Mis En Place

I learned several key things in cooking school besides how to buy a knife and that my hands (I added my brain) are the best tools.

From when I was a little kid I would always place everything out before I started to make something, years before Julia Child and mis en place. Asian food, you’ve ginger, garlic, soy, mirin, hot peppers…… The bowl was in the middle and my mother said I always used every dish in the kitchen! Good thing is that the cook didn’t have to do dishes!

I learned to shop the outer rim of the grocery store from produce to fish to meat, dairy, cheeses and only go inside for things like chicken broth, rice, pasta, canned tomatoes. Herbal tea, of course, and extra-virgin olive oil. The dog still doesn’t like it when I steal from her chicken broth stash, 1/4 cup for a sauce. Luckily she forgives me as I do feed her as her Food Wench.

Sometimes I wish I was more religious about packing/unpacking boxes and preparing for a move. My life has revolved around change and some day I’d like to settle in for a while and actually have a home. I’m more disciplined in the kitchen with mis en place.

There are these small dishes in which I can place soy sauce and horseradish paste in which to dip sushi. Sometimes they’re used for spices and I wash the dishes by hand. Yes, I’m chief cook and bottle washer here, including dog feeder and waterer and walker.

As a kid, I and my younger sister used to try to make breakfast in bed for our parents. It never worked, they always put on their robes and walked into the kitchen. That’s probably because Mom bought the can of pastries so kind of knew what we were up to. Cinnamon or Orange, usually both. We were only eight and six then but were allowed to turn on the oven and perhaps even allowed to scramble eggs. Toaster was a no-brainer.

I don’t remember when I was old enough to use a knife. Probably eight. I do remember when my little brother, age three, stuck a screwdriver into an electrical socket and got the shock of his life. And when my sister showed off by demonstrating that our neighbors’ fence was harmless. It was “hot” at the time. They both learned lessons back then but it didn’t stop my brother from climbing up to a 30′ TV tower. I bet the view was gorgeous! He’s a great cook and so are my sisters, and they bake.

Cooking school was more of a way to get out of corporate America using my life savings. It taught me a lot more about myself and my passion for caring for both people and shelter animals. Today, I do just that. Cheers to you, Dee



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