Tonight I was relaxing by watching one of those murder mystery shows. This episode had a local celebrity chef get murdered. The investigators had to stop by the restaurant to break the news to her husband. It was a busy night out front, with a line out the door. The husband brings them to the kitchen in the back to chat. At that scene, I completely lost track of the plot and simply watched the kitchen in the background. They had about eight cooks on staff, all wearing pristine uniforms. There was virtually nothing on the line, the prep tables were clear of all food except for a few plates that the cooks were slowly garnishing and then putting up to be served. One cook off to the left was “working” with a bowl of whole peppers. There wasn’t a knife in sight and he was just kind of examining them, like he was about to cut them up in the middle of service. The kitchen was calm and quiet, beyond clean, and it was all I could do to keep the smirk off my face. Clearly their mis en place wasn’t done, or they’d done it poorly– not likely in a high end restaurant. The pristine white chefs jackets are often only worn by the chef and sous chef, while the rest of the cooks are simply wearing some form of a t-shirt with and apron tied around their waists. And those aprons are unlikely to be the pristine white of a freshly laundered sort, but would have streaks, smears, or dots on them. And where are the bar towels? None of these kitchen staff had them! How do you pull things from the oven, or grab the handle of a hot pan on the stove? No one was sweating; no one looked harried or frantic. The pace was as calm as a soft flowing stream. Rather than the yelling that goes on during a busy service, and the quick movements, looking like a well choreographed dance, and the line prepped for service and hands plating at the speed at light, this kitchen looked like a professional kitchen, but was so unrealistic that it made me wonder if anyone at the show had ever seen a real commercial kitchen. I think not. The front of the restaurant was bang on, but clearly the director and producers of this show had no idea of what goes on behind the scenes at restaurants. It was laughable, to the point that I couldn’t finish watching the episode until I wrote this brief blurb. Do your homework people! If you want your show to be realistic, then do your footwork to make sure you’ve got your facts right. Hilarious. Really, truly, hilarious.
Archive for August, 2012|Monthly archive page
You know that saying, “One step at a time”? Well, there’s a reason that saying exists. Granted, when you’re at the beginning of a journey and someone spouts off that sentiment to you, there’s usually conflicting emotions encouraging you to throttle that person, while at the same time giving grudging agreement. Social correctness results in you simply agreeing with them, while keeping your fist tightly clenched at your side.
Last week I went on my first scramble. My roommate took me to the Columbia icefields to hike up to the ridge at Mt. Wilcox. The guidebook suggested that this was an easy scramble, and so my friend thought it would be a great experience for my first time out. Let me tell you, one step at a time became my motto for that day. The initial trail through the bush was not to be found, so we did a bit of bushwacking, while doing our best not to disturb nature too much. This turned out to be an oxymoron. Too add to this, the trees and brush were covered with dew, and in a short time we were both drenched below the waist. With all the deadfall, it was definitely a matter of one step at a time, carefully putting down your foot to ensure you didn’t wind up twisting your ankle.
As we came clear of the brush and trees, I was confronted with a steep slope of stones, pebbles, and rocks. My initial thought was, “Right. This is so not happening.” However, my roommate ploughed ahead like this was normal for a scramble, which I later found out is indeed the case. But once again, you watch your footing or the stones fly out from under your feet and you go slipping down the side of a mountain. Now, my balance isn’t that good at the best of time, and after my first misplaced step, my roommate started moving a little slower and making intentional foot divots for me to step in. She initially doubted my lack of balance until she turned around at one point and saw me plopped down on my butt. She looked at me questioningly. “I lost my balance. It was sit down or fall down.” I think at this point she was realizing this scramble might have been a mistake for me. But she was very encouraging, and despite my aching muscles, I made it to the top of the ridge.
At the top of the ridge was a wide swath of rocky meadow that made me think a bit of certain parts of the British isles in the north. But the view couldn’t be matched by anything Britain had to offer– the Rocky Mountains in all their glory, capped with glaciers of ice. We saw five or six Marmotts and also a number of Piccas. After exploring and then taking a rest for lunch, we headed back down again. By this point my legs were already tired, and now we had to go down, which if you’ve ever hiked, you know can easily be more difficult than going up, particularly if you need to watch your steps. Your quads get an incredible workout. There was one point at which I needed to stop for a break because I was sure my legs were going to give out. Those carefully placed steps down a slippery slope of rock took a lot out of me, and I’m sure I looked miserable. At some points I was down to praying that I wouldn’t wind up plunging down the mountain in a small avalanche of rock, that I would come out of this scramble unharmed. It wasn’t long after those prayers started that I took a misstep and went down. I only slid about four or five feet, but it was enough to give me some nice gashes in my wrists. The fall was a combination of bad footing and tired legs. My roommate backtracked, pulled out her firstaid kit, and bandaged me up. She joked that after this I would never go on a scramble with her again. At that point in time, I was feeling like she’d never want to go with me again. What a clutz!
After a brief break we were heading downward again, past the rock, into the trees for a bit more bush wacking. As we came up to the parking lot I was so delighted to see the car that I decided to take the last small slope– no more than ten feet– at a bit of a run. Mistake. My legs were so tired that on my last step I simply fell down. My roommate was horrified and came over to see if I was okay. She found me with tears in my eyes. I was laughing so hard. The situation was absolutely hilarious. I was okay, but I had wiped out on the last step of the hike. It was the easiest step of my entire day, and it brought me down. “Slow and steady” and “One step at a time” may be cliche, but they are true cliches.
These cliches don’t only extend to hiking. They extend to other aspects of life as well. For a little more than a month now, I’ve been working to lose weight. Each day I get up and think through what I’ll have for breakfast, lunch, and supper, and then try to give myself some wiggle room to work with at the bakery. Each day is a series of small steps that will lead me down the path of success. Some days are like a meadow, and my food and fitness choices come easily to me. Other days are like a rocky slope, where I’m picking my way through the day just trying to survive. And other days are like those last steps of the hike, where things are going well, the end is in sight, and I just biff it. But despite all these types of day, each choice of what to eat or how to exercise is like a step on that hike. It may be a slow and arduous process at points, but the view from the top is well worth it. I’m happy to say after my weigh in yesterday that I am ten pounds down, and intend to keep going, one step at a time.
Yesterday evening my roommate and I took a trip out Edith Cavell to go check out the meadows, which are only open for a few months of the year. The views were picturesque and majestic. Sadly, I saw a picture of myself afterwards, and my first thought was, “I look like I’m pregnant.” Although I’ve lost a bit of weight already, I’ve got a long ways to go. I’d post the picture I’m speaking of, but I just find it embarrassing. Weight loss is incredibly stressful and can be frustrating at times. Now is one of those times. As it’s too late for me to go for a swim or a hike. I might just go run myself a nice bath, lose myself in a book, and try to remember that I’m a work in progress….this would be so much easier if I didn’t work at a bakery. But that’s another blog post in an of itself.
It’s only August, but I’m already looking forward to the flavours of fall– flavours that remind me of joyful weekends at the pumpkin patch with cousins, the burnished orange of changing leaves, along with the brilliants golds and deep reds. I bask in those weeks each year. This year I seem to be jumping the gun a bit. Yesterday I had a friend over for breakfast and I made pumpkin waffles. They were good, but left me with quite a bit of pumpkin puree left over in the fridge.
When I got up this morning I had no intention of baking, but somehow the desire to bake snuck up on me and I found myself looking in my recipe books. I knew that I had leftover bananas in the freezer that my roommate and I had discussed turning into pancakes, but as she was off to work already, I thought I might make some muffins with a few of them. Then I remembered the pumpkin. The bananas that I had recently removed from the freezer found their way back into the icy box. Pumpkin trumps banana any day in my book. I was still staring at my banana bread recipe, wondering if I could tweak it to fit pumpkin. The thing is, I would up tweaking the recipe so much that there is no way you could ever link the pumpkin muffin recipe to the banana bread recipe beyond the fact that they both contain flour and rising agents.
Lately I’ve taken to making things vegan whenever possible. It’s not that I am vegan, I simply appreciate giving myself that extra little challenge. Although in all truth, baking vegan is no big feat for me anymore. Now, ask me to do a bit of vegan, gluten-free baking and the challenge returns. I’m mostly intimidated by gluten-free baking due to the fact that non-wheat flours result in different textures in a final product, and these alternate flours can be quite costly, especially when you live in a small mountain town with only one supplier of that style of product. But I digress.
Every time I make a new vegan recipe, I think of my friend Jen, who lives in Toronto. I miss her more than I ever expected to when I headed back out west. I know that she will be thrilled to receive this recipe. And have I mentioned that it’s low in fat? For those of you counting calories, you’re looking at roughly 200 calories per muffin, 4 Weight Watchers Points Plus.
Now some of you may be scoffing at the fact that I’m about to print a low-fat vegan recipe. Try these, and you might have to eat your words, along with the muffins.
Low-Fat Vegan Pumpkin Muffins
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup almond milk (regular works fine too)
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Whisk together in medium bowl. Set aside.
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup AP flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp egg replacer
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Stir into wet, just until combined.
Split batter into greased muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven, cool, and enjoy!