Musings from a Seattle personal chef
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I can’t believe it’s been a year since I’ve launched this blog. Where DOES the time go?
When I first started writing, I envisioned a catch-all for musings on various aspects of my life: my personal chef business, my culinary creations, my food philosophy, my fitness shenanigans and anything else that struck my fancy. I certainly had no aspirations for becoming a famous blogger and getting a book deal; heck, I wasn’t even sure if anyone else other than my family would read it. I was just looking for another creative outlet.
My posts have been fewer and farther between, but that can be attributed to a number of factors. Summer’s here, and I’d rather be out enjoying the weather than cooped up in the kitchen cooking (and then writing about it). Plus my marathon training takes up much of my time. My fitness musings have migrated to my other blog, Eat Drink Run Woman, so Ovens to Betsy will only be culinary related.
Aside from not having much time to devote to writing, I’m also stymied by my stomach. Even if I’ve prepared the most yum-scrumptious, blog-worthy meal, I just don’t want to take the time to make it look pretty for a photo; I’m hungry! Sure, I could write about it without photos, but where’s the fun in that? In addition, my kitchen is notoriously cluttered, and there never seems to be a clear spot to take a photo (when I actually do take the time to photograph my creations, it tends to be outside on my front porch, which typically is devoid of clutter).
As I write this, I just discovered at least one of you has found inspiration in my blog and has even awarded me with the “Thoughtful Blogger” and “Power of Schmooze” awards; thank you Caffeinated Cowgirl! As I read the criteria, they truly sum up what I have hoped to create:
The Thoughtful Blogger Award is for “those who answer blog comments, emails, and make their visitors feel at home on their blogs. For the people who take others’ feelings into consideration before speaking out and who are kind and courteous. Also for those bloggers who spend so much of their time helping other bloggers design, improve, and fix their sites. This award is for those generous bloggers who think of others.”
The Power of Schmooze Award is for bloggers who “effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way. They don’t limit their visits to only the rich and successful, but spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well. They are the ones who engage others in meaningful conversations, refusing to let it end at a mere hello — all the while fostering a sense of closeness and friendship.”
Although I absolutely love being a personal chef, it can be quite lonely. On one hand, I don’t have to worry about obnoxious, back-stabbing coworkers, but I also don’t have partners in crime to hang out with over a beer to kvetch about the boss. I cater Christmas parties rather than attend them. Meeting friends through blogging fills that void.
I don’t know how this blog will evolve, but that’s okay by me. While some may say you should have definitive goals and direction, sometimes it’s fun just to see how things progress. I’m giving myself time to develop my voice and focus. While my writing isn’t as prolific as others, I certainly hope you continue to visit. Your comments energize and motivate me, and I hope to continue to inspire you to try new things.
Okay, so I suppose this is a questionable topic for a food blog. However, having a family history of colon cancer shapes so much of what I do: it’s why I got back into running and fitness, why I lost weight (40 pounds and counting!), why I have changed my eating habits to include more fresh vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Getting screened was the next logical step. Besides, it’s my blog and I can write what I want to. If you don’t like it, don’t read it (but I hope you will!). And don’t worry, I’m not going to get all Katie Couric on you.
Another reason I wanted to share was to hopefully take away some of the embarrassment people feel about such a procedure. Colon cancer is 90 percent curable if detected early, so that’s why screening is so important. It always amazes me to hear about people who don’t go to the doctor because they are too bashful.
One of my former boyfriends, a welder, one time had a hot piece of slag fly down his Carhartts, severely burning his chest, belly and his, um, “fadoowatdiddy.” These weren’t burns that could be treated with an over-the-counter burn medication; they required a prescription. However, he refused to go to the doctor since he’d have to show his “diddy.” Instead he suffered through several weeks of pain and discomfort.
I also remember when Tammy Faye Bakker announced she had colon cancer. She had blood in her stool for TWO YEARS before she even bothered going to a doctor. She did manage to beat the disease, but perhaps her treatment could have been less extensive had she caught it early. (I actually had a cancer scare right after hearing Tammy’s news; turns out I just ate too many beets).
So, what was it like?
I’ve never been one to jump on the New Year’s resolution bandwagon, but I do use this time of year to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m going — from both a personal and professional standpoint. 2006 was a fabulous year, and I anticipate 2007 will be even better. A few of this past year’s proudest moments:
- Competed in my first triathlon (loved it so much I signed up for another the following week)
- Ran 2 half marathons
- Continued my weight losing streak (saw a net loss of 5 pounds; it woulda been more if it weren’t for those meddling holiday treats)
- Became a Seattle Times swimsuit model (okay, so it was just for a story on bathing suit makeovers)
- Won the food styling internship with Food Fanatics through the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs scholarship program
- Ovenstobetsy.com was named “website of the year” by the U.S. Personal Chef Association
- Launched my blog (aka, “musings from a personal chef with a fitness problem”)
I wonder what this says about me: my iPod has everything from Metallica (“Enter Sandman,” “Turn the Page”) to Iggy Pop (“Lust for Life,” “Nightclubbing”) to Starland Vocal Band (“Afternoon Delight”). What can I say? My tastes are eclectic.
One thing I have found is the song that may be great to groove to in one’s car may not necessarily be the best to run to. Take “Sexyback” by Justin Timberlake (yes, I know what some of you are thinking: “No thank you — you can have it”). As I mentioned in my prior post, that song’s what started it all. It’s great to dance to, but the rhythm isn’t quite right for my running pace. However, I’ve found “Enter Sandman” — a song that my darling stuck on as a joke as he’s the true Metallica fan — is perfect for getting me pumped up in the beginning of a run.
- While I love Social Distortion’s version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” if I try to keep time with the music I feel like I need to barf up a lung after just a couple of minutes. However, my goal is to eventually run the entire song (3 minutes, 49 seconds) at the music’s pace.
- “I Am Woman” is the PERFECT song to end a run with, be it a 3-miler or an 8-miler. No matter how tired I am, I am strong! I am invincible! I AM WOMAN!!!
- “Born Slippy” by Nuxx from the Trainspotting soundtrack is another great song for my pace. At more than 9 minutes long, it’s also perfect for my long runs.
- Now that I’m an iPod’n & runnin’ fool, I now notice everyone else who’s wearing the ubiquitous white earbuds.
- I already have difficulty regulating the volume of my voice (my darling constantly admonishes me to “use my inside voice”), but having music blasting in one’s ears makes it doubly hard to know how loudly you’re speaking. I think I’ll have to keep the mocking of other people’s running style to myself for fear of having them hear me.
I have the BEST HUSBAND EVER!
When it comes to giving Christmas presents to each other, we’re really predictable. I always write out a list of what I’d like — typically little things such as books, CDs, jammies, a gift certificate for a massage — nothing big ticket. I don’t get jazzed over jewelry (other than my wedding band and engagement ring), and there’s really not much else I feel I need. So Christmas morning rarely brings any surprises; the gifts from my darling are those I’ve specifically asked for. And each year he proclaims he doesn’t want anything, so I get him clothes (which he does appreciate), along with a few silly little items.
This past Christmas, given our upcoming trip to France and our optimistic proclamation that 2007 WILL be the year we tear down our house and rebuild, we decided to forego exchanging gifts. Sure I bought him his favorite Scotch (Lagavulin 16-year single malt), but I didn’t wrap it, nor did I wait until Christmas morning to give it to him. (I had forgotten that Lagavulin is tough to come by this time of year — most liquor stores sell out in mid-December — so when I found a bottle sitting on the shelf while picking up some booze for a client, I snapped it up).
Lest you think we chefs only dine on haute cuisine, consider my dinner this evening. I’ve had a LONG day (more on that later), my darling is on a photo shoot, and there’s nothing in the fridge or freezer that takes less than 1/2 hour to prepare. So I’m sitting here with a big bowl of popcorn (air-popped, topped with a bit of butter and some Tony Chacheres) and a glass of liquid potatoes with 2 olives I’ve bagged off my 6-mile tempo run (I’ll run it tomorrow, I swear!) and will most likely spend the rest of the evening watching the Biggest Loser and grazing on various nibbles. Pretty glamorous, huh?
I lost a client today.
After 12 long and difficult months, dear sweet Donnie lost her valiant fight with ovarian cancer. Even though I knew the end was coming, the hurt is still very raw. I knew her merely a year, but she affected me deeply. I only wish I had the chance to make her favorite blueberry pie.
I’ve been cooking for her daughter and son-in-law for almost two years. I catered Donnie’s 75th birthday in January 2005, but didn’t get the chance to meet her because I prepared everything in advance and left before the party started. Last August she called me; she was starting chemotherapy again and wanted her husband properly fed. She battled breast cancer a few years earlier, and knew the all-consuming ritual of her chemo treatments would impede their ability to enjoy a proper meal. They needed some sort of respite for this round.
Continue reading Blueberries for Donnie…
Here I go again.
The triathlon isn’t for another 4 weeks and I’ve already set my sights on another goal: the Seattle Half Marathon. What IS it about training that gets me so jazzed? Most people would welcome the return to normalcy after a long training program, but I relish the order and discipline it brings. I love creating charts outlining my daily training goals for a particular race as they provide a tremendous sense of accomplishment once the race is completed.
While my darling is content to just run or exercise for the fun of it, I thrive on the camaraderie of a race. I need the number, the finishing medal, the t-shirt. All the numbers, medals, photos (including the one of me finishing just ahead of my darling in the half marathon) and finishing times from previous races are placed in a race binder — another terrific way to chart my fitness progress. From the Teddy Bear bus tunnel run in 1990, to Hood-to-Coast relay races in ’95 and ’96, to numerous St. Patty’s Day Dashes, to the Seafair half marathon in July 2006, I’ve documented them all — 30 over the past 16 years!
My darling gets a kick out of my anal-retentiveness, but fortunately he’s learned to put up with it (even when I drag him out on training runs). After all, he realizes that this lunacy is far preferable to my couch potato days, where my main exercise consisted of hoisting a beer mug in one hand while noshing on chips & salsa in the other. (Mind you, I still hoist a brew and pig out on chips and salsa, but it tends to be preceded by an intense bout of exercise.)
We’ve been anticipating the opening of a farmer’s market in the auto repair shop-cum-junkyard- cum-Christmas tree lot down the street. For a little over a month there have been huge yellow signs touting “Opening Soon! Farmer’s Market!” How cool, we thought, to be able to walk a mere 5 minutes for a bevy of fresh, local fruit and veggies. It hasn’t turned into the mecca we had envisioned, but there has been one booth with an assortment of flowers and delectable-looking bunches of carrots and bok choy. Last night we finally decided to make a pilgrimmage only to find they were somewhat lacking in their produce offerings. But they did have these beautiful baby beets. So despite the fact we’re suffering through a heat wave like much of the nation (yes, even Seattle temps can get into the 90s), I braved the heat and roasted up these delightful morsels. Yum!