Life Of A Welding Student … and the Food He Eats

As an 18 year old welding student, Ramon lives a well regimented and disciplined life.  He lives by himself in his own apartment.  He learned how to cook, clean and shops for himself.  And of course he drives himself to school. All of which he’s never done while home with us.

He wakes up at 4:15 in the morning. Fixes himself breakfast, usually a bowl of Kashi cereal mixed with homemade granola , topped with frozen blueberries and raspberries, and doused with soymilk.

For lunch, when he comes home at around 12:45 in the afternoon, after drinking a quart of spring water while reading his emails, he cooks himself chicken breast, breaded and pan fried, with roasted Vegetable Medley.  On some days, he’d cook himself New York steaks or shrimp, but always with a side of roasted vegetables.  He prefers to cooks something that’s easy, and with minimal preparation.  Simple but good and nutritious.

He goes to bed every night at 7:15p.m.  And then he gets up the next day and does this same routine all over again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Before Ramon moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, he researched, and we experimented with several recipes, especially when it comes to vegetables.  Like other teens, he did not like vegetables. Steamed and stir fried vegetables were simply not appetizing to him.  But he knows that he’s gonna have to change the way he eats if he is going to sustain his body with proper nourishment, especially now that he is away from home. And with welding, being physically and mentally taxing, all the more that he needs proper nourishment.  So he started exploring the internet for alternative ways to cook vegetables.  And in his search he found vegetable recipes posted by other young adults like him.  These kids are new converts.  They all concluded, and we agree, that the secret to cooking vegetables, vegetable that kids will eat is roasting them.  Honestly, I was skeptical at the beginning.  But my son insisted on having me try them.  So I sat down and look through the recipes he compiled.  Read and decided which ones made sense.  In our experiments, he found that he liked and ate several of these vegetables as long as their roasted.  And the best tasting ones we’ve tried are broccoli, roasted cauliflower, roasted green beans, vegetable medley, Brussels sprouts, egg plant, and kale which I was highly skeptical at the beginning but equally surprised on how great it tasted!  I would roast two pans of kale and we just sat there and ate them by themselves.

All of the vegetables I’ve roasted were frozen, (I buy them in big bags at Sams Club), with the exception of the eggplant and kale.  So it requires very little preparation, which my son loves. No peeling and no chopping required. Just simply place enough amount of the vegetables in the baking sheet, drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle the seasoning, and wallah, it’s ready for the oven.

I also found that the perfect oven temperature for roasting these vegetables is at 425ºF, preheated oven, and the time varies between 35 minutes to 50 minutes, depending on how hot is your oven.  So you may have to watch them closely until you get the perfect timing. (Kale cooks a lot faster – about 15 minutes, and at a lower heat – 4ooºF.)

As for the seasoning, I use basic seasoning such as kosher salt and or sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper. My husband likes to add garlic powder, chili powder and paprika.  We’ve also tried roasting these vegetables, with peeled garlic cloves.

NOTE: If you don’t have one already, I suggest you buy a professional grade or heavy duty baking sheet with sides, also called jelly roll pan.  I bought mine at a restaurant supplies store.  I think I paid $12 for each and I have four.   These pans are great for roasting vegetables.

Roasted Vegetable Medley

(Allow at least ½ pound per serving)

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Ingredients:

2 pounds frozen vegetable medley (mixture of sliced carrots, broccoli and cauliflower florettes)

3 TBSPs. extra light olive oil

1 tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. black pepper

¼ – ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

Place vegetable medley in the baking sheet.  Drizzle the olive oil and add the seasoning.  Toss to combine.

Roast in vegetable in a preheated oven at 425° for 45 – 50 minutes or until broccoli and cauliflower are caramelized in color, but not burned.  (The broccoli should be slightly brown and crispy.)


Roasted Vegetable Medley with Johnsonville Bratwurst

Pan Fried Chicken Breasts

(Allow 2 medium chicken breasts per person)

4 medium size chicken breasts – boneless and skinless

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ tsp. ground black pepper

¼ tsp. cayenne

Seasoned flour – see recipe below

½ – ¾ cup extra light olive oil for frying

Season chicken breasts on both sides.  Allow to sit for about 10 minutes so the seasoning will have time to penetrate the meat.

Heat the skillet and add the olive oil.

Place 1 cup of seasoned flour in a large Ziploc bag.  Place all the chicken and shake to coat.

Fry chicken breasts in hot olive oil, over medium heat, about 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Removed and place fried chicken breasts over paper towels.

Serve with Roasted Vegetable Medley or other vegetables.

Seasoned Flour:

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. black pepper

½ tsp. cayenne (optional or use less)

Combine all ingredients in a large Ziploc bag.

Note: I use this seasoned flour for all my pan frying.  I’ve used this with chicken breasts, pork chops, and shrimp.  So, what I do is mix a big batch of this, 6 – 8 cups at a time, in large Ziploc bag, and store in the refrigerator.  Whenever I need a breading, I just scope out a cup or two into another Ziploc bag. I do this for Ramon, whenever we visit him, so it’s one less thing he has to do.

Ramon eats this for snacks:  Mango – Raspberry Smoothy with frozen blueberries and raspberries.

Enjoy and Happy Cooking!

Tess

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7 thoughts on “Life Of A Welding Student … and the Food He Eats

  1. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now. Keep it up!
    And according to this article, I totally agree with your opinion, but only this time! 🙂

  2. How wonderful that Ramon has such a disciplined lifestyle. Most college students live on Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Spaghetti’Os. The big splurge come with Pizza. It’s great that he’s eating so smart, and finds the time with his busy schedule to cook steak, shrimp or chicken. I even find it consuming more days to find the time for healthy balanced meals. I do enjoy breading the chicken and pork chops, as I find it helps seal in the juices, and doesn’t make the meat tough. Again, time and temp. are so important.

    My newest favorite vegetable has to be Asparagus. Something that I didn’t really start eating until only recently. Many times, it comes as a garnish with your dinner at the restaurants. Last week while I was out to dinner, it came draped over my Prime Rib. And it was so delicious! I noticed in the ads last week and today, that there are many sales on them. Must be popular at Easter dinners. I did buy a bundle of them, and plan on cooking them up this week for dinner. Question to you…..Would you suggest me streaming them in the microwave, or roasting in the oven? I prefer my vegetables more on the cooked side, and not crunchy. And at what temp and time should I go with?

    Thanks Tess for the terrific blog. I could see myself mixing up my own medley of vegetables to suit my families likes and dislikes 🙂

    • Tess,

      Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables. I try to buy them when they are in season because they are more affordable.

      I usually cook them in two ways. And i like both ways.
      Oven Roasted or Sauteed in the pan after a quick blanch in boiling water.

      Roasting would be more simpler. Here’s what I do:

      2 pounds asparagus
      4 garlic cloves – peeled and sliced
      3 TBSPs. olive oil
      1 tsp. kosher salt
      1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

      Preheat oven at 425°F.

      Break off the tough bottom part of the asparagus. Rinse under cold running water.

      Using a heavy duty baking sheet, place the asparagus spears and spread them in one layer. Scatter the sliced garlic over the asparagus. And then drizzle olive oil, over the asparagus. Sprinkle kosher salt and ground black pepper over them. Toss to combine. Again, spread asparagus to one layer.

      Roast in the preheated oven at 425°F for 15 – 20 minutes.
      After 15 minutes, take one spear and taste it to see if it’s already cooked to your liking. If not, roast an additional 5 – 10 minutes.

      • Hey Tess….

        For supper tonight I cooked up the Asparagus. And they were DELICIOUS. Thanks for the recipe. The fresh garlic was the finishing touch to this delightful veggie. I plan on buying more this week and stocking up while they are on sale. Seems like I can’t get enough. And I made sure that they were on the menu for Easter Sunday Brunch 🙂

  3. Tess,

    Your son Ramon, is a smart man. I prefer roasted veggies & they are so easy 2 make. Chicken on the other hand is not something the both of us like unless it’s added into a stir fry. I would use that seasoned flour for pork chops, he would enjoy that. Great idea about the large batch & just keep it in the fridge for when you need it.

    Thx 🙂

    B.

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