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VOL. 35 | NO. 24 | Friday, June 17, 2011

Friend lives on through gift of prized cutting board

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I had a dear family friend, Dale Evans, pass away recently. Dale will be missed at every family function. This past week, however, I received an unexpected gift of something that belonged to him.

I met Dale around 16 years ago in Arlington, Texas. He was a good friend of my husband, Don, and constant companion to Judy, Don’s sister. My relationship with Dale started when Don and I decided to get married in Arlington. It just so happened that Dale, along with his sister, Jesse, managed a catering business and knew a Baptist minister.

Dale, Judy and Jesse got busy cooking, and we had the sweetest wedding with the best food around at Jesse’s house. Sweet, dear memories.

The cooking also created an instant bond with Dale. After that, Dale and Judy’s visits to Little Rock for holidays or family get-togethers always brought interesting and tasty foods. I always say that I will never taste a meatball like his. He was a great cook. In fact, the entire Bona family is good cooks – maybe it is the Italian in them!

This past weekend, Judy came down for a little visit and brought me Dales “John Boos” cutting board, which was his favorite. I was so surprised and honored, that now it will always be my favorite.

For those of you who don’t know about John Boos cutting boards, let me give you a bit of information. Personally, I knew it was a good one, but I didn’t know quite everything about it until I read up on it.

Seems like just about every Food Network show you watch has a Boos cutting board. Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, Paula Deen, Alton Brown, the Iron Chefs of America, Tyler Florence, Giada de Laurentiis, Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse, to name just a few. Martha Stewart, Oprah’s chef, Art Smith, and even the White House all have John Boos products in their kitchens. And, well – now mine!

I know some of you probably think a cutting board is just a cutting board, and that is true to a point; however, there is a special story behind a John Boos.

First, it is made in America – yeah for that! Also, it is the way the company started and has kept their quality for so many years. Here is an excerpt from johnboos.com:

John Boos & Co. based in Effingham, Ill., is one of the oldest manufacturers of premium quality kitchen equipment and butcher blocks in the United States, and has been in business continuously since 1887.

“Founder Conrad Boos harvested Sycamore from wooded areas around Effingham, processed it at his sawmill, and then brought it to his blacksmith shop for finishing. The first innovation was a sycamore tree placed on three legs to absorb the shock of the smith’s hammer against the anvil. When the local butcher saw and admired the innovation, he realized that he could use one in his meat market, so Conrad’s son, John, adapted the idea and made him one. This was the start of John Boos & Company making butcher blocks for commercial meat markets over 120 years ago.”

From that humble beginning, and Dale and Judy, I now own a Boos cutting board. Now you can understand why I feel honored. Dale, a veteran, obviously thought this was one of the best, and Judy, knowing our passion with cooking, passed one of his treasures on to me. R.I.P., Dale, and thank you, Judy.

Now for the recipe. I have been eating quite a few fantastic fresh vegetable dishes lately since the spring and summer produce is beginning to come in, and so I have a really tasty one for you to try. Enjoy your week!

Fresh Tuna Salad

1 tbsp quality extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

4 cups assorted leaf lettuce, torn into pieces

1 cup string beans, steamed until just tender

1 ripe red tomato, cut into wedges

1 hard cooked egg, cut in 4 wedges

1 7-oz can albacore tuna, drained

Mix the olive oil, vinegar and garlic in a small bowl. Add half the dressing to the lettuce and toss to coat. Divide between two salad plates. Arrange the green beans, tomato, egg and tuna on the greens. Drizzle with remaining dressing.

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