Sunday, April 29, 2012

Run. Don't walk.

A few things before I begin:

1) I'm sorry it's been so long since my last entry. Business is gaining at a good clip, and who am I to hinder progress?
2) I am IN LOVE with the blog of Geoff Nicholson: Psycho-Gourmet. Read it, but not at work. Some of his stuff isn't safe for the boss to walk in on- including his "Nudie Foodies" entry recently. Hilarity ensued.
3) My computer died. She's currently on life support and the unit I'm typing on now is on loan from my sister (she has a few as it stands). We're tempted to upgrade to full-on iMac status (big ol' screen and everything), but hubs and I are still brewing on it.
4) I haven't been taking enough food pictures lately, especially at events. I need to get on that.
5) I'm trying a hibiscus margarita next weekend. I'm very excited about it.

Alright ... sooooo ... what's new?

CYPN. No, the Concord Young Professionals Network is not new, not at all, but my involvement with them is. And I'm having a fantastic time. I love working with such motivated and dedicated people. They make me a better business owner.

So we had an annual event called the Philanthropy In Your Community Summit- such a great idea, too, considering everyone should be doing a bit of volunteer work as part of their work experience. I offered to cater the event, which went great! I was thrilled with the results and did enough apps to sate well over 100 people. Family and friends participated to show their support. Most of them found a new cause to support. Mission accomplished.

Also, very excited about the Women's Club of Concord. Being still naive about my favorite town, I only just discovered them through another great group, Let's Have A Net Lunch. Funny how the universe has all sorts of plans for us when we continue to put one foot in front of the other. I see great things once I'm finally brought into the fold of this strong and motivated group of women.

That is the Reader's Digest version of recent days. There is much more to share: new clients, new menus, new races to run, new allergies to work around ... but all in good time, which I don't have much of at the moment.

For now, I say adieu. But not for long, I promise.

Here's hoping you all find time to feast, even during your busiest days. xo

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Food and Music. They might be one in the same.

I'm learning more about myself as I continue to cook for clients.

My time spent in people's homes is primarily silent. The music I move to is the sounds produced by hissing pans, popping sauces, the crack of fresh produce. I am vigilant when it comes to what I feed people- it requires full concentration and fine-tuned ears. I may speak to myself every once in a while, but it's only to curse if I've forgotten an ingredient or a piece of equipment or I'm missing something- anything- and I'm put into a panic. This does not happen often. I'm usually quiet for hours on end.

I can tell when it's time to lower the temperature on a reduction ... when the bubbles move too quickly, they get a violent sound to them.

I can tell when the browning on a pork chop or chicken breast is almost done. The sizzle and seer starts to fade, moving toward charcoal instead of caramelization. The sound of food burning has a dull, dead sound. It's almost vacant.

Tomato sauce and stock should have a "blub blub" sound instead of fast paced popping and splashing.

All of this is learned over time, the more you cook the more you can recognize the familiar sounds of the kitchen. So many times I intend to let Pandora carry me to a place of effortless time-travel. When the right music is playing, time is no longer an issue. I could sway in the kitchen for hours, not noticing where the sun sat in the sky. I could only tell time by how many songs have passed and where the bread was at for rising. I suppose there is a worse existence.

Tonight I'm making chicken cordon bleu. We have so much ham in the house from Easter dinner that I have to find some way to use it every day. This seems like a nice use of a few ingredients.

Mark and I rarely ever eat poultry unless it's eggs. We only eat beef because we have a barter system with Miles Smith Farm. Fish is something I can make an exception for every once in a while, but it's once in a great while.

So I'm off to wander in the grocery store. Usually when I go there I have an agenda, a long list to fulfill. There is no room to ramble, but I will take advantage of this open afternoon to make dinner special. Mark goes in for surgery on his wrist tomorrow morning (finally!) and he won't be able to eat after 6pm tonight. I better make every bite count! There will be wine involved.

Since I've spent so much time talking about the music of food, I'll leave you with a handful of videos of songs that have been stuck in my head this week. I hope they lull you into a comfortable place- be it cooking, dancing, or walking through the grocery store.

Jack White's new one ... Love Interruption. He makes me swoon.

My sister got this one stuck. Gotye, Somebody That I Used To Know. I almost like Kimbra's part better than the rest of the song.

A sped up version of one of my favorite songs ever. Mark Bronson's spin on Amy Winehouse, Valerie. Alas, Amy isn't in this. I miss her.

I like to think of myself as a Down Home Girl ... Old Crow Medicine Show makes it sound so desirable.

Happy listening, happy eating. xo

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fat Meets Flame

That's a slightly ironic title, considering my recent cooking efforts have been lower in fat than normal.

I love butter, olive oil, lard, you name it. If it isn't awesome for me I probably love the taste of it. But, Spring has a way of putting us all on notice.

It whispers, "Oh, that's right ... you thought swimsuit season was so far away, but here's that sunshine. Here comes the warm weather faster than you expected!"

Devious being.

I've done my best to make sure we only have healthy options on hand. That's when I do things like this:

Asian Beef Stir Fry.

Lox on scrambled eggs! These were leftovers from an event I did this past weekend. 
There's no point in throwing out the last vestiges of smoked salmon. You know I'm right about this.

Which brings me to my next point. I've been meaning to update on some food reading I've been doing. After my lovely cousins in San Francisco sent me this gem, I haven't been the same:

Thank you Jessica and Mike. Your support means the world to me ... You read me like a book.


Oh, I love puns.

So I've been taking notes and picking through chapters with precision. So far so good, but every once in a while I could use a lighthearted read before I lay my head down. So I've been picking this up every once in a while:

This is perfect for short stories and articles ... for those times when you want to read something but a chapter full of anything is too much of a commitment.

In the spirit of my doing work so you don't have to, here are a few of my favorites. One or two of them I've run across already, but a re-read is never a bad thing.

1) Peasants, by Geoff Nicholson. I'll admit, I hadn't read any of his work (knowingly) until now. And then I found his blog. The guy is a genius. The story is too short. I, too, hope to one day own a swine to call my own- and feed it my kitchen scraps. Wait til you get a load of his blog. Now *that* is a good time. The title alone stops you in your proverbial tracks.

2) From Kenya, With Love, by Rick Nelson. I love the truth of food. It brings people of dynamic backgrounds together with ease. Everyone's gotta' eat- interesting how food can help us to magically cross boundaries, oceans, large expanses of land, without ever leaving our seat at the dinner table.

3) Purple Reign, by Alan Brouilette. Lots of fun on this one. I've felt that rush of performing in a kitchen. It's thrilling- addicting. Plus, I love Prince ... and potatoes ... and pie.

4) And circling around to what this whole post was about ... intuitive cooking ...

My cooking skills were learned through years of not learning any real basics. My mother is the type of cook that has a litany of cookbooks that she never opens. Her food is always flawless, but where she gets her guidance, I'll never know. This was my introduction to cooking. Just make the food. Know what your ingredients taste like, throw them together, and stay confident. When I finally got down to the brass tax of learning how to cook professionally, there were a lot of stricter elements I wasn't really prepared for. There were skills I hadn't learned the correct way ... there is always room for improvement, but it seems that my experience was the exact opposite of Mr. Duane's. This could be an asset, it could be a downfall. Only time will tell.

I haven't gotten much farther in the book. I read one or two a night depending on how early I hit the sack and how tired I am. If there's anything worth reporting, I'll certainly let you know.

Happy reading ... happy eating! xo