Monday, February 29, 2016

My living hell, Unexpectedly Eating Gluten Free

     My blog is going to take a slightly different turn. Just after Christmas this year, I came down with awful muscle and joint pain, daily migraines, nausea, it's completely awful.  I am now traveling down the road of doctors, specialists, chiropractor's and homeopaths.  As of right now, we have no idea what I have. We do have suspicions as to what it might be.  Until I know, I am going to call this the "invisible disease".  This "invisible disease" has all of a sudden rendered me gluten intolerant.  So the comical edge that I used to present in my regular postings will now be about my chef husband and myself, about discovering the world of gluten free.
     If you ever want to drive your chef nuts...tell him you have to eat gluten free. I swear the color drained from his face when I said this.  He has cooked gluten free at the restaurant many times and done well with it. In his home.... that's just an atrocity.  I was in a lot of pain and couldn't eat anything. I would eat my normal meals and be couch ridden the next day.  So, out of curiosity I stopped eating my usual carbs (I am a huge carbaholic) bread, pasta, etc.. The next day, I didn't feel so bad. Okay.... so I continued that way for a few days and I got a little better each day.  I then went out for a Valentine's Day dinner with my kids and parents. I salivated over the beef wellington and ate quite a bit. The next day, I was couch ridden.  I went another three days carbless then, I ate a bowl of spaghetti with my boys (my vice), again I was couch ridden the next day.
     I have now cut 90% of gluten out of my diet. The only gluten that would still be there is the sneaky kind that is still in your food from processing.  I have felt so much better and I'm getting creating with spaghetti squash and other veg I would never have entertained. I will confess one evening my children and husband had some crusty bread with their dinner (I am trying to get them to consume the last of it). There was one slice left on the plate, I am rather embarrassed to say, I ripped the crust off and licked it just for the taste, before promptly throwing it out. I think I now know what it is like for a smoker to stop smoking.
     Is it pricier to eat this way... Oh hell yes!  However I'm adjusting.  For an entire weekend, chef wanted to help and started baking up a storm. Gluten free brownies, brussel sprout chips, roasted brussel sprouts, quinoa rice. There was no way I was going to be able to eat all of it even if I gorged. I find with the nausea I'm eating much smaller portions.  The chourico, and lentil soup was really pretty good. As frustrating as this process is for me, I do get some amusement from watching chef try to figure it out too. He posted on Facebook about how much it stressed him out. He actually got condolences from his other chef friends. It kind of was like a death for us, it was sudden and unexpected but we knew it was for the better.  I was angry, sad, just plain sucked.
     Slowly I bought each of the many flours you need to make a gluten free all purpose flour.  They can be quite expensive and each one has its own function. I had finally bought a new kitchen scale to measure out the flour as that is very important. I then went to get my basket of flours. In his haste, chef forgot to seal the top of the potato starch bag.  As the basket slipped from my hands, I dropped the basket and the impact caused the bag of potato starch to POOF into the air like a cleverly set trap from Home Alone.  I was covered head to waist in white potato starch.  I could have gotten a job as a ghost in the Haunted Mansion at Disney World. My oldest son's eyes were as big as saucers as he looked at me covered, waiting to see my reaction.  It wasn't until I laughed that he knew it was safe. So here we go on a new journey...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

My chef has some down time

     Each slow season, my chef gets some time off. The restaurant shuts down for about a month. This happens just after leaf peeper season and what we call in New Hampshire, mud season. Mud season is exactly as it sounds.  Prepare for your children's boots to smell like a cat box, no matter what you do to clean them and may contain a worm or two.
     There is a very predictable pattern that my husband has when he has time off. The first few days, he does nothing, absolutely NOTHING. You will be lucky if he changes his sweatpants. He will develop a mean stubble that will irritate everyone's face and he will eat any crud you put in front of him. After a day of stomach aches, he begins to cook for us, but claims there's nothing in the house to cook. Keep in mind this is after you observe a pantry closet that is half full and you restrain yourself from saying, "Figure it out!" The most unbearable question you will hear, after you've worked a full day and STILL have to pick up the children, "What do you want for dinner?" To which, I will head scream "YOU'RE THE CHEF!!!"
     The second phase is cleaning. What do chefs do when they don't have a kitchen to clean? They clean the house. PLEASE, learn to capitalize on this phase especially in regards to bathrooms. They will most likely rearrange the living room (twice), kitchen and possibly the basement.  In the beginning of our marraige, chef wanted my help (labor) to move things. After the fifth rearrangement I said, "This is your OCD thing not mine, if you want to rearrange three times in one month, you do it!" Listen to that piece of advice, you will save yourself from an unnecessary trip to the doctor's with a pulled back muscle.  Prepare to see a trash bag full of expired spices, various specimens from the fridge and that funky no name chocolate that everyone gets at Easter but no one eats, unless it's your time of the month and the only chocolate left.  Once, I had a very entertaining afternoon tipping over the decorative pillows on our couch for a total of yes, 13 times before he realized I was doing it on purpose. I really had a good laugh from that one. Thankfully, he laughed too. Unfortunately this will be short lived because in their mind they've done it perfectly and you can't top that. You will also take many trips to the volunteer bin with clothing that chef has expunged from his side of the closet which is frankly suffocating yours.  All chef pants will either be too stained, too short, too long, too thin or just old.  We have one rule in my house, the bedroom is sacred. I don't care how much of a sh hole it may look, don't touch my space! The next phase is rather difficult to weather. 
     The third phase is cleaning anger.  This is when chef starts accusing everyone in the household of never putting anything away where it belongs, undoing all of his/her hard work.  This is particularly aggravating because even if you leave one dirty knife in the sink, it's like you've left a sink full of dishes complete with molding food on it.  You may also observe that the minute you or your children try to do something relaxing, chef has something for you to put away. I'm not joking about this! Test this theory, you'll kick yourself for having never noticed. It all has to do with that mantra, "You have time to lean, you have time to clean." Tell your children to go outside and hide! This is when the criticisms start about your laundry routine, or lack there of.  At this point, the best thing to do is to suggest to chef, that he calls his buddies that he hasn't seen in six months as they are most likely torturing their spouses too. It will give you atleast two nights of rest.
     The fourth phase is probably THE most difficult to survive. After your chef has been home for about two weeks, they start to have all of the answers to run a perfect household. They think they are helping make YOU more efficient and have solved all of your child rearing issues. You will most likely get visions of giving your chef a swirly in the toilet or putting salt in their coffee or at the very least tossing eggshells in their omelet.  I truly think this is the hardest phase to keep yourself level headed. You start to feel insulted, incompetent, walked on... Remember most likely YOU are the one picking up the kids, attending PTA meetings, receiving the phone calls from school, sending the notes, cooking and shopping for the family, keeping the bills, appointments and play dates straight. I really think this whole phase comes from the guilt that chefs feel from not being at home to help because of the shifts that they work.  I have to keep telling myself, it makes him feel like he's contributing and that he can help improve our daily life.  Stock up on the wine, this phase is a long one and will most likely involve a "talk". It is very important that chef feels that he/she is taken seriously. If you don't take that advice to heart, I can't be held responsible for the argument that ensues later.
      The fifth phase is chef's longing to get back to work.  They start talking about new food trends or recipes they've discovered. By all mean, jump on this bandwagon!!! Chef becomes happier, making everyone happier and the last week to two weeks of chef's time off is very positive for the family.
     As strange as this post may sound, I have observed these phases time and time again over a 10 year marraige, so far. :) 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Curse of Ice Cream and Pizza

My chef and I have a theory. Keep in mind I wouldn't be posting this if it hadn't proven itself time and time again in the state that we live in.  When you see a restaurant add pizza (especially pizza delivery) and ice cream to their menu, beware they will fold in 6 months. Yes, there are restaurants that do specifically sell pizza and have right from the beginning, the same goes for ice cream. However, if it's a fine dining restaurant that has added both in the same week along with a wooden ice cream cone outside, that is not a good sign.

This looks like they are trying to make money, and fast!  How can a failing restaurant try to increase revenue without putting a very loud (we're desparate) ice cream sign outside their swanky establishment?  I think this is where the think outside of the box mentality comes into play. If there are certain items on your menu that sell well, then offer them for purchase in heat up at home pans.  I've seen a few sandwich shops do this and they do it well. Chances are if you're failing at that point, then you have staff standing around who can definitely be making these items. Compile these (dinner at home) meals on a sort of take out menu that is given to a customer at the end of their meal with their change. Yes servers out there... don't ask if they want change, JUST DO IT!!! A customer will be much more flattered if you don't bat an eye and just give people their change. Let them figure out the tip, they are the customer after all.

You say, but them I'm scaring people away from coming back. Well look buddy... at this point they're not enough people are coming in anyway. If they have the option of taking their favorites home to heat up on a busy night, good for you and for them. In a tourism focused state, what a great idea for people to order these meals from your restaurant, take them home and heat them up for their condo of 12 friends that they have come to ski with.

This outside of the box mentality will truly help you and prevent you from the screaming ice cream sign (We're desparate!!).

Thursday, July 3, 2014

So You Want to Sell Your What?!

Chef has been baking biscotti since December. I call him the non-baker baker. Through trial and error he has taught himself how to bake. Using a family recipe, he has perfected a very forgiving recipe. Flavor experiments have come home some, maple walnut have been a huge hit. However other flavors, like watermelon weren't so good.
Our boys who are now 4 and 7 love when daddy bakes biscotti at work because it means they get the "butts" of the biscotti loaves.  My husband has decided that he wants to start selling his biscotti as a means to save money for a deposit for his first restaurant.  Pretty ingenious I think.  Being a librarian I tend to help with the research part of it. Librarian's are resourceful with research, borderline OCD/stalkers.  If we can't find what we needs we think of a millions ways around it to get our answer.
Last night was the initial "Oh Boy, this is really going to become a reality." My thought was "You'd better find a way to sell the butts or I am going to gain a lot of unwanted weight!!!" It's carb heaven or hell whichever way you choose to look at it.  The problem is his biscotti is damn good!!! I favor the dunk it in your coffee and eat it approach.
What is in a name? Unfortunately, chef wanted to involved the children's names. OK well that gives us Sebriel, Gebastian. Let's try intials well it'll either be SCS (sucks) or GSS (gas). Let's think of nicknames we use, Little E, E, Chef, Narcisus, Ego.... maybe not.  In the end we did actually come up with a name based on another one of my husband's nicknames and a way to involve the kids in designing a logo. Hopefully the logo will be more appropriate than the picture that was sent home from school with a lady (anatomically correct) with a baby at her feet. Keep in mind we have two women in our family who are pregnant and I had just come home from a baby shower. (Try explaining that to a teacher!)
Next premises okay well we're mulling that one over and looking at our options. Not too thrilled about chef's suggestion that our kitchen needs to be cleaner if that's the direction we go in. Cleaner?! Maybe if he stopped collecting kitchen parephenalia I'd be able to put it all away! I did glance nearby to see how nearby the cast iron pan was to my hand.
Here's to entering unchartered water!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Will You Please Just Eat And Enjoy This Date!!!!!

     If you are married or attached to a chef then you definitely can relate to this entry.  Eric and I love going out to dinner. With that said, we can NEVER go out to eat without him picking apart the competition. It's not that he's negative about where we've chosen to go it's that he likes to see what other colleagues do right and wrong. Sometimes he can get a great idea from something he's eaten. Chances are they will compare the menu to their menu at work, laugh or make fun of descriptions, "dripping?!?! What do you mean dripping?! Like bacon fat?"
     Our anniversary was last week and we went out to eat.  When eating out with your chef you need to make sure you have their full attention about every five minutes. First, check the silverware and glasses. They will immediately pick up on whether they are not clean or polished. Make sure you ask a non yes or no question.  Something that makes them think. If you've truly lost them because they are too busy trying to figure out what the table next to you is eating, then say something like "You're shirt is on fire." or "I think Gordon Ramsay would eat you alive." The reaction will definitely tell you what he has or has not heard. 
     Sometimes chefs can be rather selfish with their meal selections. Note: Many times they will only give you a taste of their meal because they don't like it or there is an ingredient that they haven't decoded yet and they need someone else's palate for analysis.  They especially will not share dessert good luck if you try to take a bite and don't get your hand slapped with a spoon. 
      You need to figure out if you would rather them hate their meal, because if they do like it then they see this place as competition. Now is when they will ask you, "How does it compare to my food?", "Do you taste the fennel in that?". They actually become excited and jealous that there is competition.
    The only exception to the above statements is if you go to a fair. Then count on them ordering the biggest messiest item they can find and love it! For example yesterday we were at a beach boardwalk and my chef ordered an italian sausage loaded with onions and peppers. You are most likely better off having dinner at home, at a boardwalk, or hotdog stand.

Monday, April 29, 2013

How to Support your Chef

     So what do you do when your chef leaves a restaraunt for a new one or faces challenges that is pushing limits that they've never met before?  Support, you've got to be their support.  My chef started working at a new resort Christmas Day and has been loving it. There's nothing like seeing your chef cooking the type of food that they love! Chefs always complain about wanting to work a "normal" 9-5 job.  Most can't do that and I'll explain why.  They're adrenaline junkies. They love the pressure for some reason they thrive on fast paced, instense situations.  If or when they do get that 9-5 job, they don't like it. It's too easy, boring  blah blah blah. I'd rather have my husband complain about being slammed and the ticket printer almost overheating from too many orders than complaining about not having anything to do.
      This leads to where we are at now. My hubs will be managing a restaraunt that has its challenges. He's really excited about this challenge I might add.  In our house we have this rule, if you're stressed you can have your little freak out but, you then have to pick yourself up and say okay what needs to be done and let's make a plan of attack. This started when my husband was a server. Servers almost always are sat more tables than they can handle, especially good servers.  Nothing ticks me off more than seeing one server have to take care of a ten table dining room by themselves.  I just want to look at the management and say either help them out or give them more money because you just screwed your server out of tips.  The more tables you get the worse the service becomes for the other tables. This in turn causes longer waits for food, blah blah, blah and you have an avalanche on your hands. When hubs would be sat too many tables there was always a point that he would get overwhelmed and couldn't give perfect service.
     What do you do? STOP EVERYTHING THAT YOU ARE DOING!!! BREATHE! Now ask yourself what needs to be done? 1 needs Drinks, Food is up for 2 and 4, 3 needs ketchup, 5 hasn't ordered yet. Sometimes this list can reach up to 10 if you have that many tables.  After you figure out what needs to be done figure out what's the most efficient way I can do this. It may involve asking someone to help you. THAT's OKAY!!!!! If management is picking their nails and tells you no, they don't deserve their salary!!! Point blank I'm putting it out there. You respect the managers that help or wouldn't ask you to do something you wouldn't do yourself. Yes I know, this post is sounding a little soap boxish.  Once you have figured out how you're going to get it done, do it!  Flip outs and tears do nothing for you. They suck all of the energy that you could be using to say to yourself, what, how and then do.
      This is a wonderful way to handle a lot of stressful situations.  A friend recently told me, I don't know how true it is, that some psychologists are taking a tough love approach. There is something to be said for that. You always have to keep yourself moving forward.
      Going back to the original paragraph hubs and I are taking this approach to his new venture. You had your flip now what needs to be done. After almost ten years of marraige this has worked the best for him.  Lists are involved, lots of lists. Organizing, Prioritizing and Planning. Break it down for them if they can't see beyond the immediate situation. You are their voice of reason. That's what is absolutely wonderful about being someone who doesn't work with them or in a restaraunt. This is when you are at your best!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

County Fair Adventures

     So this past weekend was our favorite fair. It's chock full of fun. We paced ourselves and even had a little break and let the boys go nuts in all of the leaves that had scattered the park. It has everything, livestock barns, crafts, 4H competitions performers, tractor pulls, fair rides and sooo much more. Eric got to go for the first time in three years. This is a big time tradition in our family. The one thing that attracts us more than anything is fair food. Moderation is okay right? Once a year to me is moderation to enjoy all of it's greasy goodness.
      We could not make a decision on what we wanted. Soup in a bread bowl, Buffalo Burger, BBQ brisket, Burgers, hot dogs, fried everything, chili, bbq chicken, really huge turkey drumsticks.  It came down to Italian sausage sub for Eric and a buffalo burger for me, hot dog for Gabe and cheeseburger for Sebastian.  We passed the giant eclairs and our decisions were mostly because we didn't want to be too full for later. 
     We stayed till the very end of the day for the dessert auction. Now this is one thing we have never been to.  Everyone who is interested gathers around the vegetable competition barn and out of the small door at the end the auctioneer walks outside with a microphone.  All money collected is donated to the local food pantry so it all goes to a good cause. All entries and winners are auctioned off.  There are bread, pies, cookies, cakes, tarts, homemade granola it is truly amazing. There are junior and adult cake decorating competitions the entries looked like something from a cake competition you would see on Food Network.
     At this point in the day the boys had had it, they were exhausted! Eric was salivating and I was just curious. The first thing we bid on and won were homemade donuts. These were gone two days later. You really get into the fun of bidding, even if you don't win you start to develop a strategy. Bid for a dollar less than you think your limit is. Simply put the auctioneer always gets you before you say Uh oh I didn't mean to bid. Too late and he knows it!  The boys started coming out of their fair coma when they saw orange cakes that looked like Halloween graveyards and a one that had a fondant fisherman sitting on a bridge fishing in a pond.  We then won a homemade multi-grain bread that looked incredible. Since the auction I'm the only won who's been eating it.
     Then came the cookies. well Eric is REALLY into peanut butter. I can't ever buy a small jar because it'll be gone in one sitting with a spoon.  Out comes peanut butter and jelly picnic cookies. The cookie itself looks like a slice of bread but the peanut butter and jelly are baked in between the "slices". Eric salivated so badly his hand went up before the bidding even started. By this time we had begun a box of goodies the donuts, bread and now the cookies. I was enjoying myself having fun till all of a sudden the love of my life was placed on the auction block. A rather large Swiss chocolate cream pie with homemade whipped cream and chocolate shaving. My heart palpitated and I was a goner.  Needless to say I won this pie and my empty plate is sitting right next to me as I type this. Eric told me on the way home, that my eyes had bugged out my jaw hit the floor and he knew it was over from there. There was no way I was going home without that pie!
     The pie was a blue ribbon winner at the fair and in my stomach!!