In Memory of My Dad

January 17, 2012 29 Comments

In Memory of My Dad

January 31, 1922 – January 16, 2012

My Dad passed yesterday just a couple of weeks shy of his 90th birthday. He loved to cook and was not “reluctant” at all to try new ideas in the kitchen. He tried Chinese, Italian, French, but without much success, although his burgers and steaks were terrific.

As a little boy, I loved to stand with him as he started up the grill with charcoal briquettes and a little gasoline, something we would never do today, and watch him cook a steak to perfection. He’s throw a few baked potatoes wrapped in tin foil on the coals and there was our Saturday night meal.

He also loved to make desserts, especially apple pies, and had more variations on Jell-O than anyone I knew. He would make a batch of pudding at night and complain when my brother and I ate most of it the next day when we came home from school.

His had his cooking flaws too especially when it came to seasoning and cooking with wine. If a little was good, a little more was better in his eyes. So a lot of the “experiments” didn’t work out because they were over spiced or tasted too much like wine — and not very good wine I might add.

cartoons cooking with dad

We worked hard around the yard on weekends and he always made us great lunches of fried bologna sandwiches or mini pizzas made with fresh Jersey tomatoes topped with American or Velveeta cheese on Wonder Bread with a little oregano sprinkled on the top and stuck under the broiler until the cheese melted. I can still taste them just thinking about them.

I can picture him during tomato season with a huge plate of sliced tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper, topped with Hellman’s mayonnaise. My Dad could make a meal out of them and often times would.

One of my fondest memories of my Dad in the kitchen was the time we caught a couple of bushels of blue claw crabs down the Jersey shore at my grandfather’s. We brought them home, boiled the lot and started removing the meat. The process was slow especially with a couple of young boys trying to help.

He decided to speed up the process by using a water pic to blow the meat out of the legs and smaller swimming legs. The idea worked but there was crab meat everywhere. When my mom came home and saw small pieces of crab on the ceiling she made him scrub it down and repaint it the following week.

He loved to grow his own vegetables, especially potatoes. When I visited my parents on weekends, he would take me to his garden out back and dig for new potatoes. (In recent years, he carried on this tradition with my two daughters who thought it was like a treasure hunt!)  We would bring them into the house with some other fresh vegetables and fry some fresh flounder or grill some meat and boil the potatoes. This tiny, round, red skinned potatoes were served only with a little butter and salt and pepper. They were incredible!

Somewhere I have on home movies a cooking show he and I produced, directed and starred in on how to make a peppercorn sauce with demi glace. This was years ago, filmed on an old video camera. I think we were imitating the Galloping Gourmet in his early days when he drank wine on the show. We maybe indulged a bit much but we also laughed and laughed while we made one mistake after another. I hope I can find that tape somewhere.

I’ll miss my Dad, heck, I miss him already but I have lots of fine memories of hanging out with him in the kitchen and learning some of my first cooking techniques. Rest in Peace Dad, I love you.

Last modified on Tue 17 January 2012 11:00 pm

Filed in: Opinion

Comments (29)

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  1. David says:

    I’m very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing those memories with us.

  2. karen morgan says:

    I miss him too, hopefully all the boys are together again! I remember your dad’s rhubarb applesauce made from the rhubarb from the farm next door. I can taste those pizza sandwiches too!!! Thinking of you.
    Love Always
    Karen

  3. breabella says:

    Deepest Sympathies, RG.

  4. Ginger V says:

    A very loving tribute, please accept my condolences.

  5. Dave Roberts says:

    My sympathies! I’ve been an orphan for a while and still have occasions when something happens that I’d like to share with my folks.

    Your tribute was marvelous. I’d sure that your Dad would have loved it and would have laughed with you.

  6. Pecantart says:

    What a lovely tribute.
    A great photo too.
    Thanks.

  7. Ibbie says:

    Prayers with you, He sounds remarkable. Maybe you might let us see that “cooking” show you all produced….what wonderful memories.

    Blessings and prayers to you and your family.

  8. jacquie says:

    he sounds like a wonderful person and a good dad. my deepest sympathies for your loss.

  9. Varda Nisar says:

    I am truly sorry for your loss. This is a truly great way to pay respect to the memory of your dad! Loved the post! It was both sweet and beautiful.

  10. Maria says:

    Those memories will be with you forever.

  11. Dave says:

    It sounds like you all loved life and appreciated the time given, though I am sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories!

  12. Maria C. says:

    Very nice memories that will be with you and your family forever. Thank you for sharing . My deepest sympathies.

  13. Lisa says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. Losing my father is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. Hang in there & cherish those memories!

  14. chef ricco says:

    Gary my deepest condolences to you and your family. Having lost my father in 1969, I too can still taste the food he cooked for us. You will have these memories for ever. I think I will make one of those fried bologna sandwiches for lunch today.

  15. maria correa says:

    Hi,

    I am from Brazil and I just discovered your cooking blog and I am enjoying it very much. I recently tried one of the recipes – Cezar Salad. Everybody at home liked it a lot. I am sorry for you lost and thanks for the way you share this moment with us.

  16. Sabina says:

    My condolences for your loss,thank you for sharing yours memories.He now lives in your heart.

  17. stephanie says:

    My deepest sympathies for your loss.

    It sounds like you had some very fun and memorable times with your father and he seems like an inspiration in the kitchen.

  18. joseph malaspina says:

    So Sorry for your loss, lost my dad Jan 21, 1994 had great memories too, my dad made the best fried eggs . I always had a passion for cooking and at 57yrs old went full time to culinary school graduated top of class worked full time gaining experience and now starting me own catering and cooking class business
    keep up the good work and God Bless… Chef Joe

    Thanks for you comments Chef Joe and how cool he started culinary school at that age. Wow! Let’s catch up sometime, I would like to hear about your own experiences teaching people how to cook. – RG

  19. Rhys and Maggie says:

    So sorry to hear of your loss, my friend. Nice to read the sweet tribute. Take care!

    Thanks Rhys and Maggie. We must catch up soon.

  20. Gregg in Hong Kong says:

    What wonderful memories. Thanks for sharing them with us. (And I just stumbled by, Googling “fricassee”!)

  21. ChefJ says:

    Please accept my heartfelt condolences on the loss of your Father. It is very clear what an influence he was to your and nurtured your passion for cooking. My thoughts and prayers to you & yours

  22. Roger Dodd says:

    As we age memories are the best and you have some great ones. May your memories comfort you until you meet again.

  23. Jenni says:

    What wonderful memories, RG. I am so sorry for your loss, but I am happy for you that you have so many rich memories that will only become more precious as the sadness mellows over time. It’s also wonderful that your girls will have and treasure some of those same memories.

    Best to you and your family at this sad time.

  24. Milagritos says:

    Thank you for sharing your Dad’s stories with us, they are lovely. Please accept my sincere condolences for your loss.

    Mum just passed away, and like your dad, was a great cook and always ready to explore new ideas, even well into her old age. I can definitely relate to the crab meat story as mum managed once to plaster our kitchen with kilos of scalding hot, exploding, and very sticky, chicken feet.

    You will have your dad for as long as memories of him are with you.

  25. Mely says:

    Sorry to hear about your loss. What a great deal of memories you have to keep and treasure forever.

    I receive your newsletter by email since 04/08 and always enjoy your writings.

    My prayers are with you and your family.

  26. Annette Hise says:

    My condolences to you. What a legacy your Dad left you with a passion for good food. My Dad’s specialty was breakfast. I remember his trying to warm a loaf of “white” bread in the oven one time with the plastic wrap still on! I too remember fried bologna and tomato sandwiches. Thanks for the memories.

  27. Lisa says:

    I wanted to share my condolences for your loss. What a great tribute for your father, you share your memories beautifully! The charcoal & gasoline reminded me of my Boompa (grandpa) who did the same thing. I never realized how horrible & gas tasting his burgers tasted until he passed & now I would do anything to have one again! Keep looking for that cooking show you did, what fun!

  28. Phyllis says:

    Sending sincere sympathy and thank you for sharing the wonderful memories of your precious father.

  29. MIchelle says:

    Stumbled upon this site and think its great. Sorry for your loss – its hard when you lose a parent but your dad will live forever in your memories!

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