Friday, November 23, 2007

Creatures of Habit

We are all creatures of habit. Some are worse than others, of course. Anthony Bourdain has been known to slam on people who visit far away places and refuse to eat outside of the hotel restaurant. Their habit (one of them, at least) is eating safe, familiar food. Bourdain's of course (one of them) is talking about how disappointed he is by that.

I just realized that I'm about as bad as they are, at least in some respects. Unbelievably, we actually have good barbecue in Utah. I'm sure that the proprietors are from out of town, but I'm glad they decided to make Utah their home, and make fabulous food their livelihood. A couple of friends of ours stopped by this evening, and decided that they needed to experience Lon's Cookin' Shack. I opted to stay home and babysit while they went out and got our food and brought it back.

When they asked what I wanted, I told them to ask if they had any smoked turkey, and then they inevitably said that they were out of it (which they always are), then to order me a pulled pork sandwich. A few minutes after they left, they called to tell me that Lon's was closed for the day, and that they were going to go somewhere else. They were considering either Costa Vida or Cafe Rio, which have nearly identical menus (and food), with only very slight variations.

I told them that my wife already knew what I wanted (the pork salad). As I was telling them this, they seemed to decide upon Costa Vida, and I began to give them specific instructions. I told them to ask for the mango dressing, and when the people behind the counter interpreted that as "mango salsa", to point at the mango dressing specifically and say that's what they wanted. Of course, they would not get mango dressing, because the people behind the counter are largely idiots who will give you their crappy creamy ranch dressing regardless of what you order. Of all of the dozens of times that I've ordered mango dressing, I've gotten it twice.

As I was explaning this to them, I was informed that they had just decided upon Bombay House, what what would Ilike from there? Without hesitation I informed them that I would like a chicken tikka masala. They agreed that it was a fabulous choice indeed and hung up.

It occurs to me that I have a few habits here. One is to find a favorite dish and stick with it. I can only assume that the other dishes at Costa Vida are fabulous, but the first one I ever ordered was the pork salad, and they've done such a good job with it that I often think that if it was the only dish I ever ate in my life, I might be content. With as little as I treat myself to their food, why would I ever order anything else?

I also know my restaurants. I know what I want to order, and how the employees are going to act, regarless of who is actually behind the counter. It's like ordering from the soup nazi. "Wait, I haven't even told you how to order!"

Most annoyingly is my lack of deviation. How can I expect to be a good chef if I don't try new things? It disturbs me on several levels. The most disconcerting to me is not my unwillingness to try new menu items when I've already decided upon "the usual". The thing that worries me most is that my obsessive-compulsive tendencies put up a pretty convincing fight. If only I could find a way to use my powers for good.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Utah Chocolate Show 2007

Another chocolate show has come and gone, and I'm happy to say that from what I could tell, it went even better than last year. Then again, I didn't make it to all of this year's. Friday afternoon I fell ill, and subsequently spent all of Saturday in bed, missing out on the second half of the show, as well as that evening's B-52's concert downtown. But at least I can tell you about the show up through Friday.

The show actually started this year on Thursday evening, with a VIP night. If you were looking to experience the show without any children, then that was the night to go. I was there, but I spent my time at the door, taking peoples' tickets. Those tickets were significantly more expensive than the rest of the evening, but I could swear that a good couple of hundred people thought that the extra few bucks were worth it.

Thursday night was supposed to be ages 18 and up only, but that didn't stop a lot of people from bringing their kids anyway. One mom even seemed to have instructed her children to hide behind her as she handed us her tickets. She obviously knew the rules, and being Utahn, decided to try and flout them rather than follow them. Other people didn't seem to know the rule, despite the fact that it was printed right on the ticket.

I also volunteered all day Friday, but the organizers kindly gave me the first couple of hours off, so that I could experience the show as well. I got there early, and was inside the showroom before the doors opened. I found myself in a circle with Matt Caputo of Tony Caputo's (they have the largest selection of chocolate in the state), Art Pollard of Amano Chocolate, and Chris Blue, owner of the newly-opened Chocolatier Blue. They were discussing an article involving Raymond Lammers, executive pastry chef of Stein Eriksen Lodge. It was interesting to listen to these three professionals, who I think are on the forefront of putting Utah on the chocolate map.

I walked around and tasted a lot of chocolate, and occassionally other sweets. There was a lot of bad chocolate there. There was a fair amount of pretty mediochre chocolate there. And of course, there was a bit of really good chocolate. Most of the really good chocolate was showcased at the booths manned by the aforementioned professionals. In fact, expect upcoming articles about at least of couple of them.

I also tasted some honey there, fresh from Lehi, UT. It was actually some of the best honey I've ever tasted. I almost bought some. Keep in mind that I've never really been a big fan of the taste of honey, and I really liked this stuff. Check out Knight Honey if you ever get a chance. And let me know if you find their website.

I got to help out Ruth Kendrick with her ganache class, and after that her neice Susan LaHargoue's chocolate class for kids. Both are amazing teachers, and it's always a joy to help them in class, even if all I did for Susan's class was prep work beforehand.

It was good to see Tony Caputo's have a booth there. They also handled the chocolate tastings this year, which I regrettably was unable to attend. I found out on Friday that they were apparently there because of my review from last year's show. One of the show staff ran across the post and tried contacting the vendors mentioned both by me, and in the comments. Caputos's was apparently the only one who took them up on it, and from what I heard from Matt, they were glad they did. Liberty Heights Fresh, Pirate O's and Baker's C&C didn't bother to show up. I think this is critical. All of the business that could have gone to them at the show went to Caputo's instead.

It was a good show, and I regret having to have missed it on Saturday. I think I would have been happy to just spend both days wandering around the booths, and watching cooking demos and taking classes. Mel Henderson did a good job with things this year, and I'm already excited to see how she pulls things together next year.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Southwest Tilapia

I've been watching Iron Chef America again. To be honest, all that I remember is a square of fish (probably swordfish) perched atop a square of grilled pineapple. I suppose in retrospect I could go back and watch the episode again, but I doubt it would make me stay any truer to the dish that inspired me. I guess it's better that more of it is my own creation.

I decided to go with a rectangle instead of a square. I didn't have any swordfish so I went with tilapia. At least I did grill the pineapple, but not the fish. I cut it to the same length as the pineapple, oiled it down, sprinkled it with Kosher salt and chile powder, and then sauteed it. For a sauce, I blended together some papaya, heavy cream and a little chipotle Tabasco.

The pineapple went down on the plate and the tilapia went on top of it. I added a couple of spoonfuls of tropical salsa, and then garnished the plate with my sauce and a little chopped cilantro.

In retrospect, I think the sauce and the cilantro made a perfectly nice-looking plate look pretty messy. On the plus side, the flavor did compliment the rest of the dish quite well. I also wish I would have had a circular white plate to contrast the sharper angles of the pineapple and the fish, instead of my squarish white plate. But hey, practice makes perfect, right?

Caloric Intakes

When I visit the in-laws, I occassionally subject myself to television shows that I would not normally watch. Last night I was reminded once again why I don't bother watching the travesty that is 60 Minutes.

A story was aired concerning calorie counts on fast-food menus. Those of you who have been to Subway lately may have noticed that their menus now proudly display the numbers of calories next to each sandwich. They note that the calorie count is for a 6-inch sandwich, which is fine with me. As the report so expertly noted, the calorie count does not include customizations to your sandwich, a feature which has always been key to Subway's business. Let's face it, you'd have to be an idiot to think that changing the ingredients in your sandwich wouldn't change its calorie count.

In what I'm sure was supposed to represent America as a whole, the reporter (who most assuredly knew better) played the part of the idiot. Her sandwich, which according to the menu would have contained less than 400 calories, ended up weighing in at just shy of 800 calories. This was because she opted for a 12-inch sub, and requested that it be loaded up with mayo. She complained that now she had to do math in her head (which must have been an excruciating experience for her), and that the obscene amounts of mayo that she requested were not tabulated anywhere. Her supposedly-healthful sandwich was now going to add nearly 800 calories to her daily intake! Can you imagine if she had three of those in a day? She'd be just shy of the recommended daily intake of 2400 calories a day! Oh, the horrors!

Of course, if she just drank water with her sandwich (not a bad idea) and decided not to get a bag of chips, then she would be just fine. But America doesn't stand for flavorless drinks and missing side dishes. In truth, the sandwich (including the mayo) would have been perfectly within reason. This point was largely ignored. The reporter's supposed intent was to prove that fast-food chains make it difficult for customers to accurately determine their caloric intake, and therefore stay healthy. Obviously, the real intent of the story was to cause shock and dissent among the masses, which I'm sure leads to increased ratings, but that's not really my point.

A supposed expert, a certain Thomas Frieden, spent the length of the report making a direct comparison between calories and health. "You might think that tuna salad, because it says it's salad, is healthier. But you might see it's many more calories than a roast beef sandwich. And you might prefer the roast beef sandwich, too. You were having the tuna salad because you thought it was healthy," Frieden explains.

I've got news for you, Frieden. While the salad may have more calories than the sandwich, it might still be more healthful. Of course, this all depends on how much mayo and other such ingredients were worked into the salad. The type of tuna used in tuna salad is little more than cat-food, and the only way to feed that to many Americans (and probably other nationalities) is to augment the taste with a little (or a lot of) fat. Still, the salad is likely to also contain greens (which most Americans could use much more of), olives (remember how good for you olive oil is supposed to be?) and perhaps tomatoes (love that lycopene). In contrast, the roast beef sandwich is going to contain some lovely saturated fat, much of which inherently contains trans-fats), some diabetes-inducing white wheat flour in the bun, and with any luck, some ever-so-tasty preservatives to keep the bread from getting stale on its trans-continental journey from factory to restaurant. But hey, at least the sesame seeds on top are good for you.

The point is, while there is a correlation between caloric intake and a person's health, it's not the only factor at work. I don't know of anyone (outside of TV) who is actually stupid enough to believe that a fast food burger is more healthful than a lush, green salad. Then why do people eat burgers instead of salads? Because the burger probably tastes good and the salad probably doesn't. Until America (and cooks in particular) realizes that there is as much art to preparing vegetables as there is to preparing meat, this problem will always exist. And while this problem exists, it doesn't matter how many restaurants put calories on their menus, people will still order the burger because the burger tastes good, and the salad is rabbit food.

What other factors are at going on here? I think it's common-knowledge nowadays that animal-based fats and protein are not nearly as good for you as plant-based fats and protein. There are a variety of reasons for this, my favorite being that trans-fats do not exist in plant-based fats without external intervention, whereas trans-fats (even in small amounts) are common in animal-based fats. Sugars also play an important role, as we all know that heavily-processed starches and sugars have been linked to things like Type II diabetes, largely because of the insulin spikes that they tend to cause. Nevermind the fact that excessive protein intake has also been shown to cause significant insulin spikes.

I could go on and on with a variety of other factors that I picked up from nutrition classes that I have taken, and personal research that I have done (I wonder if any CBS reporter has ever thought to do that, rather than just pretending to?). In the end, I'm just some guy with a blog that's mad about part of mainstream American making such an effort to delude the rest of mainstream America. If you're reading my blog, chances are you're not part of mainstream America, because that's not really who I generally find leaving comments. But if you're reading this, then hopefully I've inspired you to go out and do some research of your own. Don't bother with the crack-pots on 60 Minutes. Listen to somebody who's goal in life is to help you, not cause fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Nutella and Fig

See, this is what happens when the wife goes to Vegas for the weekend, leaving me at home with a DVR full of Iron Chef America episodes. I had a huge jar of Nutella calling to me, and I didn't know what to do with it. Sure, I could just eat it by the spoonful. Heaven knows I've done that enough times. But like I said, I'd been watching Iron Chef all weekend. It was time to apply the theme ingredient differently.

I grabbed a largish slice of sourdough bread and cut out asmany rounds as I could with a small pastry cutter. The magic number ended up being 5. Those were tossed under the broiler (okay, my little toaster oven set to broil) just long enough to get some decent browning going on. I pulled them and gave them a quick spread of Nutella. I think the rustic look was nice. I then topped each one with a very thin slice of fig.

Very quick, very simple. I think the whole thing came in at under five minutes. If I were to do it again, I would choose a different starch. The sourdough was okay, but something a little less sour would have been better. Puff pastry probably would have been ideal. Either way, it's not a bad idea for some kind of holiday party or something.

Monday, November 5, 2007

SYN/ACK in Canada

I'm back in Utah again, and I have some final words on last week's visit to Montreal.

I mentioned before that in Montreal, almost everybody greeted me in two languages. Thinking about it, this is kind of a verbal handshake. In walking up to the Canadian, it's obvious to them that my intent is to start a connection, using a verbal protocol. The Canadian, friendly person that he or she usually is, establishes to me that they have two different modes of communication, and they're inviting me to select a preference. Since I only know English, I reply with a standard English greeting of some sort (HELO). The Canadian now knows that I wish to communicate in that language, and they continue with it. It's all very interesting to me, from a technical standpoint.

My class went successfully. I took a peek at the student evals, and decided that the students apparently really did like the class, the instructor, and the facility. It's always a nice feeling. One student even gave me his email address and told me to let him know the next time I was in Montreal so that he could show me around the better parts of town. I hope to take him up on that soon (hint, hint, Dax).

I walked around the mall adjascent to the training center building on Thursday night. I was disappointed to find almost nothing but clothing stores and a food court. I went downstairs to the stores nearer the train station and found a wider variety of stores. At one point I ran into a chocolate store and bought some filled chocolates. Now, I've never been a big fan of French chocolate, especially the highly-overrated Valrhona, but it would seem that as far as chocolate confections are concerned, the French are on their game. Well, the French-Canadians at least. While the shells were disappointingly thick, the fillings were smooth and flavorful, and I ended up going back during lunch on Friday for a few more chocolates. If there were a chocolate store like that nearby, I would be a happy boy indeed.

Walking around the mall after work caused me to head back to the hotel a little later than usual, and I found throngs of people walking the streets. They say that there is safety in numbers, and from what I saw, the cars had a definite disadvantage. When it came time to cross the street, I found throngs of people crossing all at one time, and they scarcely seemed to care whether their light was actually green. They were usually good enough to actually wait for all of the cars to disappear first. I'm worried that I picked up a lot of bad habits while I was there. I'll have to be careful next time I'm walking in Salt Lake.

The crazy people in the hallway made their final appearance Thursday night. There was a definite difference between each of their visits. The first night, two cute, bubbly girls appeared that looked like they were on their way to or from a party. The second night, only one of them appeared, accompanied by a dour woman who was just doing her job. The cute girl with her didn't look like she was having such a great time. The third night the dour woman was replaced with a man who was just doing his job, and didn't really seem to mind. The cute girl with him seemed almost in pain. The final night there were no cute girls, and the older man and woman who did appear looked like they were just doing their job, but they did seema bit friendlier. When I took a chocolate from their basket, the woman asked, "just one?" I hadn't realized that I could have more than once. I took a handful. Man, those are good chocolates.

I was worried about getting back to the airport on Friday. The man at the training center helpfully volunteered to call a taxi agency for me and make sure that there would be a cab waiting for me downstairs that took American Express. We were at the Sun Life building, in front of which there is always a line of taxis. He told me to go down and wait at the front of the line, and that there would be a driver set apart from the rest who would know me by name. When I got downstairs, I saw the line of cabs, but nothing special about them. After a few minutes one pulled up in front of the others. I walked up and asked him if he was waiting for Joseph Hall. He looked at me with what seemed to be recognition, and then rushed me off to one of the cabs that had been waiting, telling me that that was the correct one. I asked that driver (just to be sure) if he took American Express, and he assured me in extremely broken English that of course he did. I had been wondering how the taxi company was going to coordinate its efforts, and I was beginning to be impressed by how they had done it. As we pulled away I saw a minivan taxi pull up, roll down his window and give me an extremely concerned look. That was when I realized that I had taken the wrong cab.

After a couple of blocks I asked the driver if they had told him where I was headed. He said something to the effect of, "no, where are we going?" I told him that I needed to get to the airport. He switched lanes erratically and made right turn. In an apparent attempt to make conversation he asked me where I was going. "Toronto? Some other place?" I told him that I was going to America, and suddenly felt a little silly, like I was an excited little schoolboy: "I'm going to America! It's my first time there and I'm so excited!" He made a friendly reply that I didn't understand in the least, and we drove on.

He was a scary driver, one that made Utah drivers seem extremely calm and patient in comparison. He looked for every opportunity to get ahead, whether or not it was a good idea. At one point as we sat at a red light in the third lane from the left, he kept edging forward, cautiously watching all of the other drivers. When the light turned green he stomped on the gas and screetched across two lanes of traffic to take a freeway on-ramp on the left.

We hit the beginning of Montreal rush hour and it was as brutal as my students said it was. Our car's brakes were sticky, so it was not possible to slow down without a series of jerks. The accelerator also seemed a bit sensitive, and speeding up was just as much fun. As we drove I noticed a two airport exits, seeming to refer to two different airports. I asked my driver which airport we were going to and he said Trudeau. My concern levels rising, I asked if the airport code for that was YUL. It became increasingly apparant that his grasp of English was almost as poor as my understanding of French. The best I could make out was that Montreal used to have two airports, now it only has one, and it's Trudeau.

As we drove I noticed the faire chart on the window. Under the hourly rates I noticed an exception to them: all trips to and from Trudeau-Montreal International Airport had a flat rate of $35 Canadian. Something about it made me feel better. We got to the airport and had a painful conversation about which airline I was taking, followed by another painful conversation on how I was going to pay him. We finally got all of that out of the way and I grabbed my bags and went inside to look for a ticketing agent.

The one that I found was abrupt and perhaps a little unfriendly as she told me that she could not help me until I had checked in at the electronic kiosk. Even using that ended up being an excercise in pain, as the intructions for scanning my passport were vague and ultimately inaccurate. I finally checked in and went back to ask the lady for some clarifications on the customs form. Finding the international security point was a pain, as the entrance was between airline check-in counters. I felt like I was using an employee-only entrance.

I was surprised to learn that I would be going through US customs before getting on the plane, rather than waiting until I was on American soil. I was also relieved, since I only had an hour layover in Minneapolis/St Paul. The customs agent sounded extremely American to my ears as he asked me if I was bringing anything back from Canada. I replied that I had some chocolate and he said, "is that the food that you're declaring?" He waved me through and I made my way to security.

The security checkpoint in Montreal is exactly the same as in America, with only subtle differences. There were still Canadian TSA agents yelling about what would be allowed and what wouldn't, but they were doing it in English and then French (which was backwards from what I expected). They wanted to make sure that we knew the rules about "one hundred mils" (American transation: 3.4oz), etc.

I went through what is now a practiced ritual of taking off my shoes, removing my notebook and my external DVD burner from my bags and so on. I went through the metal detector and then got all but one of my bags. Apparently there was a problem with my larger carry-on bag, but the inspector for my line was busy with a woman who thought it appropriate to bring foil-wrapped plastic containers full of food through security ("It's from my grandmother, eh? You want me to unwrap it? Why?") Yes, non-business travellers are just as annoying in Canada as they are stateside.

With her gone, they finally moved my bag out from the X-ray where it was handled by an older gentleman who was friendly, and seemed to enjoy his job enough that he actually hummed as he put my luggage through several tests. As he opened up my bag some chocolate fell out and he smiled at it. "Chocolate, huh?" He seemed pretty unconcerned about me as he checked through my bag thoroughly enough to make American TSA agents look like a group of blindfolded idiots, but with a friendliness to make those same uptight agents look like they were working for the KGB, doing what is best for "Mother America". It was one of very few times that I was actually impressed with a TSA agent.

As I left security, I trailed a pilot who could not walk more than 10 feet without his wheeled luggage causing him problems. From what I could tell, he just didn't know how to use wheeled luggage. I hoped he wasn't my pilot. I walked around him and made my way to my gate. We boarded a Canadair CJ900, which had a very friendly interior. Everything was white, except for the gray chairs. It seemed bright and almost futuristic, just from the whites and the grays alone. Why don't they do this on all airplanes? I felt like I was on the space shuttle, not a cramped bus in south-east L.A.

I had a window seat, and was soon joined by some guy in the aisle seat who was apparently only interested in sleeping. He woke just in time for his drink order, "Sierra Mist or Sprite". He took a sip, put his cup down, and promptly went back to sleep. An hour or so later I had to wake him up so that I could get out to the lavatory, and he seemed extremely disoriented for a moment. He woke up again for the landing, and then spent an eternity talking on his cell phone while we waited to deplane.

And we had quite a wait, too. In fact, we waited almost 20 minutes for somebody to make their way to our gate to drive the skybridge to the plane. Yay for Northwest Airlines! Fortunately we were 15 minutes early anyway, so it didn't really cause any problems with people trying to make their connections. Unfortunately, I still didn't have nearly as much time as I would have liked. The Minneapolis airport is like an extention of the Mall of America, and is not a bad place to be stuck for an extended layover. I did have enough time to stop by the Wolfgang Puck Express and get a pretty decent pizza, and scoff at the McDonalds on the way to and from it.

The flight into Salt Lake was refreshingly empty, and the flight attendants were surprisingly friendly. I don't get to fly on many Airbus jets, and this one was spacious and almost comfortable. In fact, most of my flights both on Boeing and non-Boeing jets make me dislike Boeing just that much more.

I'm back home now for a while, and then I think I'm off to New Jersey. It'll be interesting to see what early winter is like on the turnpike.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Next Iron Chef

I've been watching The Next Iron Chef almost religiously. It's the one show that I make an effort to watch on the old TiVo on the weekends between classes. For those of you who haven't been watching it, it's kind of like The Next Food Network Star or Top Chef, with one big difference: these people are professionals. With the possible exception of Gavin Kaysen, who consistently failed to impress me, this show has featured nothing but chefs who are at the top of their game.

Unlike the half season of Top Chef that I subjected myself to before giving up on it, the challengers on The Next Iron Chef are like brothers and sisters in the kitchen. The had a mutual respect for each other, and in fact had to be forced in one episode to stab each other in the back, which I found to be the only ordeal that they truly failed in.

From the very first episode, it was clear that every single chef competing looked up to John Besh, not just as the man to beat, but as the man whom everyone else could truly only aspire to. As time went on, Besh consistently proved himself in challenge after challenge. If ever he hit speed bumps with the judges, it was generally related to technicalities. Lobster served with watermelon consomme? Truly, his only mistake was calling it consomme instead of soup.

As the battles passed, it also became clear that there was another truly talented chef to content with: Michael Symon. For those who saw him cook for Anthony Bourdain and Marky Ramone in Cleveland, this comes as no surprise. From foie gras bratwurst on No Reservations to his lobster hot dogs on The Next Iron Chef, Chef Symon has a knack for taking something seemingly pedestrian and elevating it to a truly inspired level.

It does not surprise me that the final two contestants are Besh and Symon. In a week we'll see them duke it out in a traditional Iron Chef-style battle. Both have extremely important characteristics that would greatly benefit the Food Network, both on and off of Iron Chef. Besh obviously is technically superior, while Symon has a more camera-friendly face and personality. But each is close enough in both areas that regardless of which winner is chosen, I won't be surprised or disappointed.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Two Roads Diverged...

...and I, I have tried to take both.

I found it interesting that last week, I stumbled upon two very interesting blogs, literally within hours of each other. The first was Chadzilla, who's tagline reads, "The future of gastronomy belongs to chemistry." (Brillat Savarin, 1825). I found a link to this from one of my favorite magazines/blogs, Make, when they posted a link to an article about how to make vodka pills. As I browsed through the site, I discovered that the author is a man just like me: a cook who loves science. The biggest difference is that he actually works in a professional kitchen for a living. As I browsed through his site, I found article after article on things like sous vide, a technique that I have recently become fascinated with but have been unable to obtain the resources to study it. I knew that I was about to become a frequent reader.

The second was Bash Cures Cancer. I stumbled upon this when I found an article in Google about 10 Linux commands you've never used. I'm happy to say that I already use five of them on a regular basis, and there are three more than I have used variants of frequently. As I browsed through this blog, I discovered that the author is a man just like me: a Linux geek who loves to teach the world how cool Linux is, and how to use it. The biggest difference is that I actually teach in professional training centers for a living. As I browsed through his site, I found article after article on things like elegant scripting techniques, a subject which I have always been fascinated with, even though I can always use more help with it. I knew that I was about to become a frequent reader.

You know what amuses me about all of this? I have a degree in Culinary Arts, but I've never been to college for anything computer related. I rarely cook at home these days, because I'm usually on the road teaching a Linux class. When I know that I'm going to be teaching a class the following week using a book that I haven't used for a while (if ever), I bring a copy with me to read on the plane and in my hotel room. I'll be at home for the next three weeks, so this week I brought with me the ServSafe study guide to read in my hotel room and on the plane (my certification expires in December and I need to renew it).

They say that no man can serve two masters, and that's certainly true. At least, not at the same time. So when I'm not teaching in the classroom, I'm taking what time I can to play in the kitchen. A day does not go by when I'm not thinking about the next ingredient or recipe I plan to play with (I have a pound of bacon waiting for me at home, and it was on my mind all day during class). Right now the two roads are close enough that I've still been able to keep a foot in each one, except of course for dodging the occassional obstacle. I guess I'm just hoping the roads don't diverge anymore than this anytime soon.