Eating Out vs. Eating In

The other day, J4 and I had brunch with a couple he used to live with. One of them is a sous chef, and was telling us about working in the restaurant. J4 used to cook at a few different restaurants and I have years of experience, so this is all something we can relate to, but as I’ve never been in fine dining, I didn’t know what a sous chef did exactly.

J4 explained the hierarchy of a fine dining kitchen.   Apparently there’s a person called an Executive Chef.  She’s the ideas woman.  She dreams up the menus and recipes.    However, she doesn’t really cook anything.    And she’s probably not even in the restaurant when you’re there.    Her name is probably on the website for the restaurant.

Then there’s one or two Sous Chefs.   They’re the grunts who are actually at the restaurant 14 per day.  She’s the one who actually cooks the food that you order.     The Executive Chef may have dreamed up the Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa, but she’s the one who didn’t burn it, and made sure it looked good on the plate.   She’s the unsung hero of the kitchen.   Her name is probably not on the restaurant’s website.

So, as J4 was describing this to me, I realized something.   J4 is my sous chef.   Frequently I think up some idea of something I want for dinner, i.e. poached eggs over tomato on English muffin, and I make J4 cook it for me.   I don’t really like to cook that much, except for when I do.     I would much rather just sit down and have somebody hand me food to eat.  That’s why I like eating out so much.

Having a sous chef is awesome.   If you have the means, I highly recommend it.

Just sayin’.

Playlist: Alton Ellis
Be True To Yourself – Anthology 1965-1973 

My First Hate Mail

I am very excited to announce that someone hates me and my blog. And yet, even though they think my life is pathetic, they’re still reading. So you see, the joke is on her/him. The funniest part: it’s apparently my mom who thinks I suck. One question though, who are these ‘people’ that my mom purports to represent; you know, the ones who “only visit to get sick amusement out of how pathetic [my] life really is?”

Two stupendous firsts in two days!

Just sayin’.

Playlist: Flogging Molly
Drunken Lullabies
Original Release Date: February 2002

The Hi-Jinks Perpetrated by the Mischievous PLW and J4

I frequently hang out with a group of bikers, even though I don’t ride myself. They’re a fun group of people, and some of them are really good friends. Some of them are nuts. I think that could be said of any group of people. I usually see this group every Wednesday night. We get together and socialize at different bars around The City, like Molotov’s on Haight or the Hi Dive on Embarcadero. There’s a lot of taking the piss with one another, and several little pranks that folks in the group like to play on each other. My favorite is the kill switch.

On a motorcycle, the starter is different from a car, in that there’s the key and then there’s a button. To start the bike, turn the key and push the button, basically. To turn the bike off, push the button. The thing is, unlike a car, everything is out in the open on a motorcycle. Also, when you’re riding with a group of motorcycles, you usually pull up to stops and what not side by side.

One night, months ago, after leaving the bar, J4 explained the prank while I was sitting on the back of his bike at stop with Dub next to us. He hadn’t really been meaning to encourage me, but I caught on pretty quickly. Just as the light was about to change, I reached over and smacked the switch on Dub’s bike, and J4 took off, leaving Dub sitting at the now green light. I thought this was hilarious.

Last night, we were out as usual, only we had taken my car instead of one of J4’s bikes. As we were leaving, several of the others were pulling away on their bikes. One fellow, who I’ll call Yellow, came to the first light with us on my side of the car and waved. At the next light, he was on the passenger’s side. I said to J4, “you know what would be funny is if you could lean out of the car, and get his kill switch.” The difference between this and what we did with Dub was that I really was trying to encourage J4. Well, it didn’t take much.

J4 leaned out of the car window, and couldn’t quite reach the switch, but he did manage to turn the key, and shut the bike down. Just as it died, the light turned green, and J4 pulled himself back in. We heard the most awesome, “AAAAAHHH” from Yellow as I pulled away from the light.

We were pretty freaking pleased with ourselves, and we giggled all the way back to Oakland.

Butternut Squash Risotto Night


A couple of weeks ago, M and I were talking about how we both love fall and winter food, especially butternut squash. I thought to myself, “self, I wonder if I can find a good recipe for butternut squash risotto.” So, I Googled it, and found a recipe I liked on CDKitchen, and I asked M if she wanted to plan a night to get together and make the risotto. We decided to set a date for a few weeks out, and from then on referred to it as “Butternut Squash Risotto Night.”

This last Saturday was the night.I picked up a good sized squash at the Farmers’ Market at Grand Lake. We went together to the grocery store to pick up the remaining ingredients, and then headed back to M’s house. That was when we realized that we were missing an ingredient. This all added to the fun. We got back, and it was time to get to business.

I decided that I wanted to take on the squash. It was a big’un, and it took quite a bit of heft to get it cut in half. I’m sure M thought I was going to lose a limb. Once I had it halved and the seeds removed, I had to figure out how to get the peel off. I tried the big scary butcher’s knife, which just slid across the skin. M tried a cheese slicer, but that was just as ineffective. Finally I was able to get through the tough and slick skin with a serrated steak knife.While I skinned and chopped the squash, M worked on onions, garlic, cheese, and lemon zest. We did quite a bit of talking, so of course it took us a while. I don’t even know what time it was when we started.

Finally, with all the prep work done, we actually began cooking. M got the butter, oil, onions, and garlic going, then we added rice and started adding squash. This is where the, “are we doing this right?”s began. At first we were afraid that the squash wouldn’t cook. That maybe we were supposed to pre-cook the squash or the rice. Though the instructions didn’t say that. It became clear. though, that continual stirring was necessary.

As we began adding in the wine and started adding stock, we weren’t really sure what to expect, I don’t think. I stirred, and M added additional stock. The mixture became thicker and fuller with each half cup. Soon it was beginning to resemble something edible. But yet, the squash still seemed to be under-cooked. I stirred and stirred. We yammered on and on, as we do.

Finally, just as the pot seemed to be getting to small, we both realized that both the rice and the squash seemed to be just done. We added in the cheese and final seasoning. Then we dished it up with chives and basil on top.


Of course there was enough for M’s husband to have some, too. We all three sat around the Tivo with our bowls of risotto and a glass of wine. M’s kittens were very intrigued by the risotto, too.

It was awesome. It was some yummy, cheesy, and good. We all decided that it was the perfect fall and winter cozy, comfort food. Making it together was a lot of fun. I am looking forward to making the dish again, and I highly recommend the recipe. I also am looking forward to getting together with M or any of my friends to make something new.

My Hair

A few months ago, I chopped off all of my hair. When I say “all my hair,” I mean all of it. It was midway down my back, but now I have a pixie cut.

Why did I do it? Well, partly because there’s just this little voice in my head that always says, “cut it. . . cut it.” I think I grow my hair out just so that I can get a dramatic hack job.

But I had another reason. Someone very close to me has cancer. Someone I haven’t seen since I was two and a half years old. And the only memory I have of her is of sitting in her lap, as she leaned forward, creating a curtain of long brown hair around me. It was like hiding in Cousin It. Now she’s going through chemo. She might lose all her hair. And she’s not alone. So when I decided to whack my hair off, I donated it to Locks of Love.

Locks of Love is an organization that makes wigs out of donated human hair for children who have long term medical hair loss, such as those who have had chemo treatments. If you have a ten inch ponytail, and you’ve been thinking of cutting it off, please consider donating it. It’s an amazing gift.

This one is for you, Sis!