Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Faith, Hope, and Love

my:
Faith in God.
Hope in God.
Love for God.

= the difference between life and death.

Wordless Wednesday #2!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spacing Out

I have moments at work where I totally space out. 
Zone out. 
Check out. 
Daydream.

This happens usually when I am shaping rolls (doing 300 by yourself gets pretty boring), cutting out marshmallows, frying plantains, and even during service time.

We serve our ice cream inside of ice globes. When someone orders an ice cream or sorbet, I have to run back to the freezer, grab a globe, and then use a blowtorch to melt it into the bowl shape that we want. 

Even though today was insanely busy, I found myself zoning out several times while torching these ice globes. The sound the blowtorch makes sounds exactly like one of the sound effects on the Space Mountain ride at Disneyland.

It made me really want to go to Disneyland. Very random!

I am super tired. Exhausted. Tomorrow...well today now is my Friday. Then I will finally get two days off in a row. Wow!

Gotta get some sleep so I can wake up tomorrow and do it all over again!

Friday, April 24, 2009

TGIF!

Well, not really for me. Today is more like my Tuesday. I get to work all weekend!

I'll leave you with this picture from my 'hood. Happy weekend! :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

French Quarter Festival

Last weekend was the French Quarter Festival; the largest free music fest in the South! It was Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There were TONS of people in town! The city always feels good when there are a lot of people around.
I had to work during the daytime when most of the action was happening. Fortunately I got off before it got dark and I got to see a few bands play on Saturday and Sunday nights.

Here was J.J. Callier and the Zydeco Knockouts at the Crystal Hot Sauce Zydeco stage:


There were several different stages set up around the Quarter. The biggest one was down by the river. I was amazed to see so many different kinds of people, fashions and food in one place! It was really cool. Here was one of the other stages:


Sunday night I made it just in time to see this band my parents and I discovered while they were here. I love their music!

Zydeco comes from the french words les haricots which are green beans or snap beans. It originated from Creole music and was something you could snap your fingers to. Did you know that it is so popular now that there is a category in the Grammys for Zydeco and Cajun music? Cool!

The zydeco sound is composed of a button or piano accordian and a washboard, more commonly referred to as  a rub-board. These look more like pieces of a
rmor than a washboard! Throw a harmonica in there too and you've got a zydeco band! Plus the name is just fun to say.

Here's some pics of Rockin' Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters! PS - Dopsie is pronounced "Doopsie".

Rockin' was available for pictures and autographs afterwards. He has a new cd coming out but I didn't bring money with me, so I settled for the picture! He was really polite with everyone and he was a great performer. A+!

I decided this past weekend that the best souvenir a person can get while out on trips or living in different places is local music. Music that someone has created is their gift to the world (cheesy, yes). It blows my mind when I try to think about how many different types of music there are in the world, past, present and future! Everywhere you go there is something new and different. You may like it or you may not. Surprisingly, I liked this type of folk music. I never thought I would!

I can now add Zydeco to my list of favs!

PS - some video examples of Zydeco! Look how coordinated his hands are!
video


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN!

Today marks my official halfway point!!!

  • I am halfway done with my externship/time in New Orleans!
  • I am halfway done with culinary school! (in the middle of semester #3 out of 5!)
  • I am halfway done with doing long distance with my fiancĂ©!
Wow, the time has really flown by. Just a year ago last month, I had applied and received word that I got into culinary school. My world got rocked because their opening dates weren't what I had hoped for (either too early or too late). I am sooo glad I just sucked it up and went with the earlier start date.

Now I find myself at the top of what I thought was an insurmountable mountain. Back then, it had looked like the time away from paradise was going to take forever (and for certain moments it has). I've kept my head down and worked hard, concentrating on each day and moving forward. I guess that's why the time seems to have gone by quickly. I've quickly rounded second base and I am pumping to get home!

50% down and done; 50% left to go. I've still got the energy, drive and desire to finish what I started. Then I get to join the real world, in paradise of course :) I can't wait to see what these next 10 months have in store for me! Lots of lessons to be learned, I'm sure!

I've been doing a lot on my days/nights off here lately, trying to enjoy the amazing weather we've been having. I'll have a lot to post about in the upcoming days!

 Stay close!

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, April 20, 2009

Why Am I Here?

I'm positive that everyone asks themselves that question tons of times throughout their lives. 

Well, I've been asking myself that the whole time I've been here in Louisiana. Why here? Why was my externship cancelled for Florida? I could be lounging on the beach on Amelia Island right now at the Ritz-Carlton, but I'm here instead. I accepted the change, adapted and dealt with it.

I joined a ladies bible study at the church in my neighborhood and we are going through a book called "Experiencing God" with a scary Moses-lookin' guy on the cover. It's about knowing and doing the will of God. In the section we're covering right now, we're learning about how adjustments are necessary. This is what comes to mind:
A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 
"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good - except God alone. You know the Commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'"
"All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God."
(Luke 18:18-23)
The ruler needed to make adjustments to his life and instead his response was to not take action. I learned that I cannot stay where I am and go with God. It is one thing to say, "Hey God, sure I'll go where you need me, just say the word and I'm there!" and another thing to actually do it - faith demonstrated by action.

Lots of my friends are missonaries or have gone on various missions. I myself have never felt like I possessed the spirit of evangelism. I don't want to push my faith on anyone. I don't believe that's what my friends are doing, but I myself have never felt "called" to go on a mission somewhere. I love praying for them and helping them financially when I can. I just don't feel like God has ever wanted me to go anywhere to share who he is.

Sometimes I've wondered why I'm in the industry I'm in. The restaurant industry can be dark and corrupt and dirty. Very dirty. Totally opposite of me! The problems of alcoholism and drugs are real. And I have never heard so much swearing as I have in the kitchen I'm currently in. I see no sense in it at all; it sounds uneducated and vulgar of course. I can't even support swearing when you get hurt or mess up or get angry about something. It's just senseless. Then you have the swearing for absolutely no reason. The other day I had some extra time so I asked one of the chefs if I could help him with anything. Here's what our conversation was like:

Chef: Sure! Here, can you chop up this garlic for me?
Aubs: Of course, how small do you want it?
Chef: Just chopped pretty small but not minced or anything.
- I go about chopping it up carefully. He comes over and says:
Chef: Oh no need to be all precise about it. Just chop the s*** out of it.
Aubs: Ooookay.
Hmm. I didn't know that garlic had bodily functions. Call me when you see that happen! It's hard to keep a clean head when that's all I hear all day. Of course I don't want to talk like that.

So I've often wondered why God put this passion in my heart for food and why I end up in places like this. Restaurant S just happened to be actively seeking for externs when I needed a place. They paid well, sounded like a good growth opportunity, and I'd never been to New Orleans. I jumped with both feet in. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I try to go where God wants me when I can. It's not always clear. New York? New Orleans? Plenty darker than Hawai'i. I just try to be me. To show my faith by my actions and the way I choose to live. I know that people can see God in me. I'm definitely different. I just leave it up to them to ask why. Then I feel free to talk about it with them.

I smell rice! Dinner's ready.

Friday, April 17, 2009

My Apologies, Mr. Prawn

One of the new things I have learned while on this externship is how to prepare shrimp/prawns. I'm going to use the names interchangeable because there is not much difference between the two. Generally, large shrimp are loosely referred to as "prawns".

Today I finished the prep list early and one of the chefs asked if I could stay an extra hour to help other people out, so I said yes (I could use more $!).

My tasks:
  • Take heads off of smaller shrimp
  • Keep heads on prawns for "Chili Prawn" dish
  • Peel all 
  • Remove tails on "utility" shrimp (too small so they get chopped up)
  • De-vein all shrimp
Taking the heads off is gross, sorry. I had to do it before with Lobsters at one of my past jobs and I didn't enjoy it too much, especially since those guys were still alive (barely though, they were in a refrigerator-induced coma). All the brains and juices coming out. Not my cup o' tea.

Peeling the prawns was no big deal. They shed all the time and it's a natural thing.

De-veining is not hard, but it's certainly not my favorite thing to do. A small cut is made along the back of the shrimp tail and the vein is removed with a utility knife. No big deal for the shrimps with no heads.

Then I started doing the prawns (with heads) and I got to thinking about how awful it would be if I had to do this while they were alive. I think if I ever saw a gulf prawn out in the water I would absolutely freak out. They are scary looking! Almost alien-like. Buggy eyes, long antennae and a pointy head.



-just look at how freaky this guy is!
But then again, prawns are amazingly put together. Tiny little legs and somehow they get places. And there are so many of them! Wow!

So sorry Mr. Prawn for peeling you, ripping your head off and taking out your vein so people can enjoy you.

Just hope this guy doesn't find me in my dreams.

Blossoms + Smells

Lately on my walks and runs in the 'hood, I feel like I have been sniffing/inhaling the sweet fragrances of blossoms and blooms more than I have been regular-breathing. It is quite intoxicating!

Spring is here. The magnolia blossoms are juuuuuust popping out. Gardenias are out. Jasmine has made its appearance everywhere, climbing posts and reaching out into the sidewalks. Hibiscus are unfolding, and a multitude more of flowers I can't name are showing their faces. I ♥ spring.

Pictures to come!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wedding Update

We only have... 1 year, 5 months, 3 weeks and 2 days to go until our wedding! I know, it is f o r e v e r away but there is a lot to be done. 

So far we have:
  • Set our date (10-9-10)
  • Reserved our church
  • Picked the colors
My mom made these awesome and cute sample cards for the colors I hope to have. They are "patina", brown and gold. The wedding will be mostly white with all those colors being used as various accents.

I found these cute tiny pictures from Hawai'i at an antique store. I'm hoping to use them in the save-the-date invites or something. Not sure yet but they are cool!


Our possible reception site?



Just for fun :)

I'm also putting together a planning website to gather ideas and I joined a discussion board. Haha. I love technology!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Goals and Figuring It Out

I am so tired! I have been putting in my best effort at work lately. It has paid off, as I have received many compliments from the higher-ups on how great my products are!

There is always some time period of adustment for any new job. I guessed it would take me 2-3 weeks at this one to really get in the groove and feel comfortable. Already now, I am finishing Week 8 and have accomplished several goals. Here's what I started with:

1. Be able to complete each day's prep checklist by myself by the end of my shift.
2. Memorize all basic formulas that I use on a day-to-day basis.
3. Make a contribution to a new menu item with Chef B (help with research and development from idea to product).
4. Learn how to use new ingredients/agents in different ways (mostly the molecular gastronomy stuff).
5. Work on the line plating desserts in a clean, quick and consistent manner.

Looking at these now, I see that already have completed goals 1, 2, and 5. #3 is coming up too! My main focus has been to work on my speed, consistency, and neatness. I can work both the morning and evening shifts flawlessly now and am totally comfortable making every product. Yay!

Goal #3 has actually been in progress for me since the first week. Chef B approached me and asked if I could help him recreate a mignardise that his last pastry chef had made. I came in on my day off and tooled around in the kitchen, making these:


Sweet little baked meringues! Chef B has a special flavor combo that he wants to infuse into the meringue, and now that he sees I can make these the way he wants, we are just waiting for something in his kitchen garden to grow so we can implement it! Right now at the end of the meal, our guests get a little dark chocolate truffle and peppermint marshmallow (both made by me!) so Chef B wants to switch it up a bit.

This morning, I'm doing my regular prep and Chef B comes in and starts talking to me in his weird eccentric way (he tells great stories). For the last two days, he has had Queen songs and vacation bible school songs from when he was a kid stuck in his head and he has been singing them out loud. Thanks. Weird combo.  Usually, when he talks to me it is about nonsense, and I'm trying to do work so it's pretty distracting. Yesterday I was tuning him out and then noticed he had stopped talking. I looked at him and he said, "You're not even listening to me, are you?" Oops. Haha. That shut him up and he went off to go bother someone else. I know he has a favorable opinion of me so I wasn't too worried. I was just glad he got a clue. I'm here to produce, not socialize!

Back to this morning. Chef B tells me he has (FINALLY) created a new dessert menu item, and he wants to know if I can help put it together. YESSSSSS!  One thing he wanted to know was if I could make an Italian Meringue that would be stable enough to last all throughout the dinner service so that we could use it in this certain dessert. It is one thing to come up with a new menu item, and another to put it into action. One must see if it will be feasible to keep all the components on hand and be able to pull it off. 

I said I may have some extra time and I'd work on it. Amazingly, I managed to squeeze it in and made a Cassis flavored italian meringue as an experiment. This isn't going to be the real flavor, but I wanted it to have some flavor to it so I used cassis liqueur. I was hoping it'd be a lovely purple color but since I aerated it with the egg whites, it ended up being a weird grey. Ahh. I separated it into two bowls and put one in the fridge and one up on a shelf. 

I checked and compared both every hour to see how the texture and body was to see if the product would hold up during the x-amount of hours it would have to undertake during the dinner service. After 5 hours, I showed Chef B and he was sooo pleased! Now the next step is to incorporate his flavor choice, assemble the dessert and get it on the menu! And I am going to pester him about it until he does! I am so excited that I will play a part in this new item, even if it is for something that I think is pretty easy. I just had to take the time to figure it out.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Things I Miss








Family. Friends. Hawai'i. Fiancé. HB. Surfing. Pacific Ocean. Waves.











Monday, April 13, 2009

I Have Oranges and Bananas...


I was hanging out in my house one day after I had first moved here to New Orleans. All of a sudden, I started hearing this noise...it sounded like someone on a loudspeaker??? but the speaker sounded really muffled. It kind of worried me because I thought there was some kind of emergency or maybe it was the police!

I looked out my door to discover that it was a man rolling around in a painted pickup truck. The words "Mister Okra" were painted across the front of the truck, backwards like they do on ambulances. Mister Okra was selling produce!

Later, I found out that Mister Okra is continuing a long practice that dates back to when the French Market was started up. The French Market was like an outdoor swapmeet where people could bring in their produce and goods and sell them to the people in the area. However, not everyone could make it to the market (some people had "real jobs" i.e. running plantations) so some vendors took it upon themselves to load up carts and take them out to the people. They would paint their names on the carts so people would know who they were. The vendors would call out what they had and people could stop them and purchase the produce!

The only modern day vendor of this type that I know of is Mister Okra, painted name and all! He uses a loudspeaker to announce what he's got, and I find it wildly entertaining to hear him list off everything. He has quality produce too, which is a blessing for all the people in the Bywater, Treme and Marigny areas because there are no real grocery stores here. The only downside is that you've gotta have cash, and you have to catch him! He doesn't drive fast, but obviously you've got to be home if you want the grocery store to come to you.

It makes me smile when I hear him randomly in the neighborhood.

Here's a video someone else took of Mister Okra. He reminds me a lot of the guy who announced orders at Los Sanchez. Enjoy!


I win!

Aubrey: 6
Cockroaches: 0

You get them or they get you!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Why tha blog?



Blog. What a funny word. Well, I am jumping on the wagon here and holding on tight - my first official blog! I'd like to keep this as a record for myself and offer it up to you readers humbly as a non-obtrusive way of letting you know what I am doing. 

If you are reading this, it's probably because you and I do not have the opportunity to talk to each other face-to-face every day. Regrettably, that is true for a lot of you.

Let's keep in touch. More later.

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