To Be Of Service

 Good morning, friends and neighbors!

The night before last, I had discovered Overdrive and Libby– apps for Kindle/iPad/etc that let you borrow ebooks and audiobooks from any library you have a library card for, and download them straight to your device.
So after running through the catalog like a kid in a candy store, I decided to go ahead and borrow a recipe book by a famous pastry chef I’d never heard of. If that sounds odd in your head, don’t worry- there’s a lot of famous people you’ve never heard of.

I honestly do like a good, well-written, lovingly photographed or illustrated cookbook. One thing that does sometimes happen, though- and this is no one’s fault but my own- is that really beautiful work and food can make me utterly depressed.

Picture of a road in a forest. Text reads,

From TheNakedMystic.com

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The Eye For Detail

Good evening, friends and neighbors.

There are reasons I call myself a “baker,” and not a “pastry chef.”

Beyond the respect and station that I think comes with the “chef” title that I personally don’t think I’ve earned just yet, or the argument that “a chef is a cook who leads other cooks” and I haven’t had any cooks under my command for longer than a couple hours, there’s the fact that… well… I don’t think I’m quite crazy enough yet.

Let me explain- when I say “not crazy enough,” I mean that I still stand in rapt awe, wonder, and a little fear, of people who possess the meticulous attention to detail necessary to do certain things. Not just do them once or twice, but REPETITIVELY, and CONSISTENTLY. No cutting corners, no shrugging things off as “rustic” or “it’s meant to be like that”- if whatever these people do isn’t looking pristine, it’s unacceptable.
While I’m not exactly envious of the perfectionism these individuals have (my grandfather’s saying “Don’t let ‘perfect’ be the enemy of ‘good’” comes to mind- and he was a brain surgeon) I am constantly in wonder of the level of PERCEPTION involved in noticing minuscule details.

Like many things in this world, an ideal case study for it comes from a certain mouse.

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“Bakeshop Changes a Man…”

Good evening, friends and neighbors.

I got up before my 5 am alarm clock again the other day- thanks mostly to my cat. It’s a little hard to sleep through eight pounds of furry, purring lump flopping itself on to your chest- even if your alarm isn’t supposed to go off for another half-hour.

Ugh… fine. Covers off. Slippers and house hoodie on because the heater has yet to kick on. I use my phone and watch as a flashlight to find my glasses- Emily doesn’t have to be up for a few hours yet. Best not to wake her.

Shuffling through the dark apartment on the way to a lightswitch, I almost trip over Cleo twice. She’s weaving in and out of my legs and purring- thrilled as all get out that I’m awake to feed her, even before I fix my own breakfast.

“Yes, cat, I’m coming.”
“Yes cat, you’re getting fed.”
“Jesus Christ, you act like we never feed you. Keep your fur on.”

As I tip out half a can of weirdly uniform, monochromatic glop that claims to be turkey with sweet potatoes and gravy into her bowl, watch her take a few sniffs and walk away, I reach over and shut my alarm off.

“This is my life.”

Yes, yes it really is. I asked for it to be this way.

Masculinity: Handle With Care

Good evening, friends and neighbors!

In the process of… “researching” for the top 10 cocktails list, one of my friends from back home asked a very serious and pointed question:
“What, no Cosmos?”

If I’m honest, I’ve never had a Cosmopolitan. Besides the fact I’m not a huge vodka or cranberry fan (outside of martinis and/or scones), I rarely like my drinks too sweet. Those are all good reasons not to get a cocktail. There was also one bad reason- that it’s a “chick drink.”

Dude, go get one. Get good vodka in there, and report back”
Alright, but I bet I’ll get a funny look from the bartender.”
If you do, take a picture. Just get the drink- it’s like cranberry candy.”

So I did. I walked into a new bar that I had just found, bellied-up to the bar, loosened my tie a bit, and asked the bartender for a Cosmopolitan.
The bartender- a woman- didn’t make a face, but she DID pause for a moment before saying “Okay, you want that in a stem or a bucket?”

“Um.. a stem? That’s how it’s supposed to be served, right?”
Oh yeah- but some guys find stemware girly.”

I’d already been conditioned to think of certain cocktails as “chick drinks.” That was bad enough- but STEMWARE? Using the proper drinking vessel for a certain drink is “unmanly?”

Guys- if this is for real, we have some SERIOUS fragility problems.

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Guys, We Need To Talk

Good evening, friends and neighbors.
This post is dedicated to the women who have saved my life- they’ll know who they are.

This blog post is… well, it’s going to be a little rough. I’m going to be talking about kitchen culture, of course- but in particular some of the big problems with it. Ones that we ourselves are causing and perpetuating- the abusive, macho, meathead culture that we have glorified, and how it hurts our female comrades and ourselves. We have seen icons fall, and powerful culinary empires crumble, simply because the man in charge decided he was going to be a “guy” rather than a man.

I promised myself a long time ago that I would never EVER discuss politics on this blog, and I am holding to that. Regardless of the political twists that other pundits have put on the topic, this state of affairs transcends political philosophies- it cannot be allowed to continue.

This blog post is aimed mostly at the guys in the audience, and especially those who are frowning or wincing after that first paragraph. If this is a little much for you, then carry on- hopefully the next topic will be a bit more lighthearted, maybe with some goofy pictures or foodporn.
Guys, I hope you stick around though- because fixing this is absolutely 100% on us- all of us- and I will tell you exactly why.

I’ll start with one time I was a coward.

Picture

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