Saturday, July 31, 2010

Black bean and corn salad

On my last day at work before taking a week-long vacation, the thermometer topped 100 degrees in Sacramento. I made three salads for lunch as a replacement for soup. I usually forgo the soup once it gets over 95 degrees.

My "salad fest" included a black bean and corn salad. Instead of consulting recipe resources in my office, I tossed the salad together as I found appropriate ingredients in the refrigerator and pantry.

I also served a vegetable salad made with a 4-pound bag of Sysco California blend vegetables. To prepare, I blanched the vegetable in boiling water for a few minutes, drained and cooled in ice water. The cold vegetables were then tossed in a couple cups of Italian dressing.

A tossed romaine salad rounded out the menu. The main course consisted of cheese tortellini with marinara sauce.

The residents loved the salad offerings. "That black bean salad was hecka good," said one of the older ladies. A second resident added this note: "Have I ever told you how much I love that stuff?"


Use 3-1/4 cups frozen corn, 6 Roma tomatoes, 1/2 large red onion and 1 large red bell pepper if you don't have a scale.


2 (28-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 pound frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1 pound tomatoes, seeded and diced
8 ounces chopped red onion
8 ounces diced red bell pepper
3 jalapeno chili peppers, minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro


1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, jalapenos and cilantro in large bowl. Toss to mix well.

Combine oregano, paprika, cumin, garlic, salt, black pepper and vinegar in small bowl. Add olive oil to vinegar mixture and whisk to combine. Drizzle dressing over salad and stir to combine.

Recipe yields about 3-1/2 quarts or 25 (1/2-cup) portions.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Wildflowers and the enduring Word

Withering mules ear
Originally uploaded by SeabeeCook
One of my favorite mountain activities is to photograph wildflowers. With camera in hand, I enjoy walking through fields of bright wildflowers.

Spring is the best time to view and capture their bright images in the Sierra Nevada. But this year I didn't get up into the high country until mid-summer.

Many flowers were clearly past their prime. I found a sun-bathed field of mules ears near our campsite at the Kit Carson Campground (see picture).

Once vibrant yellow, these flowers are just days from loosing their peddles. They would soon shed their seeds, whither and die.

Wildflowers bring to mind a passage of scripture in Peter's First Epistle. Unlike flowers, which only display their vibrant glory for a short time, the apostle reminds Christians that God's word endures:
Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because:
All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
But the word of the LORD endures forever.
Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you (1 Peter 1:22-24).
Peter's message is clear. Once God's incorruptible word has been planted in our souls, we respond by loving the brethren "fervently with a pure heart."

With obedient hearts from the moment we're saved, the Christian bases all of his actions on the incorruptible "word of truth" (James 1:18). Unlike mules ears, says Peter, which "whithers" and "falls away," our salvation comes through reliance on God's promises.

We need to place our trust in God's word and it ability to save and guide us through life. As Peter states through the quote from Isaiah 40:6-8, our lives are too short to place our trust in anything else but the word.

Like the flower, man's glory will fade someday. But God offers a cure, a way to transform our feeble bodies into imperishable beings one day. It is through obedience to His word.

Peter noted earlier in the chapter that it is this incorruptible word that guides us in our daily walk:
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:13-15).
I'm reminded of the passage in Peter (and others like it) each time I see a pretty flower, whether in the wilderness or the garden. It's a reminder to me that God's word abides continually and that it acts in my life.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Honoring a departed salior

As a young seaman, I served on Navy Air Station Lemoore's burial detail and honor guard. I was one of six palbearers for a departed chief petty officer at the one burial that I attended.

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 15, 2010) -- Master Chief Culinary Specialist Marilyn Kennard leads the honor platoon during a burial at sea aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8).

U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Lill.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


It's a rare honor to meet the ship's namesake. Historically, United States Ships were named posthumously.

Many ships were named after the serviceman had died in combat, as in the USS
Stein (DE/FF 1065). The Stein was named after Marine Corporal Tony Stein, who received the Congressional Metal of Honor for combat action during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.

Other ships, like the USS
John S. McCain (DL 3), were named once the namesake had died. Admiral John S. McCain, Sr. passed on four days after the Allies accepted the formal surrender of the Japanese in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 14, 2010) -- Former President George H.W. Bush speaks with Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Lessa M. Zilempe, assigned to the supply department aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), while Adm. J.C. Harvey, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, listens. Bush and his wife, Barbara, spent their time aboard watching flight operations, touring the ship and visiting with the crew. George H.W. Bush is conducting training in the Atlantic Ocean.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brent Thacker.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Afternoon storm

Afternoon storm
Originally uploaded by SeabeeCook
I love Sierra Nevada summer thunder storms. They're a refreshing change from the dust and boredom of the dry summer heat. And it's an exhilarating experience to stand under a tarp in camp and watch large drops of water mixed with hail descend to the ground. Most storms don't drop enough moisture to cause much concern for the camper.

We watched clouds move in from the east all afternoon Friday. The storm built as warm air moved in from the east and rose up to meet cooler air near the crest of the Sierra. The clouds released their moisture just after 5 p.m. on the area surrounding the "Y" in South Lake Tahoe.

We drove into a wall of water on U.S. 50 on our way to eat. My only regret was that we were on the road at the time of the storm. I would've loved to have been in camp for the storm.

Friday, July 23, 2010

2010 Olive Festival and Dutch Oven Cookoff in Corning, California

Here's a note from Don Mason:

Hi Dutch oven cook:

On August 28, 2010 in Corning, California, the 21st Olive Festival will be held and this year they have added a Dutch oven cookoff. This should be a challenge as the festival organizers are requiring that only California Processed Olives are to be used in one of the three dishes. This should not be a challenge to you great Dutch Oven Cook.

The Dutch Oven cookoff will be held at Woodson City Park (southeast corner South and Peach Streets). You will have a 12'x12’ cooking area with one table. You will be cooking in an open area and the weather might be a problem. It is recommended that if you have a type of E-Z up instant shelter. Note: We will be in the same area as last year. This is the hot time of year so dress cool and drink a lot of water.

We will be there about 7 a.m. on Saturday morning. A cooks meeting will be held a 9:00 a.m. At this time the judging time will be assigned. Judging will commence at 1:00 p.m.

This is a 3 pot cookoff: Main dish, bread and dessert or one or two pots is okay. The public will be invited to taste the dishes after judging and vote for the ones they like best.

Cash awards will be for the following: First place for main dish, bread and dessert receives $50 and a plaque. Second and third place will receive plaques. First place in each category for Peoples Choice Award will receive a plaque. This should be a fun Dutch oven cookoff and sharpen your culinary skills. Beginning Dutch oven cooks are invited. Also 4-H, Boy Scouts and Junior groups are invited to cook an adult must accompany this division. Plaques will be awarded to this division.

If you have any questions please contact the Corning Chamber of Commerce at (530) 824-5550 or or Don Mason at (530) 527-1027 or

Good luck

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Deep dish pizza rice revisited

I first made my Dutch oven deep dish pizza rice on a camping trip to the North California coast in July 2006. My then 14-year-old son Jacob devoured two hefty helpings as he mumbled "This is good!" over and over.

Now that he's 18 and growing. He asked for "that pizza stuff" several times this week on our camping trip to South Lake Tahoe. I prepared the dish in a 10-inch Dutch oven for the second time last night.

Here's my revised recipe. I didn't change too much from the original recipe that was posted on July 26, 2010. I added half of a 3-ounce bag of baby spinach and used prepared pizza sauce in place of pesto.

Heat 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 10-inch Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and sweat until translucent.

Add rice and stir to coat with oil. Fry rice while stirring frequently until it takes on a light-brown color. Add 4 ounces each pre-cooked Italian sausage and peperoni. Cut the peperoni into quarters or chop as desired. Reserve 13 peperoni slices for the final step.

Add about 3 ounces of washed and dried baby spinach to the rice. Continue cooking for several minutes to wilt the rice. Many other green vegetables will work in place of spinach. I'd like to try broccoli rabe, cut into 2-inch pieces next time.

My three-year-old granddaughter didn't flinch at the sight of cooked spinach last night! She matched her uncle bite-for-bite (adjusted for age, of course!).

Combine 2-1/2 cups chicken stock, 1/2-cup prepared pizza sauce and 1 teaspoon dried oregano. Pour into rice mixture and stir. Cover with lid. Bake 20 minutes or until rice is done. Use coals for approximately 350 degrees (5 charcoal briquettes under the oven and 16 on lid in temperate weather).

When done, spread 1-1/2 cups shredded cheese over the rice. Arrange the reserved 13 peperoni slices over the rice. Return lid to oven and continue baking until cheese is melted.

Enjoy! Serves a family of four to six. Multiply the recipe one and one-half times for a 12-inch Dutch oven.

To Lib: Use a three or four-quart home Dutch oven for the casserole. Sweat onions on the burner, saute rice, wilt spinach, then add pizza sauce and stock and bring to a boil. Cover and place in a 350-degree oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Top with cheese and peperoni and finish in oven.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't feed the critters

It's not my mission in life to feed the squirrels. But just when you think you have the fury critters figured out, they strike at the peanut butter.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hope Valley Cafe and Market

I have driven by Hope Valley Cafe and Market many times over the past 30 years. While tempting, my wife and I rarely stopped in.

The rustic building was often just a landmark on a trip the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada.

Debbie and I first stopped inside the cafe Saturday evening looking for the ATM machine. We had just set up camp at Kit Carson Campground on the other side of the highway. Out of checks, I needed cash to pay the campground fee.

Inside, we found a cross between an old High Sierra resort and a place one would love to call home. Hope Valley Cafe could easily become my coffee bar of choice on a daily commute through Hope Valley.

Joyce DeVore of the The Record-Courier best describes the eatery and market:
From the outside, the café looks like a small mom-and-pop convenience store and coffee shop. Stepping inside, one finds a creative dynamo with tousled black hair, proudly displaying cases of homemade pies and a counter laden with monster cookies and cakes. ("Hope Valley chef cooks her pies to order," October 2, 2009.)
The "creative dynamo" behind Hope Valley Cafe is Leesa Lopazanski, chef and shopkeeper. Frendly and willing to help, Leesa and her counter person pointed us to Woodfords Station when the ATM ran out of cash.

I didn't return to the cafe until late Monday morning when my granddaughter and I stopped in for milk shakes. The young lady behind the counter graciously created a chocolate milkshake off menu for us. The regular menu listed cookies and cream shakes, which would've been good.

My third visit came this morning. After making a 25-mile round trip to call my daughter on the cell phone, I didn't feel like cooking. And it gave me an excuse to stop in for breakfast.

After talking shop with Leesa for a few minutes, I have to say she was a pleasant hostess. From the breakfast menu I chose the 3 Egg Scram, "3 eggs, spinach, sundried tomato, meat & cheese -- all scrambled up w/ toast."

Leesa's 3 Egg Scram is reminiscent of Joe's scramble, a popular breakfast dish with ground beef, onions, mushrooms and spinach folded into three large scrambled eggs and topped with cheese.

Sometimes a simple photograph (above) can help you explorer the menu. Listed under the Scram is The Burrito. "Just like the Scram, all wrapped up in a tortilla w/ salsa & sour cream."

We need to return to the Hope Valley Cafe and Market before we leave for home on Saturday. I'll have to try The Burrito.

If you're in the South Lake Tahoe area as we are this week, you need to take the 30-minute drive out to Hope Valley and meet Leesa. She and her staff will make sure that you have a pleasant meal, full of flavor and goodness.

I promise to stop in next time I drive by.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Campfire hash

When papa makes his world-famous campfire hash, he expects those who call him papa to eat it. Maybe next time!

Faced with leftovers in the ice chest, I made a quick hash in a cast iron skillet over the campfire this morning. Leftover cottage fried potatoes, diced chicken and broccoli with three eggs made for a great breakfast.

Hash is quick. And it makes leftovers go away. I recommend planning one hash day for a week-long camping trip.

To prepare, chop or grind equal portions of meat, potatoes and onions. The traditional approach is to run the meat and vegetables through a meat grinder. I prefer to serve a more chunky hash.

Heat a medium-sized cast iron skillet over medium-high to high heat. Add a couple tablespoons of oil (or bacon grease from the morning bacon) to the skillet. Add the hash ingredients to the skillet.

Brown the hash, turning with a spatula after several minutes. Season with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Let the hash cook at least 10 to 15 minutes or until it's crisp and cooked through.

To cook eggs, remove the skillet from the fire. Make a shallow depression for each egg. Hold the skillet level and carefully crack an egg into each depression. Cover with a lid, return skillet to the fire and cook until the eggs are cooked to the desired doneness.

Have plenty of hot sauce on hand. While the grandchildren may not like it, campfire hash is one of those dishes that cries out for hot sauce. Three or four varieties will satisfy the tastes of any large group.

And don't forget the most American of all hash toppings -- tomato catsup. A little catsup will encourage the grandchildren to eat it next time!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


We left early yesterday afternoon for a week long camping trip in the California High Desert just south of Lake Tahoe.

We first arrived in the Caples Lake and Silver Lake area only to find all available campsites taken. I'm sure the large wedding party at the Caples Lake Resort saturated the area.

After shuttling between the two lakes in our quest for a campsite, we drove over Carson Pass into the Hope Valley. My first thought was to drove south to the Blue Lakes (a favorite of my sister's family).

I wanted to check the campgrounds on the West Fork Carson River first. Just after I pulled into Kit Carson Campground, I saw the "campground full" sign. Committed, I drove through the upper loop. We found a vacant campsite and set up the trailer for three nights.

I quickly learned that a trip to the Blue Lake would've been fruitless. The campground host for American Land and Leisure, campground manager for Toiyaby National Forest, said all campgrounds were full.

We plan to camp at Kit Carson through Tuesday, then shift to South Lake Tahoe.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chicken breasts with sun-dried tomato and mushroom sauce

Here's a recipe that I modified from a Campbell's Soup magazine add. I worked it up to 25 servings, which is the number of residents that I feed at work. I also added extra mushrooms to the sauce to boost its flavor.


25 (5-ounce) chicken breasts
1/2 medium onion, diced fine
1 pound mushrooms, sliced thin
1 (50-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
3-3/4 cup water
1-1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3/4 cup basil leaves, chiffonade
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1-1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a one or more skillets or saute pans over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until it's well browned on both sides. Remove the chicken waiting hotel pan.

Heat about 1/4-cup olive oil in skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and mushrooms and cook onions are soft and mushrooms begin to brown. Stir soup, water, tomatoes, vinegar and basil into onion and mushroom mixture. Heat sauce to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Pour sauce over chicken in the hotel pan and place in 350-degree oven. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve chicken and sauce over the eggs noodles or steamed rice. Garnish with the cheese and sliced basil.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Give 'em pork

I always enjoyed carving a nice roast on the serving line.

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 10, 2010) Culinary Specialist Seaman Apprentice Marco Valdez, from Houston, Texas, slices roast pork in the aft galley aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). George Washington, the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, is underway helping to ensure security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jacob D. Moore.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Barbecue bacon and bean salad

Now that the weather has turned toward the century mark in Sacramento, I'm no longer preparing soup each day at lunch. A hearty salad works in the place of soup most days.

My challenge is to maintain interest in the salads that I serve. I do this by offering a new salad each day. Each salad is built around new and interesting ingredients.

Aside from the tradition macaroni, potato and tomato salads, I plan to incorporate ingredients like beans, corn, cous cous, celery root and mangoes into lunchtime salads. Up to this point, I've introduced several salsa varieties, including mango, roasted red pepper, cucumber and melon and citrus.

This recipe comes to 'Round the Chuckbox by way of the June 30, 2010 edition of The Sacramento Bee (Taste Section, page D4). The summer recipe was part of a recipe spread for Independence Day.

The recipe for barbecue bacon and bean salad caught my eye because it presented flavors that I enjoy -- beans, bacon and barbecue sauce. I worked it up for 25 servings and substituted celery for fennel, a flavor that the ladies aren't too keen on.


Two pounds dry white beans will give approximately 3 quarts of cooked beans. One #10 can or 8 (15-ounce) cans of white beans, drained, will give the same yield.

2 pounds bacon, diced
1 pound chopped onion
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 cups prepared barbecue sauce
2 pounds frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
3 quarts cooked white beans
8 ounces celery, diced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Cook bacon in a heavy skillet for about 4 minutes. Add onion and continue cooking until bacon is crispy and onion tender. Remove the pan from the heat. Drain most of grease, leaving the bacon and onions in the pan. Stir in smoked paprika and barbecue sauce. Transfer to a bowl and cool.

In a large bowl, mix together corn, beans and celery. Mix in the cooled bacon mixture, tossing well. Sprinkle in the cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped chives or parsley.

Time for salad

I remember the time when the chief caught me munching on lobster in the galley on the USS Stein (DE 1065). It was leftover from a topside barbecue the day before. He had intended to use the meat for lobster salad for the crew.

Yes, there was enough cold lobster for the salad. And I learned what it's like to incur the wrath of the chief!

PACIFIC OCEAN (June 30, 2010) -- Culinary Specialist 1st Class Teshowme Marshall prepares a seafood salad in the galley aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18). New Orleans is participating in Southern Partnership Station, an annual deployment of U.S. military training teams to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brien Aho.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Campfire scrambled eggs

Breakfast this morning at Wench Creek Campground in Eldorado National Forest was scrambled eggs with maple sausage links and toasted sourdough bread.

When scrambling eggs over a campfire, first prepare the rest of the meal. The eggs will cook quickly. You want to eat once the eggs are ready.

For a single portion, crack three large eggs into a bowl. Flavor with one or two tablespoons milk, half-and-half or cream, plus salt and pepper. Whisk until blended.

Stoke the fire under the skillet when you remove the sausage and toast from the skillet. When hot, grab the skillet handle with gloved hand, lift away from the fire and add one or two pats of butter to the skillet.

Don't be afraid. The butter is going to sizzle, spit and complain. Move the skillet side-to-side to evenly coat the bottom of the skillet with melted butter.

Pour the whipped eggs into the skillet. Let them absorb heat from the skillet for a few moments.

Then with a fork, scramble the eggs. Quickly move the eggs curds into the center of the skillet as they form.

The eggs will be done in a minute or two. Don't forget the old cook's adage: Eggs that are done in the skillet are overcooked on the plate.

Don't cook the eggs beyond the soft stage. Leave them a bit runny. Carryover cooking will finish the eggs.

Wonderful scrambled eggs, soft and creamy, and a bit discolored from the sausage, will wake your palette in the morning air.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

29 years ago today ...

Today is the 29th anniversary of my marriage to Debbie. I first published this article over five years ago, shortly after I heard David Posey's Sunday sermon on 1 Peter 3:7.

I’d been cooking professionally for around 10 years when Debbie and I were joined in marriage in 1981.

I knew everything there was to know about cooking. Of course I did. After all, I’d fed thousands of sailors during eight and one-half years active duty service.

Deb first made her mother’s iced tea sometime after we had moved into a Bakersfield two-room apartment. Seven Lipton tea bags, a pint of water and a cup of white sugar went in my good Revere Ware saucepan.

Next came the annoying part. She’d boil the tea until it turned to syrup. She’d then strain the syrup and dilute it into a pitcher.

For years, I tried to correct her tea-making ways. After all, I was the expert. You never boil tea. Just ask Mr. Lipton.

I’d turn the burner to low heat, clean the range-top and chip tea candy from my good Revere Ware saucepan.

This might be amusing except for a "minor" verse in Peter’s letter to the pilgrims of the Dispersion. I say minor only because I didn’t hear much about it until recent years -- I didn’t want to hear much about Peter’s command to husbands.

These may be the most important 34 words in the Bible for husbands:
Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).
Husbands are to live with their wives. This means you’re to dwell with her in close harmony. To dwell with one's wife "with understanding" means that husbands are to know, to understand, to comprehend their nature, especially as it fits in the marriage relationship.

Learn about your wife, what pleases her and what makes her "tick." And honor your wife by putting her on a pedestal. She’s the love of your life, no one else.

Remember that as Christians, you and your wife are "heirs together." Study together, pray together, worship together.

And husbands, there’s a much more serious side to the equation. Peter says that your prayers before God will be hindered if you ignore his command. We have a solemn duty to God and to your wife to dwell, understand and honor.

The outcome: I gave up over 10 years ago. Somewhere along the way I realized my life with Debbie transcended Navy-approved culinary techniques. And she makes a great cup of iced tea (this comes from a guy that grew up on unsweetened iced tea).

Oh, I’m drinking a Mason jar of Deb’s iced tea while writing this blog. It’s one of those sweet tea drinks that grows on you.

Give yourself 29 years!


2 cups cold water
1 cup granulated sugar
7 tea bags

Combine ingredients in a one-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. When the tea boils, reduce to a low simmer. Simmer until tea reduces to the desired strength, about 30 to 60 minutes. Tea will have a syrupy consistency at this point. Please be very careful. Hot tea syrup is akin to culinary napalm -- it burns.

Cool; strain syrup into a two-quart beverage container and dilute with cold water. Make sure to gently squeeze the tea bags to get as much tea as possible into the water.

To serve, fill a Mason jar with ice. Pour tea over ice and enjoy. Squeeze fresh lemon into tea and stir, if desired. Store in the refrigeration for 2-3 days. It'll be time to make a fresh batch!

World War II Army Air Corps field kitchen

Guest blog by David Hoxie

My brother, Danny Hoxie, and I donated a fairly complete WWII field kitchen to the 475th Fighter Group Museum in memory of our father, who was a plank member of the group. The basis of the kitchen are three M-1937 field ranges plus two of the short stoves that used the same burner, plus all of the odds and ends that we could find to fill out the display.

The 475th had their annual reunion last year in Ontario, California. My brother and I fed the reunion crowd using this field kitchen on the day of the 475th Museum's grand opening at the Planes of Fame Museum at Chino, California. We fed over a hundred people lunch that day.

We baked homemade biscuits the night before for bread for the next day's meal. This meal consisted of beef tips with carrots, new potatoes, mushrooms in a gravy with fresh cooked asparagus. It was far better than the Modified B rations that my father had to prepare into something edible.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Special diet requests

At work we accommodate resident's requests for special diets. As long as the request if for a medical or religious need, I try my best to honor that need and to provide an alternative diet to the client.

Menu accommodations are an important aspect of the resident's treatment at the facility. Years of drug and alcohol abuse has left several clients with some serious health issues in addition to their addiction.

Careful evaluation of the client's need is important since I serve a single entree, side dish, vegetable and salad at each meal. At facilities with greater menu variety, the alternate entree, side dish, etc., can be designed with to accommodate those clients who have special needs.

I generally require that the client document her request for a special diet. Since most health care providers give the patient some sort of aftercare instructions, this is generally a simple process.

These instructions help the patient make wise dietary choices. In the case of a lactose-free or low lactose diet, the instruction advises the patient what foods to limit or avoid all-together (such as cheese, milk, ice cream and sour cream).

The instructions also advise the patient which alternative products, such as soy milk and other soy-based products, to use in place dairy products. It may also suggest over-the-counter products that the patient can take to relieve symptoms, if warranted.

I prefer that the client consult with her health care provider for two reasons. First, it gives her the opportunity to discuss appropriate treatment for her symptoms, including any dietary recommendations.

The dietary instructions also help me define the diet. I will meet with the client and discuss the diet with her. This informal meeting (usually in the kitchen) gives me a chance to let her know what I can and cannot provide. This discussion also lets me remove the client's subjective interpretation of the diet.

In the coming weeks, I'll offer practical suggestions that the small operator can use to incorporate these requests into regular meal preparation.

I plan to expand the discussion to vegetarian requests. While I don't currently have any vegetarians at work, I up to ten percent of the staff and campers were vegetarian at Deer Crossing Camp last summer.