Shopping the Salad Bar


Here’s one of my best “shopping” tips:

Often when a recipe is calling for a small amount of a fresh ingredient, like a 1/4 cup of diced onions or celery, some sliced mushrooms, a couple of tablespoons of chickpeas, etc., and that’s all you’re going to need of that ingredient for the week…you can save some trouble, money, and wasted food, by buying just the exact amount you need from the salad bar!

A favorite “Salad Bar” Recipe…

(If your favorite store doesn’t have a salad bar, your local hospital cafeteria probably will. Don’t cringe, it’s likely to be cleaner and more sanitary than that salad bar at your favorite restaurant, lol.)

The higher “cost per pound” is mitigated by the small amounts you’re actually buying for your recipes and the fact that you’re not paying for any waste or trim.

Plus, someone else has prepped it for you!

Chef’s Tip: most salad bars stay stocked with the same ingredients all the time. Sneak a quick picture of yours, with your phone or tablet, and save it as a reference when planning your shopping.

Cover in FrameNEW


Lighten Up, Francis…It’s Just Christmas Dinner


The holidays are, hands down, my favorite time of year, but it’s no secret that (especially for us foodies) it can bring with it a lot of kitchen chaos and performance anxiety.

So many dishes, so many people, and so many “cherished family traditions” that must be upheld, it would be well-nigh impossible to make it through the season without at least some drama.

So, if we can’t avoid the chaos, let’s at least try to get a rope on it, right?

Here are a few tips to help you avoid enough of the crises to actually enjoy the food and family time, which, let’s face it…is really the whole point!


#10 – Don’t sweat the small stuff!

Does anyone really care if the tablecloth is ironed?  

Does anyone really care if their napkins are shaped like swans, or if you’ve freshly polished Great-Grandma’s silver?

No, they don’t…they want to eat, and laugh, and then eat some more. If you’re low on time (uh, who’s not?), and that cloth is really bugging you, just iron the corners and sides.

Once all the dishes are in place, no one will see the wrinkles anyway.

Also, have the kids help you set the table the night before, too. It’s one less thing to do.

#9 – Have a plan!

  • Sit down and make a guest list
  • Plan your menu and decide if you’re doing all of the cooking, or if others will be bringing dishes, and make a checklist of all ingredients.
  • Create a complete shopping list, organized by aisle.
  • Take inventory of your dinnerware, kitchen tools, and gadgets, spices and other staples in your pantry (and don’t forget to count chairs!)
  • We call it “mise en place”, and it means having everything prepared and in place before you start cooking…and, trust me, it will save you an all-inclusive trip to the funny farm!


#8 – For Pete’s Sake…Lighten up!

With the size of the feast on most of our tables, it really isn’t necessary to load your guests up on dips, snacks, or appetizers.

A platter of cut fresh veggies should do the trick, or maybe make the snacks and appetizers a “pot luck” item?

Do we really need three kinds of potatoes or six side dishes? 

In the restaurant business, we call it a “Meat & 3”. In this case, 1 meat (turkey), and three side dishes, (at my house, it’s garlic-mushroom stuffing, green bean casserole, and whipped potatoes.)

Bread and appetizers are a rookie mistake that only serves to dull our tastebuds and fill us up before the main event.

Also, don’t be afraid to look up simpler versions of classic holiday recipes (like my 90-Minute Roast Turkey” Video.)

#7 – Plan a dress rehearsal!

If you’re making a side dish for the first time or using ingredients that you aren’t familiar with, try them out beforehand so you’ll be prepared for success on the big day.

This is especially important if you’re pressing the young’uns into service! (And you SHOULD be pressing the young’uns into service!)

No free rides, Timmy!

Ditto if you’re serving a new wine or using new equipment, like a brand-new oven or slow-cooker. There’s a time and place for culinary surprises…this ain’t it.

#6 – Clear out your fridge a week in advance.

You’re going to be filling it up again pretty soon, so now is a good time to eat those leftovers, combine those four not-quite-empty pickle jars, and toss anything that tries to fight back.

Clean off the counters! Martha Stewart isn’t going to be dropping by (Dear God, please…) so clear away all the junk…those knick-knacks, cookie jars, and kitchen gadgets you’re not going to use.

Think “industrial kitchen” and you’ll be headed in the right direction.

Rule of thumb: If you’re not going to use it from November first to January first…stick it in a closet. Better yet, get rid of some of it. Do you really need eleven whisks (hint: no, no you don’t), find a local shelter kitchen and make a donation!

#5 – Give yourself a head start!

  • Do as much prep work as you can:
  • Make salad dressings in advance.
  • Chop onions and celery and store in resealable plastic bags in the fridge
  • Top and tail green beans
  • Make your stock for gravy with roasted turkey wings or thighs.
  • Potatoes can be peeled, halved, and stored in cold water for 48 hours (in fact, it makes them better!
  • Prep your brine for the turkey (Video)
  • Make a list of everything you need to do, right up to digging in, and note how far in advance you can practically (and safely) check it off the list.

#4 – Don’t be afraid of a pot-luck.

Most folks have a special holiday dish that they’re proud of, so share the spotlight of a great holiday dinner by letting them bring it! And if it’s good, make a big deal about it over dinner…you’ll never have to make it again!

Keep a list so you don’t end up with 6 bowls of candied yams, and another list of suggested dishes (with recipes) for folks who vapor-lock when faced with a menu decision. If they’re really not up to it, a bottle of wine, a store-bought veggie plate, or a couple of bags of ice are pretty hard to screw up.

This ain’t Downton Abbey, folks, our guests can bring a couple of cans of olives and you can even use…(oh my GOD)…paper plates!

The point is, do what’s important. If those homemade jellies cranberries or Great-grandma Edith’s silver makes for a happier holiday for you, then go for it.

If not, let it go, Elsa…let it go.


#3 – Shop early (and late…)

Now that we’re just a couple of days out, you can safely buy most of your fresh ingredients.

Onions, carrots, potatoes, celery, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and green beans, potatoes, and even fresh-looking salad greens will last until Thursday provided you store them properly. DO NOT plan on doing any shopping on Thanksgiving Day.

You don’t want any part of that nut-fest.

Pick up cheeses and cured meats for an easy, no-prep appetizer, to serve while you’re in the kitchen.

Full-contact grocery shopping not your thing? (Mine neither…those little old ladies can get vicious)…here’s what I do:

Find a good 24-hour grocery (I like Winco), and hit it about 4-5am, do your shopping, then stop by your favorite coffee shop on the way home for a cuppa and a bagel. Make a plan with a friend to shop together.

Taking an afternoon nap is a lot easier on you than running with the grocery-cart bulls on a holiday afternoon.

#2 – Assign the final steps.

If you have older children, nieces & nephews, or in-laws that you CANNOT keep out of the kitchen (I commiserate, believe me)…put ’em to work! Gramma is in charge of the stuffing – getting it in the serving dish, and to the table, with a serving spoon.

Cousin Fred is in charge of making sure everyone’s glass is full.

Little Susie puts the rolls in the basket, gets the basket to the table, and makes butter dishes (and knives) available. Make it clear that once they have performed their job, they should take their seat at the table.

…because, you know, they’re guests. 😉

Which brings us to my most important step of all…


This is what it’s about peeps…not the turkey, not the pies, and not about being the perfect host or hostess.

Find a quiet spot to sit for 20-30 minutes, before you start cooking Thursday morning, and reflect on what you have to be thankful for, write these things down, and note why you’re thankful for them.

Keep that thought firmly in place as you ride into battle.

Heck, tape the list to the fridge door, in case you need a reminder later…

The secret to being a great host or hostess (and not sticking a meat-fork into your mother-in-law) is to do as much as you can in advance, and then not sweat the small stuff.

If the yams burn, toss ’em out, turn on a fan, and enjoy all the rest of the great food. If the turkey’s raw, have a number handy to order take-out!

Talk! Laugh! Drink! Make memories!

And, most of all be thankful

Remember: it isn’t about the turkey in the oven, it’s about all the turkeys around the table.

Sorry, Martha.

~Chef Perry

PS – For more of my favorite holiday recipes and tips, check out my video,Home Chef Holiday Cooking Tips on YouTube…and heck, while you’re there, please subscribe to my channel! 😉 

Holiday Cooking Home Chef Guide


Bacon Wrapped Turkey…just don’t do it!


I get this video or meme sent to me at LEAST 3 times a week, during the holiday season.

I did it a couple of years ago, and my advice is…DON’T.

It adds great flavor, but the turkey skin is inedible, soggy and rubbery.

If you want to try it, do this instead…

Make a bacon weave…

and put it UNDER the skin of the breast.

Best of both worlds, Baby! 😉

~Chef Perry


Want to help me feed hungry families, teach at-risk & special-needs kids to cook for themselves and their families, and change lives?

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ChickPeas Kitchen: “The Real Deal!”

ChickPeas Kitchen Logo

ChickPeas KitchenThe first ChickPeas Kitchen opened in Davis, California, in 2014, using age-old family recipes – some taking as many as three days to prepare traditionally and from scratch, using only the freshest ingredients.

Clearly, ChickPeas’ customers appreciate the extra work. So much so that three more of the popular restaurant’s locations have sprung up (Woodland, Sacramento, & Fairfield) since!

ChickPeas Kitchen Salad Bar

One of their favorite features is the “open salad bar”, where customers can personalize their chosen entrée from 14 ready-made salad and pickle options, making each dish truly unique (and uniquely delicious!) All but one of the salads bar choices are 100% vegan-friendly, including favorites like vegan baklava, and vegan/gluten-free falafel, which are a big plus California’s health-conscience clientele.


The fresh-made shawarma is one of the most popular menu choices. ChickPeas is the  only local eatery to offer organic, vegan, non-GMO shawarma that feels and tastes like the real deal. The handmade (and proprietary) Shawarma seasoning includes forty-nine different spices imported from all over the world.

The handmade (and proprietary) Shawarma seasoning includes forty-nine different spices imported from all over the world.

Founder and CEO Mike Ben Namer came to the US with his family while still in his twenties. A former restaurant owner and graduate of the prestigious Tadmor Culinary School in Israel, Mike found himself missing the foods of his homeland, finding the local versions disappointing in comparison.

o (3)The ‘fast food” techniques being used, like wholesale (and frozen) meats and pre-packaged falafel mixes, simply didn’t measure us, and he craved the hand-crafted dishes, fresh herbs, and authentic spices that he’d grown up with.

So…since he couldn’t find anyone else doing it right, he chose to do it himself!

ChickPeas Kitchen’s Mission: To make each and every customer experience as real-deal authentic as possible and to share the fresh, healthy*, delicious foods of the Mediterranean and Middle East, as they were meant to be served!

At ChickPeas Kitchen, the proof is on every plate, but don’t just take our word for it, here’s what our amazing customers are saying:

o (8).v1 (1)“After they handed me my paper plate of falafel balls, hummus, baba ghanoush, and pita I piled on the cucumbers, chopped tomatoes, onions, cabbage and yogurt sauce. So tasty and an excellent value.”

“The food is literally made fresh to your order. This was my first Mediterranean restaurant, and I am a fan! If you’re ever in need a quick, healthy bite to eat…please do stop here. You won’t be disappointed!”

“Fantastic food, large portions, good variety of veggies! Vegan, beef, and chicken options. Staff is super helpful and so nice!”

“I love ChickPeas! The falafel is amazing, as others have said. I also love to get the family platter. It feeds many people, is healthy and tasty, is affordable and is really perfect for take-out for groups. So easy and delish!”

ChickPeas team members clean, cut, and prepare all the meats on-site, so they know exactly what they’re serving to their customers, and they take great pride in the fact that 90% of the menu made in-house.

Says Mike, “We believe in letting our fresh, authentic ingredients do the talking. When it comes to authentic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, ChickPeas Kitchen is the place to go.”

This is Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food the way it’s meant to be, made by people who grew up with these dishes.

Fresh, all natural, and healthy ingredients prepared by experienced hands, and served with pride.

ChickPeas truly is the Real Deal!

o (6)

*The Mayo Clinic has stated that traditional Mediterranean-style dining is “a delicious and healthy way to eat. Many people who switch to this style of eating say they’ll never eat any other way.” It is also recognized by the World Health Organization as a healthy and sustainable dietary pattern. (



The Knife



This knife was given to me by my dad, who got it from HIS dad, both of whom cooked Frank_Ray_Perkins.v1with it professionally for many, many years.

My Grandfather used it to help prepare the dinner for President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the dedication of Timberline Lodge on Sept. 28, 1937, and for his fellow WPA workers who built the lodge, before that.

My Uncle used it to cook for his fellow sailors on the Battleship “USS Missouri” at Pearl Harbor (1944), Iwo Jima (1945), and Okinawa (1945).

If the stories are to be believed (and I choose to believe them, lol) it was even used at a picnic to cut a slice of pecan pie for Dr. Martin Luther King, in Atlanta, GA (1965)

Frank Ray Perkins
USS Missouri – Okinawa 1945
Frank L Perkins
Dad – Carving a Baron of Beef at the Hilton Hotel

It was one of the six knives Dad carried, rolled up in an old apron, when we (me, mom & dad) hitch-hiked from Atlanta to Portland Oregon in the summer of 1970 (I was 18/mo old) and was used in some of the finest kitchens in the Pacific Northwest.

Including the Portland Hilton, and the old Trader Vic’s at the Hotel Benson (Now El Gauchos Steakhouse), over the following two decades, as well as in many soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and even a couple of ELK Lodges. 

And, of course, many, many family dinners at home and around camp-fires.

It’s cut two hundred dollars a pound Kobe Beef, .29 cents a can SPAM, and everything in between..

I was taught the right way hold, hone, oil, and cut with it from the time I was 8 years old.

How to love it, and how to respect it.

1510975_969331846434982_8983838740117068454_nThe last time Dad used it, before giving it to me, was to prepare mine and Vickie’s wedding rehearsal dinner on April 19th, 1996.

The blood of three generations of my family is (literally, lol) in this old wooden handle.

It is my most prized material possession.

Now, I use it once a year, on August 16th (Dad’s birthday) to prepare his (and my) favorite dinner:

Pan Seared New York Strip Steak, sauteed button mushrooms, whole new potatoes, and golden hominy in steak drippings.


Someday, I’ll pass it along to the 4th generation of Perkins cooks, and then it will be Gracie’s story to tell.

Tonight, she’ll help me make that traditional dinner, and she’ll use this knife.

Happy Birthday, Pops. I’ll teach her right…

~Chef Perry

Pasta Carbonara 04/06/17


Beat the Heat with Summer Salads!

Okay, it’s summer…and it’s hot. 

I don’t like hot…I tend to lose my cherub-like demeanor when it’s hot. 😉 

This time of year, we (at the TeamPerk Clubhouse) tend to live on a lot of no-cook dishes and salads. This morning, I get to share some of my favorites on AM Northwest.

Strawberry VinegretteSimple Strawberry Vinaigrette

  • 1 C strawberries, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider, or balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Combine the strawberries, honey, oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor and puree* until very smooth, about 2 minutes.

Serve immediately or store (refrigerated) up to 48 hours.

*For a “chunkier” dressing combine the chopped strawberries with the remaining ingredients and let it rest for an hour or so (do not puree.) This process is called “macerating” (marinating fruit with vinegar).

Summer Salads AMNW


An interesting dish has a balance of flavors and textures. If there’s a sweet (fruit – fresh or dried), add a salt like nuts, olives, anchovies, etc. Soft textures like tomatoes, or cheese, pair nicely with the crunch of celery, radishes, croutons, chopped apple…you get the idea.

This is one of the reasons I love this recipe, as it hits all the right notes:

  • Sweet: Strawberries & Honey
  • Savory/Fat: Olive Oil
  • Salty: Salt
  • Tangy: Vinegar

Chef’s Note: PLEASE don’t drown the beautiful flavors of your fresh, seasonal ingredients with a heavy, fatty sauce. Dressing should be used with a light hand to enhance the flavor of vegetables, not to cover them up.

Sometimes just a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with your tomatoes, cucumbers, and maybe a little feta, really hits the spot.

Here are a few more of my summer favorites:


Shrimp-A-Cado Salad

I found the original recipe in my father’s copy of A Chef’s Companion, and substituted the prawns for crab (it was cheaper, and I love prawns!) Dad used to make the original recipe when he’d ticked Mom off, and was tryin’ to make good.

So, we had it… a LOT. 😉


downloadBow Tie Pasta with Zucchini Sauce
Serves 4

2 cup bow-tie pasta
2 cloves garlic
2 medium zucchini
1 medium shallot, or small yellow onion.
1 Tablespoon grape-seed oil
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tsp. Better Than Bullion chicken base
1 tsp. ground black pepper

Cook pasta in salted water, according to package instructions. Prepare zucchini sauce while pasta cooks.

Peel and mince garlic, dice the shallot (or onion).

Rinse and grate zucchini.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and minced garlic, with a dash of salt, and saute until the onion are translucent. Add zucchini, and cook until mixture softens and zucchini yields some liquid, about 5 minutes.

Drain pasta, reserving ½ cup cooking liquid, and mix in chicken base (with the liquid) to create broth.

Add 1-2 teaspoons of the broth at a time to zucchini mixture. Add drained pasta. Stir, coating pasta evenly with sauce. Add more broth as needed (I used the whole 1/2 cup).

Transfer pasta to large bowl for serving. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

California Roll

Deconstructed California Roll Salad

First appearing in Los Angeles in the 1960s, the California Roll is a maki-zushi, a kind of sushi roll, usually made inside-out, containing cucumber, crab meat or imitation crab, and avocado.

Though there are many variations of additional ingredients, these are the “mainstay” of the California roll.

As one of the most popular styles of sushi in the US market, the California Roll has been influential in sushi’s global popularityIchiro Mashita, a sushi chef, first substituted avocado for toro (fatty tuna) in hope that removing the raw fish would make it more palatable to Western customers, and realized the oily texture of avocado was a perfect substitute for toro. He also made the roll “inside-out” (with the rice on the outside), because Americans didn’t like seeing and chewing the nori on the outside of the roll.

By the 1980s, the California Roll was the single most popular item in the sushi craze that was sweeping across the United States.

This recipe allows for the same flavors and textures of the traditional California roll, without requiring the skills or equipment necessary to create the more familiar rolled presentation, with Furikake seasoning replacing the traditional nori (seaweed sheets).

Furikake seasoning can be found in Asian grocery stores, or can be ordered from our store.

  • 1 batch sushi rice (recipe below), room temp.
  • 2 Tbsp. Furikaki seasoning
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 8 oz. imitation crab or lobster
  • 1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • Pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce for serving (opt)

Mise en Place

Prepare the rice (recipe below). Peel, seed, and cut cucumber into half-rounds. Break imitation crab into bite-sized portions. Peeled and pit the avocado, and slice 1/4-inch thick.

Prepare the Dish

Divide the cooled rice between two plates, and sprinkle with 1/2 of the Furikaki seasoning and 1/2 of the toasted sesame seeds. Top with crab, cucumber, and avocado, the sprinkle with remaining Furikaki seasoning and sesame seeds.

Serve immediately with pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce (all optional).

Sushi Rice

  • 1 cup sushi or short grain rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt

Rinse rice in a mixing bowl 2 to 3 times, or until the water is clear.

Place the rice and 1 cup of water into a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Combine the rice vinegar, mirin, sugar and salt in a small bowl and heat in the microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer the rice into a large wooden or glass mixing bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Fold thoroughly to combine and coat each grain of rice with the mixture.

Allow to cool to room temperature before using to make sushi or sashimi.

Makes 2 cups

Morrocan Carrot Salad.jpg

Moroccan Carrot Salad with Paprika and Cumin

I love Moroccan food, especially the numerous “small dishes” that lead up to the entree. The cold carrot salad is one of my favorites, and this is my favorite recipe for that dish

  • 1 lb. fresh carrots
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, partially crushed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Slice carrots into 1/2 inch thick rounds, and boil in salted water until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and immediately cover the carrots with cold water to stop further cooking. Once cold, drain again.

In a medium pot or skillet, gently sauté the garlic cloves in the olive oil for two or three minutes over low heat. Discard the garlic, and add the carrots, lemon juice, cilantro, mint, and spices.

Sauté over low heat for another two minutes, and remove from the heat.

Serve either warm or chilled (I prefer chilled).


Asian Cucumber Salad

  • 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup fine sugar
  • 2 Tbs toasted sesame seeds

Toss together the cucumbers and onion in a large bowl. Combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, and pour over the cucumber and onions.

Cover and refrigerate until cold. Stir in sesame seeds, and serve.

This can also be eaten at room temperature, but be sure to allow the cucumbers to marinate for at least 1 hour.


Cover in frameThe Home Chef: Transforming the American Kitchen

Something amazing has begun to happen in the last two decades, something that has never before happened in the history of cooking…instead of growing wider, the gap between the home cook and the professional chef has actually begun to narrow, and continues to narrow exponentially with each passing year.

The time when these specialized skills were limited to those who could afford the cost and time required for culinary school are quickly passing into history.

The time when the sole requirement to elevate your cooking skills to this level…passion…is emerging.

It’s an amazing time to become a Home Chef…and if you have that passion, I’ll show you how.


Chef Perry P. Perkins


Momma Mary’s Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pot de Creme

Momma Mary’s Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pot de Creme

Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 cup Milk Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1 cup whole milk, hot
  • 4 raw eggs, out of shell
  • 2 C. Frozen Raspberries, thawed
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp fine white sugar
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 32 fresh raspberries. chilled
  • Fresh Whipped Cream (Optional) 

Pot de Creme

  1. Pour chocolate chips into food processor. Add eggs and blend for 10-20 seconds to combine.
  2. Heat 1 cup milk to a low simmer (you want it hot). Start blender again and slowly add the hot milk, allowing it to incorporate evenly with the chips and eggs.
  3. Pour contents into 8 serving cups. Place in the fridge for 2 hours, or until firm.

Raspberry Gastric

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat, add thawed raspberries (with juice), vinegar, and sugar. Simmer and stir until liquid is reduced creating a thick paste.

Remove from heat and chill while pot de creme sets.

Add 1 Tbsp of raspberry gastric to each pot de creme cup, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and top with 3-4 fresh raspberries.

Serve immediately. 

Are you a fan of chocolate and peanut butter? Here’s a Pot de Creme for YOU! 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pot de Creme


To Wash or Not to Wash?

Washing Raw Chicken

Growing up working in restaurant kitchens, one of the (many) unwritten laws was that as soon as raw chicken arrived, it was unpackaged, inspected and counted, rinsed, dried, trimmed as needed, repackaged according to dish, labeled, and tucked into the walk-in.

Finally, the sink, station, boards, knives, etc., were immediately scrubbed down with santizer and rinsed.

I’ve done this exact process with hundreds of thousands of pieces of chicken.

Apparently, at least according to the CDC, we were all doing it wrong…

should I rinse raw chicken?
In this article on the Cooking Light website, the CDC goes on to say:

“The logic behind washing your raw chicken is clear: You don’t want to get food poisoning. But washing your chicken before cooking it might do more harm than good. If you place your raw chicken in the sink to wash it, for example, bacteria that have contaminated the chicken could get transferred to the sink and any other utensils in the sink. If you then use one of those utensils, you could get food poisoning from the indirect contact you made with the raw chicken.”

“During washing, chicken juices can spread in the kitchen and contaminate other food, utensils, and countertops,” the CDC explains.

While I don’t necessesarily disagree with this statement, my concern is that one of the fundamental rules of kitchen safety is being ignored by simply making the prolem go away. When following proper kitchen procedure, the risk of cross-contamination is little to none, while working with unwashed raw chicken directly before cooking carries a far greater risk of it.

is washing chicken bad

During cooking, when our attention is already often divided, does handling raw, unwashed chicken increases the risk of contamination knives, utensils, pan handles, container and lids,  sink handles, etc., far more than at a dedicated food-washing station with our sole attention?

When workingshould I wash raw chicken? with raw meat, especially poultry, everything the meat or juices touch, including counter-tops and floors, needs to be cleaned with either a commercial santiizer or a bleach solution.

Is the CDC’s suggestion safer…or just easier?

Tell me what you think…

~Chef Perry

Frugal Fine Cooking


Frugal Bulk Food Storage

Frugal Bulk Food Storage Ideas

Hey all,


Okay, so we’ve been trying to pinch some pennies around the ol’ TeamPerk clubhouse. I may or may not have recently totaled our car, and the new one hit the savings account pretty hard. Ugh.

So, we’re tightening the belt on the budget…which was already pretty darn tight!

One way we’ve found to do so is to start buying a lot of out “staples” in bulk. (Usually on red-eye trips to Winco to avoid the horrible crowds…)

The only problem for me, as the cook, was that I ended up with a dozen plastic bags of stuff (rice, oatmeal, couscous, beans, etc.,) all piled together on a shelf.

NOT a fan!

Luckily, I also shop at Costco for a few items, milk being one of them. Now, to be honest, I hate the new milk containers when it comes to pouring milk. And usually end up grumbling as I wipe up spills at least half the time.

However, I also discovered that those new milk jugs happen to fit perfectly on the shelf that I keep the bulk foods on…

The following recycle project was born!

DIY Bulk Food Storage



Wash the empty jug with soap and water. Allow it to air dry for a couple of days. (Btw, the label is very easy to remove when the jug is full of hot water.)



Take the “recipe card” (these are usually in a rack on each bulk food aisle) and tape it securely to the front of the jug. I used packing tape and covered the whole label. That way it remains water, stain, and wear proof.


As an added bonus, I’ve found that it’s REALLY easy to pour the contents into a measuring cup! (As demonstrated here by my lovely assistant.)


That’s it!

All my bulk foods can be stacked side by side for easy access, and easily refilled. If you wanted to be REALLY picky, you could fill the container a cup at a time and make hash-marks on the side. That way, you’ll know how much you’re using on a weekly/monthly basis.

Also, I’ve got my recipe right there with the food and never have to go find it!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Plus, given the truckloads of milk my daughter goes through, I always have a ready supply. And a little more room in the recycle bin each week is nice, too.

NOTE: If you need smaller containers and need to optimize your space, the plastic ½ gallon milk containers are shaped just like this and take up a lot less room.

Now, if I can just figure out how to sell a totaled car…

~Chef P

PS ~ For more great tips on bulk foods, check out my post: “Confessions of a Grocery Ninja“, and my Oregonian article on shopping the bulk foods aisles!

Frugal Fine Cooking


5 Classic Regional BBQ Sauces

traditional bbq sauce recipes


Traditional BBQ Sauce RecipesIn BBQ and grilling, sauces are used to flavor, marinade, glaze, and as a condiment or topping for seared and smoked meats, especially ribs and chicken.

History places the origin of BBQ sauce to the first American colonies of the 17th century and can be found in recipes and cookbooks (both English and French) over the following two centuries.

Much like chili in Texas, these sauces were less about gourmet ambitions, and  more about masking the often off-putting odors and flavors of “aged” meat in a pre-refrigeration society.

The origins of these sauces isn’t particularly complicated, take the traditional tastes and flavors of the predominate immigrant population, add in the most similar ingredients that could be found locally, and mix with some good old American ingenuity, and you have the roots of a tradition that has only grown stronger and more popular over the last two centuries.

South Carolina mustard sauce, for example, can be traced to that region’s German settlers of the early 18th century

Ingredients vary widely even within states and counties of the American South, but most include a base of vinegar, tomato paste, or mayonnaise (or a combination). Liquid smoke, and spices like paprika, mustard and black pepper, and sweeteners such as sugar and molasses typically round of the recipes.

Here are five of my personal favorites…

Eastern Carolina Sauce recipeThis & Tangy Eastern North Carolina BBQ Sauce (my favorite)

  • 1 Gal. cider vinegar                             
  • 1 Cup crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. ground black pepper              
  • ¼ Cup fine sea salt

Combine ingredients, heat to a low simmer, and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring often.

Chill for at least 24 hours (72 is better) before using.

This sauce get’s better with age, which is why I make it a gallon at a time!

Pulled pork bbq sauce recipes

North Carolina Barbecue Sauce

In the Carolinas, the barbeque meat is pork, and the barbeque sauces are matters of hot debate even from one town to the next. Some sauces are thin and vinegary, while some regions add ketchup, or even mustard. This is the recipe I grew up with, and Pop’s recipe is still my go-to for amazing baby-back ribs.

  • 1 qt cider vinegar                                         
  • 12 oz ketchup
  • 2/3 C packed brown sugar                           
  • 2 Tbs salt
  • ¼ C lemon juice                                          
  • 1 Tbs red pepper flakes          
  • 1 Tbs smoked paprika                                 
  • 1 Tbs onion powder
  • 1 tsp each: black pepper, dry mustard          

Bring all ingredients to the boil, and then simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently.

Allow to cool, and serve or bottle.

Traditional Kansas City sauce recipesMemphis-Style Barbecue Sauce

Slightly on the sweeter side, Memphis barbecue sauce has its own distinctive flavor, as well. Though the specific ingredients will vary from cook to cook, Memphis sauce is usually made with tomatoes, vinegar, and any countless combination of spices.

Memphis sauce is poured over pulled pork  or served alongside of dry ribs.

  • 1 Tbs butter                                                 
  • ¼ C finely chopped onion
  • 1 ½ C ketchup                                             
  • ¼ C chili sauce
  • 4 Tbs brown sugar                                       
  • 4 Tbs molasses
  • 2 Tbs yellow mustard                                   
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce                         
  • 1 Tbs liquid hickory smoke
  • ½ tsp garlic powder                                    
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper                          
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • dash cayenne pepper

Bring all ingredients to the boil, and then simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently.

Allow to cool, and serve or bottle.

Texas Brisket sauce recipes

Texas Brisket Sauce

Texas is famous for tender slow-smoked brisket. Sauces are usually thin, spicy, and mixed with intensely flavorful pan drippings.

  • ½ C brisket drippings (defatted)                  
  • ½ C vinegar
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce                         
  • ½ C ketchup
  • ½ tsp hot pepper sauce (Franks)                 
  • 1 lg onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed                            
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • ½ tsp chili powder                                       
  • traditional Texas bbq sauce recipesJuice of one lemon

Combine all ingredients.

Simmer, whisking occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Allow to rest 1-2 hours, and serve warm (on the side) with pencil-thin sliced brisket and sliced white bread.

Note: I like to coat the whole brisket in gold sauce after rubbing with spices, and the drizzle with some warmed sauce just before service.


South Carolina Gold Sauce

  • ½ Gal. yellow mustard
  • ½ Gal. cider vinegar
  • 1 Cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. sea salt
  • ¼ Cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. black pepper
  • ¼ Cup Louisiana hot sauce (to taste)

For each of these recipes, combine ingredients, heat to a low simmer, and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring often.

Chill for at least 24 hours (72 is better) before using.

BTW, I have a LOT more BBQ & Grilling recipes, for all types of cooking, over on my outdoor cooking blog, La Caja China Cooking

~Chef Perry