Saturday, October 21, 2006

Restaurant Quote of the Weekend

"When you're done, come up."

Said to me by the executive chef when he was telling me I would be working on the line tonight.

(!)

"Serial Killer-You're training your replacement right now."

Said to Serial Killer by the soux chef after 5 minutes of me working the line alone, because he said, "You're faster than him already."

"How is she doing this?!"

Said to the soux chef by Devo when he called a number which I already had up.

"Meatballs are not just meatballs. They are life."

Said by PRMan01 in regard to why someone was so angry they got messed up.

"Put the lotion in the basket."

Said by Devo to...no one. Just randomly in a funny voice, which made me laugh my loud laugh.

Overall, I can say this-

Have you ever wandered through life wondering what you were put on this earth for? Or what you were supposed to be doing?

My answer is: Yes.

No job has ever been fast enough or crazy enough or busy enough for me since Disney. Until now.

Tickets print, bowls are shuffled and I make salads. And not just boring ones. Pretty ones in which I have to artistically stack pears and micro greens with "roasted stuff" drizzled over the plate. Desserts requiring me to make the plate look pretty. And it's up to me for the most part what I want to do.

The tickets keep coming, and pretty soon, it's time to go home.

That's what I'm talkin about.

It brings me great pride to know that I blew them away tonight. That they expected me to do ok, but instead, I dominated. I was asked if I'd ever done this before-more than once.

The looks on their faces when I replied honestly "No-this is my first night ever" is worth all of the tired mornings I've had yet.

It's also wonderful that I am the only woman on the line. They do have one other that works every now and then, but when I'm up there, I will be the only one. The guests in the dining room seem to like that. They look at me and smile. The men wink. They seem to be pleased to see a woman working in a predominantly male profession.

The people at work are wonderful but I didn't share my "This was the best night of my life" comments with any of them (except my great friend Megan who is the best server in CT) because I think they will laugh and think I am joking.

But there are few times in my life that I've ever felt so alive, so competent and so at peace as tonight, working on the front line in a well respected restaurant.

Thank you God. I needed this.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Note To Self

Dear Maggie,

You have a lot of work to do. You have ideas and goals with little time or funds to follow through with them.

Do not let this deter you.

Push yourself harder than you've ever pushed. Recognize your talent, reward your successes and learn from your failures.

Do not let set backs throw you off course. Instead, forge forward with more spirit, dig deep and say to yourself, "I will not give up."

You are creative, smart and passionate. You have it in you.

Stop waiting for life to happen. Life is happening. You are your life. Love yourself more, and others will love you too.

Remember to live each day with a little less fear and a little more faith.

Remember to bloom where you are planted.

Believe. Do. Learn. Grow. Laugh. Play. Love. Heal. Create. Succeed.

Be true to yourself.

Smile more, cry less. Let your joy shine through you. Don't hide your pain.

Choose to be what you want to be, and do it.

You have a lot of work to do. I know you can do it.

I love you.

LMD
It’s like Yemen in here right now. I looked up from my desk to see 2 old people walking by-1 with a shawl, bent over with a hump on her back, and a man walking similarly. I feel like they are on a pilgrimage or something. Why this conjures up pictures of Yemen, I don’t know, but it did.

Kristarella is helping me create a blog for my kind of starting up business. I’m trying to find pictures to post. The ones I am having trouble with are the pictures of me. I have an idea about what I want a picture to look like, but somehow the “take 100 pounds off” button doesn’t work on my camera. Dilemmas, dilemmas…

I need pictures of people making my food. Part of what I’d like to do is have cooking parties where you learn to prepare food in a casual, fun environment (your place) with your friends or family. Trouble is, I have to practice on people I know, and also take pictures of them having fun making the food. Friends and family-look for an invitation soon…I need your help starting this up, and running through it with live folks who love me will help.

I can’t wait to start my new job. A smart person can only file so much. I’m beginning to wonder why I even went to college with this job. (Oh yeah-it was to mud wrestle on the green at midnight. Right.)

I have a confession: On one of my coworkers desk resides a bowling trophy. It is a person bowling. However, the head of the person is a small smooth marbled bowling ball. It’s very shiny. The confession: Every time I walk by it, I want to rub the little bowlers head.

Girls will only want to read this comment. Boys will run screaming if they do. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I haven’t had my “time of the month” in about 6 months because of the particular birth control pill I use. However, I can’t afford it anymore and so I am switching. Therefore, it’s “that time of the month” and I can tell you all that I’d forgotten how horrible it feels to wake up extra tired, be bloated, a little cranky and pissed that I have to worry about when I go to the bathroom.


Some days I feel like my life is really about to jump start itself. Today is one of those days.
Hi guys,

First let me remind those of you who wanted to but haven't yet donated, my walk is this Sunday. Thanks to all of your generosity, I reached my goal of $250, but that's not to say I couldn't bring more! Please donate if you can, it's for a good cause. Simply click on the "Sponsor Me" link to the left.

I'm exhausted and beat up this morning, and after a week of tests (6 to be exact) I just don't have it in me to write. Perhaps later I will post something fun, but for now, here is a recipe for the sauce I made for my final yesterday. I got a 96 (stinky) but got 100% and 106% on the written tests.

To be served with steak-I grilled mine and served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes-which were to die for, and also my famous asparagus.

Marchand de Vin

Butter 3 oz
Onion, diced fine 2 oz
Garlic, diced fine 1 1/4 t
Green onion 2 oz
Ham, chopped fine 2 oz
Mushrooms 4 oz
Flour 1/3 c
Worcestershire 2T
Stock, pref. beef 16 oz
Red wine 4fl oz
Thyme, dried 1 1/4 t.
Bay Leaf 1
Parsley, fresh 1.25 oz
salt & pepper TT

1. Melt butter and saute onion, garlic, green onions and ham for 5 minutes.
2. Add shrooms, cook 2 minutes.
3. Blend in flour and stir approx 4 minutes to make a light roux.
4. Add Wine, then Worcestershire sauce, stock, thyme and bay leaf. Simmer 1 hour.
5. Season with s&p, remove bay leaf and finish with parsley.

*To be honest-I made it this way but strained it so I had a completely plain sauce with no lumps or herbs. That's actually the preferred way to serve sauces anyway, unless they are intentionally chunky or mushroomy. This one, you can do either way, but I felt it was too chunky for service.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Trekking

I don't have any idea why we decided to explore that day. It was probably because when you're little, everything seems like uncharted territory. Or even more probable, it was because I was crazy and wanted to live like Little House on the Prairie trekking all over "the land". As we stood at the top of what my family dubbed "Death Hill" our steamy breath slithered around our heads as if to seduce us into doing something wrong.

It worked. With a "Ready or not..." we began our slippery, wet walk down the largest, bumpiest hill that side of Chester.

Were we allowed on Death Hill? Yeah. It was my families sledding hill, located in the very back of our property. To get there, you had to crawl under (what seemed like) hundreds of pine trees that grew on the land. If my family was smarter, we would have sold them at Christmas time, bringing in hundreds of dollars per year.

Instead, our neighbors who lived just past Death Hill did.

We never went on their land. Even when we had a particularly good run (in which we did not fall into the icy water that bordered each side of the "track") and we hit the bump just right that we got a lot of air-we'd fall off of the sled to avoid going over the property line.

I don't exactly know why-my parents wouldn't have told me to stay off the land, and I don't remember anyone specifically yelling, but, for some reason, I remember a man in a red quilted jacket, boots and one of those crazy hats that folds over the ears walking near his property with a scowl on his face. I think he had a shot gun.

I acknowledge that this is totally made up. Perhaps there was a man at one point, walking on his property. But I am certain he didn't care about us sledding and even more certain he had no gun.

But-all the same-this is what I remembered, and this is what I told my friend. And yet-we still pressed on.

As we crossed the line, I remember feeling strangely free, trepidatious and maybe a little bit like I had to pee.

We did silly things like ducked and rolled behind bushes, inspected his trees for anything that may be out of the ordinary (like what? A red ribbon instead of a blue one? We were nuts.) We were looking for clues about why this man was so mean, and why he was so protective of his land.

When we found nothing in his crop, we actually contemplated sneaking into his house. I think I mentioned above that we were slightly nuts. We didn't, however, because we saw someone inside.

Instead, we opted to explore his woods, hoping to find more clues.

There is little doubt in my mind that by this time, we were frozen-wet to the core and hungry. And anyone who says that kids are not determined should keep this story and reference it for proof that when there's a mystery to be solved, no amount of grilled cheeses or hot chocolates can lure them away from their adventure.


Entering the woods, we were careful to avoid the traps (that we imagined would be there). Using a stick, we poked and prodded, making sure that nothing would clench our ankles. We even had a plan-the one who got away would use pine needles to mark the trail so they could come back with the police. Genius.

Because we were so efficient and clever, neither one of us were ensnared. Entering a clearing, my hand caught her arm. In front of us stood a small, shack-like building, no bigger than an outhouse.

What was this doing here? we wondered. Afterall, we were in the middle of no where.

After much debate and thought, we deduced that the shack that stood before us must, without a doubt, be the place the tree man brought his victims.

There simply was no other explanation.

Deciding that we'd come too far to go back now without even peaking, we slowly crawled toward the structure.

Looking back, I find this funny: The traps, we had a plan for. The possible Murder Shack with a crazy man inside-nothing.

There were no windows, so our only way to find out what was inside was to open the door. We knew that no one (alive) was inside because being the ever graceful person I am, slipped while trying to be quiet, and fell into the building. If someone was inside-naturally they would have come out.

Hand on the door, my friend to the side with the biggest stick we could find, I yanked.

And, to our horror-

It was an old outhouse.

Deflated and cold, we found our way back home, ate our grilled cheeses and drank our hot chocolates, wondering what type of decoy that outhouse played in his scheme.

Years later...we are still in the dark.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Cards?


Some just suggested I get business cards.

I think it's a little early, don't you? What do you think?

Then there's the whole design aspect of them. You know me, I have to have them look perfect. And also, what do I put? I'm not technically a chef yet, and if I get cards, I am not going to put "Chef in training"

And also, I don't have a business set up yet. Is that ok?

What do you guys think? I am trying to start accumulating customers, and 2 people have asked for cards...

Yikes.

Oh, The Places I Will Go...

Tonight after work I'm going to look at a book I ordered from Barnes and Noble. I can't wait to settle into my favorite chair with a nice warm drink (wouldn't it be fantastic if Caramel Apple Cider is back?) with my leg curled under me, dreamily watching the melange of people who walk by, unaware that they are being studied.

The smells, the sites, the sounds. I love the bookstore. And I love knowing that there is one book, waiting just for me, and no one else. One book that, in it's hard covered glory, holds the key to my imagination.

And mine alone.

Oh! The exotic places I will go tonight...the colors I will see and flavors I will sample. I may even travel the world.



In a bookstore, the possibilities, are endless my friend.

(And hello-how can a book written by a guy named Mickey be bad?)

I'm entirely excited because it's fun. It's not working, studying, or worrying. It's me, sitting where I love to be, doing something I love. Being me.

I should be studying, but considering I am going to look at garnishing books, I can write it off in my brain as homework, but keep the joy of it in my heart.

I can put that I learn to good use on Thursday because I'll have plate a grilled meat, a starch and a veggie. I'm just not sure what yet. So I'll get an idea in my head, and then go from there.

Oh, I'm so excited! I can hardly wait work to be over!!!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Testie Tart


This bad boy scored me a 98 tonight. (Creme Caramel too, but I don't like that so I didn't take it home.)

Don't mind the lopsidedness of this tart-chef obviously had to cut a piece out of it to taste it and test for doneness, and in doing so, she knocked some fruit loose.

105 on the written.

Yes, on both tests, I rocked!

I'm going to miss this chef though. She's extremely good at what she does and she's very down to earth. I love her. I think we have her 2 mods from now for our cake class.

Also, I was thinking: I have no idea why we call our instructors "Chef". They do that in industry, but I don't know why we started. They must have told us to, but that's weird. I almost wonder if someone didn't know the chef's last name and instead just said, "Chef" and now it stuck...

Oh well...4 tests down, 2 to go!

Toosdae ?'s

1. There are 3 stalls in an empty bathroom, which one do you choose, and why? (Assume you have to use the stall)

2. Have you or someone you know ever won something from a sweepstakes or a game show? Exclude lottery winnings as I think those are more common.

3. Justin Timberlake is bringing "Sexy Back" What does that mean?

1. I always go to the one closet to a wall, or farthest away from the door. I will almost never take a stall in the middle, unless I absolutely can't hold it mainly because I don't like to be surrounded by other people when I pee.

2. I have never won anything from a sweepstakes or a game show. I did know someone who's dad won a huge trampoline on Wheel of Fortune back in the 80's when it was cool and you could "shop" for your prizes. You may remember the trampoline from my stories of jumping on it while singing Whitney Houston songs.

3. Well, I know what sexy is not-finding grapes, that's for sure! If he's bring sexy back, he'd better have some running pants on with sneakers, a clean sweatshirt and a backwards baseball hat.

Or, the hot intern that left for school last month. He can bring that sexy back any day of the week.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Back 2 the Middle & Around Again

tonight's challenge:

Blackened Steak Sandwich on a toasted baguette with caper butter, served with Lyonnaise Potatoes.

I'm not sure if you remember, but on my last practical, I earned 100%.

And tonight, I did it again. The only one. 100%

My steak came out perfect-It was a thick piece of meat so after searing it in the pan to make it black, I had to finish it in the oven to get it cooked medium rare, the preferred cooking temperature in culinary school.

The potatoes were cake to make, especially because I made them for my breakfast practical 6 weeks ago.

I toasted the baguette in the oven instead of grilling it because I thought it would give a better texture-crunchy on the outside but still moist and soft on the inside from the caper butter I made and smeared all over it before baking it off.

I was right. It was incredible.

3 slices of juicy, dripping with Cajun flavor steak on top of that break was beyond good.

I've been trying to find good picture books lately for plating ideas. I have 2 on order, but in the mean time, I'm left with my own creativity. I was told to garnish my plate with lettuce, tomato slices and red onion.

I hate lettuce and tomato on my sandwiches. Mainly because of the texture and the messiness. So instead of just keeping the lettuce whole and flat, I chiffonaded it, which means I rolled it up and sliced it into long, thin slices-much like shredding, but more...together.

I made a nest of greens in the middle of the plate, took 2 small, thin tomato slices and overlapped them so they were slightly leaning up. I then too the red onion which I juillenned and stuck them straight up. They resembled tail feathers. The sandwich was cut at an angle and I laid them at the top and finished the plate with 4 silver dollar sized potato slices rounding 1/2 of the nest of lettuce.

It was beautiful. Even Know-it-all said, "Wow, your plate looks really good Killer. I bet you're going to get a kick ass grade."

And I did. And I'm psyched.

And my kitten is knocking something over, and so this story is now over....

Doing What I "Gotta Do"

I'm the girl who harbors hope in my heart. I keep every little precious moment in my soul, hoping that one day, they will amount to something so great that the lock on my heart can never again be closed because of the overwhelming amount of love and joy that is spilling through it.

And I'm also the girl who shoves her feelings down because, "He'll change, he'll realize, or he'll grow to love me" instead of the girl who demands, and seeks out people who never leave me wondering, and who would never want me to be in a constant state of uneasiness.

"Eventually, he will be mine." That is often what I find myself thinking. That if I wait patiently, I'll be worthy of love.

I've found that sometimes, wanting something, or someone, so much clouds your judgment. Forget that-it always does.

On my last trip to Florida, my good friend Ms. A spoke of her latest relationship, mainly, to prove to me that mine was very similar. She suggested, much to my chagrin, that I read, "He's Just Not That Into You."



I found that ironic, because before I even met Mr. CM in person, he told me that he bought it for his sister. And also, because of the author's first name. ;) (And there's a knock off book written by a man with the same first name as a certain person's best friend. Too weird.)

I may have visibly scoffed at her suggestion. "Things are going well right now." I told her. "I think that maybe it's getting better, that he's realizing just how much he cares about me now. I think he's really making an effort to be a part of my life and making me a part of his. That counts for something, right?"

She smirked, the way that only Ms. A can, letting me know what she thought.

Months later, after sharing many wonderful, touching moments with Mr. CM, I found myself completely taken off guard by our breakup. My friends, I am sure, would wonder why I was shocked. Afterall, they were the ones I bounced ideas off of, the ones I asked what they thought a certain gesture meant, or asked to affirm my hopes of "maybe he's finally falling"-time and time again. To be honest, I'm not sure why they didn't bonk me on the head, screaming, "Make it stop!" before now.

It's because they are lovely, that is why.

I found myself so quickly knocked off of my "things are going so well now" train that it took me a couple of weeks to even breath without it hurting. Even now, as I am writing this, I have tears in my eyes. I wonder what went wrong. How we went from 3 super exciting dates in a row when we first met to being 2 people who wanted to keep being around each other to see what happened to 2 people who were finally defined to 2 people who now have to try to find a way to be "just" friends. Especially after all of the trying.

I've been trying everything I can to move on. I'm trying to keep busy (not too hard to do that), trying to get him out of my thoughts, trying to break the habit of wanting to call him first when something good or bad happens, and even trying to get excited about dating other people.

There's been a lot of tears. And a lot of "Snap out of its". And I'm trying to fix some of the things in my life that are broken. And that, no matter what, is a good thing.

And finally, I took my friends advice, and compared my life and relationship with those in the book, "He's Not That Into You".

Liberating? A couple of times.

Helpful? Sure.

Empowering? Yeah.

Confusing? A little bit.

Only because my last relationship didn't include dating a married man, someone who didn't call or spend time with me or someone who didn't want to have sex with me. He even did a damn good job at making me smile, even though sometimes, I know he just wanted to go to sleep.

What the book did do, however, is wipe away all of the trying to decode the actions. Trying to figure out where I stood. Trying to understand why words didn't ever follow the actions.

He just wasn't that into me.

It feels callous to say that. Because I know he cared. I know he still does. And it's my fault really, for not going away when he asked me to the first time. But my hope kept me close, kept me available and my heart kept me hanging on.

This book is funny, it's smart and it's down to earth. It gives perspective on almost all real life scenarios, making me feel that I am not alone...

...That I am not the only silly fool who followed her heart in hope of her love interest having a Hazah! moment.

Here are some things that I wrote down while listening to the book (Yes, I bought the audio book on Itunes-great idea by the way, I recommend it to everyone. Though I miss holding the book, I enjoyed being able to do dishes, dust and fold laundry while listening to someone help me mend my heart)

*You can't change his mind

*If a man really likes a woman, he will do anything in his power to let her know it. He will do anything in his power to make her know that he wants her all to himself. He will not be indifferent.

*Move on with your life, fast, and do whatever you have to to get there.

*Being the cool, easy going girl who wants to be less demanding of a man still gets her feelings hurt. Mainly because by caring so much about his feelings, she suppresses hers.

*100% of men polled who claimed to have a "fear of intimacy" stated that said fear never stopped them from being with a woman they were into.

*There's a guy out there who will want to tell everyone that he is your boyfriend. And he will want you to know it too.

*Any good, mature man should make an attempt to get to know your friends and family.

*Men would rather be trampled by flaming elephants than to tell you that you just aren't the one. That is why it is so important that you ask yourself honestly: Does he make it clear everyday that your happiness means a lot to him?

Something funny:

"Call the cops because someone's had their brain stolen."

"Stinky the Time Waster"

Something Endearing:

"I'd marry my wife in every time zone if that's what she wanted."

Something I needed to hear:

"You shouldn't have to wonder if you have a boyfriend or not. If a dude really likes you, and is really into being with you, he will let you know."

2 Quotes:

"Don't Waste The Pretty"

"It's Your Life-How DARE You Not Believe In It?"

So, Ms. A, I'm sorry I didn't take your advice sooner. Do I think I spent too much time with a Stinky the Time Waster? No. A huge, resounding, from the bottom of my heart NO. Do I value the time we spent together and will I always hold it dear to my heart? Yes.

It's just that now I see, that he just wasn't that into me.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Pimpin' Myself Out


Look at how pretty my food looks on the top of the flyer!

Because Souffle Isn't a Good Name For a Kitten

I named her Sophie...


She's a little drunk on cat nip in this picture-she even forgot to wipe her little mouth before posing for the camera.

So far, Sophie has followed me around the house, wherever I go. She's fallen asleep in the crook of my arm while I was talking on the phone, on my lap when I was reading and now, while I am blogging.

And, as if she were my own, she watched diligently as I made chocolate mouse.

Suddenly, my little life isn't so lonely anymore. Even if it is just because of a kitten, and even if I do end up being the crazy cat lady.

One's my limit though.

Shrimp Bisque


Clarified Butter 1.5 fl oz
Mirepoix, small dice 8 oz
Shrimp Shells 16 oz
Garlic, chopped 1
Tomato Paste 1 oz
Brandy 2 fl oz
White Wine 6 fl oz
Fish Stock 2 qt
Sachet of
Bay Leaf 2
Thyme 2t
Peppercorns 1T
Parsley Stems 4
Heavy Cream 8 oz
Salt & Pepper TT
cayenne Pepper TT
Shrimp 8oz
1. Caramelize mirepoix & shrimp shells in clarified butter.
2. Add garlic and tomato paste and saute lightly.
3. Add Brandy and flambe.
4. Add wine and deglaze pan. Reduce by 1/2.
5. Add stock and sachet bag and simmer, 1 hr.
6. Strain soup, discarding solids and sachet.
7. Return to pan and add cream. Season with S&P and Cayenne.
8. Serve in 4 oz bowls, adding cooked shrimp as a garnish.
*If you need more clarification on anything, please comment and I will respond.
I cooked my shrimp in a simple court bouillon, which is:
Water
White Wine
pickling Spices
Lemon Slices
It gave the shrimp an added kick of flavor, which is important since they are a garnish and not part of the body of the soup. If prepared correctly, your bisque should be rich and flavorful, and deep in color.
The most important aspect of building the flavor of this bisque is having a highly flavored, good quality fish stock. I used lobster carcasses as my base. The most import aspect of building color for this bisque is starting with a good brown mirepoix (from your caramelization).
The picture above is not the bisque we made, but a stock photo-simply to show you how to garnish your bowl.
Enjoy!

Restaurant Quote of the Weekend

"I thought you were gonna tell chef that I told you to suck his dick."

Said by me in response to PRMan01 when he told the executive chef that I said he was a suck up.

Quote #2:

"You're yellin' at the wrong guy, honey!"

Said by the new oven guy to Red, the annoying pastry chef who is bitchy and moody and yells for no reason.

The new oven guy is also my restaurant hero of the week.