July, 2004

New Tricks

No more washing windows with paper towels–it’s all about the newspaper. A friend at work shared this trick with me and I promptly tried it out on the humungo mirror in my bathroom–to great success! Never again will I use paper towels to wipe up mirrors or windows! I can’t believe it took me 23 years to discover this trick. I’ll just have to wash windows twice as much for the next 23 years to make up for it.

Another lesson I learned this week is that floating candles in Las Vegas are just not practical. I’ve been trying to make them work for a couple of months now, and am so sick of refilling the water every single day. Plus, the water that evaporates leaves marks on the glass that are impossible to get off unless you use a stainless steel scrubbie (my new best friend). So yesterday I decided to fill the candle-floating-glasses with rice instead of water. Yippeee–no more water refills or hours of endless scrubbing. Plus, I’m saving water and thus doing my part to ameliorate the drought conditions in this freaking desert we live in.

hansi.bmpI was going a little crazy with the rice yesterday. I noticed that my sea salt was starting to clump together. Salt is not supposed to clump. Then I remembered a little trick that Mom and Dad use at home to stop the salt shaker salt from clogging the salt shaker holes: they put a few grains of rice in the shaker. Since my bottle is quite a bit larger, I decided to put a small handful of grains in. Bad idea.

My thinking was that the rice would absorb whatever moisture was in the salt (evaporated from the water my candles used to float in…), thus declumping my beloved sea salt. And maybe that will work, but the holes in the top of the canister are so big that the rice comes out whenever you use the salt! Shoot.

I’m going home on Thursday!!! YAY!!! Hansi, our exchange student from Venezuela (who stayed with us my senior year of high school), is visiting for the month, so she’ll be home too! As well as big sis Phoebe with new hubby John and baby Sydney–so it’s going to be one huge family party!! I’m sure we’ll be spending some quality time at The Rock.


cheeses.jpgHave any of you ever tasted Grana Padano cheese? Oh, Lord, it’s so good. Once you’ve tasted this, you’ll never go back to that Coca-Cola of the cheese world, Parmigiano Reggiano. I learned about this cheese from one of the Daughters of Grana during the 2003 Worlds of Flavor Conference at my beloved alma mater. This cheese is a major part of her family’s ethnic identity and just a huge part of her life. She talked about this cheese as though it was her closest, most cherished family member. Although many people compare it to parmesan, it’s ten times creamier and packs way more flavor. Paired with aged Balsamic Vinegar (the older the better), it’s a mouthful of heaven.

At work we serve a French cheese that reminds me of these first two. It’s called Ossau-Iraty and has a completely different texture than parm or padano–smoother, softer, not as brittle. Anyways, these cheeses are in the same flavor family, so if you’re looking for some new alternatives (or a splendiforous snack), check them out!

New Life

clock.jpgMy new random schedule is great!! I love having my life turned upside down. I think I was getting into a bit of a rut with the early morning thing every single day (and I’d only been doing that for two months!). Routine gets old so fast. This week I’m working all kinds of random shifts, the overnight, plating desserts at dinner service, and tomorrow we have a buyout. A.K.A. Someone (with lots and lots of moolah) bought out the entire restaurant for the whole day! So I’ll be working 2pm-10pm. I’m sure you’re all extremely fascinated by my work schedule, huh? Hmm. Not so much. But it’s the major excitement in my life right now (besides daydreams of my only-two-weeks-away vacation home), so it would be dishonest of me to not write about it here.

This morning was inspiring! I’ve been on a real workout kick lately, and trying to squeeze in random hours to do pilates, kickbox, or swim is a new challenge I’ve embraced with open arms. Working out is so much more fun when you’re doing it at 1 in the morning or some other random time. (How come when you actually have normal hours to do things, you don’t do them, and when you have no time, you manage to fit everything you never thought was possible into one day!?) But back to this A.M.’s inspiration. Got home around 5AM and went swimming while the sun came up!!! It was so gorgeous–the palm trees, there were actually a few clouds (I was doing the backstroke), and the pink and orange sky. Absolutely refreshing for mind, body and spirit.

And you should have seen the city from the 10th floor of our parking garage tonight (around midnight). The lights were awesome! It really was beautiful. In the daylight Vegas looks pretty desertish and tacky if you ask me, and it feels just heinous–hot and miserable. But at night, and in the early morning it’s a somewhat normal temperature (high eighties) and the darkness hides the ugly parts, so the city is quite lovely actually.

My body has no concept of what day or what time it is anymore, but it’s not even a problem. I like life better this way because you sleep when you need to sleep and go the rest of the time. I think this is how life should be–living for survival not for routine. I feel more awake and alive than I have in a long time.

Oh! P.S. Another great thing about working the overnight shift: you get real dinner!!! Lamb tenderloin, steak, mashed potatoes and haricot verts, you name it! REAL FOOD!!

She Works Hard For Her Money

The sunset from our balcony

So, the overnight shift. Definitely a whole new ballgame. The best part, aside from working with pastry for eight hours, is the night cleaning routine. Oh Lord, it’s hilarious. Around midnight the crew of four Spanish speaking cleaners come in–and they come in with style. Talking and joking, they bring their boombox and blare hot Latin cambios all night long–they’re a great group of people, totally fun and happy and energetic. They scrub every inch of the restaurant and clean in places that the average person wouldn’t even think to clean.

My favorite part is when they wash the floor. They concoct a magical cleaning solution–their cauldron is a GIANT (we’re talking 4 feet long x 4 feet deep x 2 feet wide) Lexan (it’s a swimming pool). They dump this out all over the floors–so there’s an inch or more of sudsy water over the entire kitchen floor. You can imagine how this effects the whole working situation. The newly made kitchen ocean makes tasks like carrying eggs across the hallway a real adventure. Can we say “Slip ‘n Slide“?!

At this point the Latin Super Cleaners don their waders and are ready to go to town (or perhaps go fly fishing). Grabbing their scrubby brooms they set to work on the floors. When the scrubbing is done, they get out the hose (I think it may actually be a real fireman’s hose) and transform the kitchen into Lake Mead–SO MUCH WATER. (Needless to say, by this point, my worn out leather kitchen shoes are water shoes–I’m ankle deep in H�O and my socks feel like swamp moss). Finally, (the kitchen is big, so this floor-cleaning process takes quite a while) a few hours later, they squeegee the sparkling clean floors. It’s quite the experience! If you’ve seen the scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where they’re all covered with suds, you can imagine what the night cleaning experience feels like.

I’m still a little bit confused about when I’m supposed to sleep, but having the whole day to myself is great! I have time to work out and go to the pool (I haven’t been this tan since Canc�n!)…I’ll figure out the sleep thing later.

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