Saturday, February 10, 2007

Restaurant Quote of the Weekend

"Regular pearls, not ASS pearls!"


Said by me, in response to a very suggestive (and somewhat impressed look) when I said that I had pearls for sale at home.

Yes, the restaurant business is strange...

Friday, February 09, 2007

Grouch Monger

I'm really not a grouch monger today. It's just going to seem like it for the short amount of time you are reading this post...but really-it's a good day!

There are times when the customer has the right to be angry about service being less than what it should be. Then there are times when people are just angry for silly reasons. Those are usually the ones that make the biggest deal about nothing and typically, are very loud. Today I stopped for coffee on the way to work. The line was long, but moving fast. The lady behind me was very loud and was trying to "recruit" members to join her pissy posse. Luckily, she remained an army of one.

After leaving the coffee shop I was met with another unpleasant person. This time, he was backing his car out of a parking spot so quickly that his tires squealed. I am shocked that he didn't hit my car just by the skid factor alone! In any event, of course, he ranted and screamed inside his little car and gestured enough to allow me to realize he thought it was my fault.

I wasn't even moving.

To me, the worst is when I got to work-I was carrying my lunch, a book, and coffee and had forgotten to take my key pass out of my coat pocket. There was an older man behind me walking quickly. In the past, that meant someone was going to help me inside-that's what people always do here. But no-instead, he waited somewhat impatiently for me to balance my coffee on top of my lunch to get my key and then open the door. As I opened the door, he walked inside FIRST! AND-AND (I might add) he didn't even say THANK YOU!

Why are people so rude? I understand that not everyone is a morning person-heck, I'm far from a morning person myself. But having the decency to be kind to strangers should be a requirement of life.

Right?

Good news? It's FRIDAY!!!! YIPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Garde Manger

It's fun being an upperclassman.

Not only do we get to make fun and creative things while others are still suffering through chicken stock 101 and 700 different kinds of soups-but we're pretty well respected too.

Both by the instructors and the students. Which is nice.

Last night we had Garde Manger class and we worked in teams of 2. Each of us had to make a cheese platter as well as a fruit platter. Our cheese platter consisted of goat cheese rolled into bite-size balls covered in hazelnuts. I piled them up to look like grapes and then fried off a tortilla to look like curly vines and a leaf. Then we had a wedge of cheddar and blocks cascading down. My partner shaved some pineapple and made a little flower and then topped it with a strawberry.

Our fruit platter was phenomenal. We split the top of a pineapple in half and fanned them out, then filled the open area with pineapple slices, grapes and strawberries. We then took watermelon triangles and curved them up the center, fanned out kiwi slices and made a flower out of oranges.

The whole table combined was beautiful. Our chef made a gazebo out of a watermelon with strawberry stands and we each made a swan out of an apple.

I didn't have my phone or a camera with me, but luckily Know-it-all did, and he's promised me that he'll email it to me sometime today....

Hopefully I can post a picture for you so you can see it. It was quite satisfying seeing our creative display!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Duh!

I could have told them this years ago!
I luv me some sweaty boys...

Escargot

Normally, I'm all about trying the food we make in school...but I just can't seem to wrap my brain around the fact that on Monday night, I'm going to be eating snails.

And I suppose it's not very much different really, from eating Conch or Clams...but really...it kind of is.

These things have little antlers. Luckily, I've been told, that they are very hard to get fresh these days, and most come canned. I shudder to think about having to de-shell them. Ick.

My chef also told me that when they did get them fresh (From a little Italian man on the shoreline-probably an uncle of mine!) that they'd have to 'purge' them and weeks later they'd look up and find a few crawling on the exhaust hoods above the stoves.

Double ick.

This isn't really making me feel like doing cartwheels about eating snails. There are so many other lovely things we could be eating-why bother with these little slimy things?

No offense to anyone who's French, but I just don't get it...

Trying to soothe my overactive mind, I Googled "escargot" and went to the images section...BAD IDEA. Live snails, crawling their way slowly down a leaf is not my idea of yum.

Monday, Monday...Snails and Veal Stew. Lovely.

Thursday 13-"Wow"

ThirteenWOW Moments In My Adult Life

1. Mudsliding is fun
2. Even when you think you are in a loving, secure relationship, it can be affected by peer pressure and your security can be taken away. Even if it's the day after Valentine's Day.
3. Moving to a state where I knew no one and having the best time of my life recreating who I wanted to be.
4. Silence on Main Street USA, after hours, while standing in front of Cinderella's Castle.
5. Watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks in a hammock on the Polynesian Resort's beach with someone who loved me.
6. Almost being run over by a car by my ex-husband while he was on his first suicide run. Wow comes in b/c I didn't think he'd continue driving while I was in the driveway. I was wrong.
7. Being given a gift certificate to a food store by colleagues and some friends the Christmas of my divorce because they knew I couldn't afford food.
8. Holding my (then) sick niece while she lay limp in my arms, rocking and singing to her until she fell asleep. The Wow comes in because for the first time in my life, I realized what unconditional love meant.
9. Shivering and hiding in a slide at a park up the street because I thought I was going to get beat up again. The Wow comes in when I realized that I was the girl in the movies, and that I had to do something before it had a tragic ending.
10. Talking on the phone until 2am with a man who restored my faith in men. The Wow comes in because he was just as wonderful in person.
11. Being breathless after a kiss.
12. Granted access to culinary school and actually going.
13. Stepping inside of my dream of becoming a chef every day I wake up.
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!



Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Big Brother?

During my freshman year in college I became a “Big Sister” in my hometown’s elementary school. I drove home early on a Friday afternoon and arrived in time for their after school program.

At the time, I was an Elementary Education major and was all about making a difference in a child’s life. (I still feel that way, just not in the same platform.) I was always good with children and would often be the one playing with them when other “adults” were drinking coffee and bull shitting around the table. This was right up my alley. Not only was I going to get a chance to play, but also I was volunteering my time, and building my resume.

The program was set up in such a way that both girls and boys stayed after school and older students would come to play with them. We were all mixed together-the boys and the girls-but each child was given a same-sex “sibling”.

On my first Friday, traffic was a bear. And not an “I just had a lot of honey and am happy and sleepy” kind of bear. No, this was another type of bear altogether-the kind that rips curious hunters apart and ends up on YouTube. You get the picture-traffic, was a bear…

I was 30 minutes late to arrive at the school. The teachers were understanding, and overall, very nice. I have a sneaking suspicion it was because I attended this elementary school and so did my 2 little sisters. In fact, one of them still attended. In any event, everyone was already paired up with a child by the time I arrived, and so I got the last “pick”.

Kyle was small, skinny and had unkempt black hair and deep, expressive brown eyes. She wore jeans and an oversized sweatshirt in the color of navy blue. Her plain white sneakers were gray and flopped open because they were untied.

I thought she was a boy.

We bonded quickly and enjoyed playing bingo, reading stories and making crafts. The semester flew by, and before I knew it, my time with Kyle was up. I was sad, but also grateful that I had the time to meet with him (her) every week, and was happy that we had so much fun.
I was thrilled when the teacher called me at school to tell me that Kyle had a present for me and asked if I could come back the following week.

Now, I know that you all are waiting for a dramatic ending-whether happy or sad. You want me to tell you that Kyle is studying to become a teacher or that we kept in touch over all of these years. Or, perhaps your mind is tragic and you’re waiting for me to tell you that I never received the gift because Kyle was killed the next day.

The truth is, I don’t know what happened to Kyle. I hope that she did indeed succeed and that her life is a happy one. I simply do not know.

What I can tell you is that when I arrived at the school the following Friday, I was met by a gigantic hug (It was ok to hug kids back then) and a smile that made my heart soar. To me, that was a present all in itself. (In fact, I don’t even remember what was in that little box.)

I beamed at my little brother (sister) and thanked him (her) while hugging him (her) and telling him (her) how much I would miss him (her).

Are you seeing where I am going with this?

Before we left, I said, “Kyle-you were the best little brother I’ve ever had!”

And her little eyes sank. And her smile faded. And she said, “I’m a girl.”

I tried to play it off like I was only teasing her-but really-what little girl who looks like a boy is going to buy that? None. Already the little faker, she plastered a fake smile onto her little freckled face and batted away her tears, giving me a quick hug before running out the door to meet her real siblings.

Before leaving, her mother thanked me for being so kind to Kyle, and for giving her something to look forward to each week. She told me that Kyle talked about me constantly and that I was a wonderful role model. And then she told me not to worry about making the mistake-everyone does.

That made me feel worse. I should have picked up on the fact that Kyle liked crafts or that she wasn’t mad that she got stuck with a big sister instead of a big brother, like most other 2nd grader boys would have. But I didn’t, and I couldn’t change it, so I just appreciated that even though I made that mistake, Kyle still had fun with me on Friday’s and hoped that she’d remember those times, instead of bad one.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Yup, My Favorite Class...



I didn't want the silly dusting of chocolate on the top of the cake, but my chef made me. In fact, he put it there. I liked it better without the messy dollup, but he gives out the grades...so it was A.O.K. with me. ;)
What do you think? No bad, huh?


Toosdae ?'s

Hey everyone! It's Toosdae and you know what that means around here! QUESTION TIME!! Now, last week LOTS of you went over to Greg's to answer his questions...so don't leave me hanging this week, k? Show some love here, and bring out the smile in me!

1. If you could go to the land of make-believe for one day, what would you most want to experience?

2. How far back can you trace your family tree?

3. If you were a contestant on The Price Is Right, what game would you most want to play?


1. If I lived in the land of make believe, I think I would want to experience some sort of enchanted forest. I love the woods, and fairies and pixie dust and living in an enchanted forest would be magical. Also, I'd like to live in a hollowed out tree like the Bernstein Bears did.

2. Without help, sadly, I can only trace it back to my great-grandfather on my Mom's side and about the same on my Dad's. I know random people and who they were, but not the exact lineage.

3. No question: Plinko. That game rules.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Reminder: Simple Pleasures

It's easy, I know, to get caught up in life's leaks and debts, and to overlook the simple things that bring us joy and happiness. This weekend I started a preliminary inventory of my life, and realized, yet again, I've gotten too caught up to notice and appreciate the little things...how could I?

Don't you love it when...

...Your silly over dramatization of a kiss can bring a little girl to rolling uncontrollably laughter that, in turn, brings your entire family to laughter?

...When snowflakes are the size of nickles.

...Two people are so engrossed in each other that they don't mind you eavesdropping-simply because they are wrapped up in each others aura.

...You have someone who understands you, even if you've never met.

...Water is so cold that it instantly quenches your thirst.

...Water is so hot it instantly relieves you of your stress at it trickles down the curve of your back?

...An old friend contacts you to tell you they've missed you in their life?

And don't you love...

A blanket wrapped around you and a good book to read?

A warm chocolate chip cookie with ooey gooey chips and a cold glass of milk to wash it down?

Waking up from a bad dream knowing it's not for real?

Drifting off to sleep knowing that tomorrow can be better?

A hearty glass of red wine that makes your head fuzzy and your body warm?

It's been easy to forget about these things these days...and so I thought I should remember them on this cold, Monday morning. What am I forgetting? What's your simple pleasures?

30 Second Mystery: 1st Installment

New Game: I will post a case, you will make guesses. If you need clues, you may email me. I have up to 6 that I will reveal. The winner is the person who guess with the least amount of clues given. In the case of 2 correct answers, the winner will be the one who posted first.

The prize? My adoration and a smile. ;) Have fun! No cheating either!!

The Case:
A famous man has plotted the deaths of well over a hundred people, many of whom were royalty. Some survived, but many did not. The man is famous the world over for what he's done-yet he's never been tried by a court of law.

The Mystery:
Who are the man's two most famous victims and what is the man's name?

It's up to YOU to figure it out...

Good luck!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

What's Cookin? Beef Stew

We finally (finally!) saw some snow here in CT this weekend (3 inches here) and I feel it is my obligation to make beef stew. This is no hoity-toity recipe, but a simply classic made from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. For added stewy goodness, make dumplings and drop them into the stew a few minutes before serving. Stay warm!

Old-Fashioned Beef Stew (Tradition in a Pot)


2 T. Flour
1# beef cut into 3/4 inch cubes
2 T. Cooking Oil
3 C. vegetable juice
1 C. water
1 medium Onion, thinly wedged
1 t. beef bouillon granules
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. Marjoram, dried, crushed
1/2 t. Oregano, dried, crushed
1 Bay Leaf
2 1/2 C. potatoes, cubed (about 3 medium)
1 C. frozen Green Beans
1 C. frozen Corn
1 C. sliced Carrots (2 medium)

1. Dredge meat in flour and shaking excess. Heat oil in a large saucepan and sear meat in batches. Drain oil
2. Stir in begetable juice, water, onion, bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, herbs and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 1-1 1/4 hours.
3. Stir in veggies. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes until potatoes and carrots are tender. Discard bay leave. Makes about 6 servings.

Dumplings:
2/3 C. Flour
1 T. parsley, fresh
1 t. baking powder
1 t. dried basil or dill
1/8 t. salt
1/4 C. Milk
2 T. Oil

1. Combine dry ingredients and add milk and oil. Stir just until combined.
2. Drop mixture from a tablespoon to make 4-8 mounds atop the stew. Cover (DO NOT LIFT COVER) and simmer over low heat for 10-12 minutes or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean.