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Everything posted by KarenDW

  1. I would take "deeply satisfying" over amazing, most nights
  2. I was just confronted with the choice of a 10 lb. bag of generic, unbleached flour or unbleached, Gold Medal flour...I chose the Gold Medal which was at least one dollar more. I kept looking at that generic flour and imagining that it was filled with the sweepin's off the floor of a "real" flour factory. Would probably contain weird fibers and a stray hair or two. Why on earth would I want to talk myself, my fairly thrify, frugal self, into paying more?! Silly woman! So my question is, what do you mean by "additives"? Because we already see what *I* mean by additives. possibly undesirable "additives" in flour: amylase, azodicarbonamide, ascorbic acid. undesirable "additives" in tomato products: mostly, salt.
  3. sounds tasty! Have a great time.
  4. At home: after serving a high-end frozen pie for a family party, my then 8-yr old daughter stated, "That was good mom, but yours is better." At work: A family, who are regular guests at the Community Meal, stopped at the kitchen door on their way out, and sang Happy Birthday to me They thanked me for making their life "so much easier", then went on their way.
  5. I chop and freeze ahead, often. Make the packages small (no more than 4 cups), and flat, so that they freeze and thaw quickly, for best product quality. You might want to drain and/or blot dry after thawing, but I usually just cook from frozen. The slight amount of excess moisture will affect browning. Or, if you have time, cook the mirepoix before freezing. Heating will destroy some of the enzyme which causes food spoilage The frozen/thawed mirepoix will be softer than fresh, after cooking.
  6. I prefer to remain loyal within my 2-3 "preferred" brands for: food wrap, paper towels, canned tomato products, unbleached flour, ethnic ingredients, and rice (in my neighborhood, cheap rice = mush). WRT the tomatoes and the flour, my choice of brand is based on the lack of additives, moreso than on the resultant effect on my cooking.
  7. Ah, the Lefty Conundrum. My daughter is left-handed; I have learned to become ambidextrous as a result (20 yrs in the making). Theresa's mirror method sounds like a charm. I should try that, soon. Now, back to the task at hand. If you ask the apprentice what she was hoping to learn, would it fit into your schedule to explore one or two items from the list? It may be that she is researching smaller food businesses in general, and not chocolate specifically. In school we were encouraged to speak with people who would not be in "exactly the same" business area as ourselves. Are you able to set aside a few minutes of time at the end of each session to discuss what tasks can be done the next week? Great that you provide lunch. That is a gesture that I would appreciate. As for "payroll". I'm not sure that you would need to have any system in place to pay an "honorarium". Here, it's the same sort of Line Item Expense as paying a supplier invoice, or buying advertising, or purchasing a giftcard.
  8. Anything which includes bacon, or cheese, or chocolate. Maybe some a combination thereof. Cut into pieces that are not too big, and won't crumble. If you decide to go the muffin route, I'd suggest smaller, like 2-3 bite size, and make more of them Brownies and choc. chip cookies seem to be the big winners, here.
  9. I have the Best Light Recipe book. It's been helpful for discerning which ingredients are structural components, when making substitutions for various dietary needs. But I do see some duplication between various other books.
  10. I consider tossing to be a kitchen activity, and serving to be a table activity, so therefore am quite vindicated in using separate implements. That said, for me, tossing is definitely a "hands on" task. And I love that serving salad with tongs can be a single-handed activity.
  11. fwiw, if I was trying out a new service, I would probably want to order several lower cost items, just to see how it all gets packed for delivery. Not to mention having a good cross-section of the sorts of products I like. For bigger-ticket items like turkey (last fresh turkey was $95, at Christmas), I prefer to buy them from someone I know, within 2-3 degrees of separation.
  12. oh, and do you need to consider the "usual" dietary preferences of something with no dairy, something with no meat, and something with no wheat? With 25 people, you're bound to run into all of that.
  13. If this party is post-delivery, then you may want to check w/ the MTB regarding any foods which cause her (or babe via nursing) any upset tummies. If pre-delivery, then again, check whether any favorite foods have become "un-favorited". I vote for the hearty item plus a fresh salad-y dish. Also, recommend choosing something which can be easily packed away and frozen for a later meal. It's a nice gift to send home w/ MTB, or any one else who has a small child.
  14. If you're into it, then check at the fish mongers for heads and bones. They'll make a great stock with the addition of some bay leaves, thyme, celery leaves (which obviously, you have saved from other days). Sometimes the "trim" will include chunks of fish cut off from the perfect portions of fillets At my neighborhood produce markets, there is often a rack, right beside the till, of $1 bags of produce. One day there was a 2 lb bag of bell peppers
  15. Should be doable for $1 per course, especially as some courses may be achievable for less than $1. There is a difference between serving 6 people, with a total budget of $6, and serving 20 people, with a total budget of $20. Economies of scale would come into play, for example, a 4 oz. slice of pate of $4 and a demi-baguette of $3, could be easily split on crostini for 8-10 servings, whereas the same amounts would need to be purchased for 4 servings, as the product needs to be purchased in manageable "whole" units. Are you calculating the per person cost based on the "potential" number of servings available from each recipe batch, or the actual cost of the recipe? But on to menu suggestions, any of these should be doable for $1 each: Cheese rarebit: use small amounts of more flavorful cheeses, and day-old bread for the base. Bean bake ("almost" cassoulet): start w/ dried beans, and the "ends" of cured meats from the delicatessen Potato & leek, or potato & kale soup Meatballs and rice; splurge on some port for the sauce variation on eggs could include a Strata: sliced day-old bread, some protein flavorings (i.e., cheese or bacon), eggs, milk (use powdered milk to leave more $$ for cheese and butter!) For portion sizes, based on the USDA guidelines, DAILY protein requirement for most adults is about 6 ounces in total for the day. So, a 3 oz portion in any course would be completely adequate, especially considering the theme of the dinner party.
  16. A couple of platters totalling 10 lbs would be more than enough. And the cheeses wouldn't need to be exotic; would even the pre-sliced cheddar, swiss & provalone from Costco work? What about 1) candied ginger and 2) chocolate curl in a contrasting color. Would it be tacky to tint white chocolate to one of the sorority colors? I am a simple person...
  17. If you are using disposable foil pans, you may want to put the pans onto a cookie sheet before baking to prevent over-browning of the bottoms. If you line the bottoms with parchment, you can reuse the pans. Based on an average serving of a 2x2" piece, a 2-layer, 12x18 cake should cut into 54 pieces, if you used a ruler Realistically, if ONE person is cutting all the servings, 48 is the max. But if people are randomly serving themselves, 32 sounds reasonable, and the servings will be large-ish. Besides, there is "other stuff". If you have time and space, I would recommend baking and assembling the cakes, and then freezing. Transport to the venue frozen. A 12x18 sheet cake will probably thaw in about 2-3 hours at room temperature, and still be cold enough to cut easily. Congratulations on the gig! ps. I have a simple spreadsheet for costing. PM me with your email addy if you want to see it.
  18. I am a self-employed personal chef and private caterer. Mostly, my work consists of dinner parties and home parties for private clients, and catering meetings and small events for community groups. I also work for a non-profit agency which provides a weekly, free, community meal. In all of this, a large part of my work involves managing the customer's particular requirements. My education includes a Technical Diploma in Chemistry and Physical Metallurgy (Materials Science), some business ed., and graphic arts. I spent decades working in the Graphics industry. All of this is mentioned only because the experiences have really provided learning opportunities regarding business operations and process control. My culinary education consists of several workshops, and one 27 hour intensive culinary technique course. After several decades of volunteer & ad hoc catering, and growing up in a family where Christmas dinner was set for 40, I decided to "retire", and become a professional cook. I was 45, and had been cooking for groups since I was 15. My choice to work as a personal chef was based on the realities of the work: I would not be physically able to work 5 days in a row, and was not interested in working the dinner shift. Also, the remuneration for a personal chef is much higher (per hour) than a line cook. I relish the variety of work with which I can be involved. I feel engaged in my community when I can help small groups to use local produce to cater their events. I grow herbs to use for my private clients' parties. My business is very small, but contributes to my household income in a concrete way. For this I am grateful. For those who are interested in "alternative" food careers, my advice includes: cook, a lot. Cook for friends, family, business associates. Take risks. Be willing to stand out in a field with a turkey fryer and make Thanksgiving Dinner. Maintain a sense of adventure. Also, go to school. A Bachelor's Degree in biochemistry or agriculture may come in handy if you want to do food research. Business education is useful for test kitchen management. A degree in Nutrition Science can be particularly useful for people wanting to work in menu or product development. Learn to write well, and keep quantified notes and recipes. Have fun!
  19. Apparently fresh fruit is a hot commodity on campus. As in, from my daughter's FB page, "how do we not have scurvy". Don't know what you can send to WA without the produce police getting their shorts all in a knot, though.
  20. Why do you want to freeze the dough? If you are trying to stagger your baking process, what about freezing the 1/2 baked biscotti? I do it all the time, with no change in results. After the first bake, cool, slice, then freeze on trays. Transfer to sealed bags/containers after freezing. Thaw on the baking sheet before baking.
  21. KarenDW

    planning backwards

    When my family were young, they used to say there was "no food in the fridge" if there were no leftovers. 'Cos you just can't eat "ingredients" on the way out the door!
  22. Even one- or two-week old ground coffee will taste better than bad office coffee You could even portion the coffee into baggies on the weekend, and then pack into your bag for Monday. I vote for the Aeropress.
  23. A career can definitely be made from working with food; by people of any age! I am just 50, and entering my 5th year of cooking professionally. Or, my 35th year of cooking professionally. Depends on when one starts counting the years of selling food that I've made. Something to keep in mind is that working in a professional kitchen will help to develop portable life skills. Not just the important knife skills and cooking. But also organization, responsibility, commitment, how to work hard. I've always told my kids that if they can work in a kitchen, they will rarely go hungry, no matter where in the world they are. Also, not all professional cooks are restaurant chefs! We are teachers, kitchen managers, food stylists, research cooks, recipe testers, sales people, personal chefs and private caterers. My recommendation is to give cooking a big chance. Use your days off to learn about growing food, the chemistry of baking, the importance of art and culture, and to look after your body. It's all good.
  24. paper egg cartons * great seed-starting pots; when it's time to transplant, I cut off the bottom of the cup before placing the whole works into the larger pot. Worked a dream w/ the 50+ tomatoes we started this spring * perfect for storing above-mentioned tomatoes, at harvest time. Especially good for the small plum toms which were not quite ripe. The egg box provided safe storage which was dark and airy. small plastic berry baskets * useful for storing the lids of plastic containers * great for measuring & transporting u-picked berries broccoli elastics * exactly the right size & weight for maintaining order in the "reusable grocery bag" cupboard. Also very valuable for "finishing" vessel-shaping when working clay on a wheel * placed around the neck of the shower-head, provides a more convenient place for hooking the laundry-hanging-thingy.
  25. I recall having to make Peanut Brittle as part of a senior high school Chemistry class. Most of the other students didn't have a clue what we were doing until the part where we added the "protein particles" to the mixture! I've been accused, by my now adult children, of having raised Little Food Snobs. Both my daughters are appalled by the lack of culinary skill present in their friends. My girls still are the only ones in their particular circles who consume large quantities of fresh foods, and can plan and cook a balanced meal on a budget. Of course, I am addicted to instant ramen and take out chow mein.
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