Posted by Robert on July 23rd, 2007

Food For Thought

“If I was a doughnut, I‘d eat myself.”

Those words were spoken by my six-year old son as I sat watching him eat doughnuts yesterday. Our family talks about food a lot. My daughter talks about what we should have for supper while we are eating lunch. It’s genetic.

“Daddy, Jesus is like a doughnut hole.”

“How is that, son?”

“Well, a heart is like a doughnut. It can have a hole in it. But Jesus is like a doughnut hole. He can fill the hole in your heart.”

No seminary necessary, just one year of kindergarten. How could I argue with that? It’s doughnut logic. I am not sure if they are teaching food-related Sunday school lessons at our church, but the sugar-fueled religious philosophy is getting through in the First United Church of Krispy Kreme.

Many of the world’s problems are being solved over newsprint, coffee, and a few dozen glazed, every morning in doughnut shops all across the country. It’s the same with my family.

I guess it’s mostly my fault that a lot of my family’s thoughts and plans are centered around food, though it is food that often brings families together.

A few years ago I wrote a column about the five tenets I have tried to incorporate into my daily life— faith, family, friends, food, and fun, in that order. My wife and I have structured our parenting philosophy around those principles.

When I speak to large groups or associations, I always cover the Five Fs, one-by-one, in great detail. When I reach the food part, people tend to chuckle. But food is serious stuff. I am not talking about treating food seriously as so many of the stuffy food scholars and historians do, but the simple process of sharing a meal with family and friends. That, my friends, is a dwindling ritual that is seriously needed.

As a society we have gotten too used to pulling up to a drive-through window, picking up a paper sack of food, taking it home, and eating it on a TV tray in front of the TV. That’s not supper.

When I was growing up, moms came to back doors and yelled, “Supper,” and everyone ran to the dinner table. Today a mom yells “Supper” from the back door and everyone hops into the mini van.

We have lost something through the years. For my family, the simple process of sitting down— television off— and sharing a meal is one of the most important parts of our day. In addition to being able to share our outlook and experiences with our children, we get to listen.

Listening within families is underrated. There is so much to hear, from serious cases of schoolyard drama and hiccups in the social interaction process to statements such as, “Daddy, do you want to feel my booty muscles?”

“No, son, I do not.”

Three years ago I began writing down a lot of the things my children were saying with the intent of publishing a book. The most recent entry: “What time is eight-seven-central?”

Of the seven books I have written so far, this would be the only one that wrote itself. Many of the quotes are about food, some are just food related.

My wife was walking through the grocery store the other day and turned down an aisle just in time to see our son approach a perfect stranger, “Hey, do you want to smell my nose air?” he asked, as he tilted his head back and quietly blew air out of his nostrils. Seconds earlier, he had sprayed Febreze air freshener directly into his nose. Funny enough, his dry, exhaled “nose air” did smell like lavender and vanilla.

Now if I could just come up with some food-related advice that would make him wear underwear.

Shrimp Harrison

2 lbs. 21-25 Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, freshly ground
3 TBSP Olive Oil
2 cups Mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 tsp Garlic, minced
1/2 cup White Wine
1 Tbl White Vinegar
1/4 cup Chicken Broth
1 cup Caramelized Onions
3/4 cup Unsalted Butter, cut into small cubes
2 Tbl Parsley. Freshly chopped

1 Recipe Really Rich Grits

Season the shrimp with the salt, Old Bay Seasoning and black pepper.

Place the olive oil in a large, heavy duty sauté pan over high heat. Heat the oil until it just begins to smoke. Carefully place the shrimp in the smoking hot pan. Allow the shrimp to cook without moving them for 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp and hold them in a warm place.

To the shrimp skillet, add the white wine and vinegar and reduce until there is almost no liquid remaining. Add in the chicken broth and cook until only one tablespoon remains. Add the butter cubes and stir constantly until butter has dissolved, being careful not to cook too long (if you cook it too long at this stage, the butter will separate).

Add the caramelized onions and warm shrimp back into the pan and stir so that the sauce coats the shrimp. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

Place 3/4 cup of cooked grits into each serving dish, top the grits with the shrimp and serve immediately.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Caramelized Onions*

2 Tbl Unsalted Butter
3 cups Yellow Onion, thinly slice
1 tsp Kosher Salt

Melt butter over medium-low heat in a large sauté pan. Add onions and salt to the melted butter. Cook onions for 15-20 minutes, stirring them often to prevent burning. The onions should continue cooking until a rich brown color is obtained.

Really Rich Grits

1 quart heavy whipping cream
1 cup grits
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into cubes
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 275 degrees

Stir together the cream, grits, salt pepper and bay leaf.
Place the mixture in an oven proof baking dish and cover. Bake for2 1/3-3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.

Once the grits are soft and creamy, stir in the butter cubes and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.


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