What goes into the experience of being a chef? Depending upon whether you work privately or at a restaurant, many skills beyond simply "knowing how to cook" are required. Many TV reality shows that feature cooking spotlight some of the elements of the chef's panoply of skills / talents. I thought I'd outline many of them here, for easy reference.
First, there's The Kitchen.
Equipment: Knowledge / Familiarity; Use / Maintenance; Placement / Organization.
Layout / Flow Pattern: Pantry, Walk-in Fridge; Reach-in Fridge; Freeze; Deep-Freeze; Prep Stations; Garde-à-Manger / Service; Front of the House; Washing. ...etc.
Health: Product sealing / storage of foodstuffs.
Economic ordering; Seasonal ordering; Meal Planning with leftover-processing in mind; Date-marking of all foods.
Safety (High Hazard Potential)
2. Fire / Heat
3. Spills / Spatters
4. Emergency measures
Kitchen Comfort / Ergonomics / Mood:
Special flooring, stool(s), Music/sound, height/other adjustments. Special attire.
Teamwork: Roles, tasks, strengths/weakness
Supervision of employees: Many of whom are young, novices to work force/ethic.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: Getting it all out at the same time and the right temperature:
Computing starting time, employee arrival time, delineating and assigning all prep tasks to right staff and at the right time. Proper estimation of execution time, knowledge of cooking methods' time requirements and ingredients' responsiveness to those methods. Different service requirements of a meal's various components. Warming and waitstaff issues.
FRONT OF THE HOUSE: Psychology Will Take You Far.
Understanding that there is a particular psychology with respect to Restaurants.
You're dealing with Hunger, which affects the mind and behavior and feelings. You're dealing with Taste, which is a very personal matter. You're dealing with style and aesthetics of presentation of that food. Then there's atmosphere. A well managed Front will be flexible to time of day (differences between, say, a Rush- and a Fringe- hour) and will be staffed by sales people (wait staff) that are well-educated about the menu. A good chef must take the time to offer waiter tastings and explanations.
Plus: Here in America, "The Customer Is Always Right" is the order of the day. You want a manager on the floor who abides by that, ensuring that customers walk out happy, even enthusiastic. This requires a commitment to the Whole Experience, from the welcome greeting through Food, Drink, Music, Mood, Service to Farewell.
THEATRE: The curtain goes up. The front door opens. The door between Front and Back of the House is thin but ever-present. The audience is "out there", though every now and again a customer will want to see the chef. One must be ready and happy to interact with him/her.
I'm not addressing the Food itself here. But having backup dishes and knowing how to materialize great food under urgent conditions, should these arise (and they will, they will) is a priceless skill to have. Think: Readiness to feed the 5000.
Restaurant Psychology stands the chef or restaurant manager in good stead for just about any interpersonal challenge life can hand one. Expectations around Food AND Retail AND Theatre are very, very high; people can be intense under the combined circumstances.
Restaurant work is stressful for the chef: Too much so for many. Some of us found certain areas wherein we tended to be blessed with miracles time and time again. For me, every night was full of these.
There are a number of those Reality Shows on TV. Chefs and ex-chefs watch them with a certain amount of relish and/or nostalgia for the crises and challenges we've faced and surmounted as a matter of course, as part-and-parcel of the job.
That said, we are still artists and care most of all about the food and - for me - the soulful, human enjoyment of it.
I hope this has conveyed some sense of what professional cooking entails. Kin'a makes you glad you're in your own kitchen, creating beautiful, healthful (diet-compliant?) leisurely meals for yourself and maybe a few others?
When I was first hospitalized last year (before I knew I had Lyme disease) my brother was very concerned, helpful, and generous. The trouble started after the diagnosis. He started out by being confrontational and argumentative. What kind of test did I have done? Did it show actual bacteria in my blood? What kind of treatment am I getting? Am I seeing an MD? I just presented the facts as I knew them and described my treatment. He was really alarmed that I was going with an herbal approach as opposed to a traditional antibiotic treatment. His voice was raised, his face turned red, and his arguments seemed muddled and contradictory to me. He kept saying that I had to understand he’s a man of science… But, I thought, oh well he’s just over reacting because he’s really worried about me. But the tension just got worse between us.
In case you don’t know, recovering from Lyme disease (and its co-infections) is very complicated and most people feel a lot worse before they feel better. Once your body starts to fight off the bugs you really start having a lot of symptoms. I’ve had the worst pain of my life as well as extreme fatigue, fuzzy thinking, and trouble with most of my organs. So whenever he saw me I’m sure I didn’t look like I was getting better. In fact, it might have looked to him like I was getting worse.
The last time I saw him was at my mother’s death bed in January. We never talked about my illness, but every time I said anything he snapped at me. One day he just started yelling at me about something and it ended badly. He made it clear that he wanted no further communication with me. So, I haven’t talked to him since the funeral.
How could anyone be so angry about another’s choice of treatment or lifestyle? He’s always thought my diet was strange, I can’t imagine what he thinks now. There’s nothing I can do or say, so in a way it’s easy. But I miss him so much! He used to be my good friend as well as my brother. We’ve always disagreed about things but just let each other be. I just hope someday he comes calmly back into my life again.
Traditional wisdom says that weight is directly related to calories. If you take in more calories than you burn off; then you gain weight. If you burn off more calories than you take in; then you lose weight. I have never found that to be true for myself.
When my Honorable Husband and I were first married we were together all the time. We ate the same things; we worked at the same office; we socialized and exercised together. He stayed trim and lean with no effort at all. I struggled to keep from gaining weight.
I remember one night in particular preparing a dinner of spaghetti, salad and garlic bread. He ate a heaping plate of noodles topped with homemade meat sauce, a big salad, and two pieces of garlic bread. I poured meat sauce over my salad and thought, “This is NOT fair.”
The memory of that evening was one of the things that made it so easy for me to accept the Blood Type Diet and the reality that wheat and Type Os are irreconcilable enemies.
Another event occurred last week that reaffirms my doubts about traditional wisdom and calories.
The ladies in our Bible Study class decided to have a salad luncheon on Saturday. I took a turkey salad made with apples, craisins, and walnuts. That way I knew that the Type Os, including myself, would get plenty of protein. I had expected that there would be lots of green salads, and maybe a fruit salad or two.
Boy, was I wrong. There was one green salad, one fruit salad, and one tuna salad. All of the other salads were beautiful gelatin salads loaded with sugar, whipped cream, fruit, and…calories. Except for one plate of crackers, there was no wheat in the room.
I decided that while too much sugar is bad for anyone, sugar is not avoid. I stayed away from the crackers but I tried every one of those gorgeous salads. The recipes may have said salad, but they all tasted like dessert to me.
If I eat so much as a cookie or one piece of pizza, the very next morning my scale will tell me that I’ve gained 3 pounds. Those three pounds (a direct result of a small amount of wheat) will stay with me for 2-3 days.
The morning after eating all that sugar, I got on the scale with fear and trembling. I hadn’t gained any weight. The next morning I got on the scale again thinking that perhaps it took 36 hours for the sugar to circulate around looking for a fat cell to latch onto. But again my weight was stable.
I’m sure if I ate that much sugar every day, week in and week out, that I would gain weight. However, if I ate that much sugar every day, I would begin to have other health problems that would be a worse than my jeans fitting too tight.
Reality for me is in the Type O Little Book. My weight loss key is “wheat, corn, navy beans, lentils, cabbage and dairy.” Wheat is listed number one. Traditional wisdom can say what it will, but BTD trumps calories in this Type O body.
One more story from the luncheon. There was a reading basket in the bathroom, and right on top was one of the BTD Little Books. I asked our hostess if she followed the Blood Type Diet. She said, “No, someone gave me that book, but I’ve never read it.” I was sad. It’s like seeing a dusty Bible on a coffee table. Truth is in the house, but unless the book is opened and read, it has no impact.
I’m hoarding again, but it’s beef this time. In 2010 there was there was a rumor of a pumpkin shortage. I ignored it, because there was plenty of pumpkin on the shelves at my grocery store…until June, when Libby’s pure pumpkin was suddenly unavailable. There were still limited cans of organic pumpkin. Organic pumpkin is less flavorful, watery and more expensive, but I bought it anyway because it is a beneficial food that DD and I eat at least twice a week. I wrote a blog about traveling to three grocery stores and buying all the organic pumpkin they had. I felt a little guilty about hoarding.
Now I am hearing another rumor. The local radio stations say that cattle are suffering because of the severe drought in Texas. Ranchers are beginning to sell off their stock. Better to get what they can now, than wait until the cattle start to lose weight or the ranchers have to buy feed in the summer time. The expectation is that beef prices may drop in the short term, but will skyrocket later this year.
I have no idea whether the rumor is true, but I have started picking up a couple of pounds of extra lean ground beef every time I go to the store and stashing them away in the freezer. If the rumor is true I will still be able to eat beef every week. If the cattle situation is exaggerated, I’ll have fun cleaning out the freezer and enjoying lots of beef.
I had beef for lunch today in a variation of one of my favorite bowls. In the refrigerator, I found leftover mustard greens and leftover artichokes. I mixed them with ground beef and ¼ carton of hummus. For “dessert” I chopped up half an apple and heated it in the microwave with pumpkin and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. A Type O meal doesn’t get much better than that.
I’m back from a morning bicycle ride and very thankful to ESS for making this ride such a pleasure.
If you are a long time reader of this blog, you may remember that ESS made his first appearance about a year ago. He and DD met last June and began dating. I called him ESS because he was an Exercise Sports Science major. By the time he and DD met, he felt God calling him to be a pastor. He was so close to graduation that he finished the ESS degree and is now going to seminary. I believe God will use his interest in sports as a connection point when he talks to young people about the Bible and their relationship to Christ.
ESS has participated in several sports, but his primary sport is bicycle racing. And on his last visit to our house, he did something to my bicycle that has me feeling young again.
Sometime last fall I punctured the tire on my bike. I didn’t ride for a few weeks until I could get the bike into a repair shop. The next time I rode, I felt like my balance was off. It wasn’t a big deal; it was just a little harder to control the bicycle on hills. I had this problem once before on a windy day, but this time the wind was calm. I thought it would go away as I got back into practice. But it didn’t. Then the weather got cold and I stopped riding for the winter.
I had forgotten about the balance issue when I took my first ride in the spring, but I noticed it immediately. It was not my imagination. I was working so hard to keep the bicycle steady that I would come home with sore arms. This was ridiculous; bicycling is supposed to work my leg muscles, not my arm muscles.
It was also discouraging. I know that to stay in shape as I get closer to 60 years old, I have to keep my core muscles strong. One of the early signs of loss of core strength is lack of balance. I wasn’t having trouble with any other exercise, just bicycling. But whenever I rode, I felt old.
One day I went for a ride and as I struggled to keep the bike going straight up a hill, I noticed that the center of the handle bars was not lined up with the front tire. I blinked and looked again. It was off by at almost an inch. I guess the repair shop didn’t check the alignment, or maybe it was bumped getting it out of the trunk. No wonder I was having to struggle to keep the bike upright, and no wonder my arms were tired.
DD and ESS came for a visit that weekend. He found the tools he needed and aligned the handlebars. Today’s ride was a pleasure. My legs are tired, as they should be, but my arms are normal.
Here are two things to consider from my experience. First, are you taking care of your core muscles? They are the key to balance and the key to being able to enjoy the strenuous exercise that is so beneficial for Type Os. Second, never jump to conclusions with anything regarding exercise and health. The solution may be as simple as finding the right size Allen wrench.
It has nothing to do with this blog, but you might be interested to know that when DD graduated, she applied for jobs in the city where ESS goes to seminary. She was blessed with a position in advertising and social media. Now they get to spend more time together than weekend visits between classes. I am very happy for the two of them and for DD’s wonderful job, but I sure do miss my kitchen helper and exercise partner.
Of all the professional hats that I wear, I think my favorite is event photographer. This week I was the official photographer at an elegant fund raising event. My assignment was to show the whole spectrum of supporters having fun. The first part of the assignment was easy because such a variety of people attended. There were high profile people – the mayor, community leaders, and board members. There were also many people who benefit from this particular non-profit organization. The second part of the assignment was also easy because from the silent auction to the four course dinner to the live music and dancing, everyone did indeed have a wonderful time.
Perhaps you are wondering if I will ever get around to the Blood Type Diet in this blog. Just wait, I’m getting there.
I arrived early, and began taking pictures of table decorations and ice sculptures even before the first guests arrived. I got pictures of tuxedoed waiters carrying trays of hors d'oeuvres and ladies in beaded gowns bidding on a weekend get-away. As dinner time drew near, I circulated among the tables taking pictures of people talking.
My employer wisely knew that the guests would not want to be photographed with forks in the air and food in their mouths. She told me to put away the camera when the food was served and return to work when the speeches started. She even found me a seat at one of the tables. The food was delicious and elegantly served.
The salad was mixed greens – not a shred of iceberg lettuce to be found! I ate mine with lemon juice, though the others at the table said the vinaigrette dressing was wonderful. The main course was beef tenderloin. I don’t know what the Type As in the room did, but this Type O was in taste bud heaven. The beef tenderloin was served with two vegetables. Asparagus and spinach topped with feta cheese and sautéed onions & peppers. One of the vegetables I have missed on the BTD is creamed spinach. The spinach and feta combination was even better than my memories of creamed spinach. I’m going make this at home, and soon.
There was a basket of bread, which I easily passed to the guest on my left. But I did not pass on dessert. At each place was a small plate with 5 elegant bite sized desserts. Each was a work of art. Three of them contained wheat, but I enjoyed them without guilt.
Then dinner was over, and I was back at work. Three hours on my feet snapping pictures wasn’t exactly strenuous exercise, but it certainly qualified as a workout.
Where to begin... I've been blogging for a long long time, but not so much in the past year. Some things, which are most important to me, like my family, required my full attention. I didn't always take care of myself like I should have, but my body proved to be resilient in spite of it. Now I can, and must, focus on my health. I've reached a point of no return to SAD (that is, Standard American Diet). Of course, my diet could never be "standard" with gluten issues, but for most of the last year (or five), my diet has had too much in common with standard.
Many things have helped me reach this point, the most important being Neuro Modulation Therapy, or NMT. It has been absolutely amazing and healing for me. My health fell apart at age 19 after having mono, and I've never felt "normal" since then, but NMT is helping me finally git rid of that baggage. It has also helped me learn to value myself enough to take better care of myself...gradually leaving all the negative baggage behind. The mind and body work together in amazing ways, it's nice to find a way to heal both. I can get by with less than 9 hours sleep and not get sleepy until bedtime, wow. I'm feeling stronger and more energetic, and capable, less distracted, less bipolar.
Taekwondo has also helped me, it has kept my body strong and challenged my mind. It has challenged and improved my view of myself and my capabilities. While I have put off black belt testing (it is quite demanding at my studio) in order to focus on my family responsibilities, I am still going strong and moving forward with it. The friendships and mentorships I have found there have been life-altering.
Essential oils are also helping me lately...some to give me more energy, some to heal injuries and reduce inflammation, some for well-being, fighting infections, and boosting metabolism. In combination with the NMT, something has finally caused a lymph node on my neck that was swollen for 16 years to go back to normal. My skin is healthier and even my feet are softer and less prone to heel-cracks. Those may seem like trivial things, but they were quite stubborn, seemingly insurmountable, problems for me! Strange but true. I've also been dry skin body brushing, which has been great.
I've decided to give up rice. I was eating so much of it, that according to NMT I've now developed an allergy to it. I was beginning to get symptoms of something going on, and I'm happy to be done with those. It may be a temporary necessity, as NMT can cure some allergies, but I'm not too bummed about it. It suddenly cuts out most of the snacks my kids eat from my diet, and that's a good thing. I've been eating less junk, if any, and lots more vegetables, meat, fruit and all those beneficial O foods.
My oldest son has had health problems progressively getting worse over 3 years. It started with food allergies as a baby, and by the end of 1st grade he was becoming a nervous wreck with tummy aches every day. A great pediatric gastroenterologist guessed (since he really was terrified of a biopsy) that it was food allergies or histamines causing the tummy aches. She confirmed this by giving him cyproheptadine, an antihistamine, which seemed to be a miracle until we realized it was making him too tired to do much. With NMT and hypnosis, things improved enough that we could get him off the medicine. Recently somebody posted a link to orthomolecular theories and therapies to help with emotional problems. I browsed through it lightly and then came across a description of histadelia, which described him perfectly, head to toes. I didn't know excess histamine could cause so many problems, so now I'm religiously giving him extra vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, zinc, bromelain and quercetin, and already seeing him feel better and more adventurous. I don't know any alternative psychiatrists to take him to, wish there were some, but we're getting on the right track now.
Psychiatrists rely way too heavily on pharmaceuticals, the only blood test they ever run is for thyroid problems, in my experience. No screening for nutritional deficiencies whatsoever. I sure hope the orthomolecular approach becomes more standard, especially for children who can have bad reactions to rx's.
Of course, I found the same thing with a neurologist a few years ago. She was scheduling me for a lumbar puncture before running a single blood test. Fortunately, another doctor found the vitamin D deficiency that was causing the calcium deficiency, which was causing the numbness in my skin. I wonder if the neurologist would have found some way to diagnose me with MS, because that was all she wanted to do. Blah... #3 motivation for following BTD: I never want to have to step into the office of a neurologist again in all my life.
I think that every year at this time, I write a blog about this same topic. During the winter I eat fresh bananas, apples, pineapple, grapes and grapefruit. Most other fresh fruit is expensive in the winter, so I supplement with frozen blueberries, cherries and cranberries. I also buy some dried fruit like prunes, apricots, and figs. I have to be careful with dried fruit, because I have a tendency to eat way too much if I’m eating it right out of the bag. It’s better if I mix it with pumpkin or put it on top of a salad.
I love fruit, and when the summer fruit starts to come in, I am so excited. Watermelons are already red and sweet. I guess that is one good thing about a hot, dry summer. I pick the one with the brightest yellow spot to get a watermelon that is ripe.
Cherries are inexpensive this year. I wonder why. Are more people growing cherries, or is the economy so bad that people can’t afford them? I don’t know, but my Honorable Husband and I are eating lots of cherries.
My grocery store used to carry frozen guava. They discontinued it last winter to my disappointment, but they are carrying fresh guava this summer. The seeds in fresh guava are not nearly as annoying as the seeds in frozen guava.
Peaches are grown locally in the Hill Country. They have been so delicious, that I haven’t even bought a nectarine yet. HH and I have talked about going to an orchard and picking our own.
The price on blueberries, pears, and mangos has dropped. I wander the produce isle unable to resist the bargains. I there was protein in fruit, I would become a fruitarian for the summer. I’m getting as close as my Type O body can stand. Today’s lunch was a little bowl of salmon and collard greens accompanied by a big plate of watermelon and cherries. Ahhh, it was good.