The worst side-dish, ever.

I am a writer as well as a Chef.  I do writing exercises to keep my mind fresh for all the things I do.  I picked up “642 Things To Write About” for the new year.  On the first page of things to write about, the second phrase was, “The worst Thanksgiving dish you ever had”.

O.M.G.  That brought back a horrid memory.  Let me see if I can describe it.

Things were being brought to the table.  It was very simple, many people bringing things to share, as Thanksgiving is supposed to be about.  There were Meats, Veggies, Stuffings…  And That Dish.

It was a combination green-bean casserole (canned green beans, canned cream of mushroom soup, fried onions) and sweet potato pie(canned sweet potato/yam, pie spices, marshmallows).  It was because the person making the side dishes only had one deep pan, so tried to make both in the same pan at the same time.  It was soupy, under cooked and just…  Ugh.

It didn’t help that it had to travel to the gathering, too.

Trying to physically mix dishes is just a bad idea.  Pick one.  And do it well.

When trying to do something in the cooking realm, try to pick one thing at a time.  Really.  I can barely multitask when at work some times only because I have a set list of things that have to be done, and in the order they have to be done.  It is technically multi-tasking because as the bread is baking, I can put the water on for the pasta and then chop the veggies for the sauce.

There are too many recipes out there for both Green Bean Casserole and Sweet Potato Pie.  I will not add yet another set.  But I will say this – Fresh Green Beans.  Trust me on this.

Chef Rena



Posted in Article | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Picture of the day: Mirepoix

The French have a culinary formulae for the yummy stuff.  Mirepoix is the onion/carrot/celery base for most soups, stews, stocks…  Just about everything savory.  In the area around New Orleans, LA, the celery or carrots are replaced with peppers, for that Cajun spark.


Basic French Mirepoix: Carrots, onions, celery.

Basic French Mirepoix: Carrots, onions, celery.

Posted in Article | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Rena’s Granola Cookies

I try to have a few sweet things that I can cook easily available for the kids, and some of the adults.  Some times the healthy veggies are just too much.  I make at least one batch of these every week.
They are gluten free, too.
6c oats
2c corn meal
1/2 c mixed seeds(sunflower seeds, poppy, flax, etc.)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1tsp baking powder
Optional: 1/2 cup dried fruit
#10 applesauce, unsweetened
1 c molasses
1/2 c honey
1/2 c oil (olive, butter, etc.)
Preheat your oven to 350f.

Using a #2 disher/scoop, I tried to be even about the cookies.  One 'hooped' and, well...

Using a #2 disher/scoop, I tried to be even about the cookies. One ‘blooped’ and, well…

Combine all the Wet and Dry ingredients in their own bowls.  Of all things, I like to use a potato masher to sift the dry ingredients together.  Mix the wet and dry until it is very thoroughly mixed.
This is an amount that will make a 12inch by 18inch by 1 inch solid cookie(with extra), or about 64 cookies from a #2 disher.  Use parchment paper or a silpat to keep burning to a minimum.
Put the baking pans into the oven for about 1/2 hour, check them and turn.  Leave in for another 10 to 15 minutes.  Let them cool before putting them in a container.  They will still be moist on the inside and steamy.
I hope you have fun with these!
Chef Rena
Posted in Article | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The restaurant perspective

I work at a daycare.  I used to work at restaurants and do catering and more… upscale things in the Food Service Industry.  Hospitality Industry?  Restaurants and Catering?  It all works.

When I found that I wasn’t getting hours at the main restaurant I was working a few years ago, I pushed my way into being a Personal Chef.  It worked, but it was not the amount of hours I really needed.  I worked as I could, catering, special events, personal chefing…  But I was living off my partner’s teat and not doing as well as I would like.

A friend of mine posted on FaceBook asking if anyone needed hours.  I said, “YES!”  He gave me the contact info, there was an interview and I was working the next Monday.

It wasn’t just cooking.  I cook, I clean, I do errands, as well as other things.  It has been a learning experience.  And I have learned something that was staring me in the face from the beginning.

I have been working there for just over a month at this point and I just came to realize, I am running a fucking restaurant. Continue reading

Posted in Article | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Everyone has one – Pesto!

Pesto seems to be Italy’s word for ‘Salsa’, which we know is Spanish for ‘Curry’.  Every country has a type of sauce that goes with all of their different dishes an gives them their individual flavors.

I made Pesto at work today.  The garden had a bounty of basil, as well as other yummy things I will be plying the kids with over the next few days.  I also had a bag of parmesan shredded cheese and various seeds to use instead of the normal pine nuts.

Yup, Pesto on it’s way! Continue reading

Posted in Article | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A simple Granola

Granola in panRecently, I have been working with kids.  I feed them and they eat… some of what I put before them.  One of the things they like more often than not is granola.  I ran out of the store-bought stuff in the pantry and decided to make some.  It is simple and much cheaper.

What you need is in most people’s pantries already.  I have used both rolled and instant oats, so it does not matter what you have.

oats, about 3 cups

Seeds like sesame seeds, flax seeds or sunflower seeds, about 1 cup
Cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon, and a dash of any other sweet spices you may have, like ground ginger
Unsalted Butter, sunflower oil, olive oil, even coconut oil in any combination to make about 1 cup, possibly more
honey, 1/4 cup
molasses, 1/4 cup
vanilla or other real extract, 1 teaspoon
salt from a dash up to 1/2 teaspoon
Heat oven to 250(a cool oven).  Use a sheet pan with a liner to make it easier to stir and transfer the granola.
Put cereal and spices together.  Put oil, honey, molasses, vanilla and salt together in a sauce pan and heat/mix until it is fairly smooth.  Coat cereal and spices in liquid.  Spread on sheet pan without pressing in.
Cook @250 for 60-75 minutes.  Turn and stir once @30min.  Let cool in pan.  Break into chunks and store in sealed container.
If you notice, I did not put any fruit in it.  I find that the fruit, even if it is already dried, will burn, even at a low temperature.  You can add fruits, like dates, raisons and apricots, when you are about to serve.
Posted in Article | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Picture of the Day:Pizza!

A Margarita Pizza almost ready to go into the oven.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment