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A New (Old) Thing

One of the advantages of being sick is that it gives you time to think. Well, maybe not while you are sick but in those limbo days just after being sick. In that time right after feeling like death warmed over and before back to normal there's a space, the length of which depends on how sick you really were, that allows for introspection and reassessments. This time, having just turned 50 and being sick right at the cusp of the new year, is particularly poignant. There's nothing quite like turning half a century and then getting hit with the Big Cootie to make you question your path.

Moving the gym out to my house was a huge success. It was a ton of work, but everyone was excited and the first six months or so went great. Over the course of the summer a few of my clients began to fall off. It's the nature of the business. Client attrition is something all gym owners have to deal with. The smart ones have an aggressive recruitment plan and are always adding new clients to replace the ones who fall off. A mentor once told me that if I wasn't growing I was shrinking. There's no maintenance in the gym business.

Clearly I'm not working with that guy anymore.

One of the reasons I wanted to move my gym home was I had no desire to be a Globo Gym. I want to be small so I can focus on my clients and give them the service they deserve. Besides, I hate marketing. Trying to sum up what I do in a 30 second soundbite is an absolute nightmare.

I love working from home, though. I love being close to Samantha and her business. I love my house and being able to seamlessly transition from clients to chores or repairs. I have garden plans, wood pile plans, and lot plans, including the overall improvement of soil and growing conditions on Goat Hill and the establishment of an archery range.

I love being close to my kitchen. I take to heart Hippocrates maxim, "Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be food." In the old days I'd be at the gym from 6 am until 7 pm most days. It would be 8 or later when I'd get home and I didn't have the time or energy to cook. Samantha stepped up admirably and provided our family with good meals for the 15 years I worked at the Lakeview location.

But now that I'm home I can really begin to run my kitchen the way I want - as the heart and soul of our house and family where nourishment is found and given. In my fantasies it's run like a kitchen in an old manor house, practically self sufficient with gardens providing produce, a hen house for eggs, and huntsmen to bring in wild game for fresh meat. That's a ton of work, I know. Work historically done by a team, but the ideal still remains and the closer I get to it the more my family benefits.

My kids are grown now, but there will be grandchildren and I want the house that Sam and I create to be a magical haven they're eager to visit just like my grandparent's farm was for me.

I've taken too long a break from writing and as a result my brain has gotten slow and thick. Half thought thoughts slosh around and never reach full maturity. But writing is a painful process. Sure, it starts out like gangbusters, but tomorrow when I sit at the keyboard I'll just stare at it dully uninspired and mad at myself for making another pledge I'll ultimately betray. Write what you know they say. Historically I discount what I know best as redundant (someone else has already said it and said it better) or uninteresting, but I've never tried writing about food before.

And I know food.

As a gym guy, it may seem counterintuitive to tie a fitness site to a food blog, but I find the two intimately linked. Most of us go to the gym in the first place to try and correct a dysfunctional relationship with food. Those of us who've tried know how well that's worked out. So let's look at food. Let's examine our relationship with it and find the harmony between taste, nutrition, and all the awesome stuff it can enable us to do.

That photo at the top of the blog? That was our midday meal, breakfast for me, but Samantha doesn't like my eating schedule (nor should she, it's just what's naturally evolved for me, more on that later) and so for her it was a proper lunch, Here's how I made it.

Potato Soup with Conecuh Sausage

First off, Conecuh Sausage is absolutely amazing. It's made here in Alabama with just the right amount of spiciness and is perfect for just about anything sausage but I really like it in soups and jambalayas. Costco sells it in a mega pack of several pounds. I took two full lengths, about a pound and a half, and sliced them into thin medallions. I sauteed that in my cast iron Dutch oven over medium heat until crispy. With a slotted spoon I removed the sausage leaving all that spicy fatty goodness behind.

To the fat I added two medium yellow onions, diced and cooked until translucent. While the sausage was cooking I peeled 6 yellow potatoes (generic Yukon Golds) and while the onions cooked I cubed them. To the onions I added a fat spoonful of roasted garlic.

Aldi's sells these bags of already peeled garlic. I like to take the whole bag and dump it into an oven safe dish, cover with oil and roast until tender. This sits in a jar and is on hand whenever I need an easy boost of sweet garlic. That fat spoonful easily held eight or nine cloves.

Next went in the cubed potatoes. Stir them around in the fat and onions and garlic a minute and add stock to cover. I used a chicken bone broth in which I had parboiled venison ribs for several hours in a few days ago (No, you don't have to go through that process, just use what you've got, even if it's canned. But trust me, stick around long enough and I'll have you storing bones in the freezer and keeping homemade bone broth on hand. It is so worth the extra effort.) Cook the potatoes until a paring knife just slides though.

Once the potatoes were done I brought out the immersion blender and pureed those suckers into a silky golden soup. Then just seasoned with a splash of rice wine vinegar, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. To serve I added a handful of the Conecuh medallions and a squeeze of lemon juice. At the table I dropped in a handful or arugula, 'cause I didn't want to cover up the sausage for the photo.

It was delicious.

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Susan Finley
Susan Finley

Beautifully written--I could smell the garlic from here. Looking forward to more of your writing. I am in awe of what you know about cooking and so many other subjects!


Kathy Avsar
Kathy Avsar

Looks absolutely delicious and love the new blog...Kathy

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