Friday, September 26, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

You have no idea how happy this makes me. Even if it is less than three months until Christmas.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


There are regular periods of downtime that you can expect, plan for. Between meal rushes. January. Those are times for rejuvenation, restoration. They help restore the psyche for what can be a grueling job even as they offer a little too much time for practical jokes.

I'm not so good with practical jokes.

What I like, though, are the unexpected downtimes - minor, surmountable disasters. Like the tree that knocked out power for the last three hours of the shop's day. After the flurry of getting everything as taken care of as we could, we started to wait it out. You have to wait it out, at least within reason, because those freezers need to come back on when the power is restored. Those timers need resetting, and if you can, you still need to get those doughs made. But until then, what else can you do but sit around, (possibly with the sudden manifestation of beer) and tell war stories. And don't think it is not a competition for the best fish.

We got some doozies. Boston blizzard deliveries with customers screaming about why they shouldn't pay because they weren't able to open even though you got the bread there on time. Side of the road wedding cake repair after a fender bender. The hands-down winner was the almost no power for three days after a windstorm the week after Thanksgiving. As in, driving proofed bread to another bakery to bake off just so you wouldn't lose it, and getting the power back only after you'd wiped out all the holiday backstock inventory you'd been prepping for weeks. Ouch.

Power was still out when I left, back on as usual the next morning.

Friday, September 5, 2008

How to make hot chocolate

Go downstairs to the kitchen. Watch the cats laugh at you when you step on the cold linoleum floor. They, being smarter than you, are sitting on the edge of the carpet, which they will not leave until you open the cat food, and then will return to the carpet as quickly as possible. The food will keep. You consider once again that the kitchen would not be so cold if you didn't leave the window open at night, but realize that you like it, because it reminds you of cooperstown and gives you more of a reason to have hot chocolate. You'll start closing the window soon. Maybe October.

Throw some vegetarian specialty kinda poptarts in the toaster oven because you find them strangelly compelling. Look at the box for the first time and snicker at these "healthy" roof tiles being 420 calories for two. It being a special occasion, you throw the box away, never to contemplate such numbers again.

Grab the New Favorite Pot, a large chunk of dark Callebaut (because you are the sort to have this lying around) and some water. Slosh water into the pot and turn on the stove. Chop a larger quantity of chocolate than you think necessary, and throw it in the pot. Add some sugar, vanilla paste and salt, because you have learned only as an adult that salt is good. Scoff at the milk. The milk is for pussies. You are having Hot Chocolate. You are not having a latte. You are not having anything Au Lait.

The not pop tarts are starting to smell good.

Deem it Time to Begin Whisking. Contemplate Brillat-Savarin and MFK Fisher and their great Hot Chocolate Wisdom. Whisk madly, stop, and taste. Be surprised that the flavors are right on the first try, because you always are. Become deeply critical, adjust flavor accordingly. Consider the Chinese 5 spice powder, restrain. It would not harmonize with the not pop tarts. Turn off the heat as the mixture begins to boil.

Grab a ladle and pour ladlesful of the hot chocolate back into the pot from high above, not to aerate, but to make yourself feel like willy wonka. Such is goodness. Pour some Hot Chocolate into the cup.

The toaster oven dings.

Wrap a hand around the warming mug and begin nibbling off the dry flavorless parts of the not pop tart. Quickly follow with a sustaining flavorful sip of the hot chocolate to rehydrate your tongue. Retreat to upstairs where the floor is carpeted to savor beverage and open birthday cards.

Good morning.