Friday, March 28, 2008

Pain in the Neck

A few years ago I sustained an injury to my neck and shoulder that caused me to have a lot of pain. I sought out a chiropractor, and he helped me immensely. A few times a year I have flair ups-usually if I am too stressed out or if I lifted something that was too heavy. The latter usually makes it so hard for me to move that I actually whimper with pain when I move and getting out of bed takes all I've got.


A couple of weeks ago I started getting that telltale pain in my right shoulder blade. Sometimes it just goes away, so I waited a bit. When it didn't stop, I find a chiropractor here in MA. (You remember the guy who touched my butt?) After he adjusted me last week, the opposite side of my back started having spasms. This usually happens when they first start adjusting, so though I was miserable, I was tolerant. This week my shoulders feel fine, but my neck is killing me. It's hurting so bad that I'm having trouble concentrating and working at a computer all day just aggravates it. I go again tomorrow after work, thankfully, and I'll tell him about the pain. Hopefully he can fix it soon. It's not a nice thing to feel.


I've been thinking a lot about the path my culinary career is taking and have decided that overall, I am not happy with my choices. Here I am in a great city with tons of opportunities and I chose to work for 2 people who have no clue about food, really. The opportunity for growth with them is what lured me in, but I am quickly beginning to realize that it probably won't happen the way it was pitched to me. For one thing, the wife is very controlling, but she is never here. So there's this sort of clash that happens. She feels out of the loop when I email just her husband, but he's the one who is here. Recently, she decided to stop selling my cookies, even though she said they were "a keeper" and that they were fantastic. Instead, she's switching back to pre-made dough.


I don't like telling people where I bake because I'm afraid they'll taste some of the pre-made things they are still selling and think I made them. Also, when she's here on the weekends, she sometimes makes things on her own. From the very beginning of our meetings she's told me that she's not a baker. Why the heck would she hire me, if she was going to do these things?


I emailed them both today to communicate my concerns and she wrote back a very demeaning letter telling me that surly in school I learned that not everything works. Um-yeah...but surly being a powerful business woman you learned that communication is important-if I have no idea what's selling I have no idea what to make. She then sighted an item that I made using her recipe. She said they came out perfectly but no one bought them. I wanted to tell her that it was because the flavors were disgusting together and that everyone I've told about them cringes.


The trouble is, I need the money. I've come to rely on the extra $100 cash each week, and without it, things will be tough. I've sent out a bunch of resumes for other culinary jobs, but I worry that they won't fit into my schedule-and I can't afford to quit my day job. I seriously don't know how people do it...being single and following their dreams.


Today I received a phone call from one of the places I sent my resume to-it's a big name in Boston and let's just say that this would be my Disney World of New England. It would be fantastic on a resume, I think, and probably a lot of fun. But, it's seasonal which means not a lot of job security, and also, that I probably won't be able to work there b/c of the schedule. But I'm going in on Saturday to meet with them anyway.


So, that's pretty much it-my mind is consumed with what to do next-I'm looking at every angle of how to make money doing what I love. I briefly considered starting a mail order cupcake/brownie business, but 1. I don't think people would buy them and 2. I'd have to get an inspection.


I'm also in more pain than I'm letting onto, and as anyone who's tried to hide something like that knows, it's hard work....luckily I have fun plans on Saturday after the interview and I'm also starting back on my diet. That should make me feel 100% better about life again.


The city still looks pretty from my window-I'm hoping to go replace the photos I lost a couple of weeks ago if the weather permits.


Thanks for still reading...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Top Chef: Episode 3

I don't know why, but I'm there again-HELLO BOSTON.COM! Leave a comment, they're free, ya know! :)

Sorry for the delay in this week's recap...I've got a lot on my mind, and it's sort of taking up my power to write. Plus, I didn't take notes last night because I sort of just wanted to watch the show like a normal person. :) I have another post below, so after you're done reading this, why don't you go read that too-pretty please? :)

I've been told that my TC posts have too much information in them-that it spoils the actual show for people who want to watch it but haven't yet. This week I'm trying something different-a shorter version with less details. This also conveniently fits in with the "I didn't write anything down so I forgot a lot of details" thing. If you liked the other way better, leave a comment and I'll go back to that next week but I'll have a disclaimer in the beginning telling you not to read it if you haven't watched it yet. K?

K...that being said-there are some spoilers in this post. For instance, you're gonna find out who wins the challenges, and who goes home. If you don't want to know that-stop reading here. Thankyouverymuch...now-LET'S DISH!

First off, let me say that watching Top Chef makes me realize just how much I have to learn. Though I think I'm pretty creative and can put out a mean dinner, I'm not sure I could just wing it. I'm a planner, which is why I love catering so much. It's also a good reason why you most likely will never see me on this show. Now, if the Food Network wants to pick me up (I've got a great smile, and I laugh a lot!) then I'm there. (Though filming out of my closet of a kitchen would be very difficult.) I also realize that I don't know a ton of famous chefs. I know the classics, and the modern innovators, but not much else. I shall try to fix that shortly....this weeks guest judge was chef Rick Bayless-who apparently has done more to bring authentic Mexican cuisine to the people than any other chef.

Alrighty then...

The challenge-to make a taco into a fine dining meal.

No surprise, Erik turns his nose down on this. Tacos are street food, he says-they don't belong in fine dining restaurants. Erik is a hack. From the very beginning we've seen this. Even if you don't know HOW to make a souffle, you know it's base isn't potatoes. (First episode reference.) He's not been good from the beginning-his food is sub-par and his plating skills are horrendous. In fact, Chef Bayless mentions this when he talked about Erik's quickfire plate. No surprise, Erik did not win.

Also not a winner was Lisa. Her skirt steak tacos were tough to eat, and not in the "I'm going to bite into this yummy mess and it's going to fall apart with crunchy goodness into my hands" kind of way. It was tough to eat in the "This steak isn't cooked right" kind of way. Not good.

Something I was surprised about was Ryan's paper wrapper. I wasn't surprised that he put it there, but I was surprised it bugged Chef Bayless as much as it did. I think in today's fine dining restaurants we're seeing chefs have more fun with their plating, and his rectangle shaped plate and his colorful, nontraditional take on the taco was fine dining material. Though the paper may not have been classy enough, I don't think it was as horrible as he said it was. (Think Iron Chef America and their plating-it's fun, but upscale.)

In the end, mohawk sporting Richard's taco's win him immunity. His flavors were fresh and clean and they were easy to eat. Instead of a tortilla, he chose to slice jicima and roll it up avocado and papaya (? am I remembering that right?). Knowing someone personally who has a "thing" for jicima, it's no surprise to me that it won. After all, "it's got jicima in it". :)

Side note: I don't remember his name-the big Hispanic guy who sounded sexy pronouncing all of his Mexican ingredients...help me out here. A funny moment for me was when they panned over to his face after he realized he wasn't in the top 3. He was all, "Listen here gringo, I'm Hispanic-my tacos are the best." It was funny. Also surprising, b/c his tacos probably did rock.

The elimination challenge was cool-the chefs split into 2 teams and raided a Chicago neighborhood for ingredients. It wasn't so horrible for the residents, however, because Top Chef was cooking for their annual block party-so the food they donated was being used for exactly what they bought it for. The blue team went the fancier route by making paella and and the red team went more traditional with corn dogs and sliders. (Seriously, these things are taking over the world!)

One of the coolest (and trendiest) things at the block party were the cooked to order s'mores. Using a small hand torch, they toasted marshmallows on a stick and rolled them in chocolate and graham cracker crumbs. Way cool. And also-anything requiring a small hand torch gets points in my book anyway. :)

(So much for a shorter version of my top chef review-here comes the big spoiler, and I'm going to jump right into it.)

The red team loses-they are pissed. Spike seems to be the leader in saying that they all worked hard and that the owned the block party. This is partly true-people loved them. But their food wasn't so good. Probably b/c Erik was on their team. He produced soggy corn dogs (which is a sin). Knowing about the transportation situation, he should have said he didn't want to make them. He was called out on it and he floundered. Zoe was also berated because her pasta salad was bland and oily and the judges said they could find a better one in a grocery store. Apparently, she didn't want to make the pasta salad, and she therefore thought it was ok that it sucked.

Zoe, I'm not a big fan of some of the things I make either, but that doesn't mean they're allowed to taste bad. Being a chef, I think, means speaking to people through food and making them smile because it tastes good. Part of that is cooking for THEM, how THEY like it. If Erik wasn't still there, I think she should have gone home...

But she didn't. Thankfully Erik was sent packing, and we will no longer be made to listen to his "I'm such a good chef" speeches when we can clearly see he can't even cook a hot dog.

Under the radar so far is Dale. I think he's a dick, but I also think he's a good chef. I'm looking forward to seeing if he can live up to his attitude.

StephanieNikki also has to go-from her crappy ass pizza crust (she's from NY, big deal. Has she never made a pie?) to her turd-like mushrooms last week, she's proven to me so far that all she is, is a feminist who wants a woman to win. (Her self-proclaimed signature dish is macaroni and cheese yet hers came out like a brick last night). I'd like to see her go soon.

As for the cocky skinny guy-I forget his name because I always call him Alex, based my real life version (know-it-all from culinary school). He might be a son of a bitch, but he's a son of a bitch who can cook. I think he's just a little tightly wound and a bit crazy, but from what I hear, so was Van Gogh. Hopefully this guy won't cut off his ear though-blood isn't welcome in any kitchen.

Go see Mo's review at Captured by Gravity...



The Core

It was always the 3rd week in July. And it was always the best week of our lives. For six kids who constantly lived life just outside the mysterious world called "popular" it was also a way to reinvent ourselves. Suntanned and fancy free, we'd roam the resort in our well known pack being the people we wanted to be in real life.


Vacation set us free.


We came from all over New England and it was unclear who met who first, and how. All we knew was that we made each other laugh and that someone thought you were cool. Never in our wildest dreams would we have guessed that our clique would last 6 years.


That first year ended with a kiss. My first, in fact-late at night while dancing to Purple Rain in a wet bathing suit and a towel around my waist. Later that night with swollen lips and Hero cologne still fused onto my skin, I knew that he & I would be the reason we all stayed together. On the ride home I began spinning the web that would catch my parents & solidify the 3rd week in July as our vacation week.


Because you've read the first line of this story, I think I can safely assume that you know it worked, and that we all were reunited again for another year. We'd kept in touch via letters and the occasional phone call that we sneaked when our parents went to the store. It was like we never left each other.


It never got old, going to that resort. Even though it was only a few towns over from my family (we were the closest) and even though it was starting to get run down. What mattered was that we were building traditions with each other and that we had history in the resort. (When I was little my parents took me there, and underneath the pool-in the underwater observation area-my name is painted into a mural they did one year). The staff knew us and whether it was true or not, it was fun being told we were their favorite group.


It was fun, and memorable, and it lasted for years.


I think we stopped going to the resort each year because Sean & I were dating seriously, and seeing each other many times throughout the year. Without my begging, my parents were allowed to explore other vacation destinations and slowly, we pulled away from the group. Other families did too, and, like most friendships I've known, we all grew apart.


I think Sean's family still goes to the resort-though both he and his sister are married and they both have a child. Every now and then my family drives over to see fireworks in the summertime, but that's about it.


Me? I haven't been back since that last vacation. I think it's mostly because of the state it is in, but also, a little part of me wants to keep my memories intact. I like the memories the way they are-there's no need to create more there.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's all fun and games until someone gets flicked in the eye.

I find the most unconventional things romantic.

I miss "The Office".

I'm trying to fill my wall with art & photography. The trouble is, I can't afford it and also, the ones I like are too small.

It feels just like when I was little. And I still hate it.

I never even thought about the license plate giving me away to cops as being a newbie. Seriously though-don't you think that it would be nice for them to be NICER to me because I'm new? I'm thinkin' yes.

Whale watching in Boston starts in the next couple of weeks. That is one of the things I have on my Boston "To Do" list and I'm pretty psyched that after all of these years, I'm finally going to get to see a whale in person!

If I don't start back on my diet soon, they my try to sell tickets to see me.

Hamsters are gross. Especially when they play dead & do a slinky slide thing down pipes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Toosdae ?'s




1. Who is the first celebrity you remember having a crush on?

2. When you were little, what snack or food was a treat for you? (You weren't allowed to have it on a regular basis.)

3. Did you have a favorite outfit that you loved to wear when you were in elementary school? If so, what was it?

1. When I close my eyes to remember two names come to mind: Kirk Cameron and Corey Haim. I don't remember who was first, but they were both dreamy and they both made me feel funny "down there". ;)

2. Crumb buns from the bakery in NY that we used to have for Sunday breakfast when I stayed with my Nana and Papa. We couldn't get good food in CT when we moved, so getting it when we visited was fantastic.

3. I used to have a blue and white flowered skirt with lace on the bottom and when I wore it, I felt like a pretty princess. In 6th grade though, my favorite was my stone washed denim skirt with a red v neck sweater and a white turtle neck under it. Even though they aren't in style anymore, I still love the white turtle neck...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dear Boston

While you are a lovely city & I love, love, love you, your cops suck.

I have lived in 2 other states while having a license and have gone 13 years without incident. No parking tickets, accidents or speeding tickets. I abide the law, I don't drive like a mad woman and I don't weave in and out of traffic.

Yet-you target me. I don't even know how many tickets I have gotten since moving here in November, but it's in the double digits. And what really drives me nuts is while I am on the side of the road, there are tons of people doing worse things than what I was doing.

Stop picking on me. I can not afford the tickets, nor can I afford an insurance increase. The more you ticket me, the less I can explore this great city and therefore will not spend money which will help the recession grow.

Oh-and by the way-pulling me over on the side of a very narrow tunnel is not safe. In fact, I'll argue that it is less safe than the 10 miles per hour over the limit I was going.

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Stuck in a day dream

with too much to do.

But closing my eyes

I'm thinking of you...

The smell of your skin,

the warmth of you touch,

it's stuck in my memory

I know that much...

The day will progress

and turn into time

but still, in my thinking

it was sublime...


Manic Monday: Egg


Mondays are MoMoLicious
 
I'm stuck in a day dream today and am up to my eyeballs in work, so at the moment I don't have anything for today...that may change as:
 
1. I wake up a little more
2. I have to take a break from staring at a computer
3. I get struck by the creative fairies wand
 
Go visit Morgen and say hi-it's Manic Monday, after all.  And then come back later to see if any of those 3 things happened to me today.  Happy Easter Monday everyone.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Renew

Considering that I just got home from Connecticut about 10 minutes ago (I left at 7:30 PM, it's now 11:05pm) this isn't going to be a long post. However, I do want to wish you all a very Happy Easter. I wanted to add a photo to the post-something about rebirth or fresh beginnings, being that it's the first week of spring and all...so I googled rebirth, I think and came up with this:


Placenta Cream. For your face. I don't know about you-but even after finding out that it's "plant placenta", this isn't something that screams "Smear me all over your skin!!!".

I'm guessing they didn't work with a marketing firm for this one...

Happy Easter everyone...