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eG Foodblog: Malawry - 34 hungry college girls


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I find it kind of depressing the girls don't have access to the kitchen. When I "lived in" (which I did for 2 years) the kitchen was the hub of activity. Admittedly, there wasn't a lot of serious cooking going on, except for Rush when the sisters in the Hotel School would whip up some pretty impressive dishes, but I think about all the late nights we spent roasting marshmellows over the stove and I realize that a lot of bonding went on.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Malawry, this is a cool blog! I, too, find it incredible that a place of learning would not encourage cooking and I do feel sorry for these young women. They're missing a lot. Also, their lack of interest is unfortunate. They could learn so much from you! However, all is not lost: they eat WELL, no fried stuff or junk and we get to profit though this blog! Thx!!

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I just went in to work for a few hours. But first, I went to my local Costco. :wub:

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This one is in Beltsville, MD. Like Han Ah Reum, it's insane on the weekends. You know, right? I bet you were there too. (Everybody else sure was!)

Here's what I bought:

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Purchases included for work bananas, pineapples, green grapes, new potatoes, three loaf pound cakes, proscuitto. For home: IQF chicken wings, pasta sauce, peanut butter, ketchup, my spouse's Pantene hair stuff and shave gel, smoked salmon, cheddar cheese and laundry detergent. Sexy, eh?

I wanted to stop for a hot dog before hitting work (I grew up on the Hebrew Natl hot dogs, only smaller than the ones in the food court) but the line was legendary. Another day--oh well.

The Beltsville, MD Costco is actually pretty close to my work. It's about 2 miles up Route 1 from the campus, and the ZTA house is right off of Route 1. Sometimes I take a long lunch break and do my personal Costco shopping during the workday, or I go buy things for work there on a slow afternoon.

Because I didn't get lunch at Costco, I ended up at work around 12:30pm. I snapped a bunch of photos of my work kitchen so you could see what my world is like.

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This is the door to my kitchen. If I'm there, it's always open. As you can see, it opens onto my classic three-part sink plus rinse station. Above the sink in the first shelf to your left are my china cap, chinois, strainer, various measuring cups and spoons, first aid supplies and kitchen towels. The second helf holds some crappy books that belong to the sorority, a couple of books I brought from home, assorted Ziploc bags, and extra paper type supplies. There are also notebooks holding sales information from my food supplier and old invoices, which I reference periodically. Above the rinse station (with the squeezie hose) I store all my bowls and plastic storage containers, plus lids and the various Cuisinart parts. The table-like area where my dish soap and bucket of scrubbing implements reside covers my grease trap, which I desest cleaning line nobody's business. Atop the grease trap lid are all the rest of my cleaning supplies, organized in a milk crate.

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Just past the rinse station, there's an industrial mixer on the counter. A dishwasher sits underneath. And then there's my fridge and my freezer--both side-by-side models. I roll the garbage can wherever I need it, but my floor is gently sloped so it tends to rest right there (there's a floor drain nearby).

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Left side of the fridge, interior. NO COMMENTS on the state of my fridge and freezer--they are clean and I know where to find things in them, but they don't exactly photograph well. Top to bottom: condiments and salad dressings, fresh cheeses and sauces, deli cheeses and meats, eggs and recent Han Ah Reum purchases in white bags.

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Right side of the fridge, interior. Top to bottom: containers of salad bar stuff (heavy cream, butter and chocolate chips are behind these items), peppers and carrots in boxes, more Han Ah Reum supplies and some tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, thyme, mushrooms, celery, cucumbers.

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Left side of the freezer. I need new hooks for holding up my shelves because some of them are missing, which is why some shelves sag. Here you can see lots of ice cream, lots of chicken parts, chicken stock, and random white sour cream containers holding things like pasta sauce, veg stock, and gumbo. On the top shelf there are all kinds of random ingredients--sweet pickled radish, tasso ham, demi-glace, chocolate buttercream. You never know.

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Right side of the freezer. Lots of shredded and sliced cheeses, Boca burgers, pierogies, frozen spinach and green beans, shrimp, and a huge fucking box of Boboli shells. I really regret adding them to the lunch menu when I get my food order in and have to try to work around that behemoth in my freezer.

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Right next to the freezer, in a fit of planning genius, is my range. 6 eyes plus a nice big griddle and two ovens. The oven on the left doesn't work so well so I don't use it that much--it's uncalibrated and unpredictable. The oven on the right holds an average sized pizza stone for the aforementioned Bobolis, and is cranked to 550 degrees during lunch service.

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And then there's the steam table. There's a long deep shelf under the steam table where I store all my tools (in a couple of big hotel pans) and most of my pots and pans. There's a microwave at the far end of the counter where I melt butter and defrost Boca burgers before tossing them on the griddle. My plates are all on the shelf above the steam table. Where you see my camera bag is where I normally have my cutting board set up--I stand there more than anywhere else. I use the tape behind it with a Sharpie to label everything in my kitchen. The gloves atop those books I wear religiously--I have a skin condition that's aggravated by frequent handwashing, so I try to limit that by wearing gloves often. Underneath this table are two big stockpots and a couple of huge Cambros where I store stock and pizza dough when needed. There are also two more Cambros that hold flour and sugar around there. The shelf above holds all my spices and a few other random things like pastry tips, sprinkles, breadcrumbs, raisins. There's a tin of saffron in front of the Cuisinart which is too good to fraternize with the other spices. :rolleyes: You can't really tell, but there's a cheap phone on the wall behind the Cuisinart. If you call it, I will answer, "Kitchen, Rochelle." Nobody calls me but my husband and my food service sales rep, and maybe my boss.

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If you were one of my girls looking for me or for my food, you'd come to this window which I open when I am around and close when I am not. It looks onto the steam table. Those clipboards are for signing up for meals--they're supposed to sign up if they will be present for a meal, and they sign up on a separate part of the sheet if they will miss mealtime and want a "late plate." To the left of the clipboards is a big fridge dispensing 2% milk. The weekly menus are posted on the side of this fridge--I put them up Friday for the next week. The lime-green sign you see reads "Mealtimes. Lunch: Monday-Friday 11:30am-1:30pm. Dinner: Monday 5-5:45pm. Tuesday-Thursday 5:15-6:00pm. Special events or other changes to this schedule require a 2-week advance notice." They don't always provide that notice, but since I posted that I get at least a week and a half--which is all I usually need.

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I have a separate dry storage closet. Like the fridge and freezer, it looks disorganized, but I know how to find things in there. All the stuff to the right is snacks and breakfast food for the girls--my boss stocks these items for them, I just order them for her and put them away when they come in. Those huge boxes on the floor are all their chips. Onions, potatoes, and soybean oil are also on the floor. The closet is just too small to store everything on the shelf like I know I should. The red Noel boxes hold chocolate pistoles.

So, while I was at work. I did some salad bar prep, I baked off some cookies, and I got ready for tomorrow's lunch. I also did some advance work on tomorrow's dinner. There's snow in the forecast again, so I was hoping to set things up that if I need to just go in for a couple of hours in the morning I will be able to arrange lunch and dinner before coming home. My boss is out of town tomorrow, so she won't even be able to do things like pull stuff out of the oven for dinner--so I talked to a couple of the girls about contingency plans. We'll see what happens. I left around 4pm.

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I wasn't in a sorority in college (I preferred hanging out with the weird, somewhat nerdy boys I knew), so life in a sorority house is pretty unfamiliar to me - that's why your blog will be so interesting  :smile: . Were you in a sorority in school? If so, did that influence your decision to take this job? If not, did that influence your decision? Is there anything that's surprised you about how the girls live or how they eat? Do they like or dislike foods you wouldn't have suspected?

I was a total alternagirl in college-way too "nonconformist" to go Greek. I never had any interest in Greek life and never considered rushing. I don't think that had a huge impact on my decision to take the job though. When I met some girls during my interview they seemed nice, and they were excited by the menu ideas I brought with me. That told me most of what I needed to know--that many of them enjoy eating, and they're willing to explore. That has definitely been true of them since I started, so it was an accurate impression. Nothing really surprises me except maybe that they're less neurotic than I would have expected. I think of college girls as pretty picky about their food and nutritional intake, but these girls really aren't.

Their favorite meals are absolutely the "ethnic nights" I stage most Thursdays. Which is terrific, because those are my favorite meals to make for them!

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A couple of people have commented how it's too bad the girls can't use the kitchen, but lack of interest is probably also a pretty big factor. I'm living in university residence right now, in what they call 'apartment-style' residence - four or five people share a suite which includes separate bedrooms, a living room area, bathrooms and a kitchen. Most of the time my roomates aren't too interested in cooking despite having access to a full kitchen - microwave dinners and take-out are pretty standard. So having malawry's kitchen off limits probably isn't as harsh as it seems. However, I do think a cooking class would be a great idea.

edited to add:

do the girls ever stage raids on the kitchen? I worked as a dishwasher in a camp kitchen one summer, and we'd eat anything that wasn't nailed down :raz:

Edited by lexy (log)

Cutting the lemon/the knife/leaves a little cathedral:/alcoves unguessed by the eye/that open acidulous glass/to the light; topazes/riding the droplets,/altars,/aromatic facades. - Ode to a Lemon, Pablo Neruda

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I still haven't given up the idea of coming over and helping you prep one of these days, if you would have me.  :smile:

You know I would happily have you over anytime. :wub:

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I'm sure your kitchen is industrial strength, so some gear can be mis-used, but if an effort was introduced to educate the sisters in proper kitchen usage,  resulting in a "certificate", the insurance regs could be therefore moot, the ladies learn basic prep and cooking (which would develop an appreciation for food groups and stave off possible weight-gain from bad restaurant choices), and the sorority achieves a goal of preparing it's members for post-college reality.  I say push this as a requirement, Rochelle!  Make it your own personal home-economics course!  It's a great way to use your budget surplus too.

A couple of people have commented how it's too bad the girls can't use the kitchen, but lack of interest is probably also a pretty big factor. I'm living in university residence right now, in what they call 'apartment-style' residence - four or five people share a suite which includes separate bedrooms, a living room area, bathrooms and a kitchen. Most of the time my roomates aren't too interested in cooking despite having access to a full kitchen - microwave dinners and take-out are pretty standard. So having malawry's kitchen off limits probably isn't as harsh as it seems. However, I do think a cooking class would be a great idea.

When I've offered to teach them to cook, the reaction has been mostly along the lines of what Lexy surmised. I think I could get around the insurance regs if I was standing over them supervising them while they were in my kitchen. They do come in to wash rented glasses and make smoothies etc during rush events, so obviously it's not totally forbidden for them to set foot inside. But I'm supposed to not encourage them to come in, and it's certainly better from a security standpoint if they're not in when I'm not around.

I have enough on my plate without campaigining to train them in the womanly arts. If they wanted to learn that would be one thing, but they don't seem to much care.

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I have enough on my plate without campaigining to train them in the womanly arts. If they wanted to learn that would be one thing, but they don't seem to much care.

I would imagine their plates are pretty full too. I would have loved to cook while in college, but between work, classes, and studying, I was lucky if I had time to make it to the cafeteria twice a day.

Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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Just ate some dinner: first some grapes, then some broccoli, then some chicken wings out of the freezer, with sweet chili sauce. My roommate gave me a glass of pinot gris (Omaka Springs 2003). It tastes ok on its own but terrible with that sweet chili sauce, so I saved most of my glass for now when I'm done eating.

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Malawry: I must do the requisite sorority girl voice (even though I have a feeling none of your girls are like this): OH MAH GAH! This is, like, totally, the best thing EVER! TOTALLY!

Okay, done. Thanks for doing this blog!

I have a question about your campus. Eating disorders were, and still are, rampant at my college (I graduated last year). Out of my seven best friends, three have serious eating disorders, and I have a pretty bad image problem myself. Do you find yourself dealing with eating disorders? Are you in close enough contact with the girls so that you might suspect when someone is purging or starving, and if so, how do you deal with it?

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Rochelle, that is quite an impressive kitchen! Does every sorority have a kitchen like that? Seeing how professional it is, I can understand why the students aren't allowed to use it.

I can think of numerous restaurants in Manhattan (all of which, needless to say, serve more than 34 people for dinner) whose chefs would kill for a kitchen that size.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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From a guys point of view –

I never went to “college” in the sense of living in a dorm; it was more college classes followed up by being an apprentice at a top restaurant. I did however live in a house with 9 other guys going to college that didn’t do the dorm thing. The guys normally took care of themselves most times but I ended up being the cook for everyone when I got home late at night. You know they did the dinner thing on their own (top ramen, nachos, bottled spaghetti sauce and unfortunately fast food) but as soon as I was home – I’m hungry and so they got to be my test subjects so as my experience grew so did the quality of the food. Although when I was practicing for a competition – I did hear a few times “not salmon again” hehe.

We didn’t have a professional kitchen but the kitchen was top of the line from the 1950’s :) - but at least it worked. Personally I think my culinary skills improved by living there because I had to “make due” with the equipment and utensils. So when I had the right stuff, it was far easier to be more creative when you have more to work with because back then you just had to make due to get the same results.

Jason

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I have a question about your campus. Eating disorders were, and still are, rampant at my college (I graduated last year). Out of my seven best friends, three have serious eating disorders, and I have a pretty bad image problem myself. Do you find yourself dealing with eating disorders? Are you in close enough contact with the girls so that you might suspect when someone is purging or starving, and if so, how do you deal with it?

I haven't really seen evidence of eating disorders. There's a large pledge class that just came in (they're not even full members yet, they're still in the "pledge period") and I don't know them at all--so who knows what demons lurk within them? I am in pretty close contact with the girls--I pride myself on learning their names quickly, engaging them, asking how things are with them. But eating disorders tend to be very private, and I'm not sure I'd learn about them. Especially since girls with eating disorders are less likely to come by for food from me.

Rochelle, that is quite an impressive kitchen!  Does every sorority have a kitchen like that?

I believe all the houses on Fraternity Row, where ZTA is located, have the same layout. I've only seen my friend Stewart's kitchen next door--and his is identical to mine. However, I hear that the fraternities have much nastier kitchens than mine. I try to keep mine reasonably clean, but it helps that the girls don't come in. Scuttlebutt is boys do go into their kitchens in their houses, and it shows.

I am lucky to have such a large kitchen. It's almost too large for one person. Yet I still have problems finding space in the fridge and freezer. Nobody's ever satisfied. :rolleyes:

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Rochelle, how old is the sorority building you're in? Did it come with that kitchen or was it put in later? At the Uni I went to in Montana, nearly all the Greek houses were former real houses (mansions for the area). I never got to see their kitchens but I always envisioned that they were like normal home kitchens only much much bigger.

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. – Elsa Schiaparelli, 1890-1973, Italian Designer

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Sorority? Pledge? It's all Greek to me, but I'm fascinated to see what you're doing!

Do you serve more than one menu per meal? Do students know in advance what they're getting? Sorry for the very basic questions...New Zealand students do the Bonfire Cuisine thing, except they mostly roster themselves to cook one-two nights a week. Anybody who can't cook well enough to feed their flatmates is quickly "encouraged" to upgrade their skills!

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However, I hear that the fraternities have much nastier kitchens than mine. I try to keep mine reasonably clean, but it helps that the girls don't come in. Scuttlebutt is boys do go into their kitchens in their houses, and it shows.

You are correct in general about fraternities having nastier kitchens. I am amazed that our kitchen passed the health inspections when I was in school (mid 80s)

Officially the kitchen was off limits after the cook left for the day, but we always found a way to bypass whatever new lock they put on the door. Drunken/stoned hunger is an amazing power. When they finally came up with a serious industrial lock, we sent our smallest person down the dumbwaiter with the 70 year old rope holding it up (main kitchen was downstairs, service kitchen upstairs, old house)

Insurance really wasn't the issue back then regarding access to the kitchen, it was the fact that our cook hated coming in every morning to a dirty kitchen. He also hated the fact that we would try and reheat leftover cheeseburgers from lunch by laying the 2 slice toaster down on its side (no toaster oven) We went through alot of toasters.

You're lucky you only have 34 to cook for. We had 75 brothers eating 3 meals a day (short order breakfast, no meals on weekends) plus we would have a sorority join our meal plan so add another 25 girls or so for dinners only (we had 2 seatings for dinner). We had 1 cook who sometimes had one of his buddies come in to help who we paid under the table. Of course we didn't eat nearly as well as your girls seem to be. I think it will only take them a couple of months after graduation to realize how good they had it.

Edited by Taboni (log)

Get your bitch ass back in the kitchen and make me some pie!!!

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Rochelle, how old is the sorority building you're in?  Did it come with that kitchen or was it put in later?

I don't know how old the house is. The kitchen was installed 10 years ago. The compresser on my freezer was replaced right before I started, and the compresser on the fridge was replaced over the winter break. The university owns the house, so they do the maintenance on the kitchen. The guys who do this work are awesome and I'm always trying to feed them and talk to them when they come by. Just last week, somebody came by to install a new switch on my grease trap--now it's much easier to get to. He took some cookies when he left. (He was also incredulous as to how clean my grease trap was!)

Do you serve more than one menu per meal? Do students know in advance what they're getting?

I post menus on Friday for the next week. As for how many menus per meal--stay tuned for your response. :raz:

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The ground is clear right now, but there's a major snowstorm forecast for today. The university is closed because of it. I called and talked to my boss last night and we agreed that I'd definitely come in for a while, but how long I stay depends on the weather. I did most of the mise-en-place for lunch and got a jump on dinner when I came in yesterday, so it should only take a couple of hours to produce all of today's food and maybe even get started on tomorrow.

So far today, I've consumed a PB&J sandwich on toasted Spring Mill Honey Whole Wheat, and I'm working through another mug of Mayorga coffee.

A note on the timing of blog posts during the week: I have no Internet access at work. So I will not be posting until I return home. Don't worry, it's coming every day this week.

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Can you post here the menus you posted on Friday?

Here at the University of Cambridge things are organised a little differently. Although the main teaching is done in the University depoartments, students also belong to a college. I am a member (actually a by-fellow, but I was an undergraduate and graduate student) of Emmanuel College, which is about 600 people. Colleges provide living, eating, drinking and individual or small group tuition. Each college has a full kitchen brigade, and turns out 3 meals a day, 7 days a week including cafeteria and formal meals. In some sense one of the ways the Colleges compete for the best staff and students is to provide the best food as part of the general ambience.

Formal meals (including the wearing of gowns) were declining in popularity. This was a pity, since socialising and dining together is an important part of the Cambridge education. By increasing the quality of the food, and making it more of a social occaison the trend has been reversed.

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This Blog made me remember a bit of school life...

I went to an international (high)school in Valais, Switzerland for a couple years. Meal service was a 3x/day affair and would not commence until everyone was there and "announcements" were made in three languages. The boys were pretty bratty and behaviour was hardly level during meals. No one was allowed out of there seats during meals unless you had a very good reason.

The kitchen was run by a hyperactive Italian fellow who would leap over the steam tables and drag a student by his ear over to the adult table for punishment when (or if) he caught anyone disrespecting his food. This was deathly embarrassing so order was reasonably well-kept.

We could depend on some weekly euro-basics like schnitzel, brats & potato, and pizza. Every two Friday nights we'd have cheese fondue. The joke on any new kid was to find the "potato", which was really a clove of garlic and watch his face fall off when he found and ate it.

There was always a lot of salad with a strong, salty vinaigrette. A rumour surfaced that the dressing contained salt-petre in an effort to control the raging hormones of the boys and keep them from sneaking out at night to meet-up with the girls dorm down the road. I have no idea if that's true or even possible, but after a while, no one ate the salad. The Chef was mighty pissed-off.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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I still haven't given up the idea of coming over and helping you prep one of these days, if you would have me.   :smile:

You know I would happily have you over anytime. :wub:

I just wanted to offer my services as well.

That is all.

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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I just got home--I left work around 2pm due to the weather. The menus are going awry all week because of this. :angry:

I usually start my morning by getting the salad bar up and running. The salad bar is available all day—I usually refresh it around 4pm to be sure it’s stocked and has plenty of ice for dinner. I bought these little canisters and tongs from Sysco—they’re perfect for the sort of setup I have. There’s always lettuce, tomatoes, cukes, assorted peppers, shredded cheese, croutons, and five dressings. Other offerings vary—hearts of palm, parmesan, sliced mushrooms, shredded carrots make regular appearances. I used to make all the dressings from scratch. Then I started buying in Caesar dressing so it’d be more stable on the bar. Then they started asking for more variety and for a fat-free option. I experimented but they didn’t like the homemade dressings so much—they’re used to the gloppier, food-starch-modified commercial dressings. The vinaigrette was my last holdout; I’d make balsamic or a Greek-style vinaigrette in my blender for the salad bar. But then I got multiple requests for “a Zesty Italian” type dressing. I cried uncle, and now all the dressings are Sysco’s finest: ranch, bleu cheese, Italian, fat-free honey mustard, and Caesar.

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In between working on the salad bar, I get the soup going. Today’s is chicken noodle, and I prepped the vegetables for it yesterday so I only had to dump them in a pot and start sweating them off. I stirred every so often while chopping veg for the salad bar.

Meanwhile, my breadbaker showed up with his Monday delivery. Charlene is my regular driver from Ottenberg’s, but she’s off for three weeks to visit the Disney Magic Kingdom with her extended family. (Charlene is really cool, and she works hard—she deserves this vacation!) So two guys I don’t know showed up to drop off the bread this week. I order my bread on Fridays and only get in one delivery per week. I like the Ottenberg’s product, and it’s fairly cheap to get their good bread in. They sell a lot of things I’ve never ordered like donuts and muffins. They sell some specialty breads like croissants and pita, but those are usually frozen products that they just bake off or repackage. (I still order those items from them when I need them, because it’s not like the supermarket product is any better—plus I have to go to the supermarket if I want the supermarket product!)

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The bars are because the door to the downstairs area (where my kitchen is situated) is at the bottom of a steep ramp. The bars are at ground level, to prevent you from falling onto the ramp.

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Breads this week include white and wheat for sandwiches, sesame seed buns for chicken sandwiches and veggie burgers, hot dog buns, and Italian-style bread for tomorrow's garlic bread.

Today’s lunch special is chicken salad sandwiches. When I make chicken stock, I use whole chickens. I pull them out after about an hour of poaching, when they’re fully cooked, and I cool them and then pick all the meat off. The bones go back into the stockpot for more cooking, and the meat gets frozen for chicken salad. Like most of my food, the chicken salad is deceptively simple: meat, mayonnaise, mustard, walnuts, rehydrated raisins, celery, salt and pepper. It’s wildly popular among the girls.

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Here’s how lunch works at the sorority:

I open at 11:30am and serve until 1:30pm. There is always a salad bar set up, and there are two fresh soups each week (one debuts on Monday for service Monday and Tuesday, the other appears Wednesday for service the rest of the week). There’s always a short-order menu available, little things that usually take only a few minutes to assemble and serve. Here’s what’s on the short-order menu:

Egg and cheese sandwich (fried, scrambled)

Chicken breast sandwich

Quesadilla: plain, with chicken breast, with choice of onion/pepper/mushroom

Cold cuts (always ham and turkey, often roast beef too)

Boca burger or Gardenburger

Vegetarian “chicken” sandwich (the Morningstar Farms product)

Hebrew National hot dogs

Grilled cheese

Boboli individual pizzas: plain, onion/pepper/mushroom, pepperoni

They can also get any combination of the above that they can dream up—grilled ham and cheese, vegetarian “chicken” quesadilla, etc. They rarely stray from the listed options, though.

In addition to the soup, salad and short-order menu, there is always one or sometimes two other items on the menu. This is sometimes referred to as “the special” by the girls. It might be a gyro sandwich on pita with tzatziki, or it might be tuna salad, or it might be handmade turkey and beef burgers. Sometimes it’s a twist on one of the short-order items: chicken breast sandwich with pesto, turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce. Occasionally I bake tater tots and serve those with lunch—they’re very popular, but they require planning since they take about 45 minutes to crisp up in the oven.

If you can’t make lunch—or any other meal—you sign up for a “late plate.” If you make a specific request on the signup sheet I do my best to fulfill it, but if you don’t make a request I usually prepare the day’s special for you.

I’m proud of my soups in particular. I put a lot of love into the soups, and they’re beloved by the girls. I make my stocks from scratch, which takes time but pays off in deeper flavor and texture to the finished product. I probably expend more effort and time on soups than I do anything else for lunch. The most popular soup is tomato—we had that last week. Other favorite soups not on this week’s menu include potato, creamy mushroom, chicken with lemon and rice (a sort of variation of avgolemono). Sometimes I make egg drop soup or coconut-chicken Thai-style soups. I do a number of vegetarian soups—the creamy spinach is especially popular with one of the two vegetarian sisters—and sometimes I do bean-based soups like lentil (these are less popular). At least one of each week’s soups is vegetarian.

(I wrote this at 10am) I just looked outside, and the snow is starting to really come down. So I guess this means I’ll be departing sooner rather than later. I’m changing tonight’s menu as a result: instead of pad thai with chicken and tofu satays, it’ll be chicken-rice casserole. Not as special, but it can sit in the oven all afternoon and then be put out by my boss at dinnertime.

Every Monday, my Sysco representative Beth shows up to take my food order. I usually write it out by hand so she can enter it into her laptop while I work, but I love spending time chatting with Beth and normally spend a few minutes hanging out with her before handing the list over. Beth and her ex-husband used to run a restaurant, and she has an encyclopedic knowledge of Sysco’s products, so she is very useful to me. She also does anything for me—she’s been known to put something in her SUV and speed it to me when I made an order error, and she makes adjustments on the rare occasions when I am dissatisfied with food quality.

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Sysco gets a bad reputation in some foodie circles, but my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I buy mostly raw ingredients from them, not prefab stuff. Most of their business is clearly the prefab, but I’ve had very few problems with quality on ingredients and they almost always have what I need. The things they don’t carry, or only carry in enormous quantities, I buy on my own at a local market (hence all the trips to Han Ah Reum and Costco etc). I also use a gourmet food supplier for chocolates, fruit purees, and other specialty ingredients.

Anyway. Here’s what went into today’s order:

Breaded eggplant, portabello mushrooms, jumbo lump crab, scallions, lettuce, tomatoes (1 layer), Boboli shells, shredded cheddar, cucumbers, 1doz green peppers, full case red peppers, onions, baby spinach, pasta sauce, skim milk, OJ, 2 cases strawberries, cantaloupe, red grapes, 1 doz apples, 1 doz pears, 2 cases plates, 1 case each bowls cups forks and spoons, fresh rosemary, sliced mushrooms, sliced deli turkey (I don’t have a meat slicer), Oreo cookies, 1 doz oranges, 6oz chicken breasts, ricotta cheese, and three kinds of Yoplait yogurt (breast cancer is the official cause of ZTA, so they “save lids to save lives” and I do my part by making sure they have a steady supply).

Tomorrow night, there's supposed to be a fondue party as a "crowning event." These are more casual events than those hosted during rush week, but they're designed in part to attract interested girls who may not have gone through formal rush. I made a big batch of ganache to use for the fondue today. I think the process of making ganache is fascinating, so I took some pictures:

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This is when I had just poured the cream over the chocolate.

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This is when the emulsion was just starting to grab in the center.

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And this is when the emulsion was fully formed. It should be a simple matter of melting this mixture and pouring it into fondue pots tomorrow night.

While I was working over my ganache, I got a visit from my exterminator. (This is actually the father-in-law of the guy I normally see.) I have thankfully limited problems with insects due to these guys' diligent work.

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Soon it was 11:30, and I was making lunch. I saw most of the girls in the house today--they didn't have class, after all, so they had nothing better to do than come hang out and eat lunch together. Most were in their PJs and had clearly just awakened. I made a lot of egg-and-cheese sandwiches for them. They were all over the soup, too--it's soup weather outside.

I'm planning to just relax most of the rest of today. I'm zonked even though it was a short work day.

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Can you post here the menus you posted on  Friday?

My plan was for you to discover them on a day-by-day basis, as I prepare each item. (Perhaps I will post the full menu in a single post at the end of the week, though.)

I just wanted to offer my services as well.

:wub: Anytime.

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After a brief nap and an afternoon movie, I made some turkey burgers and a salad for dinner. Ya'll probably think I never make anything interesting at home, but I'll try to right that belief when my parents come into town this weekend.

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Malawry,

I love your blog. I wasn't in a sorority, but my dorm didn't have any cooking facilities either. i used to have lunch at a friend's "house" occasionally...no made to order there - ever. no homemade soups either. but there was a big cereal wheel i think. and always dessert. better than saga. (food service)

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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