Author: Hans Susser

How My Bout With Cancer Made Me Stronger (So Far…..)

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April 2018:
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The phone is ringing, I pick up, my Otolaryngologist is on the other end.
(A bad sign right there – when does your doctor ever call you personally?)
This was the conversation:

Doctor:                  “Good day, Mr Susser, we received the test results”
Me:                        “God afternoon Doctor. Is it Cancer?”
Doctor:                  “Unfortunately, yes”
Me:                        “That’s what I thought. What’s going to happen now?”
Doctor:                  ”I need you to come to my office.
– Let my assistant give you the time and date;
– Please stay on the line, I’ll connect you”
Me:                         “Thank you doctor for calling me”
Doctor:                  “You are welcome. Good afternoon”

Wow, that was not at all how the movies and our imagination have us believe the doctors will reveal “The Big C” to us, which goes something like this:

You see the doctor in his private, well-appointed office, (all deep dark leather furniture, brass accents and tasteful art on the wall).
The doctor sits on the edge of his desk close to you, talking with a somber, kind and soothing voice :

– “Hans, can I offer you a glass of water” (or an old scotch)
– “Hans, I have not-so good news”.
– “The test revealed that the lump is cancerous”
– “But, Hans, don’t despair and don’t give up hope, we will go through this together”
– “Do you need a minute alone?”
– “Are you ok to drive home alone?”
– “Do you want me to call someone?”
– “Pls call me ANYTIME, here is my cellphone #”
– Go home now and be assured, together we will do everything in our power to solve this”

Nope.  That’s the movies !
While this might still play out for you if you have the same doctor for 30 years and live in perfect Lala Land, the fact is that 1000’s of people are diagnosed with cancer every day, so the real world looks a lot more unsparing and cold then one would hope for in a crappy moment like this.

In my humble opinion, the most important thing when you get hit with the bomb shell, is the following:

If you want to stay sane and live as well as possible after getting the news, don’t think you suffer from something that is uniquely unfair and brutal to you.
Millions of others share the same burden.
Don’t give up on life, don’t think this is the end of it !  (It may be – but most likely it is NOT !”
Rather, be positive, and you’ll probably find out that you can be stronger than you ever thought you could be in such a miserable situation.
Without a doubt, Cancer is a monster punch in the guts, most likely one of the worst in your entire life, but with some luck and all the strength you can muster, you might walk away from it – at least for some extension of  your life, which you can use to learn how to deal with the situation ahead, support your loved ones who will suffer tremendously with this reality they must share, but ultimately, enjoy the bonus time you have been given, by your God, your doctors, your own strength and a bit of luck.

Since so many people suffer from this unfortunate and horrible disease, research and treatment has advanced in huge leaps in the past few years, and chances of recovery have improved accordingly.

As for my own situation, here is what happened so far:

My first break was that the cancer had not yet spread from my tongue and throat to other areas of my body when I got my first  PET Scan, so chances of my healing are promising.
My second break was my strong believe and trust in God. (I do not believe in religion at all, but God is with me every step of my life. I pray daily and I trust God absolutely.
My faith in Him gives me great power and tranquility in difficult situations like the one at hand.
My third break was that I have my beloved Bella on my side, who always keeps me going, no matter how bad things get and no matter what stones lay in our path.
My fourth break was that I live close to what many consider one of the very best cancer clinics in the land, the Memorial West Cancer Institute in Pembroke Pines, Florida, where I received all treatment.
My fifth break was the utmost professionalism of the gracious radiation technicians and chemo nurses who made me feel comfortable, relaxed and as if I was singularly very special and not one of the many patients they help every single day.
My sixth break was that I have the best, most capable, utmost professional, friendly, warm sympathetic, caring and all-around great doctors I could have wished for, in both my Medical Oncologist, Dr Gelenis Domingo, who is super friendly, caring and professional, as well as my Radiation Oncologist, Dr Michael Burdick.
Incredibly for me, from the very moment I met both these doctors, I felt a special optimism and trust in them to provide me with the very best care possible.
Both doctors made me feel as if I am their most important patient, always supportive, ready to listen whenever I had a doubt, never making me feel as if we were running out of time during a conversation, and both helped me enormously to stay positive 99.9 % of the time during my treatment.
On top of that, Dr Burdick is also the most down to earth and approachable doctor I have ever  met.
Now guess, do if I love my doctors ? 😊

Actually, ALL the people I came in contact with at the clinic –  volunteers, front desk staff, nurses, Oncology Nurses, Radiation Technicians and everybody else at the clinic were wonderful and superbly kind and professional.
Even the Department Director who took the time out of his surely busy day to contact me about a small issue I had, could not have been more caring, courteous and friendly.
My Gratitude and Love to all the Staff, Doctors and Management at  Memorial West Cancer Institute !
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But then,  there were the not so positive sides of the coin.

Badly burned skin around the area of the radiation, resulting in strong pain.
Badly burned throat, resulting in tremendous pain and making it impossible for months to eat solid food, or drinking anything else than plain, lukewarm water. Thank you morphine, to help me be able to get through this without going bonkers !
General loss of muscle mass, resulting in (so far) permanent fatigue and weakness.
Horrible skin problems, which have started to heal slowly (Imagine having the worst possible sunburn on a large percentage of your body, not just at the area that has been burned by the radiation, but all over the body. At first, it was just bright red, then itching so bad I had to take strong medicine to handle it and get a bit of sleep at night. Then, the skin peeling off in hand-sized patches, leaving small parts of exposed flesh, which sting like bees when I take a shower.
Permanent hair loss on most of the area where I proudly sported a beard for 40 years. (Still vain after all these years). 😊
However, thankfully, these and a few other small things were the only negative symptoms so far.
Knowing how much more many other cancer patients suffer, not only from cancer itself, but also (mostly?) from radiation and chemo, I consider myself very lucky to have suffered relatively little so far.
Yes, I do consider myself lucky !
After all, I was 65 years old when this started and have lived a blessed, eventful, interesting, exiting and mostly wonderful life.
Some people get hit by this when much younger, some even when still in their childhood. So who am I to complain about my misfortune ? !

But, I also must pat my own back, for being strong and positive during this (ongoing) ordeal, which at times was not an easy task to accomplish.

As my friends know, I live alone with my dog Bella.
When you love somebody, be it a person or an animal, you make sure that you do everything in your power to ensure the well-being of that person or animal, even if you are nearly too weak or in too much pain to even move.
In Bella’s case, she needs to be fed once a day, get a snack 4 times a day, she needs to go for a long walk (30/45 minutes minimum) at least twice a day and for a few more short walks at least three times a day.

And then, there is taking care of myself.

– During treatment, just getting up in the morning was often the first high hurdle.
– Taking a shower can be tricky when you tend to lose your balance due to all the med’s.
– Then on to make the bed daily and changing the linens often.
– Preparing meals from scratch almost daily, usually a pureed vegetable soup or fruit soup, once a day to last for a few small meals during the whole day.
– Driving and shopping for necessities.
– Driving to and from treatment.
– Cleaning the apartment between the cleaning ladies’ visits.  (Those of you who know me, my place is always spick and span, even when sick as a dog,)
There are of course many more chores one must complete daily. Under normal circumstances, we do these chores almost automatically and with none or minimum effort. However, while being in treatment and for a certain time afterwards (usually a few months), these chores can become hard to navigate obstacles, which require a strong will, digging very deep into one’s own motivation and the will to survive, requiring a constant effort to overcome the adversaries of daily life.

Of course, I do have friends and neighbors who offered help (most of them obviously hoping that I will decline), but I am grateful that I also have a few genuine and generous friends, whose offers of help were frequent, heartfelt and real.
(Thank you, Dieter and Chacha, Curtis and Ana, Gaby and Ralf, Peter and the entire Ayala Family).
Actually, one friend flew-in all the way from Germany for a few days, just to make sure I can cope.
(Thanks again, Heiner)

Despite all the offers, I mostly declined any help from everybody, for two reasons:
– First – that’s just the way I am. I prefer to give, rather than to take, unless there is no other option.
– Second – I pride myself to have enormous self-discipline in most tough situations, and therefore be able to pull myself out of trouble, most of the time.
(However, I am a mushy softie when it comes to people who do me wrong and whom I will forgive anyway – I do need to improve my self-discipline a bit in that area).

In a nutshell, my reason to decline help during this ordeal was that if I would give in easily and get soft on myself when things get tough, I would start to depend on others. As a result, I’d become weak and suffer even more, all else being equal.

As for my relationships with people, most “Friends” and even some family with whom I had steady contact for 20, 30 or even 40 years, did not make the tiny effort to contact me and try to lift-up my state of mind a bit by just periodically having a chat.
Mind you, I am not sad, upset or disappointed about this, after all, I am old enough to realize that most folks are too consumed with their own life to give a hood about others. I learned that early on in life, being generous and getting very little or nothing in return (physically, materialistically and mentally).
In the past, I nearly always was the one who toke the first step and kept relationships alive, by calling, skype, writing or visiting. (Of course there were a few exceptions of the norm).

When my beloved wife Maria was still alive and we lived in the big house by the lake, when we threw huge parties with life bands and disc jockeys at least once a month and sometimes twice, when there was an abundance of food and drinks (and some of the good stuff to smoke) for all to indulge-in freely, when we opened our house for whole families to spend their vacations (some even brought friends along), of course THEN people were eager to show up at the door, there was a never-ending supply of “friends” and the phone would not stop ringing.
But once that ended and especially now after cancer knocked…….. deafening silence.
Whereas before I would forgive and forget and say I love you anyway, in the future I refuse to waste my time with “friends” who are just drinking and eating buddies, ready to have a freebie but otherwise just occupy space in my head, my heart and in my wallet.
Of course I realized most of this in the past, and Maria and some of my real friends pointed that out to me often, but I was too forgiving and let them take advantage of our generosity.
Well then, good riddance to those “friends. (I needed a bit of venting here, sorry.…..) 😊

But there is a silver lining after all !
Instead being influenced negatively by all of this, I welcome the experience and its lesson, because even this has made me tougher now, when I need it most.

By now you probably ask yourself – what the heck has all that to do with cancer ???

Well, let me explain. When you sit at home alone for months and don’t know if this is the end of your life, you tend to think about these otherwise unimportant things, trying to figure out how much of your life you wasted – wasted with what, wasted with whom, and how to proceed if cancer does not win this battle.
Once I realized that I will not waste my time and my energy with fake friends and their lack of compassion anymore,  my mind was freed from lots of useless baggage.
This influenced my positive outlook and made me a stronger person, realizing that life is too short to spend wasting on petty people and trivial stuff, but that from here on I must concentrate more on the folks and things that really matter in my life.
The realization of all this helped me gain much focus and mental strength, to fight cancer with all the energy I can muster.
For myself, every bit helps, both physically and mentally.
While I have seen many people break psychologically from cancer, so far it has made me mentally stronger, which is all that counts right now.
I will do my best to get even stronger as time goes by, both mentally and physically.

                                                                                Life is Good !
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August 2018:
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While my chemo and radiation have run their course for now, it will take another two months until I find out if the treatment was successful and if I am cancer free.
(My next PET Scan is scheduled for the middle of October)
But, even if declared cancer free then, the cancer can return any time and regular check-ups will be necessary every three months, for the duration of five years.
Only then will the cancer be declared completely defeated.
In the meantime, and no matter the outcome will be, I intend to enjoy life with all I’ve got.

 

 

                                                                             As for my future ,
                                                                     I’ll See, I Hope, and I Pray!

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P.S.
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Friends, please know that I don’t feel sorry for myself, on the contrary, I feel blessed.
The reason I want to share my story is to give people in the same or similar situation hope and motivation, to be strong and get themselfes and their loved ones out of a depression and hoplessness from which they might suffer.
As I said above, I believe every bit helps.
I hope that folks who read it pass it on through their own social network, instead of thinking:
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“If it does not touch me, it does not concern me”
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Below are a few pic’s to illustrate my journey so far:

 

 

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A short Time before it all started

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Bella
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Bella

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Daily Treatment                                                Daily Treatment
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My new look. I kind of like my goatee 😊

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And there you have it!

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Shrimp & Spinach

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Shrimp & Spinach

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Not too long ago, one esteemed member of our happy ChefsOpinion family mentioned that I prepare shrimp too often. While I understand that not everyone loves shrimp as much as I do (many folks do, though), 99.9 % of my posts show what Bella and I actually prepare and eat at home and is not selected for popularity but for whatever we feel like eating that day. 🙂
If I would write this blog to get “likes”, make money or be universally popular, I would pick the food according to those criteria. ChefsOpinion evolved from my original, for-profit online business “Chefcook.Us” and is now a simple account of food I like and prepare at home for Bella and myself, with the occasional opinion about food in general thrown in.
Remember, ChefsOpinion is about “Real Food & Real Opinions”, not about trends or “in”- food, otherwise I would not feature such delicacies as ham hogs, tripe, liver, heart, gizzards,snails, kidneys and so many other dishes which are definitely not popular or even known to most folks, at least around here in the US. I pride myself to try to also cater to all (including myself) who love food that is not easily available at other places and has disappeared from the mainstream, even if those posts are sometimes only popular with a select few.
Obviously shrimp are not in this category, I just wanted to make this point again, lest my readers forget – “ChefsOpinion – Real Food & Real Opinions”
So then, please forgive me, but here, once again, is another post about Shrimp. 🙂

(To Robert, With Love) 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Shrimp  on  ChefsOpinion
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Shrimp & Spinach

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Shrimp & Spinach

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Shrimp & Spinach

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures

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P.S.
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This dish is part of my upcoming meal plan # 2 –
“HANS’ LIGHTER, HEALTHIER COMFORT FOOD”  –  MONTH TWO 
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Click here for
“HANS’ LIGHTER, HEALTHIER COMFORT FOOD”  –  MONTH ONE

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Easy Does It # 36 – Oreo And Yogurt Pie With Honey & Fresh Berries

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Oreo And Yogurt Pie With Honey & Fresh Berries

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Dear  Friend’s,
Although most of the followers of ChefsOpinion are culinary professionals who visit here and are subscribed via LinkedIn, there is also a large segment of direct subscribers via wordpress who are just starting to enjoy cooking on a basic or slightly higher than basic level.
I have therefore decided to publish, under the moniker “Easy Does It“,  from time to time some very basic recipe variations of dishes (and even partially pre-cooked dishes) which otherwise might seem too complicated to some beginners.
I will break them down to the easiest, most simple instructions, so that those of you who are intimidated by elaborate recipes will be able to prepare these dishes properly, adjusted to your taste and liking, right from the get-go.
After all, just because you are not (yet ?) a professional chef should not prevent you from enjoying great food at home. 🙂
Enjoy !

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The header of this post could also be  “One For The Kid’s” – Oreo And Yogurt Pie With Honey & Fresh Berries,  because most kid’s with a knack to help in the kitchen could do this delicious pie all by themself, especially with a pre-baked orio crust as I have used here (or with any pre-baked pie crust for that matter).  🙂
Although as simple and easy to prepare as can be, the flavor of this pie is exquisite, not too sweet and a bit tart at the same time, and the yogurt filling is as light, smooth and creamy as no other.
Very special indeed.

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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  “Easy Does It”  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for “One For The Kids”  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for more  Pie  on  ChefsOpinion
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P.S.
See the full recipe at the bottom of this page…..
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Oreo And Yogurt Pie With Honey & Fresh Berries

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Oreo And Yogurt Pie With Honey & Fresh Berries

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Oreo And Yogurt Pie With Honey & Fresh Berries

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Oreo And Yogurt Pie With Honey & Fresh Berries

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Oreo And Yogurt Pie With Honey & Fresh Berries

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures

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Oreo And Yogurt Pie With Honey & Fresh Berries Recipe :
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Crust
Store-bought orio crust
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Filling
3 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2cups full fat Greek yogurt
1 egg yolk, whisked with a tiny pinch of salt
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Garnish
Honey, to taste
Whipped cream
Berries or other fruit of your choice
Chocolate powder to dust
Castor sugar to dust
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Prep
First – whisk the eggs and vanilla.
Then – whisk in the yogurt.
Brush the bottom of the crust thinly with a beaten egg yolk (moisture-proofing)
Bake the crust 3 minutes ( setting the egg for moisture proofing)
Add the filling to the crust
Place the pie into a pre-heated 375F oven and bake until the filling is set around the edges, but, when the pan is nudged, still quivers like soft Jell-O in the center, 15 to 20 minutes.
Check often in the last few minutes, as over-baking will destroy the silky-smooth texture of the filling.
Cool the tart on a rack.
Garnish as pictured or use your own imagination and/or personal preference 😊

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Test – Result

Dear ChefsOpinion Subscribers,
There seems to be a glitch with my wordpress account.
If you received this post in your inbox folder or have received a email notice about this post, please comment “Received” in the comment box.
Thanks a million. 🙂
Hans
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Thanks everybody for your quick responses 🙂
The problem seems to be fixed.
Life is Good !
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We might not share the largest food blog, but the love is real 🙂
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Cork Screw Pasta With Chicken And Vegetables In Curried Coconut Cream

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Leftover pasta. What to do with it ?
Usually, most folks just pop it in the microwave with a bit of sauce (or ketchup?? ) 🙂
Or maybe cook it up in a pan with some eggs ?
How about doing this easy, sexy beauty next time !
I had some left over pasta and roast chicken in the fridge from the previous day, and of course there is always some type of veggie in the fridge and coconut cream in the larder, so this wonderful tasty and pretty dish basically crawled together by itself 🙂
It took a mere few minutes to prepare and was truly delicious and satisfying. Definitely better than “microwaved leftover pasta with ketchup” ! 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more Curried Dishes  on  ChefsOpinion
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Cork Screw Pasta With Chicken And Vegetables In Curried Coconut Cream

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures

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Pasta Pearls, Bok Choy, Mollejas And Chillies In Ginger/Tamarind Broth

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Pasta Pearls, Bok Choy, Mollejas And Chillies In Ginger/Tamarind Broth

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Before you make a long face at the Mollejas (Chicken Gizzards), pls know that you can easily replace them with any other part of the chicken, such as breast, wings, tighs, etc. If you are not in the mood for chicken, many other proteins will work just as well, such as beef, pork, shrimp, or any other seafood, or just add more veggies of your choice.
However, if you love mollejas as much as I do, this soup will surely find a special place in your heart 🙂
In my opinion, the mollejas fit perfectly with the other ingredients, but as usual, use what you prefer, what you can afford or whatever you have in your larder that seems to fit the dish.
If you look at the pictures and try to immagine the taste of it, you’ll know that the main attraction is the Ginger/Tamarind Broth, the pasta pearls and the bok choy, everything else is just icing on the cake 🙂

Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Pasta Pearls, Bok Choy, Mollejas And Chillies In Ginger/Tamarind Broth

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Pasta Pearls, Bok Choy, Mollejas And Chillies In Ginger/Tamarind Broth

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Pasta Pearls, Bok Choy, Mollejas And Chillies In Ginger/Tamarind Broth

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Pasta Pearls, Bok Choy, Mollejas And Chillies In Ginger/Tamarind Broth

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures

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P.S.
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This dish is part of my upcoming meal plan # 2 –
“HANS’ LIGHTER, HEALTHIER COMFORT FOOD”  –  MONTH TWO 
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Click here for
“HANS’ LIGHTER, HEALTHIER COMFORT FOOD”  –  MONTH ONE

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Roast Pork Butt Sandwich (Gebratene Spanferkelkeule Mit Brot)

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This  sandwich is as German/Austrian as can be.
Roasted, juicy, tasty pork, rustic bread, good mustard and the pan jus from the roast.
End of story 🙂
Now, if this would be a typical, old-fashioned “American Style Sandwich”, it would probably be as follows:
Tasteless, soft, soggy wonder bread or a tasteless, soggy burger bun, topped with shredded, completely over-cooked pork (better known as “Pulled Pork” around here), limp lettuce (hot meat and lettuce, what else to expect?), pickles, onions, ketchup, mustard, oceans of crappy BBQ sauce (most of the commercial ones are crap, as well as many “Home Made” BBQ sauces, what with the artificial “Smoke” most of them contain),  crappy yellow cheese substitute (pre-sliced American “cheddar cheese” anyone?) and probably another 5 fillers to make the sandwich 5 inches tall, all served with limp fries (sadly, more often than not) and even limper (probably not a word 🙂 ) cole slaw.
If this all sounds negative, it is not meant to be. I just want to point out the fundamental different opinion Americans and Germans/Austrians have to what constitutes a great sandwich. Mind you, I am a bit of an old school fart, the kids in Germany and Austria, as well as kids in the rest of the world, nowadays’ all eat mostly the same soul-less stuff . 😦
I myself enjoy both approaches to a good sandwich, having lived in America for so long and gotten used to it and able to enjoy it on countless occasions.
You’ll find many instances of the “American Style Sandwich” approach to sandwiches on the pages of ChefsOpinion. However, when it comes down to it, the sandwich of choice for me would always be the simple variety with few but impeccable ingredients instead of the “American Style Sandwich” :
“It was the best sandwich I ever ate ! – it was so big I couldn’t even finish it” .
Of course, most of the bad stuff will be found at the fast food temples, who sell Billions of sandwiches every single day.
But thankfully, there are also many restaurants and shacks out there who will serve you a truly wonderful sandwich, made of quality ingredients, properly prepared and reasonably priced 🙂
And there you have it !
Different approaches to one final result – a well-loved sandwich 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Roast Pork Leg Sandwich (Gebratene Spanferkelkeule Mit Brot)

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Roast Pork Leg Sandwich (Gebratene Spanferkelkeule Mit Brot)

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Roast Pork Leg Sandwich (Gebratene Spanferkelkeule Mit Brot)

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Roast Pork Leg Sandwich (Gebratene Spanferkelkeule Mit Brot)

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lightly toasted sourdough bread, whole grain Maillard mustard

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures

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Mango, Pineapple And Chocolate Chip Cake

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Mango, Pineapple And Chocolate Chip Cake

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A couple of days ago, one of my neighbors asked me if I could make “something sweet” to add to the offerings at their kid’s birthday party. (A usual request from my neighbors) 🙂 As I had some fresh fruit at hand, (gifts from other neighbors) in the form of a pineapple and a few very sweet mangos, and because I  am not a very passionate baker/pastry cook, I came up with this simple yet stunning and absolutely delicious “cake”. It uses a foolproof and easy to prepare batter, store-bought chocolate chip cookies and the aforementioned fruits.
When it came out of the oven, I tried some, (as did Bella, of course,) but even if the craving nearly drives me nuts, I still can’t eat stuff like that. (Too much acid in the fruit and the chocolate, a nasty aftermath of chemo and radiation which still badly affects my throat and my taste buds) 🙂  
Bella on the other hand, couldn’t get enough 
I will definitely keep this as one of my “go-to” recipes in the future, when my ability to eat everything will be back, to be used with a variety of fruit and /or berries, accompanied by mountains of whipped cream, vanilla sauce, ice cream…………… (I am salivating as I write this) 🙂 

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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
Serve this cake by itself or with vanilla sauce,vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or, better yet, with all three 🙂 
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Mango, Pineapple And Chocolate Chip Cake

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Mango, Pineapple And Chocolate Chip Cake

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Mango, Pineapple And Chocolate Chip Cake

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Mango, Pineapple And Chocolate Chip Cake

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Mango, Pineapple And Chocolate Chip Cake

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Mango, Pineapple And Chocolate Chip Cake

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures

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“God sends meat and the Devil sends Cooks”

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Dear Friends,
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Following find an article written by my friend Randy Burns which I would like to share with you all :
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“I heard this proverb recently and I must admit that the impact of it made me stop and think, it resonated profoundly with me.

Regardless of one’s personal perception/reaction to this sentiment every Cook that I spoke with about this liked and appreciated it, they all felt an affinity with it as I did.

 This simple phrase is a thread that I can grasp and follow 500 years into the past to gain an insight into my predecessors as well as the kitchen mentality in general. This phrase resonates with me as it is just as poignant and applicable today as it was when it was first uttered so long ago. Our history is very long and volumes can be written and discussed, (in my last article I mention that we have been cooking over fire for 1.5 M years!),

But what does it mean? What would have caused someone to formulate a concept such as this? (and why do cooks have such a positive reaction to it). It’s always difficult to second guess someone one else’s meaning and context, especially when it has been removed by 500 years, but I will offer you my interpretation.

Simply put; Life in the Middle Ages was brutal. Working in kitchens was no better and in many ways worse than other professions/trades. Conditions were very unsanitary, smoky/poor air quality, long hours of hard work and HOT Kitchens. (not much different than a Cook’s life today? LMAO!). All cooking was done over an open fire, indoors. There was no refrigeration and “fresh” being a relative term meant that most “creative” cooking was to mask and disguise tainted and even rotten food. Perhaps it is only a servant of the Devil that can survive and excel in this environment? They say that little slices of Heaven can be found in our world; are kitchens a little slice of Hell?

It is high summer here in Northern Alberta, we hit the 36 degrees C outside today and one of the younger Cooks complained about how hot it was in the kitchen. I looked at him and without even thinking about it I said;

“If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen” (LMAO!!!)

I don’t think one has the luxury of that choice in Hell; do you?

Is Thomas Deloney’s proverb a commentary on the heat in a kitchen? It seems to be a constant throughout our history, and NO, not every one can hack it. Only the most ruthless survive as a Cook.

Merchant and Craft Guilds were prevalent throughout Europe at this time which included several Culinary groups. This development was a boon for trades/professions as it began the organization, standardization and structure for all; Cooking was no exception. This is where and when our apprenticeship program began and although the “Guild” system diminished around 1800 the “City & Guilds of London Institute” was resurrected in 1878 to continue the education/certification program. Virtually every Cook/Chef that I’ve worked with from the U.K. has gone through this excellent school.

At it’s peak there were over 100 Guilds, further reading can be seen in the “sources” section at the end of this post, (and it is fascinating reading), but I would like to mention one and offer a brief history.

From Wikipedia;

“The written history of the guild of “Les Oyers” or “Goose Roasters” has been traced back to the year 1248. At that time, King Louis IX assigned Étienne Boileau, the Provost of Paris, with the task of bringing order into the organization of trades and guilds, developing young apprentices and improving the technical knowledge of guild members. He gathered together the charters of more than 100 of these trades, among them the Goose Roasters.

Over the years, the activities and privileges of the Goose Roasters Guild were extended to preparing and selling all kinds of meat, including poultry and venison.

In 1509, during the reign of King Louis XII, some new statutes were introduced, which resulted in the change of the name of the guild to “Rôtisseurs” and the restriction of its activities to poultrygame birdslamb and venison. In 1610, under King Louis XIII, the guild was granted a royal charter and its own coat of arms.

For over four centuries, the “Confrérie” or brotherhood of the Roasters cultivated and developed culinary art and high standards of professionalism and quality—standards befitting the splendor of the “Royal Table”—until the guild system was disbanded, together with all others, in 1793 during the French Revolution. The Rôtisseurs were almost forgotten until 1950 when Dr. Auguste BecartJean Valby and “Prince” Curnonsky, and chefs Louis Giraudon and Marcel Dorin resurrected the Society and created La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs”

(Source;https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confr%C3%A9rie_de_la_Cha%C3%AEne_des_R%C3%B4tisseurs )

I mention “The Chaine…” here as I’ve been a very active member, in the past, for well over 20 years. Along with “The Chaine” I’ve also been active with other gourmet groups/societies and Chef’s Associations. Looking at it from the perspective of this article I realize that this could be considered as “Culinary Evangelism”; Yes I’m spreading “The Word”.

One of the most appealing and gratifying aspects, amongst many others, of participating in The Chaine is the education and that feeling of connection with our past, our history and heritage.

Obviously I talk a lot about history, I believe that it’s important, especially in our business.

We need to know where we came from, to know how we got to where we are today; we need to see the bigger picture than just the microcosm that is your personal kitchen; and it is a very big picture indeed! Besides the educational aspects I find the history fascinating and enlightening. For anyone interested in reading more research Auguste Escoffier. For any Cooks out there not familiar with him, and yes there are some, this is mandatory reading;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auguste_Escoffier

Although I knew that the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs had, (and still have today), their own coat of arms, (which I always displayed in the dining room of my restaurants), I was not aware that other culinary guilds were awarded them as well.

Note that most Coat of Arms have a “Motto/Battle Cry” along the bottom, generally written in Latin.

See first the Coat of Arms of the Butcher’s Guild

Motto;

“Sub Pedibus Omnia Subiecta Oves et boves”

Translation;

“Under the Feet is Subject to All of the Sheep and the oxen”

Here is the Coat of Arms for Cooks

Motto;

“Vulnerati non Victi”

Translation;

“Wounded not Defeated”

Admittedly my Latin is a little rusty so I researched these translations and used several sites to determine the most accurate. I researched the Butcher’s first, fairly straight forward.

Then I did the Cook’s; I freely confess that I almost had a baby when I saw this translation, this is the “mood” of a Cook; and not in a negative way. It expresses the indomitable spirit that one needs in order to survive in the kitchen; it’s perfect, and it’s been around for over 500 years but it is as poignant and applicable today as it was back then. Could it also be an expression/illustration of the circumstance that the Devil is in? (after all weren’t we sent by him.) Maybe the healing is our redemption but until that day comes we will continue doing what we do, and enjoying every minute of it.

In closing I would like to remind everyone that the Devil was once an Angel and although he’s fallen from grace even he has a chance for redemption, as we ALL do. Perhaps we are his redeemers paying his penance in the daily grind of “Hell’s kitchen”. Perhaps we are all paying our penance in the kitchen for redemption. As I constantly say there is no where else I’d rather be and nothing else I’d rather be doing, nor is there a more worthy or noble cause. How about a little sympathy for the Devil?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btyxW8LRKn0

I talk and write a lot about the “mood”, the psychology/philosophy, the history of kitchens, cooking and Cooks. Obviously it is a life long passion. It is an alternative lifestyle and as a Wise Chef told me a long time ago, “The kitchen is NOT for the faint of heart”. I can absolutely vouch for that. A Cook is many, many things and yes we can be irreverent, rude, crass, explosive along with passionate, dedicated, motivated. One of my favorite “Culinary” authors is Anthony Bourdain, (R.I.P. Tony). His writing “cuts the crap” and shows not just us who we are, but exposes us to the rest of the world; for the better in my opinion. Tony has some great adventure stories of us swashbuckling Cooks!

I believe in “The Yin & Yang” of life and in order to have the divine within us, we must also include the Devil; you can’t have one without the other, embrace them both.

 Reality Check;

OK so maybe I’ve finally lost it; the over 40 years of “baking my noodle” in a sweltering kitchen has finally taken it’s toll and it’s time to put me out to pasture but I feel a real affinity with both Deloney’s quote and with the Cooks “Battle Cry”. They both express, personify, and illustrate a Cook’s mindset and perspective brilliantly. Time to resurrect a little history.

I think all of you Cooks out there can relate to this; for all of you non-Cooks out there just ask a cook what they think of Thomas Deloney’s proverb and see what their reaction is to the motto/battle cry on our Coat of Arms, I believe that you’ll get a sparkle in their eye, a big smile, and an emphatic “Hell Yah!”

Happy Cooking Everyone!

Further reading on the Psychology/Philosophy of kitchens;

https://www.linkedin.com/in/randy-burns-476a2214/detail/recent-activity/posts/

Sources;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confr%C3%A9rie_de_la_Cha%C3%AEne_des_R%C3%B4tisseurs

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guild

http://www.medieval-spell.com/Medieval-Guilds.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motto

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_and_Guilds_of_London_Institute

https://www.loyolapress.com/our-catholic-faith/prayer/arts-and-faith/culinary-arts/the-patron-saints-of-the-culinary-arts “

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Breakfast Of Champions # 63 – Veal Blade Steak With Poached Eggs, Tzatsiki & Pita

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Breakfast Of Champions # 63 – Veal Blade Steak With Poached Eggs, Tzatsiki & Pita

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The  beautiful 2 lbs veal blade steak on this page cost all of $ 5.00. As soon as I got home, I felt like kicking myself not to have bought a few more to keep in the freezer to serve in the coming few weeks. While not the most tender of steaks, veal blade bursts with flavor and has a wonderful texture (think of strip loin cap).
Anyway, I did not go back to the store since I know that it features this cut as a special often, so there will be no problem to repeat the wonder of this superb breakfast 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Veal  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for more  Breakfast of Champoins  on  ChefsOpinion
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sauteed blade steak

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Breakfast Of Champions # 63 – Veal Blade Steak With Poached Eggs, Tzatsiki & Pita

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Breakfast Of Champions # 63 – Veal Blade Steak With Poached Eggs, Tzatsiki & Pita

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Breakfast Of Champions # 63 – Veal Blade Steak With Poached Eggs, Tzatsiki & Pita

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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