Sunday Night Flow

Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

The open sign is down. The dining hall is still full of people and orders are coming in, but most of it is limited to me and desserts in back. The boys have started cleaning and Mixologist Man has started doing his form of a last call, though he’s still pouring beers and whatnot. Soon the scrubbing will begin.

In the kitchen, our dishwasher is tackling as much as he can get done before we are all piling everything into the pit. (I haven’t come up with a nom de plume for him yet…) I start taking back wood paddles and anything that I know I won’t need the rest of the night. If I’ve been lucky enough to have had a relatively quiet Sunday, I may have already flipped all of my mise en place and washed out my refrigerated station. Those are good days. But today, instead, I focused on the walk-in. Downsizing cambros and clearing out the old. Tossing weird things with no label or date. Definitely tossing that goat cheese sauce from a month ago with fuzzy little black blobs across the surface. Yeah, that ain’t penicillin.

The walk-in is a general source of aggravation for me these days. No one downsizes anything. And I do mean no one. Some people might think they are, but most of the time they are just moving containers around or redesigning what they think the walk-in should look like to them. Please don’t. It’s been set up with what works for a year now. I know how it works, people know how to find things that way. Do not, in your small mind, think that you are helping people by changing everything.

The walk-in has been my baby since day one when first Chef tasked me to put away the entire produce and dairy order. And this was before we were allowed to put things in bins. I might not have had it perfect, but I slowly learned to play Tetras with containers. Most cambros stack on each other quite well and there is a method to fitting them so they work. Coffeeman was pretty excellent in downsizing the walk-in too. The one time I downsized it right after he did made for an interesting next day when he couldn’t find anything…. Poor guy. Over-zealous does have it’s disadvantages.

A clean station, nearly filled mise en place. Practically perfect.

So this Sunday, walk-in was fixed. I’m sure I will have to do it again this week, but at least I feel like I got somewhere. So instead of flipping and cleaning my station, it waited till the end. Out comes the bucket of sani water, piping hot and ready to scald even the toughest hands, rags, and new 9th and 6th pans. Flip, bang, reverse. Empty container, new one off to the side with mise waiting in it. All 19 pans are flipped excluding the ones that got filled that day with new ingredients and new pans. Wash out the entire top station and bits of debris. The underneath refrigerator gets organized and wiped down. Pans are wrapped. Dated, labeled and set up for the new week.

The entire area gets swept down, like it does every night, but a few extra areas like under the wood where the dirt drops down. The wall is wiped down where the flour has sifted through the week. Tomatoes are taken off the ledge. Oil bottles wiped off. Everything gets straightened. Sometimes I might sip a glass of beer while I clean, provided all the guests are gone. Tonight, they are not, so I drink cold water. A lot of it. Because no matter how much I drink, it’s never enough to stay hydrated.

In the back, the dish pit is a pile of so much that there is another guy playing ‘catch’ when the dishes come out of the automated dishwasher, Betsy. Other stations have been wrapped and put away. Other stations have been washed down. The grates over the stove area are scrubbed, or have been throughout the day. Garbage bags are combined and taken out. It’s not really anything that we don’t do throughout the week. In fact, it’s pretty much the same thing with only some extra added scrubbing in certain areas.

The fish is iced, things are wiped down a tad better than the rest of the week. This is the night the floors get sprayed down with hot water. If they are really grimy, maybe some Orange Force or degreaser. Out in front Mixologist Man is offering up a jar of celery for anyone to munch on. Why? It’s tradition. It might not last through the weekend and it just is what we do. I usually have several pieces because I feel like I haven’t had my greens throughout the week. Besides, it keeps me from indulging in a soda. Okay, so the giant pancake with the side of syrup was just as bad, but work with me, I’m tired. I need sugar.

This week the music is subdued. Kind of 80s, but most of the time we put on Ke$ha or something super bouncy. Belting it out as the volume is turned up a tad more. The lights go on full blast out in the hall because most of the servers sweeping like to see. This week, I turn them up so I can see all the areas I might have missed in my station.

This week I am out by 9pm. That’s actually pretty good. I stayed a little longer to organize the cambros and dough bins that have gotten mixed up again. I could have been out by 8:30, but I need some organization. It’s only after I head upstairs to put away a pan that I find out I am out of dough for the week. Groan. Why didn’t anyone tell me they pulled the last bin?! Fortunately I have enough dough rolled to start off my week, provided Astro D can make dough at the start of the week.

Seriously, I need a drink now. Okay, no, I really don’t NEED a drink. I just want one to relax with and wind down. It’s been a long pain in the behind week. People have been rude, on my nerves and I’m just really tired. Mixologist Man and I leave the two behind to finish out the kitchen, dishwasher and prep person. We make our way across a completely dead street in a nearly completely dead town. It’s Sunday night, just after nine and only the one brewery/pub is left open. One quick round and I’m off to head home. Wash away the grime, slip out of kitchen smelly clothes and call it a day.

See you next week…

It’s only two days away, but well, such are weekends.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

“How are you doing, kiddo?” she asks me as she surrounds me in the best hug I’ve had in ages. There’s nothing quite like getting a hug from a friend who is like a mom and confidant and several things all wrapped into one, wearing turquoise, mind you, and also a writer.  Mel is one of those amazing women in my life that I can’t imagine not being there. And she gets me in ways a lot of people don’t. Maybe it’s because we are both Taurii. Just days apart.

“It’s been a good week,” I reply.  “Last week I finally had enough, so this week’s been good.”

“That’s it?!” I know, the shock reverberating off of her is understanding and empathetic frustration.

I have to take my good days. “I’m learning to manage men,” is my reply.  It’s true. I’m not ever going to be skilled at it. I don’t want to manage men. I’d much prefer they manage themselves, thank you very much, but when all of them act no older than 16, you make do. You manage.  Them, life, skills, time, people.

It was an incredibly good, albeit, busy week. I was strapped for time on a lot of days, pushing myself to frustration levels, time constraints, short on ingredients days. But I am learning to manage people without actually telling them what to do. Scoot people in the direction that A. I need them to be in, and B. where it’s good for the restaurant. Do I know everything? Not even close, but I know what works. I can’t be in back all the time and sometimes I just have to walk away. That is hard. The walking away and letting it go. Some days, I don’t.

“Do you ever not argue!” I snap at a coworker. I’m in a panic because I am short dough, I have about 10 large tickets piling up, more on top, only so much dough to go around, my sugar is diving and I am getting so much pushback from someone that I am about ready to scream.

“Breathe!” orders everyone orders around me.  I’m telling myself to breathe as well.  ‘Patience is a virtue’, is the refrain I have in my head via Evelyn from The Mummy. The ‘Not right now it isn’t!’ is always second in my head, via Rick from the same film.

Breathing didn’t help. I dropped a handful of tomatoes after snapping, rushed through a busy line with Jersey Boy asking if I was okay. I couldn’t answer. I was trying not to cry from frustration, and my sugar diving. I’m fine, I’m fine. Yeah, every woman knows ‘FINE’ is not fine. Look it up. There’s a nice version and a not so nice version.

But I got over it. Moved on, killed it on the line, and found myself baking another cheesecake at 10pm then selling the entire cheesecake to one customer the next day. And bake another one as I clean the kitchen on my ‘Friday’ night. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Work is hard for me. Last post was about how I kind of float through the place. Yeah, it’s not all floating so much as staying focused all the time so that by the time I get home, I’m wiped. I don’t stay focused. Ever. I am the world’s most distracted person. So keeping it all together at work is a challenge. I was reminded of this last night when my mother reiterated again, probably for the umpteenth time, why I am so tired on my weekend.

“She’s writing a novel about a kitchen,” Mel tells her guy. I am, I spend little bits of time thinking and writing life. Even down to managing men, people, and myself.

This week was better than the last. It came off the high of a super busy last weekend with my good floating, being a Sandy, etc. moment. Next week could be bad, but every step forward is good. I am in a place I never thought I would be. I still might not be able to drive, and am scared to death of making the wrong turn, but well, keep moving forward.

On the side note side, the hills changed from browns and greens to a gorgeous tapestry of oranges, reds and yellows. Wilson and his girl Friday are staying out late into the cold twilight hiking around in fall. I got out in the air today and tonight and it was good inspiration. Just breathing mountain air from a warm October day when the pines opened up and sent out all their spicy resinous smells. Ah fall.

Kate

Planning a New Year’s Dinner

via food52–When it comes to silky-smooth squares of chocolate ganache, these Japanese truffles are the ideal. Dusted with a blizzard of cocoa powder, they’re minimalist & bold, and contributor @jun.and.tonic hasn’t had a better truffle to date.

I wrote about last year’s New Year’s Eve tasting menu banquet, In A World Of Food Life And Tasting Meals, and after a conversation recently with Coffeeman, I started thinking about how I would plan a tasting menu, with the little I know. Okay, I know more than I think I do, but well, sometimes I don’t feel like I know a lot. However, there is a passenger driver to my cooking life, and thank gosh he is still there driving and directing along, as I try to not feel overwhelmed.

Being first and foremost a lover of all things sweet, I am right there on desserts.  I’m sort of working backwards, and creating as I write. What can I say, I gravitate towards the sweeter things in life.I was immediately drawn to these truffles when I popped across them via Food 52 on Instagram. I would make these, serve three on a plate and they would be topped with a crushed honeycomb candy dust, a red chili dust, and lastly, cocoa powder.  I am a sucker for chocolate. I will always want to end a meal with a nice piece of chocolate.

via inagarten
Sparkling Grapefruit Granita with rosé Champagne! recipe available on barefootcontessa.com!

An interlude between courses would be a lovely grapefruit granita with a sparkling rose, served in a coupe glass. Or as Ina Garten does it. I mean, the woman has gorgeous class.  And on that note, what about a gorgeous champagne, ivory, and gold color scheme for a New Years? Maybe a bit of silver glitter as well!

The main course would be monk fish. Known as the “poor man’s lobster”, I was able to enjoy it this late spring when I was off to a cabaret play. I fell in love with it’s meaty sweetness and just oh so good. Do I know how to cook monk fish? No. But that’s besides the point. I’m just creating here. Work with me here, people!  Served with an elegant creamy risotto .

Caramelized shallots, for that crispy, caramel y goodness.Something green…. um, well, I might have to come back to that. I’m seriously not sure what vegetable I would put with it. I love kale, but I love it just sautéd with butter, garlic and a little lemon. I mean, that isn’t fancy. I was thinking beets, but, maybe only a beet puree that you set something on…. Eh, I’ll come back to it.

Second course…. Salad. Easy. Radicchio, Belgian endive, sliced red onion, preferably Bermuda red onions (nearly impossible to find these days), sliced orange, black olives and this coriander vinaigrette that comes from a recipe  my mother has had for years. It is spectacular.

Like this, but a bit of green and black. Don’t forget the olives!

Layer the radicchio, endive, orange, onion and three black olives in a layered strip. Not much, just simple and mouthwatering. It marries, my mother’s recipe, with a Ina Garten one. And oh so pretty with the bright magenta and minty lime leaves, orange and black. Trust me. Gorgeous and fresh.

The amuse bouche, or appetizer round always gets me. Maybe a nice mushroom pate… Personally, I would do like a mini charcutarie board. A couple slices of mixed cheese, a crumble of Stilton, a little bit of pomegranate seeds, or maybe slices of fuyu persimmon. Toasted almonds. A couple slices of homemade crackers. Simple, but something to wet the palate. I love cheese boards. I think they are rustic and elegant at the same time. I get stuck on them on Instagram. So much fun.

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Anyways, I doubt I’ll get the luxury or stress of planning a meal like this, but wouldn’t it be fun? I love thinking of food items and menus. I have been doing it for years with character scenes in books. What would Mia and Rafe have for tea? (He’s Scottish or Irish)  Would Luke and Regina have a fancy meal brought to his office at the hotel he owns? and what would it be?  I float around food. I wrote about food in books with woman in the post titled, And The Meal Was. . .  See, I still think food!

Anyways, there’s the start to an elegant new years meal. What do you think? Anything you would add, or take away? I’d love thoughts. Who knows, somewhere down the line I might find myself planning something like this.

Cheerio!

Kate

Back to Basics

Everyone always goes back to the basics. The tried and true. The first. Working with pizza, having grown up on “American’ pizza, it’s hard sometimes to remember that not all pizza is the same. I work with Neapolitan pizzas. Thin crust, hardly any ingredients. Or at least that is the way it’s supposed to be. It’s hard to not want to fall back on old habits when they are familiar. New tricks aren’t as easy to master as old habits. I’m sure that would make a great Zen proverb.

Asparagus bacon stromboli

So my new challenge to myself, my craft, my pastries, my life, and my restaurant, is to… go back to basics. I am researching classic Neapolitan pizzas. I had an IG picture one of my strombolis ‘liked’ by a pizza place in Philly, of all places, and a now I’m paying attention to the finer details. Fewer ingredients, hardly any sauce, thin it down, bake it fast… taste the dough. “It’s all about the dough.” So says Coffeeman. I wish someone would have told me that from the beginning. No one has explained that Neapolitan is more about tasting the dough. So now I’m forcing myself to light, light, light on ingredients. And I want to try three ingredient pizzas. White sauce, spinach, mushroom. Bacon and spinach. Asparagus and feta, or ricotta.

I played with a new Margherita the other night, where the sauce was not all over the pizza. Just dotted on, along with the cheese. No pesto, just basil. It was divine. Fresh. Alive.

Basics are good. Simple is better. Right now the simple life is taking over. Okay, right this minute it is the ‘not doing anything’ life, but whatever. It’s my Saturday, sue me, I’m tired.

With desserts, I want to try my hand at some simplistic things that are high in flavor. Partly after Mr. B was on my case, the restaurant’s case, etc., about needing a thin cookie with the pots de creme. Whatevs, dad, but he does have a point. I don’t always have the luxury to create, all the time, but Coffeeman gives me lots of leeway. I am thankful for that.

I need simple in my life. (‘I need corny in my life,’ says Iris — The Holiday) I am trying to step back from irritations at work. The boys being brats, grumpy moods, the monthly PMS of every single female in that place (including me) and trying to let it slide off my back. One of the servers tells me frequently, “Miss K, you have to let it go.” I don’t let go, I grab hold and then it eats away at me.

We have three new people in the kitchen, so I am having to relearn new moods and new people. Miss Luna replaced Twin Bear. She is good. But she isn’t Bear. I miss Bear a lot. At one time we were at odds about everything. She drove me nuts. I thought she was going to make me rip my hair out in insanity. Then I just kind of fell in love with her as a person. She’s off learning new things. I’m happy for her, but I miss our jokes. No one quite gets my statement, “I love the game of everyone standing in the pass!” Bear would. By the way, there were a lot of people in the pass the other day. I had to just walk through the bar, much to Fancy Pants perpetual annoyance. (not really, but really. He’s such a drama queen. I think it’s why we work so well together. We both excel in drama queenness.)

Not getting so involved with people’s drama frees up my life and simples things down.
I’m working to scale down my life. The clutter and things I don’t use are getting to me. Like a lot. I want a room that doesn’t look like I’m there much. Or maybe clutter and stuff free. I wish I didn’t collect books like a fiend, but well, I have issues.
Let’s all pair it down and get back to basics. The basics of living and being. (maybe living in the country lends a way for this to happen.

Kate

It’s A Sign Of Behind The Times

I’m actually having trouble naming blog posts these days. I was thinking in the terms of song lyrics. “It’s a sign of the times….”, it’s a Harry Styles song… bear with me.

Today I finished Paradise Lost by Milton…. Caveat being that I didn’t read chapters 1-11; only chapter 12. I was a little late to the game with the local ‘Salon’ one of the ladies from the writing group hosts. It was rather lovely to be in a literary setting which has been far from my realm for months. My writing group has gone to the wayside because my Friday nights are so late that I can’t force myself to get up at 9am to write. Bleh.

Or Nathan Englander. Look at that hair. He has to be tall, right?

But I am still writing. Not as frequently as I would like, because while inspiration is there, and pops into my head all the time, it’s rather hard to write while pulling pizzas from a 700 degree oven in the middle of a rush. Whew!

Farley Granger. Good, American stock.

I wrote two poems back in 2017 that were from the standpoint of this heteronym Wilson Philips Tennu, a writer living in New Orleans. Tall, thin, similar to Farley Granger (or Nathan Englander), but more floppy hair, he’s in this physical relationship with a Mrs. Robinson-esque woman, although I don’t see her as quite as old, nor is she married. Just she has this way about her. He’s fed up with her, so off to France he goes, which is in poem number two.  Well, these two poems lead to a three month writing spree of various points where he’s trying to find himself, he’s left France, gone to the west coast, lives in a small, rural area, in this mountain cabin that’s very, um, rustic.  For those not knowing what a heteronym is : via Wikipedia 

The literary concept of the heteronym refers to one or more imaginary character(s) created by a writer to write in different styles. Heteronyms differ from pen names (or pseudonyms, from the Greek words for “false” and “name”) in that the latter are just false names, while the former are characters that have their own supposed physiques, biographies, and writing styles.

Wilson writes very long poems with no breaks. Semi rambling on…. Okay, I’m a little like that, but not quite as bad…. making conditions, because like, yeah, I am the one actually writing it… gads that’s confusing.

Anyways, here he is, in the west, and I am working on his journal and poetry. The poor man is rather lost, confused, disgusted with himself. He needs a change. He’s decided to get a job in a restaurant as a dishwasher….. irony……. working the night shift, and he smokes cigarettes like a fiend, courtesy of the Mrs. R. He drives a 1973 sky blue Capri, has two typewriters, one is a travel one, an Olivetti Lettera 22, light blue….  “but I still took my typewriter with me,
the travel one, sky blue, sleek, like a convertible
with its top down, zippy, light on its keys”   (I always say this in my head like Linguini from Ratatouille when he’s explaining about Anton Ego, the critic, coming to dinner)

Olivettie Lettera 22

I’d actually rather like to meet this guy. He’s so not my type, but well, any guy that likes his typewriters and is a bit edgy, sounds interesting at least. Writing from his standpoint is interesting. Sometimes I get lost as to whom is writing, and then I start getting really depressed and wanting a cigarette…. I don’t smoke. Sometimes Wilson can be a bit of a bad influence on me. He stays up late, having dark circles under his eyes. He probably drinks a bit too much, obviously smokes too much. Sometimes I want to shake him for being so dramatic at times. Everything is always so over the top with him. A real drama queen….

So bits of my life make for a perfect inspiration for his life. I kind of feel sorry he’s a dishwasher, but since he’s a writer that sends off work as his bread and butter, I’m okay with him having a lower tier job.  The dishwashing is his jam, though he would much rather have the writing be bread, butter, and JAM.  Fickle man.  Someone should give him a good ‘Snap out of it!’ slap, a la Moonstruck.

Just the other day, the swoop and curls are even better as I work on them, this was only day two of testing.

I realized I hadn’t blogged in quite a while, but then a new spring menu dropped at the restaurant, I was sick again, and just this week finished a 6 day work week with a couple of extra overtime days. Days where I didn’t clock off till well after midnight.  I am seriously tired and two days off isn’t enough. I need one extra at least, but such is life. I am excited about the new menu and one of my ideas made it to dessert menu. Pots de creme. I had done spiced ones a month ago that were not super popular, but these new ones are plain, rich chocolate.  I am excited about a few new dessert ideas I have playing around in my head. I have been killing it on being lead pizza chef. I mean, I am rocking it, even with a Rosie the Riveter look. I have the headband and have been swooping my hair a la 1940s.

That doesn’t mean work has been easy. I love my job but there are aspects that make me want to slam my head into a wall… Or more like coworkers heads, but that’s way too psychopathic, which I am not…. insert evil grin, like the Grinch….. I jest. Really, I do. I joke that I always have my knives with me, but if I actually stab someone it will be because I forgot to walk with the point down and I went around a corner. Yes, I can hear Chef in my head…. ‘Point down!’

Yes, Chef.

I’m not sure how to end this post, other than to say, I need to now read Paradise Lost, especially chapters/books 7 and 9 per Mads suggestion. I am actually going to read the whole thing as I rather like blank verse. Enjoy this Harry Styles song, because I rather like it, and need to listen to it again.

Kate

Eighty-Six the Cannelloni, There’s Mashed Potatoes in My Ear

Photo by Benjamin Zanatta on Unsplash

Restaurant life is weird. Like really weird. Like you get to work and you ask your coworker how many reservations (res) you have, they say eighty-six reservations,  and you say, “so no reservations then”.  To ’86’ something means to get rid of it, you don’t have it, or you are out. Only one other person got my 86’d reservations, but go with me here.

I asked Elizabeth Swan (William Turner’s wife, of course) how she was today. “I got mashed potatoes in my ear,” she replies. This isn’t a euphemism. This was actual fact. In a funny twist of life, she reached to scratch her ear and didn’t know she had gotten mashed potatoes on her finger. Go figure. But that also kind of summed up the day.

I find the strangest things sift down and fall onto my head. Currently, it’s ash. A lot of ash. I pull the metal paddle out of the oven and stand it up and think “oh crap” as I feel things sift down onto my arm, my head, my face. People are forever saying I have something on my face. I have to ask if it’s white or black. White is flour, duh, since I work with pizza dough, and black if it’s soot. It’s a common occurrence.

Tonight (December 29th) three of us were tired and hungry. I had told my parents I was going to sit and get a drink then be home. So there we sat, Will Turner, D-boss, and me. My “drink” was a cup of coffee and a bowl of cold cereal, D-boss was eating a microwaved cheese sandwich, and Will had a beer. A motley crew to say the least. (everyone was in a weird eating foods mood tonight.)

I have read books where people are out back of the restaurant in the frigid air smoking and bs-ing. A fair amount of the kitchen staff smokes, I love the smell of cigarette smoke (much to the confusion of my coworkers), and will follow them out to their smoke breaks just to stand with them. Tonight one was smoking while I waited for my ride and I stood there leaning against the brick, breathing in the most frigid air possible, and cigarette smoke, bs-ing about nothing important, and I realized, I have become a book setting.

My life is one giant plotline. Heck, I was writing in my head today as I worked. I can’t quite remember what I was writing, though the title did come to me along with the line from You’ve Got Mail via The Godfather “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” Though I was using cannelloni because that is on our menu and gosh darn it if we don’t have to 86 it a lot due to its popularity and time consumption in prepping it.   Also, isn’t this like the greatest blog title? Bizarre enough that you just have to keep reading. Pardon if my post isn’t the most exciting.

I actually sat there realizing that this full time job is my job. Sometimes if I think really hard about it, it becomes this weird out of body thought and I am left wondering how I got here.

Currently I am out for the count due to a nasty virus or something that gave me a horrible cough and ear infection. I missed three days of work this last week. A week that came on the heels of New Years Eve and a tasting menu that was to die for. I am going to finish up this post then sit down and write about that….

The strangest things delight me at work. Or about work. It’s the little things that make you feel closer to a coworker and you suddenly realize that you are a fairly strange misfits of a family. It may not be a perfect family, but it’s family non the less and you know they get you, for the most part, and you get them, and you can say weird stuff like, “I got mashed potatoes in my ear” and that means a whole host of somethings.

I told Elizabeth that I got over a panic attack, and she was like, ‘well at least you got over it’, which was code for “I’m not doing so ok myself.” We all have our moments where we lean on each other, poke daggers at each other, but hold each other up. We manage to keep afloat somehow.

But seriously, let’s stop 86ing the cannelloni….

Kate

Anniversaries – Day 31

Um, yeah, I had no clue…

I am going to end my challenge on a high note. A different note than what I was writing about earlier in the afternoon, which was kitchen hierarchy, where am I in said spot, where am I going, and the book Sous Chef. It was a good post, but I’m too close to the subject at hand right now that I need to take a step back and reevaluate my macro look at everything.

Today/yesterday as it is past midnight, is my one year anniversary with my restaurant/company. A year ago I walked through the doors of a building that was still being built and finished inside, met the five other individuals who would be my kitchen team. I met my first chef, I filled out paperwork and I found out that while I had applied for hostess, I instead found myself in the kitchen working with the chef.

Damn straight I am…. now just to go about doing it is another matter entirely…

Two of those coworkers are no longer with us and life is always perpetually changing. Even I have changed. A lot. I’m still to emotionally invested in this business. I’m still trying to micro manage things that even the first chef said I needed to stop doing. “K, you are going to burn yourself out if you keep this up!” he told me in January a week after I had quit because I couldn’t handle him any longer. But he was right. I still find myself caring so much that I over care in some ways. I take my work home with me a lot. Mentally.

A friend snapped this of me when I had no clue. Busy as a bee making a pizza

But a year ago I would have never thought I could be where I am today. Pastry chef and loving it and pizza chef and loving it. I love my boss, though I think he and I are a little too alike at times. I love most of the people I work with. And I just love my restaurant.

My life is too crazy to count and the holiday season is upon us. Gads, how can it be Thanksgiving in a day? But it’s here and here comes the crazy. I am excited for it. I think this winter will be much better than last. I hope. I pray.

This challenge was really really great for the most part. Tackling the Write 31 Days one last year. My life behind the swinging doors (and outside of them now) has definitely turned my life upside down. Last year all I wanted to be was a published author/poet. This year all I want is my desserts to wow.

I’m no supergirl…. but I can bake… that is a superpower

Okay, well I was actually quite satisfied with asking Coffeeman if he liked my lemon bars the way they were. “Yes. But they are kind of hard to eat in the car.” (I had sent one home with him last Sunday)

Damn straight. Thank you, sir!

Yeah, that praise and look in his eye from him was a compliment enough. I know when I’ve done my job. Being a pastry chef is pretty darn cool.

Signing off (of the challenge, not the blog)

Kate

Everything Changes – Day 27

So yeah, I didn’t actually complete the Write 31 Days in a 31 day period… sue me.  Busy, tired, busy, tired, I could repeat….  And I can’t quite remember what Twin Ponygirl said for title, but I’ll give her the credit for this. So any comment made to this post, she get’s 50 cents royalties…

Lemon Bars Photo by Dana DeVolk on Unsplash

Literally, everything changes, from coworkers to menus, the restaurant business is ever evolving. Months ago I wrote how Miss Holly and I hated change, and for the most part, it’s true, but honestly, I am excited for the new changes to the menu. The other day as a bunch of us were prepping on a closed day, Coffeeman asked how we were all feeling. I wasn’t sure if it was in general because we all put in a long day, or because of the new menu. For me, I am feeling quite excited about the new menu. Yeah, there is a lot of prep. It’s an ambitious menu, to me at least. But it’s a good and exciting change.

I didn’t get what Coffeeman was blathering on about a week and a half ago about being bored with the summer menu… Then I started thinking about it. Like that night I went home and was totally in agreement. I was bored with the menu. I needed a change. I needed something different to challenge my mind. My creativity. My passion.

I’m always passionate about what I’m doing, which is why it takes me a bit longer to make things because I want them to be perfect-ish. But even I was feeling like the menu was mundane at times. It needed something to spice it up. It needed to embrace fall. Lots of fall, even if there are only 54 days till Christmas… (yeah, I killed you there, didn’t I?) I need dark flavors and spices. I want rich and heavy. It’s gorgeous fall weather  as I look out to a blue sky and this rust colored oak tree. I mean, it is absolutely gorgeous! So I want flavors that embrace that.

Oh the cranberries, port, orange, lemon, and cinnamon are a simmering. Gorgeous sight…

I am excited Chef decided to use my cranberry-port sauce for the lemon bars. My sauce!  Okay, well I did find the recipe and tweak it.  And the other day he asked where my recipe was for the lemon bars. “What recipe, you are the chef, aren’t you supposed to have it?” I asked

“You’re the pastry chef! Where’s yours?!” he countered.

Damn straight. I am the pastry chef. Where was mine?  I have to tweak it a bit working with a much larger pan than a 9 by 13!  But it’s good and I have plans.

Fall is bound to be exciting, and changes are forever happening. I’m learning to roll with them. Sometimes.

Kate

Just Let Me Ramble About My Chef Days – Day 21

Late at night counting tickets, drinking a last cup of coffee and a glass of Pendleton

As of yesterday,  I have only one month left till I have been with my restaurant a year. One year. Wow.  Back in winter I thought I would be lucky if I made it that long, much less any longer. Miserable wasn’t even the word to describe how unhappy I was with my former bosses. Literally every day I went to work I was crying a half hour before leaving, trying desperately to fix smudged makeup and look professional, then crying at night when I got home. Exhausted, unhappy, afraid of my own shadow, it was a nightmare job. I quit when it was just a ridiculous amount of stress and my parents were aghast at what my boss was doing to my mental state, much less physical with all the long and hard hours. I was hard pressed to say I even liked any aspect of my job. It was just a job.

Failed work relationships/romantic included, coworkers coming and going, more going than staying, forever feeling like I was on the chopping block, players pitted against each other….. It was not a pretty picture. Lucifer and Tom Cat were disasters in the making. I should have listened to family right off the bat, but noooo, I had to do it my way. I know a lot of it was the misery surrounding my pure and utter exhaustion. Bad relationships kill your mental state.

Today, I am in a good place. Today, I am in a really great place. Last night I sat with AstroD after work discussing our new specials this week. The appetizer he is making, the dessert I’m doing. The freezer that is supposedly fair game for us to experiment with what’s inside… Oh the possibilities are looming! The happiness of our current positions. I am first and foremost on my time card, a prep chef. But currently my job is pastry chef, pizza chef, closer, and prep.  AstroD was pizza chef, line chef, and fill in. Today he is line chef and prep chef and occasional fill in on pizza. Both of us are extremely happy. We are getting to learn new things, sucking up as much as Coffeeman wants to throw at us. He wants a sous chef. Hey, whoever he wants to make one, go for it. If he wants me, fine, I will learn as much as he wants to dump on me. I will take it all. I might groan about working certain days, but that’s my still being tired from last week talking.

I am so happy these days.  “K, you are a f—-ing pastry chef!” Sassy Girl said to me last night. She bounces around as much as I do when we both think about it. I have the opportunity of a lifetime here. And I am going to absorb as much as I can.

I would have never thought this world would have been my calling. A lot of it is really hard, especially when you look at this list. Parts of it are starting to be my life. The one that irks me the most is finding a partner unless in the trade, unless they are just very compromising. This life is hard and good. I have late nights a lot. Sometimes because when I get off, I need to just hang back at work and wind down. The winding down takes at least two hours. Your are going at such high velocity for a short amount of time and it is cram packed. Service is really only 3 hours. But it is an intense three hours of crushing the dishes you fit into your time period. Sometimes it is longer and harder. It all depends, and it’s always changing from what happened prior to service, or during, and even after.

But last night, collaborating with AstroD was so amazing. We have ideas and hopes and plans. The excitement of trying something new and hopefully pleasing the public.  Oh yeah, that is a freaking amazing feeling. A tip last night, a comment earlier in the day, compliments for the enjoyment. Oh yeah, that is amazing too.  Hearing your GM say they are getting a lot of positive feedback from the bar where everyone there watches your every move. Whew, that’s heady.

Today I am glad I got to have my hair down, curled and pretty lady today. Not pinned up and slicked back to kingdom come. I loved sleeping in and having a more leisurely day.  Writing a post, reading up on chocolate ganaches and flourless cakes. Playing around with ideas.  Not stressing about coworkers doing their job. Yeah, it was nice to have the day off. This next week is bound to be busy with planning a new dessert, but it’s good work.

And I am happy. Thanks for listening, reading and letting me ramble this month.

Kate

Creativity, Experiment 1 – Day 6

So, Coffeeman is all about being a chef. As in, we get to experiment. Try new things. Bounce ideas off of him. Instead of talking about it, we do it, as he said to me a couple weeks ago when I was thinking of panna cotta to make use of something odd in our walkin. It’s not about talking about it. It’s doing it. I love that. I love that I get to experiment with ideas. (the panna cotta turned out ok, but I’m not sure it was as popular as it could have been. bummer)

A cured yolk just after being in the salt a week. Now into the ovens.

One idea that I wanted to try was cured egg yolks. I use a fair amount of eggs in the baking process, fortunately the whole egg most of the time, but here and there, when I make meringue, I only need the whites.  Well, cured egg yolks are these really cool bundles of yellow Parmesan flavor. Trust me, they really do taste like Parmesan.

So to cure them, you carefully separate your egg yolks from the whites, then carefully place the yolks into a pan that has a layer of salt and sugar, into little divots you make in the salt/sugar. Cover the yolks in the same mixture and let chill/cool/take a break for a week before rinsing the salt off and drying in a warm oven overnight.

A couple a yolks just hanging out….

They can be micro-planed onto something as a garnish. This pretty yellow dust that is salty good.  I have a small collection of them at work and I haven’t found a use for them, but I love that Chef let me try them. I want to come up with a pizza that I can grate it on top of for a bit of color and flavor. I’m thinking a cool pasta primavera style alfredo thing might be cool. Something. I haven’t figured it all out yet. Still playing around with ideas.

I just love all the creativity that has graced our kitchen. The other day Coffeeman pulls me out to the back freezers, spoon in hand and has me take a sample of this chocolate sorbet/ice cream he’s made. It’s luxurious. I ask him why and he replies, “Because I can and I wanted to do something different with pink peppercorns.”  So it was a chocolate pink peppercorn frozen delight. It was delightful. So if he’s experimenting, so are we, in a way.

I don’t always have time to mentally come up with new things though a part of me feels like I should, except he is the chef. He’s supposed to come up with things. I’m still just trying to keep my body floating as I take in as much information as I can with everything he dumps on me. One of these days I might come up with something. I’m working on it.

Kate