Tag Archives: parmesan chicken

Guest Blog – Lazy Man Cooks

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Today’s Guest Blogger is MountainWestBob!

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We couldn’t agree more with the “Old’s Cool!”

Andy’s Introduction to Bob:

Ann and I met Bob and his wife Gayle when I was in grad school back in the dark ages,  i.e., when research was done with Fortran and punch cards.  Our connection actually goes beyond being grad school buddies. It turns out that Gayle was the OB nurse on duty at Poudre Valley Hospital when our daughter Sara was born; Gayle introduced Ann to the world of newborn babies… something we really needed at that time.   Bob left grad school for Pinkerton, and because stage coach robberies were only in movies by then, his work was largely in industrial security.   The great stories he shared with me about uncovering employee theft in various industries provided wonderful examples over the years for my deviant behavior and criminology courses.  So after all of these years it was very special that Bob agreed to be a guest blogger  (following some arm twisting I must admit).

Now here’s Bob’s Introduction:

We’ve just marked 15 years of retirement. Some know more of the details, such as how we met 52 winters ago because we’d both cut the same class at the U of MN due to extreme cold (minus 30 or more) on a Monday, and how 6 weeks later, on a Saturday afternoon, I observed that “Since we do this so well together, we should get married” and Gayle responded, “OK.”

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Bob & Gayle – still together more than 50 years after that bitter cold Minnesota day

I failed in grad school due to an acquired inability to understand articles in sociology journals. Joined the old Pinkerton’s, Inc. folks and made a career out of industrial security. Everything from the home and offices of a Cabinet official, corporate headquarters, and colleges, to major slaughterhouses received the benefit of my steely gaze and wisdom.


Allan Pinkerton’s steely gaze circa 1850.

New Mexico is our 7th state since marriage. Gayle followed along as school and work took me on a trek from Minnesota to Colorado, Nebraska, Indiana, Illinois, and New Jersey. That made the retirement location hers to determine. We bought a motor home and visited (or at least drove through) 40 states before discovering the moderate climate, captivating culture, and enchanting geology of New Mexico; living in a minority Anglo state is good! And, good for us.

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The New Mexico flag salutation: “I salute….the Zia symbol of perfect friendship among united cultures.”

Gayle is mostly-retired as a critical care nurse, having first earned a nursing diploma, and later her BSN and MA degrees.

We’ve traveled during these years, volunteered a bunch, and use the local Y to good effect.

[We asked Bob to tell us a little about how and why he got into cooking]

What drives my cooking, besides thinking that often it’s the only way I’m going to get fed?

In my natal family, we each had to learn how to do everything. Laundry, sewing to repair clothes (darning socks, securing rips and tears, replacing buttons), cleaning house, and… cooking. Plus, of course, house repair, some plumbing, electrical repairs, construction, and basic gardening. It was a broad “domestic education.”

waffle iron

By second grade, I was coming home to an empty house at lunch time and had to fend for myself. My most dramatic lunch involved a decision to make waffles… I found the waffle-iron and plugged it in, got the recipe book and ingredients out and was ready. Except that I had a question. So, I dialed 411 for information, explained my predicament to the operator and asked whether I was to use a teaspoon or a tablespoon of one ingredient. She responded by explaining that if the instruction used a capital letter “T” it required a tablespoon. I thanked her, made excellent waffles, cleaned everything up and returned to school on time! We had little money, and – if memory serves – I made a batch of mapleine syrup (from a powder, mixed with water and heated on the stove – Log Cabin was a sometime-luxury.)

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By the time I was 14 or 15 my parents had moved us to another house and we were renting the first place out to students. Girls. I was often there doing chores, and heard the girls kvetching about their poor cooking skills and resulting lackluster dinners. I offered to make them something nice. They accepted, and we chose a day. I prepared a nice baked chicken dish similar to a cacciatore, except it was baked with milk and or cream, probably half-and-half – my memory is a bit faded. The five girls were delighted.

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Bob back when he met Gayle

Gayle and I share nearly all chores, though we each have specialties (I do any necessary trimming and spraying outdoors, she does everything connected with potted plants). We share cooking and cleaning up. Both of us have a plate-full of volunteer, exercise, and reading activities, and neither one of us wants to make the kitchen a focus of our energies. Here, too, we share, but with specialties. I do very nearly everything concerning the grill (almost all meat and many veggies are grilled), and Gayle does the same regarding our functional salads*. We focus on the goal of tasty and nutritious dishes, with easy preparation and clean-up.

*A functional salad involves real veggies and little lettuce (Editor’s note: see our blog about holding back on lettuce here).  Spinach, onion, sweet peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes combine with others as may be available, and often obviate any “need” for a separate cooked veggie on the plate. Throw chunks of grilled chicken atop one of these salads and a healthy and hearty one-dish meal is created. Continue reading

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