Lesson learned?


When my dad retired from the Coast Guard, he was a Master Chief. This is equivalent to Master Chief in the Navy and Master Sergeant in the Army and Marines.

But compared to those other branches, the Coast Guard is tiny, so the number of MC’s (Master Chief) is also much smaller.

Besides his job of blacksmithing as a Coastie, he was also the guy who jumped from a helicopter into the ocean during hurricanes to rescue stupid, thoughtless people who should never have been out in the first place. That movie “The Perfect storm” makes me so mad! I mean George Clooney and all, but why were they out there? It wasn’t even one storm. It was three!

Sorry, really proud of my dad and angry that he risked his life on a regular basis for fools …


And I, being raised in hangers and on various aircraft, assumed the whole of the Coast guard was like this — guys who flew.

Oh contraire, Gentle Reader.

The overwhelming percentage of folks on boats means that my dad advanced in the military to a rank with maybe only 25 or so other E9 Airedales or what flyboys are called in the USCG.

So you might imagine that even though my dad is a secret softie who regularly weeps at tire commercials, growing up he could be an intimidating, military presence. Until they got to know him, every boy I ever brought home was petrified of him, and honestly, he did nothing to provoke their abject terror … I promise.

But it was pretty hilarious to watch.

He wasn’t harsh or overly strict, but he expected certain things from us.

We didn’t have to win every game or get all A+’s, but we had to always try our best.

We had to be kind and protective to all those (including furry thoses) weaker than ourselves.

We had to admit our screw-ups, own them, apologize for them and mean it, fix them, and no excuses allowed.

So, here goes, Gentle Raeder.

Before I worked, I sometimes thought less than charitable thoughts toward people who say they have no time to cook.

Oh, c’mon! I’d think.

Cooking takes no time. Cook a little rice, open a can of beans, maybe bake a couple of pork chops — dinner in less than 45 minutes. Cooking should be the place to calm yourself and re-energize.

Now I can easily work 50-60 hours a week, and most days don’t get home until at least 8:30 p.m. and could be as late as 9:30 or 10.

You know what I want to do when I get home?

Get a shower, then eat.

I don’t want to spend 4.5 minutes, let alone 45 minutes, on dinner.

And I only have to worry about putting food in my body.

I can’t even imagine having a hungry family to deal with too.

I hate having judged people without having stood in their shoes or knowing their stories. As tight as things were sometimes, it was still a privilege to be able to stay home and not have to work outside the home to survive.

So what do I eat?

My meals these days are a lot of salads, some made by me, and the occasional Cobb salad from Chick-fil-A, which is way, way, way better than any fast-food salad should be.

(*Pro tip: Get it with cold grilled chicken. The crust on fried gets soggy, and hot wilts the lettuce.)

My go-to salad I’ve been eating a lot of lately is Greenhouse Crunch lettuce, roasted chick peas, red onion, dried pineapple, farmer’s cheese from the Chapel Hill Creamery, and some soft hard-boiled eggs. All topped with lemon salad dressing, or if I have an avocado, lemon juice, and chopped avocado.

Speaking of avocado … I proudly admit I love avocado toast and eat it every chance I get.

Truckloads of scrambled eggs. Sometimes with hash browns, usually with those cauliflower cakes from Trader Joes I told you about.

I buy tuna from Costco in a half case.

I have about 27 jars of jelly and plenty of peanut butter in the cabinet.

I have a variety of deli meat in the freezer.

Sandwiches with veggie tots or if I’m feeling dangerous, chips.

And takeout.

But posing as a responsible, aging adult means trying to do that in a reasonably healthy way, so the box in the microwave holds steamed Chinese dumplings with white meat chicken.

French fries don’t heat up well anyway.

Cooking and eating the way I currently do makes it hard sometimes to write a cooking column. But despite the struggle, I will try to write something for you every week, Gentle Reader.

Even if it’s 850 words whining about how my dream job, writing a newspaper column, is hard.

Thanks for your time.