Tag Archives: cooking

Requested topic: One thing in my life I haven’t mastered (and would like to)

Thanks to Paper and Lace, here is a small blog on the above topic:

Can I pick more than one thing? There are things about my personality I wish I could better: thinking too much, being less bitter and judgmental  being more accepting of others (to name a  few) – but as it’s hard to master a personality trait as such, maybe I’ll stick with something more tangible. My personality is a constant work in progress, as I’m sure we all are. Unless you’re perfect already – then well done! I’m probably not likely to be friends with you, you’re probably not likely to be reading this…

I digress.

The one thing in my life I haven’t mastered (and would like to) is: Cooking. I LOVE to cook. I love to cook for myself, I love to cook for others, I love to cook for the wider masses and for just my husband. I love to see a face scrunch up in delight and hear the sound of “mmmmmm” after a bite of something I cooked. I love the multi-tasking, the process, the instructions and the room for a touch of my input, seeing a bunch of things be made into one. I even secretly like the cleaning up – seeing something go from messy dirty to squeaky clean is a bit satisfying for me. 

I have worked in hospitality but wasn’t that into cooking, it’s slowly progressed into a passion in the last few years. I learned I was actually quite good at it and that sharing food with someone is heart warming and makes me feel wanted and included and fuzzy inside. And I’m not so great at the small talk, it makes me feel like I’m lying or something, so when I throw a dinner party it’s nice to have an excuse to not be talking to people because I’m busy in the kitchen. I like the company and the banter that happens around the table because it’s more comfortable, natural and genuine than the small talky portion of the evening. I skip that part by hiding in the kitchen and sending husband out to be hostess with the mostest.

I am a basic home cook, there are things I can do really well and favour mine over others I’ve tried, but I am not amazing. By no stretch of the imagination. I would like to be close to amazing but I know I need formal training. I can’t wait to have the sharpest of knives and an apron and a few different sized whisks. I look forward to confidently knowing all the different techniques of cutting and slicing and being able to do it with speed. I want to be able to make many kinds of sauces with the basic of knowledge. But most of all, I look forward to doing something for a living that I truly enjoy. I want to master the art of cooking in order to work for myself because at the end of the day, I am not a follower, I am a leader. I want to be my own boss and have a go at being accountable for everything. I want to at least try to successfully run a business.

I want to master cooking.

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My ideal future

I’ve decided I want to go to culinary school whence I return to Vancouver. But I don’t want to work in a restaurant. I know, train to be a chef but not work in a restaurant?! She’s gone mad!!

Well, I’ll tell you…I’ve worked in busy commercial kitchens before and I feel like, that mad two to three hour rush after a full day of prep, is often stressful. I do love the rush of it though – especially when you’re slammed and you’re at the helm, you know what you’re doing and everyone is running around like headless chickens, chaos is in the air but it’s all pulled off – probably with a few hitches – and at the end of it you feel like you accomplished something. It’s a great feeling, but man, does one get burnt out after a few years of doing the same thing over and over again. I got too old for it. Or something.

I’ve been thinking what the point of going to culinary school would be if I wasn’t going to be a chef in a restaurant. And I think there are a few options I’d like to pursue, with the professional backing of my training. Sure, I might dabble in some restaurant work for experimental purposes and the extra experience it’ll grant me. But, overall, I don’t want to work opposite shifts to all my friends and family, I don’t want to be a head chef, or even a sous chef and I don’t want to be a slave to some rich restaurantuer, who bathes in his cash thanks to my nifty knife skills and perfect palate.

Anyway, it’s taken me FOREVER to really decide on a professional career and cooking is something I LOVE to do, but don’t know if I love it enough to want to do it on a huge scale in a restaurant setting and work 70 hour weeks because no one else is good enough to step in if I, god forbid, get sick. A smaller business venture is where I’m thinking I’d like to head. And I want to own it. I’m head strong, intelligent and confident enough that I think, with the right training and guidance, I can start up my own business and do my darndest to make it successful.

I don’t consider myself to be the best hostess in a sense that I don’t make polite conversation with strangers so well. I mean, I can if I must, but it’s not something I enjoy doing. I’d rather be part of the party as well as the host of it. If I have a kitchen to hide behind and am inviting interesting and worldly guests into my environment, this will inspire me to talk about more interesting things and share stories I have. I know how to cook fairly well now and I can definitely host the friends I already have, but I don’t always want to be right there, catering to their every whim. I’d rather over plan, prepare in advance and then let the rest of the time unfold on it’s own. I don’t quite know where I’m going with this, just babbling really.

OK reading back over that last paragraph…my whole point was that I can’t always host the people I’d love to have over for dinner every night, so my ideal would be to attract an interesting crowd to cook for that will appreciate good food, good wine, witty/intelligent conversation whom I can also sit down with and join in on the festivities, but leave to take refuge in the kitchen if it gets overwhelming or boring. But this can’t really be done in a restaurant. Well not any restaurant I’d run anyway, I don’t think I’d be comfortable with that. I’m no larger than life Italian mumma who will talk the back legs off a donkey and everyone likes instantly because she’s got a cushy bosom, a hearty laugh and makes everyone feel welcome with her giant smile. I’m personable and likeable, but not like that.

I have toyed with the idea of a food truck and already have a rough menu set out and a name and catch phrases and marketing and advertising ideas. I just don’t know if I can see myself committed to it long term. I’d like to give it a go for a year and see how it went but this would involve a lot of start up money which I just don’t have so it’s inevitable I’ll have to work for someone else or contract my chef skills out privately and have some other menial job on the side to get by. Who knows how this will all work out!

My ideal career gets me thinking about my ideal future. I don’t believe I can “have it all” because then what would I work towards? But, I do think that I am the master of my own destiny (blah blah blah) and I’m very sick and tired of working for other people, in jobs I ultimately hate. They offer me nothing other than a pay cheque and I’m not one to sit around and be happy with that.

All of what I’ve just said is leading to this: Apart from cooking, I enjoy other things too. Ultimately these other things make me feel good and I want to live a balanced life where it’s not all work, work, work or career, career, career as the case may be.

So below is my ideal future (my realistic future – not my “dream” future). If I lived my ideal future I would:

  • Own and operate a small but profitable bed and breakfast, on a coastline somewhere and near a mountain that gets lots of snow in the winter (to keep Scott happy)
  • Have the time to do yoga or any form of exercise I choose without any great time constraints or because I’m exhausted from sitting in front of a computer all day
  • Broadcast a radio show from the local radio station and/or act in plays for the local theatre
  • Have enough disposable income so that I can travel to at least two overseas destinations in a year for at least two weeks at a time

I know we all have our dream futures – the ones we imagine we’d live if we won the lottery. Like, travelling the world on an endless dollar, or getting married and having kids and be a happy mummy/daddy for the next forever amount of years, or buy and renovate houses then sell them and buy another and repeat, or all of the above. Whatever it is, a lot of us won’t live out our dream lives. It’s not a downer on reality that I’m aiming to put across here, it’s just a realisation that those dreams you once had will possibly not come true. Just because that’s how life works. But it’s fun to dream and it’s these dreams that keep us forging ahead.

That’s why I’ve come up with my ideal future as opposed to my dream future. Or are they the same thing? No, I think my dream future would involve no work. It’d all be pleasure! 🙂

What would be your ideal? Are you living your ideal right now? Was it where you imagined you’d be when you were 15? When you were 20? Is ideal even achievable or should we be aiming lower still?

The cynic in me

The current series of MasterChef Australia is playing on NZ tele and I’ve been following it as avidly as America follows the presidential campaign.

And although most of the remaining contestants are lovely and polite and smiley and friendly and obviously quite amazing cooks, I still find a reason to dislike each of them.

Maybe it’s the insecure part of me, or the jealous part of me or just the fact that I’m just, plain and simple, a bit of a judgmental bitch. Perhaps I am craving some kind of controversy from the series, as there have been heroes and villains in the last few series I’ve watched. Or, perhaps it’s that I’ve come to expect people to despise in reality tv series and since this one is lacking, I’ve created (irrational) excuses to not like them:

  • Deb – the grey haired one: she continues to lose her shit in group challenges and has proved time and time again she cannot lead
  • Audra – the token Asian: I can’t hate her because she’s a minority. I’m mean, I’m not a racist. So…my reason to dislike her is…
  • Alice – The girl with the skrillex glasses: her skrillex glasses. And her childlike wonder at every little thing! And how she says “thank you” far too much. Like she was just awarded a Nobel prize for cookery. It seems a little forced.
  • Julia – The other girl with glasses and blonde hair: now this one could be potentially bitchy but instead, she eeks ever so close to the realms of bitchy and then pulls back. She’s clever and a little bit sneaky and she’s a god damn know it all with one of those know it all type faces but helps people out a lot so you don’t think she’s being two faced about it. Bitch.
  • Mindy & Kylie – The attractive blonde ones: every time they’re asked to help out in a master class (esp Mindy), she goes into what I like to call “I am possibly in the running to be a tv celebrity chef if I win this contest so I need to start commentating even though Gary is clearly getting a bit annoyed” mode. Kylie is more of a “my two cents from the audience” kinda gal.
  • Beau: Hmmm, hard to find a fault. He wanted to be a fire fighter or a policeman or something equally honourable but instead got to be a finalist on MasterChef and decided to cook instead. Thanks Beau. Thanks for choosing cooking over saving lives, rescuing cats out of trees, stopping bad guys and training security guards when you retire. You’re really making a contribution to us all. You selfish bastard.
  • Andy – tall and goofy lookin’: he cried once. Or twice. He is a school teacher outside of MasterChef. To think, a man cried on national television and you want him shaping the minds of your children?! Sick.
  • Bert AKA Wade: he looks like the Sesame Street character. Maybe Bert has hair, I forget. This guy has less hair than the heel of your foot but his EYEBROWS make up for it! Yikes! Is it hygienic for an aspiring chef to have that much eyebrow hair?
  • Ben – could be mistaken for Beau if you just started watching: other than the fact he might have a (b)romance going with one of the other contestants *cough* Ben! *cough* he’s kinda non stand out when it comes to nit picking. So he’s safe.

But for how long? There’s at least another four months of the series as no-one seems to go home, or they all just look the same to me now. The niceness has mooshed them into one big group of mooshiness.

ALSO…since MasterChef’s inception back in about 2008(?) the contestants seem to have taken it upon themselves to sound as “cheffy” as possible by using terms they’ve heard the judges use.

They have claimed the following words/phrases as their own:

  • on the palate
  • depth of flavour
  • laaaayering of flavours
  • freshness
  • blends well with
  • mmmm
  • fresh

Whatever happened to a good old “I’m not sure what it is, but this is fucking amazing!”?

Aside from being the bitter tart that I am, as a bit of an amateur/aspiring cook myself, I envy the position these people are in and I could probably not do as great a job as they are doing.

Their sweetness makes me sick but I can’t wait for the next episode.