The Home Chef: Transforming the American Kitchen” Available for Pre-Order

Contact: Perry P. Perkins/Elk Mountain Books
perry@perryperkinsbooks.com; 503-899-0558

The Home Chef

Transforming the American Kitchen

By Chef Perry P. Perkins

Now Taking Pre-Orders

The Home Chef: Transforming the American KitchenPraise for THE HOME CHEF:

This cookbook is about much more than just cooking. Chock full of how-tos, meal planning tips, and tasty recipes, its purpose is to teach our current and future generations to appreciate and enjoy the benefits and importance of cooking for themselves and their families, and how eating healthy can effect the length, quality, and impact of their lives. And that, changes destinies. ~ Amy J. Roloff, Little People BIG World

* * * *

This is the book I have been waiting for! I am thrilled and love the countless incredible recipes featured. Perkins writes with a calm and reassuring manner. He is precise in his description of cooking time, internal temperatures, thermometer readings, and detailed profession-level techniques to achieve the best results.

~ Just A Pinch Recipe Club

* * * *

Perkins is a chef with both skill and passion. I am sure whoever reads and tries the recipes and tips in “The Home Chef” will embark on an amazing culinary adventure, just as I have.

~ Round Table Reviews

* * * *

Today the average American spends just 27 minutes on food prep each day (and another four or five cleaning up); that’s less than half the time that we spent in the kitchen when Julia Child first appeared on our TV screens.

It’s also less than half the time it takes to sit through an episode of “Chopped” or “Cutthroat Kitchen.” As Americans, we’re are spending considerably more time watching cooking than we are cooking ourselves — an “old fashioned” activity that today’s hustle and bustle world will tell you they no longer have the time for.

We are standing at the edge of a cliff.

Our health, our finances, even the very fabric of our families are poised to plunge over the brink. At our backs is the home kitchen, the family…time.

Before us nothing less than total destruction.

We have an obligation, a moral imperative if you will, to regain control of our children’s health, our planet’s sustainability, even our nation’s greatness.

And I believe it starts in the kitchen.

* * * *

Part syllabus, part autobiography, part call-to-arms, The Home Chef is about the rapidly evolving landscape of cooking in America, and how to cook real food, the best food possible, in your own kitchen, and more importantly…why you should.

Filled with insider tips and tricks from the professional kitchen, hundreds of links and resources to (free) professional level education, and easy to follow instructions from a professional cooking instructor, The Home Chef: Transforming the American Kitchen is culinary school for the home cook.

Everything you need, and nothing you don’t, to take your own culinary creations to the next level, while saving time, money, and waste doing so.

This collection of dozens of “real food” recipes, hundreds of professional cooking tips and free educational video links, includes topic to take the home cook (or the never-have-cook) to a professional level of food preparation with topics like: The Adventurous Chef, Real Food, The Problem with Farm to Table, Using Organic Ingredients, The Secret to Kitchen Success, The Home Chef’s Pantry, Stocking Your Kitchen Toolbox. Knife Handling & Care, Tips & Tricks from the Restaurant Kitchen, What is a Chef, Corporate Food, GMO Labeling, Grocery Shopping Tips, How to Shop for Fresh Vegetables, The Flavor Profiles, The Truth about “Super-Foods”, Veganism, Food Safety, Mise en Place, Kitchen Organization, Spices, Gourmet Cooking, How to Read (and Write) a Recipe, Common Cooking Methods, Broths & Gravies, The Mother Sauces, How to Cook Vegetables, “Food Porn”, Layering Flavors, Grilling & BBQ, Paying it Forward, and more.

Resources include: a Printable Fridge & Pantry List, Vegetable Cooking Charts, Meat Marinating Charts, Weights & Measurements, Wine Pairing Tips, Glossary of Cooking Terms, Favorite YouTube Cooking Channels, Pay-to-Play Online Resources, and links to hundreds of Chef Perry’s own Recipes.

Peppered with true stories and humorous anecdotes, “hands on” homework assignments, and inspirational quotes from the best chefs in the world, The Home Chef gives the reader everything they need to begin or advance their home cooking to the next level.

# # # # #


Perry P. Perkins is an award-winning third generation professional chef, culinary instructor, cookbook author, a professional food blogger, and member of the International Food Blogger’s Conference Advisory Board. Chef Perry has appeared on “Little People, BIG World” with Amy Roloff, “RibFest Chicago” with Ty Pennington, and writes regularly for Kenmore Grills, La Caja China, and Latin Touch.

He operates SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com, which is a free weekly recipe and meal-planning service that’s designed to help consumers maximize their grocery dollars by preparing budget-friendly healthy meals, while reducing food waste.

Perkins also runs the non-profit My Kitchen Outreach Program, which teaches the basics of nutrition and money-saving shopping, as well as no-cost hands on cooking classes for at-risk and special needs kids.

Pre-Order Here for Discounted & Early Shipping!



By Perry P. Perkins

Elk Mountain Books * April 1, 2017 * 410 pages

Price: $19.95 paperback * ISBN: 1533350337


Chef Perry’s Perfect Pot-Roast

Perfect Pot Roast

I’m all about the comfort food and, let’s face it…it doesn’t get much more comforting that a rich, beefy, unctuous beef pot roast.

Now, you can train a monkey to flop a hunk of cow in a crockpot and douse with with French onion soup mix, but for a next-level roast, prepared with a refined French-style layering of flavors you need to do a little more work, a little more attention to detail…a little more love.

Little things like using two steaks instead of a single, thicker roast, allow a better marriage of beef and veggie flavors. Roasting your mushrooms, and sauteing the shallots and garlic allow them to maintain their own distinct flavors, a little acid cuts the rich fattiness of the meat, and cooking your ingredients at varying times allows for a consistent texture, nothing too tough and nothing too mushy. Perfection isn’t easy, but it’s so, so worth it.

And, let’s face it…a cow died for your dinner, you owe him that.

Here’s what I’m talking about…

Chef P’s Pot Roast

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tsp bacon drippings
2 boneless chuck roast steaks, trimmed (3-pounds total)
2 Tbsp coarse sea salt
2 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp porcini mushroom powder
2 cups coarsely chopped shallots
8 garlic cloves
3 cup beef stock
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups peeled baby carrots
12 oz white mushrooms, halved and roasted
2 pounds russet potatoes, unpeeled and cut in half
1/4 cup soft butter + 1/4 cup flour
Sea salt to taste
Fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

Roast your mushrooms and set aside.

Heat olive oil and bacon drippings in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steaks with salt, pepper, and porcini powder, dredge in flour.

Perfect Pot Roast recipe
Add shallots and garlic cloves to the skillet; sauté 8 minutes or well browned and crusted, remove solids, and set aside. Add steaks to pan; cook 5 minutes, turning to brown on both sides. Remove meat from pan.

Perfect Pot Roast recipe
MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

Return one browned steak to slow cooker. Layer onions and garlic, then cut potatoes over the top. Dust with more mushroom powder, and top with second steak.

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Add beef broth, vinegar, Worcestershire, and bay leaf to pan; bring to a simmer. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours.

Perfect Pot Roast recipe
Carefully remove potatoes and set aside. Add the carrots and roasted mushrooms. Cover and cook 2 more hours. Remove bay leaf from cooker, discard.

Defatting beef stock
Pour off juice and defat, heat the resulting broth in a medium saucepan to simmer. Combine flour and butter to make a smooth paste.

Thickening with butter and flour

Whisk the mixture vigorously into the simmering broth until thickened. Taste for seasonings, adding salt and pepper, vinegar or Worcestershire sauce as desired.

adding butter to stock

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Shred meat with 2 forks, return to slow-cooker along with broth and all veggies. Stir and allow to warm through. Garnish with cilantro leaves, sprinkle with coarse black pepper, smoked paprika, and serve with hot dinner rolls.

BTW, like most roasted meals, this dish impoves with age. It’s better the next day, it’s divine on day three.

Perfect Pot Roast


Amazon Smile Donating 10X Today Only!


Heyya Peeps…BIG NEWS!

Today Amazon is donating 10x the usual amount to charities through their Smile Program!

If you’ve been thinking about picking up any of my novels, cookbooks, story-story collections, or my new Chicken Soup anthology for yourself or others, today’s the day!

1) Go to: https://smile.amazon.com/
2) Log into your Amazon account
3) Click the “Supporting” arrow, and choose “MY KITCHEN Outreach Program”
4) Then, in the search box, type “Perry P. Perkins”
5) Order any of the books that catch your eye!

That’s it!

Simple, no extra cost to you, and our outreach gets TEN TIMES the regular donation from Amazon!

PLUS…I will donate 100% of any sales earned today to MK as well!

How’s THAT for a Win-Win?

Thank for for helping us help at-risk and special-needs kids!

~ Chef Perry

PS – This counts for ANY purchases you make from Amazon after Step #3



Skillet Seared Rib Steak Dinner

Skillet seared rib steaks with spinach

A rib steak is a beef steak sliced from the rib primal of a beef animal, with rib bone attached. In the United States, the term rib-eye steak is used for a rib steak with the bone removed; however in some areas, and outside the U.S., the terms are often used interchangeably.

The term “cowboy ribeye” or “cowboy cut” is often used in American restaurants for a bone-in rib eye. The rib eye or “ribeye” was originally, as the name implies, the center best portion of the rib steak, without the bone. In Australia, “ribeye” is used when this cut is served with the bone in. With the bone removed, it is called “Scotch fillet”.

rib steaks

It is both flavorful and tender, coming from the lightly worked upper rib cage area. Its marbling of fat makes it very good for fast and hot cooking.

First and of foremost importance to searing the perfect skillet steak is the skillet.

You need a large, well-seasoned, cast iron skillet (12-16 inch, a similar sized dutch oven will work in a pinch). If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, go buy one. If you’re not willing to buy one, stop reading now, you can’t make this recipe.

Perfect Skillet-Seared Rib Steak

Perfect Skillet-Seared Rib Steak Dinner
2 bone-in rib steaks, at least 1 1/2-inches thick, about 1 pound each
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grape-seed oil
1/2 cup butter
8-10 cloves of whole peeled garlic
1/2 cup white onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup dry Sherry

Pre-heat oven to 300F.

Perfect Skillet-Seared Rib Steak

Pat steaks dry with paper towels. Allow to rest at room temperature for at least 40 minutes and up to 2 hours.

Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over high heat until heavily smoking. Season steaks liberally with salt and pepper, add steaks, onions, and garlic to the skillet and cook for 3-5 minutes per side, flipping just once.

Perfect Skillet-Seared Rib Steak

Remove steaks to a pre-warmed baking dish and place in preheated oven. Leave onions and garlic in the skillet, add parsley.

Reduce the heat under the pan to medium, and let cool slightly (add a little more oil if necessary).

Sauteing garlic and onion

Add sherry and butter and saute, stirring and scarping up any browned bits left from the meat, simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Replace steaks to the skillet and flip to coat evenly.

Sauteing garlic and onion

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

Move steaks and sauce to a warm baking dish and place in the oven to finish (do NOT wipe the skillet clean!)

Cook to an internal temp of 130F. Remove steaks from oven and spoon with pan sauce. Tent loosely with foil. Allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Seared rib steak

Meanwhile, cook spinach in skillet (see below.)

Baked sweet potatoes with chili butter

Baked Chili Sweet Potatoes
(Cook before the steaks, finish right before serving)

4 medium swet potatoes
2 tsp. Mexican chili powder
4 Tbs. butter
Salt & pepper to taste

Baked sweet potatoes

Preheat oven to 400°F.

With a sharp knife, slash sweet potato skin 4-5 times.

Place in pre-heated oven and bake until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Baked sweet potatoes

Slice each potato open, lengthwise, and squeeze gently from the ends to create a pocket.

Using a fork, fluff and mix up the internal part of the potatoes with salt & pepper.

Baked sweet potatoes with chili butter

Place 1 Tbs. butter into each pocket, and sprinkle with chili powder. Set aside and allow butter to melt before serving.  

Sauteed spinach with lemon and almonds

Sauteed Fresh Spinach
2 Tb. butter
4 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
2lbs fresh spinach leaves, washed and dried
1 fresh lemon, juiced
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

THIS is the reason (and the only reason) we didn’t finish our steaks in the skillet.

Over medium heat, add butter and garlic, cooking briefly, then add all spinach to the skillet and toss frequently until starting to reduce.

Sprinkle all with fresh lemon juice, toss again, sprinkle with almonds and serve.

Skillet Rib Steaks with garlic and onions

Plate all, spoon additional pan sauce over the steaks, and serve.


Chef Perry


Perfect Chicken Piccata

Perfect Chicken Piccata recipe

At-risk kids cooking“Piccata” is a method of preparing food: meat is floured, sautéed and served in a sauce. The dish originated in Italy using veal (veal piccata). In the United States, the most well-known variant is chicken piccata.

This is one of my all-time favorite dishes, and often the “finals” recipe for our MY KITCHEN classes.

It’s quick, delicious, and easy to fix, and we always get the same response from our students… “I can’t believe I cooked that!”


Chef Perry

Perfect Chicken Piccata
Serves 4

PREP 10 mins.
COOK 15 mins.
READY IN 25 mins.

2 boneless chicken breasts or 8 tenders
1 cup AP flour
salt and ground black pepper
cayenne pepper, to taste
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs capers
1 cup dry white wine (I like pinot gris)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup homemade chicken stock
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
1 lb fettuccine or spaghetti pasta

Mise en Place

Drain capers, squeeze lemon, cut butter into 1/4-inch slices, chop parsley

Prepare the Dish

Place chicken breasts into a gallon zip bag and pound to about 1/2-inch thick.

flattening chicken breasts in a Ziploc

Season both sides of chicken breasts with cayenne, salt, and black pepper; dredge lightly in flour and shake off any excess.

Pan Seared Chicken Breasts
MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

Heat olive oil in a SS skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken in the pan, reduce heat to medium, and cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side; remove to a plate.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta.

Add capers to the pan in reserved oil, smashing them lightly to release brine, until warmed though, about 30 seconds.  Pour wine into skillet to deglaze (see my video on deglazing), scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula. Cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

Deglazing a pan

Stir lemon juice, stock, and butter into the reduced wine mixture; cook and stir continuously to form a thick sauce, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add adente pasta (with a little pasta water) and parsley, stir.

Adding pasta to pan

Return chicken breasts to the pan cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve chicken over pasta, with additional sauce spooned over the top.




My Favorite Tomato Soup Hacks

Tomato Soup with Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Growing up with a “kitchen-challenged” mom, ice storms meant Campbell’s tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches…

…and it still does!

Nowadays I like to do a few things to bring my soup up to the next level:

2 cans Tomato Soup
1 “can” 1/2 & 1/2
1 can “fire roasted” Diced Tomatoes
1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded fine (or mozzarella pearls for a caprese thing)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade

Over medium heat, slowly whisk milk into he condensed soup. Stir in the tomatoes and basil.

Bring all to a simmer, stir in cheese, and stir until melted.

American and Smoked Gruyère Grilled Cheese with Tomato n Dill Rye breadServe with a great grilled cheese sandwich (I like American and Smoked Gruyere with Tomato on Dill Rye bread).

What’s your favorite “Icy Weather” dinner, and does it hold a special memory?

Keep Warm!

Chef Perry

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.



Chilean Lomito, Paleo Style

Lomito Paleo Style

Second only to a well made Bahn Mi, the traditional Chilean Lomito is my favorite sandwich. Pork and avocado is one of the great complimentary food pairings in the world, and nowhere is the better evidenced than in the Chilean’s favorite street food.

I have made many, many, lomitos in my time, but on my current experiment with Paleo eating, I decided that instead of giving up my favorites, I’d see if I can reinvent them in a way that won’t get “the look” from my wife.

This one turned out pretty darn good.


Chef Perry

Chilean Lomito, Paleo Style

2 lg. pork steaks, boneless
2 Tbs. Ghee (clarified butter – recipe below)
2 Tbs. Grapeseed oil
4 cloves garlic
2 tbs oregano
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1 carrot, diced
1 yellow onion
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cups homemade chicken stock
2 ripe avocados
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
3 firm Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 cup Paleo Mayo (recipe below)
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tsp. Mexican chili powder

Mise en Place

Mise en Place
Thin slice tomatoes, cube avocados, peel and smash garlic. Dice onion, carrot, and celery.

Prepare/Warm chicken stock. Roll and squeeze lime. Whisk mayo and coconut milk with chili powder, pour into a small squeeze bottle, and set aside to chill.

Bring pork steaks to room temperature.

Stir avocados into a thick, chunky paste, season with a pinch of salt & pepper, and a squirt of lime juice.

Pounded pork steak

Pound pork steaks to an even 3/4 inch thickness, and season both sides of pork with with salt, pepper and oregano.

In a large skillet, over high heat, brown pork steaks on both sides in 1tbs ghee and 1 Tbs. grapeseed oil.

Set aside and keep just warm.

Pan fried pork steak

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.


Add remaining ghee and oil to pan, along with the carrots, onion, garlic and celery. Saute until veggies start to soften.

Add the chicken stock. and cool until reduced to about 1/2 cup of liquid. Strain, discard veggies, and return liquid to the skillet over medium heat. Add pork steaks and cook one minute, flip, and remove the skillet from heat and let rest two minutes.

When pork is done Remove from braising liquid, and set aside.

Again, reduce the braising liquid, this time by half.

Lomito Paleo Style

After pork has rested 5 minutes, slice it very thinly. Fan pork onto a warmed plate and brush with reduced braising liquid. Top with tomato slices, and dress generously with coconut-chili-mayo. Top with a big dollop of of avocado.

Serve and enjoy!

Chef Perry

Paleo Mayo

2 egg yolks
3 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup coconut oil

Mix the yolks and 1 tsp lemon juice. in a food processor on low. Very (VERY) slowly begin drizzling in the oil, drop by drop to create an emulsion (too much oil, to fast, will cause the mixture to separate.

As the emulsion forms and everything starts to thicken, you can add the oil a little faster.

Once all of the oil has been added, and your mayo is thick, whisk in the rest of the lemon. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.


Ghee is a class of clarified butter that originated in ancient India and is commonly used in South Asian, Iranian and Arabic cuisines, traditional medicine, and religious rituals. Wikipedia

1lb Unsalted grass-fed butter (1 pint)

Cut the butter into one inch cubes, and melt over medium heat, gently stirring it frequently, until a thick, white foam begins forming on surface. Continue to stir until it starts to simmer, then reduce heat to medium low.

Cook the butter 5 minutes, stirring just once or twice, allowing more foam to form, until you see milk solids (curdles) beginning to form on the sides of the pot (this is a good thing). Scrape the sides of the pot to help the solids sink to the bottom.

Continue to scrape the sides and bottom of the pot gently so the solids don’t burn, as the butter becomes clearer. When a second foam begins to form on top, you’re ready to strain your ghee. Remove from heat and let the foam settles for a minute.

Line a metal sieve with cheesecloth and set directly over a quart-size bowl, and strain the mixture into the bowl. (Discard the milk solids.) Cover the jar loosely and allow to set for 4-6 hours at room temp.

Ghee will keep in the pantry for months, so no refrigeration is necessary.

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Patatas y Huevos Tacos and a Second-Hand Christmas

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

In the winter of 1975, my parents divorced. My mother had a chronic heart condition that made it impossible for her to work and the two of us couldn’t quite make ends meet that first year on our own.

In previous years, Christmas had been a grand event in our home. Money had always been scarce, but my parents scrimped and saved for the holidays.

My first memories are of bright lights, rich smells and a pile of gifts with my name on them. That year, however, would be different. My mother received a meager social security check each month that almost, but not quite, covered the bare essentials, with nothing left for the luxuries of Christmas.

I remember that most of our meals consisted of potatoes and the big blocks of American cheese that the government passed out at the Social Security office.

My mother, alone for the first time in her life, found it difficult to put aside her own hurts and fears and participate in the holidays. I do remember that we had a small tree and brought a box of decorations down from the closet shelf, but there wasn’t much joy in our home that year.

One thing that did worry my mother was that there was no money for gifts. She fretted over this for weeks but the funds just were not there for presents. One day, a neighbor told her about a local toy charity, an organization dedicated to providing donated presents for children in need. My mother applied for the program and visited their office, bringing home a small box of gifts, which she wrapped and hid under her bed.

The night before Christmas, we ate our baked potatoes, and Mom read to me from a book of children’s Christmas stories.

Just before bedtime, there was a knock at the door, and my mother answered to find a young woman who had just moved in next door to us. She was Hispanic, speaking very broken English, and had twin sons who were my own age. She was also divorced and was in as bad, or worse, financial straits as we were. She came to the door asking to borrow some flour and looked so exhausted that Mother invited her in and made her a cup of coffee. I was hustled off to bed (lest I still be up when Santa made his appearance) and they stayed up and talked awhile.

I remember my mother coming into my room and gently waking me up, then sitting on the side of my bed and asking me if I minded if we had company for Christmas. I said no, unused to have my opinion asked in such matters. Then she took my hand and asked if it would be all right with me if Santa gave some of my presents to the two little boys next door. I thought about this for a while, wondering why Santa couldn’t bring them their own presents, but somehow my young brain sensed that it would make mother happy, and she hadn’t seemed happy in a long while, so I hesitantly agreed.

Mother kissed my forehead, and I went back to sleep.

The next morning I awoke to the most wonderful smell wafting under my  bedroom door. Hunger banished even the memory of Christmas from my mind, and I ran from my room to the kitchen to find the source of that glorious aroma.

I skidded to a stop as I rounded the corner into a strange dark-faced woman standing at my mother’s stove. She was rolling out tortillas and dropping them into a smoking pan, while our cast-iron skillet sizzled noisily on the back burner.

I blinked one or twice in confusion, until my mother walked in, then remembered that we had company, and even more importantly, that today was Christmas! I spun on my heels and ran into the living room to look under the tree. Two little Mexican boys sat, looking uncertainly around them, on our couch. Several small wrapped packages lay beneath the tree.

Mom followed me in and began to pass out presents, there were just enough for one gift each. I gazed longingly at the brightly wrapped packages in these stranger’s hands, knowing they should have been mine, clutching my solitary present tightly to my chest.

I unwrapped the box to find a GI Joe action figure, the old fashioned kind with the moving knees and elbows, the kind that came with a little rifle and a little backpack and a string that you pulled to make them say cool army things. Except mine didn’t have a rifle, or a backpack, and there was only a hole in the back where the string had once gone. I stood there in the middle of the living room, my lip trembling, clutching my broken toy.

I looked to see what the other boys had gotten, what gifts I had missed out on. One package revealed a cap pistol (without caps) and a worn plastic holster (I had a much nicer set in the toy box in my room), the second box revealed a plastic bag full of Legos, in various shapes and sizes. I stood there and watched these two boys whooping and laughing like these were the only toys they had, turning their meager gifts over and over in awe, and suddenly I realized, that these were the only toys they had.

Soon I would learn that these two, who would become my closest pals, each had exactly two shirts, two pairs of pants, and a worn sleeping bag that they shared on the floor of their room.

As I watched my mother talking to this strange woman in our kitchen, tears running down their cheeks, I was suddenly happy that she had woken me up, and that Santa had shared my presents with these boys, for how terrible would it have been to wake up with nothing under the tree, no presents to play with, no Santa at all?

The boys, Jay and Julio, followed me to my room, where I showed them, to their amazement, the wealth of my toy box. Soon we were playing like old friends, until called out for a breakfast of seasoned eggs and potatoes wrapped in fresh, warm tortillas. It was the best breakfast I could ever remember having.

I’ll never forget that morning, as I’ll never forget my friends from Mexico who taught me that there is always something to be thankful for, often much more than we think.

And that sometimes there is no greater gift than sharing a meal with a friend.

– Perry
MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.


(“A Second-Hand Christmas” by Perry P. Perkins. Originally published in Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas, 2007, and Sassee Magazine, Dec 1, 2009,)

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Okay, so this is a little touched up from that Christmas breakfast, but even if you leave out the sausage, poblanos, and toppings, it’s pretty darn good!

1 lb bulk breakfast sausage
2 large russet potatos, sliced and seasoned (unpeeled)
1 large ancho chili, seeded and diced
2 Tbsp oil
8 eggs
1/2 tsp each: salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder
3 Tbsp milk
1 cup pico de gallo
1 cup Mexican Crema
1 cup cheddar cheese
10-12 50/50 tortillas, warmed

Brown tacos in a skillet with very little butter. Set aside and keep warm.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Take sausage out of casing and cook in a separate pan, breaking it up, until no longer pink.

Drain, and set aside.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Slice potatoes in thick matchsticks (can use a French-fry slicer.) Heat oil in an ovenproof skillet.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Place potatoes and diced poblano chili in a single layer in pan and cook potatoes until golden brown, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Beat together eggs, milk, and spices with a whisk.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Add egg and milk mixture to pan; heat until almost firm, folding once or twice with a wooden spoon.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Add sausage. When egg mixture is almost firm, add cheese, cover, place in oven and bake until eggs are firm and cheese melts.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Divide evenly between tortillas, topped with potatoes, and serve with pico and Crema.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Number of Servings: 6

NOTE: To take this recipe up another notch – substitute 8oz chorizo for half of the breakfast sausage. Just make sure to drain the meat before adding it to the potatoes.



We grieve, and we rejoice.

It is with a very heavy heart, and very mixed emotions that I share with you that our dear friend, and a great mentor in the service to others, has passed away.

1850917_origTeri Gant, founder and CEO of The Father’s Heart Street Ministry, who we have been cooking and working with for many years, passed this week.

Teri was, by far, the most giving and compassionate person I have ever had the privilege to know.

We met many years ago at Sunnyside Foursquare Church, where her ministry began, simply and faithfully taking bags of homemade sandwiches to the homeless in the Clackamas area. She sought no credit or glory, but ministered as she was called, week in and week out.

It wasn’t about her, is was about Jesus.

FullSizeRenderHer tireless and selfless work expanded into a shelter and feeding center in Clackamas, where MY KITCHEN was honored to provide turkeys for the annual Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless.

Many of you have given to and supported this event every year, and on behalf of myself and Teri, I say thank you.

Eventually, her outreach moved to a new facility in Oregon City, where Teri continued to minister and change lives for “the least of these” among us.

We continued to do summer BBQ’s and Thanksgiving turkeys, and watched as Teri loved and gave everything to the work that God called her to. She was my example, my mentor, and my inspiration.

photo4I have, personally, never known anyone who more clearly and faithfully demonstrated “Jesus with skin on” than my friend Teri Gant.

The number of lives and souls that Teri saved cannot be counted, and the love and comfort she so easily shared with others is the finest example of the Great Commission that I have ever known.

She will continue to be the example I look to of a servants heart, and unfailing love.

Her ministry was to the “inglorious”…the homeless, the mentally ill, the drug addicts, the prostitutes, she loved without judgement, and those who needed Jesus the most, trusted her unfailing love. She touched the lepers of our society, without fear or judgement, and she brought to them the healing power of Christ.

4580586My mixed emotions come from the grief I feel that I will no longer see my friend here on Earth, take strength from her selfless example, or see her beautiful smile as she touches the lives of those around her, and yet, at the same time I rejoice that she is now with her savoir, whom she loved so very much, and served so faithfully, to the last.

Teri, I will miss your laughter, your encouragement, and your shared dreams and prayers for our fledgling outreach, as we sat in your office and talked about the needs around us.

I will miss your generosity as we dug through your freezers for meals, and planned our meals, and fundraisers, and appreciation dinners.

Teri Gant was the best example I have ever known of a true and unfailing servant of Jesus Christ, and we say in her memory, what she has now surely heard from the lips of her beloved bridegroom…

IMG_1444 (2)“Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

Well done, my dear friend, well done…

I love you, sister, and I will miss you. Save me a spot at the table.

Chef Perry

Donations in Teri’s memory can be made here.