You May Be Surprised By This

Originally posted, April 22nd, 2011

Hello Again Friends,

Our planet is so beautiful.

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write another column. Many of you were probably not even sure (or possibly hoping) that I’d ever write again. Well, I’m back and my plan is not to let this slip again. That’s right, for better or worse, I’m going to be a blogging fool over the next several months.

So what drew me back to writing, aside from my own vanity? Well, as many of you may know, today is Earth Day. Being the head chef of an eco-friendly catering company, most people think I’d be a huge proponent of this pseudo-holiday. And yes, I do appreciate the efforts made on this day to make the world a better place. But, honestly, I’m not Earth Day’s biggest fan.

“What!!! How can he say that!! What a hypocrite!! He looks funny too!!”

In many regards, you’re right on all counts. (Except for the looking funny part, I prefer “unique”) But let me explain my thinking. I feel Earth Day shouldn’t be a holiday at all.

Every day should be Earth Day!

I know, total bumper sticker fodder, but it’s true. Instead of focusing one day a year on trying to gather everyone together to promote extreme measures of how to help the planet, how about we all look within ourselves and see what little steps we can make each day, week, month or year to make this a better place to live.

Listen, I totally get that I sound all “holier than thou” right now. But my intention is exactly the opposite. What I’m saying is, live your lives. Do the things that make you happy. You don’t have to make your lifestyle do a complete 180 to make things better. If you want to do that, great! The planet will be better for it. But for most people simple steps are sometimes the best steps.

Beautiful produce at a local farm stand.

Here are few of my favorite, food related, examples:

--Patronize Local Farmers: Virtually every community in the county has a farmers market and there are also several stands selling local produce. Buying locally helps cut the carbon emissions from the transport of produce while supporting our local economy. Not to mention, their products are almost always better. It’s also not expensive. Just this morning I went to one of the stands I frequent and bought two heads of lettuce, several squash and three bunches of baby carrots, all as fresh and beautiful as can be, for just $16. What a deal. For a list of stands or farmer’s markets in your area, check out the San Diego County Farm Bureau.

--Start Your Own Garden: It doesn’t have to be a large one and you don’t have to have a green thumb. If you have a large yard, great, go nuts. But tomatoes, bell peppers and strawberries can be grown even on a small deck. No deck? Fine. Many fresh herb plants will grow well right in a windowsill. You’ll be helping the environment, your food will taste better for it and you’ll be proud to say, “I grew this myself”.

Sun Chips. Delicious and eco-friendly

--Minimize Waste By Choosing Better Packaging: Let’s face it, you’re probably not going to be able to buy everything you eat each week from local farms. (Although that would be fantastic) You’re going to have to visit the local supermarket from time-to-time. That means you’ll be buying food in some sort of packaging. While this is necessary, you can minimize the affect on the planet by buying products with packaging using recyclable, reusable or biodegradable materials. For example, Sun Chips now come in a compostable bag that completely breaks down in 14 weeks. If you have to buy something that comes in a non-recyclable container, pick items without excess packaging. Less waste equals less effect on the environment.

--Frequent Green Restaurants: There are lots of great restaurants in town that follow green business practices while serving delicious food that is sustainable, locally grown. Many of these restaurants are more than happy to extort their green practices right on their websites. You can also check out Dinegreen.com for a list of eco-friendly establishments.

The truth is, there are hundreds of things we could be doing to make the planet a better place to live. But they’re not all for everyone. It’s great to do as many as possible but, by choosing even just one you’re helping to make the Earth a little greener. Just stand by it every day. Not just one day a year.

Thanks for reading.

Chef Tom

I’m back baby...With a brand new recipe

October 20th, 2012

Hello Again Friends,

I want to thank the Walrus 105.7 and Nolan & Kim for allowing me to stop by with a little morning soup for them on Monday. They returned the favor by giving EVERGREEN a little shout out on air, which was much appreciated. (Whom am I kidding; I knew very well that their collective stomachs drive the radio industry, so I decided to take advantage of that.)

I got rave reviews on the soup and several requests for the recipe. So here it is in all it’s glory. I hope you enjoy it.

EVERGREEN CUISINE'S Thai-Inspired Roasted Corn & Chicken Chowder

Thai-Inspired Roasted Corn & Chicken Chowder

3 tbls Olive Oil

1 tsp Cumin

3 tsp Red Curry, (you can find this in the Asian section of most stores)

4-5 cloves Garlic, Minced

1 Medium, Sweet Onion, Diced

3 Ears of Corn

1 Medium Sweet Potato, Diced (these are the yellow ones)

1 Medium Yam, Diced (these are the orange ones commonly confused with sweet potatoes)

1 14-oz Can of Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes

1/3 cup Chopped Roasted Green Chiles

1 qt Chicken Stock

1 14-oz Can of Coconut milk

2 cups Shredded Cooked Chicken (to make this easy, you can use chicken pre-roasted from the store or you can cook and shred the chicken yourself. I also have a great way to get really, nicely shredded chicken if you’d like to email me)

3 tbls Cilantro, Chopped

Coarse Salt, Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste

Granulated Sugar, if desired, to taste

So, there you have it. If you have any questions, are in need of a few helpful tips or would like to request any of my other recipes. Please, feel free to email me.

Have a wonderful week and thanks for reading,

Chef Tom

Comfort Food Month-Recipe #1

November 7th, 2011

Hello Again Friends,

If you read my last blog post, (or if you’ve met, spoken to or just seen me for that matter) you know I love comfort food.

“So what does that mean to me? Once again you’re posting about you. You, you, you. It’s always about you. Would you get over yourself already!” –Random Reader

What November looks like most everywhere aside from San Diego

Sorry, you’re right. Instead, let’s talk about something I think we can all agree on. That this is the ultimate month for comfort food.

It’s true. November should seriously be subtitled “Comfort Food Month”. Think about it. It’s just starting to get chilly, the leaves have mostly gone from the trees and snow might even start to fall. (Well everywhere else but here, that is. I mean we live in San Diego. November to us means we might have to consider switching from flip-flops to sneakers). This is the perfect time of year for the warm, soothing goodness that comfort food provides.

And, while all that’s true, the most obvious reason why this is “Comfort Food Month” is that November contains the ultimate comfort food holiday...Thanksgiving.

So with the big-time eating holiday just weeks away, I thought this would be a good time to pass along a few of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. So without, further ado, let’s start with “Comfort Food Month” recipe number one.

Cornbread, Apple & Sausage Stuffing

EVERGREEN CUISINE'S Cornbread, Apple & Sausage Stuffing

non-stick cooking spray

1 lb Pork Sausage (Or whatever sausage you like. I've even used vegetarian sausage)

1 Cup Onions-Chopped

1 Cup Celery-Chopped

3 1/2 Cups Apples-Coarsely Chopped

3/4 Cup Walnuts-Chopped

2 Tsp. Ground Ginger (Better yet, use fresh ginger and finely grate it)

2 Tbls. Fresh Sage-Minced

1/4 Tsp. Salt

1/8 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Package (16 oz.) Cornbread Stuffing Crumbs (Or better yet, make your own cornbread and use instead)

1 Cup Apple Cider

There you have it, the first of my recipes for “Comfort Food Month”. I’ll be back next week with another as we build toward Thanksgiving. Please let me know if there’s a recipe you’d like to request or if you have any questions.

Have a wonderful week and thanks for reading,

Chef Tom

Comforting Thoughts

September 3rd, 2011

Hello Again Friends,

Last year, about this time, I made my first venture into the blogging world on this site. Oh sure, I’d written several things in my former career. But this was the first time I was planning to post something that wasn’t almost entirely sports related.

Can you believe Chef Tom wrote a food blog about football?

I stressed about what I would write for days. After all, this was a new start for me. It was a new business and, pretty much, a new way of expressing myself.

Should I write about how helping the environment?

Do I post one of my favorite recipes?

Should I share the experiences that shaped my culinary point of view?

It was a much tougher decision then I ever expected.

So where did it all end up? Talking football, of course. (You can check it out in the Blog Archive)

That’s right, the guy who departed the sports radio business went to his comfort zone and wrote a “food” blog about the upcoming NFL season. Way to move your life along, right?

A great sunset can be very comforting

Well, here’s the thing.

I think most of us, when we’re stressed, return to our comfort zone. Whether it’s an actual place or just a state of mind. It reminds us of good times gone by. Old friends and family that, maybe, we haven’t seen or spoken with in years. Talking football is one of those comforting things for me. I’ve done it with my family and friends since I was a kid and had the good fortune for many years to do it as a career.

The funny thing is, I think food affects us in exactly the same way. Just like that favorite old comfy chair or a familiar spot to watch a sunset on the beach can stir your emotions. So can one of your most loved meals. It’s called comfort food for a reason. And it doesn’t matter if it’s something as simple as a grilled cheese sandwich or something as formal as a fine aged filet. If it brings back memories, you will gravitate to that dish during difficult times.

Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Comfort food at it's best

For me, that dish is meatloaf. Not an intricate and/or fancy one. Just a simple meatloaf with mashed potatoes and it absolutely has to be served with ketchup. You’d think a chef who works with so many fantastic ingredients on a daily basis might fall back on something a little more elegant. But just one slice of that meaty, oniony (say what you want, I think that’s a word) goodness, somewhere deep down, reminds me of my mother making me that dish when I was young. One bite and the world just seems like a better place.

So, yes, I did fall back into my old ways when pressed. But, I say, what’s wrong with that? Especially when there seem to be so many concerning issues springing up every day around the world. From wars and tsunamis to the economy and the Chargers possibly leaving town (yeah, like I wasn’t going to mention football somewhere in this). With all we seem to be faced with every day, what’s wrong with putting on that old, torn t-shirt or tracking down that sappy song from the 80’s? Or writing a food blog about football?

Never be ashamed of what makes you feel better about yourself and the world around you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some ground beef that’s calling my name.

Thanks for reading.

Chef Tom

When Salmon Isn't Salmon

June 22nd, 2011

Hello Again Friends,

Fresh and delicious pacific salmon

Ah, yes. It’s summertime and the living is easy! Welcome to Summer everyone. The season for trips to the beach, the fair, thoroughbred season at Del Mar. Good food, good friends and good times. What’s not to love about Summer in San Diego?

But, by far, my favorite thing about summer, food-wise anyway, is it’s the only time of year we get to delight in fresh, delicious Pacific Salmon! Which is by far my favorite fish, not only to use in a variety of dishes, but also to enjoy on my own plate.

“Wait a minute! What are you talking about! I go to the store all the time and there’s always fresh salmon in the fish case.”

Well, that is true, but if you’re seeing salmon in your local mega-mart any time from the months of November through April and it’s listed as “fresh”, it’s almost certainly what’s called “Atlantic” salmon.

“So what! Salmon is salmon you pretentious food snob!”


Lots of fish in a small pen. And this is just one of many

Salmon is salmon?...Absolutely not!!

You’ll have to excuse me here as I get a little “technical”.

All “Atlantic” salmon is a farmed fish. They’re mostly bred and raised in pens sometimes containing as many as 500,000 to 750,000 fish in a space the size of four football fields. Many times, it’s even more fish in a smaller space. Since salmon are carnivorous but these can't hunt in this space, they are fed pellets that are made mostly from fishmeal and fish oil. Many times antibiotics are also added to help keep the fish healthy since they have so many in such a small area. The eating of these pellets turns their flesh a grayish color.

“Now hold it right there! I’ve seen Atlantic salmon in the store and it’s always pink!”

Thanks...I don’t know why you feel the need to keep butting in...but you are right. The fish you see in the store does have a pink color to it’s meat. But that’s because a pink food coloring is also added to feed to make the fish look appetizing.

The result is a meat that is not as firm, doesn’t have near the flavor, or for that matter, the health benefits of it’s wild cousin. Farmed salmon are usually more fatty and contain less of the Omega 3 oils than Pacific salmon.

Salmon where it should be. In the wild

I’ve heard many people say they don’t like salmon. I’m convinced that many of these people have only eaten the farmed version of the fish and not the more delicious, wild version.

And the quality of the fish isn’t the only problem with “Atlantic” salmon. Many of these farms cause pollution and are worries for the transfer of disease to other fish.

Pacific salmon, meanwhile, is almost always wild caught, with a firm, delicious meat that is pink to red from it’s diet of krill and crustaceans (not pellets). It’s great grilled, pan seared, baked, smoked and even poached.

And we’re in the middle of the best time of year for it so it’s going to be fresh!!

Loch Duart. Sustainably farmed salmon

Now it sounds like I’m against all farmed salmon. And, while that is mostly true, there are a few farms around the world that do things the right way. There are a handful of salmon farms that are certified as sustainable giving people the chance to enjoy their favorite fish all year round. Among those are Washington based Aqua Seed Corp. and Loch Duart in Scotland.

As I’ve stated in a earlier post, Whole Foods Markets do a great job of labeling their seafood with all the information you need to find out where it is on the Seafood Watch List as well as how it made it to the market (Including if it comes from a sustainable farm). If your store doesn’t give you the same information, ask. They should be able to tell you where their seafood comes from. If they can’t...DON’T BUY FROM THEM.

Yes it takes a little work but, believe me, you’re taste buds will know the difference.

So, again, happy Summer everyone. Enjoy your barbecues, pool parties and trips to the park. Me, I’ll be doing all those things as well. But right now, I’m going to bask in the joy from my favorite seafood. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a beautiful piece of sockeye to get to.

Until next time:

Thanks for reading.

Chef Tom

May Recipe

May 25th, 2011

Hello Again Friends,

I’ve been way overdue on posting a new recipe here on the blog. Why? Other than procrastination (big surprise there), honestly, there is no good reason. Mostly, it’s due to my lack of decisiveness as to which recipe to pass along. One day I'm going to write about this one. The next it's another. I just couldn't decide. That was until I recently received an email that made my decision clear:

Dear Chef Tom,

I recently attended a wedding catered by your company Evergreen Cuisine. I thought you did an exceptional job with the food and I would definitely recommend you to all my friends and family. As I am writing you to express my pleasurable experience, I really want to know if you could share the recipe for your BLT bites? They were amazing!!! Just as your website says…”All the flavors of a classic BLT in one Luscious bite”. It took me right back to my youth. I never expected to enjoy a stuffed cherry tomato like I did that day. I went home and told all my friends about it. So……..Chef Tom, are you willing to share???

S. Jennings

It would be my pleasure and thank you for the wonderful compliments.

Before we get started, I’d like to let you know this recipe seems ridiculously simple, but believe me, it’s incredibly difficult and labor intensive. I wouldn’t even attempt it if I were you. You should just hire me to make them for you. (Wink, Wink)

Seriously, it’s an easy and delicious dish that packs a lot of flavor in a small package and I think you’ll enjoy it.

"Enough already, just get to it!!"--Annoyed Reader

You're right, I do tend to ramble. So, without further ado, here's EVERGREEN CUISINE"S recipe for:

All the taste of a BLT in one bite

BLT Bites

Makes 30 Pieces

30 Cherry Tomatoes (1 to 1 ½ Pints)

4 Slices of Bacon

2 Green Onions (Minced)

1 Tablespoon Italian Parsley (Minced)

¼ Cup Panko Bread Crumbs

¾ Cup Mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard

½ Teaspoon Salt

¼ Teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper

So there you have it. Feel free to e-mail me (ChefTom@evergreencuisine.com) if you have any questions or if you’d like to request another recipe. I love talking food and I’m always willing to help in any way I can.

Until next time:

Thanks for reading.

Chef Tom

For previous posts, see our Blog Archive.

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