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Showing posts with label blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blog. Show all posts

Sunday, January 3, 2021

My First 2021 Snow Day Musings

I'm feeling creative today so I thought I would go back to what made this blog special in the first place, or at least what I felt like made it special: My thoughts.

Back in the day, I used to write for Open Salon. "Write for" is a generous statement, because I really just posted my thoughts on this big open forum and people decided if they liked it or not. I suppose I got the idea from watching Julie & Julia when I was first starting Culinary school. I had this idea that I was going to be this amazing writer that connected people and helped change their lives. I guess I wanted to reach out and see if anyone was ou there in the void, listening. 

I remember Banksy said that fame is a byproduct of actually accomplishing something. But what is an accomplishment? Who decides what accomplishment is? The world? Your social circle? Is it you?

I feel like I've accomplished some fun stuff on this website, where it's been a braindump for my recipes and what I was making. In truth, I had this phase where I did what every annoying food blogger did: writing LONG PROSE THAT NOBODY CARED ABOUT along with a recipe. And then the recipe at the end? Pull your finger out of your ass.

I guess I realized how annoying this was from the other end and decided to switch it up. Yay! And it was received well, but I have no idea if folx tried it out or not. I have no idea if anything on this website has meant anything to anyone. I suppose that this is the strange thing about the internet, in which it's mostly just screaming into the void and hoping that the void has answered back. 

Maybe I'm feeling this way because it's my first day off of the new year? I had such fun out in the beautiful snow today. Winter has kissed my home. I love the sound of snow crunching under my boots. The plows came today on the side streets so I'm free to go to the grocery store. But what will I make? 

I usually just go to the store, look around at what protein is there, and decide from there. I'm not much of a leftover queen anymore; maybe I used that juice up when I was working at the food rescue kitchen? I loved doing that, transforming food nobody wanted and using it to feed those in need. I really felt like I was accomplishing something by doing that. Maybe I should go back to it, transforming my leftovers into something new? 

Well, dear friend, I hope you know that I'm here, alive and kicking, and this writer made it through 2020. 

Here's hoping we can all make it through this coming year of 2021. Happy cooking and happy eating.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Eating Better Broke

Hi, friends!

Since I've been the literal worst with publishing posts regularly, I figured I could get back into the swing of it with something easy:

A lifestyle blog entry!

Personally, I tend to dislike the mainstream lifestyle blog scene. It's all about juice cleanses(which have been debunked) or detoxing or taking vitamin supplements or veganism saving the planet...and while I think it's all well enough, I don't think it's a reputable practice that actually does any good for you. Here's a few quick facts:

  • Detoxing isn't a thing. Your body does that on its own just fine.
  • Liquid diets don't cleanse your colon--your colon cleanses your colon just fine already
  • Bloating is a real thing and is caused by a number of factors
  • Taking vitamins for deficiencies are great, but taking them just because isn't
    • Your body pees out any excess vitamins it doesn't need, so if you're fine...you're literally pissing away your money on those things
  • Veganism is great, but it's not THE end-all/be-all for the planet, although it would certainly help if more people adopted a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, at least a few times a week
Another thing I tend to dislike about the healthy eating/mainstream lifestyle bloggers is that it's completely unrealistic for, say, your average millennial to keep up with, financially speaking. I've rambled on about the economics of eating healthier in several blog posts, but here's the big thing:

A salad costs $7 and a cheap-ass burger full of fillers and preservatives costs $0.99. 

Please don't write another article on obesity in children or general American obesity until somebody fixes this. Eating healthy is expensive, and the American economy isn't great right now. Until then, here are some ways that you can eat better for free(or for cheap AF)...

Grow a Garden
Tomatoes, in all shapes and sizes...
Sometimes, you'll get weird
Mickey-Mouse potatoes.
Seriously, you can do this. Even if you live in an apartment, invest in a window box. Salad greens will grow year-round indoors with a fair amount of sun from a window and a fairly temperate climate. Greens such as beets, kohlrabi, spinach, etc. actually prefer cooler climates, and that's why they're known as winter crops. You can also grow tomato plants indoors or on a balcony, as well as potatoes. Seriously! There are many ways to do potato towers in tubs, and you can do it in tiny spaces!

I realize that it may not be a sustainable idea for many, but for the parts of the year where you can just snip out a quick salad from your salad garden box for dinner will save you so much money. There was a point earlier this spring where I didn't go to the grocery store for over two weeks, and we were eating almost exclusively everything that came out of the garden. 

Now that summer's going and winter is upon us, we're eating a lot of potatoes, all grown in a 2'x2' space. Potatoes are like weeds--they'll grow anywhere and they'll grow abundantly. 

If you have more space, try things like corn, beans, squash... You'll eat for free, and you'll eat well. You'll also be able to say that you grew that yourself, and have the satisfaction of doing it. I cannot express how easy gardening can be, and how satisfying it absolutely is, especially if you have young children to sit in the garden and help you out with it. 

If you can grow pumpkins, you can even carve the ones you grew for Halloween!
Gardening is a fantastic outdoor activity for children, especially for the brand of those that just love playing around in the dirt. Another fun thing I've discovered about gardening with children: it almost negates picky eaters. I've found that those which are picky eaters are more afraid of what the food is because they don't understand it. If a kid nurtures and loves a cauliflower plant to harvest, it's way more likely that they'll eat it!

Visit a Farmer's Market

Most farmer's markets take cash and card at this point, and you'll be able to get quite a bit from them. The vegetables that farmers grow are so much cheaper than at the grocery store, and you know where they came from...locally. Most farmers are glad to tell you their places of operation, and you'll actually get to see the faces of those you're supporting. Win!

Another great reason to visit a farmer's market is that you can talk to people that know about the food, who will also tell you how to cook the food, which is a struggle that many deal with. Most of the vendors that come through the market I work at will want to buy healthy ingredients, but hardly know what to do with it when they get home. I'm a chef, and I'm constantly learning.

One of the farmers at my market traded me some Chinese Yardlong beans for a few of my muffins, and I honestly had no clue what to do with them. My instinct was to stir-fry it, but he told me to try them grilled... Surprise! They're fantastic when grilled! I never would have thought to grill that particular vegetable, but I'm really glad that I did. 

That particular bunch of yardlong beans were free, but I could have had those for $2, and it was a lot of them. You can get a ridiculous amount of produce for under $10, and if you learn to pop together a few quick things in the right ways, you'll eat much better.

Switch Soda for Water...or Make Your Own!

Ginger Bug soda is chock-full of naturally fermented probiotic goodness, and is really great for your health... I've talked about it before, and even blogged about it. Learn how to make your own ginger bug soda here and here!

Fermented foods are good for you. Pickles, sauerkraut, natural soda...it's all good for you, and here's why:

Your gut bacteria is unique to you. People only share 1/3 of their bacteria with others--as in,  you have 2/3 gut bacteria makeup that is 100% unique to you, sort of like a fingerprint. The reason you crave sugary foods is because you, likely, have the gut bacteria that makes you crave it.

Yeast bacteria crave sugar, so when you tend to eat a lot of sugar, the bacteria that love that stuff will grow. They'll be happy, living in your gut, and send signals to your brain that say: "Hey! We're hungry! Send down some more M&Ms!" I realize, of course, that it's an extremely trite anthropomorphized version of what actually goes on, but that's how I explain it.

Long story short, your guts will crave what you feed them. If you starve your gut bacteria of excess sugar,  you'll stop craving it after a few days. If you feed them veggies and leafy greens instead, however, you will probably hate your life for the first three days, but after a week you will crave all of that green goodness. I'm not joking. Canned sodas made with corn syrup and carbonation make me queasy now, and I once had a friend make me feel better from a horrible tummy ache with a pile of steamed broccoli. Yes. That's a real thing that happened to me. 

Oh, and this ginger soda? It's better for you, and cheaper than what you probably pay in the grocery store already. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Blogging/Acting/Living like a Big Girl

That is to say, not blogging like a fat girl. Not that I'm fat. Not that it matters, really. I'm more bone than fat, I think. Or maybe I'm more organ tissue? I have fat on me. But I don't know how a 'fat' girl is supposed to blog or act. I just act the way I act. I know that I could come up with a few rhymes or reasons for a few of my actions and habits, but I've really heard a lot of "like a fat girl" or "inner fat kid" or whatever on the interblag lately when coming across food articles. Well, not lately. Always.

What's up with the whole "like a girl" thing, by the way? It's a little insulting.
"Bitch, please..."

But that's neither here nor there. I really don't want to get into all of that. Most of my friends know that I feel the way I feel, and if you read my stuff you probably are of the opinion that women are people. At least, I hope you are. Because we are. Women, I mean.

But "Blogging like a Big Girl." I'm big in the sense that I'm tall. I border on 5'8", and can kiss B. without craning my neck if I wear the right shoes(he's 6'2"), specifically the pretty pink wedges I bought circa 2012 from H&M. But does big have to mean big? Why can't it just mean grown up? I'm a big girl, now. I'm a grown-up now. And in my 26 years on this rock, I've figured out some stuff.

Being an adult is what you want it to mean. Being an adult in America means being over 18(or 21, if you prefer). Aside from that, it's up to you. Society tacks on a few other things, like paying your bills or buying your own car or whatever. Which I do. I pay my bills and I have a car. It's hard to balance budgets on your own, I will admit, but the point is that it's doable.

I recently started working with a group called Young Women on the Move. The girls I met with were shy. They were shy and afraid. When I was telling stories about my life and career, they kept on smiling and nervously asking "But weren't you scared?"

"Yes," I said. And then I shrugged it off and kept on talking.

"But weren't you scared?" must have come up at least fourteen times during my two-hour period of time there. Of course I was scared. It's okay to be scared. But whatever. No big deal. So what if you get scared? Was I scared to ask for a raise when I needed it? Yes. Was I scared when I went an applied for a job I wasn't really qualified for? Yes. Was I scared to start socializing in the ACF, fearful of the thought that people would reject me? Yes. But the worst thing they could have said was "no." Well, not the worst thing...

Sometimes, to ease the tension, I like to imagine the worst possible thing happening. I mean, off-the-charts, weird, fukken worst. I went in for a job interview once and was very nervous about it. What if they don't like me? What if the restaurant is horrible? What if the Chef is horrible? What if the FOH manager is a creep that wears gold rings and leaves his shirt hanging open all the time? What if the kitchen is infested with mold? What if I trip on the way in and break my neck? What if, on my way in, a pipe bursts in the bathroom walls and floods the entire restaurant? There could be an ex-boyfriend in there. There could be no gravity in there--and I would walk in and slam up on the ceiling, and then gravity would turn back on again, and slam me back into the floor, breaking my face. There could be racist ninjas in there. There could be Vladimir Putin in there. Zombie Fred Phelps could be in there. ALL OF THE HORRIBLE THINGS could be in there.

But probably not. You know what the actual worst thing that could happen would be? I didn't get the job. Could I live with that? Probably.

Fear is darkness. Find the light within.

So I'm blogging every day. I don't know what I'll blog about, always, but I figure that I can have a few filler blogs here and there. It's a regimen. It's good to have short term goals. Also, that Lemon Cherry Yogurt Cake from yesterday is still moist as the day is long, and I didn't even cover it with plastic. It was just sitting on the counter, still being delicious.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Glimpse of (Pastry) Chef Life

I just got off of work. My hours for this work period were something along the lines of 81.33. So, an hour and a half of overtime. This isn't necessarily normal for me, but it's pretty normal for a lot of us.

Who is "us"?

Why, the cooks. The warriors. Them who feed you when you don't feel like feeding yourself. It's the faceless army that produces magic on a plate, be it that wonderfully grilled terrace major with asparagus and a sauce bordelaise, or that perfect drunk-food of pork belly tacos with an Asian slaw at your local gastropub. Do you ever think of where your food comes from? You might. If you're reading my blog, you probably do. So, good for you.

Why, yes, that is a cluster of caramel corn atop that creme brulee.
A typical day in a restaurant is usually not typical, but on average it will last about 8 to 10 hours. Every day brings a new challenge, and yet you're producing(usually) the same stuff you did yesterday. Still that gallon of pink peppercorn creme anglaise. What's that? Oh yeah. More chocolate mousse. Oh, and you have to portion some more cakes, and did I mention you have another party that needs about 40 cobblers before 5pm? Now, before you do that, translate some cleaning instructions for me to the new dishwasher. And don't forget about those 50-something creme brulees that are in the oven, which will curdle if they're in a second too long--so listen for that timer!

The life of the pastry chef is that of a 'Jacqueline-of-all-trades,' as it were. Not only are you producing your own stuff, you're training the pantry cooks over and over again, cleaning, organizing, keeping your chefs from having mental breakdowns... You're a part of the back of house, but you're not. You're kind of your own entity. You have an entire section of the restaurant to yourself. In a sense, that is. You can be part-time, full-time, mercenary, contracted...it's actually pretty darn rare that a restaurant will have a full-time pastry chef in-house. So if you're in culinary school, trying to decide on pastry versus savory, stick with savory and study pastry on the side. You never know when you'll need to jump on the line and help plate salads or make a few pizzas while your pantry chef is in the can. And if you can be versatile, you're valuable. Remember, anybody can replace you at any time. So be as valuable and irreplaceable as you can be.

Phew. Jogging is hard. 
Your feet will hurt, just like the line cooks and the chefs. Your back will be sore, as will the back of your neck. Learn to stand correctly. And stay hydrated. Do stretches at night. I do yoga before bed, and I jog with Howl in the morning. Staying in shape is really the kind of thing you want to do; not for the sake of vanity, mind you, but for the sake of not completely wrecking your body. If you stay strong, so does your battle.

I try to stay in shape by running where and when I can. I've gained weight since I made the switch from savory to pastry(#shocker), and I definitely don't want to get Diabetes as a result. After a very long day, you'll usually want to crawl into a hot shower and cry. Or perhaps you're the kind of cook that explodes on the line and threatens to kill everyone. You might even be the kind that gets into fights with the front of house, or the other line cooks, or even the Chef. You might be the kind who gets so frustrated you leave the line to go cry. I am not that kind.

I don't mind getting paid to pee. But when I'm on someone else's clock, I don't cry. When I clock-out, and get in the car, the tears will come. But I will always massage my sore neck, and my cracked hands and aching feet, thanking any God that's out there for giving me the opportunity to do something so meaningful with my life. I realize that it's not the most meaningful, if you were to really think about it. But I get to be a part of lives. Not just a life. But lives.

This year at Valentine's Day, a man proposed to his now-fiancee over one of my desserts. She'll always remember that flourless chocolate cake and cheesecake, artfully arranged on a platter, with a pile of rose petals cradling the ring box with her future in it. Today, I made a gender-reveal cake to tell a wonderful family that they'll soon be joined by a grandson. I got to be a part of that moment. I wasn't there, not really, but a tiny piece of me was in that dessert you just ate. I get to touch someone's life, and for a moment, they might just forget about what a crappy day that I had.

And that, to me, is why my job is meaningful.