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Posts posted by KarenDW

  1. Countertop convection ovens, panini grills and induction cookers seem to be ok for some no-vent applications. Check w/ your regional building code office.

    I used to do cooking/nutrition demos in a health-care facility. There was NO kitchen. We did stir-fries, baked cakes, braised items, using an electric frying pan. And a 6 ft. banquet table.

  2. Most days, I'm not interested in anything other than coffee for a couple of hours. Plus, wheat-y and dairy-ish things might upset my GI tract at any given time. So, no, I don't eat when I get up. So, if I need to be out of the house within 2 hours of when I get up, I don't eat until... it's convenient.

  3. I'm planning a visit to see my daughter, in Feb. 2011, and thought it would be fun to take a cooking seminar/course or two, or to participate in a food policy/food security workshop. At this time, I'm expecting to be in NSW, Victoria and Tassi. Total time is about 4 weeks, so a weekend or 5-day (max!) course would be idea. General cooking, regional cooking, local food policy developments, or wine pairing would be especially useful topics.

    Any recommendations?

  4. We were just at a Trader Joe's in New Jersey and up front there was this huge display "Farmer Joe's Locally Grown Produce." The tomatoes were from Virginia.


    although... I live in Vancouver, BC., and "local" could also include items from Washington state (still within 100 miles of my place!)

    Maybe TJ means "local" in contrast to (internationally) "imported". But, still...

    I'm being "local" this week... 10 mile diet, for 10 days :smile: except for coffee, rice, salt, organic-regional dairy products, and olive oil. Oh, and red wine from BC grapes :raz:

  5. I've always had good results w/ individual servings of apple galette. 4-5" dia, cut in half for each serving. Usually, no sweetening in the apples, but caramel sauce, and vanilla gelato on the plate.

    But, what about a twist on a trifle? Poached apple slices, fireball whiskey or goldschlager liqueur, sour cream coffee cake, and a little cinnamon whipped cream to top it off? You could set it up in wine or cocktail glasses for individual servings.

  6. I've pre-cooked pasta (both long and shaped) for large scale single-seating gigs. Best advice I ever received on this front, was to cook no more than 2 or 3 batches in the same water. Heed these words, lest you end up with a gloppy mess of starch!

    Cook pasta about 3/4 done, shock in ice water. Drain, then, I tossed w/ oil and chilled in the fridge, up to 2 days.

    To heat: use lots of boiling water. Remove chilled pasta from fridge about 30 min before you want to cook. Heat in small-ish batches, up to 20 servings per batch; this will take about 8-10 min. I tossed w/ sauce to hold until serving time.

    The pre-cook & shock method is also useful for large amounts of mac & cheese sorts of dishes, which will be heated in the oven later. The whole batch will cool for storage much more quickly if the pasta is already cold before the sauce is stirred in.

  7. You must have industry contacts in catering. I would highly recommend getting in on a few event to really get a feel for the differences. As a lot of questions. The cooking is the easy part.

    The cooking is definitely the "easy part".

    If you are work in a few other companies' events as an employee for a while, that would help with gaining the "catering" part of the business experience. I was working p/t for a large caterer (100 times bigger than me!) and a restaurant for about 2 yrs while I launched my business. Neither organization objected, and they both provided great contacts, and helpful advise.

  8. If it was me...

    I would make and assemble the entire cake, including the ganache frosting.

    Freeze [unwrapped] until firm, then wrap in a double layer of plastic film, and pack into a box for longer freezer storage.

    Thaw in the refrige, OR in a cooler chest (!) for a few hours before serving. It's easiest to cut when cold, anyways, and by the time the portions are on plates and in people's hands, the thawing will be complete.

    IMPORTANT: leave the plastic ON during the defrost, to keep condensation off of the lovely ganache!

    If you are using commercial cream cheese, there's probably a bit of lecithin or some other stabilizer, which should keep the filing from separating. I would probably add some Dr. Oeteker's Whip-it stabilizer to the cream, too, as extra insurance, and use less-than-usual orange juice (or frozen juice concentrate, not diluted)

    Can the "words of wisdom" be piped onto a separate disk/sheet of chocolate (or small banner of parchment paper), and attached at serving time?

  9. re: business plan

    I had a lot of help, thanks to a Canadian government program to help people start their own businesses. The Self-Employment program was delivered by a local college, and consisted of courses in accounting, marketing, advertising, finance, and business plan writing! The bus plan is an important document in securing credit, not to mention keeping you on track, business-wise. The act of preparing the business plan will likely help you to solidify your actual work needs, and path to success. Or, you can start by checking out some on-line resources.

    When deciding to start my business, I chose the route of Personal Chef, as this does not require me to maintain an off-site kitchen (i.e., lower overhead). I'm a member of the US Personal Chef Association; they offer business courses and support for start-ups, too.

  10. lingerie hanger, you know, those round hanging thingies with clips on the end. Useful for towels, bags and, occasionally, laundry. ??

    Laundry/lingerie carousel hanger

    oh, and sorry if my post implied a lack of travel experience.

    add to the list... sharpening stone and/or honing steel for your knives (and other tools).

    You can probably pick up misc. small items @ the second hand stores, as you mentioned earlier.

    I loved Moab, and also Mesa Verde CO.

  11. Insurance

    Business Plan

    Line of Credit from your bank ")

    All my admin work is done at home; most cooking is done in the clients' facilities (i.e., their home) or a rented commercial kitchen. Something that has worked well for me is working for a church with an under-used commercial kitchen (health board approved!)

    Check out business courses in colleges in your neighborhood, or check the library for a book, "Start and Run a Successful Catering Business". Then check the regulations/rules in your region vis a vis food businesses and home-based businesses. You may need to rent off-site storage for your gear; if so, look for one with late-hour access.

    I rent a van when I need to; my personal car is a 20 yr old Honda sedan. I maintain a list of good people who are available to work random shifts, on short notice. Also, get to know the party rental companies in your neighborhood, and any regions where you think you'll be working.

    oh, and maybe some coolers and re-usable ice packs?

  12. Ikea bookcases :)

    The solid wood sort, or the wire sort? I've often thought that a wire shelf would be useful, as it can also do the job of a drying rack.

    For extended stays, I would recommend taking


    Thermal carafe

    Parchment paper (the costco size roll is probably MUCH cheaper than the Moab grocery store ones)

    Heavy foil (ditto)

    Ziplok bags of various sizes

    Mesh laundry bags...

    oven mitts if you use them

    lingerie hanger, you know, those round hanging thingies with clips on the end. Useful for towels, bags and, occasionally, laundry.

  13. I've had success with both the food mill (with fine mesh), and with using nylon stockings/pantyhose.

    Rinse the hosiery to remove excess dye or sizing.

    For clear juice, fill the hose with fruit, suspend from a cupboard door, and allow to drip.

    For a seedless puree, squeeze the fruit through the hosiery.

    I usually wear rubber gloves to cut down on hand-staining.

  14. To add more body to the blueberry-ness of the jam, you could add dried blueberries.

    As for updating in the technical sense, I second the addition of pectin. Pectin is a naturally occurring carbohydrate which helps the jam to set with less cooking. Therefore, the jam will taste more "fresh" than a long-cooked jam.


    Filled jars into simmering water, with at least 1 inch water over top of jars

    Bring to boil

    Set aside for 5 min.

    Remove carefully jars from water and allow to cool for several hours.

    For consistently safe water-bath processing, after the water returns to the boil, continue to boil for 10 minutes (1/2 pint and pint jars) or 20 min (quart jars). After the appropriate length of time, turn off heat, then let the canner/pot settle for about 5 minutes before removing the jars to cool in a draft-free location overnight.

  15. I have to ask though, how do you wrap them for freezing? My mother used to freeze bacon, but that was in the 1 pound cryovac package, straight from the grocery store and into the freezer. If I'm going to be quartering the package, should I wrap in parchment or butcher's paper, then wrap in foil and stick in a plastic freezer bag? That is my usual way of prepping meat for freezing, but I'm wondering if it's too much. As long as it's air tight the fat in the bacon shouldn't pick up any off flavours, right?

    Simplest ways are sometimes the best :)

    I wrap each portion in plastic film, then pop them all into a bigger, heavy re-closable plastic bag. Spread out the bag in the freezer, initially; larger surface area = food freezes more quickly. Then, squeeze out the air for longer freezer storage.

    We also use the "package cut in half" method for portioning. Somehow, using half-slices make the tiniest amount of bacon seem like more.

  16. I use a cherry pitter from OXO Good Grips, but place the plunger at the stem end. Works well for large-ish cherries, and not at all for the small ones. Rainiers should be fine. Actually, if one cuts a small X at the bottom end, and gives a gentle squeeze, the pit may pop out :)

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