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Article posted: 8/21/2012 5:00 AM

Home-cooking part of the curriculum for gym teacher


With the upcoming blue moon, it's possible that Jerry Roberts, of Glen Ellyn, might take his kids through a fast food drive-in, but then again, he might not.

Even once in a blue moon would seem too often for this gym teacher who hasn't eaten a fast food burger in years.

"I'm not a fast food kind of guy. I'd rather have a home-cooked meal," Jerry says, quickly adding that he's not necessarily a health food nut.

"I'm not always Mr. Health Guy!" he laughs. "Some of the dishes I put together are definitely not healthy or low calorie. One of the reasons I work out so much is so that I can eat what I want!"

Jerry has been cooking since he left home for college.

"I wasn't someone who ate mac and cheese or ramen noodles, so I had to learn how to cook. I do a lot of typical male stuff, like steak on the grill. My dad owns a butcher shop so I've had access to really good meat all my life."

Because Jerry teaches at Walter R. Sundling Junior High in Palatine, his schedule gets him home sooner than his wife. By default, the responsibility for family meals -- the couple has three young children -- falls mainly to him.

"We don't go through that whole 'I don't like this' thing. The cool thing is that (the kids are) used to that mentality and they eat whatever we're having. They love Mexican and Asian foods, and all kinds of different meats. And if they don't like something, like if we're having asparagus, then there is always fresh fruit in the house."

Being related to a good butcher has certainly influenced Jerry's cooking.

"I prefer to grill. I grill all year long, even in January. I'll marinate pork tenderloin, barbecue tilapia with an apple-cherry glaze, and I do a lot of boneless, skinless chicken. I do asparagus on the grill too; it makes a great side dish."

Still, Jerry doesn't spend all his cooking time at the grill. He also loves to make soups, Mexican dishes and Asian stir-fry. One of the recipes Jerry shares with us today is his turkey teriyaki, a flavorful blend of ground turkey and peppers served over rice that's both hearty and low calorie.

During the summer when Jerry is home with his kids ("we drive each other crazy!") he also cooks hot breakfast several times a week.

"Of course I make chocolate chip, or Mickey Mouse pancakes, but the kids like omelets or we have waffles once in awhile."

The summertime also makes entertaining easier. The Roberts like casual get-togethers with friends or family that include the kids.

"We keep it simple, just steaks, or ribs or burgers on the grill."

What it won't include? Fast food from the drive-through -- even if it is a blue moon.

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