The plans for goat bacon didn’t quite work out the way I had hoped.
I picked up the goat belly from the vendor and even before I got home I knew it wasn’t going to be what I expected. I could feel rib bones and very little meat. When I took it out of the shrink wrap, my suspicions were confirmed. I had some lovely fatty rib meat but not much else. I was a little disappointed and sad. I was really hoping to do something unique like goat bacon, but that was not to be.
Instead I took the breasts (because essentially, that’s what I had) and browned them in some bacon fat before putting them in a crock with some white wine and chicken stock. I let them braise for about 3 hours before I had to shut the whole thing down because I was going to be away from the house for a while. Everything got put in the fridge to sit.
Tonight I pulled it all out and used some of the braising liquid to make rice and then made a veloute with the rest. Then I set about pulling the meat off the bones.
Again, disappointed. Even after that time in the braise, the meat was full of cartilage and fat and hard to get off the bones. It really needed more time. So I took what I could for one meal and threw the rest back in the crock. This time I added a carrot and some beer and that will sit over night and over the day tomorrow. That should create the final product I’d like. The rice and veloute mix was more of a porridge with some meat but still delicious with the addition of some feta.
So I didn’t get the bacon I wanted. It’s place on my pop up menu will have to be reconsidered.
I freely admit that when I got the call I was on line at a steam table Chinese food joint in the financial district getting my fix of shameful and questionable food. The guy in front of me on line gave me an apologetic look as he took the last of the orange chicken before he scurried down the line to the grease bomb egg rolls. In my defense, I had just spent the last four days doing my part to execute the Folsom Street Fair. Four days of junk food, coffee and red bulls. The steam table Chinese was an actual step up from the chicken fingers and fries I had shoved in my mouth as fast as possible on Sunday when I had 10 minutes in between bursts of lifting tables, chairs and supply lugs.
When my phone rang, I looked at the number and didn’t recognize it and assumed it was someone with some issue pertaining to the fair. I considered answering it and being a good board volunteer even though the fair was over. Instead, I ignored it and dropped my phone back in my pocket while I eye balled the crab Rangoon.
As I walked back to my office I began to feel the pangs of guilt as I began to run the list of things that could have possibly spawned the call. Had the trucks been returned with damage? Had the storage facility needed me to unlock the units? Were the Folsom Street Events offices on fire because I had left the candy bucket too close to the heater last week? So with some trepidation I balanced my fried rice noodles and sesame pepper beef in one hand while I checked voice mail.
“Hi, this is Paul from Golden Gate Meat. I wanted to let you know that the goat we talked about a couple of weeks ago is going to be slaughtered this week and I wanted to give you a head up and see if you still want the belly.”
My brain gave a little BZZZT noise as I stood on the corner. Part of me wanted to ignore the call. I was just too damn tired to deal with it. The other part of me immediately screamed “You dimwit! Call him back! We’ve got a pop up to produce in 24 days!”
So I called him back. Nice guy. Funny too. He’s bleeding the goat out on Wednesday and dividing it up on Thursday. I said I’ll take whatever belly he can give me on Friday. We estimate I’ll get about 3 to 5 pounds worth but most likely around 4.
What does one do with goat belly? My instinct is to make goat bacon. But then I thought about what I’m trying to accomplish with the pop up and wondered if I needed to push myself a little here. What could I make that highlighted the goat meat and required a little effort from me? Maybe some braised goat belly in a demi? Maybe some goat lardons tossed over the salad course? Or perhaps a stew? Or maybe I just need to do what I often do with meat I’ve never cooked with before… put it on the counter, touch it, feel it, chill it and then dig into the internet and see what’s out there and let my mind take over. Let the meat speak as loud as possible and create something that would never be seen on a steam table lunch line and something that can be enjoyed guilt free.
So I was all fired up to start working more on the blog and then…
The laptop died. As in it wouldn’t start. At all. Ever. With no warning. With no consideration of my feelings and plans and goals! How rude I said. How inconvenient. I shook my fist at the sky and swore vengeance.
(OK I may have accidentally spilled a vodka and lemonade on it.)
The nice man at the the Apple Genius bar basically told me it would cost more to repair than the machine was worth. I sighed and thought back to how much that machine and I had been through. How many catering jobs, how many “boyfriends” and how many photo shoots. But lately it had been limping along do the basic jobs I needed and wheezed and coughed and sputtered the whole time. I knew this was coming.
It took me 4 months to save the money but I bought a new iMac. I no longer needed the mobility a Macbook afforded since I have an iPad and iPhone. What I did need was more monitor space for editing photos with more precision. If anything, that is what I’m looking forward to. It will be interesting to see how my work changes.
But all that will have to wait a few days. I’m a little overwhelmed with volunteering for the Folsom Street Fair this week end. As an associate board member I’ve stepped into a new role that has a level of responsibility I’m actually quite enjoying. In a short amount of time I will help present a world famous street fair with 400,000 attendees. There’s 1000+ volunteers and more details than I care to think about at the moment. It will all go over fine but I’m honestly nervous. A big portion of the day is on my shoulders and I just want it to be right. I’ve let go of a lot of expectation surrounding the day, so for now, I’m just trying to make it the best it can be.
There’s a new man in my life who is making me quite happy. More on him later.
With the new machine I’m hoping to post here more often. If you don’t hear from me here, give me a shout. I won’t mind too much.
So life moves on.
I’m employed finally with a stable and profitable company. Its very corporate but it’s paying well and is letting me dig myself out of debt and still allow me a few extravagances. I even had a second part time job for a while. I appreciated having the extra money, but when I was eating oatmeal for dinner because I didn’t have time to cook, I began to question what I was doing. So I quit the part time job and I’m enjoying some more personal time.
Am I cooking? You bet. Last night I went to a friend’s house and we made gnocchi and drank wine and giggled. It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday night.
I’m also planning a pop up restaurant for the end of the month. It will be at TRUCK on June 23rd from 4-7. This time around I’m presenting an all pork menu and will even have a vip dish. Really looking forward to that but also nervous about having time to do it.
Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive over the last few months. I’m looking forward to a summer of fun and friends and pork.
The light in the kitchen was nice today.
Life is a big ball of stress at the moment. I’m handling things as best I can. Today I retreated to my back yard for some sun.
I’m grateful that the house next door is currently unoccupied. That means I can pick fruit from the trees in their yard that hang over into mine. Bowls full of lemons and blood oranges. The blood oranges are weighing down the three to such a degree that soon I’ll have bowls and blowls of them too. I haven’t decided what to do with these yet, but give me time. The down side is that they are working on the apartments and soon people living there may have something to say about my pilfering. For now, I’m grateful for the bounty.
They were part of my house mate’s CSA box. I’m not really a fan of them since in my mind they’re the Kim Kardashian of vegetables…prickly and a lot of work for very little pay off. There’s a reason artichoke dip has a litany of other ingredients to make it palatable.
Yet they look great. That color and texture is hard to resist.
I had pulled them out of the fridge and tossed them on the kitchen table so I could get access to something else. I looked up and saw them sitting there and the photographer in my head starting making obscene comments about my lack of produced work lately. It’s a simple shot but it says what I wanted to.
It’s been a crazy week. Two interviews and a lot of side work. The recruiter inteview went fine and, unlike with several other recruiters, this one actually went through my resume with me and gave me her response and listened to what I’m looking for. I meet with her temp placement colleague on Tuesday. The big interview of the week was for a Catering Manager job. While it was the kind of work that I really wish I was doing, it was clear even to me that I wasn’t a good fit. That being said they seemed to like me and there may be other opportunities to pursue.
I came home from that interview and stood in the kitchen and just started cooking. I do that. I hide behind the processes and the knife work and the fire. It’s give my brain just enough of a pause to begin to process better. This was no different. Soon I have meatballs and tomato sauce simmering away and in another pot, red chard and bacon reducing. Two friends came to dinner and were good enough to sit ad talk over a very nice Pinot. A quickly improvised Apple and Raisin crumble with an oatmeal and butter and oliveoil topping ended things sweetly.
Finding a job is hard for anyone. My resume is pretty eclectic and many recruiters or HR people really don’t know what to do with it. I’m often asked if I’m a caterer or an office manager. With my long term plans nebulous at times, finding an answer that will get me the job is hard. Getting the interview in the first place can often be harder.
So I’ll keep looking and keep applying and keep networking and just keep going. I’ll come up with new plans and new ways to get things done. In the end as long as I can come home and retreat into the kitchen and cook, I’ll be ok.
It really hadn’t sunk in how much I resented losing my previous living situation until someone recently asked me why I wasn’t posting about food and why I wasn’t’ presenting any photography. I partly lied and said I wasn’t feeling creative and I was too busy looking for full time work.
The truth is I missed, and still do for that matter, my old apartment on Pierce St. The 14-foot west facing windows in the dining room had been my primary light source for several years. I developed my skills there and I was struggling in my new home to replicate them. Besides that, my kitchen was smaller, darker and less conducive to spur of the moment food photography.
When my friends and I agreed to move in here, there was an agreement that the garage would become my studio. That was delayed at first as we tried to merge two households into one and purge things we didn’t need any more. Storing our stuff became a creative process that took precedence over taking pictures.
Sure, I could have wandered around my new neighborhood and thrown myself into documenting that (and I still should), but losing the previous space had left me feeling really put out. I resented losing it and more so felt like there was no point in trying. I wasn’t clear exactly how angry I was until I found myself seething about it after a few innocent questions. Something was clearly wrong. As I found myself languishing in bed one day with no sense of creativity and a looming sense of failure, I realized that the only thing standing in my way of getting the studio going in the garage was me.
I went down that day and started moving things around. I realized that I had been sulking and mourning the loss of a good space and was letting that stop me. If I was going to be happy here at all, I needed to adapt and relearn and recreate There’s still more stuff to get rid of, or at least organize better. Yet after an hour of dealing with it head on, all of a sudden I could see space where a paper seamless back drop could go and I could see where I could use some natural light from the back door and I could see where I could get power for my lights.
Today I went down and did some quick and dirty self-portraits. Nothing ground breaking but it was exciting and invigorating to dig out all the equipment and make it work together and begin thinking about process again. I’m not where I was, but I may be on my way to somewhere new.
A quick and dirty self portrait in the new studio.
Like many people, I am still faced with a pile of Thanksgiving leftovers several days after the event. I’ve had turkey sandwiches and Brussels sprouts for lunch and midnight snacks of stuffing. And yet despite all that, I still have a ton of food to use. Rather than let them go bad or try to throw them in freezer where they would sit for months, I opted to make a unilateral use of them. It was just a matter of being honest that, no, I wasn’t going to have time to make something with all that turkey meat AND make something with all the left over side dishes AND make something with all the left over turkey stock. So I made an easy turkey stew by throwing everything (Yes, everything) in the crockpot and beefing it up with rice . The cranberry sauce added a pleasant citrus note and the chopped giblets that never made it in the gravy added richness. The left over bread stuffing dissolved and thickened the stew along with a roux.
This really is an easy dinner to make while doing weekend housework and will feed everyone (at least in my house) for several days. This will be especially good on a series of days where we are expecting some serious rain and chills. A quick batch of biscuits to go along with the stew makes things perfectly filling and enjoyable. Sure it’s not exactly a low fat salad, but you can go to the gym later when it stops raining.
Approximately 8-12 oz of chopped turkey
Approximately 16-24 oz of left over side vegetables like squash and potatoes.
1 large onion
3 stalks of celery
1 large carrot
2 large bay leaves
1 tsp poultry seasoning
2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp tarragon leaves
Olive oil as needed
3 cups turkey stock
3 cups water
1 cup of rice
1 stick butter
½ cup flour
1) Dice onion, celery and carrot. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until translucent.
2) Add turkey and mix well and then add poultry season, rosemary, tarragon and bay leaves. Mix well.
3) Add liquids and bring to boil.
4) Add everything to a crackpot and then add rice. Allow to simmer for 2-3 hours.
5) Melt butter and add flour and stir frequently over medium heat until roux begin to color to light brown. Add to crick pot and allow to thicken.