Monday, January 31, 2011

Doot do-doot do do...

Not much to report, currently. I'm still waiting to hear back from the bakery- still holding out hope for that job opportunity. Beyond that, I will continue on in the hunt for gainful employment. It's proving difficult, but I won't give up. Someone out there wants to hire me. They just haven't met me yet.

Oh! Howie and I have started recording The Geeky Gourmet again. We're a bit out of sync, but a little practice will get us right back in to a rhythm. Unfortunately, Howie is having serious issues with his sound/recording equipment or possibly something else entirely. He's going to have to rewire his entire office tonight and hopefully fix the problem. With that said, we have yet to complete a new installment of our show. HOWEVER! Once his computer issues are resolved, we'll be back!

My apologies for not having anything fun or exciting to report. I will have something a bit more stimulating to write about next time, because I'm going on another wonderful adventure in the world of pasta making tonight! It is my intention to create delicious, homemade ravioli and marinara. I'll let you know just how delicious (or disastrous) this all turns out.



Elle's Adventures in Dining out (or eating in)

Central, South Carolina (another for the locals)
Taco Loco
This small, unassuming "dive" is located in an old strip mall. You most likely would not even notice it if someone didn't make you aware of it's presence next to the Dollar General. The owners are originally from California and they've brought with them some of the best burritos I've ever had. Of course it helps that they make their own tortillas and sauces in-house. Everything is fresh and cooked to order. If you want something a little different, try a torta- a Mexican sub sandwich. You'll love every bite!
Price range: $5 to $10
Dine in, carry out

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Beware of exploding potatoes!

This has happened to me before, so it's not a new experience. But I didn't have this blog then and therefore no one to share my wisdom with. Aren't you so lucky that this happened to me again?!

Potatoes explode. If you don't pierce the skin before putting them in the oven, they will eventually explode leaving a crispy skin hanging from the oven rack and bits of potato will cover the bottom of your oven.

I was getting my prep done for supper tonight- thawing the pork chops and chicken, figuring out what other vegetables to have, and baking the potatoes the first time for the twice-baked potatoes. I cleaned the potatoes well and dried them off. Then, I grabbed a fork and pierced each one a several times...or so I thought. I had six small potatoes and I could have sworn that I pierced all six before placing them in the oven. Apparently I missed one, because about 30 minutes later I smelled something burning. I opened the oven door and sure enough, one of my potatoes had burst leaving a crisp skin dangling from the rack while little bits of white and lightly brown flesh were scattered all of the bottom of the oven. I cleaned everything up, pulled the other potatoes out to cool, and then what did I do? I took pictures of the disaster, of course!

The moral of the story (though, I'm sure this is common knowledge): Potatoes, especially farm fresh potatoes or new potatoes, will explode if the skins have not been pierced or vented in some way. Don't let it happen to you!

Elle's Adventures in Dining Out (or eating in)

Clemson, SC (for the locals)
Little Pigs Bar-B-Q
A casual, quick-service restaurant serving Carolina style, pork BBQ. The chopped pork is flavorful, juicy, and tender and the homemade sauces are the perfect compliment. I prefer their signature mild sauce, which is savory and vinegar-based. They also offer a hot vinegar-based sauce (which is the staff favorite), a South Carolina mustard-based sauce, and a more traditional tomato-based sauce. Oh! And you have to try the apple sticks. You won't regret it.
Price range- $5 to $15
Eat in, carry out, bulk carry out, catering

Greenville, SC
Steak 'n Shake (nation-wide chain)
I know, I know. Yet another chain burger joint. But there's something about the burgers and those teeny, matchstick fries. Not to mention some fond memories I have that involve 15 people on a 3 am burger run in Ohio. I like my steakburger with American cheese and bacon, while my fiance prefers the cheesy cheddar steakburger. Most all of them are delicious and let's not forget the milkshakes. A meal at Steak 'n Shake wouldn't be complete without the "Shake" part.
Price Range- $5 to $10

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

About that job...

I went in for my interview today, and I think it went really well! The owner and I talked a lot about various concerns and expectations. With everything that we covered, she is sure to have a good idea of my culinary background and experience. She also knows what my goals are. I feel pretty confident about how the interview went, but I won't know whether or not I got the job until next week. There are a few people they called that haven't called back yet and there's one person that she won't get to interview until next week. There is also a possibility that I could have to preform an audition of sorts. So, we'll see. But I still feel really good about it. It's the longest interview I've ever had and I'm taking that as a good sign. She genuinely enjoyed talking with me.

I'm a little frustrated I have to wait until next week, but what can you do? Other than keep searching for other options, I'm going to keep cooking, keep eating, and keep blogging! I'm going to start incorporating a new element to my blog posts. It may not happen with every post, but I'd like to use this once a week. Now I should explain what it is, right? Right.

In Food & Wine magazine the editor-in-chief, Dana Cowin, starts everything off with a letter to her readers about that particular issue. In a small column on the side she tells us what restaurants she's eaten in lately in her "Where I'm Coming From" section. I'd like to do something similar. Now, I'm not a jet setting editor-in-chief in one of the most popular food periodicals out there, but I'm a budding chef and I do eat out at least once a week. So I will share where I'm coming from if I eat something or somewhere new, but I'll also share an ingredient or a dish that I've had or made recently. I suppose it's not a really big deal, but when I read my F&W every month, that little column is something I really looking forward to reading. And now, I'm looking forward to writing my own version.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I haven't had a proper kitchen job in longer than I care to admit. I've been job hunting for a good while and have gotten really discouraged lately. When they say it's rough out there in the real world, they mean it. But good things come to those who wait I suppose, because I HAVE AN INTERVIEW TOMORROW!

I applied to this bakery months ago, but they must have kept my resume and application on file. They called me this afternoon to let me know that there was a job opening and asked when I could come in for an interview. It's for a part-time line cook position at The Village Baker in Pendleton. I know, a line cook position at a bakery? They have an amazing breakfast and lunch menu. So I'll be preparing that.

I'm so excited! I'll find out more about it tomorrow, but it sounds like there is potential to move up. Maybe they'll let me learn some of the actual bakery things, too!

Wish me luck!


Sunday, January 9, 2011


I'm just going to be honest. Instead of saying, "Oh yeah! I'll make that up to you!" or some such, I'm going to say, "Oops!" I attempted to write the 12 Days of Christmas Cooking (which I still believe was an awesome idea) and failed miserably. At about day 3 or 4, my personal to-do list was inching closer and closer to floor length and I couldn't ignore it any longer. So, my apologies for not completing it. I'm a bit disappointed in myself, but I will likely try again next year. This year? Something. Some time in the future!

Now? Now it's a brand new year. 2011 came in fairly quietly. I spent New Year's Eve and Day with friends and family not doing much of anything. It's nice when things just slow down and you don't have any more presents to wrap or travel plans to arrange. I've already made a few decisions and changes that make me feel very adult and proud of myself. I've also made some...well, now how should I put this? I'm not one to make resolutions, because I feel like I'm setting myself up for failure. So I'll say that I've set some goals for myself (in a culinary aspect as well as a general life aspect) that I hope to achieve between now and whenever I reach them.

Culinary goals for now and later:
  • Improve my knife skills- practice precise knife cuts so that I can not only make my food appealing to the eye, but to prep faster.
  • Cook or bake something at least once a week that is not school, GG, or work related-I want to cook or bake something because I want to experiment. This is going to help me with the next goal.
  • Write more-I want to write and test more recipes of my own.
  • Work on plate design
Those are just a few. I'm sure I'll be adding to that list, but I think it's a good start.

There are also some new projects that I will continue and/or complete. Howie and I are attempting to gain momentum and start recording Geeky Gourmet shows. I'm looking forward to that. I feel like it was another great idea that got abandoned and I don't want that at all. I think we'll pick it back up and set a more realistic schedule that allows us to create a great program without scrambling around like chickens with our heads cut off to make sure we get it posted.

I'm doing a 365 project as well and am hoping to share that here! I took the lead from my wonderful Aunts on this one. The idea is to create the same object in a different medium every day for a year. It should be a small craft or small daily project to ensure that you can get it done no matter how crazy your day is. I chose to create a new whisk every day. It seemed very fitting for me. I've had a lot of fun with it so far!

365 "Whisk Me Away" project day 6
Elle with a whisk
Photo taken by Charlie Figel with a Nikon D70

I hope that everyone's 2011 is off to a great start! I am optimistic about a great year and I hope y'all are, too.