Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Freedom or not?

Last night, the wife and I had a discussion that turned to an argument. Needless to say, it wasn't pleasant. We left each other on bad terms. Twenty minutes later, I got this text. "I just dont thnk it shud be so hard & forced just to get along w/ each other. I HATE arguing! I hate ur temper & yelling, & ur stubornes like u hate stuf about me."

My reply was simple. "Yer rite. I'll go 2 the court house tomorrow and get the divorce papers. Sorry I've wasted so much of your life."

No reply.

I'm not sure how to feel. Part of me was relieved. Part of me cried. Part of me couldn't breathe. Part of me was jumping for joy. I have never felt so lonely and confused as I have the past two months. Maybe separating will let me figure out who I am once again. I don't know anymore.

Mediocre decisions

"I'd served numerous people chips I knew very well were burnt, that I myself would leave on the plate had they been served to me. I decided to do this. Why had I given them something visibly inedible? Wasn't this a question of morality? It was wrong. I knew it, I did it anyway. Wasn't this the very kind of decision that defined a mediocre cook?" Ruhlman, Michael. The Making of a Chef. p 142.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


"In a calmer moment, he said, 'Quality is a journey, not a destination. I used to think that was corny, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense... You're never gonna get good enough, you're never gonna know enough, you're never gonna be fast enough.' " Ruhlman, Michael. The Making of a Chef. p 127-8.

More back peddling

I sent out five or six resumes last week, applying for some entry-level positions in kitchens to see if it was something I really wanted to do. I found out last night that they were all "Returned to Sender" due to lack of postage. Apparently postage went ONE CENT. One freggin' penny, and the government is ramming me up the rear again! How pathetic.

So I need to re-print the envelopes, and since it's been over a week, I want to re-print the Cover Letters, so the date is closer to reality. It just seems I can't catch a break anymore...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Disaster strikes

So I've developed a habit of typing recipes into MS Word when I find one in a magazine I really like, or I copy-clip them from emails and the internet. I've accumulated a nice collection, many of which I was really looking forward to preparing someday. I keep them all on a thumb drive, a little USB-powered piece of plastic with a computer chip inside it. It usually works flawlessly, and because of its small size, I can put it in my pocket and take it with me everywhere I go. Until today. Last night, I had it plugged into my laptop, working on other things. It seemed to be working just fine. This morning, I plugged it into my work computer, to get some of those files. But alas - nothing. I tried a different USB port. Nothing. Went to the car, fired up the laptop, and tried it there. Nothing. Disk not formatted. Checking the properties of the disk, it shows that over 55% of the disk is "full", which means the info is still there. I just need to find someone who can access the stored info. I hate technology.

On a different note, I have started looking into hydroponic gardening. I saw a special on Disney World's restaurants last night, and they have a massive hydroponic greenhouse that grows most of their vegetables, herbs, etc. They didn't show a lot of detail on the show, but they had glorious tomato plants, huge bunches of herbs, and lots and lots of other things growing. My vision for the future is expanding - beyond my site picture, I am sure - to include a restaurant that grows its own fruits and vegetables, offers classes on gardening, or something similar. The possibilities are endless, really. I am still trying to find some more info on Disney's greenhouse, though. More to come, I am sure.

Chemical Makeup

"Adam was a cook, I began to think, in the very best and most unusual ways. It wasn't a matter of desire alone, or ability, I began to realize, but rather something in one's chemical makeup and psychological wiring that made this so. In my notebooks I wrote down something Adam said that revealed an elemental part of himself. He said, 'I can be having a bad day, a really lousy day. But as soon as I get into this kitchen I get a boost; it all changes.' " Ruhlman, Michael. The Making of a Chef. p 99.

That's what I hope I have in me, this chemical makeup. I hope I am not "desire alone". Only time will tell, of course.

Friday, June 20, 2008


"A big part of financial freedom is having your heart and mind free from worry about the what-ifs of life."--Suze Orman, American finance expert

"It's never too late to give up your prejudices."--Henry David Thoreau, American author

"Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."--George Orwell, English author

"As long as you're going to be thinking anyway, think big."--Donald Trump, American businessman


While nowhere conclusive, I think I have decided what I want to do. As much as I really do want to be a paramedic, I think I want to be a chef even more. And ultimately, if I become a chef, then I can move back here and get my medic and run part-time with that. I know, ridiculous. It really doesn't matter, since I don't have the funds to do either.

But the more food magazines I read, the more internet sites I visit, the more Food Network shows I watch, the more I want to be able to wear the Chef Whites with the knowledge and expertise to back them up. I want to know not just how to cook a certain dish, but the chemistry, the science behind it. Why does one technique work better than another, what options for getting to the final result are there, that sort of thing. I want to be able to go home to my parents, to make them a superb gourmet meal without having to look at a cookbook every five minutes. I want to know how to correctly use all the tools of the trade. I want to create great works of culinary art, to be able to put a dish in front of someone and have them say it's beautiful and wonderful without even tasting it. I want to cook a meal for my family that amazes them, shows them new foods, new techniques. I want to be somebody of note. I am scared to death of being a nobody my entire life, of dying insignificant and inconsequential.

Like I said, nowhere near conclusive, but it's a start. And you can't get anywhere without starting.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


"There was no fancy sauces, no tricky seasonings, no admixture with other ingredients - just small cubes of potato cooked in such a way that the surfaces were delicately crisp and crunchy and the inside, rich, smooth, and flavorful. One was simultaneously aware both of exquisite texture and marvelous taste. The lesson it taught me was that the chef hadn't used the potato as a basis for displaying flashy, flamboyant skills, but had placed his skills as an artist in the service of the potato." Ruhlman, Michael. The Making of a Chef. p 7.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


My newest quirk to overcome: fear.

I'm afraid to end my marriage, even though I am convinced that is the only way I can be happy again. I am afraid to venture back into the world, single and alone, trying to find someone worth my time.

I'm afraid to commit to a new career. There was a time when I believed that architecture was what I wanted to do forever. I'm not such a believer anymore. I still love architecture, the beauty and the lines, but I don't know that I love *DOING* architecture.

And the worst fear of all, I am deathly afraid to tell my parents that I want to go back to school to be a chef. I don't know why, my parents aren't overly intimidating or anything. In fact, they were both teachers before retirement, so they tend to be quit approachable. Part of it, I think, is that I have always lusted after their support, their approval. I know that my wife won't be supportive of this decision. She rarely is, unless it benefits her directly. But my parents, being my parents, should be supportive, no matter what the decision, right? And most likely, they would be. But I know how much they sacrificed to get me through architecture school, and to just up and quit like this...well, I'm sure it won't go over too well. And the last thing I want to do is disappoint my parents. I feel my life has already disappointed enough.

And the unknown factor involved in all of this has me terrified.

We will see, I suppose. I am planning to go home for a week of rest and relaxation at the end of June. We'll see how they react...or if they react. They may just pass it off as one of my "dreams" that will get washed away with the next good rainstorm. God knows I've had my share of those, too. Maybe that's why I am so nervous to do this - because I'm not sure if it's just a fad or if it's something I really want to do. And I'm not exactly sure how to distinguish between the two, either.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

San Lorenzo

Saint Lawrence
or San Lorenzo

A patron saint of libraries and librarians is Saint Lawrence the Librarian. He is a third century saint and martyr (died 258 AD) who had responsibility for the written archives and records of the early church.

St Lawrence was one of seven famous deacons of the early church. The other six deacons along with Pope St. Sixtus II (Xystus II) were captured by the Emperor Valerian on August 6, 258, and martyred. They were buried together in the cemetery of Callistus. The oppression of the Christian church was very severe, and many Christians fled Rome or died.

As librarian and archivist, Lawrence was thought to have a list of all the members of the early church, and the locations of all the mythical hidden hoards of gold belonging to the Vatican. Captured by the soldiers of the Emperor Valerian a few days later, on August 8, 258 AD, he was told to produce all the wealth of the church. He was given only two days to bring all the treasures to the imperial palace. Particularly desired were the names of all the Christians who were also Roman nobles, since they could be ransomed for gold by the emperor, or executed and their wealth confiscated by the emperor for the state.

Lawrence gathered up the all the diseased, orphaned or crippled Christians on the appointed day, brought them to the palace, and told the startled emperor that "These are the treasures of the church!"

According to tradition, for his presumed impudence, Lawrence was then slowly roasted on a grill on the site of the Basilica di San Lorenzo in Rome, in the hope that he would publicly renounce his religion and reveal the names of the wealthy Christians. He is often represented holding a gridiron to memorialize this grisly manner of martyrdom. Although St. Lawrence was most certainly beheaded and not roasted, the traditions of his being cooked are somewhat stronger than actual fact. As a result, St Lawrence is also considered a patron saint for cooks. There is also the popular story that he was so willing to embrace Christ in heaven, that he did not mind the pain from the fire of his martyrdom, and indeed, he found the strength to tell his executioners "Turn me over. I am done on this side."

The courage and dignity of St Lawrence and many of these other early Christians in facing their death did much to gain respect for their religion in Rome, and after the death of St Lawrence, there was widespread conversion to Christianity.

His feast day is August 10th, and is usually celebrated by librarians and archivists (in honor of his traditional method of death) with cold cuts.

The annual Perseid meteor shower, one of the best known of the annually occuring meteor showers, and which occurs near his feast day in August, is sometimes called "The Tears of St. Lawrence" in Italy.

A reliquary with the head of Saint Lawrence is held in the Vatican Library.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Citrus Marinated Chicken

I found this recipe in the latest issue of Gourmet. Yeah, it's an advertisement, but the pic...ooh, the pic made my mouth water! I can't wait until I have some spare time on a weekend to make it...

Citrus Marinated Chicken

Citrus peel and juices flavor a marinade for chicken. Short on time? A 15-minute marination will still give zesty flavor to the chicken breasts. For maximum flavor, marinate up to 4 hours.

Serves 8

1 package McCormick’s Grill Mates Baja Citrus Marinade
1/3 cup orange juice
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lime or orange peel
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon McCormick Cilantro Leaves
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Mix marinade mix, orange juice, oil, lime peel, lime juice and cilantro in small bowl. Place chicken in large resealable plastic bag or glass dish. Add marinade; turn and coat. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes or longer for extra flavor. Remove chicken from marinade. Discard marinade. Broil or grill chicken over medium-high heat about 6 to 8 minutes per side or until cooked through, turning frequently.

McCormick Advertisement. “Summer Sizzle.” Gourmet. June 2008: 56.

(also found on

Monday, June 9, 2008


Have you ever noticed that just when you think you know what you want, something minor changes and all of a sudden, you’re not so sure? Yeah, that’s my life these days. I thought for sure I knew what I wanted, and even had most of it planned out. Then, one conversation later, I have no clue what I want.

Part of me really wants to become a paramedic. I know it’s not the financially or the physically best thing for me, but I love the way I feel when I know I have truly helped someone, even if it’s just holding an old lady’s hand as we drive her to the hospital to check on her hypertension. Whether the wife will support me in that decision or not remains to be seen. I know she dislikes the ambulance company. She doesn’t like that I’m there so much, even though she’s away from home more than I am these days. How is she going to feel if I get the training and accept a job as a 24-hour medic? I would work 24 hours every third day. Yeah, I’d be home a lot more, but then I’d be gone a lot, too. And the money is nowhere near what I make now, so I would have to work overtime to make ends meet, which equates to more time away. It seems to be an endless loop.

Then there is the rather large part of me that wants to become a chef. I want to go to a formal culinary school, like the Culinary Institute of America. I want to get a job in a fancy restaurant, and cook fancy meals for people. I want to travel the world, learning new cuisines, and new techniques. But I know this is one decision that the wife won’t support. Go back to school? Yeah, right. Work evenings and weekends? Never.

Then there’s the unknown. What do I really want to do? What would make me happy? Would being a paramedic really make me happy? Or is it just one of those things I want to do so that I can belong somewhere, to be a part of something? Would being a chef truly make me happy? Long hours, hot work environment, constantly on my feet? Or do I just want to be able to impress people? Why does everyone else’s opinion matter so much to me?

What it comes down to, ultimately, is that I want to be great at something. Not everything, just ONE thing. ANY thing. I hate being second best. I hate second-guessing myself all the time. I just want to be considered good at one thing by those that are in the business. It’s not the same when your wife says you’re good at something, especially when she has no clue what it is you do. I want an architect to tell me I’m great at architecture. I want an EMT I respect, or even better, a well-seasoned paramedic, to tell me I am a great EMT.

These are the dilemmas of my life, and frankly, I don’t want to deal with any of them.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


A passage from "Molto Italiano" by Mario Batali:

"There is no greater joy for me than cooking something and placing it on the table before this new breed of American eaters - no greater satisfaction than to see the pleasure on their faces as they truly enjoy the food. It should be love and joy and music and art and dance and being together that drive us to cook, to eat, and to share."

Pure poetry...

I think I can, I think I can...

"You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through." Rosalynn Carter, former First Lady.

That says it good. I know what I want, but I don't know that I have the confidence to get me there. I'm still searching for a restaurant to give me my 6 months of experience - hard to do when you don't have any experience to get you the job. Just short of volunteering to work in a kitchen, something I can't really afford to do right now, I'm not sure how to get a position.

And even if I do get the experience, will I be able to find a way to pay for such an adventure? It's not a cheap school, and I don't have an immediate way to pay for much of anything. Without loans, scholarships and grants, I highly doubt it will happen. Unfortunately, I am probably not eligible for a scholarship, since it's been so long since I took any formal classes, and I already have my two degrees.

I don't know. Lots of things to figure out...