Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Too cool finds...

Mrs. X and I poured over the menu for the Christmas party, I made my prep list and work plan and the never ending grocery list...

Mrs. X is fresh off the jet from Christmas Party Hopping around The Globe and she is chock-full of inspiration... As a private chef, it's easy to feel as if I'm working in a vacuum but I must admit, one of the great benefits of having a boss who is really passionate about food is that she is always throwing great ideas at me to try out. It keeps me on my toes!

Today, as we went over the menu, she remarked on how much she liked the micro-herbs that were on some horsdeouvres she'd eaten recently and she said to me, "how hard can they be to grow?". It seems like such a "no sh**" answer. I mean really, grow your own micro-herbs. Why hadn't I thought of that?!

So, as I worked my way through the bulk section of the local food co-op, I picked up baggies of broccoli seeds, radish seeds and red clover seeds. When I got back to the house I spread them on a sheet pan with wet paper towels, just like when I sprouted marijuana seeds in my desk in 10th grade - oh wait, that never happened. Really. Dad, I swear. It didn't. Wait, where was I again? I digress.

After spreading the seeds on the wet paper towels, I put them in The Orchid Room to germinate. Yes, The Orchid Room. Doesn't everyone have an Orchid Room in their house? In case you don't, that's just a warm, humid place - like the laundry room for us Plebeians. Or on the counter, next to the stove. Anyway, The Orchid Room should provide for a warm, humid environment for the seeds to grow and then, if all goes well, I'll have some nice garnishes for the party on Saturday! And with that in mind, I'll definitely be doing some sprouting on the yacht (strictly legal herbs, kids. strictly legal)!

The next cool find of today is the "Chico Bag". The Chico Bag is a soft, reusable shopping bag and what I love about it is that it folds up into its own tiny, little sack that fits in the palm of the hand (or tossed in your purse, so you don't forget it next time you go grocery shopping). Mrs. X always asks me to reuse my bags and now instead, I can use these bags. They make a trunk full of groceries look so festive too, in a rainbow of colors!

I'm well aware that to use the words "Green" and "Mega Yacht" in the same sentence is a complete and total oxymoron. When I'm working on a yacht, I can use up to 300 plastic bags in just one grocery shopping trip! And, it is often the case as you cruise your way around the Caribbean or the South Pacific that the islanders on the little islands you anchor at will take your garbage for a fee and promise to dispose of it - and then just chuck it in the water somewhere out of view of the yacht and there are my 300 grocery bags floating around in the pristine waters off of some semi-deserted island near Bora Bora. How sad and depressing! I try to reuse and recycle as much as possible. But now, I plan on ordering a few hundred Chico bags for the yacht and no more plastic bags! Yeah!

As far as Mega Yachts go, Mrs. and Mr. X do their best. The yacht won't have bottled water for the guests or crew. Instead, the yacht is being outfitted with several "water stations" that will be fed by reverse osmosis and re-mineralization equipment. When guests come aboard they will be provided with a sports bottle emblazoned with the yachts logo and a marker to write their name on the bottle. 9 crew + 8 guests - that's at least 40 to 50 water bottles a day not being added to a landfill somewhere. My bosses are going through extensive lengths to use only biodegradable soaps and cleaning supplies on the yacht too. I'm not trying to justify anything. I'm just saying...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Fluffer Nutter Christmas...

“Curses”, I grumble to myself as the private jet lifts off the runway. I should be heading South towards the warm waters of the Caribbean not North towards ice storms and power outages and sub-freezing temperatures! I wasn’t joking over the summer when I told my boss that I’d charge him double for making me come out to the Midwest in wintertime.

I put on my iPod, pull the soft, cashmere blanket over my body and recline my overstuffed leather seat to a completely horizontal position and pray that when I wake the plane will have veered off course and the sky will be clear and below me will be a warm azure sea.

No luck.

I wake up a few hours later. The plane is preparing to land. Out my window, the sun is trying furiously to penetrate the ash-grey cloud cover. It looks like a war zone outside, but apparently the weapon of choice for this war was 100,000,000,000 gallons of Fluffer Nutter and a snow blower. The skeletons of poplars and birch trees scar the landscape. Thick dollops of white cream cling to the barren tree branches and coat the rooftops. The violet and green fields that I remember from summertime are now frozen solid and hidden beneath two feet of thick, white fluff.

“Welcome home, Cookie!” my bosses exclaim as I step off of the plane into the hangar. We exchange big, warm hugs. The pilot puts my bags into the bosses’ car and I climb in, “see you at the Christmas party, Cookie”, the pilot says as he shuts my door and Mrs. and Mr. X and I get on our way.

Despite my grumbling, I do actually find these alien surroundings quite spectacular. The icicles on the tree branches sparkle as they blow in the crisp, cold wind. We drive down Main Street in this Rockwellian little village. The storefronts and light posts decked in Christmas lights, garland and bows. A giant Christmas trees stands four stories tall in the town center and is decorated in ornaments hand made by the local school children. The snow brings stillness to everything, a sense of peace and quiet. But of course, there is one nagging thought in my head that shatters the magical silence – this one thought that becomes very, very loud…

I prepared for almost everything for this trip; a new winter coat, a few soft, snuggly sweaters which I have not had to own in years since I’ve always been in the Caribbean in the winter time, gloves. I even bought shoes that cover my toes! But wouldn’t you know it? I only own two pair of socks! Two THIN pairs of socks at that! “Aw crud”, I say to myself. Despite my best efforts, my toes are still going to freeze…

We pull up to the house. “You’ll be proud of me, Cookie. I haven’t had any Cheese Whiz since this summer!”. Yeah right, I’ll believe it when I see it. So, of course, I get inside, drop my bags and search the cupboards and refrigerator – and to my amazement there is not a can to be found anywhere in the house! No Ready Whip either! Huh, imagine that? I don’t even want to get him a can as a joke now because I know he’ll eat it. “Good job, Mr. X! I’m proud of you. I’m very, very proud of you”. “Hey Cookie, will you make pigs in blankets for the Christmas party?”. THUNK, I smack my forehead with the palm of my hand, “sure, Mr. X. No problem, I’ll make you pigs in blankets. Yellow hot dog mustard and Heinz ketchup with that?”, “yes ma’am!”.

“Cookie, will you make truffled chicken liver pate for the Christmas party?”, Mrs. X asks as she hands me a large and expensive jar of Italian White Truffle cream.

There is a God.

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