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26 July 2014

HOLY CRAP! Things are about to change....

Life is weird.

Steven says I don't worry enough. No, it's because despite being Irish-Italian Catholic, I have learned to keep up appearances, thanks to the small but strong side of German Protestant in me. 
I was and still am freaking out. Since "they" let me go (or said I quit..) I have been in this angry mode... and having an inside pity party... Outside, I've been your typical happy go lucky self. But then something happened that is going to freaking change our lives FOREVER. I am scared. Excited. Anxious. and completely stressed out to the max.. inside. Outside I feel ecstatic! Bouncing off the walls and manic. 
Vines @ CSU Stanislaus, Turlock CA 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen... We are moving. If you follow me.. we live in Turlock, California--home to Colin Kapernick of the 49ers...etc etc.. anyhow. This is a small (80K) university town. I hate it here and have since we moved back from Texas...I loved my job. OMG! That kept me so happy... and what made me happiest, honestly, was being able to create these colorful meals with what came out of the garden on campus.... I have now been offered an opportunity, that we are taking, to go do it on the other side of the country. 



Emmaline (shepard mix) and Rufus James (corgi) both rescues
Another company... one I have been courting FOR YEARS, has made me a great offer. It's a promotion and the opportunity to be instrumental in another school's sustainability program. THIS IS HUGE! EEEEEEEK! I can't say no... NO WAY! 

So... let the freak out happen.... We are going to MASSACHUSETTS.

Some 30 miles south of Boston, Stonehill College... four seasons, reasons to buy a real coat, boots and hats...and an umbrella. 

Anyhow, I am saying yes, and we are going. I have started a GoFundMe page:


HERE



How do you use this thing?
because we need some assistance, and I am asking. 
This may seem crazy, but this is for the ideal situation and to make a super stressful situation less so...  We have about 3 weeks so time is of the essence. Feel free to share this far and wide... and in some random karmic moment any extra money over will be donated to an animal rescue in our new community. 

If you have read this far, thank you. Feel free to leave comments of support, love and encouragement too...we need those too. oooo...so excited..time to go throw stuff away... Thanks.

Chef Connie Bearden.






16 July 2014

Life is funny...

I am a guest first person. Sorry to say it Corporate monsters... but I am. I fell in love with Cooking because it always gave friends something made by me that they enjoyed. It's social... eating, drinking, being merry. I love it... the combining of freshly harvested items, chopping, applying heat... seasoning and spicing. Makes me giddy. So, I was let go. It had everything to do with making money and not happiness... So I am considering another adventure...

I am in the process of packing and getting my home into a state of organization. I am considering inviting people in for dinner.... for a donation.. Let you know what we're having Friday night and if you want to join us, bring a bottle of wine and enjoy my backyard, and conversations with other people, and a fantastic literally homecooked meal. What do you think? Trying my hand at running my own place... take whatever is left to the shelter.... I don't know. It's just time to get busy doing... if I want it, I have to go get it.

24 January 2013

I am coming back....

I am coming back. I have a lot of stories to tell about the last year... and beginning my 3rd year with Chartwells. I still love my job.
I got dogs. I changed my hair. I cooked A LOT of interesting things. But, right now the Spring semester is about to start...and I have a lot of work that needs to get done. But, I will be back... I swear.

14 January 2012

So, here's the story....

The last year of WORK has been amazing. I feel so good about myself and about the company I work for, Chartwells. It is awesome. I love it. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! There are no creative boundaries. My Director lets me do what I need to do. I am learning how to be a better manager, and he really treats me like an equal. We have come a long way in the last year together.. both of us learning from one another and growing. He has finally come to see that I know what the hell I am doing, especially when it comes to food. 


This last week he brought in a professional to shoot my food, so we could put together a brochure for catering. 
Crab and Avocado Salad

 Arugula with Roasted Grapes and Chevre
 Stuffed Chicken with Sundried Tomato, Spinach and Chevre
 Tri-Tip with Red Wine Reduction and Chicken Marsala
 English Trifle
 Strawberry Shortcake
House Cured Sock-eye Salmon on Potato Blini 

These photos were taken by Diane Angel-Gomez 
 It was a lot of fun... and I am looking forward to working with her again.


Here is the salmon cure:

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 FAT TBSP dill 
1 tsp cayenne 
1 tsp coriander
1/2 cup brandy
juice of 2 lemon, lime, orange
1 lemon, sliced
cheesecloth
1 each 1.5lb Sock-eye Salmon Filet, skin on.

mix dry ingredients together and coat the salmon well on the meat side. set slices of lemon on top of rub and wrap with cheesecloth like a mummy and place skin side down in casserole dish, 9x13. Pour brandy and citrus juice over the entire filet. Wrap pan tightly in saran wrap and place under a weight, it can be cans, or bricks or what have you, just make sure weight is placed on the salmon... and place in cooler for 3 days. 

I am leaving for a week for work. Nervous and excited to go to class in Albuquerque. New experience for me... I went to classes while in Houston, but I drove across town to go. Now I get to get on a plane, stay in a hotel and get company meals. I feel so grown up!! This is one of those landmarks in my life for me... every time something new happens it makes me feel a little more successful and like I am finally where I am supposed to be. I feel  like I was behind all the time.. didn't know what I wanted to do until I was 30. But in 10 years, I think I have done pretty good. It's AMAZING what working a good job can do for you. 

HAPPY FREAKIN' NEW YEAR!!!! 
2012
Peace Love and Rock-n-Roll

18 November 2011

Did you miss me?

This year has slipped by me.. summer into winter, the trees didn't have time to turn. I still am growing jalapenos on my back porch, as the bush refuses to give in to the cold.
Coming up to the close of the semester, I haven't had a lot of time to sit and discuss the baking or cooking I have been doing.

We redeveloped a lot of our stations at work, adding new recipes and dishes to a somewhat stagnant menu rotation. At our Mexican line we added a dish called Picadillo to the specials rotation. This is a dish simply prepared and different than what you would expect. I added elements of Cuban and Caribbean flavors and it ended up a hit, served in tacos and taco salads.

Picadillo (my way)

1.5 pounds ground beef
3 each roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup green olives with brine
2 TB capers
1/4 cup raisins
2 tsp oregano, dried
1 TB cumin
1 TB allspice
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the beef and strain off fat, add tomatoes, garlic, onion and green olives with the brine over medium heat. Allow juices to reduce by half and add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Let simmer for 5-6 minutes, allowing most of the moisture to dissipate. Serve with tortillas, rice and black beans. You can also substitute ground turkey for the beef.



As we have come to the close of the year, the beginning of Baking Season did not allude me... I have baked something every week since Thanksgiving.

It started with Peanut Butter Cupcakes
Joy of Cooking

1/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed  brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
Cream these ingredients together well and add
2 eggs
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (yes, again)
1 tsp vanilla
Combine and beat until light and fluffy
In separate bowl mix together
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps baking powder
Add flour mixture to egg-sugar mixture, alternately with
3/4 cup milk

Pour into paper-lined cupcake pans and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
You can ice them with a Maple Sugar icing or a Chocolate Ganache, I opted for the ganache.

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
in a double boiler, melt and stir constantly until the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and dip tops of cupcakes into chocolate and place on rack to cool.
This combo is satisfying enough to quench a craving for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

This is the last week of the year. I am off work, except for a couple of hours tomorrow. New Years Eve brings company: my brother, Nick and his wife, and Steven's brother, Tim and his significant other... each responsible for a meal element... I am cooking beef tenderloin with risotto and roasted green beans. Nick is in charge of dessert and Tim, the task of appetizers. I am looking forward to a fun ass evening! This year started out rough... but it mellowed out and now will end quietly. I am thankful for that.

Here's to 2012! Just hang on, it's gonna be a bumpy one.
By the way... there are pictures to accompy this post... I will put them in later, when I get them back. STEVEN.... Oh.. Steven, honey....













11 August 2011

Summer Sunsets and Cheesecake

As summer draws to a close, students are returning to their college life here in Turlock. This weekend alone, we have 7 different events welcoming them back, all culminating on Sunday with the Welcome Back Dinner and Ice Cream Social. Over 800 students and family will pack our main dining hall for a buffet dinner of Bourbon Glazed Pork Loin, Herb Roasted Chicken and Sesame Tofu Stir Fry. I am overseeing the show... meaning my 3 Chefs de Cuisine are running it... I am merely here to make sure it goes off without a hitch and to make suggestions as to how they do it.
I have been maintaining a 60-70 hour schedule this summer, most of my employees are on summer layoff, but that doesn't mean that we don't have anything going on. There have been weddings, retirement parties, and camps. Camps, meaning that there are groups from all over California that come stay in the dorms and have activities throughout the day... cheerleaders, underprivileged inner city youth, math and music camps.. etc. You get the idea. They have to eat, right? So all summer long it has been  up to me and my very limited staff to feed them.. and if it means I work a 7 day week, so be it. It's amazing to me that we have to be serving 1600 students a day for me to get some time off. Needless to say, I am looking forward to my birthday and Fleet Week in SF the second week of October.
Right now, I am actually able to sit here and write my blog. I am waiting for 3 hotel pan sized cheesecakes to finish baking so I can go home. An item by special request for the Resident Advisers of housing. The dorms are full up too... almost 1200 students will be living on campus this year. This job as Executive Chef is getting bigger and bigger at this account, and honestly I couldn't be happier. It is growing with me.
I feel like I am really coming into my own with this job. There have been headaches and screw-ups... forgetting to put that other steak in with the President's dinner (oops!), losing a whole warmer off the side of the loading dock.... lemme tell ya, I can run and yell instructions better than some drill sergeants! But there have been some real BRIGHT spots... seeing a student that had gotten her Bachelor's but enrolled in Culinary School because that is what she really loves... and has told me that I am her inspiration. (all warm and fuzzy)... The President of CSU Stanislaus publicly thanking me for a fantastic dinner. The attitude of returning students towards their food service provider changed last semester... we gained a whopping 40% in approval rating from Fall 2010 to Spring 2011, something typically unheard of. So, I feel good. I feel positive and happy. Something I haven't felt for a long time... time to go take cheesecakes out of the oven. I will try to be more regular on my postings... but don't count on it.

peace

30 May 2011

It's Memorial Day today. So, I will start off by saying thank you to our Men and Women in service to our Country. Thank you for the ultimate sacrifice.
I slept in today... til 7am. I have finished one semester at CSU Stanislaus. Almost 6 months I have been running the food service, and it already feels like years. There is not a lot I can say "I don't know" about anymore, well except I don't know how a fall semester starts, oh and camps. Don't know about running camps yet. And big weddings. I know about big weddings... having done lots of those, but how they do big weddings is another story. So, nevermind. There is still an incredible amount for me to learn. We have done our over 1000 person event for the year.
The NCAA Track and Field Championships have come and gone, graduation is over.  I return to work tomorrow. I had 2 days off after putting in about 70 hours in 3 days. I slept a lot yesterday. Feel like I have been in a car crash, where no one got hurt.... you're just sore for days after. Talked to my Asst. Director, he felt the same.

There is a lot that goes on over the summer too, camps, weddings, dinners for the President, etc. Also, there will be canning going on because the sustainable garden will have an abundance of tomatoes! House made pasta sauce for the students to purchase...How cool is that? Hopefully it can be done efficiently. There is also a trip coming up to the Pac Northwest for a training seminar. And New Manager training in St. Louis MO sometime in July?

But, what I have been doing in the last 2 months that I neglect my blog? Learning. Learning about how to work in this new environment. Learning about people and how to bring my style of management and cooking techniques to a new level. The bar is set high in this position, they expect a lot. I find it hard sometimes to always have that extra mile in me. I try very hard to stay focused on what MY job is...even when what I am doing is completely foreign to me.


This last month has been particularly crazy... I have been working 6day weeks at about 14 hours a day since the beginning of May... and everyone has done it. It's because of events all over campus, graduation, sports championships (CCAA and NCAA), parties, dinners, employee appreciation, etc and etc.. AND, while all this goes on at work, Steven and I moved into a place of our own.

 It's been mildly stressful.  But I love it all and must say that these last 6 months have been a RIDE!!! WOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A welcome change indeed!
I have some President dinners coming up in the next couple of weeks. I will include recipes and pics as usual. I still haven't found the good camera since we moved. I just wanted to give an update as to where I have been.
Next post... Grilled Mahi Mahi, Cornmeal Dusted Sweet Potato and Asparagus Frites, Cherry Cobbler (using the cherries that grow over the back fence!!!)