Cooking Damn Near Anything, From The Heart

My post today is about a friend I actually knew growing up and Facebook made it possible to  reconnect. Grilling, sauces, cooking vessels, knives and basically ‘cooking damn near anything from the heart’ as Tom shares.

Meet Tom Good

This is the man who will cook damn near anything… Tom Good of Cleveland Ohio.

Tom Good :
The man and his shop

I’ve always wanted to write, I’ve always wanted to cook – Tom Good

During my chat with Facebook friend Tom Good I was inspired and shocked t0 find he was holding out on me.  Tom shared with me how he ‘always wanted to write and cook’.  Shortly into our conversation I became aware that he wasn’t joking.  Tom is super creative and his images from the recipes he makes with just about anything is proof.  Our conversation turned from hunger to tears : never a dull moment chatting food and family with Tom.  You can connect with Tom Good on Facebook Here! 

Cooking Just About Anything

Below are a few of the images Tom shared with me from his grill, shop and home!

From The Heart

Tom and His Mother

Question: What was your favorite meal as a child? 

Tom Shares: Hmmm, fave meal as a child, that is a tough one, I mean as children we played hard, we dreamed hard, and food was kind of an after thought. It was just some unconscious need we had as little people right? I guess the obligatory answer would be all the comfort staples, like tomato soup, or grilled cheese, etc, but not for this lad. Not by far. My favorite food as a youngster was the food of my peoples, my nationalities, because I could see my mother and grand mother put much effort into them and they tasted so good and filled you up, far better than these foods now a days do.

Cooking It Up With Family

Well, I cant remember how long or how far ago, (prob about 1978ish), but I do remember having to help my mother shop for groceries, and it was my duty as well to help my step dad log, and heat the home with wood, which meant hard work, discipline, and knowing that your taking care of the family with your efforts. I always had a creative tinge to myself, so I guess at some point, I took it upon myself to help out with the cooking as well, and I saw not only how much work, and tenacity it took to feed a family, but i also saw an opportunity for creativeness, and proving my worth in the family unit, even more.

kraut, taters
Food of my people : slovenian sausage, kraut, taters, and for dessert, potica, (pateetzah)

My favorite as a child would be sauerkraut and kielbasa, with some plain white bread and butter to soak up all the awesome sourness!

Cooking At A Young Age

Family photo with tom, mom and brother.
Mom, Tom and Brother
Question: How old was I when I decided to actually start cooking?
Tom Shared: I’m not sure, probably late 70’s, but you can bet it was because I felt a duty and an obligation to help, as in all things family life then. Either way, I have to of the most amazing women the earth has ever seen, to thank for showing me how, by letting me help, and utilizing my understanding of what I appreciated about all their work. One being my mother, Frances Klein, and the other being my grandmother, Frances Stallman. I know that every one has their ‘great old stories’ of their mother or grandmother, and that is awesome for them, how many actually helped with the daily meals and or big family shin digs? That’s what I did. Mr. ‘tuff guy.’ Cooking is not a gender based thing, not at all, to me it was just a way to help and be artistic at the same time. From simple dinners made by my mother to giant family get together’s at my grandmothers tiny house, I was there to help. We used to cook and bake by the bushel full at my grandmothers, literally just me and her in that little tiny kitchen about 9×6, bushels of pork chops or chicken, or baked goods, and just lined with newsprint, clothes bushels. So I guess what I’m saying is I learned from the old school guard, I learned from the best.
 Photo of my grandma, Frances Jean Stallman
Photo of my Grandma, Frances Jean Stallman

Influences Outside of the Family

The Frugal Chef
Photo credit : The Frugal Chef
Question: Did you have any influence outside of your family?
Tom Shared:  Well I think it was about 1987 or so, I was about 16 or 17 and staying at my grandmothers house for the week, and ya know, back then there was like four channels the networks and PBS, and on PBS on a Saturday, you had artistic shows and craft shows like This old house, or The Woodright Workshop (with Roy Underhill, what a guy), but anyways, after a few of those came some cooking shows. So one day back then, came on The Frugal Gourmet. Jeff Smith, from Tacoma Washington. It was interesting how he had a historical stance and small lesson from whatever he was cooking that show, and when we were done watching that, my grand mother got out this little magazine, i think it was a christian publication, but it was called Guidepost, and there was an article of him in that. I read it. The guy’s story really interested me, I began to watch him more, and then I found out he had a whole series of cook books etc, and shows, and thus began my study of Jeff Smith the clergy turned cook. His honest style of various cultures and his love of all fellow mankind really showed me a great model to strive to live by, much less cook like. He would teach things like the word COMPANOS, comes from the greek work to break bread with, aka, companions. I eventually collected his entire series, of cultures all over the world, the videos the cook books etc. I also respect Gordon Ramsay 100%, whom I’ve had the pleasure of eating at one of his restaraunts. Everyone has their favorites I suppose, but that’s some of mine.

Pork & Veggies on a Stick

Of course I picked the most simple recipe out of them all by Tom to share with you.  I think it maybe the fact that my green pepper plants are doing so well in the garden and I can’t wait to cook them up.  I may try this recipe using  keilbasa.

Keeping it real simple with fresh ingredients. Pork, Veggies on a Stick.
Real simple recipe

The Right Tools

Tom has all the right equipment to create a meal.  He shared with me that he even travels with his knife set pictured below.

Tom Good’s tools that he shared with me.
Cutting Board
Adding the stain to cutting board – by Tom

Tom shared with me how me made his own wood cutting board.  I had to ask him WHY WOOD?   His answer was simple :

  • It’s Healthy 
  • Plastic holds on to bacteria
  • Wood Breath – treat it right and clean it!

Let’s Connect

I’d love to hear from you so be sure to connect with me by sharing a comment below. Do you have a great family recipe story – I’d love to hear it!

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