is no-BS salad dressing that “Mad Men” ordered, followed by “I’ll have a bourbon and water and the lady will have a Vodka Martini, up”.  This dressing has been pretty much a family secret (except I think I’m the only one in the family that’s ever made it besides my Dad, who passed in 2000).  I had friends, girlfriends, girlfriend’s moms and others ask me for this recipe for years. Continue reading

Danko's Dressing from the Copper Hills, Miami, AZ

If you’re looking for the “Danko Special” Recipe, it’s here.

This is the House Dressing of the Copper Hills Motel in Miami, Arizona

My Dad got his house dressing from Navarre’s in Phoenix. It became Danko’s Salad Dressing in Globe-Miami, and was quite famous in the area.  This popularity was carried up and down Highway 60 by the travelers that stopped at his Best Western Restaurant and Hotel over the 35 years from the time my Dad built it, until he sold it in 1990.  The dressing disappeared after this; Navarre’s was long gone by then and the new owners changed the entire menu.

This salad dressing is Atomic Age stuff.  1950’s/1960’s Steak House Salad Dressing. Red flocked wall paper, dark woods and antique mirrors, with burly middle-aged male waiters. Men with coats and ties, ladies in cocktail dresses, stoles and alligator clutch-purses.  Ashtrays on the table.  Rumaki appetizers. This is no-BS salad dressing that “Mad Men” ordered, followed by “I’ll have a bourbon and water and the lady will have a Vodka Martini, up”.  This dressing has been pretty much a family secret (except I think I’m the only one in the family that’s ever made it besides my Dad, who passed in 2000).  I had friends, girlfriends, girlfriend’s moms and others ask me for this recipe for years. Continue reading

“White” Chicken Cacciatore

My Mother and Father were intensely fond of this recipe. I was 6 years old, and we were going to Europe on the Cristoforo Colombo. Dad always wanted to do a “Grand Tour” of Europe, and in 1967 he was 56 and had multiple hotels in small towns in Arizona, was finally secure and wanted to do the big trip and visit his homeland and relatives in Crnagora (Montenegro).

On the way over, a Chicken Cacciatore was served and Dad really thought is was the cat’s pajamas. He had the habit of getting up at the crack of dawn, and he loved talking to cooks and kitchens, and had a way of just getting along with everyone, everywhere and could completely relate at a level that I just don’t have the talent for.

So he talked the chef out of the his personal Cacciatore Recipe, promising never to publish it and only use it in his restaurant in Miami, Arizona.

Which he did. Dad’s been gone since Halloween in 2000, the Cristoforo Colombo has been shredded into razor blades, file cabinets and other metal parts. I don’t know if the chef is still alive, and if he is, I’m sorry in advance, but this is such a good recipe, I want to share. Continue reading

"White" Chicken Cacciatore

My Mother and Father were intensely fond of this recipe. I was 6 years old, and we were going to Europe on the Cristoforo Colombo. Dad always wanted to do a “Grand Tour” of Europe, and in 1967 he was 56 and had multiple hotels in small towns in Arizona, was finally secure and wanted to do the big trip and visit his homeland and relatives in Crnagora (Montenegro).

On the way over, a Chicken Cacciatore was served and Dad really thought is was the cat’s pajamas. He had the habit of getting up at the crack of dawn, and he loved talking to cooks and kitchens, and had a way of just getting along with everyone, everywhere and could completely relate at a level that I just don’t have the talent for.

So he talked the chef out of the his personal Cacciatore Recipe, promising never to publish it and only use it in his restaurant in Miami, Arizona.

Which he did. Dad’s been gone since Halloween in 2000, the Cristoforo Colombo has been shredded into razor blades, file cabinets and other metal parts. I don’t know if the chef is still alive, and if he is, I’m sorry in advance, but this is such a good recipe, I want to share. Continue reading

Maxine’s “Slav” Macaroni Recipe

Maxine’s “Slav” Macaroni

This is mom’s FAMOUS (at least around Miami, Arizona in the 60’s and 70’s) “slav” macaroni recipe. She would have this at parties and except for the shrimp cocktail, It was always the first to be eaten. Up until now it was only available to the family. Now, if you’re here, well, you get to enjoy it too.
The important thing to note is this is a “baked” dish. You layer your pasta (I like Buccatini, but Mom used Perciatelle. Any long, tubular pasta is required here.

ingredients

  • 1 small can of tomato sauce (or homemade is good!)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • 1 package of long tubular pasta
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped coarse
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta until “Al dente”. Empty the sauce in a saucepan with the water and heat. Melt the butter in another pan. When the pasta is ready, mix in the butter, then lay it out lengthwise in a casserole dish until the bottom is covered. Cover the pasta evenly with a light layer of sauce.
Add some of the parsley on top. Sprinkle a bunch of cheese evenly on top of the layer. Make another layer and do the same.
When you’re finished with the layers, add any cheese you have left on top and bake at high heat until the cheese is melted. Serve and enjoy.

Maxine's "Slav" Macaroni Recipe

Maxine’s “Slav” Macaroni

This is mom’s FAMOUS (at least around Miami, Arizona in the 60’s and 70’s) “slav” macaroni recipe. She would have this at parties and except for the shrimp cocktail, It was always the first to be eaten. Up until now it was only available to the family. Now, if you’re here, well, you get to enjoy it too.
The important thing to note is this is a “baked” dish. You layer your pasta (I like Buccatini, but Mom used Perciatelle. Any long, tubular pasta is required here.

ingredients

  • 1 small can of tomato sauce (or homemade is good!)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • 1 package of long tubular pasta
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped coarse
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta until “Al dente”. Empty the sauce in a saucepan with the water and heat. Melt the butter in another pan. When the pasta is ready, mix in the butter, then lay it out lengthwise in a casserole dish until the bottom is covered. Cover the pasta evenly with a light layer of sauce.
Add some of the parsley on top. Sprinkle a bunch of cheese evenly on top of the layer. Make another layer and do the same.
When you’re finished with the layers, add any cheese you have left on top and bake at high heat until the cheese is melted. Serve and enjoy.