I remember it like it was yesterday…
It was one of the few family reunions on my Mom’s side where we all met at my grandparent’s house on the lake – my Mom, her Mom, her brother Tom and his family.
It was always fun when Uncle Tom came to the lake. He, without fail, brought fun stuff – jet skis or dirt bikes and a great big trash bag of the best beef jerky you can imagine tasting. He was famous for his line-hung, Texas sun-dried jerky – in a trash bag.
He was also quite the chef. One Thanksgiving, Uncle Tom brought a deep fryer for the turkey…well, it ended up being 3 turkeys – and that’s not counting the one we roasted in the oven. I think we ate one whole turkey as an appetizer.
Uncle Tom and Aunt Kim always brought something unusual and amazingly good to the table. They were the ones who introduced me to mango salsa. I remember thinking how very odd it was to put mango in salsa, but that was before my culinary horizons were broadened by the many amazing cooks I find peppered throughout my life.
Uncle Tom passed away on the 7th of September after a battle with cancer. He’ll never know how much his cooking influenced me. I wish he could. I wish I had spent more time with him in the kitchen and learned some of his tricks.
Growing up, time with my uncle was limited, but I always felt his love for me along with the rest of his nieces and nephews. I’ll always remember his smile and his dry sense of humor. I’ll remember him as strong, tan, and healthy. I’ll remember his beef jerky and mango salsa.
I’ll remember, Uncle Tom.
Slice the mango on either side of the seed.
Cut the flesh – without cutting into the skin – diagonally left to right, then right to left to create a diamond pattern.
Invert mango and slide a knife under each piece to remove from skin.
Mince purple onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Sprinkle with sea salt and cumin. Squeeze on some lime juice.
This is fabulous with fish or chicken tacos, over grilled meat, or just with chips.
Who were the people in your life that influenced you the most in the kitchen?