Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Attempting to Understand Things

Sometimes as beings it is hard to understand the path that we should take or the path that fate has chosen for us....

I understand that for some of us the path is long and lonely, and for others that lonely path is filled with love and compassion with any understanding that we may have...

There is love that I have had and never really lost that is confused on what part of the road they need to travel...

Carrying on the spirit and essense of our love is what is the most important, love is not always the most prominent issue in our life, but without compassion we would never feel love...I am sorry for those that fail to recognize this issue...and it really is an issue...

My life has taken many phases and many crazes and for those that know me they understand...

Drugs, Alcohol, me losing Jamie and ultimately just being a severely whacked out Chef that feels guilty for taking out any time for himself because he is buried in his "world"...

So where is the happiness?

The happiness is in where your heart is.

Sometimes my heart is in North Carolina, a lot of times it is in Tennessee, all the time it is in Virginia (with my family), it goes to West Virginia with my daughter and my passed soulmate, it is with the woman in Okinowa that polished my boots 20 years ago, it is with the woman tonight that was practically crying because she needed a job cuz her boss was a dick...

No Passion, No Love....

I guess that what I am trying to say is that no matter how barren the straits may be, you can always find a flower or a butterfly or a symbol that makes us realize there is so much more to life than this...

So if you are happy...look at Tibet and despise aggression...if you are sad...look at Philadelphia and do something to help an unfortunate child...if you are confused....put yourself in the Dalai Lama's shoes....if you hate life....then look at how fortunate you really are...

Life is good....make a difference, your problems aren't that big...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Me and Greg checking out a whole cattle that we just picked up from the processing plant. This cattle was raised by one of my best friends Greg Tonkin in Mineral Point, WI

Those of you that know me well enough know that I do not participate in the chain emails or any of the other crap that people choose to send around the internet whether true or not.

I got this email and it really struck a nerve with me, especially since some of my best friends are farmers in North and South Carolina, Wisconsin and Virginia. The problems that the American Farmers are facing is ridiculous, facing issues that are dealing with everything from the prices of corn and grains, to having difficulty in turning product around. I don't know any rich farmers, they are struggling with the economy just like the rest of us and when people are looking elsewhere especially outside of America, I kinda get pissed off.

I wish that there was a way to beat the Eat Local philosophy into some peoples heads.

Anyway, here is the letter from Dr. Forrest. Please feel free to copy and paste and send out to your friends.

Chef Mike

MUST Read about McDonalds


I'm sure those of you who aren't in the cattle
business don't understand the issues here. But to those of us
whose living depends on the cattle market,selling cattle, raising the best beef possible... This is frustrating.

This will keep us from ever stopping there (McDonalds) again, even for a drink.

The original message is from the Texas Cattle Feeders Association
American cattle producers are very passionate about this.

McDonald's claims that there is not enough beef in the USA to support their
restaurants. Well, we know that is not so. Our opinion is they are looking
to save money at our expense. The sad thing of it is that the people of the
USA are the ones who made McDonald's successful in the first place, but we
are not good enough to provide beef.

We personally are no longer eating at McDonald's, which I am sure does not
make an impact, but if we pass this around maybe there will be an impact

All Americans that sell cows at a livestock auction barn had to sign a paper
stating that we do NOT EVER feed our cows any part of another cow. South
Americans are not required to do this as of yet.

McDonald's has announced that they are going to start importing much of
their beef from South America . The problem is that South Americans aren't
under the same regulations as American beef producers, and the regulations
they have are loosely controlled.

They can spray numerous pesticides on their pastures that have been banned
here at home because of residues found in the beef. They can also use
various hormones and growth regulators that we can't. The American public
needs to be aware of this problem and that they may be putting themselves at
risk from now on by eating at good old McDonald's..

American ranchers raise the highest quality beef in the world and this is
what Americans deserve to eat. Not beef from countries where quality is
loosely controlled. Therefore, I am proposing a boycott of
McDonald's until they see the light.

I'm sorry but everything is not always about the bottom line, and when it
comes to jeopardizing my family's health, that is where I draw the line.

I am sending this note to about thirty people. If each of you send it to at
least ten more (30 x 10 = 300) and those 300 send it to at least ten more
(300 x 10 = 3,000) ... and soon, by the time the message reaches the sixth
generation of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers!

I'll bet you didn't think you and I had that much potential, did you? Acting
together we can make a difference. If this makes sense to you, please
pass this message on..

David W. Forrest, Ph.D ., PAS, Dipl.
ACAP Department of Animal Science
Texas A&M University
Phone (979) 845-3560
Fax (979) 862-3399
2471 TAMU College Station , TX 77843-2471

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Speaking out on Carbs, Proteins and Fad Diets

I decided that this was one issue that I really had to discuss. This subject
matter is two-fold, one to answer an email sent in by someone asking me about
dieting, more specifically about Low Carb Diets, and secondly as a topic for an
upcoming discussion in my Nutrition and Diet Therapy Class. I am not going to take
an official stance on low carb diets, it is of little importance if I support them
or not, but I just want to add some subjective and objective insights and some
miscellaneous information about carbohydrates and our diets.

Before I get into particulars about our diets there are a couple
important points that I need to stress.

First, and most importantly, if you are going to make any drastic
changes to your diet, PLEASE CONSULT A PHYSICIAN!!!!
A drastic change
in your diet can prove to be more harmful than helpful. I am not a
physician, dietician, nutritionist or food scientist, but I know about food and I care about people.
Bottom line.

So before taking mine or someone
else's advice
please consult a physician or other qualified medical professional.

Secondly-and if you are dieting, it is just as important-we must
understand that a diet is just that. A diet. It takes time and
dedication to make any sound dieting program successful, sometimes it
is not what you eat it is how smart you eat.

One thing that I am glad to see with the Low Carb Craze is that more
and more people are reading labels and are generally more inquisitive
about the foods that they are ingesting. More people are finally
becoming aware as to what the commercial companies are doing to the
natural foods with the additions of the chemicals, additives and
preservatives to preserve and enhance the flavors and shelf life of
their products. Although it has been my experience that a lot of
these people are being misguided, it does my culinary heart some good
when I realize that at least they are reading labels and getting a
better understanding of what they are putting into their bodies.

I read an article some time ago, I wish I could quote the author, but
I don't remember who he was, but the general gist of his theory was
based on a principle that I recommend to all, the
acronym for this
philosophy is LEAN.

L Lifestyle- Why modify your diet if you cannot modify your life?

E Exercise- I cannot stress this enough, most of the problems that
occur with Westerners is the lack of exercise, it really takes little
effort to exercise. By exercising I am not saying spend an hour on
the treadmill, , I mean simply by circulating your blood and burning
calories, for some a daily walk in some cases is sufficient.

A Attitude-This is a very important part to any program, having a
positive attitude not only about your goal, but about your life and
the LEAN philosophy as well.

N Nutrition-Understanding nutrition in general and the entire program
that you are about to participate in is very important, the how's and
why's of why you are taking this or avoiding that, and how the
program is going to satisfy all of your nutritional needs. If you are
paying for the program, be able to ask the staff the what's, how's
and why's. If they cannot satisfy your questions I suggest you find
someone that is capable of addressing your issues.

OK, with all of that said, let us get into some information:

Carbohydrates By Definition:

An important source of energy provided by food and
drink. There are three major categories for carbs. Sugars (glucose,
sucrose, fructose etc.), starches, and cellulose. Starch and sugar
are easily digested and an important source of energy. Cellulose,
although providing important dietary fibers is not converted by
dietary juices. There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and
complex. Sugar is a simple carb; rice, potatoes, pasta, breads,
fruits, and vegetables provide complex carbs.

When someone suggests eating more carbs, they mean the complex ones,
specifically those that are high in fiber -- such as whole grains,
leafy greens, and fruits. It doesn't mean to go out and have a couple
pieces of Cheffy's White Chocolate-Blueberry Fantasy Cheesecake or a
5 pound bag of sugar.

While sugar is a simple carb, it is not evil and has never been
proven to be the underlying cause of disease (although it's an
important consideration for circumstances such as diabetes). It's not
so much the type of carbohydrate you eat as the company it keeps. The
simple carbs found in cakes, ice cream, candy, cookies, muffins, and
doughnuts generally cavort with fat. On the other hand, complex carbs
are generally accompanied by fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins, and
minerals. Carbohydrates really aren't that bad as long as you choose
them wisely.

In my opinion, one of the problems that I have with the high protein-low carb
diet is the same problem that I have had over the years with genetic
engineering of grains, vegetables, feed etc. affecting everything
from humans to livestock to our ecosystem; the problems I have been
disputing for years with aspartame, and countless other products that
were needlessly and haphazardly approved by the Dept of Agriculture
and the FDA due to political or corporate pressures. THE TESTING IS
INCONCLUSIVE!!!! There were no long term studies prior to the
approval by not only the government but by the American people.
Atkins Diet is a case in point.

The aversion to fat has been replaced by an aversion to
carbohydrates. So this puts bacon and eggs back on the breakfast
plate and a nice juicy beef tenderloin on a plate with no baked
potato. This is, of course, driven by the popularity of the high-
protein diets.

The media will tell you about Johnny losing seventy pounds or Susie
going from a size 29 to a size ten, but they don't tell you of the
possible harm that can very well be done by calcium loss, ketosis,
the chances of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease, the
lack of biotin and other important vitamins that these diets tend to
ignore. This is not because the dieters themselves are ignorant, it
is because they have been misled, and they haven't done their
homework before attempting to play around with their nutrition and
metabolism, thanks to the hype that diets such as these have

I am not intending to bash the Atkins Diet or any of the Low Carb
diets for that matter, it is of little significance if I support them
or not, I am just instigating thought and offering insight. My point
simply is this, an extreme diet of any kind—say, one high in meats
and whole-milk dairy products—may be harmful because high-fat diets
have been associated with a number of chronic diseases, including
cancer and heart disease. Also, when a whole class of foods is
restricted and/or limited, critical nutrients may be lacking from the
diet. Although the potential negative effects that I previously
mentioned may take some time to become apparent, it is important to
understand that the long-term safety of these fad diets has not been

Consuming high-protein or high-fat diets may initially induce weight
loss in some people. but what has to be understood is that weight
loss is based on calorie restriction—not on what is being consumed!

Fad diets prohibit a lot of foods—in the case of high-protein diets,
carbohydrate intake is severely restricted. And guess what? People
lose weight not because of the altered food balance, but simply
because they are restricting calories. Of course they will lose
weight!, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out!

Now, if you are going to restrict calories, which is vital to losing
weight, isn't it better to restrict them in a way that is consistent
with a healthy diet? Nobody needs excess protein and fat in their
diets for the many health-related reasons we have already discussed
and this is not something that had just been "discovered" in the past
few years—it has been understood for decades . Sometimes the market
will bring something to light and before you know it, it
is "nouveau", when in actuality it has been around longer than the
journalist or marketing guru that brought it to light to begin with,
such is the case of the low carb diets, it was first documented in
the early 1860's and suffered just as much, if not more criticism
than the Atkins and South Beach diets are suffering now.

A few Cheffy Tips:

Read Labels

My basic rule of thumb is I do not open a can for any purpose. Food
is simple and should be loved and enjoyed. If you want the time to
enjoy your life, how about putting some time into your life? Reading
labels if you buy packaged and canned foods is very important, if you
have any troubles deciphering what is put into your foods, try doing
a little home work into finding out what is in your products. I
cannot stress this enough. I know that it is hard to decipher what
the labels say, but as a general guideline, like my friend Bruce Rose
from Rosewood Farms Soy Plant says, "…if you have trouble pronouncing
it, it probably isn't good for you…"

Don't Panic-Eat Organic

This is how food was meant to be to begin with. And some call it
progress…I tend to disagree.

To avoid going into the genetic engineering debate, let me kindly ask
you to eat organic foods. They are healthier not only because they
provide more minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals than commercially
grown foods but they are not allowing toxins; such as pesticides and
herbicides and other unhealthy man-made gunk into our bodies. As far
as eating organic meats and poultry, it is the same case scenario.
The free range varieties of meat, game and poultry that are on the
market are not only better for you, they taste better and are not
filled with growth hormones.

Use Fresh Herbs

Happy Herbs-By cooking with herbs we add our own special zing to
dishes, and we also add benefits to our health because many herbs
possess anti-oxidants among other happy and properties. I am a
favorite of herbs; I always use them when I prepare a meal, soup,
sauce or whatever. For those that have followed my teachings know, I
favor basil, thyme, oregano and rosemary. Rosemary and fenugreek are
two herbs that possess the greatest values as anti-oxidants, some of
the other Happy Herbs include: Allspice, bay leaf, basil, cardamom,
cinnamon, cloves, cumin, fennel, ginger, mace, marjoram, nutmeg,
oregano, sage, thyme and turmeric to name some of the most popular

Steamed instead of boiled

Don't boil your darned vegetables!! Not only do you lose a good part
of the flavor, you are also losing important vitamins, minerals,
enzymes and happy, disease fighting properties that Mother Earth
provides for us.

Cheffy's Closing Thoughts or Nutrition 102

One of the most difficult things about understanding nutrition is
taking it from text to practical use in our everyday lives, sometimes
this is a lot easier said than done.

If nutrition were a perfect
science, perhaps we could come up with the perfect diet, but
nutrition is a lot of things, and being an exact science is not one
of them. Even if it were an exact science and there was such a thing
as a perfect diet it would exclude majority of the American
population because of the lists of likes and dislikes every
individual has, and that is not even considering those that have
anomalies to their diets such as diabetics, gluten and lactose
intolerances and the list goes on and on.

Food and health are indisputably related.

The problems many of us
have are deciphering what is "good" and what is "bad", some of these
in each list may be right or may be wrong, depending on which
nutritional study we may have been reading at the time we have made
our decisions. I have used this line before, and although I cannot
find the exact quote, my favorite food scientist, Shirley O. Corriher
had said that all scientific studies coming out on food and nutrition
should all be prefaced with "As of what we know now…". I love this
statement, there is nothing closer to the truth.

Most people will say that they have
altered their diet to become

Now I read this as becoming healthier as in aiding in not

becoming ill or stricken by disease by bad eating habits. Being
healthy is a lot more than not being sick or hindering illness. The
World Health Organization defines health as " a state of complete
physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of
disease and infirmity"…Now, not even my hypothetical "perfect diet"
could attain this. Proper nutrition combined with sleep, exercise and
harmony in our lives can however.

One of the most important overbalances that happens in our diets,
Americans especially, is the happy little balance that exists between
the energy our foods consumed provides and the energy our bodies will
use up. Meaning that sometimes we consume an amount of carbohydrates,
proteins and fats that our body cannot use up thus turning them into

Now going with this thought…Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins are very
important to our everyday diets, they provide energy to our heart,
lungs and other vital organs. Fats and proteins supply nutritional
value to our bodies that carbohydrates alone cannot, but an equal
balance of all three of these are very important. To eat an excessive
amount of protein is useless because the additional amount of
protein, that our body is not going to absorb is just going to turn
into fat, one gram of protein contains the same amount of calories as
one gram of carbohydrates (four), but it is easier for our body to
burn off carbohydrate calories than those attained by fats or

So live, eat, drink happily, merrily and healthy.
Stay in tune with
your body, mind and spirit.
Remember that when we take care of
life's simplest pleasures,
When we devote our energies into the
little things in our life,
the world,
our communities,
our families

and our hearts
will live in harmony with the larger things that
evolve around them.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Thanks to FB a lot of people that I grew up with are coming to the blog, plus some prospective clients for some of my cooking classes.

I know that there is a ton of stuff on here, so staying with the idea of the cooking classes, here are links to a bunch of fun stuff based around teaching and learning with pics and stories that are on the blog.

Have Fun these are a few of my favorites with some cool pics

Stump The Chef

M&M Cooking with Chef

Chef's Mike and Greg Playing

Playing Part II

Second Harvest Cooking Class

Mike and Greg Again

Asian Sauces and Dragon Fruit

Newspaper release of the Second Harvest Cooking Class

Greg and Mike Playing In Public

Cheffy and Harry

When Cheffy met Harry

Harry and Cheffy-the men, the myth, the beginning

Cheffy and Harry-The Menu

Inspirations and Cooking Classes

Larissa and Chef

How To Drink A Milkshake Like A Child

How to drink a milk shake like a child

Bite off one end of the paper covering the straw.

Blow through straw to shoot paper across the table.

Place straw in shake and suck. When the shake just reaches your mouth, place a finger over the top of the straw... the pressure will keep the shake in the straw.

Lift straw out of the shake, put bottom end in mouth, release finger and swallow.

Do this until the straw is squished so that you can't suck through it.

Ask for another straw. Open it in the same manner, but this time shoot the paper at the waitress when she isn't looking. sip your shake casually.... you are just minding your own business...until there is about an inch of shake remaining in your glass.

Then blow through the straw until bubbles rise to the top of the glass.

When your father says he has had just about enough, get a stomachache.


How To Be Excused From The Dinner Table

How to be excused from the dinner table..

Say that you are stuffed and asked to be excused.

When you are denied, lean back on your kitchen chair until only the back two legs rest precariously on its two back legs.If your parents try to make you eat one more bite, threaten to throw up. return chair to upright postion when asked nicely (or not so nicely).

Sink down until nose is level with the top of the table.

Disappear altogether and untie Daddy's shoes or work boots...Giggle, crawl back into your chair and cry when Daddy yells at you

Exhale really loud. Ask why you should have to wait while the grown-ups drink coffee


Examine the salt and pepper shakers. Make a pile of the white and black stuff on your plate until yelled at

Walk your knife and fork around the table like they are people. Act as though they are bride and groom and hum
the wedding march loud enough for Daddy to say "Please!!!!"

Rest chin on table and think to yourself "This Sucks", then get your chin stuck in your milk glass, pick it up,
break your plate when the vacuum gives.

Jiggle your leg until your mother asks you to stop because the table is shaking.

Lean back your chair on the back legs again.

Fall over.


Supper's Over....

Cooking with Chef Mike

Have gotten a few emails about the cooking classes...

Is pretty simple, we hang out at either someone's home or a professional kitchen, cook over a bottle of wine and eat everything we make...

Here are a bunch of pics that I will comment on throughout the day there are a lot of pics here, my external hard drive is having issues, when I get that up I will post some other ones that were a lot of fun...

Come with an open mind and leave with a full belly and new friends. Everybody gets a chef coat, an apron and dirty hands

Fundraiser at Mineral Point, HS for the Chorus
Picture of me and Reeva Pittz

John figuring out how to marinate 50 pounds of Chicken Breast for the Mineral Point HS Fundraiser

One on one cooking with my buddy Harry. The whole Harry story is elsewhere on the blog with all the pictures we had of the night. Including Harry's Redneck Egg Rolls which are pictured below.

Me, Harry and a good buddy of mine, Chef Greg did a dinner for 15 people, here I am garnishing the salads.

Me telling Greg that I am envisioning a height on plating Harry's Redneck Rolls, my hands are resembling the towers I was thinking about


Here are Harry's Redneck Rolls accompanied by an Asian Slaw

Teaching Knife Skills

The next group of pics is of an Italian Cooking Class I did at the Walker House in Wisconsin

Cleaning Melons for our Intermezzo

Chef Craig teaching how to chiffonade basil

Benita peeling Concasse Tomatoes for Sauce

Tim stirring up some Polenta

Wendy pouring out some basil and garlic infused oil we made.

Basil, Basil and More Basil
Life is good.

Tim Grilling some Tuna Steaks

Then have a seat and eat!!!!!!!!!!!

Me getting ready for a class

Chef Craig teaching the proper way to clean a Beef Tenderloin

Chef and his buddy Angie whipping up some crazy concoction to marinate the beef tenderloin in

Marinate that sucker

Me and Benita going over how to Concasse Tomatoes

Building a smokehouse in the Wisconsin snow and cold out of stuff found in the backyard

Me and Chef Dave hanging out prepping for a party for the Town Council and Historical Society welcoming us to Mineral Point

Wolf Lake Hunting Club
Chicago, Ill

I did a wild game dinner with Smaggie, an old Marine Corps buddy of mine, 12 courses for around 120 people in their little Hunt Club in SE Chicago. Definitely a lot of chow and I had a lot of fun with the kids.

Making pasty shells for a Venison-Fingerling Pasty

Yeaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!! Finally done, those were a pain in the butt

Now we have to make some house smoked trout enchiladas...
These kids were awesome, I had a great time as I am sure they did too

I'll bring the Beef, but maybe we oughta figure this thing out first...
My old Sous Chef Craig in total awe.

There is something that is so cool with hanging out with kids and cooking. Just brings you back to a more simple way of is Chef Henry rolling himself out a pizza

Larissa, an exchange student that needed to trail a Chef for a class that she was taking hung out with me for a day, we did pasties, breads and cheesecake
More about that day and a ton of pics put Larissa into the search engine on top where it says to search this site

Hanging out in Durham with my buddy Chef Owen

Half the fun of making cookies is getting your hands really sticky

Me and Chef Craig pumping out a Six Course Wild Game Dinner that he designed

Pheasant with Cranberry Relish and Applewood Smoked Bacon at Tim Stacka's Farm

Tim has 600 plus acres in a small town in Wisconsin and has a group of family and friends that like hunting and fishing on his property and this is one of the signs that he has that you see when you enter his property