June 2020: June is one of my favorite months of the year. I was born on June first, which means I get to celebrate the entire month. And, I get to celebrate Father’s Day, which is even more meaningful to me this year. My father is 79 years old, and he was one of the first to contract COVID-19 in Oklahoma. He lives alone and was convinced he didn’t have the virus, but after a lot of prodding from my sisters and me, he went to the hospital in Norman and tested positive for the virus and pneumonia. After six days in the hospital, he got to go home, and three weeks later he got on his bicycle and rode 25 miles. He felt so good, he rode again the next day and the next.
My dad has been bicycling for nearly thirty years, and his goal each year is to ride the total miles of the number of that year. So, this year he will ride 2,020 miles. Nearly every year he drives to Wichita Falls to ride in the Hotter’N Hell Hundred, where he usually finishes the hundred-mile ride with a few of his buddies.
I didn’t acquire my dad’s love for bicycling, but I did learn the importance of physical fitness and setting goals. He and my mom were married for fifty years before my mom passed away, and although he misses her dearly, he continues to live a very productive life. He has more friends than most men I know, which was proven with all the calls and texts during his illness. He has a sense of humor that everyone loves, even though he tends to tell a few of the same jokes over and over. They’re still funny each time because it’s clear he gets so much joy from telling them.
One thing I did learn from him was how to grill a steak. He mixed a concoction of sauces and spices to marinate the meat before they hit the grill. Then he poked them with a long fork until he deemed them perfectly done. My mom, however, would ask him every time, “Did you cook them long enough?” She was terrified of undercooked meat, and if the steaks were a little pink, they were not cooked long enough. Back then, I didn’t know that steak was supposed to be pink, and now I wouldn’t eat it any other way.
This Father’s Day will be extra special in my family as we celebrate the man who survived a terrible virus and recovered remarkably well. He’s still telling the same jokes, and we’re still laughing at them. But maybe this year we’ll laugh a little bit longer.
If you’re firing up the grill, try my own concoction for saucing up a steak.
Salsa Verde - Makes 1 Cup
There are a lot of variations for Salsa Verde, and this is one of my favorites. In the summer when I have an abundance of fresh mint I add it to the mix. If you’re in a hurry you can make the salsa in a food processor, but just pulse it so it doesn’t become smooth. My favorite way to use this sauce is on a grilled steak, but it’s delicious on fish. Serve it with fried potatoes and some grilled tomatoes and onions for a beautiful plate of colorful goodness!
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of one lime
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, minced (including leaves)
1 small tomatillo, minced
1 tbsp. capers, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste. Alternatively, if you don’t want to finely chop all the ingredients, put coarsely chopped ingredients into a food processor and pulse until a thick sauce develops.
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