What would the Sargent Major’s Wife Do?

My brother-in-law, was a SGT. Major in the US Army.  Gosh, I love that guy.  Don’t tell him I said so.  He doesn’t “do” mushy.  haha.  When I first met him, I’ll be honest, he scared me.  During those Army days, he scared me more.

Days have slipped by and somehow I am not scared of him or his gruff voice anymore. He is one of the good guys.  He is the kind of man you want on your side when the Zombies come over that hill.

You all know by now, I love, love, love my sister-in-law.

Here is something you might not know about Army wives……they are the “behind the scenes” magic girls.  They are the reason things look & move so smooth in the military.  My sister in law, use to get up at 3:15 AM to make breakfast, so the Army man in her life could have a decent home cooked meal, before heading into work.

She always ironed his t-shirts.  Just in case, he was in his office and it got hot.  If he took off his Battle Dress Uniform jacket, his Army t-shirt would be crisply ironed to perfection.

My Army guy knew without a shadow of a doubt that he would be wise NOT to eat anything, I mean anything that I tried to cook for him at 3 in the morning.  Some Army wives just aren’t morning girls.

Each and every Memorial Day, our Army guys do what they promised to do.

They remember.

20170528_113743-1_resized_2They owe their fallen military brother and sisters the respect of remembering. Their uniforms are spit spot ready. Their shoes shined like the sun glistening off calm water. Their brass is shined within an inch of its life.  The smell of Brasso lingers in the air.  Their uniforms are lint free with nary a wrinkle in sight.

The morning before we went to the cemetery, I asked Mr. Right if his dress shirt was ready?  Drats.  I had forgotten to iron it.

For a fleeting moment, I thought to myself…..geesh, you only see about 2 inches of collar and a half-inch of shirt. Sometimes, you spy a quarter-inch of the cuff…….

Who would know if I only ironed those parts?  It would be my secret.

When it comes to ironing, I am not always the most willing & cheerful person.  I could just do those parts and move on with taming my hair into a something a bit reserve and respectful.

As the iron heated, I had “the” thought…. What would the SGT. Major’s wife do?

Oh, I think we both know the answer.

I told Mr. Right what I was thinking.  He chuckled and said, the SGT. Major’s wife would probably iron it twice!  ha

Mr. Right’s shirt was starched & ironed with perfect creases, not a wrinkle to be found.

The shirt was ironed to perfection, every single inch of it.  20170528_112312_resized_3

A perfectly ironed shirt.  Befitting a solider headed to pay his respects and make good on his promise.


We are a grateful family.

We remember.





honor food

Today, I have a treat for you, yes you,  my super terrific, wonderful readers.  I have a guest author.  (Between you and me, I gave him an A+ and a Gold Star sticker.)

It is my pleasure to introduce to you our oldest son, Dustin.  His gifts, talents, palpable energy and generous spirit make me puff up a bit when I type his name.

My “kids” never, ever cease to astound me.  When your adult children end up being humans that you (and others) would love to go to a long lunch and end up talking for 2 hours, you get this sneaky suspicion that you did something right.

I have a favor to ask, if you like today’s post or have something to add in the way of conversation, PLEASE share.   Please leave a comment. Please share on social media.  Please share with your friends.   Please add to this conversation.  It is a topic near and dear to our hearts.

We would love for this topic to be the springboard for conversation around your dinner table tonight.


Honoring the ingredients and the guests


I am not a chef.  My wife is a chef.  She has spent countless hours in schools and kitchens and classrooms perfecting her art.  She is a master in the kitchen and gives back to the epicurean world by empowering countless classes of students as a culinary arts professor at a community college in a rough part of town.  She inspires healthy eating, or creative cooking, or passions hidden deep down inside of people.  Some of these passions have been repressed by years on food stamp programs or eating unhealthy, cheap food.  The gift she selflessly gives away every day is amazing.

My mom is a food writer and aficionado of not only healthy eating and living, but of ingredients.  She has a wealth and breadth of knowledge about so many foods and ingredients, herbs and spices that it boggles my mind.

So with all of this in mind, it’s humbling beyond belief when someone tells me, of all people, they liked the food I cooked for them.  It’s an even more powerful statement when I’m told that some humble, meager dish is one of the best things this person has ever eaten.  It’s truly a one of a kind experience to know I honored the ingredient and the guest.

Let me back up.

I’m son #1.  Call me Dustin… yeah that’s a good internet name.  Dustin….  I’ve known the author of this blog for almost 34 years now and am finally brave enough to submit a piece of work as a guest author.  I have been interested in food as long as I can remember but that interest has changed significantly in recent years as I have evolved from a creature of habit to one of exploration and expectation.

I have only informal culinary training but have passion for good food that transcends almost any other passion in my life.  I love ingredients.  I love food.  There are so few things I don’t like it’s incredible and yet I’ve only tried a tiny portion of the number of tasty things out there!

Currently, I’m taking steps to lift my pop up restaurant off the ground (shameless plug incoming) find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/prixfixemobile   Creating a pop up has taught me a few things about people and ingredients and I’d like to share them with you.IMG_3695

First, you bought too many daikon radishes.  Yep, that’s something I’d like to pass on.  You bought too many and now you’re stuck.  They smell terrible, they are taking up a lot of room in your fridge and quite frankly, you made the one thing you were going to make with them and now you are stymied.

You have to be aware that this is your golden ticket to do one of two things.  Create something amazing or let it rot.  When we started out, I spent WAY too much of our precious few dollars making sure we had enough food.  Never mind that we are serving 4-7 course meals, I damn well wanted to make sure everyone had full portions of everything.  I think we needed maybe two cups of daikon pickles for a Vietnamese dish we were doing and I bought three HUGE daikons.  By the time we finished eating those things I was sick of daikon.  That’s a sad thing actually.

I LOVE daikon and I should have used the opportunity to dial up 1 of a 100000 different recipes out there to honor my ingredient and try to push its boundaries.  Honor the farmer, the trucker, the buyer, the seller and the hundred people along the way that brought that daikon to your fridge!   Try to only grab enough for what you need, but if you wind up with too much, EXPLORE!  Use the opportunities presented to you for good and expand your universe!

Next, people will eat bugs if you cook them right.  It’s true.  We served a very traditional Mexican dish at one of our dinners called Chapulines.  For those that don’t know, its grasshoppers roasted and spiced with chili.  We made tacos out of them and they were excellent actually.  Point of order here, I didn’t want to eat them, cook them or serve them, however my partner vetoed me.

He took the time as we are both apt to do, to research the bejeezus out of preparation methods, reliable, ethical and sustainable sources for the bugs, and how to best present the final dish.  In short we took the time to get to know more about grasshoppers as food than I ever cared to.  The end result of serving grasshopper tacos to 18 people dressed to the nines and expecting anything but grasshoppers, was only one of the 18 tacos coming back uneaten.  IMG_3670

There is a craft to honoring your ingredient by knowing it.  The more you know the better you can honor it.  Anyone can eat a bug because it’s a gross out extreme type thing to do.  Honoring the ingredient lets you serve a room full of people carefully crafted works of art that no one is afraid to try.

Lastly, (for now) whether you are cooking or eating, trust that the person you are connecting with over food has your best interest in mind.

This may come off a little rant-y, however even with my limited experience behind the stove, I’m already really, really tired of special requests.  If you choose to go to a seafood dinner and you have a shellfish allergy, trust that you’ve made a bad choice and are not honoring the chef or their ingredients.

Immerse yourself in the experience that is eating food that someone else prepared.  You can sense, feel and taste their culture, their influences and their art when you let go and just eat what the chef made for you.  Give ten chefs ten pieces of tuna and tell them to sear it and serve it, chances are you’ll get ten distinctly different pieces of fish, each honoring the guest by having had love, time, experience, effort and personal touches poured into them.  If you know you don’t like one particular thing, don’t order it!  If you still want whatever it is, then just pick out the part you don’t like!

By the way Millennials, I’m looking at you.  You’re not special, just eat it.  You’ll like it.  Taste buds change.  If you don’t like it, at least you can say you tried it, and move on.  No one wants to make you something special just because you freak out at your beans touching your pork chop which by the way also touches your salad which you specifically ordered without tomatoes because thinking about tomatoes makes you itchy but you can tell there were tomatoes near your plate because while not itchy.. well….,  you have a small rash over there near your butterfly tattoo….  I’ll show you butter flying… at your head….!

Conversely, if you are cooking and you chose to use pre-tubed garlic, get out!  Who doesn’t have time to chop garlic?!?!  Your guests can dump boxed pasta into water and pour some jarred tomato product over it, but can they craft a quick marinara from scratch?  It takes seconds to learn, minutes to cook and years to perfect, but it honors the guest you brought to your table.  Don’t take short cuts when the better way takes mere moments more.IMG_3451

In conclusion, find ways to honor your guests.  Find ways to honor your ingredients more and find ways to up your food game.  It’s a short life, do you want the last thing you ate to be a yellow sponge cake filled with processed HFC “crème” or a Chioggia Beet salad with first press olive oil, cracked tellicherry pepper and French feta cheese?

Live well, eat better and raise a glass once in a while!!!!!



6 words

I have talked about it before.  You know that weird green and white afghan I have in my linen closet?  I wouldn’t part with it for a million dollars.  When someone says, “can you please get me the sick blanket?” everyone in this family knows exactly what blanket they are talking about.

The weird “limey” green colored blanket.  My grandma made it for me.  She made one for each of my sisters and cousins as well.  Each in our favorite color.

I was in love with that limey green color.  My mother was always quick to point out a pretty pastel pink or salmon color.  Isn’t that nice?  Yes. It is nice.  However, it is not lime green.

I was over the moon thrilled when I opened my afghan.  My grandma got me!  My Grandma listened to my choice.  What I chose mattered to my Grandma.   She made what I would like.  One of my sister’s received a bold orange & white afghan.  The other received a shocking purple & white afghan.

Grandmas are like that.  They don’t care if you want a fox or an owl.  They just make what you want.  What will make you happy.  They put your name on things.  That makes every kiddo happy.20150901_171816

They use high quality wool felt not the 25 cents a sheet “felt” to make their grands ornaments.  They choose the best quality yarn, fabric, thread, beads she can find.

20150901_133154-1Here is the fascinating thing about grandmas.  They will draw a pattern and spend 2 or 3 hours hands sewing a little 3 inch Christmas ornament, just because you like foxes.

They will hand sew on mini ric rack that takes forever and she has to use a thimble because it is tough to pull the needle through, just because you like owls.

Grandmas will mark their thumbs with ink pen, 1/4″ marks, so the stitches turn out even.  20150901_171956-1

Grandmas are willing to spend money, talent, love and about 6 hours making 3 ornaments.

20150901_201419-1Grandmas are magical people.  They will do all that knowing the grand will know.

They will know the moment they open it.  They will know that grandmas’ don’t judge nor do they suggest something other.  Grandmas respect their grands choices.  They will make with their very hands exactly the thing the grand would love.

6 stupendous, magical, love filled words:

My Grandma made it for me. 20150918_111243-1


You can spend hours each day looking for great tips on a happy marriage.   You can read all sorts of “how to” books on setting up and keeping a good marriage on track.  Heck, you can find 10 easy tips to a successful marriage on face book.

Everyone is searching for the “secret”.

Before Mr. Right marries a new young couple, inevitably the question is posed by one or the other, “What’s the secret to a happy marriage?”  People in the congregation, whisper quietly, “Do you think it will last?”

When you stumble across a “happy marriage” your interest is tickled.  Get out the microscope, let’s look.

What actually is making this pure goodness work for 48 years?

Here’s the deal, there is no secret. It is free for the taking.


Oh, were you hoping it was a magical secret?  Were you hoping it was buying a big house and having a special car?  Oh dear, were you hoping it was posting pictures of how good you look together on a fancy vacation?

Sorry to burst your bubble. Or not.

Maybe bursting the bubble gives you hope?

Maybe just maybe, anyone can have what they have?

48th_wedding_anniversary_keepsake_gift_porcelain_plate-rb5f9d979287e4cc59f6a68f8671338aa_z78kn_324Every single day the wife loves her husband. She does little things.  Oodles of little things.  Yes, I can say a oodles.  5 or 6 nice things a day, times 365 days, times 48 years…………. you can easily do the math.   Every single day, the husband wants to show his wife how much he appreciates what she does & how much he loves her.  So he does 5 or 6 nice things for her.

It’s a dance.

A lovely, swirly dance.

She irons his shirts.  He takes out the trash.  She makes dinner.  He does the dishes.  She shares a joke.  He shares a wink.  She was sick.  He washed her hair.  He was sick.  She made him soup. He fixes the latch on the backdoor.  She sews a button on his favorite shirt.  She is in the hospital.  He never leaves her side.

Everyone wants what they have.  Oh yes they do.

When you look under the microscope, it is not as fancy as you thought it might be.

It’s an everyday thing.  You can see it in their eyes when they look at each other.

They wear grubby clothes and do yard work together.

They wear warm clothing and shovel snow from the driveway together.

They watch fireworks and hold hands in the dark.

They discuss politics, kitchen cabinets, their beautiful daughter, their cats, the lawn, the town celebration.  They discuss money and religion.  They discuss the price of heating oil and the winter coming.   They discuss travel and trips taken.  They discuss & disagree on Hockey.  All this talk over homemade pie and hot steaming coffee.

They clean up and go out for a wonderful German meal and don’t mention to anyone why they are dining out and smiling.

Just being around them, you WANT what they have.

Can you imagine being told, I LOVE YOU, every single day, 365 days a year for 48 years?

Can you imagine being respected and valued and adored and well taken care of every single day, 365 days a year for 48 years?

The love and respect they have for each other is palpable.

You sort of feel like if you get close enough to them, some of that goodness will rub off.

Good news for me.  They taught their little brother how to be an amazing husband.

Good news for our daughter in-laws.  Mr. Right passed on the secret to a great marriage.

I bet if you “work” their secret, some of the goodness will rub off on you, too.

Heartfelt Congratulations to my wonderful Brother and Sister in law.

Here’s to you & your celebration of pure goodness!