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Author: Damien

My Thoughts on the Upcoming US Elections

My Thoughts on the Upcoming US Elections

So far, the political campaign we have been forced to watch this year has proved messy, ugly, filled with personal attacks, and lacking even the latest ounce of decency when it comes to addressing the real issues this country is struggling with. People are poorer and poorer, while politicians seem to get richer and richer. I am honestly flabbergasted with how so much lack of decency the people competing for the most important position in the US are constantly exhibiting.


I am not here to tell you who to vote for. I personally feel disappointed – which is really a weak work to describe what I am feeling – with both candidates. On one hand, we have a right wing brutal capitalist whose only outstanding trait seems to be his capability to make money for himself. On the other hand, we have a candidate who likes to make the electorate believe that some social measures will be taken to right a few wrongs. My problem is exactly this: only a few wrongs.


Besides what the candidates they say they will do, be it building a wall or free college, what made me feel really appalled was how the campaign was handled. There were so many personal attacks, from both sides, that I cannot believe that people who have a good and solid educational background can get as low as this. There have been strong, serious accusations, investigations, right down slandering, and whatnot. This kind of attitude makes me think that no one should win the next elections. I know that someone will come out as the winner, but I doubt the person chosen to be the next POTUS will represent all the Americans and have their best interest in mind.


In a country that is supposed to be one of the richest in the world, we have people going hungry, people without a roof over their hands, and horrible health care. There are so many issues to address, from rampart poverty to the wedge driven between different ethnic groups in the US, that I am sure the next president should be a very capable person. My problem is that I don’t think either of the candidates is capable of setting all these troubles straight.


So, I am not telling you to vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Do what your heart tells you to do. I know for sure that I will have a difficult choice to make, but I will still vote, since it is my right to so. On the other hand, I have a feeling that 2016 will go down in history as the year when the political battle went as low as possible, in terms of slander, slurs and other personal attacks.

Cooking a Simple, Delicious Meal with Limited Expenses

Cooking a Simple, Delicious Meal with Limited Expenses

There is hardly a bigger waste on this planet, especially in the first world countries, than the waste of food. A lot of food is thrown away every day, because people do not care about watching out for their expenses, and this is, believe it or not, a cause of poverty. Spending way too much money on unhealthy food cuts both ways: you end up spending money on food that you are basically throwing away and you also end up spending money on expensive medicine and health care, because you get sick for not eating healthy. In this post, I want to share with you a few secrets on how to cook a filling, delicious meal while using very little money.


The great uses of chicken


I will put together an entire meal using only the needed ingredients and I will show you how to save a lot of money. After I pondered a little, I decided to go for chicken, because its meat is nutritious, it packs plenty of protein, while being leaner than the rest, so it is healthier, too. My advice is to buy a whole chicken, skin on and bones in and everything. It is cheaper, and I will show you right away, much more cost efficient than any other kind of chicken meat sold in stores.


First thing first, wash the chicken thoroughly in cold water. Any excess of blood and impurities will go away and you will have a nice chicken to cook. Then proceed to cut it into parts, and after that, I will teach you how to make three different recipes that will feed an entire family of four.


Place the parts of the chicken in three different bowls: the thighs and the drumsticks go in one bowl, the breast in one bowl, and the last is reserved for the back and the wings. Depending on what kind of chicken you get, you may also need to place the giblets (neck, liver, heart and gizzard) in a fourth bowl.


Now here is what I do. I take the back and the wings, and I make four portions from them. Basically, I split the back in two. The back is the one that has the most fat, which is why it is great for cooking a nice broth. You will need some vegetables for the broth, too, such as potatoes, carrots, celery and anything else that you usually like in a soup. From these, you can make a hearty first course, a soup from which you can remove the veggies and the chicken and serve it clear, or you can leave everything in, so that everyone can enjoy the great taste of chicken. The breast is very lean meat, so you can use it for grilling with a few spices and herbs. Those in the family who prefer a lean meal, could go for this dish. Just split it in four, so that everyone gets a cut. The drumsticks and thighs can be fried or baked, depending on your preferences. They are best served on the side with rice or potato puree, again, depending on your preferences.


So, as you can see, we just managed to cook an entire meal for four people with around 10 dollars worth of chicken, veggies and spices. You can hardly find anything better than that!


How to make great pizza at home

How to make great pizza at home

You don’t have to be a restaurant chef or even a good cook to make great pizza at home. If you just follow my simple tips even if this is your first time cooking you will be able to make a pizza that everyone will enjoy.



  1. The dough


You can make your own dough from scratch, and I have an easy recipe for that, but you can also find some in the grocery aisle that is already prepared. These doughs work perfectly fine, and they are great when you are in a hurry or new to cooking. The most important thing is to let the dough thaw out before attempting to roll it flat.


I always recommend rolling out the pizza dough on a piece of parchment paper. The dough will stick to the paper so it is easy to transfer from the counter to the oven, and the heat will cause it to separate from the pizza before it has finished cooking. You also don’t have to worry about parchment paper catching on fire so it is safe to use.



  1. Sauce and toppings


Grab a jar of your favorite tomato sauce or paste if you prefer and liberally spread it across the rolled out dough. You can add a little extra seasoning if you like, personally I don’t think you can ever go wrong with a bit of oregano. Once the sauce is on it is time to add the toppings.


There aren’t any rules when it comes to the toppings on a pizza. You can really add almost anything you want. Piling on the veggies instead of a lot of meat will keep the calories down, and it is also a great way to prepare a healthy meal. For some reason kids never seem to mind eating their veggies when they come on a piping hot pizza. After the toppings it is time for the cheese, and the type and amount is up to you. I do recommend using shredded cheese since it will melt evenly across the pie.



  1. Temperature and time


After placing the pizza on a cooking stone or baking sheet it is time to place it in the oven. You want the temperature to be at least at 550 degrees Fahrenheit, I personally cook mine at 700 degrees F. Hotter temperatures help the crust to bake evenly, and give it that golden brown appearance that everyone loves.


Once the oven has reached the correct temperature slide the pizza in for 5 minutes before rotating it and letting it bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Then all that’s left to do is slide the pizza out and let it cool until it can be safely sliced. Serve on plates and sit back and enjoy a hot and delicious homemade pizza.

Why You Should Help People Who Are Less Fortunate

Why You Should Help People Who Are Less Fortunate

I am making a guiding beacon of my life to help others who are less fortunate than me. I truly believe that everyone should do the same, although I know the motivation may differ from one person to another. Here are some strong reasons in favor of helping people who are in need that may find an echo in your own set of beliefs.


By helping others, you set a positive example

Even without you even knowing it, there are others who look up to you, whether they are family, friends, simple acquaintances, colleagues at work or your kids. This is not something someone chooses. Whether we like it or not, we are an example for the others around us. If you want to set a positive example, the simplest way to achieve this would be to help those who are less fortunate.


You will feel happier and more fulfilled

justice10So many people nowadays, people with wonderful careers, beautiful families, and plenty of money to satisfy their wildest dreams, end up on the shrink’s couch complaining that they feel unhappy and unfulfilled. What is the root of their unhappiness? I am no shrink, but I can tell you this: when you give someone anything they need, whether it is a blanket, or a hot meal, something will happen inside you. You will be overcome with a feeling of intense happiness and fulfillment that all the money in the world cannot give you. So, I am not telling you to become a giving person because it is the Christian thing to do, but because it will make you feel complete.


You will motivate others to give, too

One thing I often heard from people who never donate to charity is that, even if they give a little, that cannot solve an important problem, because others will not give, as well. I beg to differ. When you give something, as little and unimportant as it may seem, others will see your gesture and they will consider starting to give as well. So, you can think of a personal act of giving as having a rippling effect that will soon transform into a tsunami of kindness that can truly change the shape of the world we live in today.


You are making a difference

Too many people today suffer from boredom and frustration and they think the world will never change. But it is in your power to do something! This is what I always tell people I happen to engage in conversation over this subject. Giving something to a less fortunate person helps you make a difference, an important one, in the world you think impossible to change. Giving to charity, helping people find their way in life, or simply offering a piece of bread, are all important acts that create a new world for everyone living in it.

And don’t forget that giving away will remind you of how fortunate you are for having shelter, food and your family’s love!


I’m volunteering!

I’m volunteering!

I am more decided than ever to pursue my goal to eradicate injustice. Well, maybe eradicate is a big word, but to do my best to help those who have been suffered from unjust treatment and life conditions. The past days, I’ve stumbled upon an opportunity to volunteer and I took it, as it is a great chance to help those less fortunate than me. It’s not the opportunity of a lifetime, it is a local project, but it doesn’t matter where you are, there are always cases of injustice and mischance that can be, if not fixed, at least improved a little.


Anyway, my volunteering task is simple: I need to feed meals to those who can’t afford to buy food on their own, at a charity center. It is not much, I work every two weeks for a couple of hours, but as I believe that every little gesture can make a difference, I am glad to have been given the chance to bring a bit of joy into the world. I’ve participated in many similar projects, but the difference hers is that this one will last longer than the previous projects and I hope that in time I will be able to get involved even more.

I appreciate this kind of initiatives from any group of people, but, sometimes even the most admirable of initiatives can have flaws. If you ever get involved in a charitable project, especially one that aims at providing basic necessities such as food, clothing and hygiene products, you must pay attention to details. I’m saying this because a great number of these centers are receiving packages from people or supermarkets and restaurants. These ingredients may be sometimes of low-quality or, in very rare occasions, even expired. As such, your job is not only to cook a good meal, but also to cook a healthy one.


For this reason I am currently working on a meal plan for the next months. I am trying through this schedule to meals rich in nutrients that will make sure the people coming there will benefit from a minimum of vitamins, minerals and others for that day.

Another aspect on which I’m working is convincing the charity center to use quality plates, cutlery and glasses and have at least one meal in which they introduce a delicacy or food that these people may not have had the opportunity to taste in years. I think it is important for them to feel that they are being treated with respect and as equals. In addition, I was shocked to see that not only homeless people come to the center, but also some that aren’t able to provide for their families (though they seemed, judging by their aspect to leave in a house, not on the street). Anyway, that’s not for me to judge, but I saw families with children coming there and maybe we could do more for them than providing them with food. We could also make them feel comfortable, by using only quality food ingredients that will make their food taste good. As I’m a chef and I quite skilled one, I’ll make sure they have the best experience at the center.



Refreshing summer desserts

Refreshing summer desserts

You could say summer has an amazing culinary potential. It really turns you into a more inventive and active person when it comes to cooking because you want to prepare dishes that will refresh you and the ones around you. When it comes to summer desserts, the part you want to skip when cooking them is the baking process. That is why I propose a couple of easy to make, no-baking needed sweets for hot days.

Berry shortcakes

justice 3Let’s start with one of the easiest recipes I know and that I always make when I’m in a hurry: berry shortcakes. You can find this recipe on the internet in many forms, but this is the one I love most. It is simple and, as the name indicates, short. Make sure you keep around the house butter biscuits, whipped cream and fresh berries, or other fruits that you believe could work with the two ingredients mentioned above. You decide the order in which you add the ingredients. I prefer placing the fruit at the base on a small coffee plate, adding a layer of whipped cream and stick the biscuit on top. You can put them in a fridge before serving so that they are cold and fresh.

Mint chip ice cream pie

justice 4A second summer dessert that I love offering my guests is the mint chip ice cream pie. Though not as simple as the first one, this is still an accessible recipe for anybody and at any time of day. You just need to have some chocolate around the house. You melt it and then mix it with crisped rice cereal and place this composition in a spring-form pan and let it freeze for 5 to 10 minutes. The last ingredient is mint ice cream. This has to be a bit softened, so if you kept in the freezer, take it out a couple of minutes before coating the chocolate and cereal cake. You spread the ice cream evenly on the surface of the previously made composition and let it freeze for at least 2 hours. It will not only taste wonderful, but it will also refresh you on a hot summer’s day. If you have another ice cream flavor that you love and find refreshing, you can use that as well, only respect the making process of the pie.

Vanilla ice cream with fruit

justice 5And, since we’re talking about ice cream, which is one of the most refreshing desserts, why not try mixing vanilla ice cream with fruit (I use peach and raspberries, but you can experience with other mixes as well), lemon juice and sugar. The cooking method is simple: you put the peaches (cut in small pieces), the raspberries whole, the lemon juice and the sugar in a bowl and you mix them well, then you put them in the fridge for 20 minutes. You then divide the vanilla ice cream in separate bowls or cups and you add the fruit mixture on top of each one of them. You serve immediately so that the dessert doesn’t melt.

The sandwich maker: one of the greatest inventions of our times

The sandwich maker: one of the greatest inventions of our times

Sandwich makers are one of the greatest inventions of our times. This is a subjective, yet extremely pertinent opinion. If you hate cooking complicated foods, you can basically survive eating sandwiches for years or that is what I did during my college years. I’ve probably beaten the world’s record at eating grilled cheese sandwiches.  Not that I didn’t prefer other types of sandwiches as well, but these were the easiest to make. To prepare these, you need butter, American cheese and sliced bread. You put the butter and cheese between two slices of bread, then you put the sandwich in the sandwich maker and you wait for 3 or 4 minutes (standard time that a sandwich maker takes to cook a proper sandwich). I didn’t even have to stay next to it. I’d just make sure I saw when the red light was on, opened the lid and enjoyed my sandwich.

sandwich maker

That was the morning routine, in the afternoon, if I had time I would try more complicated recipes, such as pepperoni pizza sandwiches, for which you need butter, garlic powder, pizza sauce, mozzarella and sliced pepperoni. The cooking method is more or less the same: you add all the ingredients between two slices of bread of your own choosing, throw it in the sandwich maker and you wait long 3-4 minutes when you’re back from classes and feeling really hungry. The weekends were all the more creative, as I would browse through different recipes, procure myself the needed ingredients and cook the most fantastic sandwiches.

However, since people have realized how much of an awesome device a sandwich maker is, they’ve decided to make them more and more useful and larger. Older, simple models did not always fit the wanted sandwich in them, as they could get too big but, really, nowadays you can cook an entire, complete breakfast in one small sandwich maker.

sandwich maker2Modern tools can prepare burgers, sandwiches, grill meat, cook eggs and even make pancakes. I don’t think I’ll ever have the patience to cook anything else but a sandwich on a sandwich maker, but still, I’m impressed to see how many features such a small machine can include. However, I still prefer the classic sandwich maker, on which you can prepare only sandwiches. I like them so much, I would go in stores and just look at them. In fact, I’ll probably design one myself one day, if I manage to get rid of my natural born laziness.

The latest model that I’ve bought and made extraordinarily tasty sandwiches with, is one that is big enough to fit inside two big sandwiches and that is spacious enough to prepare the thickest of sandwiches, so you can put inside them any ingredients you want. If you decide to make your sandwiches smaller, you can even fit three in there, which is a blessing if you share an apartment with 2 other people. Just a piece of advice, if you do buy one, make sure you buy a quality material machine that won’t allow some ingredients, such as melted cheese, stick on its surface and will be easy to clean in case you do spill sauce or other sticky substances on it. If they stay on its surface and you don’t clean it right away or not well enough, your sandwich maker won’t be as efficient next time you use it.

3 great recipes that use tortillas

3 great recipes that use tortillas


Even though many people have the tendency to believe that tortillas aren’t the most versatile dish out there, I’ve noticed that you can do a lot with just a couple of them. Traditionally, they’re filled with all sorts of ingredients, ranging from meat to vegetables, and sauces. Burritos can even be healthy provided that you use the right foods. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, tortillas are a nice way to spice up your daily regimen given the immense number of fillings one can use to avoid eating dull dishes. I’ve decided to share three amazing recipes that use tortillas that I’ve cooked time and time again for my friends and family, and the feedback that I got was more than favorable.


justice1I’m always looking for ways to diversify my kids’ snacks, which is why I tried turning tortillas into a sweet or savory meal. If I have several tortillas leftover from last night’s dinner, I usually prepare some breakfast roll-ups. For these, you can use any fruit you like. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that bananas are the greatest ingredient, in this case, as they can be placed efficiently right on the edge of the tortilla so that I can wrap it around the fruit. Obviously, these won’t come out looking perfectly considering that bananas aren’t tubular in a typical sense. Cut slices and place them artistically on the plate. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on top or drizzle with some maple syrup and you have yourself a breakfast or snack your children will come to love.


justice2Another recipe that I like to try out once in awhile is tortilla cups, also known as huevos rancheros. If you have four to six ramekins, this is the perfect dish for you. All you have to do is place the tortillas as best as you can in the ramekins, and then add every ingredient you might feel comfortable with. I especially enjoy adding some black beans, pinto beans, cilantro, shredded cheese, as well as the mandatory egg. Baking these beauties takes about twenty to thirty minutes depending on whether or not you’ve preheated the oven. I usually use around 350 degrees, so everything turns out nice and crispy. There’s no risk of getting food poisoning from the eggs because they spend more than enough time in high heat inside the oven. If you check on these, and they tend to have slightly brown edges at some point, but you’re unsure about how much the other ingredients have cooked, I recommend using tin foil to cover them for several more minutes.


As I approach the age of forty, I’m slowly but gradually becoming more and more interested in losing weight. That’s why I’ve recently developed a love for salads, but these can be boring if they don’t have anything crispy in them. Because I try to eat as little bread as possible, I generally use several tortillas cut into ½-inch strips which I bake using the tortilla maker for around ten to fifteen minutes. I make sure to sprinkle them with seasonings such as paprika, sea salt, or spice blendings. This way, I have the feeling that I’m eating grilled salad instead of the regular boring one.

I hope these tips are useful for whenever you seem to have too many tortillas around.

My Perfect Homemade Pizza Recipe

My Perfect Homemade Pizza Recipe


Pizza is such an easy recipe to make that anyone should know how to do it right. During my career as a chef, I have heard a lot of people complaining about the fact that they do not get the dough right, or that the toppings do not go well together and stuff like that. I have told each and every person who has ever struggled with making pizza and failing that there is always a basic recipe that can go back to every time they feel they are doing a poor job. Here is my perfect homemade pizza recipe that I have shared with plenty of people. I hope it will help you get your pizza right and never fail again.

The dough

Let’s start with the thing that people always seem to have some trouble with: the dough. For the dough, you will need the following ingredients (I am showing you the recipe for making 4 large pizzas, in case you have guests over and you want to keep everyone well fed):pizza dough

  1. 4 large cups of flour
  2. 1 package of dried yeast
  3. A bit of salt
  4. 1 tablespoon of sugar
  5. 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  6. 1 ½ cups of warm water


Now here are the instructions. Making pizza dough is very easy and even fun. You pour the flour into a large recipient along with the salt, so you can have enough room to mix all the ingredients. You make one hole in the middle and gently pour the warm water. Throw in the sugar and the dried yeast and let it work its magic. Within a couple of minutes, you should see no more particles of yeast on the surface. You can mix a little with your fingers to help it melt faster. After that, add the oil and start mixing everything. After kneading the dough in the recipient for a while, you can take it out on the kitchen table, to give it some good kneading. Add flour to avoid having the dough stuck to your fingers. Within 15 minutes, you should have some nice looking dough. Let it rest for one hour somewhere warm.

The toppings

pizza toppings

After the dough is done and it has risen enough, you can part it in smaller chunks, so you can assemble the pizza. Flatten the dough in the shape of your choosing and coat it with some tomato sauce. You can use normal tomato juice seasoned with spices you like, such as salt, pepper, oregano and so on. Add on top shredded cheese, small cuts of salami and mushrooms. Send everything to the your pizza oven for about 10 minutes, and then enjoy!

In case you don’t have the utensils a website I recommend is where they wrote an incredible article on the best pizza ovens.

And … Justice for All!

And … Justice for All!


Isn’t this something we all believe in? Justice for all should not be just simple words, they should be something to guide us in our lives! As a restaurant chef, I often get involved in community projects and I cook for the less fortunate. I am simply mad at the social injustice I see so often. There are people who do not have a roof over their heads and must worry everyday about whether they will have food on the table today or tomorrow. At the same time, we have people who fly over our heads in personal jets and throw money on trifle things.


I agree that people who make honest money should spend it as they fit. But this does not mean that the state care system should be in shambles. There are people who are responsible for the deplorable state of the care system in our country, and I think they have never gone hungry for a single day in their posh lives.


I created this blog to share with you my concern about how things are today. Since I know for sure that I am not the only person who believes something better could be done, I want to rally more people who believe in the same things as I do. Together we can become stronger and we can make a change. Volunteer work is part of the effort I am doing to erase even a little of the social injustice we are forced to witness every day.


But I do not want my blog to be all bleak and focused on protesting against such things. I want to bring something positive to the table, pun intended, which is why a part of this blog will be dedicated to sharing recipes with you.


Besides sharing with you my thoughts on how the state should take better care of the people who cannot take care of themselves, I will share with you my passion for cooking. As a restaurant chef, I have a lot of great tips and tricks up my sleeve, so I am sure you will find something worth reading through all the blog posts I will publish here.


So, if you are as passionate about social justice and cooking as I am, or you simply want to learn a few new things, I welcome you! I hope you will find plenty of things to love here, and you will become a repeat visitor.