Friday, November 20, 2009

FriFrags: Crazy Days Are Here Again!

Meet Luigi. He's sort of a kitchen mascot...not so much as the dog, but Luigi's been in at least three different kitchens with us, so he's been through a lot with us. I'm using him as my blog intro today, because we're now into Big Food Season around here.


So, around here, food starts with Miss Chef. She has been delivering all kinds of interesting news to me lately. These tidbits usually are handed out after 10:00 at night, when I'm headed to, or already in, bed, and Miss Chef has just come home from work.

Such as, "Chef Charles called me, and wants me to work as many hours as I can this week." Chef Charles is the boss at her THIRD job. So now Miss Chef's schedule looks something like this:

10 am -5 pm (or so): Bosky Acres Farm

8 am to 2 pm: Chef Charles or Bosky Acres (alternating)
3 pm to 10 pm (or 11...or 12): Restaurant

7-12: Farmers' market (she's running the Bosky Acres booth this week)
2-11 (or 12...): restaurant

possibly Chef Charles
clean and rearrange house for Thanksgiving
Oh, and Chef Adam invited us for dinner

Wheeeee!! In the meantime, my own day job is hiking up the overtime again; we've lost a member of our department, so we'll be carrying an extra load for the next month or so. Which means while Miss Chef is at the Matthews market Saturday morning, I'll be swinging by the other market before heading into the office. I swear I could work a full 8 hours and still be half a day behind. It's gonna be a bit tough, but man oh man, the overtime sure will make this a better holiday season than we've had in many a year!


Speaking of holidays...I have GOT to share our upcoming Thanksgiving plans with you all! Remember those little tidbits of interesting news Miss Chef has been delivering? Well, many of them have started with "Oh, I invited...".

In September, we invited my parents to come up and stay for Thanksgiving. They did the holiday with us a couple of years ago, and we had a lovely, relaxed Thanksgiving in our little home. This year I've finally got that Friday off--hooray!--so I was looking forward to several lazy days sitting around the living room.

But I have since learned that Miss Chef has a whole other idea of the ideal Thanksgiving. And it involves cooking. A lot. For a lot of people.

You see, the whole Christmas-New Year's holiday season is a mad marathon for her. Not only does Chef Charles start calling (he runs a catering business), but it's the busiest time of year at the restaurant; this is what keeps the place in the black during the summer doldrums. Reservations, special weekend dinners with singers, office parties and catering jobs have already started to pile up. So by the time Miss Terra gets a day off, it's December 25th, and her main objective is the couch.

Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is still within the relatively normal time of year. And, being who she is, Miss Chef can't pass up the opportunity to do what she loves best: feed people.

At this point, I think there will be 16 of us sitting around two tables in our living room. We're already making plans to move out the couches and place side tables strategically around the room, to hold hors d'oeuvres and drinks. Have I mentioned our house is only 1300 square feet?

But that's nothing, compared to the strategic planning Miss Chef has already started:

Apparently, this is how the professionals do it. On the left, the menu, which includes two kinds of stuffing, two kinds of potatoes, at least four vegetables, and I'm afraid to count up the desserts. The middle is a double column of ingredients, which will inevitably be broken down into shopping destinations: two different farmers' markets, the grocery store, and our own back yard. The final column is tasks: brine turkey Wednesday; shave brussels sprouts Tuesday; etc. I think it's hilarious she's also included "roast turkey--Thursday." As if she'd forget.

Now, she is delegating out several things: Chef Adam will be in charge of wine--hooray! He and his wife are very good at wine! Another friend will probably bring a small ham (can only fit so much into a single oven). And of course, my mother is more than happy to act as prep cook. She and Dad will be at our home all day Wednesday with neither of us to entertain them. And Mom loves making pies.

Phew! Last night I finally told Miss Chef I was feeling a little bulldozed from a quiet 4-person holiday to this open house of a feast. That's when she explained her feelings about Thanksgiving, and how important it is to her. So I simply asked her to check with me next year before inviting yet another family--I'm quite sure I'll let her do whatever she wants, but I can at least pretend some of it was my idea, right?


Now, with all this Thanksgiving prep, overtime at work, worrying about whether Miss Chef will survive the next month and a half, and fussing over Poor Rosie being alone for 10 hours almost every day, I'm not at all surprised I've been a little tense lately. I think I've done a damn good job of holding my rising panic/frustration/foreboding sense of impending disaster in check. But y'know, sometimes you just gotta have a release. And sometimes, it's not when you planned it.

Last Tuesday night I knew I was going to be busy after I got home from work. I had to lesson plan, make sure Rosie got a nice long walk, and cook up the thawed sausage Miss Chef hadn't gotten to on Monday. And try to get to bed before ten.

I was on the dog walked, came back and started the computer for lesson planning, then got into the kitchen and started pulling ingredients out of the fridge.

And then...I hit the pantry.

Our pantry is a small closet in the kitchen, just the width of the door that covers it, and less than three feet deep. Needless to say, it is too small for someone with Miss Chef's food interests. So we make do; every couple of months one of us gets a bug and tries to organize it. But I get fussy when Miss Chef does it, because she's more interested in stacking things tight, while I try to make sure the more commonly-used items are in front of the Certo pectin we use once a year.

Well, as I was looking for pasta, I discovered two things: one, we only had a half box of mini shells, and two...GODDAMMIT, WHY THE *BLEEP* IS THIS *BLEEP*ING *BLEEP* IN HERE...WE'VE GOT *BLEEP*ING TORTILLAS IN HERE, AND SHE JUST WENT AND BOUGHT MORE!! THIS *BLEEP* DOESN'T BELONG WITH THE PASTA!


Well, I also found out that I can throw a bag of popcorn kernels further than a package of cellophane noodles. And Rosie found out that sometimes the living room is the place to be when Mom #1 is cooking.

But never fear! After I settled on making do with my half-box of shells, I remembered reading in more than one place of home cooks who enjoy their time in the kitchen as a stress reliever. You know, sharp knife, chop-chop-chop. Well, I thought, I guess I should do that. Either that, or just check into the hospital now, so I'll be there when the aneurysm hits.

So I emulated the cooks. I channeled all my anger into cutting, tossing, sautéing. I had at that onion; cut right through that pesky sausage skin; reduced that pepper into bits with my knife. I didn't stop to worry whether I should cook the sausage in two batches; whether the onions were cooked down enough...I just tossed the shit together and let it fly (or fry, hee hee).

I felt like Miss Chef, actually. My cooking was a step more aggressive than usual, and I knew as I was doing it, that it was going to work. My anger made me stop second-guessing myself, which was just as good as greater confidence at the stove. I wasn't afraid of the salt and pepper, and when I realized I needed another flavor, my single-minded drive allowed me to stop dithering and just grate some fresh parmesan.

And voila!

Hmm...well, it looked a lot better in person. And dammit, it tasted good. A coworker tasted some that I brought for lunch, and was amazed I made something as good as Miss Chef!

Oh, and Alix? Notice the veggies? Three kinds, thank you very much!


Finally, before I go, I just wanted to share a new dish Miss Chef tried out. I'd heard about it during my years studying French, and then we watched the Québec episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. It looks disgusting, but sounds delicious: it's poutine!

What the heck is poutine? Well, I'd say it's a great way to battle the elements. It is a plateful of french fries smothered in gravy and covered with cheese curd. This is probably not authentic; we used cheddar cheese curds from Trader Joe's; who knows what kind of cheese curds the Québecois had at hand when this dish was born?

Anyway, we both liked it, though it would have been better if we'd assembled it before the fries cooled down. However, we still have about a cup of cheese curds, and I'm not sure exactly what we're going to do with it.

Alright, I'll let you go now! May you all have delicious Thanksgivings filled with love, good feelings and plenty of tryptophanic naptime.


  1. Do you have room for one more on Thanksgiving :-) The food sounds amazing!!!!

    And I love Luigi. Great Mascot!

    Happy weekend.

  2. Yay! The girl is eating her veggies!! Woot woot.

    And your dish looks scrumptious in that photo... what are you even talking about it looked better in person? But I do so hope you are using whole wheat pasta. Gotta get all the fibery goodness you can, chica.

    That poutine stuff? Ick. Sorry. I was already hating it as soon as you said Anthony Bourdain. He creeps me out. But cheese curd on fries with gravy even trumps Anthony Bourdain and his ashtray mouth.

    On a brighter note - your Thanksgiving plans sound marvy. You are going to enjoy having a houseful of folks. Sure it will be a lot of work, but it will be worth the effort. Wish I could come.

    Have a fabulous holiday. Think of my when you bite into that luscious turkey leg.

    Either that, or just check into the hospital now, so I'll be there when the aneurysm hits.

  3. Joanna-I'm thinking we should sell tickets for next year, maybe!

    Alix-Actually, yes, we switched to whole-wheat pasta years ago. We both even prefer the heartier taste, especially with spaghetti. That was an easy one!

  4. Wow! I'll bet your 16 people will morph to 22 by Thursday! We're having TG at my daughter's house with her husband and MIL cooking, me bringing stuff, and my brand new baby grandson probably sleeping through it all! His big brother is flying in tomorrow from WV and the 3 dogs will round it out. Wonder if I should take Emma, my cat, to join us?!!

    Nancy in Iowa

  5. I'm trying to figure out if we can't possibly swing by your place on our drive from Indy to Cincy... hmmmmm....

    You are crazy busy, lady!! Wow!!

  6. I'm back. I was mad at the world for a few days, but took some of my "special" pills and got over it.

    Not mad with my little world but the big universe outside of here.

    Yes, next year sell tickets and Mike and I are there.

    Alix, I'm a big Anthony Bourdain fan, read all his books, and love his TV shows.

    Sometime, I'd like to try deep-fried turkey.

  7. Joanna--I'm glad the pills worked! I missed your little world!

    Yeah, I keep saying I want to try deep-fried turkey one day; maybe next year Miss Chef will invite enough people that we'll need two whole birds!


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