Saturday, September 23, 2006

Restaurant Quote of the Weekend

Devo to Hector: "Look at the top of my head-it's all gray hair!"

Me: " least you HAVE hair..."

Hector, who I've never seen without a hat on, is very much balding...

More than one person threw out a "Oh no you didn't!"


Happiness is...

Making gallons of the "house special" dressing. Why? Because you get to use a ginormous emulsion blender!! Talk about feeling cool.

Being talented enough with a pastry bag that you impress the "seasoned" kitchen staff when filling figs with goat cheese. Talk about being on Cloud 9.

Finally getting the swing of things, slipping into the rhythm of the back of the house and being included in jokes and pranks. Talk about feeling like you belong.

I must remember:

Not everyone shares my passion for cooking. I must remember to keep my inner joy in such things as using a ginormous emulsion blender, even when people say things like, "It's not rocket science" or "It's just dressing" when I express my excitement with no doubt wildly excited eyes.

Some people may view my efficency and speed as showing off. This is not the case, but perception is reality, and therefore, I could slow down a bit until they get to know me better.

Friday, September 22, 2006

First Job Highlights

Me, making pasta-my coat is so big on me-Megan...can you help? Crab cakes with sweet red pepper dressing. I didn't have time to clean the blobs before taking the picture b/c they were coming into the kitchen to get it and I didn't want them to see me b/c I'm a geek. Lemon after taking peels for pasta garnish... Fresh bread with home made basil butter Empty plates-every chef's dream! The crew-the student musician-who was very good. My client and her enormous boyfriend, my server and clients sister, and me!

Tonight's job went extremely well. So well, in fact, I can't wipe the smile off of my stupid face!

I arrived in full uniform at 7pm, and immediately began setting up. I purchased a rolling bin to put all of my equipment in and it worked out very well. By 7:15 I was rolling pasta-which really impressed my clients roommate.

This is important because later in the night, I took her cue to pitch a cooking party-she was so interested in it, that she gave me her name and phone number, along with her email address and practically begged me to contact her.

In any case, everything went perfectly. Her boyfriend was surprised and impressed, and their plates came back to the kitchen empty. I was cleaned up and ready to leave by 9pm.

It truly was the easiest money I've ever made!

Hopefully I will get her repeat business, as well as her roommates. Next on my agenda is to purchase plates for service, because as you can see, her plates suck.

Slowly but surely, I'm getting there. My dream is coming true. It's pretty amazing to me, really. This is the first time I've cooked for complete strangers who have no affiliation with friends or family at all. I know I'm a geek, but that excites me.

In the book of my life, this night goes down as: Completely Perfect.
And that's a pretty damn good feeling.

Like A Chicken...

I don't exactly know how I foud this article, but I do know that it began when I was looking on food blogs. I think one of them was talking about killing his own chickens and linked to the article. I can't give credit b/c I can't remember how I got there! BUT, I found it odd and fascinating all at the same time and decided to share it.

You may have heard the story of Mike, a Wyandotte rooster living peacefully (maybe not so peacefully since he found his neck on the chopping block) in Fruita, Colorado, when on September 10, 1945, farmer Lloyd Olsen’s errant axe ended up severing most of his head. Lloyd’s sideswipe managed to leave just enough of Mike’s brain stem and part of one ear, so that he went on living for another 18 months (he was kept alive and fed with an eyedropper that dispensed food down his gullet).

Dubbed “Miracle Mike”, the headless chicken became a sideshow attraction, traveled to New York and Atlantic City, and was eventually featured in Life Magazine (October 25, 1945 issue). Alas poor Mike - you can imagine the endless stream of “chicken with his head cut off” jokes he had to endure.

"He was a big fat chicken who didn't know he didn't have a head"

The "Wonder Chicken" was valued at $10,000.00 and insured for the same. His fame and fortune would earn him recognition in Life and Time Magazines. It goes without saying there was a Guinness World Record in all this. While returning from one of these road trips the Olsens stopped at a motel in the Arizona desert. In the middle of the night Mike began to choke. Unable to find the eyedropper used to clear Mike's open esophagus Miracle Mike passed on.

Poor Miracle Mike...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Smiling Eyes...

Last week when I was sick and sad, I found myself without tissues. Being that I spent 2.5 days in bed, I used a roll of toilet paper instead of trekking out to the store.

I read by the light of a mag light because my reading lights are broken and they can't be fixed. As I rolled over onto my right side, I looked over and saw the toilet paper grinning at me like a happy Jack-O-Lantern.

If you tilt your head a little to the right, you can see it, I am sure.

I thought it was funny, so I got out of bed, and here I am. Now-I'm off to dreamland.


Crazy Client

The lady who hired me is crazy.

My friend Greg thinks she's crazy anyway because of how overboard she is going with hiring a chef and a musician for her boyfriends birthday. Though I agree a tiny bit, I think it's romantic and thoughtful, as well as creative and out of the ordinary. However:

Yesterday she told me that she was a bargain shopper. This was right before I was about to shop for the groceries to make her dinner. I can't imagine someone going into a restaurant and saying "I'd like to keep my bill down tonight, can you use your oldest chicken and charge me less?" Besides, her food only cost $56. That's nothing for a meal that includes 3 fresh veggies, fresh pasta, olive oil, shrimp AND crab.

Today though, she emailed me to ask me to bring the reciept. Her reasoning was b/c she can use it for a tax write off. What? How can you write off a birthday dinner for your boyfriend? Is there something I should know about your relationship?

But this one really took the cake for me-she emailed myself and the musician to say that she is indeed having the dinner outside on the roof. She said to me-so Mags, you might want to bring a nice sweater just in case.

First of all-just in case what? I'm cooking the meal, not serving it. And I certainly do not expect to be climbing out of your window onto your roof. That is why you have your sister serving the food.

Second, you can't put a sweater over a chef coat. I assumed that she knew what one was, because she insisted that I wear one.

But last-even if I were to bring a sweater-does she think I am going to bring my rattiest, most disgusting sweater? Bring a *nice* sweater?! WTF?

This girl is nuts. Just bring me the cash crazy lady. Everything will be fine after I get the cash...

Magic 8 Ball Time

It's that time again-yup, the time in which I look to the Magic 8 Ball to predict my life. Some of the answers made me sad, but some made me happy! Remember, if you have a question you would like answered, post it in the comments section.

Is my name Mags? Yes, definitely
Ok...time to start-the 8 ball is one with me.

Will my house sell quickly? It is decidedly so
This is very good news to me. I do not want to prolong a painful process.

Will I get the $$ I need to get for my house? As I see it, yes
This is the all important question I needed the answer to.

Will it improve the quality of my life? Yes
If the above is true, this has to be true.

Will I be successful in opening a business? Outlook not so good
This isn't so good. But, I can always work for someone else until I am successful at it. No worries.

Will I find true love this year? My sources say no
This makes sense. It's already September.

Will I find true love in 2007? As I see it, yes
This makes me happy, because I could use true love in my life again, and 2007 is going to be a fantastic year-I graduate from school!!

Will I ever get married again? Better not tell you now
I don't like that the 8 ball is giving me the run around here.

Will I ever have a baby? You may rely on it
1 of my life goals/dreams is to have a child. So yay!

Will I make it to the line at the restaurant? My reply is no
This is ok too, b/c I'll use the experience I gain in the back and apply my knowledge I get from school and I'll find somewhere I can work on a line.

Secret Question: Very doubtful
Sad. This is why I don't often ask this question. Because I already know the answer.

Air Brakes

"Pssshhhhhhhhh" He let the air seep from his mouth and shot a grin over to me in the passenger seat.

"Air brakes" he laughed.

I rolled my eyes, hiding my giggle inside, close to my heart but away from his-mainly because I was 13 and it was no longer cool to love your grandfather openly, but also because I'd heard the joke since I was a baby.

"I know Papa...airbrakes. Funny." I looked out the window so he couldn't see my smile.

It did not matter where we were going, or why. All that mattered was that I was with him, and that he seemed to love me best. Grandfathers, I know, rarely play favorites, so perhaps I made it up-but his eyes lit up every time he saw me. And I made him laugh.

When there were too many of us to fit in one car-on holidays or special occasions-I'd ride with my Papa because no one else wanted to. Not because of his conversation, his race car like driving, or even his corny air brake joke-it was because he was a carpet cleaner.

And his car stunk.

Being someone who has an over active sense of smell, you would think that I would have been offended by the strong odor that permeated the air. But to me, it was just another comforting smell that reminded me of him. To this day, whenever I smell industrial stain remover, it reminds me of Jack, my blue eyed, joke telling, always laughing, Papa.

Looking for inspiration, I've found myself remembering our random times together-my Papa and I. I remember times when he sent me on hunts for treasure in the front yard of his house, always declaring the rock or scrawny twig I found was very valuable and rare. And I realize that what he was doing was feeding my sense of exploration and wonder.

And I remember the look on his face when he saw that I was sad because he was sick, and the twinkle in his eye when he smiled in spite of the pain, or regardless of his fear. And I realize that what he was doing, was teaching me that as long as you are smiling, you can get through anything.

My Papa was a great man, and even though he's been physically gone for 7 years, he continues to remind me of the lessons he taught me many years ago, when I was just a girl, hiding a smile from her Papa.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Institutional Humor

Last nights production-Cinnamon Sweet Rolls with Honey Pan Glaze and Pecans (these honey buns taste yummy), Sweet Bread Braid filled with Sweetened Almond Paste and Brioche.

I got to work along tonight, so I didn't have to share any of the loot!! Yippee!!! Brioche is in the freezer for at least a week of breakfast and the rolls and braid were brought to work today.

Did I mention that I love culinary school?

Monday we went on a field trip to Hartford Hospital's cafeteria. My chef instructor is one of the head chef's there and he thought we'd enjoy seeing the kitchen.

This is the chef that mispronounces words and skips over the word "anus" in nutrition class. He's very nice, but we laugh about it when he's not around.

The hospital tour was very cool. It's a Ginormous space, spanning almost the entire hospital. (Or at least it seems that way) There's a separate bake shop with an oven the size of a room! They load a few rolling racks into the center and a big arm comes and lifts them, turning them slowly until they are done.

Way cool.

They also have tons of steam powered tilt kettles, which are enormous kettles that can make tons of soup, sauce or whatever you'd like, all at one time-all heated by steam in a matter of minutes.

There were walk in freezers and storage rooms gallore and even a blast chiller-which cools food almost instantly, helping to comply with the Serve Safe rules of proper cooling. (From 135* -->70* within 2 hours and from 70* --> 40* in 4 hours for a total of 6 hours) This speeds it up.

The funny moments of the tour where these, and I'm sure they are going to be just funny to me b/c I know chef Zorn and you don't...

1. He turned on EVERY oven, grill, steamer, convection oven..they have. Why? We have no idea.

2. This is the grill...we grill chicken on here, burgers,'s for grilling. Really? Thanks so much for clarifying that. I'd have been lost without that information...

3. This is a food warmer. You put food in it, and it warms it. At this point, I looked at my classmate, Bagpipe Willie, and we started to giggle.

4. This guys-you're not used to seeing. This is turkey that's been boned out and rolled, then put in this netting to keep it together. We smoke or roast it, and it tastes just like a turkey. Oh! That's so good to hear that your turkey tastes like...TURKEY! I'm not kidding, he actually said that.

5. At the end of the tour, Chef Z asked us to hold on as he ran away from our sight. A few minutes later, I looked away from the group in his direction, only to see a rack rolling by with no one manning it. (Of course this made me laugh) The rack was filled with patient food trays. It was at that moment I realized that he did provide dinner for us-but not the good food that he prepares for guests-yup-patient food! He said, "This is what you'd be eating if you were upstairs." WHY would you give us that food? Why? It was comical...very, very comical.

Overall, I had a really great time touring that huge kitchen. The shear amount of space they have is incredible, and knowing they feed 1500-2000 guests a day for lunch alone is impressive. Everything is larger than life, but also done the same way we do in school.

Needless to say, it fascinates me.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Toosdae ?'s

Hi everyone! Toosdae's are back, and so is my smile and my health. Thank you for being patient with my while I recovered. There are 4 questions this week to make up for the zero last week-please show me you missed me by answering them!!

1. Which is worse: Finding out you lost the winning lottery ticket, or having the right numbers but forgetting to buy the ticket?

2. Do you believe the current "jury of one's peers" system is the right way to go, or should local citizens be elected or appointed to serve as "professional jurors" to hear criminal cases, and why.

3. Do you have any family "old wives tales" that you still practice, or are there any superstitions that were passed on to you that you still believe in? What are they, and who passed them on?

4. You are invited to a party at a nudist colony through a program that seeks to introduce the concept to people who aren't already members. You know the following things going in: 1) There'll be nothing "inappropriate" going on, 2) You won't know anyone who is there, and 3) You'll never again see any of the people who are present for the rest of your life. Given these conditions, would you attend?

1. Worse is knowing I had a million dollars in my hand but lost it. Losing the ticket that won would devastate me.

2. I believe in a jury of ones peers rather than profession jurors. I know people hate jury duty, but it's really the only way to get a diverse group of random individuals to hear a case. Professional jurors could easily become numb to similar cases, making their judgments before hearing the whole case.

3. I know I asked the question, but no. I didn't grow up with a Grandmother who gave me brandy for a cough or who made me put pennies on my eyes for hiccups. I am rather superstitious however, but that's on my own accord.

4. I suppose if the condition was that I would never see any of the people ever again in my life, then yes, I might consider it. Watching people in another "society" has always fascinated me and doing so without any fear of humiliation in my own life would be kind of interesting.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Slip of a Tit

True Story!

Just overheard, said with a Texas accent:

"I'm headin' down to cleavage-"


"...Well, Bob, you know I meant to say Cleveland!"

Sometimes, it is funny to work here.

Changing Course

Just 5 more minutes...I'll do that tomorrow...the grass can be mowed on Wednesday...I won't do my hair today.

I used to have a routine. I used to be structured and organized and know where everything was.

My floors were always vacuumed, and I cleaned every room in my house every Saturday before doing fun things.

The laundry was always folded, and there was never any soap scum.

My hair-well, I never did my hair every day...

My life after Jamie became more about doing the things that I wanted to-because I could-but not necessarily the things I should do. Responsibilities fell through the cracks of my life, leaving me with stacks of clutter in every room-something Jamie was famous for yelling about.

A declaration of independence? Perhaps at first. But now, it's out of lack of structure and laziness. And bad habits.

Most people would say I am a very organized person. Some, depending on when and where they knew me, would say anal. Always-people tell me I look put together, and calm.

I chuckle to those people. If they only knew.

As many people have discovered, I am an all or nothing kind of girl. I don't want to be. I simply hate the gray areas. I'm patient, yes, but there is a certain point in which my inner soul cries out and I project a vibe that says, "No more gray!" Someday, somewhere, someone will feel the same way.

I like adventures and spontaneous trips to no where. But on vacations I like to plan. I like to have reservations so I ensure that I get a taste of a famous menu, or seats in the front row. Call me crazy, but some things need to be planned in order not to miss them.

Other moments you couldn't plan if you tried.

In my everyday personal life, I need structure. I need lists and rules made by me and followed by me. I need to set daily goals for myself and thank God every night for the things He let me see that day.

And I need to do my hair.

Without my rules my house is a mess. I run late. I forget my lunch and wear wrinkled clothes. People ask me if I'm ok or tell me I look tired.

It's because I've lost control.

It's sad but exhilarating to me when I go into my reflective state-when I feel a loss and grow, I remember who I am, and why I am me. I remember why I need structure and how much I can let go before I spin. I begin to feel confident again. And happy. And alive.

People often marvel at how quickly I get back up. With Matt and with Jamie both-people showered me with compliments about how strong I was, and how I inspired them. It's good to hear. But also, a fact of my life.

I need structure because I need to feel control.

I get up because I need to survive.

These are two major characteristic of adult children of alcoholics, and two major things I am reading about and discussing in therapy. The good news is that I know these things on my own, and just need to be reminded.

The bad news is that every now and then I need to be reminded. These should be ingrained in me by now. They are my thoughts, my feelings, my strengths, and I should not need verbal affirmation from anyone but myself to remember that every now and then, everyone falls, and everyone lets their grass grow. And they are still good people.

I'll get there because I want to. I'll make it because I survive. The difference now is, I know it's ok to cry. And I will, and I do, and then I go on.

And that is the best feeling in the world.