When one is met with peculiar family dynamics that have not been encountered before, there are two paths to take, especially when there is potential for conflict. One option is to stand your ground, watch the cortisol levels rise like Mount Vesuvius, and in the end, never accomplish the result you were trying to achieve. The other option is to simply resign to the fact that this is life as we know it for the time being, so just sit back and try to enjoy the roller coaster ride.

I’ve been in this situation for five years with limited access to a home kitchen. My wonderful wife has taken on the arduous task of cooking for three people daily. It keeps everyone fed and the conflicts are minimalized. I for one, love what my wife prepares. She’s a great cook.

This current respite I’m enjoying has allowed me to cook again. Not in a professional kitchen where one can hear this old chef’s bones crack like stepping on celery with every bend, stoop and pivot, but at a home setting where the wine flows like a waterfall and the setting is calm, peaceful and creative.

My friend of almost forty years Chris Mundy came over for a nice, simple dinner collaboration. He in his own right, is an elevated cook with a great palette, a keen sense of creativity who isn’t afraid to push the culinary boundaries that would make most of our family members wince at the very mention of “Chimichurri.”
He was going to his family’s cabin in Michigan and we both had ingredients we wanted to cook that wouldn’t last the week he was in Michigan so we decided on a pot luck dinner. The result was pretty spectacular.

I’ve adjusted my expectations on where to shop while I’ve been back. I haven’t had the opportunity to make the trek to the infamous Jungle Jim’s where you can procure everything from Rattlesnake to a hot sauce that would give the Sun a run for its money. So, until then, I have been relegated to the big box corporate grocery stores that I also encounter where I live. To say the least, the choices were grim.

It makes sense to stock their shelves with items that the residents of that area would purchase. I get it. I was hoping for something a tad more exotic than Strip Loin Steaks. Perhaps even frozen Duck Breast would suffice? Unfortunately, Strip Loin was the only choice.

I purchased some Applewood Smoked dry rub for the steak. I roasted some fresh Cauliflower, Crimini Mushrooms, and Radish with fresh herbs and olive oil. We combined these with fresh Blue Lake Green Beans. I decided on butter basting the steak with fresh herbs and garlic. I love grilling steaks but butter basting creates a rich, yet artery clogging euphoria that grilling seems to miss.

I let the steak repose and sliced it thin and placed it over the vegetable melange and topped it with Chris’s homemade Chimichurri Sauce which is like an Argentinian pesto, made with parsley, oregano, garlic, chili flakes, vinegar, and olive oil. It is used as a condiment on anything from eggs to vegetables. His version was excellent.
We added a Garbanzo Bean salad and we both shared wine. It was an excellent collaboration. It felt good to cook again. I’m hoping to keep this trend up during my stay.

Next stop. Jungle Jim’s. Just don’t tell my wife.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be exposed to great farms and ranchers over the last few years. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have an outlet to utilize these great products they provide and create dishes that I’m proud of. I’ve always wanted to open my own restaurant. Even created a business plan and had a modest savings for this venture. Learning about the in’s and out’s of creating a small business has its challenges. Mainly capital to keep the venture afloat. We are still in hopes that this dream of ours will come to fruition. We’ve been in the industry for over 20 years and would eventually like to be our own bosses. Hopefully this will happen but in the meantime I wanted to share some of the dishes I’ve created over the last three or so years. -Chef Kevin

Dungeness crab salad over grilled pineapple, organic cherry tomatoes, sprouts and avocado purée

Roasted cauliflower, sunchoke and frisee salad

Chocolate chip bread pudding in cast iron skillet with house made salted caramel and vanilla bean ice cream

Sesame crusted ahi tuna over wasabi mashed potatoes and topped with a fresh mango salsa. Not fancy but it was very delicious

House-made bacon bourbon ice cream

Beer braised pork shank over cannellini beans and mirepoix with natural jus

Local greens with grapes, organic cherry tomatoes and candied walnuts


Mac-n-cheese with lardon and a pilsner cheese béchamel

Blackened ling cod, white cheddar grits, tomatillo sauce and a fried plantain

Armenian and lemon cucumber salad, cherry tomatoes, wild rocket, feta cheese and a mint vinaigrette

Cider brined, slow roasted Carlton Farms pork belly, carrot puree, jicama salad and Inca red drop peppers

Pan seared snapper, over yukon gold mashed, romesco and pesto sauces with sprouts

A Way of Life farms heirloom tomato bruschetta, micro sprouts, goat cheese, balsamic reduction

Liberty Farms duck confit, peach compote, frisee

char sui pork ribs, wasabi mash

char sui pork ribs, wasabi mash, broccoli rabe

Mediterranean spiced pan seared salmon, orzo arugula salad, tatziki

Mediterranean spiced pan seared salmon, orzo arugula salad, tatziki

Slow braised pork shank, lentils, greens, demi glace

Pan seared true cod, curry, cauliflower, local cherry tomatoes, cilantro

Pan seared halibut, parmesan polenta, herb oil

Cider brined pork chop, cheddar-scallion potato cake, caramelized brussels sprouts, bacon and an ale-mustard sauce

Just some light reading