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12 February 2016

News from the North

It is February in the Great White North...
Cold, with temperatures hovering around 10 degrees for a high. Time for Shepherd's Pie, Chicken Pot Pie and rib sticking foods that contribute to the Freshman Fifteen. And they eat it all. Don't forget Chicken Nuggets and mac-n-cheese...
However, they (University of Maine system) have decided that after over 40 years of the current contracted corporation, they would switch companies. So, again after so many damn times, I am once again searching for a new position. Luckily, this time, relocation and finding a new job is up to the company. I am looking at stuff in New York, Vermont and Massachusetts as well as possibilities on the west coast again, not California, but the places I want to be, Oregon or Washington. The benefit of working for a large company and doing well for them, you get treated like you mean something to them--you make them money and help their reputation grow. 
I have made fast friends in Maine, as well as falling in love with winter and the sky. 
I have also fallen in love with the people of Farmington. My cooks are all amazing people with great talent, I found a Sous Chef who thinks like I do... and does amazing things with little bits and pieces.  A baker that is a former school administrator and appreciates my grasp of the English Language, that I have read some books and listened to music--who makes freakin' amazing cookies. The front line employees, most of which were new, have grown on me like fungus. Some of them I couldn't stand at the beginning, because they had NO experience, and were young, but now, after a semester of learning, they are growing into a tight knit staff that relies on one another. People I can trust with my food. I am sad that they lost the contract. I am especially sad that after the awful year in Massachusetts, these people accepted me into their community and have treated me with LOVE and RESPECT. and I will miss them. 
And the sky.... the sky is so amazing...

Cold and Sunshiny Days

Ice covered parking area and golden sunrise

Good Morning Starshine!

Long Pond, Belgrade Lakes

The contract doesn't end until June, so we are all stuck with one another until then. We have some fun events, weddings and Bike Trek, as well as graduation--which is my favorite time of year. I cry every time I see the students in their caps and gowns, receiving their diplomas, balancing on the precipice of a new life--getting their wings. That's one of the biggest reasons I like to work in education, I get to see them become adults. While I am not, nor have ever wanted to be a parent, it is one of the most meaningful things to me, seeing these students succeed, especially if they have worked for me. I have had students come to me as freshman and work through getting their master's degrees.. one getting ALL A's in the process (Masters of Social Work, she now works for Community Hospice and I am SO proud of her). 

Steven and I still take our weekend stoner road trips-Downeast, to Portland or over to Bangor. Before we take leave of Maine we have a bucket list of attractions and eateries we want to hit, as well as the drive up to the Canadian Border to wave at the Mounties. 

Until we know what our next move is... I bid you,

17 October 2015

Further North and Happier for it

I am now working for the University of Maine at Farmington, Maine. Steven and I moved into a little cottage after several weeks of living in an almost 200 year old farmhouse that was up for sale. That was hard because we knew it was temporary and we never got too comfortable. Now, I feel like this cottage is home. 
It was built in the late 1920s, it has 3 rooms, each one smaller than the next, all with adjoining bathrooms. The kitchen is dinky, but I can stand on one place and not have to move far when I am cooking. It also has more storage space than the last place in MA. There's a basement, washer and dryer and the landlords pay the heat and snow removal. Everyone seems to be adjusting. 

I think it looks like a Hobbit should live here, or an Elf Mage. 

Things at work are changing slowly. I am making changes and people are welcoming. There are always challenges, but that's for another time. I have already executed one President's Dinner, and excited for the end of the month Board of Regents. I have a dinner for the local hospital's employee recognition dinner too. I love cooking, creating menus and making money. They've never seen a style quite like mine before... real. Real butter, scratch made sauces, attention paid to flavor and balance. One thing is that the company and school are totally committed to sustainability. We purchase so much from the surrounding area, and we finally got approval to use a Maine meat purveyor--local grass fed beef, lamb and free range chickens... there is a difference. I'm working on a local egg solution now too--since the Avain flu has taken out a lot of the large producers, I think buying from the community would be ideal, and safer. 

Chicken Breast with Saffron Risotto, and Balsamic Reduction
with Olive Tapanade

I love it here. Although after winter, I may change. The sky is amazing. I have been trying to take a picture everyday of the sunrise. I started taking them when we were up on Canton Mountain.
You could literally see the sky change when summer ended

Now the trees have turned, especially since the last few nights have been colder... tonight is supposed to be 24...degrees and not centigrade. Time for sweaters, boots and an extra blanket on the bed. 

These are all taken by me, no filters in the last month. I can't wait til I see the Northern Lights. Don't tell me about "colors not found in nature" anymore either.... they are all here.

09 June 2015

Another Chapter

The years just seems to pass by so quickly. I am finishing out my first and only year of Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. It was a very hard year, getting to know how these East Coasters work and talk and how to assimilate myself into their culture. Very Hard. Not to mention the fact that we lived through the worst winter this area has EVER seen... ever. 

I have now accepted a position with Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Downtown Boston. I will be commuting by train and learning the healthcare side of things. Something very new and very different from Education.... spreading my wings. 

So, this is my last week with Stonehill... we have the President's Dinner and Reunion Weekend and all next week to prep for it. I'm tired. And I don't want to do it. See, I was told... that my  "personality is too robust", that I am "too intense". Things that I am almost certain would never have been said to a male chef. I do feel like I have been discriminated against. However, they did let me know it wasn't working out and gave me a chance to find something else... I think because it wasn't anything I DID per se, and we moved all the way across the country. So, I won't make a stink. Cest la vie! MOVING ON....

We have been through a lot in our last 9 months. Just learning about the area and taking a ton of pictures. I haven't been cooking much because I usually go to work when it's dark and go home long after the sun goes down. I have however, been learning quite a bit about cooking lobster and fish. I have made "Nantucket-style" Cod, as well as Maine Lobster with drawn butter. Honestly though, most everything is pretty standard. 

There are items I have brought with me, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Chai Cheesecake, my Brown Sugar-Brandy Cured Salmon as well as my particular style: hair under a bandanna, the Ipod plugged in with Pandora blasting The Pixies, but mostly the care that goes into fostering relationships with my food and my staff.  
I love what I do. I am thankful everyday that I get to do it. 
I miss my California. The fruits, vegetables and locality of it all. I miss my family and friends, but growing up and moving away is LIFE. 
I look forward to more adventures with Steven, our
#stonerroadtrips and #newengland. 
You can follow my photography on Instagram at
I've been pretty lucky with some of the shots:

Early Morning Deer at Stonehill

Paul Revere Square

Flea Market Caboose-no filter
So, I am opening another chapter in my life... moseying down the path of least resistance. Growing older.... but certainly NOT up!!

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:


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
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. 

Peace Love and Rock-n-Roll