The One Man Show For a Mulit-Part Stew

Here’s a story, a grudge match for the ages that went down in cooking school. This is a stew that I had been yearning to make since I first heard of it in French class. When I had the opportunity in my hands-on class to make it, I jumped at it.

The contender: Rachel, a 20-year-old cooking student (at the time).

The reigning champion: Pot-au-feu.

Now for those of you that have never made pot-au-feu, it has MANY parts! There is a roast chicken (or turkey) involved, horseradish root that is cut down, then there are a million different vegetables that are cooked to go into it, AND the actual broth itself.

The class had an odd number of students, so I took on this challenge myself. I desired to make it, so I had at it.

While people were going so smoothly though the different phases of their soups, I was wondering the whole time what I had gotten myself into. It was taking forever for the bird to be done, I had to start on the other vegetables, and I had never cut horseradish root before! It felt like I was drowning in broth and diced vegetables, and the whole time, I was wondering what could be wrong with me. Yet, I still persisted. I wanted to make this.

Meanwhile, people were getting to the presentation portion, and I barely had everything cooked. I was nowhere near ready to plate a thing! My chef looked over, and I felt the pain in my chest. This chef was one of my hardest. “What are you doing? Tell somebody if you need help!” He immediately sent one of the other students to help me finish and plate everything.

I walked sheepishly into the presentation room with someone else carrying my platter. It didn’t look half bad, actually. Everything was laid out on a big platter with the broth in the middle. The breast of the chicken had been sliced, and the rest of the parts were part of the presentation as well. Even though I had worked my butt off, I did a walk of shame into that room because I was the last one in there. I wanted so hard for it to be done right… yet, I felt like I had failed.

Then, the most remarkable words snapped me out of my self-pity.

My chef, who was known to be tough, said in front of the class: “I have to commend Rachel. She picked the hardest of the soups to do, and did it all by herself.” He even made the class clap for me. I don’t remember whether he clapped or not, but he sure did nod his head my way.

I walked a little taller that day, knowing that I had taken on a big challenge and conquered it. Moreover, someone whose opinion I respected at that time, took note of my tenacious move. It didn’t feel that way at the time, but I’ve always been a sucker for a challenge.

After all that, I don’t remember what it tasted like! I can tell you this, though; working for it and being recognized for that effort made it taste like victory.

I Am Grateful

There is something for which I am very grateful when I started thinking about it.

It might seem like something small and perhaps a silly thing to be grateful for… but I think this particular object deserves a shout out. Ladies, I think you especially will be able to relate to this.

I am grateful….

for bobby pins.

Really, I am!

Who knows from whence the bobby pin came? I wonder what someone was thinking that made them invent such a wondrous little tool! Did the person see it before they actually invented it? Was it named after someone named “Bobby”? I also never knew if there was a technical name for bobby pins, or if this is what they will forever be named. I guess I got to thinking about all of this as I was using my bobby pins this evening.

They are good for tons of different things besides hair, but I’m specifically grateful for them when used for their intended purpose.

Even before I stopped using chemicals in my hair, I used bobby pins. I probably may not have used them as much as I did after going natural; however, since I’m more “hands on” with my hair these days, I’ve found them to be so very useful and nifty!

When you want your hair out of your face, when you want your hair to do something specific and it’s just too darn short, or when you want to put together the most ornate of styles, bobby pins come to the rescue every time! I remember just how many bobby pins were in my hair when I went to prom; my stylist used a TON of them! It was worth it though; my hair looked great! Also, the one time I got a false ponytail put in at the hair salon, bobby pins were there once again to hold the hair in its place. It was a long “ribbon” of hair that was continuously wrapped around my own small ponytail, and it was held in place with bobby pins.

In both cases when I took my hair down, a serious handful of bobby pins came out of my hair. I doubt either style would’ve held without them.

So this is a shout out to bobby pins! They’ve averted and diverted hair crisis after hair crisis, kept hair (and bangs that are at that awkward length) out of our faces, and have held together elegant and ornate hair styles. I can assure you that if you look at any good or even stunning hair style, the foundation of how it holds up starts or ends with the bobby pin.

Like I said earlier, I don’t know who it was that thought of the bobby pin. I’m sure it was a smaller version of an already existing hair tool that did the same thing; however, this is smaller, easier to handle, and portable! Best of all, if you put a whole bunch in your hair, they don’t hurt (not unless you put them in the wrong way).

They’re even great for creating curls! They’ll hold rollers in (which is how I used them for years), but a type of curl has been created if you lack rollers, but have bobby pins: that would be the pin curl. This is exactly what I did to my hair tonight.

I used to have rollers, but when I cut all my hair off 4 years ago, I thought I didn’t need them anymore… so I got rid of them. Granted, I didn’t need them at the time; no roller is small enough when your hair is caesar cut length. Fast forward to now, here I am with ample hair, rolled into curls held with bobby pins as I type this post.

I wonder what my hair will be like tomorrow, but for now, I will simply be grateful. Thank God for putting it in someone’s mind to invent the bobby pin.

Any woman that has ever used one is forever in your debt.

Sundae Sunday!!!

Hey guys!

So my birthday was Monday, and I was hoping to have this sundae then… buuuut, Aunt Flow visited. When she visits, I can’t have chocolate, and the sundae that I’m about to show you has chocolate in it. It also has peanut butter, but there is chocolate. For me, period time + chocolate=DEEEAAATH!!!

yes, it is that serious.

I really wanted this sundae, and there is a Friendly’s near me that sells it, actually. The sundae I’m referring to is the Reese’s pieces sundae, and it looks a little something like this:

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Amazing, isn’t it?

I had to wait until Aunt Flow left me alone before I could indulge in this delectable delight, which leads me to Friday.

Why Friday? Well, that’s the day I bought some of the components for this little beauty. I already had Reese’s pieces at the house because of the resident 4-year-old. We also had some French vanilla ice cream at the house because of my birthday. I don’t know about anyone else, but cake and ice cream is law when there are birthdays at our house. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I picked up some peanut butter, chocolate syrup, and since I couldn’t find whipped cream for some reason, I picked up heavy cream since I somehow was able to find that more easily than the whipped cream. I also think that the other reason I couldn’t find it is that things are being rearranged at my local supermarket.

oh thee well… these things happen. The cool thing about it was that I got to make whipped cream, which I haven’t done in quite a while. Then again, I don’t normally use it for anything, so I don’t even buy the stuff for the house.

Anyhow… let us fast forward 2 days and an Internet search for a peanut butter sauce recipe later.

First, I made the sauce, which was simple enough. I used the above recipe, which only involves 3 ingredients. When I made it as recommended, I thought it was too sweet. I would recommend doing a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water. Basically, make a simple syrup. I would also add a bit more peanut butter to get more peanut butter flavor. What I ended up doing (since I made it according to the recipe the first time around), I kept adding peanut butter to tame down the sweetness. I probably ended up adding somewhere between ¾ c. to 1 c. of peanut butter. I bought a small jar, and used nearly the entire thing.

When you add your peanut butter in after killing the heat, use a whisk. It’ll give you the desired texture.

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Beautiful, isn’t it?

If you were like me and weren’t able to locate whipped cream, but you have some nifty heavy whipping cream, clean off your whisk, put some of that cream into a mixing bowl, and get to work!

Once you have your whipped topping and your peanut butter sauce all ready, it’s time to assemble!

I used a bowl, and added 2 scoops of ice cream in. Then I put the chocolate and peanut butter sauces over the top. After that, I added another scoop of ice cream on top. Then, add your pièce de resitance, which would be your Reese’s pieces. I forgot cherries, but since YOU didn’t forget, put on your whipped topping and your cherry!

Voilà!

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I didn’t add a pic with the whipped cream because you wouldn’t have been able to see this as well.

Sidenote: When I ate this, I realized only later that I had put it in my Reese’s bowl. Good one, Rach.

Enjoy Sundae Sunday folks!

Security Scarf

One of the handmade items that stands out to me most is the scarf that a friend made for me.

I got this scarf one Christmas at least 5 years ago. I thanked her for it, but I don’t think she really knew how much that scarf meant to me at the time. I didn’t realize at the time how much it would mean to me, either.

She crocheted it herself. I think I even got it a couple of days after Christmas. It was a light blue and it was pretty long. If I had to guess, I would say 4-1/2 or 5 ft. At the time, I think it was the only winter scarf I had. It was simply made with no fancy pattern. Still, I loved that scarf.

For a while, I went through a time where it felt like no one cared about me. It was during this time that I found myself wearing this scarf all the time. I was starting to realize how attached I was to it when I couldn’t find it one day, and nearly had a conniption trying to find it. We’re talking meltdown status.

It was only a scarf; I could’ve found others… but it wasn’t THAT one! It gave me the right amount of warmth around the neck, and also had in it the right amount of love.

I also knew I was attached when I tried wearing it when it was way too warm outside for a winter scarf. I sweated and chafed a bit on the back of my neck, but wouldn’t take it off. My friend made it for me, and it reminded me that someone cared when I felt like I was all alone.

Nowadays, I don’t wear that scarf as much, but I still have it. I can’t wait until I have my own place. I’ll give it a hook and hang it somewhere special. I may not wear it as much anymore, but it’s still just as special to me now as it was then… and I’m sure I’d still have as much of a conniption if I lost it now, just like I did when I thought I lost it then. (I tried to keep pretty good tabs on it; those times when I thought it was missing were NEVER good. Sometimes I would outright delay leaving the house and be close to tears until I found it).

Sometimes people give gifts just to say they gave you something. If you’re lucky, you get those times when gift giving touches your heart. I was lucky enough to have one such time. It doesn’t always have to be something handmade, but in this case, it was. That just adds an extra level of giving from the heart.

I wonder if that explains why I love scarves as much as I do these days.

Ready, Set, Done

So we have a drive-thru where I work. Just like we have regulars that come into our store, we also have regulars that we only see in the drive-thru.

I remember the first time I heard his voice on headset. I remember thinking “Wow, he’s really polite.” There are people that are polite, then there are those one that are extraordinarily so. He is one of those.

Fortunately for me, I was taking the order right next to the drive-thru window, so I got to see the guy’s face.

And man, was it a pretty face!

On another day, he came through, and one of my coworkers took his order. “Wow, this guy is really nice!”, she said. She remarked that he had asked for more of the house dipping sauce, and that the way he asked for it was extraordinarily polite. Since I was bagging orders, when I saw who was at the window and that it was his order, I loaded him up with sauce. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but he was really cute! Cute guys make you do crazy things! Even if he wasn’t all that cute, being polite to food service employees will cause them to dote on you.

If there’s anyone that you want to like you, it’s people that serve you food and people that take care of you when you’re sick. NEVER get on the bad side of either of these types. Just an FYI. (end my caveat)

For a while, I didn’t see this guy, and I felt some type of way about it. I could never check our screen that looks out on the drive thru for his car, because it was broken for the better part of a week. I felt some type of way about it, and was wondering where he had been.

Well today, I come in early and look up at the camera. To my delight, it was working. Not only that, I happened to have on a headset when my coworker took an order. I looked up at the screen, and it was his truck.

Then started my teenage girl freakout.

“It’s him! I know it’s him! He’s here!!!” That moment felt like Christmas and my birthday all in the same day. One of my male coworkers saw me acting like an entire fool, and laughed at me. He stood from a distance just to see who it was that I was making a fuss over.

Well he pulled up to that window, and I addressed him by name, with the flirt voice. (He had come in the day before, and I looked at his card to find out what his name was. I could’ve just asked, but I certainly would’ve blushed half to death. Health insurance doesn’t cover that sort of thing).

The boy and I proceeded to have our first at-length conversation today. The weather recently changed, and we talked about how we’re both polar bears to some extent. We may have talked longer if there wasn’t a car right in back of him.

It made me happy for the rest of the day.

Life is too short…

to eat bad food!

Ha! You knew I was coming out with this! Even if you didn’t, now you do.

It’s not just about bad food, really. The thought behind it is that life is too short to eat things that aren’t worth eating. If it doesn’t have real ingredients, isn’t to your standard, or you simply don’t feel like eating it, why bother?

Are you doing it to say you ate? What happened to actually enjoying food?

I like thinking about eating this way: The FDA recommends that I get in a certain amount of calories a day. If I’m only allotted so many calories a day, why would I waste those calories on stuff that is sub-standard or that I don’t feel like eating?

Now this is where I add my caveat: Just because Miss Rachel said that you should eat what you want doesn’t mean that you should go consuming buttloads of butter and sodium or fat-laden foods, then wash it all down with 1/5 of whiskey. That will catch up with you, and that’s no good. I’m merely suggesting that you be more selective. (End Caveat)

If you like sweets, eat the good stuff when you do indulge. If ice cream is your thing, don’t let me hear about you eating that non-fat stuff with artificial sweetener in it. That is NOT a treat! If you’ve been behaving, eat your fat! You know it tastes better than that other mess! Plus, if you get it at an ice cream store, the person behind the counter will thank you for not asking for that. If you do ask for it, I hope you know how to duck because they may throw the scoop at you. I had such a job and I’ve tried scooping that stuff. It’s pure evil, I tell you! EEEEVILL!!!!!

Keep it healthy, but if you don’t like salad, there are other healthy options. You’re not stuck in just eating one or two things for the sake of being healthy. There are things that one can eat that won’t kill you, yet are actually enjoyable to eat (shocking, I know!).

I’m a very moody cook/eater, so I love mixing things up. If I’m not eating something that I want to eat, sometimes I won’t eat altogether. I know that’s horribly picky of me, but it’s true. I once lost weight like that. At least I can say that I ate what I wanted, even if I’m a few pounds lighter for it.

We are always encouraged to be frugal with money, so why not do the same with calories? Spend ‘em on what you think is worth it! Even if it’s 2 calories, if you don’t want to eat it, don’t bother! Find out what you really want, and go for it… within reason, of course.

Get the best ingredients that you can afford, eat well, and never say no to ice cream or bacon (unless you’re willing to take a jog around the town afterwards).

30

Thirty years ago, I was born on November 10th. That particular day was a Saturday. No, I’m not actually that in tune with the universe to know this, but thank you for thinking that of me! I looked it up one day on the calendar on my phone. This totally explains why I hate being rushed; I have a weekend mindset. Though I claim to hate weekends, I was born on one. Look at that.

I’ve been freaking out about turning 30 because of a few factors. For example:

  • not married
  • no children
  • no car
  • no job that offers benefits
  • no “real” career path, as most would think of it
  • no hope of getting married (meaning, not dating anyone. not even any prospects! yep, the manscape (which is how I refer my “love life”… rather, my lack thereof) is as barren and dry as a salt flat. there are even cracks in the ground. it’s that deep).

I asked a young woman at church yesterday how she felt when she turned 30. She said it was great because she was engaged to be married at the time. That didn’t help. I somehow felt worse about my life. She did, however, encourage me to make a list of things that I have already done.

I wouldn’t really consider them achievements, but here goes:

  • I became proficient in French. I started taking classes in 6th grade, so I was about 10 years old. I continued classes up until I was about 19. I somehow managed to be good enough to make people think that I’m not American when I speak in French.
  • I’ve been to France twice. I was 16 the first time around, and 21 the second time I went.
  • I graduated from high school.
  • I survived middle school, hellish though it was.
  • I got a scholarship to travel to France the first time I went. That’s the first time I ever won scholarship money for anything… so that’s pretty cool.
  • I ended up in “Who’s Who” for high school students. There were like a million of us in that book, but I guess that’s pretty cool, too.
  • I made my first black friend when I was 13. Now the majority of my friends are black. I think it just sort of happened that way. That in and of itself is a miracle because I thought black people hated me.
  • Got my driver’s license on my 20th birthday.
  • Sang back up in a friend’s band. Coolest thing EVER.
  • Learned how to hoop dance, and earned a couple of bucks doing so at Coney Island. That was pretty awesome. I’ve also hoop danced in Center City with a bunch of people that I’ve never met until that point.
  • Lived in NYC/Brooklyn Heights for a month while at a training for acting. I want to go back and live there again… for a longer period of time this time
  • Took beginners classes for trapeze, rope, silks and parkour
  • Lived in Orlando, Florida for 3 months while interning at Walt Disney World.
  • Partied in NYC until the wee hours of the morning with a large group of friends.
  • Stayed up until the sun rose on several occasions during college.
  • Played: volleyball, ran track and cross country, and played rugby. Got team award for “Most Aggressive Player” in rugby.
  • survived  stayed at one job for 4-1/2 years. That’s the longest I’ve ever stayed at any job! I did become a full time employee at said job. Had health benefits and everything… but I hated my life and was completely miserable.
  • Working at the aforementioned job helped me realize that I wasn’t cut out for that sort of thing.
  • Went to cooking school for 2 years. This is how I ended up going to France the second time around. I ate the whole time and it was glorious!
  • I baked my first apple pie and felt like a boss! I even made the pie crust!
  • I baked my first pumpkin pie, which isn’t as hard as I thought it would be
  • I baked my first quiche and made my first crust from scratch (at home. I’ve done it in cooking school, but that was my first time doing it at home). I was really a boss now!
  • I briefly had a job where I decorated cakes. I was good at it, too! I would show pictures, but they died along with my ancient iPod. I was devastated! I lost every picture that I had taken since I had received my camera. It was about 8 years worth of pictures. I also lost a lot of the pictures I took of my nephew when he was a baby.
  • Survived 2009, which was the most terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad year that I’ve ever had.
  • Learned how to walk in heels and do my own makeup.
  • Stopped using relaxer in my hair, and cut it all off 4 years ago. I’ve been natural ever since.
  • Went to prom 14 years ago and can still fit the dress.
  • Fooled every one of my coworkers as far as age goes; they all thought I was at least 7 years younger than my real age. The best part about that is that they’re all about 10 years younger than me, and I still fooled them.
  • Went to my first black tie event at the beginning of this year.
  • Competed in the 2006 Miss Pennsylvania pageant. I didn’t place, though.

I think that’s everything! I’m sure there’s more if I sat back and pondered it, but I guess we’ll stop there. I didn’t really do this to brag. I did it to say that even though you don’t do the MAIN things that people think you should do by 30, there’s a lot that has been done.

What am I doing now?

Well, I’m currently pursuing an acting career and taking classes. In the next 2 or 3 months, I’ll audition for a chance to sign with a legit agency. Hopefully, this will be my way back to New York. I know I can get work where I am, but I’m in love with New York. What can I say? I’m not retarded enough to think I’ll be “discovered”. That’s something I’ll have to do on my own with a web series or something. Who knows what the future holds?

I also want to have a freelance writing career. We’ll see how that goes, too.

One thing is for sure: I plan on having more fun experiences and adventures to come in the years that follow.