Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Well I have started a new job as head chef at a small Irish Pub located on the water in an up and coming resort town. This has been a challenge trying to run a business and start up a new kitchen. The good thing is that the owners have agreed to a set schedule. This is not as glamorous as people think, nor as cool as it is depicted on TV in shows like top chef and hells kitchen. Well maybe Hell's kitchen. The great thing is that the restaurant/pub is small. The kitchen of course is hot as hell!

In the matter of three days we created new menus, changed up kitchen equipment, hired staff, created recipes, ordered the food which arrived at 3:00pm and opened the doors at 5:00pm. That was fun! I didn't sleep for three nights with constant thoughts of menu items and food preparation on my mind. It is not a glamorous job at all, but one in which a person can use their artistic and creative talents.

The best part of the job is the view. The restaurant sits right on the river and we get a good view of the sun setting on the water which is priceless to me. I have noticed that throughout my life I always seem to look for nature and calm surroundings. Lisa has had to help me more with business and lawn care which she despises. She actually has callous hands for the first time in 25 years. It has been a good thing for her to help out, that way she has more of an appreciation for blue collar workers and the jobs they perform. I think more people should experience this and get a better understanding of what it takes to keep the world turning.

So today has been my first day off to do nothing at all. I feel lazy but unproductive which is making it hard to rel axe. We did watch a new movie with Clint Eastwood called Grand Torino. I thought it was good. So life has been crazy recently like a whirlwind.

Friday, June 12, 2009

a good picnic

We are having our community picnic tomorrow. We have never been in the ten years that we have lived here. We normally get a quarterly newsletter regarding information about what is going on in the community, some local news, and other tidbits. Then they get to the part about how they spend our money from the annual dues that are collected. This is the part that drew my attention. Last year they spent $700.00 on the community picnic-What! Okay, it is bring a dish but then they had a soft ice cream truck come in for the day, plus a pit barbecue cooker. Now we have decided to go and check this out this year. Lisa is wondering if she could manage to eat 10 years of paying for barbecue in one year. I really don't think that will happen.
Business took a hard hit this week losing three customers due to lack of funds and layoffs. We were told that the statistic for our area of foreclosure rate is getting higher. On the good side of things is that we will be getting a casino in the county and open by the end of 2010 which will bring 4500 jobs. That is great and badly needed.
I have found it really hard to write lately and even harder to find the positive in things. I have dealt with so many people that are struggling, irritable, unhappy, and curt. Still trying to maintain a pleasant attitude is hard. The other day I went to get supplies at home depot and the traffic was heavy and I thought I would be nice and let someone else go first at the stop sign. This guy is beeping his horn behind me shouting "come on, move it". I just wanted to stop right in the middle of all that traffic and punch him in the mouth! What is the hurry? What is 45 seconds to get in a store? There for a moment I visualized Kathy Bates in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes ramming her car into another. Finally I got a grip and went about my business.
So to get some peace I am going fishing this Sunday. I always found it really relaxing to sit and listen to mother nature and just let the time pass by. So tonight my thoughts will be that of a big fish and a good picnic.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Maryland tradition

I thought this weekend that I would just take the time to chill and not think about much of anything. We decided that we would get some crabs on Saturday since the weather was so nice. Nothing better than that old Maryland tradition of eating steamed crabs and cold beer on a nice day. So we spread the newspaper out, poured a couple of cold ones and dug into the pile of crabs in the center, chatting away idly.
Well you know me and the mind started to wonder. Who actually discovered the crab and first ate one. Of course they would have gotten really sick if they ate it raw first. I wouldn't want to think about that. If you really look at crabs they are ugly as sin. Who would have thought they were even edible. Crabs being scavengers will eat anything and I am surprised that this does not deter people from eating them, I try not to think about it myself.
This brought back memories of when I was a teenager working at a local crab house. Myself and two other boys were the crab steamers on the weekends. The delivery of about 50 bushel crab would come and we would stock them in the refrigerated truck by the steamer room. We had three huge steamers that were about four feet tall and 3 ft in diameter that were fueled by a propane line. Each came with 4 steamer baskets that you could layer on top of each other. Then we had the chiller. A mammoth steel vat with a flat screen on the bottom that was attached to a center rod and pulley system. First we turned the drain cocks off, then started filling the chiller with water, we had to add about 300 pounds of ice to the water then we were ready to start adding the crabs. For those of you that have never steamed crabs before they can become very lively and fast to get away while guarding themselves with their claws open and ready to chomp down on anyone that touches them. Once you experience a really bad pinch you don't want to again. The cold air in the refrigerated truck subdues them enough to get the lid off and dump them onto the steel table. This is done to check for dead crabs before they get into the chiller. However you can not take to long to sort because they become very agitated quickly. We had to be fast and accurate picking them up and whizzing them into the chiller. We have chased many escapees all the way out to the parking lot. We had a rule that if they made it to the outside steamer door they were spared the fate of the steamer pot.
Once this is done they go into the chiller which will put them into a long hypnotic state. The crabs stayed in the chiller for about 20 minutes, then we would use the pulley system to lift the crabs slowly out of the ice water. This allowed us the time to fold the legs and claws in, arrange them in the baskets, season them , and get them into the steaming pots without getting pinched. The crabs will come out in that position also which is more presentable on the tray and it keeps the claws and legs from coming off.
This was a really popular crab house and we would spend hours steaming crabs. It was a really fun job and we had a good boss to work for. The surprising thing is that I have never steamed my own crabs since then. When we were packed the boss would come down and ask us to put on some extra salt or add some hot pepper flakes to the seasoning so the patrons would drink more beer.
Eating crabs has to be the most popular Maryland tradition.