Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On vegan/ vegetarianism.

Where do I begin on this subject. 

I eat meat. I love meat. I have 12 pictures of Kobe beef I ate at work the other day that almost brought me to tears by how delicious it was. )If you get the chance, REALLY get the chance, just take a bite. Make sure it is REAL Kobe beef. As a jumping off point, it sells wholesale at about $97/ lb. Those $12 Kobe beef sliders are not the real thing.)

I am slowly starting to have morality issues with the consumption of meat. It is not about killing animals because I believe that if done humanely, that is something the human race has done for a long, long time. 

I have no problem with anyone going out and killing their own food. I have no problem with people going to a butcher (preferably with the animals out back) and purchasing food. I have a problem going to the grocery store and purchasing ground beef that is possibly full of pink slime and is most definitely full of water. 

As an experiment, find good quality meat. Whatever you like. Chicken, beef, pork, whatever. And by good quality I mean, look the person in the eye who killed the meat. Or at the very least know they looked that person in the eye. Farmers markets are you best hope. Put that piece of meat in a pan with oil, salt and pepper. Do the same with the stuff from the grocery store. The following will happen; the good meat will probably run out of oil. It will have a gamey flavor that will be off putting to you. It will probably not be as tender. The grocery store meat will lose a lot of water, leaving the bottom of the pan quite moist. It will have a very mild flavor, one that is quite familiar to you. It will more tender. Tender might not be the word I am looking for...animals that are allowed to truly free range will have a completely different flavor and texture than what you are used to eating. What I am used to eating. 

Chicken tastes like something. So does beef and pork. If you take a bite of chicken and a bite of pork and can't tell the difference, either you smoke two packs a day and suck on acid or you are buying really shitty meat. 

Let me clarify something here: I am not stating this from a high horse. I have a freezer full of really shitty meat. I am struggling to find a butcher I can conveniently get to AND afford. One that I can form a relationship with and trust. Because that is how it is supposed to be. 

I just wrote a two page essay on becoming a vegan where all I talked about is meat. It's not just about that. It's about the economic repercussions of eating meat. What it does to our environment. What it does to our food system. 

I have been trying to eat less meat, focusing on meat only one meal a day. I would like to eat more fish, but the boy is anti fish and frankly I am not sure that it is much better. 

I suppose that the conclusion I am coming to here is that I think about it a lot and I don't know what to think. 

Vegans spend a lot of time recreating "protein" from chemicals and I do not necessarily agree with that.

I could get on board with being vegetarian for the most part, making exceptions for proteins that I know are responsibly raised. 

I would then have to spend money on protein for the boy who would absolutely not be on board with this plan, so wouldn't I end up wanting a bite of his steak he is eating 2 feet away? We all know self control is not my strong point. 

Then there is the whole how do I do my job aspect of this decision. The easy conclusion is to just shut up and take a bite out of a cow, but I am not sure that is the decision my heard is leaning towards. 

I will never call myself a vegetarian. Or a vegan. Or any trendy food consumption title. And maybe that is where my struggle is. Maybe I just make the boy that grilled chicken and make myself something else. And see how that works for a while. Eat meat when it suits me but let the pressure go to eat it because everybody else is eating it around me. Or just eat it when the mood strikes me. 

Ugh. What are all of your views on meat consumption and humanely raised meat? I need some insight here.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Good Days Ahead

Today was a good day. It has been a while since I could say that without wanting to immediately follow it with "but.." and then complain about 12 things that are going wrong. 

Reading this blog has probably been much like reading angsty teen Eyore's blog after his girlfriend dumped him a week before prom. 

Sorry about that.

Today started out as any day in Ohio might. Snow storm. Cloudy. Rainy. Never ending train of semi trucks spraying sludge all over my windshield. 

Then we started playing with food at work. THIS IS WHAT I WAS MISSING. I have done almost zero of this. I have been mostly talking about playing with food. And fixing food that I don't give two shits about. Today I PLAYED WITH FOOD. And I made this, which I need a cool name for. It is a deconstructed Wellington, but the word deconstructed makes me stabby, so it can't be named that. Suggestions? It was delicious. 

Pretty food. It will have a micro green salad when it is for realsies. I would expect more pictures in the future. And yes that is the wall in the current restaurant; reason number 7568 I want the new restaurant to open.

Then this happened. I call it the hillbilly sous vide.

In other words  a bunch of plates and mugs holding down meat in a make shift sous vide that I built out of a steam well and immersion circulator. Because, DAMMIT, I was sous vide (ing?) some shit today.

And then this happened.

And it was the best march madness bracket in history. Yes, I did take Brat Pack and The Rachel to the end. And yes it was awesome.

Maybe today was a fluke, but I hope not. I am going to see it as a sign of things heading in the right direction. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013


I had this feeling it would end today. I can't really explain it, except to say that there was just a black cloud over me today. I just felt off. And I couldn't stop thinking about Sarah and her family. Everything reminded me of them. 

I was high on this news and getting my ass kicked at work. 

My favorite server ever walked in and immediately asked me about Sarah. I told her all the updates that I had and let her read the caringbridge update. 

I don't know how, but I knew it was going to be today. I just knew. 

Her suffering is finally over. As her mother put it, she is with the angels now. What their family is going through is beyond devastating. What that poor little girl went through is heart breaking. I am not going to go into details. 

I spent tonight planning my garden and watching The Walking Dead. I avoided. I admit it. I know I am going to breakdown. I know that at some point I am going to sob uncontrollably. I guess I am just really happy it is over. This poor little girl was in excruciating pain. She and her family have finally found peace. I can't imagine the grief.

I hugged the boy a little tighter. I didn't try to kill the cat with my mind. I snuggled the short dog. 

Hold those you love close. Life is short. And there is never too much love.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Today has been rough. I woke up this morning to a text from Big Jed telling me to check the Caring Bridge blog for my friend's daughter. They woke up this morning to her being unresponsive with seizure like activity. There is a DNR in place and I believe it is a matter of days. 

I never expected to watch people I love experience so much loss. I never expected to have to hug two friends and tell them I am so sorry they lost their children. 

I am not handling this well. Which feels so selfish. I want to be strong and doing things and fixing things and not sitting on my couch crying my eyes out texting Big Jed and feeling terrible because I know that this is probably hitting her harder than it is me. 

I feel shallow and stupid and selfish. I feel like I don't have a right to feel the way that I do because I have absolutely no idea what it is like to go through this. 

I spent all day paralyzed. I just sat on the couch and stared at the TV. I don't think I even realized what was wrong until I got up to get ready. I am grateful I had the day off work. 

Today is also the boys birthday. We attempted to go out to dinner and to a hockey game, but couldn't get in anywhere. So, we ended up eating at the arena to the tune of $40 (!!!) We are beyond broke right now and really could not afford it, especially since I threw most of mine out. It was disgusting. The boy didn't feel well and thinks he is coming down with something, so we left after the second period. 

I feel terrible that his birthday was such a bummer, but I just didn't have it in me today to go above and beyond to fix it. I am just so sad.

I am sitting here sobbing as the updates keep rolling in. I want nothing more than for her to be at peace, but I cannot bring myself to wish the end of a beautiful, strong, eight year old little girl. 

Nobody should have to face the loss of their children. Nobody should have to experience that kind of pain. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Boring house update for you...excitement for me!!

Guess what I did today?

The boy is ordering 2.5 tons (!!) of pea gravel and sand and digging out the garden next week. We are hoping for something along these lines as the end result, except with raised garden beds. And not so fancy of a path.

The plan was to do a bigger garden than this, but money just got out of control and we can't afford it. I plan to start seedlings for the early crops, like lettuce, in a few weeks. We are building a grow room in the cellar (yes, there were many jokes about this once we decided to do it) so that we can possibly keep some of the plants, specifically herbs, alive year round. We are going to use it initially to grow the seedlings and then figure it out from there. 

I will be posting in process pictures all next week. I AM SO EXCITED. Every seed listed above is an heirloom variety, meaning they are not genetically modified and were being grown prior to WWII. They are not commercially available, except recently at farmers markets. In other words,tomatoes that are so full of flavor and juice they explode in your mouth, as opposed to the mealy, flavorless, dry tomatoes you get at the grocery store.

I have never had a garden before. Or really had the follow through to keep much alive (plants, that is) for more than a few months. So, this is going to be a challenge.

On top of that, hooker is a landscape architect and is coming over to test our soil to see if we can grow herbs in the ground or need raised bed gardens for those as well. She is also landscaping our yard. For free. FREE. I am so excited to understand what plants I have and how to take care of them instead of just damage control on the 1800 mulberry trees that keep trying to grow. 

So be prepared for pictures and pictures and pictures as this all unfolds. Last summer was the year of keeping the yard under control...this year is making it look fucking bad ass. I can't wait!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Absence (kind of) Explained

Today easily makes the top five list of the worst days I have had working in restaurants.

Things aren't going that great at the new place. Part of the reason I haven't written in a while is two fold. I don't want to admit that I may have committed career suicide. And I don't want to bad mouth someplace that I work. I want people to want to come there to eat, someday. I don't want the people who know me IRL to shy away because of the stories I tell.

It's bad. Financially speaking, the restaurant is run like nothing I have ever seen. Precise is an understatement. They know where every single dime goes. Every single dime. It is perfection and I have a lot of respect for the work they put in to get it there. While they have been perfecting the books, they have completely ignored everything else. The food is subpar. In some cases terrible. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is done by my friend, the general manager. I am not even sure she is a necessary part of the operation because I have never seen her contribute a single thing to the restaurant. She literally walks around and talks to guests (to the point of annoying them) and hinders all progress everyone else tries to make. I have taken to just making decisions without her and telling her later. I don't even tell her sometimes, I just do it. Because she will just get this authoritative tone in her voice and tell me why I should or shouldn't make that decision. Most of what I have done she hasn't even noticed.

I have changed recipes, menu items. I place orders and change products. I pretty much do whatever the fuck I want and she has no idea. She is worthless. I like her, I do. She is a lot of fun. She is not a good person to work with, so for the sake of my career, I am simply going around her.

Yesterday I walked into the restaurant and saw a cockroach. Then I saw several more. I called the general manager, who didn't answer. I left her a message simply stating that I was going to call an exterminator and set up a monthly service. Somehow or another this had lapsed over time and nobody was treating them. Let me tell you one thing about restaurants...every single one gets a cockroach now and then. If anyone tells you different, they are lying. They come in on the trucks that bring food. They walk in the back door from dumpsters. It is impossible to keep them out of the restaurant if it is not getting treated regularly. EVERYONE KNOWS THIS. Yet, they had no treatment plan set up.

This morning I met the exterminator at the restaurant at 9 am. He walked around the restaurant spraying and at one point said to me, "Ma'am I really don't understand why you called me. I haven't seen a single cockroa.....oh, shit, found 'em!" And it was like someone opened the flood gates. They were EVERYWHERE. I am not sure if I have ever shared this here (ha!), but I am TERRIFIED of bugs. The top of that list is spiders. A close second is cockroaches. I FLIPPED THE FUCK OUT. I screamed and hid in the office. He said it was a very minor case (!!!) and that he only did a light spray because he didn't want them to scatter while we were open.

Cut to 11 am and we are killing cockroaches running up the walls. (I screamed EVERY SINGLE TIME I saw one.) I made the decision to close the restaurant. It is a small town, it would ruin us. I called in the staff and we cleaned the mother fucking shit out of that restaurant. 

General Manager? Went to lunch and got drunk. Other manager? Had the day off but had plans and couldn't come in. So I did what had to be done. We now have a monthly account with exterminators and far fewer cockroaches (as an idea of what is considered a "minor" infestation...I swept up about 200 dead cockroaches after he sprayed. We killed probably 100 more. There is no joking around with these fuckers.)

The restaurant is sparkling and there is now a new cleaning schedule that I will enforce. To the point that I am willing to fire people for not following it. I ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT let something like this happen again. And the staff is 100% behind me. The management? Not so much. Didn't seem to care. 

The boy said to me that this worried him about the new restaurant and my name being associated with it. To which I responded, why? I will be there and it will be my rules and my kitchen. Something like this will absolutely never happen again. Ever. The food will be perfection and the kitchen will be impeccable. I will settle for nothing less.

After all of this happened, I had to prep a hot breakfast for 120 people. Including drive time, it was a 12 1/2 hour day. 

I called the boy as I was pulling into the garage and we did a hazmat home entry where I pretty much undressed on our back patio. All of my clothes went DIRECTLY into the washing machine, shoes bleached and scrubbed and I went directly to a very hot, very welcoming, very soul cleansing shower.

All of the staff was grateful to me that this was finally getting taken care of. I found out today that the staff had known it was a problem for months. Several of them told me things were so much better since I started working there. 

I will fix this. I will make the current restaurant the best that I can and I will make the new restaurant phenomenal. I just have to hope that the long list of people who don't care stay out of my way. Because if taking this job was career suicide...I am not going down without a mother fucking fight.