April 8, 2013: Chefs in the House

Ben's grilled masterpiece of burgers and chicken breast
I'm feeling spoiled. People talk about their guilty indulgences...spa treatments, nannies, fancy cars. I just figured out the best indulgence that I hadn't considered before; having a chef in the house. And there has been a byproduct of this household addition. My finicky middle child has surprisingly expanded his culinary palette and skills.

My cousin, Stefano has moved into my house. All who know Stefano will not be surprised to know that he is an excellent chef. I was quickly reminded of this skill as he took over my kitchen the day he moved back.

Stefano moved in the week I had surgery to help me recuperate. Worried that I would pack on some pounds due to lack of exercise, I asked him to help me monitor my calories as he monitored my meds. Recently losing weight himself and at the peak of fitness, he took on this challenge with enthusiasm. The result is that I have actually lost five pounds over the last 3 1/2 weeks. And the food has been amazing!

Tonight was Chicken breast sauteed in olive oil, seasoned with cracked pepper over a bed of fresh greens. Stefano has treated me with Texas style bison chili and perfectly roasted pork loin covered with cabbage and carrots. Every day is a new culinary delight.

Stefano's aptitude in the kitchen, along with Ben's job at Runza, have taken Ben to new dining levels as well. Anyone who knows Ben, knows his typical food choices can be counted on two hands (pizza, chicken strips, wings, cheese bread, pasta, fries, smoothies, bananas, cheeseburgers, mac n' cheese). Needless to say, Ben has come home hungry from many Thanksgiving dinners.

As of late, I have noticed new requests on the grocery list in Ben's handwriting; roast beef, turkey, eggs. Stefano commented to me that he was picking up some fresh bread at Jimmie John's for Ben to make sandwiches. Wow! This may sound normal to you, but it really is a stretch for Ben. I have battled his food restrictions for years, hoping he would either outgrow them or get so hungry that he would finally try new things. Neither happened by age fourteen, so I gave up.

Tonight as Stefano cooked, Ben came downstairs and asked if he could have some chicken breasts and burgers to grill. Hmmm? He then proceeded to rummage through the spice cupboard looking for lemon pepper. Is this really my child? I had never seen him even try a piece of chicken that wasn't breaded and fried or out of a Tyson bag. He then commented that he would bring home some runzas and did we know how good they were?

Yes, Ben, there are a lot great foods out there that you have yet to try. Enjoy your culinary adventure and follow Stefano's lead. You will definitely win over a women's heart with that skill!!

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