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Feminist Chef

9 Oct

WELL HOWDY, MOTHERFUCKERS! I’ve been gone for so long! I got a promotion in April, from sous chef to head chef, which means I haven’t written a thing in the past year that wasn’t menu specs or some flowery verbiage on an item’s description. My new job is both deeply challenging and profoundly empowering, but my other creative pursuits have all but fallen off the face of the earth.

You know how there’s about 940 examples of people writing about their jobs on the internet and then their boss finds out and said writer gets fired? Well, I have to remind myself of that. Its not that I want to shit talk or even criticize my place of employment, in fact I’m remarkably proud of the restaurant that I’ve come to feel is my restaurant. I love it there. But being an impassioned feminist means that I find unintentional, massive, structural flaws in all sorts of establishments, and mine is no different. If anything, I believe that the restaurant industry has a lot to overcome before I’d consider it a socially equitable industry. I would love to have a creative outlet where I could share my viewpoints on what its like being a feminist chef… but I don’t think I can do it here. Unfortunately in my small town, everyone knows everyone and what I’d call (imperative) constructive criticism others would call slander. That, or I’m a damn coward. Not sure which. So while I try to get back into the hang of writing I’m going to play it safe. I’m going to write about food. And stuff that’s related to food that I think is insane. And maybe some garbage food I find of Pinterest.

…and maybe, if I’m feeling saucy, I will write about the assholes. Because the industry knows no shortage of assholes!

For now, let’s talk about some fucking mushrooms!

Last weekend I was supposed to go chanterelle picking with my two buddies, which I found VERY EXCITING because NO ONE WILL EVER TAKE ME MUSHROOM HUNTING. Dude, people who pick mushrooms are so territorial about their little hidey holes of mushroomery that its damn near impossible to figure out how and where to safely hunt for mushrooms. I know plenty of people have taught themselves from books and internet resources, but since I’m fairly averse to the idea of the paralytic, diarrheal ocean that is toxic mushroom poisoning, I’m only interested in ingesting things I find in moldy old stumps if someone smarter than me tells me its ok.

Go figure I forgot I had to work that day, so while I sprinted around in the florescent lights of the kitchen, Steve and Danielle combed the Mount Baker wilderness in the dappled sunlight like a couple of goddamn enchanted forest gypsies. And it paid off! After three hours they arrived back in town with 12 pounds of beautiful golden chanterelles. They dried them on their counter tops and the next day Danielle handed me a full grocery sack to do what I wanted with.

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Over the next 48 hours I made gruyere and chanterelle biscuits, a rich, simple chanterelle cream pasta, chanterelle bisque, and this sexy little thang, the chanterelle and gruyere quiche. It’s not hard, I’ll tell you how!

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Firstly you need to make some dough, which is actually a lot more open to interpretation than most people think. I put two cups of flour and a tablespoon of salt into the food processor. I cut up half a stick of cold butter into little pieces, and while the processor was on I dropped them in piece by piece until the flour looked sandy. Then I grabbed 3/4 cup of ice water and drizzled it in until it clumped together into a ball. Took the ball out, rolled it onto a floured surface, put it in a buttered pie pan and VOILA YOU MADE A CRUST, LOOK AT YOU GO, YOU BEAST! The crust needs to be par baked so it doesn’t so out when you add the filling, so throw it in the oven at 350 for like, 12 minutes or until its firmed up and showing a little color. The bottom of it will be puffing up in a little air bubble, so stab it with a fork a few times and now that problem is solved!

Oh yeah, you have to saute the mushrooms! Put them in a pan with nothing else and let them sauté  until they release all their water and the water evaporates. Then, AND ONLY THEN do you toss with butter and salt and pepper. If you do add butter at the beginning the shrooms stay soggy. And if you add salt at the beginning they just sweat it all out anyway.

Ok, add the sautéed, not soggy/not wet shrooms into a bowl with 5 eggs, a fistful of grated gruyere, and whatever else you have lying around. I added half a bunch of nearly dead rainbow chard and some scallions. I seasoned it with about what you’d expect, plenty of salt and pepper, some red pepper flakes, and a bit of rosemary. Stir all that around, put into par-baked shell, and bake the whole mess for about 40 minutes, until the eggs are firm and a toothpick comes out free of any egg-goo.

There you have it folks. Also, you can put literally anything into a quiche so do whatever the fuck you want! As long as you don’t add butter to mushrooms before they’ve released their liquid you’re good. If you DO add butter at the beginning of a mushroom saute then fuck you because you’re the reason people think mushrooms have a gross texture. Do a favor to all the mushroom haters out there and please stop doing that immediately. K Bye!

Apple Pie… Not!

16 Oct

I tried so hard to share with you all my glorious apple pie that I made yesterday… but then my card reader was all, FUUUUUCK YOOOOU and I was like, “Really!?”

So instead I will tell you– it was the best pie I’ve ever made. Flaky crust, tall mounds of tender apples, totally un-runny… and I thoroughly enjoyed rolling the dough. Those little chunks of butter beneath my rolling pin, I swear to god, inspired hope in my life. But since I have no photos to share, I’ll just show you some photos I took of previous foods I’ve been known to adore.

 

Bloody mary shrimp cocktail shooter? YES PLEASE, ALL THE TIME.

 

 

Mussels? Well yes, they do wonderful things to my otherwise depressive state of mind.

 

Sugar-coated cranberries are beckoning to me for cocktails, or pies, tarts, or a sweet addition to a cheese and cracker plate. And the act of coating them in sugar is cathartic.

 

Hi, bananas! You are too sweet and spotted, warm and too tender by default. And I love you. Let me make you into banana bread? Fried bananas maybe? I’m gonna take yer tender little body and turn it into an adult. IN A NON-SEXUAL WAY, DUH.

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here, piggy piggy

2 Nov

Ugh, this new wordpress formatting is driving me bonkers. But hey, I’ve made something you might like!  BEHOLD,  HALLOWEEN MASTERPIECE! (And I guess Hailey looks pretty cute, too)

 

I felt like a total creep looking up photos of pork cuts and translating them onto my drawing of a human… but it had to be done. FOR SCIENCE. And for the love of god, the PUFFY PAINT! ALL CAPS EXCITEMENT ENSUES.

 

I may have been the only butchered pig on the block, but I definitely wasn’t the only bacon. AWESOME. Please note my awesome photoshop skills I employed to block out their eyes, since I don’t know if these folks wanted to be on my blog and I don’t wanna get yelled at. That’s called friendship. I had a lot of fun making this costume, so even if I’ve been a complete slacker being productive in all aspects of my life lately, at least I now know what on the human body would be deemed a “shoulder butt.” Plus I was toasty warm on the jaunts between bars… in far better condition than the throngs of tottering hot nurses and the like. Kay, so maybe no one thought I was buy-you-a-drink-worthy, but that’s what my BOYFRIEND IS FOR. Take that, universe.

 

Pork and Tomatillo Stew!

7 Oct

As promised I made Ruth Reichl’s pork and tomatillo stew last night, and as predicted, it pretty much cured all ills. Well, besides my lingering hell-cough, but it DID improve my mood.

 

AN ASIDE: Please notice my classy new IKEA runner in the background. It is intended for Christmastime, but I DON”T CARE. And I finally got rid of all my mismatched crazy grandma inspired (but not in a good way) plates and bought plain white ones. What. A. Relief. All that paisley and stone-print was making me feel less than stellar about my life. I’m serious. 

Moving on!

I am far too lazy to write the recipe, but it involved plenty of dark beer, orange juice, and far more cilantro than you’d imagine. After you’ve added a ton of white onion, browned pork cubes, jalapenos, black beans and softened tomatillos… and I am a happy soup eater.

When it rains it pours.

5 Oct

Today I received a phone call from my boss informing me that the sprinklers had gone off this morning and I should probably just stay home since the kitchen was a mess. I was happy to do so, since I’m fairly certain I have bronchitis and no one had been able to cover my shifts for the past two days so it seemed appropriate for me to stay home and rest today. After a couple hours of wasting time (i.e. googling furry tattoos and making barf noises to my roommate, watching 30 rock, etc.) I decided to head to the store for stew supplies. I’ve been reading Ruth Reichl’s book Tender at the Bone (which is excellent) and wanted to follow her recipe for pork and tomatillo stew. After stocking up on all the necessities I thought it might be a good idea to swing by work since it’s on my way home.

A coworker had taken an hour and half off my closing shift yesterday by stepping in for me so I could head home early (again: not feeling well!) and I thought I would drop off a nice 22 of IPA to say thank you. When I arrived I tried to dodge the line and head straight to prep and scoot outta there before anyone noticed me, but OH MY GOD BACKFIRE CENTRAL. My boss wasn’t pleased to see me there… even moreso after what happened next. I handed the IPA to my coworker, which he slipped into his apron pocket… which happened to have a gaping hole in the bottom. The glass shattered everywhere, beer poured all over the floor, and another boss of mine came flying around the corner exclaiming (without much sympathy) IS THAT BEER!? Understandably it didn’t look good, so I tried to explain that I’d brought it by as a thank you gift while I hurried down the hallway to grab a mop. While he swept up the glass I pushed the mop and tried to quickly rid the kitchen of the beer smell when my boss (Original Boss… I know, it’s confusing… I am underling to many!) came back and asked what in the hell I was doing. By now I was completely embarrassed to even be there and blurted, “I tried to help but I just made it worse.” She advised me to GET. OUT. and I did so, leaving all the fire sprinkler residue, beer smell, and chaos behind me. So now I’m here at home, with an intense feeling of failure and a persistent rattling in my chest, watching the rain and vowing that I MUST MAKE PORK SOUP. If anything can fix today, it is pork, my failsafe cure-all.

Oh, and P.S… I had another article published today in Cascadia Weekly! I’m happy with the article, and online the photo looks decent. Unfortunately the photo looked pretty crazy in print, possibly a printing error? Either way I’m happy that it made it in and I can make a few bucks here and there with food reviews.

P.P.S I think the universe is trying to smote me. While attempting to upload another photo to this blog the whole computer went haywire and I had to force quit everything. Luckily it saved the blog draft…but I better just publish this before I get struck by lightning or something. Also, my cell phone is possessed, but that’s another story. Onwards…. TO PORK!

Jealous of my own creation

16 Sep

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but seriously. This cake… whoa. This cake has built an empire in my imagination because I didn’t eat ANY OF IT. So I can only imagine how lovely it was. And as long as we’re forced to imagine it’s greatness, I might as well assume it was the best. Thing. Ever.

My pal at work asked me to bake a cake for our friend’s lowkey surprise birthday gathering, so even though I had plans to galavant around San Juan Island, I agreed to make it anyhow. I almost got really lazy and thought, “I’m not even going to be there…and no one will even notice if I buy the mix!” But honestly THAT’S NEVER TRUE and I wasn’t doing much that day besides watching Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares on netflix, so… it’s not like I was swamped or anything. As usual I turned to Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, because it is my bible and I trust every word it says. Some serious pan flouring, egg white whipping, and chocolate melting later, here we were.

 

The only problem was that I had to drop off the cake in the morning since I was leaving for the island in the afternoon, and by 10 am the strawberries were all I’M TIRRRRRED and plopping off the cake left and right. Refrigerating it seemed to make it worse, but luckily C thought of toothpicks (toothpicks? Really, I couldn’t have thought of that? STUPID.) to hold the berries in place until the evening. Everywhere the strawberries fell they left a trail of gooey chocolatey slime, which actually tasted amazing but was hell to look at… nothing some paper towel couldn’t take care of. Realistically this cake was probably “good!” but I’m going to go ahead and assume that everyone’s reaction upon taking the first bites of my cake were, “HOLY BALLS I NEVER TASTED ANYTHING SO MAGICAL IN MY LIIIIIIFE!” Here’s hopin’.

on the express train to slackertown

10 Sep

Dear blog,

I’m sorry, but all I can offer is this photo of donuts. DONUTS!

I am monumentally failing at blogging this month/summer in general, but whatever. I’m busy. And currently procrastinating when I’m supposed to be writing about donuts for the Weekly. While I’m stoked to be getting freelance work, it’s bizarre to have to sit down and be like NOW I’M WRITING! It’s like I’m in college! And let’s be real, that was TWO WHOLE YEARS AGO and now I’ve forgotten everything I knew about structure, timelines, and the the vast majority of my math and science classes. Luckily I haven’t encountered a moment in my post-collegiate life when I’ve actually needed the latter two. Score! But for now, I’ll pour a whiskey coke, strap on my headphones and bust this article out because I NEED MONEY. Oh, and legit portfolio (and to become fabulously wealthy off my wit– HA.) Working on that…now.

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