Deep Cleaning – Day 7

Sunday, yesterday, I wasn’t able to post. I was just too gosh darn tired after a full week and I wanted to sit down when I finally got home and just veg on a good movie. Reason I was so tired was Sunday is deep cleaning day.  The grime has built up for the week and it’s time to do unfun jobs such as boiling out a fryer, or taking down the grates over the stove and degreasing them.

Spotless kitchen, wet floors, the smell of cleaners, the silence at the end of night…

For me, I avoid most deep cleaning days. Haha, but it’s only because I’m not on the schedule. However, I have deep cleaned a lot especially because back in the late spring and early summer, it was required every night. Well, maybe not the fryer or hood, but definitely all the floors and drains and such. The floors get swept really well then degreaser gets poured on the floor and finally they get sprayed down with a hose and very hot water.

The grime gets powerwashed off the floors and the spots in the corners. The weekly grime is lifted off and the kitchen suddenly doesn’t smell like a kitchen, but a very humid clean environment.

more wet floors and clean stainless

All the stainless shelves are wiped clean, and spots that get left during the week are suddenly back to rights. Granted, after I finished yesterday and was showing off the perfect space to my GM Sassy Girl, I found spots that weren’t quite up to par…. oops. And of course she would see them. But the general grime was off the floor. The kitchen actually looks a heck of a lot better than I have seen it in weeks.

Back when Micha and I were closing together, it looked like it does now, every night. I sometimes miss the spraying down of the floors every time we close; the steam billowing up and feeling damp and like you are in the tropics. Just picture steam billowing out of a door with the lights back lit into the cold night air. The sharp but pleasant smell of cleaners and knowing that everything is spotless.

Ick, the floors before!

I can’t say as I miss the back breaking work. I am so exhausted today with only one day off before it all begins again. And I will say that the walkin did not get wiped down to its full potential, but since I will be in and out of it putting produce away tomorrow…. well then, I’ll make sure it’s more clean when I’m done.

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

Tools and Accessories – Day 5

“K, your bag is in the way again.” Lucifer is rolling his eyes at me as my tool bag is apt to dump its contents all over the place.

“I need my tools,” I say as I scoop them all up.

“You don’t need them. You just think you do. You just like to accessorize.” 

Lucifer is mocking me, of course. One of the many of the day.  (Sometimes I wonder why I fell in love with this boy.)

Maybe I don’t need all the tools I have in my bag, but as the Chef has a backpack full of unique tools, I won’t let Lucifer’s words get to me. Besides, things are perpetually getting lost in the kitchen. So I kind of like having all my tools with me. Measuring spoons, spatulas, tasting spoons up the wazoo, microplane, lemon juicer…. I have enough to get me by, but honestly, I wouldn’t mind a few more. Coffeeman has these really cool spoons that have an opening at the end and you can write with sauces. Those are cool.

I use all of my tools on a regular basis. Especially my spatulas. And tasting spoons. I have about 6 or more and they are great when I make chocolate mousse and hand out spoons for people to taste. Yum.

So I’m a woman. So what if I like to accessorize. Big deal, I like shoes too…..

Kate

Whoops Moments – Day 4

Sometimes whoops moments happen. I haven’t had too many, but when I do them, the irk me. The time I burned the champagne glaze. That one sent me off sobbing into the walk in, sure I was doomed. I had a coworker asking me if I was going to be okay, I said no, and to send Chef into the walk in to find me. Lucifer came in instead, which at the time was fine because I really needed a hug. It was all okay, but I felt horrible.

This last week was a moment of whoops. I managed to spill an entire Cambro of vegetable stock in the walk in. Five gallons of stock all over the walk in. And it was at the end of the night when I was trying to clean and put away a last few things in the walk in. It was one of those moments where I was so pissed at myself. Yeah, accidents happen, but when you are tired, it’s not fun.

So there I am with a bus tub and bar mops and a boatload of stock to mop up. And a stupid walk in where it is sloped towards the door, not the drain. Go figure. On the flipside, the walk in was the cleanest it’s been in a while. I think the stock etched the surface free of grease. And as Chef said, it was just water and scraps.

At least it wasn’t a bottle of champagne…..

Kate

Plating – Day 3

“You need some of that,” says Lucifer.  “No, don’t just run it across all of them, do one at a time.  And why do we do this?”

“Uh…” comes the reply from Tom Cat.

“Because it looks prettier that way,” I reply as I hunt through a fridge.

“Exactly!” Lucifer replies.

It’s all in presentation.  Plating. Sending out something that looks so elegant that your eyes feast on it first. I kind of have a knack for it. Even Lucifer, in all his inability to give compliments except on rare occasions, knew I knew how to plate.

I love plating. I love sending out a dish that is elegant, edges free of smudges, the garnish just so. I have been inclined to want to slap people’s hands, server’s hands, Chef’s hands, when they go to take a plate before I finish garnishing. I might be a bit insane, but what is the point of sending out a half finished plating?

I stop people and servers all the time. A pizza must go out with the right garnish. Granted, I am stopping them because I have forgotten something, but still, it must go out right. The best thing to plate, for me, are the desserts. It’s not a coincidence considering I am the pastry chef. I want plates to be pretty, and now, since Coffeeman has come into my life, I have had the opportunity to see things plated so beautifully.

Lemon Tart with a berry coulis design….. Dot, dot, dot..

The dots, swirls, spirals, squiggles. Currently, due to my hectic schedule, I don’t get to plate as much as I like, and I’m not fond of our restaurants name being squiggled onto plates instead of designs… I don’t find it elegant.  These are elegant to me.

Roasted Peach with champagne strawberries…. ooh la la

I hope that over time I get to still plate desserts. I love all the aspects of my job, but when you have a server go “ooh, that is the prettiest I’ve seen” or plates come back with designs scraped off with the dessert, I know I’ve done my job. Not to brag ,though I’m going to, but the servers love how I plate….

Kate

Knives – Day 2

L to R : Kuma, Misono, Glestain. I love the bear logo of the Kuma and that knife is a powerhorse

My knives are my babies. I have three now. I started off with a house knife that I made my own with shoe duct tape. But then I coveted Lucifer’s knife. Here’s the story behind that knife.

My Glestain, properly edged and sharpened to a high, glossy, razor-sharp edge. Deadly…

Supposedly Lucifer’s girlfriend gave him the knife. A Glestain Gyutou knife. This knife costs a pretty penny and it is gorgeous.  Well, he was using it at work and I loved how it fit my hand and I loved the ‘blue’ detailing….. it was blue painter’s tape at the time, but once the tape was off, I still loved the knife. I had plans to buy one myself.  I always kind of wanted Lucifer’s, partly because it was his and I thought he was a darling, but that was not why I really wanted the knife. I liked the knife. A lot. Unbeknownst to me, Lucifer sold the knife to the current chef of the time. I was so bummed because had  I known he was going to sell it, I would have bought it off of him. I told the chef that if he ever wanted to sell it, I wanted first dibs. He thought it was because I had a thing for Lucifer, but no, it was mostly because I loved the knife.

A month or so goes by, I have currently broken two knives at work, paid to replace one of those, become known as “the knife breaker”,  and now own a Misono that is nice, but still not the knife I want. Note to self and anyone else out there: Don’t drop good knives on a red tile floor. And don’t use the chef’s new knife on acorn squash.  Out of nowhere the chef finally decides he doesn’t want the Glestain. I had a feeling he would sell it at some point and was holding out. Sure enough, I was able to buy the knife because Lucifer, while wanting the knife, couldn’t purchase it back at the time.

This knife, the Glestain has created so much havoc within the kitchen with Lucifer because we were a thing. I think he thought the knife was his and that at some point I would give it back to him. Maybe had he treated me with some respect and actual caring, and not lying his ass off to me, I might have, but the knife became a power thing within the kitchen. When I had it, Lucifer coveted it and always tried to borrow it or ‘boo hoo hoo’ say he didn’t have the funds for a new knife. When he borrowed it, I was forever feeling like the knife wasn’t in the safest of hands, especially after I found out that he had no clue how to sharpen a knife he was suddenly  telling me he’d had for 8 years. Girlfriend gave it to you, hmm?

Finally,  I wouldn’t let him  anywhere near the knife. Turns out he was sharpening a Japanese knife equally, when it should have been a 70/30 type sharpening. These knives are very specific to the angle. Both my Misono and Glestain knives are styled in the Japanese way. Well, for being a ‘chef’ Lucifer needs to learn a few things.

Recently, I just had my two babies resharpened and put back to factory standards. There is no way in heck I would ever give up my ‘Lucifer’ knife. I love that baby to its full extent. I have used it off and on recently and I just adore the knife. My knives are an extension of my work. They are something that centers me when I am in the kitchen. When I get to work and I have something that requires me to pull one of them out, it’s this release of breath that just calms me. Even if I’m stressed about how much prep there is and such. My knives are a part of me. (so of course they are pretty)

I also have a lovely inexpensive, really decent knife, per Coffeeman’s suggestion. At $23 on Amazon, the Kuma has been a delightful knife.

There are now three Kuma’s in the kitchen. Coffeeman, Will Turner, and me. Hence the blue heel. Gotta mark it somehow that it’s mine. You can also see the lovely silver heel of the Glestain. It’s one sexy knife. Trust me.

And I have had people ask me why as a pastry chef I need knives…. well, I’m not just a pastry chef. That’s why. And even pastry chef’s cut things. Butter, lemons, cake, pies, dou

gh… If there is one question that really irks me is that question. I need knives. Please don’t insult me and ask why I would ever need expensive knives.

Now be careful… because I know how to use them, and they are deadly sharp…

Kate

Stainless Silence – Day 1

An empty stainless space.

Currently, every Tuesday I enter a silent kitchen that is quiet and left all  for my little lonesome self. Well semi lonesome because I always get visitors. I enter a space that is super clean after being deep cleaned on Sunday night. It’s shiny. It’s pure stainless clean.

Everything is in its place and I have free range of all countertops to start baking and making. I get to enjoy the entire space to myself. It’s freedom. It’s confinement, as I make it a semi challenge to not spread out too much like I would normally do. It’s fun. It’s hard. It’s amazing responsibility.

I have written poems about the stainless and cleaning and perfection of a quiet kitchen, either first in the morning or last out at night. There is peace in the opening and the shutting down.

It is definitely Stainless Silence.

Kate

Beyond the Swinging Doors – 31 Days of My Life in a Professional Kitchen

Behind those two doors my world resides. Oh, and right to the left, where pizza is.

My life as a prep/pastry/pizza chef has been a whirlwind of less than a year. Considerably apropos to spend 31 days writing about it, posting about it, pictures about it, since this is the last year of 31 Days in October. Honestly, I can’t believe that this little blogging thing, which isn’t so little, is coming to a close. But as one chapter of life closes, another opens.  I can honestly say that all my hours spent cooking and baking are taking over my life to the point where I can only blog here and there.

The life has lead to some amazing opportunities, not just within the kitchen, but in my writing life as well. Opening doors to new subjects. New loves. New hates. New, new, new. It’s all new. Exhausting. Amazing.

I write this at nearly two thirty in the morning after not getting off of work till midnight, body exhausted and sore, mind fuzzy and wiped. But it’s all good. In a strange way, it’s good to feel this tired. I wish sometimes that I had more time to devote to writing and being at home, but at the same time, I love my job.

You know how people have to keep saying over and over how much they love something because they really don’t? Yeah, well that’s not the case with me. I say it over and over because it’s true. Even the most frustrating moments, like tonight running out of things the morning prep guy should have stocked for me, screwing up a few pizzas,  not having such and such done, and just not being able to close down till late, I still have the good things overshadow the bad. Like having a guy slip a tip over the window to me because he so enjoyed his dinner.  Having another guy say my pizzas were incredible. And another one saying he loved the mussels (which I did not do, Chef did) but he planned to come back soon because he heard how good my pizzas were. Yeah, those are good moments. It’s a good moment when your coworkers ask you to make them a pizza and they love it. I love my job.

So, I shall attempt for the next 31 Days of October to write and post about my life behind those two black swinging doors. The dance. The magic, the whirling motion of life. The food. I have my camera/cellphone at the ready. I already have several mental posts lined up.  Get ready, dearies and my darlings.

Kate

  1. Stainless Silence

Disney Beats – Day 14

So my forays into the Write 31 Days October challenge went by the wayside on the 13th of the month. I think I burned myself out and just could not force myself to write. It was literally like trying to eat when you don’t feel good. But that doesn’t mean I can’t finish. It just might take me longer.

My sister got her first Disney soundtrack back when Oliver and Company came out. Cassette tape… I think we played that thing all the time. Even when we were taking baths that lasted 2+ hours. We loved that tape. Then came The Little Mermaid.  Once we knew that we could have music from any Disney animated film, it was no holds barred. We played them all. Compact discs made it that much easier and we went through those fun princess years of Disney all the time. I can probably sing every song from every movie from Oliver to Hercules, not counting all the earlier ones that we got later on.

Tell me a girl from the 80s that can’t sing every song from the Little Mermaid and I’ll show you someone that doesn’t know their pop culture. It is seriously insane how well we all know that music.

Disney music has always been a great love of mine since those first Disney movies that had good music. I’d say Mary Poppins was probably the first one I seriously remember, but I think Sleeping Beauty came next. Besides, the best part about Sleeping Beauty was that the prince had a name and could dance like ooh la la.

To this day, I still pay close attention to any Disney Musical, deeming it good (Moana rocks) or mediocre (Tangled could have been better). The music is still one of those things I love to put on, like any good musical, and start belting it out. Yes, I can belt it out and if it’s summer, I apologize, I love it so much.  It’s good, clean, wonderful lyrics.

What was your first Disney soundtrack you fell in love with? If you didn’t, well, you don’t know what you are missing. You’re Welcome….. (Moana)

Kate

The 70s Are My Favorite Era In Music History – Day 13

I feel I should write about spooky songs, beings that today is a Friday the 13th, but honestly, I don’t know that many spooky songs.

I was a child of the 80s, meaning I was born then, a GenY child, grew up in the 90s and was exposed to all kinds of music through my childhood. Without meaning to, I learned about the music of the 70s by accident. I used to listen to this light rock station when I lived in the Central Valley of California in my early formative years of music. I was given a small boombox with tapedeck, an extra blank tape and there you have it. I think it even came with a microphone to hold. I used to record and make my own things, my sister and I would talk; it was a lot of fun.  But where I had my most fun was I would turn on this nice station. I was monitored when it came to how noisy the music I listened to was, not being allowed rock, but this station was okay.

I thought because it was a station that played current things, that everything on it was current. Turns out, it wasn’t. A lot of the light rock stuff played in 1987 was music from the mid 70s, so without even knowing it, I was getting an education on music my parents listened to. My parents did have some music I would play on the record player, but honestly, when you are 5, the only thing you really want to play is kids music on the record player. Except for the classical composition of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, but that’s another story.

Flash forward 13+ years when suddenly I had great access to a music catalogue from my now current library. My parents and I started ordering cdsto listen to and I was suddenly thrust into the wide world of music from the 70s. It was incredible. And the other thing was, suddenly I was hearing music I knew as well! I really remember the one I thought was a ‘my era’ song that was not, was Dan Fogleberg’s “Longer”. So 70s. So good.

I have listened to a wide range of music, so wide that I really have a hard time picking out favorite artists, though I have a couple. The music from the 70s was a lot of one hit wonders that were marvelous, but there were others that have entire albums. The 70s mix cds that our family made, our one of the most played sets of music in this house. There was a great collection of music called Super Hits of the ’70s: Have a Nice Day, and it was filled with a lot of the one hit wonder songs. But then I got exposed to the Guess Who, Three Dog Night, Olivia Newton John (which my dad had two of her records and now that I was old enough to get it, listened to her music), Neil DiamondBill Withers, Sam Cook, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchel, Chicago, and probably so many more that I can’t list them.

I can tell you the song more than the artist a lot of the times, and if I had my druthers, I would play more of that era. It’s a good era. The music is fun, sometimes naughty, but mostly clean, told a story and just has a good beat.  I love talking music with people, especially people in my parents or older generation because they get surprised when I know that style of music. I know who they are talking about, a lot of the time, and I know what they mean. (this is why I say I get along with baby boomers. I have spent enough time around people in that age I get them way better than my own generation)

And not only do I know music, I like talking about it. It’s one of my favorite subjects.

So, what era of music is your favorite? Or do you have one, and why?

Kate