My Tomodach–What My Dad Means To Me

As I sit watching touching stories about dads from all walks of life on CBS Sunday Morning, I find myself remembering my dad and reflecting on what he means to me.

Robert F. WhiteLong before I was even a glint in his eye, my dad served in the military during the Korean Conflict.  He loved the far east–particularly Japan.  And from as far back as I remember my dad called me his tomodach–that’s Japanese for buddy.  That’s what we were–buddies.

From my earliest memories my dad was the center of my world.  If he was sitting in the big, black swivel rocker, I was sitting on his lap.  If he was riding the Wheelhorse tractor around the yard, I was sitting on his lap.  You name it.  Wherever he was, I wanted to be.

My daddy was my very best teddy bear, hairy chest and all.  As I got older, my dad was the best tucker-inner at bedtime.  The last part of our bedtime ritual was my dad pulling the string of the music box that hung on the wall by the door.  I used to love this part so much that on those nights I didn’t fall to sleep right away, I would holler out into the living room that he forgot to play the music box.  I must have not fallen asleep a lot, because my dad added another part to our bedtime ritual.  Right before pulling the string on my musicbox, my dad would say.  “Now don’t say I didn’t ’cause I did.”  Then I would giggle and he’d pull the string.  I don’t remember, but I’m betting I’d still holler that he forgot.

A little older and dad was the chief chicken fryer and leftover disposAll.  My dad made the best fried chicken, ever.  As an adult, I evolved into a good cook, but I can’t even come close to making fried chicken as good as my dad’s.  I probably never will.  And in our house, we weren’t allowed to waste food.  If mom put it on your plate, you ate it–even lima beans.  But Dad was always there to rescue us.  Once Mom got up from the table my sister and I would pass our plates to dad and he’d scoop the food we didn’t like onto his own plate.  I guess he might have still been hungry, I don’t know.  But at the time, he was simply the hero who rescued me from another helping of lima beans.

My dad was also the dad of many platitudes.  If there was a life lesson or a value that needed to be passed along, my dad had a saying that would fit.  Any job worth doing is a job worth doing well.  If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.  These are the two I remember best.  There are others too.  They pop into my head at appropriate moments to remind me of lessons learned.

Robert F. White

Four years ago, in 2008, my dad left on an adventure.  For a while I would say that I lost my father, but as time goes by I realize more and more that he’s not lost, nor am I.  He’s still my tomodach, and my hero, and my teacher, and he’s with me in every thought that I have–not always in the forefront, but he’s there.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Top 10 Reasons That Old Tortoises Separate

I read a story on the internet today about a pair of tortoises, Bibi and Poldi.  According to the story, Bibi and Poldi grew up together and eventually became a tortoise couple They’ve been together for 115 years, until recently that is.  Apparently something has happened to drive a wedge between the romantic reptiles.  As I read the article I found myself dwelling on what might have happened to split up the happy couple.  This is what I’ve come up with:

10.  Poldi finally decided to tell Bibi he didn’t like her vegan meatloaf.

9.  Bibi announced that after 115 years of doing all the cooking it was Poldi’s turn to cook . Poldi said forget it!

8.  Having heard each other’s stories well over 100 times, solitude was better.

7.  After a century of her being a little bit country and him being a little bit rock and roll, they just didn’t want to make music together anymore.

6.  Poldi mistakenly admitted that shell made Bibi look fat.

5.  Both Bibi and Poldi blamed each other for their poor performance during the Comcast auditions, which led to the Slowskys becoming the spokestortoises.

4.  Bibi finally got tired of Poldi flirting with every female zookeeper assigned to the reptile house.

3.  After working up the nerve for the last 100 years, Poldi finally asked Bibi if she would be interested in a three-way.

2.  Bibi announced that she wanted to explore her feelings for the other female tortoise at the zoo.

And the number one reason that tortoises separate?

1.  Poldi caught Bibi secretly reading “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

The Perfect Pork Loin:A Step-By-Step Guide

Bacon Wrapped Smoked Pork Loin

Bacon Wrapped Smoked Pork Loin

This weekend I decided to smoke a boneless pork loin roast–a cut of meat I’ve never prepared in the smoker. Usually pork loins are sliced into chops which can be grilled, baked or fried, or they can be left as roasts and prepared in an oven, crockpot or on the grill.

Pork loins are lower in fat than cuts from the shoulder, but they can still be prepared to  perfection in a smoker. Here’s how!

The night before you plan on smoking your pork loin, you will want to inject the roast with a marinade. This serves two purposes. It adds flavor and helps to keep the meat moist when smoking. Then slather the pork loin with a nice thick paste and rub it all over to help seal in all that marinade. I use a combination of barbecue sauce and mustard. Finally, pat the whole roast with a dry rub mixed with lots of brown sugar to form a nice gooey crust all over. Wrap the roast tightly in plastic and refrigerate it overnight.

On smoking day, you’re going to have to do some backwards math. Remember, smoking is a low and slow method of cooking, so it takes a bit more planning regarding time. You’re going to need between 3-1/2 and 4 hours total time, so make sure to get started early enough.

Soaking Wood ChipsAbout an hour before you want to begin smoking, put your wood chips in a bowl and cover them with water to give them plenty of soaking time. There are a number of different types of wood available, and the type of wood you use is up to you. Some people like to use mesquite with pork. My favorite is a mixture of hickory and cherry woods.

Then 30 minutes before smoking time, fire up your smoker and preheat it to 200 degrees, and pull the pork loin out of the fridge. Wrap one of the smoker racks with aluminum foil. This will help with cleanup later.

Marinated and Rubbed Pork LoinNow you’re ready to unveil the pork loin. After a night in the fridge wrapped up with all those wonderful flavors, your loin is going to look fantastic. Try to remember that it hasn’t been cooked. Sure it looks, good but it’s not tasty yet!

Next you’re going wrap the pork loin with bacon. This will help to keep the roast moist and add another layer of flavor. And finally, insert a temperature Bacon Wrapped Pork Loinprobe into the loin from one end. The worst thing that you can do to a pork loin is to overcook it, so you want to make sure you have a way to monitor the temperature without repeatedly opening up the smoker to check. You don’t want to lose all that great smoke!

Fill the wood chip holder with your soaked chips. Add a mixture of apple juice and water to the water bowl and then slide the roast on the rack into the smoker and shut the door. A three-pound roast should take about 2-1/2 hours. Baste the roast with apple juice 2-3 time during the smoking process. Basting time is perfect to check on that temperature too.  Remember, you don’t want to overcook the roast.

When the internal temperature of the roast reaches 145 degrees you want to pull it out of the smoker. If the bacon is not as brown as you’d like it to be, whip out your handy dandy kitchen blow torch to pretty it up a bit. Then wrap the roast in foil and allow it to rest for 30-60 minutes before slicing.

Bacon Wrapped Smoked Pork Loin

This roast is delicious, beautiful, and certainly suitable to serve to company! You can find the full recipe at Steffani’s Kitchen.

Eating Out or Dining In

Have you ever wondered how much of a premium you pay when you go out for a steak dinner instead of cooking that steak at home?  Well I have, most recently this evening when my husband and I sat down to a couple of Delmonicos grilled to perfection.

We also had a lovely spinach salad with fresh strawberries, hard-boiled egg, and honey mustard dressing.  Baked sweet potato with butter and cinnamon sugar, and sauteed mushrooms.

Fortunately, I still had my grocery receipts so after dinner I sat down and calculated how much our steak dinner cost us.  Here’s what I found:
0.92  Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Egg, and Honey Mustard Dressing
10.41  2-12 ounce Delmonicos
2.14  Sauteed Mushrooms
0.68  Baked Sweet Potato with Butter and Cinnamon Sugar (big enough to share)
1.10  Pop (this is a high estimate–I just used the price of a 2-liter on sale)
That’s a total of $15.25.  That’s right!  $15.25 for a fantastic steak dinner for two!
So how much would we have had to spend if we had gone out for this meal?  Well I knew it was going to be more expensive, but I was surprised when I discovered how much more expensive.
That same meal at a national chain steakhouse like Texas Roadhouse would have cost us $49.56 including tax and tip.  That’s 325% more.  Granted someone else would have cooked the food and washed the dishes, but we would have sacrificed the relaxing, quiet ambiance at home for the overly-loud, peanut-shells-on-the-floor atmosphere at the roadhouse.
So now let’s aim for the ambiance and see what that meal would have cost us at a fine dining restaurant.  Are you ready for this?  At a finer restaurant, that meal would have cost us $77.59 or 509% more.
So the next time your mouth is watering for a delicious steak dinner, think about heading out to the grocery instead of a restaurant.  You can always take those savings and buy a nice bottle of wine to enjoy with your meal!