Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Chefing It Up Garbanzo Style


And if I go
While you're still here...
Know that I live on,
Vibrating to a different measure
-behind a thin veil you cannot see through, 
You will not see me, 
So you must have faith.
 I wait for the time when we can soar together again,
-both aware of each other.
Until then, live your life to its fullest.
And when you need me,
Just whisper my name in your heart,
...I will be there.
~ Author Unknown

My neighbor, Joe, invited me to join him and his visiting mom for dinner and some board game fun this evening at his house.  In my ever-present quest of being a gracious guest, I want to bring a dish.  When I asked Joe what I could bring, he said, "Nothing."  "Just my dazzling self?" I quipped back in question.  He laughed and replied, "Yep, that's it."

Chef Boomer w/Sous Chef Dara on spuds - 2007
Boomer enjoyed cooking.  I recently pulled out his recipe box and went through every piece he had stashed.  I was amazed at the number of salmon recipes he had collected.  Boomer doesn't like salmon; I, however, love it.  Go figure.  That's my guy.  Salmon was 2nd behind chicken, the other protein, of the mass clippings he'd collected over the years.  I pitched most of the recipes and saved several, one in particular I had specifically been wanting to track down. 

Boomer liked to cook.  I like to eat and enjoy trying new things.  This discovery we shared between us was another early indicator that we were a great match.  Overtime we defined our roles as a team in the kitchen to play to our respective strengths - - Boomer cooked, I set the table, ate, and cleaned up.  We worked well this way.

One of my earliest samplings of Boomer's culinary talents was this festive little summer salad he brought as part of a pic-nic dinner for our first outdoor concert together at Ravinia where we heard Chris Isaak perform.  He called it Mediterranean Salad.  It was a colorful mixture of garbanzo beans, tomato, cucumber, mozzarella cheese, and black olives tossed in a light Italian dressing.   Pretty to look at, relatively healthy to eat, and very, very tasty.   It became an instant favorite of mine.  Boomer was the only one who made it.  My non-chefing self was in constant awe of how creative, delicious and easy it was.  It took two years before Boomer finally fessed up where his inspiration for Mediterranean Salad came from - - the back of a can of Progresso garbanzo beans.

Currently, I'm big into salads and soups as my meal mainstays.  They're easy to put together; I can bulk-batch multiple meals, and/or freezing for future consumption.   My eyes watered up, which I know, is soooo easy to do these days, when I found the clipping I'd been searching for in the recipe box - - the back of a Progresso can.  

Today is fitting for Mediterranean Salad.  The weather here today is like summer, and Boomer liked Joe; they're similar in their quiet, laid-back demeanor, generosity, and subtle wit.  Only major difference is that Joe likes board games and doesn't drink.   It's the first time I'm having Mediterranean Salad not prepared by Boomer.  I am however, taking his lead in "putting my own twist on it" as he'd like to say and do with most recipes, I swapped out out cheese for tofu. It's marinating in the fridge, ready for it's tasting debut. 

Mediterranean Salad SMO style
While it will never taste like Boomer's salad, his special love essence isn't there as it once was, it will have a new flavor.  One that highlights the seasoning of me taking another step in my own ascension to live on and tell this expanded story, forever whispering Boomer's name in my heart - - for that is where he always is.  

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