I mean no offense to those with busy schedules. I understand the toll today’s world puts on families, but I simply don’t understand why it’s so hard for people to make a nice meal for their family and to sit down and eat together.  I’m at Giant (my local mega chain market), in a lengthy checkout line with my two bottles of $4.59 wine, (relax it’s for cooking) when I can’t help but notice the grocery cart in line ahead of me packed full to the gills. An attractive woman is pushing it along with her three “plump” boys, I’m guessing ages ranging from 7 -13. At first glance, it’s easy to assess that the cart contains nothing found in nature. Prepared frozen foods dominate the cart including a Stouffers frozen spaghetti that the oldest boy digs out and announces to his siblings that this is his dinner choice for the evening. Hungry Mans, frozen pies, frozen French fries, frozen pizzas, Hot Pockets (in 3 flavors) and hamburgers, and the list goes on. Not even a frozen vegetable in the lot. At the bottom of the grocery cart abyss, at long last, was one organic item, packaged and pre-washed baby carrots. The grand finale was a quick rummage through the point of sale items and magazine rack with a quick selection of our country’s finest rags, People, Us and In Style pulling up the rear. Food for her body and mind I surmise.

I’m at a loss to understand why we are so obsessed with Angelina and Brad, Paris’s porno and drug problem and the Alien baby born to Roseanne Barr or, what many women might disagree with me here, with the season’s “it” shoes and “it” bags, but we terminate all education as to what we put into our bodies.  We hold the FDA as gospel. The same people that brought you that wonderful “Best Used Before” dates on dairy products.  Having nothing to do with the freshness of milk but more about ensuring that the American Dairy Farmer can be assured of a product inventory rotation. An idea that everything including Pepsi™ and Coors Light caught on to. Making the USA one of the most repugnant nations for the amount of food we throw out based on a dim-witted date that is for marketing purposes. Really, has anyone ever had a bad can of soda? Now the FDA had an epiphany that we need smaller portions!  (See: http://www.freemarketnews.com/WorldNews.asp?nid=14251)

What brain trust figured this out? Could it be that 64% of the US population is overweight and that 30% of those individuals are vilely obese? It’s not my intention to make fun of this woman at the Giant check-out. I understand in this day and age the absence of time or the national obsession with eating what you want right now. Why is food shopping and the preparation of food considered a chore? The social equivalent of taking out the trash. This bothers me. In European countries food brings family and friends together. It all begins with the conscious preparation of it, shopping for it, preparing it together and sitting down and enjoying the fruit of one’s efforts. To me, life is about breaking bread together, communicating and connecting with the people we care about.

Parents can teach their children to appreciate and hold sacred the ritual of eating well and sharing the whole experience consciously by simple getting the kids to assist in the preparation of the meal and sitting at a dinner table and enjoying it as a family unit. These recipes are my attempt to create a meal in the same or less amount of time it takes to cook a Hungary Man, to provide a level of healthy nutrition and to make a better tasting meal. I’m also sharing a very old long time secret on making wonderful fast pasta sauces. We are what we eat.

Real Salisbury Steak
I’ll be honest and say the first time I made this was a month ago. I must say I awed myself. You’ll be pleased to discover that it tastes infinitely better than the frozen version and is much healthier and very nutritious. Plus it took some doing to perfect, but the sauce will make an old shoe taste good.

Salisbury Steak
1 ¾ lbs Beef, finely ground lean chuck
1 ½ tbs Chives, chopped
2 tbs Onion, finely chopped
2 tbs Red or green bell pepper, chopped
Pinch Paprika
Pinch Thyme
1 clove Garlic, mashed
Sprinkle Seasoned Flour – flour, salt & pepper
Glug Olive Oil
Gloria Swanson Sauce Knock Off
3 tbs Butter
1 tsp Mustard, yellow
¼ cup Tomato ketchup
Pinch Salt
1 tbs Lemon juice
Pinch Black pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Dash Tabasco sauce
Dash Dry sherry wine

For steak: Mix all ingredients together and shape into 6 individual small steaks, about 3/4″ thick. Sprinkle with seasoned flour and brush with olive oil. Broil them for 5 to 6 minutes or more on each side, depending on degree of doneness desired.

For sauce: Melt butter with the rest of the ingredients. Blend well and bring almost to a boiling point. Arrange steaks on a hot platter and pour sauce over them.

Fresh Expeditious Pasta Sauce
This could be the best trick you ever learn, It was for me. Taught to me by the man who was the first to put a knife in my hand, George Herkowicz, (God rest his soul ) Herky (as he was known) learned this in Manhattan as a way to make fast good “gravy” in a minutes notice, say at 2AM when a good patron of the restaurant stumbled in. I modified it over the years and made it a science. You can make a dozens of these ahead of time and freeze them in quart Ziplocs. Use different herb combinations (just parsley, garlic and tomatoes is great!). Make the kids real spaghetti for god sakes.

10 med Tomatoes, ripe
½ med Onion, small
2 tabs Olive Oil
2 tbs Oregano, fresh
2 tbs Basil, fresh
2 tbs Parsley, fresh
1 tbs Thyme, fresh
2 whole Garlic Cloves
1 tbs Butter

When cooking:  Dump everything into a food processor and pulse chop a few times until you get to desired consistency (chunky or smooth). Label and dump into a Ziploc freezer bag and freeze.

To cook: Thaw, place in saucepan with butter and bring to boil, Add 1 packet of Splenda™ ( this works better than anything I ever use is cutting acid) and stir in 2 tablespoon of tomato paste. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. You now have your base and you can go in any number of directions:

For Pasta Sauce – Add one 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes (use may have to add one more packet of Spenda™ to cut the acid here.

For Poor Man’s Bolognese – add 1 pound of ground beef and one 14oz can of tomatoes.
Simmer for 30 minutes

For Faux Marinara– add ½ cup of red with and one 14oz can of tomatoes

For Vodka Pink Sauce– add 2 shots of Vodka and stir in slowly ¼ cup of heavy cream (room temperature) May want to hold off on this for the kids… Experiment here with different herbs. You’ll find your owned favorite blend Try turkey instead of beef. Do a few “squares” (as I call them) with just Tomatoes, Basil and Olive oil. Longer simmering will yield less but make a more intense sauce. It may be broken down with water, wine or my favorite, V8™.

High-Speed Beef and Noodles
Easy, Kids love this and you can make it ahead of time. Sneak another vegetable in there or two to get them to get a full nutritional dinner.. What they don’t know won’t hurt’em.

8 oz Egg noodles
2 Beef bouillon cubes
1 can Mushroom soup
5 med Mushrooms, chopped
½ stick Butter
½ lb Ground beef lean

Boil noodles according to cooking instructions. Add bouillon cubes to boiling water (follow directions on bouillon cube jar). Pan fry ground beef in a skillet with mushrooms and drain. Drain noodles. Mix together noodles, butter, mushrooms, ground beef and soup. Salt and pepper to taste. Since soup is condensed, taste before adding salt.

by Brian L. Lichorowic
Copyright 2010 The Pull My Finger Gourmet

Brian L. Lichorowic is the fourth of six generations of kindred restaurateurs who grew up believing it was normal to debone and portion 500 chickens every Wednesday after school. Working in his family’s 1500 seat, 4 diamond restaurant his entire childhood with classically trained Chefs, Mr. Lichorowic continued his culinary education into adulthood, and attended the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) and professional instruction in Paris, France. He is also trained in Molecular Gastronomy.

His culinary passion is healthy cooking, and incorporating / using local foods emphasizing the importance of sustainability by using ingredients from local farms and butchers into his original seasonal recipes.    Mr Lichorowic’s idiosyncratic style of healthy cooking and his appreciation of the nutritional role of food as fuel for the body has led him to many culinary adventures.

Mr. Lichorowic is a 3 time people’s choice winner of the Virginia CASI sponsored Chili Cook-Offs, and is a published food writer and guest speaker in national and local media and recently won the Washington Post 2010 Tomato recipe contest, proving the fact that he needs to get a life.