Saturday, March 17, 2007

Restaurant Quote of the Weekend

"Jesus! You should go home before you hurt yourself."

Said by Chef to me when I dropped 3 fish buckets on my head because the lights were too bright for me to see them properly.

Today my theme was "No pain, no gain."

It took me 2 hours to shovel out of my driveway and the sun really killed my eye. I had to stop half way through and come in to rest my eyes and wanted to give up. But I didn't because I knew I had to go into the restaurant.

I was worried about the fluorescent lights in the kitchen. Yesterday at the doctor's office I had to sit with my eyes closed while I waiting because of the same kind of lights. But I went in because I hadn't been there in 2 weeks and I don't want people to think I'm a slacker, or a loser, or simply that I was not taking this seriously.

It was tough. Within an hour I had a screaming headache because of the lights. "No pain, no gain." I kept saying in my head. I have to show these people how hard working I am again.

I asked for a baseball hat (I usually wear a bandanna) because I thought it would help shield the lights a bit.

It didn't help. All it did was make me hot.

Chef told me to go home just before I started cutting calamari and I told him I had to stay. He reluctantly said OK but I noticed he kept coming back and watching me. Midway through, it was just too much.

I finished cutting and told him I was leaving.

He told me he was glad and not to worry about it-he could tell I was really struggling and he appreciated that I tried.

Hopefully, he was telling the truth.

The restaurant business doesn't seem to be the most trustworthy-everyone talks about everyone and there is no loyalty-at least from what I've witnessed. And it's not like I am desperate for these people to be my friends-it's simply that working for 10 hours with people who think you're shit must really suck, and I don't want that to happen to me.

And also, I like people to think of me as trustworthy and hardworking. But I tried, and I know I did my best to get through the pain, when I could have easily given up.

So that counts for something.

I came home and listened to the television for a while, but inevitably, what happens, is that you fall asleep. So I had a 4 hour nap. I can focus a bit now with the lights dim, and am hoping there is something on TV to amuse me, as I am not tired at all...

Being this is my 2nd one, I can definitively tell you: Corneal Ulcers SUCK!

Score

House of Mags=1

Mags=0

I woke up this morning to very loud drips and drops. Again.

But this time, it was from my window sill. Apparently the roof on that side of my house isn't the best. This happened in the same location 2 years ago after another big storm. The ice melts but has nowhere to go b/c of the snow, the instead, comes inside.

Lovely.

I just hope it doesn't short out my alarm system.

I did have a dream that Tyler Florence (a yummy chef on the Food Network) came to fix it.

So there's that.

I'm still having trouble seeing. My right eye is completely snapped shut when there's light around. Shoveling should be fun, as will working in the kitchen tonight.

I think life thinks it's funny. Well, I got news for ya life, I'm gonna kick your ass.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Two Stories

I've never actually asked why we moved away from our 2nd floor home in New York. I guess it never occurred to me that there was a reason-yet today I know it had to be big, considering my mother's entire family lived within 2 blocks of us.

Our life seemed full and happy-though I know now how dysfunctional it really was; why I got flashbacks of kindergarten during my first weekend on a college campus, and why there were always jugs of wine and cases of beer in the fridge, but I had to go to my aunt's house downstairs for juice.

Still, ignorance is bliss, and during that time I thought the world was pretty much perfect.

Once we moved to CT the loneliness really set in. My Aunt Sue, who was the big sister I never had, was so far away from me. My Nana and Papa weren't just up the street, with their loving bickering and their warm house that always seemed to smell of tomato sauce. I couldn't steal gum from my uncles or visit them at Carvel to get my vanilla cone with chocolate sprinkles and a cherry on top. And though we visited almost every weekend, it wasn't the same.

We moved into the house I would grow up in which my Grandfather owned. At the time, it was a 2 family house. We inhabited the bottom half, and a single mother and her son lived above.

At first I really liked them. The mother was eccentric with long dark hair and tan looking skin and she always wore purple. She invited me for dinner once and made meatloaf with mashed potatoes and corn, and, for the first time that I can remember, I was taught how to eat the corn with the potatoes. (I'm sure I did this before, but this is the very first memory) Her son, who was a lot older than I was-probably by about 6 or 7 years-was so very nice to me that we became instant friends.

To be honest, I don't remember what we played or talked about. I do, however, remember the day he stopped being my friend because it wasn't cool. I was out on my swingset, which he could see from his bedroom. He had a friend over and they called out the window to me and told me to do a flip on the monkey bars.

I did so, but managed to scrape my entire face on the ground, landing with a thud. I was bloody and beaten, and heavily embarrassed and when I looked up, they were laughing. His friend commented on my baby underwear-I think they were Strawberry Shortcake-and they shut the window.

No, it didn't end my world. Instead, it made me realize that sometimes people can pretend to be your friends when it's convenient for them-but when the people they really want to be friends with are around, you become nothing.

It was a hard lesson-one that literally stung and smelled of blood. But it also taught me two other important lessons:

1. That you have to move on when things like that happen and that there will be other people who will cherish you for who you are-and they will do it no matter who sees.

2. Wear pants when you do a flip on the monkey bars. 8)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Daily

I check this daily... Even though I can't act on any openings until at least July. It's still neat to know that "Culinary Productions" exists and that I somewhat qualify.

My eye is still pretty bad. I hadn't been able to open it before I went to the doctor today so I didn't really know how bad it looked. Until I walked into the office and the receptionist greeted me with, "Whoa! How's that eye doing?"

I wanted to say something like, "When someone who's eye looks like this comes in-it's best not to joke with them. Chances are the stabbing pain they feel when they look at the light is over riding their sense of humor."

Instead, I chuckled and told her it hurt.

Throughout the night I layed on the couch, listening to the television, stopping to put drops in my eye every hour. I am able to open it now, but even looking at this screen is pretty rough. I hope tomorrow is better.

I did manage to put together a rough portfolio album with pictures of food I have made. After my doctor's appointment tomorrow I am planning on going to a country club down the road to speak to their banquets chef. He seems pretty nice, and interested, and hopefully having my portfolio will make him want to take a chance on me. The pictures aren't great, but at least he can see that I have some talent.

Being home all day is beginning to suck. Before, staying home sick was sort of a luxury. It was like I had my own secret world and no one knew I was here. I could watch TV, sleep and read and catch up on some rest. Now that my job is so slow, I take more time off (mostly vacation) and it's getting old.

I didn't want to stay home today, but I couldn't open my eye. It's good that I went to the doctor. But tomorrow I am not going in either, and I just feel like a lazy bum. I really hope I don't get fired. I almost want to just go in to show him so that he sees just how ugly I am. I did take a picture, just in case.

I'm just rambling. The only people I interacted with today were the doctors and the pharmacist, and then the chef briefly. I'm pretty bored.

I'm off to dream about a land of opportunity and ultimate fulfillment...

Ouch

I have another corneal ulcer.

It hurts.

Thank God it's not a sunny day.

Unsent Letters

I never told anyone this, but about a month after I broke up with Sean to explore a possible relationship with Matt, I sat in the little break room to the left of the turnstiles and wrote Sean a letter telling him that I made a terrible mistake.

I asked him if we could talk when I got home in January.

Matt and I had been officially dating since the week Sean left to go back home to Massachusetts. Things were going very well, and it was apparent that Matt was in love with me. We had a very social relationship-meaning we went out with a group of people the majority of the time but managed to spend alone time with each other about once a week. We also worked together on Main St. USA at the Magic Kingdom.

We saw a lot of each other, but not really-if that makes any sense. The weird thing about it was that while I was getting to know him, I was also getting to know the "Social Matt"-the one that put on a show for friends and who had to be the center of attention. He was radically different than the Matt I got when I we were alone.

I also got to hear what my older friends had to say about him-and they did not like Matt.

My veteran readers know that my time on the college program at Walt Disney World was a strange and wonderful time for me. I essentially reinvented who I was-trying to come as close as I could to the girl I always wanted to be. It was the first time I went anywhere without knowing anyone, and it was exhilarating.

Prior to the college program, Sean and I broke up for 4 months because his friends wanted him to hang out with him more. We had been going out for almost 6 years at that point, and hadn't ever really experienced dating anyone else. Though I was devastated, I understood, but decided to leave and go to Florida. We got back together about a month before I was to leave, pledging to stay strong-that our love would survive.

It didn't. I realized that we broke up for a good reason, and that he was a link to someone I didn't want to be anymore. When he came to visit me, I broke his heart.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what made me write that letter to him that day. Perhaps it was guilt, or fear of the unfamiliar/unknown, or perhaps I should have listened to my gut and sent the letter. Maybe Matt and I would not have gotten married and could have saved each other years of hurt feelings and betrayal. Perhaps, it just wasn't meant to be sent.

Why didn't I send the letter?

Matt walked into the break room and kissed me on the cheek.

Thursday 13-Jealousy

Thirteen Things you CAN'T MISS @ WDW

1. Spectro Magic
2. Carousel of Progress
3. Pirates of the Caribbean
4. The Laughin' Place (Splash Mountain)
5. It's a Small World (Yes, really)
6. The Turkey Legs
7. Spaceship Earth (go on it MANY times)
8. Illuminations
9. The Mexico Pavilion
10. The Tree of Life & It's Tough to be a Bug
11. Muppet 3D
12. Tower of Terror
13. Countdown to Extinction
Oh no! I've run out of room for the Swiss Family Robinson Tree house, Space/Big Thunder Mountain, Soarin', Everest and how can I leave off THE Jungle Cruise?!! It's no use...I love too much.

*Sigh* Everyone's going to Florida without me. 8(

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!



Wednesday, March 14, 2007

SPAM!

I know, you think this about canned meat. Well, thankfully, it's not!

I'm sorry everyone-word verification is here to stay for a while. At the end of January I saw a lot more traffic to my blog (AND I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE ALL OF MY NEW READERS!!!!) but with that came A LOT of spam.

I took it off today for a few hours and when I got back I already had 15 spam comments littered all over....and it would have continued if I didn't turn it back on.

I'm sorry, I know it's a pain and I know that it sometimes messes with comments, but I have to somehow stop these evil jerks from advertising for free on my blog!!!

I hope you understand. ;)

The Ultimate Gift

I'm not entirely sure how I stumbled upon the site for the movie The Ultimate Gift, but I did about a month ago. Immediately, I was enthralled and anxious to see it.

I planned on going to see the movie on Friday, however I was too tired, and postponed it until Sunday.

What a fantastic and inspiring movie. Go and see it. You will cry. It's simple. It's extreme. It's heartwarming. It's unlike anything I have ever seen, really.

The message is clear. Just read my quote in my sidebar...

On the way home from the movie, I was so inspired to do some good in the world that I was bursting at the seams. I actually cried on the way home-not out of sadness, but of hopefulness. I know I can do some good in this world. I know there are bigger plans for me.

I began thinking about what my passions are in life. And how I can harness them into a project that will help make the world a better place. Cooking easily jumped out at me.

But how can cooking change the world? How does cooking for middle to upper class people who have everything they need equal saving the world? It doesn't. Catering and cooking for people will always be a part of my life. It will be my love, my career, my "how I pay the bills". But it will also be my "in".

Feeding people has always been a top priority for me. Perhaps it's my lineage, being Italian, and having a large extended family who's gatherings always surrounded the food they prepared. Perhaps it's because my mother didn't like too cook, and I did so out of necessity.

Perhaps, it's what I was born to do.

Whatever the case, I do love keeping the bellies of the people I love full. Through schooling and professional jobs, strangers have been let into the circle, and my food is being eaten by many more than I ever would have imagined.

But what about the people who can't afford fancy dinners or cocktail parties? What about those who can't even afford a banana or a loaf of bread? Do those people deserve less than the high paying customers? Do they deserve to walk through life without knowing what it's like to go to be full?

The answer is obviously no. No, no, no. Everyone deserves to eat.

I don't know how or when, but I know this: I will feed people. I will feed rich people and poor people, and all that's in between. I envision opening some sort of non-profit center (in addition to my catering/classes) eventually that will not only collect donations for food, but also for nutrition classes. I would also like to possibly give people the opportunity to learn to grow their own fruits and veggies so that the people who can't afford these items regularly will have an abundant supply. Perhaps a neighborhood wide effort with a community garden in the center of an apartment complex or something.

Who knows, really? But I know that I want to feed LOTS of people and help the people who can't feed themselves. Charity events...press...getting everyone who shares my passion involved.

I don't know how, or when. But I do know. And that feels pretty damn wonderful.

Wordless Wednesday: My Niece!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Toosdae ?'s

I usually try to pleading with you all to answer these questions, and sometimes it works (especially if I say it'll bring a BIG smile to my face). But today, I'm simply going to say, "Please answer these questions, damn it."

;)

1. Do you doodle while you are on the phone or in a meeting? If so, what do you typically draw?

2. What is the craziest thing you can actually think of yourself actually doing in real life?

3. Choose one word that would describe your interpretation of your childhood. Now tell me the word you think your parents would use.

1. Yes, I doodle all of the time. I usually start out making a 4-5 petal flower bending to the left with 2 leaves. I don't know why. I also make swirls and 3D boxes and arrows with dots at the end of them. Once, I was so bored in a class that I filled the entire piece of paper with tiny little bubbles. My hand really hurt after that.

2. The craziest thing I can actually see myself doing in real life is quitting my day job to try to transition into being a full time chef. It's crazy because I don't have a lot of experience, and I also need my day job to afford my bills.

3. My word would be: Lonely. My mother would probably say: Spoiled. My father might say: Short.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Yowzers!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you-my customer satisfaction review! (No, my Dad didn't write it!)

Fleur De Lis and her staff did an excellent job adding to the success of our recent training seminar. We had two days of different events going on and at each session the food, presentation, & customer service was perfect.

We wish to thank Maggie for a job well done & would highly recommend her for any event that needs catering.


The partners of
XXX XXX XXX

Fairfield, CT

The actual survey was fantastic too...but I always like the "In your own words" section the best.

And yes, the business name is Fleur De Lis.

Racing

Tonight after class as Know-It-All, Pakiluver and I were walking to our cars, we discussed how time is really flying. I've almost been in culinary school for a year! That's amazing.

But it's also scary. That means that we'll be graduating soon. And for me, it's a bit scary because people will expect me to get a full time job as a chef.

I'm not sure I can afford to do that.

Who cares what people expect, right? Right. However, I kind of feel that way too. You know? I feel like, "Why did I go to culinary school if I'm not going to use it?"

I know I'll use it, I know I'll keep it up-but I don't want to fall prey to just being a chef on the side.

I have a lot of decisions to make in a short amount of time. No, I don't have to decide right away, and I'd like to be sure that whatever I decide, it's a smart decision.

Another thing is that when you go to culinary school, people expect you to know everything. And it's just not possible. Especially in my school, where we get really just an overview. It's only a 15 month program. I could really have used 4 years! Pakiluver did mention that she was facing the same pressure on this one, and that made me feel better. We don't often discuss our fears with each other in our class, so hearing that someone else is floundering (I know, I know) is reassuring.

That is all-I'm still wound up from school and am trying to get myself to bed...but with the time change, and the adrenaline, it doesn't look good.

Thanks for listening.

Great Expectations

Even though it was a good one, this weekend was nothing like I expected...

Being such an organized cook, I never thought that after a full day of production and planning, I would feel like crying at 10pm because I had so much to do. I never thought that I would start second guessing myself, thinking that perhaps I shouldn't be trying to do this alone.

I never imagined that my doorbell would ring and that the hug I needed was sent to me, along with new music and helpful hands. I never knew I could be so grateful for someone cutting bread until midnight, when I realized I would still be up, salting the bread with my tears. (Ick)

I didn't plan on my little (ever late, c'mon you know it's true) sister to be on site before me, or that she would be the one to pick up the ice because I was late.

I never knew I could be so resourceful in such a tight fitting space without an oven.

I didn't think that people could be so amazed by shoe boxes hidden under linens. I didn't realize my heart would be so fast when the first person watched me set a table before plating food.

I didn't think I would fail, but I never imagined being asked if I'd consider doing a small wedding, or that grown men would ask me so many questions about food preparation.

I didn't think I'd be so happy to hear my father say, "My daughter's a caterer-she did all of this."

I didn't expect to forget my bathing suit and didn't expect to spend the night watching TV on Friday. I also didn't expect to be so tired.

I didn't expect to feel betrayed or to eat a celebration dinner alone. I also didn't expect to be called passive aggressive and I didn't think it would bother me as much as it did. I didn't expect to hurt someones feelings because mine were hurt.

I didn't think that a Betty Boop cake would be so hard to make-let me assure you, it's pretty hard.

I certainly didn't expect a surge of inspiration after watching a movie and was surprised by the tears I cried on the way home. I simply didn't expect to know what direction I might want to go in.

I expect a lot from the people in my life. It's always been a downfall of mine; it's always my demise. The expectations I set are sometimes too demanding and ultimately, I drive people away because they can't or don't want to try anymore. I've always told myself that I'm not wrong, that said expectations are valid and that one day I'll find people who will make the grade.

I know now that this is not the truth. The truth is that I am too demanding on my friends and family and that though I demand they love me for who I am, I do not always do the same for them. Expectations, morals-yes. Being good and true and honest are qualities that I will always demand from anyone who is willing to be in my life. But not accepting deviations from imagined expectations is not acceptable, and I am actively trying to knock down that fault.

Expectations can be a wonderful thing. But the unexpected can be music to my ears...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

What's Cooking? Po'Boys!

I haven't yet been fortunate enough to travel to Louisiana, but when I do, there are definite "must haves" on my list-and topping that list is an authentic Po'Boy from the Bayou. This is a pretty good recipe and I'm told its taste is close to the real thing.

Fried Oyster Po'Boy Sandwiches

Serves 4

Oysters, 24
Salt & Pepper, TT
Flour, As needed
Egg Wash, As needed
Bread Crumbs, As needed
French Bread, cut into 6" sections, 4
Lettuce, shredded, 2 C.
Tomatoes, sliced, 12 slices (about 2 tomatoes)
Lemons, cut in half, 2
Oil, for frying, As needed

Remoulade Sauce:
Green Onions, Coarse chopped, 5
Celery, Coarse Chopped, 1/2 C.
Parsley sprigs, Coarse Chopped, 2
Creole Mustard, 3 T.
Paprika, 1 T.
Salt, 1 t.
Pepper, 1/4 t.
Cayenne, 1/4 t.
White wine vinegar, 1/3 C.
Lemon Juice, 1 1/2 t.
Basil, chopped, 1 t.
Olive Oil, 3/4 C.
Green Onions, 1/4 dice, 1
Celery, 1/4 dice, 2 T.
Parsley, fine chopped, 1 T.

Procedure:
1. Make Remoulade: In a food processor or blender, grind the first set of green onions, celery and parsley to a puree.
2. Combine with the mustard, paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne. Blend well.
3. Add the vinegar, lemon juice, and basil. Blend well.
4. Gradually add the olive oil, blending constantly to make an emulsion. (Mayonnaise)
5. Add the diced vegetables and parsley and combine well. Refrigerate for at least an hour to combine flavors.
6. Heat oil in a deep fryer or a deep, heavy pan to 375.
7. Drain and dry oysters. Season and dredge in flour. Shake off excess flour and pass them through the egg wash, drain off excess egg and coat in bread crumbs. Turn the oysters and pat until bread crumbs completely cover them.
8. Fry the oysters golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels.
9. Split the bread lengthwise and warm or toast the halves.
10. Spread the insides with Remoulade Sauce and distribute 1/2 C. shredded lettuce over the sandwiches. Place 3 slices of tomato on each po'boy and top with 6 oysters and the top half of bread.
11. Serve with half of a lemon.
12. Enjoy!

Notes:
*To shake off excess flour, you may use a mesh sifter to shake the oysters gently. These will be LIGHTLY breaded-not battered-just enough to make them crispy when fried.
*Turn these into Hors D'oeuvres! Cut the french bread into individual rounds and toast. Top with remaining ingredients and serve at your next get together!
*I like my po'boy with a nice, ice cold, frothy Coke. I don't know why, but I do.