"Gimme the girl that's beautiful, without a trace of makeup of on,
Barefoot in the kitchen, singing her favorite song.
Dancing around like a fool, starring in her own little show,
Gimme the girl the rest of the world, ain't lucky enough to know."
~Joe Nichols, Gimme That Girl

...not saying that this is me,
but Nichols sure nailed it when
he wrote the barefoot in the
kitchen line!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Substantiality in a Ramekin.

   It's been a molasses day.  Slow, sweet, smooth.  Oh, and damp.  With some stickiness :P when I got gooey cream cheese frosting all over my fingers while eating homemade carrot cake.  Anyway.
   But it was cold, readers, a damp chilly cold.  That persistent drizzle outside was making me wish for sunshine and a warm chai latte.  I wrote in my culinary memoirs...but that was a sorry excuse for food, because it's only the literary version of food.  I wanted real, tangible food.  Hot, nourishing, substantial.
   So when I arrived home from a babysitting job, I put on an apron, tied up my hair (which is always obstinate during wet days,) and slipped into the kitchen.  I wanted to beat Mum to the finish line, because when she makes what I wanted to make, she adds pasta to it, or potatoes- and pasta and potatoes ruin EVERYTHING.  (Pardon my scream-typing that word.  Potatoes are taboo unless it's a pure potato dish.  And I have an extreme aversion to pasta, unless it's gluten free, or spectacular in shape- and I'm stiff when it comes to judging spectacular.)
   Readers, it's time for chicken soup!!!  Without the noodles.
Starting on the mirepoix.

Dicing celery.

Lulabelle couldn't believe that she wasn't cute enough to merit the consumption of all the chicken.  By herself.

In a ramekin.

   Up close.

   There you go, readers.  Chicken, carrot, cabbage, celery, mitsuba, salt, and pepper.  I'm gonna go grab another ramekin full.  It's yummy.
The Barefoot Girl (who had to put polka dot socks on because it was too chillie-willie to go without.)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Just Because I Have All The Time In The World.

Every single leaf and petal in these salads are from our garden and greenhouse- with the exception of several ingredients in the marigold citrus pearl dressing.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Patiently Waiting.

   It is the most difficult and rewarding day of the week...Thursday.  Five to six hours in the greenhouse, then deliveries to our chefs' afterwards.  Often, we fry and bake in the hot and humid air, but I see the privilege of working with Mum, and the beauty of our micros- suddenly it makes sense to me.
   I think of Chef Genova (names are changed here at Barefoot In The Kitchen for privacy's sake,) and his inscrutable dark face.  Is he pleased?  Disappointed?  Proud of himself for having this micro green grower and her minions at his beck and call?  Yep.  That's probably it.  Darn well puffed up.
   Chef Uncle.  He's always happy.  Even when he has the sniffles, um, the allergies.  A kind and easy going fellow without any ego trips.  I hope he enjoys the little complimentary gifts Mum leaves him every week.  After all, he is creative, and appreciative of our micros, which are two attributes that make him immensely personable.
   My mind smiles as I conjure up an image of Chef Jake.  His hair is probably still curled and sprayed into perfection, unless he's gone for the straight wave today.  His glasses are most likely going to be fogged up when we arrive...and he moves away from the hot stove to greet us with a welcoming smile.
   I am not prepared, however, for the activity that whirls when we stop at The Chef's kitchen.  Yes, he is The Chef.  With his team to support and enhance his increasing culinary cosmos.  Two of the team members hover near us as we lay out the neat clam-shells of micros in preparation for the invoice sign off. 
   Mum is tired, quietly proud, and focused.  This is her offering to a world of chefs', her lesson in working hard to her children, her business.  Most of all, this is her masterpiece- the culmination of years of research, experimentation, and dedication.  Micros of fine quality: acceptable to well-trained palates and eyes.  I look at my Mum, and I want to stand near her.  Emulate her.  I look at the two team members', and they could not respect her more.
   One stands nearby, gravely and solemnly watching the invoice being checked off, occasionally permitting a smile as he covertly glances at the tiny micro greens nestled within their clam-shells.  Oh, the horror of the next moment!, as I nearly laugh out loud at the second team member. 
   Dressed in immaculate chef whites, hair neatly groomed- he is the image of an ambitious, motivated individual trained in excellence.  I jest not...this next bit is true.
   He is leaning ever so boyishly against the metal kitchen rack, hugging the corner pole with his hands.  One cheek is laid in oh-so-wistful a fashion against his wrists.  Such puppy eyes!  Politely and gently hinting to Mum.  His smile inquires.  "Did you bring me anything?" it asks.
   Mum is growing several specialty items exclusively for him...and he is hoping for a surprise.  Even if it's tiny.  Especially if it's stunning. 
   He remains at his corner of the rack.  Hopeful.  Quiet.  Persistent.  And if I may say so, in a purely chef-ish manner, it is darling.  Culinary Mama-Santa-Claus is here, and maybe, just maybe! she has brought something for him.  So he waits.  And he smiles, patiently confident that Mum will notice.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Day with Auntie and Abbylicious

   Rope me up, and drag me along...that was my attitude about Mum's suggestion that I go to the local Heirloom Seed Exposition with my auntie and sister.  (Don't get me wrong- I'm all into local, seasonal, organic, sustainable, non-GMO, not to mention free Wifi!)  Still, I'd just spent a day with my papa, working.  Hint: insulation, asphalt sealant, wood cleaners.  Yep.  A country girl ready to hit the sack, and ditch her work jeans and boots. 
   Bringing home a frightened, chirping toad at the end of the day.  Whose name is Connor Brutus Wartle.  He's sure that he died and went to heaven.  He survived the trauma of a terrifying ride in the truck, being handheld by a human girl, then being suddenly plopped into this paradisaical land of water and bugs.   As Mum and I released him in the pitch-black, moist garden, Mum brought up the topic.  And like the highly enthusiastic individual I am, I gunned down the idea instantly.
   Gentle redirection of my decision, courtesy of Mum, and a nightlong date with a red flannel pillow, the matter was settled.  I was going.  With my Auntie, and Abby-Abby.  Also known as Abbylicious.  Not that this blog is going to acquire any Abby-eating characteristics...  She's just the sweetest person on earth.  Unless I get to the bathroom first, and then add insult to injury by refusing to offer opinions as to whether it should be grey VANS or black VANS today.  "Oh, and no, the neon yellow sock and the neon purple sock do go together, you just haven't caught up with teen fashion, Rebekah."  Which are the colors that she wore to the Expo.
   Goodness gracious, we ate sooo much.  We sampled food.  We also sampled food.  Then we sampled some more food.  After that, we looked at every vendor's booth, drank some amazing teas, flat out refused to allow an insistent woman to wipe our faces with her facial cleansing wipes...cracked up when she assured Auntie that it was a parent-approved product.  C'mon, lady.  That sounded desperate.
   The food was fun, to say the least.  An abundance of locally grown and made ingredients.  Abbylicious and I ordered pizza from two different stands...hers was cheesier, darnit.  But mine was greener, so that made me kinda smug.  I like green foods.  And orange foods.  And yellow foods.  Purple, pink, red, brown, blue, and black foods turn me off.  Red foods actually make me gag without my even tasting them.  So, green pizza, whoo-hoo!  Auntie had tikka masala, and mango lassi.  Her curried chicken and rice looked so warm and comforting that I ordered a serving of naan for Abby-Abby and I to share. 
   Other than buying a GMO free button, I don't think that we did much up Educational Alley.  We ate, laughed, took photos, chit-chatted with vendors', gaped at gargantuan piles of winter squash and melons and tomatoes, bought a couple cupcakes for Mum and Papa, exchanged stories from our lives in the culinary world, and then we ate some more.  Yeah, great food expo :)  Hugs to Auntie.  That was one of the best-spent summer afternoons.  Ever.

Checking out dozens of varieties of squashes.

The pepper that won my heart.  Love Friar Tuck...

Yes, I like warty things...toads, galeux d eysines pumpkins...

Color splash!

Auntie :)

This display was stunning.

I wanted to take these home with me :P

Tomato ziggurat.

This hunky fellow, although two hundred pounds lighter than the heavy weight champ, actually won a prize for being the loveliest of the large pumpkins.

Abby-Abby aka Abbylicious!

Punkin stack!

Handiwork of Chef Ray L. Duey.

More of Chef Duey's food art.

And the three of us!
The Barefoot Girl

Monday, September 9, 2013

Two Announcements of Graduating Importance

   I've missed y'all.  However, I promise that my absentee excuses are acceptably valid.  As my brain is currently deep-fried in homework, and buried in images of unfolded laundry piled on my bed, I will be succinct, and enumerate my (cough) reasons for failing to post.
   1. I'm currently enrolled in a culinary class, admittedly only one day per week, but I'm rather a serious individual when it comes to homework.  Abby-Abby would tell you that I'm a procrastinator...I just prefer marking duties on the calendar, and doing them when I simply must.  (Unless the project is absolutely fascinating, and I cannot wait a few days to commence my explorations of the topic.)
   2. Funny, I feel like there should be a drumroll here, but that is rather cliche.  Corny.  Cheesy.  And an errie sci-fi musical intro would give me nightmares, so without any superfluous drama, I'd like to share something with y'all that's incredibly exciting (for me at least.)  I landed a job!!!  Working with food!  I don't care to spew my location all over the internet, but it's extremely local, the owners' are wonderful people, and the workplace is beautiful!  I'm so grateful for this experience.  What makes it even more special is that the folks I work with are pure heaven, so kind and helpful.  I'm a happy bug right now :) 
   So far, I've met a woman expecting triplets, tourists from New Zealand, and a darling couple from London.  My boss was excited to have a well-known sports player come on through the establishment...his face was sheer happies.  Oh, and the limo-driver/ex-chef who sat down for lunch had such an intriguing accent- thoroughly European.  Brushing up against foodies, chefs, and culinary experts is an opportunity I only recently discovered, and to tell you the truth, I shan't be walking away from it soon.
   Naturalmente, I will continue cooking for my family, and for the pure love of the kitchen, but if my posts are random, scattered, and somewhat infrequent, please know that it is not because I could care less about my readers.  Far from it.  The true reason is that I am growing, and my new height is allowing me to see many things I could not envision before.  The view is inviting, and I am ready to scatter a little of my wanderings onto an epicurean highway.  
   Con amore,
The Barefoot Girl