One of my first memories is looking up at everyone’s legs from under a table in a restaurant trying with the best of my toddler -self skills to get out of the rather restrictive dress and shiny black shoe ensemble I was dressed in for some sort of event, probably one of those random times during my childhood when we went to the Greek Orthodox church or to the ward with Grandma Marion. I remember being snapped up right as i was unbuckling my shoe, by my mom, when I looked up a waitress handed me a balloon, with the “Dee’s” logo on it, growing up in Ogden, Utah, visits here were like a rite of passage to the developing Ogdenite. Dee’s also always had suckers in the front “for the road”, which my sister Georgia and I would play a game with, we would throw them in the road and whoever’s got smashed by a car first got their wish, Dee’s was on Washington blvd, or the “Vard” as we called it, it was the street the kids cruised on to meet potential love mates before tinder, or instagram existed, it was on the way to the Ogden Mall which was quite fancy in the 80’s and into the early 90’s, even being the location of the Tiffany “I think we’re alone now” music video…wow, seeing that typed out looks pretty hilarious, but I digress. The waitresses well into the early 2000’s wore old school waitressing uniforms with pink or blue pinstripe and lil’ hats, I always wanted to work there so I get my hands on one of those dresses and style it al’a Courtney Love (the debut “Hole” album years). I never got that chance but we did have our own restaurant across the street and many times after service some of us would go over and eat dinner there, you never want to eat at the joint you can eat at for free…LOL. The food was never great, this wasn’t like a “Jean George” moment, this was red state, plastic plate, bland, diner grub….but honestly, it was consistent, affordable, and not what we were serving at our place so I more than once enjoyed it! A good go-to order was the “chicken teriyaki burger” or you could have it with a beef patty…but something about the chicken made me feel more healthy. I am sharing my version of it, as I do feel sad that after 36 years as an Ogden institution, there before I was even born, and basically a place I went at least a few times a year my whole life closed down permanently a few years back. The owner just closed it one day, leaving all his long time employees and customers in shock. Times change, tastes change, and people die that is why it is important to always pay respect to the places of that past, regardless of how benign they seemed at the time:
You will need:
2 chicken breasts, split in half this will make four sandwiches, I brined mine for a few hours in pickle juice, but you can just salt and pepper them…Dee’s didn’t brine theirs. Or alternately you could use any meat or non meat “patty” you like.
4 slices of swiss cheese
4 Tbsp. Teriyaki sauce, choose your favorite.
1 cup of sauteed mushrooms, I think they used canned ones, so no judgement here…do you boo!
4 Sesame hamburger buns, lightly buttered and toasted for maximum authenticity.
Grill your chicken or pan sear whichever, cook it!
When your chicken or patty is to your liking, top with mushrooms, sauce and then top with cheese, yes, in that precise order or give up on the whole endeavour as it won’t be right, ok that is dramatic but there is method to the madness, cheese hold the mushrooms in like corset, “fat man in little coat style” and part of the beauty of this simple thing is the right bite, you need each ingredient in each bite to enjoy it fully.
Put it on the bun and add some lettuce and tomato if you like.
Nostalgic pleasure is sometimes the best kind, without a backstory a recipe means nothing, without feeling you really can’t cook and enjoy it all that much. Make things that ground you and remind you where you have come from so you can put that energy into your future….wow, I crown myself the “Queen of runon sentences” but we are on a budget here so I don’t have a copywriter. Happy cooking!
R.I.P. Dee’s Family Restaurant
3360 Washington Blvd, Ogden, UT 84401
Following your passions is essential to living life, but in order to do so you really have to throw insecurity out the window. Every time I do something that is overwhelmingly frightening, even if the end result isn’t what I hoped for, I always grow as a person. Personal growth isn’t this warm, fuzzy, opioid feeling…usually it’s more like this aggressive, anxious feeling that makes you check your prejudices at the door and see the world in a new way. In reality all the things we do are just a distraction from the true questions of the universe. Things are nice, acclaim is great, but like beauty it’s fleeting. If you are lucky you will end up wrinkled and wise, not botox-ed and silicon-ed, the goal of finding yourself is not something you can artificially achieve, its a journey that ends only when you die. Death is the great equalizer and doing whatever makes that knowledge tolerable is probably the best advice I feel there is. Don’t forget our mortality puts us all at the same level, those who have enough empathy to get over their own fragile egos are way more impressive to me than someone who owns a private jet. I do think self preservation is essential, but too much of it will leave you exactly where you began.
Speaking of distractions….who wants a cookie? This month’s degustabox was full of wonderful things. I used the King Arthur’s chocolate chip cookie mix to make cookie cups (just drop the dough into mini muffin pan and cook 12 minutes, after they are done use a spoon to press down the center) which I filled with nutella and M&M’s my son had a play date today so this made me look like the “coolest mom ever!” so using a shortcut here and there to achieve your goals is good! Especially when the shortcut is this cookie mix, which uses all natural high quality ingredients, I was totally impressed. I made an excellent tomato sauce with the Mutti sauce, and goya olive oil I received. We devoured the tasty “brownie batter” Thinsters….although I would recommend just calling them “brownie” as they are quite crisp so “batter” may not be the best way to describe them. The Karma wellness water reminded me of Japanese ramune sodas, only in the way you press the top to release the vitamins, it tasted slightly sweet which made it more like a soft drink than water per se, I am guessing I would need to drink more of this to experience the full benefit. I really enjoyed the Waffle Waffle, I heated mine up, and it was very tasty and done in traditional Belgian style, so it was chewier and denser than your run of the mill waffle. These products were the standout for me this month, happy cooking!!!
Nineties food nostalgia is all the rage right now, and my recipe today is a play on one of my favorite salads that was quintessentially 90’s. Originally invented by Wolfgang Puck at Spago as an entree salad for Beverly Hill elites in the mid 80’s, it quickly spread like wild fire to every corner of our country. To this day most every chain restaurant and hotel room service menu has a version, and every home cook has their own version of this crowd pleasing mash up of Chinese flavors. I have had many versions, and I really haven’t met one I didn’t like (I am embarrassed to say I ate the Wendy’s version weekly as a teenager). Continue reading “Chinese chicken salad revisted”
Biryani is one of my favorite rice dishes ever, it can however, be quite labor intensive . It was only within the last 5 years or so that I was made aware of its delicious and elegant existence. Mine is based on a few different versions I have eaten and is relatively mild, and simplified so that you can do it all in one skillet and make it on the stove top, I cook the chicken in the oven for an extra level of flavor. Continue reading “Coconut Chicken biryani”
Hola! Well I am still recovering from the “Holidays”….they should call it the “un-Holidays” because holidays are supposed to be fun and restful. I can’t complain for the most part but there is always something or someone that makes things more complicated…thus is life, but it still exhausts me to the max. I did this year have an outstanding birthday, which didn’t happen last year, and I am so pleased that it is 2016 and the people, places, and things of 2015 are in the rear view mirror. Continue reading “Sopa De Tortilla (weeknight gringo version)”
As a young child I remember one thing about Sunday nights in my hometown….Chicken Gumbo was the soup du jour at China Nite. It was my favorite thing in the whole world, and once I saw what a traditional gumbo actually was, the only resemblance to my my childhood fav was okra. Continue reading “Chicken Gumbo China Nite Style”
Personal morality and business just don’t mix….it’s honestly way too subjective, and limiting your clientele based on dogma is really selling the business owner short. I have patronized businesses that probably don’t agree with me politically, socially, or religiously. Continue reading “Oven “fried” chicken sliders”
Fridays are usually a night where we take the kids to pizza or grab burgers, but recently I have found going out to be inauthentic, not meaning like in a “procedure” kind of way but in “experience” sort of way. Most things that are promoted are based from revenue paid to advertisers of newspapers and those who are the most “well connected”. I’m so sick of what someone else’s (usually compensated) opinion of something is, that honestly I have given up on pursuing the “hot spots”. Continue reading “Slow roasted chicken with barbeque sauce”
So this dish is quite the cultural phenomenon, one of the first dishes of Chinese descent eaten by Americans its roots are in the Canton region of China and translates to basically mean “leftovers”. Continue reading “Chop Suey!”
Weeknight meals, can be repetitive or sometimes a little boring….especially when you are trying to please everyone with one dish. I think this one does the trick. Most everyone loves alfredo pasta with chicken and broccoli, it is probably one of the most ordered dishes in Italian American restaurants. Continue reading “Broccoli chicken alfredo skillet”