New Years, new resolutions…

OOH, my Mom’s green chilli.

My Mom’s green chilli. Oh what I would do  just one more big pot of New Years Day Green chili. That was a family tradition. There were not many in my family. But that was one.

I live in England now. Led estray by my Englishman. Led very happily estray.

England is different to the US in many ways. Many ways I prefer it. There are a few I don’t. One being I can’t get the correct chili for green chili. I love every little bit of my house. Except the north facing garden. They would not grow if I tried.

One more difference is the availability of ready meals. Entire aisles are dedicated to them at the grocery.  In the frozen section there is hardly any.  It seems like it should be the same in the US.  This took me awhile to figure out. I think the difference in the welfare system. These meals in both places are aimed at people who either can not be bothered to cook healthy meals. Or do not have the time.

In the US Food stamps will not buy you ready meals. In the UK they give you cash to spend as you will when on welfare/ benefits. (This is probably more for my political blog. That may surface one day. When I feel like wasting some time on our stupid politicians. On either side of the pond. Of late they have not been worthy of my 2-year-old play time. She deserves it. They Do Not.)

People I know eat only ready meals. This seems alien to me. I feel guilty every Friday feeding my husband and daughter frozen fish, chips and a tin of mushy peas.

I rejoice in cooking for my family.

I will enter the New Year with plans for more home cooked food for my family.

 I will enter the New year with plans to share here more often. To share recipes and cafes  I love. Some far and wide and some here on my door step.

I will write recipes for the standards in my head. Some how I will figure out how to give you my recipe for my greeny goddess dressing, well kinda.

When I jumped across the pond there where some things I missed more than others. Salad dressings. I did not realize I equated restaurants to their dressings. Blue Cheese at Patsy’s, The Sanctuary and long gone Applegates landing. Olive Gardens, crack vinaigrette. I do not know what they do with that but I’ve had dreams about it.

I will spend my year ahead focusing on the new, treasuring the old.

I will share  with you my old loves. Patsy’s, The Sanctuary … and so many others, There are words I’d love to share about these.

I don’t know if you can a restaurant you have not been to in 10 years. I will give it ago. I will share my loves here. I will share my joys.

We will cook and plan. Cook for our families and plan our futures.

This year will be one filled with joy.  I hope you’ll join me.

The Biggest of Happy New Years to you and yours.

I am not a gourmet chef

Flanders, Netherlands

I am not a gourmet chef. I could be. I have the ability. I could gain the knowledge, the skills. I do not want to be a gourmet chef.

I want to be a great cook.

I do not want people to praise me for my food.

I want people to want my food.

I want people to wake up thinking of my food.

I will make delicious food made with fresh healthy ingredients. Food like your grandmother made. Food who’s recipes deserve sharing through the generations.

Like my mothers Red Chilli, German Potato salad from my dad’s Grandma, Grandma Wanda’s cheese ball.

I will serve basic delicious food. Cottage pie that’s loaded with hidden veggies. Spaghetti and Meatballs, with home-made garlic bread. Homemade salad dressings that change your relationship to salad.

If you miss something your Nan use to make. I will try to make it for you. If you have a special birthday request we will make it happen.

 I want to be the kitchen you don’t have to work in. My staff and I will take care of that. You can eat the food in our café or you can take the food away, hot or cold ready for your oven.

The obsession is growing more tangible by the day. This blog is giving the Fork in my head tines I can feel and see. I am on a 3-5 year plan. This gives me a starting point. I will blog my passion. It will create a map of the quest ahead.

I will look to my visitors here as guests in my café. This is giving me an outlet.

I will spend the next 2-3 years loving and treasuring my Sparkle Bee.

( well the next million years, my sweet treasure)

Then we will see….Someday, some how The Fork will be.

The quest began here….

Radio Flyer

I have Sisters. Two sisters. They are older. 6 years and 8 years older than me. They were patient and fun with me as a child.  I have a daughter and see older children with their younger siblings. I was very, very lucky. My sisters played with me a lot.

My favourite was playing restaurant.

Jennifer, 8 years older,  I remember hers  being playing church… ok still a bit confusing.

  (Check out her blog for some background on that.)

Sister 6 years older,  wow,  building amazing caravans out of refrigerator boxes and the radio flyer wagon. Amazing huge structures. That we could roll around the neighborhood. That was fun. I still look out for appliance boxes, just in case.

Oh but the playing restaurant. I did not realize what and effect it had on me.

It has framed me. It must have had something to do with making me obsessed.

It was the seed.

I remember even then thinking my sisters were doing it wrong. There were so many ways to improve. I did not understand why we couldn’t actually charge our friends. To make it a real business.  Even then I knew it could be the answer.

Bringing us riches. Bringing us riches of the soul.

The lessons we learn.. the ladders we climb.

The largest of the steep wooden ladders on the...

I have worked in a lot of restaurants. From fast food pizza chains, a large metropolitan Marriott Hotel, Hip restaurants with live music a local Italian restaurant, owned by an Irish American with high standards and great taste.

I have done a little of everything. Worked in kitchens, Done dishes, Waited on thousands of tables, been everyone’s favourite hostess and made all the pasta at earlier mentioned Italian joint.

 I have chopped 15 industrial sized crates of Italian parsley in one standing. Frozen is not the same. It’s just not.

I have chopped 5 gallons of garlic cloves by hand in one standing. Food processed garlic looses something. It’s to mushy. A nice, sharp,  very big chefs knife is what garlic wants.

I have come in on days the Restaurant was closed to scrub the Toilet/ bathroom with bottles of bleach. The bleach smell takes a day to fade. You know there is not a germ on board. Teach your staff well and it will stay spotless.

I can honestly say Every food establishment I have ever seen both the toilet and kitchen. If the restroom is dirty= so is the kitchen. I will not eat fish sushi if the toilet/ bathroom is dirty Feel free to prove me wrong on this. It may not mean a clean RR means a clean kitchen. A dirty RR seems to equal a dirty kitchen.

In my heyday I could remember a breakfast order for a table of eight. In America. Breakfast are varied and confusing, this is an accomplishment.

At Stella’s the local Italian restaurant. Nightly have a 1-2 hour wait for a table. As hostess I would keep guests happy, excited about their meal.

I made all the pasta served for 2 years.

I made the best creamy sausage pasta. I still do. Ask my daughter.

At the Marriott I worked most Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Helping make families memories. I was one cog in a gigantic machine. I learned a lot the. I also opened a bottle of wine worth over $4000. US Dollars. They were not even my table. Everyone else was to afraid.I figured it make a great story even if I got cork in the bottle or spilled it. It has.

The Left Bank Cafe. Ooh close to heaven. I wish I could link this oh what a sad loss. It was all of the warmth I could hope for. With it wood burners and hot soup. Live music from well know folk musicians. I learned a lot here. In more ways than one. I learned about luck, love, strength and friends. It was a magical place.                                                                      On the coast in Blue Hill Maine. If you know it consider yourself lucky.

My first job that was not at my Fathers business was a chain pizza joint.

I was 16. They wanted me to be a manager after 3 weeks. I said no. I did not want to manage a group of unruly students. That I was 2-5 years younger than. Maybe that was a opprotunity I should not have missed.

Maybe that was the rung on the ladder I missed.  Although maybe if I had taken it I would have missed all the extra rungs in between. Some of those have been some very important rungs. Very important rungs indeed.

food ooh food

English: Coffee comes in may varieties, shapes...

I’ve had a dream. My whole life, well as long as I can remember, I have wanted my own cafe, restaurant, and deli.

Someplace that brings people together to share delicious food, great conversation. A place where memories are made. A place that someone knows they can find a great meal, snack or just the perfect cup of coffee or tea.

A war smile when they are feeling down. Someplace that is buzzing with happiness. But

quiet enough where you can still sit and read your book or do your work on a laptop. A cafe you feel comfortable sitting with strangers at the community table.

Where you walk through the door and the person behind the counter is making your drink. Ok so that is about the feeling of my cafe.

The food; Ooh the food. That is the real clincher. It will be a place where there is something for everyone. Made from scratch, using healthy fresh ingredients. It will be delicious and nutritious. The kind of food you think about the next day. I want to become the place you come to most often.

It may seem I missed out a word in the earlier sentence

IT,

it may seem like I missed it.

But I have not. As long as I can remember this cafe has lived inside of me. It is like waiting a Childs birth. All-encompassing.

Life long quest for the perfect fork.

I have had a life long quest for the perfect Fork.

The perfect fork of food. Actually with my love of food its a wonder I am not the size of a house. A small garden shed maybe, a large dogs house but not a house. I am not a svelte woman. I know what other woman call their bingo wings are in reality cheese wings.  There is a direct correlation to the size of the flappers and the amount of cheese consumed.

Once upon a time this would be the month for cheese wings. In America, In December, every where you turn there is cheese. Being that it is a month of celebration, us Americans can justify a bit of extra expense. So the cheese you find is extra special. Aged longer. Served with better accompaniments. Blended into to delicious family cheese balls. Ours is Grandma Wanda’s recipe. I have a following for my cheese balls in my new home of England. Just this week I have had 4 phone calls. Friends asking nonchalant questions so they can squeeze in “are you making cheese balls this year?”.  Of course I am making cheese balls this year, and cranberry pound-cake.  We’ll see about the cookies fudge and brownies.

Now to any other American reading this it is the norm.  We Cook. We cook for our families we cook for our friends, it is not unheard to cook for the firehouse or your local Doctors office. Oh and of course when someone dies, has surgery, or is just unwell we cook. Our mother passed away this week. My sister has not cooked for eight days. She lives in America. Her neighbors, friends, people from my nephews school, gym friends they are showing up with meals, frozen dishes, baked goods.  We cook.

Luckily the American in me runs deep in my veins and I cook. And I freeze, so in my freezer I have meals prepared. Enchiladas, lasagna, baked ziti, shepherds pie… So I have heated up this week.

I miss cooking. If I go a few days without it I miss it. Today I will cook. I have a pot of chicken stock cooking now.  It will become chicken vegetable soup. Hot chicken sandwiches, and a chicken pie. The cooking will fill my heart and soul. The cooking will bring me closer to my daughter. She will help me cut carrots, celery, leeks and potatoes.  We will sit as a family at our table and eat what we have created. We will feed my husband, her daddy.  The pie will be his favourite. My dad would have loved the hot chicken sandwiches smothered in homemade gravy. Maybe with a side of stuffing. For me and my mom it would be the soup. Nice hot Chicken soup so thick veggies you can not see the chicken. With enough black pepper you can feel it in your chest. So today I cook. Today I fill my soul.

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Food, food, food.

Do nothing but brood
On food,
Magical food,
Wonderful food,
Marvellous food,
Fabulous food,
Beautiful food,
Glorious food
–Oliver Twist Food Glorious Food Lyrics