Wednesday, February 13, 2013


“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.” ~ C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Let me start by saying I have experienced grief in my life. My grandfather died when I was 8, my guidance counselor died when I was 12 (he was a wonderful man that helped me greatly during my awkward middle school years), and my grandmother died when I was 22 within a week of my ex-boyfriend dying (his sister was one of my best friends and I was pretty close with their family). 

When my grandmother and Justin died within a week of each other, I handled their deaths a little differently. My grandmother had been sick for awhile and I was able to be there in the hospital and say my good-byes. She had lived a long and good life, and although I was devastated by her loss, I knew that it was just her time. Justin's death was a freak accident and happened so quickly we were all left wondering how and why. That type of loss is extreme and hard core. 

When my brother died without warning, I experienced for the first time the absolute worst pain. I remember my other brother telling me that Jason was no longer with us, that he had passed away. I remember screaming no and throwing the phone away from me like that would make it not true. And truly the rest is a fog. I cannot remember the drive to Olympia. I don't remember the dozens of phone calls coming from family and friends. I have the memory of seeing Jason at the coroners for the last time, holding his hand, kissing it, and crying over him, telling him I loved him. I remember my husband pulling me from the room. And then the fog came back. 

For the weeks and months that followed, it took everything I had to get up, get the kids ready and delivered to school and then picked up in the afternoon. I would lay on the couch or bed and cry. I cried everywhere. The grocery store, the bank, the pharmacy, the doctors office, etc., etc. I cried in the shower and after everyone went to bed I would go to the bathroom and cry silently for hours.

I do remember seeing people going about their business and thinking "Why is that person here and not Jason?" or "I would rather that person be dead than my brother.". I know it sounds horrible, and I truly don't want anyone else to feel this way, but in those dark days, there is no sensor to your thoughts. Reality is skewed. Life is in limbo. I have never in my life felt as close to physical violence as I did when people would tell me "God has a plan." or "These things happen for a reason." I wanted to shout at them "Fuck your reason" and then punch them in the face. To be honest, that feeling has yet to go away and I highly doubt it will. Because there is absolutely no reasoning with my brothers death, there is no justification God or anyone can give me that can ever make his death right. 

There was a time I sat outside of New Seasons Market and cried for an hour. I kept telling myself I needed to calm down and get in there to get the things I needed to get but I could absolutely not get myself out of the car. When I finally did get into the store, I walked through with tears running down my face and huddled into a bathroom stall until I could calm down. 

It will be a year next month, and it still does not seem real. I play games with myself that he is just away for awhile. Or that I am really just in an obscene nightmare and I will eventually wake up. I can't find it in myself to believe that he is never ever going to call me or give me his huge bear hugs again. I just cannot believe that such a wonderful and loving person can be forever torn from my life. Where is the fairness in that? He was 31 years old and a happy guy. He loved his family and friends and in turn we all loved him back. He spoke his mind and was honest. 

In dealing with my grief, I have come to realize what I am willing to deal with outside of it. I have changed as a person. I don't laugh as quickly or as easily as I used to. My ability to handle other people or their drama is quite low. Instead of preferring large crowds and places, I prefer being alone with my family or to just deal with small groups of close friends. I detest talking on the phone and avoid it as much as possible. I prefer light-hearted books, simple easy reads like a Nora Roberts story or even those teeny bopper type books. Same with movies. Nothing too serious or that has me thinking. In general, everything in my life is being kept as simple as possible. 

I have talked with some people that have experienced this type of loss. They have been a great help to me and helped me realize that though the pain will never go completely away, it will some day be at a much more bearable level. I have hopes that there will come a time that I can say his name without my heart breaking or relive some memories without feeling like my chest in caving in. Until then, I take one step at a time and pray that I can get through the day. That is all, at this point, I can expect from myself.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I'm still breathing...

Since I last posted, all hell has broken loose.

  1. I spent 2 nights in the hospital with a kidney infection/kidney stones.
  2. I had to leave culinary school because of above said kidney issues.
  3. We moved back to Portland to be closer to Mason.
  4. I spent 3 months on bed rest and pain killers for what we thought was another kidney issue; it turned out that I have a liver disease.
  5. I went through pain killer withdrawals. And it sucked worse than pregnancy.
  6. My youngest brother, Jason, died of a food allergy/asthma attack.
  7. I went back to work after 9 years of being at home. Mostly because I just couldn't spend 6 hours alone every day because all I did anymore was cry until I made myself sick.
  8. I started going to a grief psychologist. 
I really do want to get back to blogging because I used to enjoy it. And I figure with all the hell I've been through, I should at least try and do something I enjoy.

So bear with me, it may be slow going for awhile. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Consomme doesn't come from a can? What the what?

Last night was my 3rd class in Concepts and Theories of Classical Techniques. We talked about soups, which may sound boring, but is way funner to talk about than how to make stock or broth. And even yummier than sauces because you aren't supposed to eat sauces alone (although I have been known to eat spaghetti sauce right out of the pot minus the pasta). And while we were going over the different kinds of soups, they were preparing something delicious in one of the lab kitchens next door. So, basically, my mouth watered for 3 hours while I snacked on my Luna bar and drank water.

I thought it would be fun to give you guys some of the recipes my Chef is giving us. Now, keep in mind, I am not actually making any of this stuff yet because I am not in the lab until next quarter. But these are directly from a Chef that has been in the business for 15 years, traveled the world and worked with Chef Mario Batali, so I'll pretty much take his word on it.

I will try and explain as much as I can, but if I do a crappy job, just email me and I'll try and explain it better.

Beef or Chicken Consomme

1 Gallon Beef or Chicken Stock, (homemade is preferred, of course)
-Stock should be cold, not warm or fresh from the stove

10 Egg Whites, lightly frothed (not stiff)

3 Pounds Ground Chicken or Ground Beef
-Use a lean meat, you don't want to add fat to the stock or you won't end up with a clear consomme. Chef says grinding your own is best, but if you can find ground chicken breast or ground beef that is from lean cuts, that should be fine. Most butchers will grind fresh meat for you if you ask.

1 Pound Mirepoix, Julienne cut works best
-1/2 pound onions, 1/4 pound carrots, 1/4 pound celery

1 Sachet
-10 whole peppercorns, 6 pieces parsley stems, 2 pieces thyme (stems and leaves), and 1 bay leaf. Put in cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine.

1/2 Onion Brulee
-Cut onion in half and torch the hell out of the open side. You only need half the onion.

Small amount fresh cut tomatoes

Combine mirepoix, egg whites, and ground meat/poultry in a metal bowl. Use your hands to work the eggs over all surfaces of mirepoix and meat for 20-30 seconds.

Take cold stock, put in narrow, tall pot and add cold meat mixture and mix all around. Add sachet, onion Brulee, and tomatoes.

Turn heat to medium and slowly heat, stirring gently with wooden spoon often. When it hits 135-140 degrees, stop stirring so the proteins can form a raft. Let SIMMER (you never, ever, ever boil a stock or broth, you will never get it clear if you boil it) for 35 minutes. You will need to gently poke a hole in the middle of the raft in order to baste the top and so it won't boil over the pot.

After 35 minutes, take off heat. Put some damp cheesecloth in a chinois (these are expensive, so if you don't have one, use a fine mesh strainer, and put a coffee filter over the cheesecloth), and gently strain, ladle full by ladle full. Be careful not to break the raft, you can gently press down on it to get the broth out.

Once strained, put back on stove and season to taste with salt and finely ground white pepper (remember, a consomme is a clear broth, if you add black pepper, it will ruin the presentation).

If you have any fat floating on top, you can do 2 things:

1. Let it cool completely in the fridge so the fats can harden, which makes it easier to just skim the fat off the surface.

2. Skim a paper towel over the surface of the warm stock. This should absorb into the towel. This method is kind of a quicky thing and not preferred.

I know it sounds like a huge process, but it doesn't take that long to make, and the outcome is so much better than a can of consomme you buy at the store. This is the perfect base to French onion soup, minestrone, or chicken noodle soup.

I hope you guys enjoy it. I am out of town the rest of this week, and when I get back, my brother-in-law will be in town, so I won't be able to try it out until next weekend. But I promise I'll take pictures and post them for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I hate to do it again, but I need to. I just don't have the time to sit and pluck every gray hair in my head. I asked Jay to help, and he told me he doesn't have that much time (he is still suffering for that one. Fucker.). They are over-powering me, it's all I can see. Gray, gray, gray. It wouldn't be so bad if I still had blond hair, but no, it had to go and get darker the older I got. Mother Fucking Nature is a real bitch. It's time to fork out some cash and get my hair did, I guess.

On another note, I am now in my 3rd week of school and still loving it. I have my first test in Safety and Sanitation tonight, and I have total test anxiety. I haven't been quizzed on anything in over 16 years. I'm scared I'm going to run screaming from the room or break out in hives (remember to wear turtleneck to cover hives). For my Concepts and Theories class, I had to write a quick paper on Chevreuil sauce. It took longer to look it up and then have Jay tell me how to interpret it on Wikipedia than it took me to write the freaken' paper. Sometimes that guy has his uses.

The Pacific Northwest has been showing how A.D.D. it is with the weather. It's sunny, then it's hailing, then it's sunny, then it's raining with a snow mix, then it's sunny. The next day, it's in the mid-60's, and then the next day it's back to torrential down pour. Just pick something for 5 flippen minutes and stick with it, please. Can I wear flip-flops today? Who knows? Should I straighten my hair, because it's sunny? Yeah, do it. Then the heavens open up and I look like a frizzy poodle.

Yesterday, it was around 70 degrees, which rocked. We took the kids to the beach for the first time this year, which meant hiking 1 1/2 miles down a trail, which was no problem. We played on the beach for about an hour, and then it was time to head back. And I had to hike back up the hill, and by hill, I mean mountain. I had to keep stopping because I thought I was going to die. Literally. Of course, we ran into plenty of young, skinny, fit girls as I was huffing my way back, red faced and dripping with sweat. Once we got to the top, I threw myself into the car, cranked on the air conditioning and fell into a coma for 20 minutes while Jay and the kids played on the playground. When we got home, I forced myself to walk, not crawl, into the house and into the shower. I woke up this morning, tried getting out of bed, and my legs basically gave me the "what the hell do you think you're doing" kind of pain, so I laid back down and thanked every God there is that it's Spring Break in Shoreline. There was no way I was getting my broken body up and working for awhile.

There are some days I feel much younger than my 33 years, and I feel like I can do anything. Then there are days like yesterday, when I felt 133. Old, creaky, and near death. One thing is certain, I need to get in better shape. Which is what I said as I lay broken on the couch yesterday, right before I got up and made toffee bar cookies. And barbecued steak, mushrooms, and asparagus. And then ate a ton of cookies.

Here's a picture of the younger kidlets in Puget Sound. And of Jay with our daughter. Evan may look more like his Daddy, but Kenzie has his goofy sense of humor.

Jay and Kenzie posing on a cool tree.

Evan and Kenzie jumping the waves.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Eweeeee, gross.

Our lives are not in the lap of Gods,
But in the lap of our cooks.

Lin Yutang,
The Importance of Living

When I made the decision to enroll in Culinary School, I never imaged that I would be totally grossed out when I took a class there. Well, I knew I would be grossed out when it came to deboneing poultry and fish, or when I had to sample anything that had shellfish in it, but I never thought a lecture class could sick me out.

Well, it can. The first class of my nearly $20,000 education is Sanitation and Safety, and our first 3 hour lecture was on food-borne illnesses and how it achieves full growth, and the side effects when you have said illness. Thank God I didn't eat before class, because talking about diarrhea would have made me lose it, especially when you're talking about the process of how you get the diarrhea from gross people in gross kitchens. Unfortunately, most food-borne illnesses happen from your own kitchen. At home, we have no safety standard. The health department is not going to show up at your door and demand to inspect your kitchen. Most people do not use bleach water on every surface in their kitchen, or to rinse their dishes. Most of us don't constantly use thermometers to check our foods to make sure they are out of the danger zone of 41-135 degrees. Mostly I learned that it doesn't take much to make you sick. And that if where you are eating has a disgusting chef or kitchen, you are basically fucked.

Luckily, our instructor is great and her course syllabus is easy to follow. Now if we could only have adult sized desks, I would be a much happier girl.

Last night, I had another 3 hour lecture in my Concepts and Theories on Classical Cooking class, but this time it was on stock. Chicken, beef, fish, and vegetables. Stock is NOT the same as broth, which my Chef instructor was quick to point out. I did learn that I have been making chicken and vegetable stock wrong all these years. Shit. Anyway, most of the 20 vocabulary words I have to memorize are in French, and nearly impossible to pronounce, even when I had the pronunciation right in front of me. That should make for an interesting final, right.

Interesting fact: most kitchen terms are racial slurs.
Example: The strainers we use in professional kitchens are called china caps, which are cone shaped and have larger holes to get the big bits of food, and the very fine mesh strainer, also cone shaped, is called a chinios, which is French for Chinese.

I have to say, I had my doubts about returning to school after being out of it for 16 years, but I am really liking it. More than likely it's because I'm not taking those damn core classes we all have to take as freshman, and because at the ripe old age of 33, I know what I want to do. I had no clue at 18 what I wanted to do with my whole life. I just wanted to party.

Plus, I think Jay would severely punish me if I bomb out. We have a lot of student loans to pay off regardless.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I'm rad like that

Because I don't have enough shit going on in my loony bin life, I decided to take on Girl Scouts. As in, "Hi, my name is Christie and I'm your Troop Leader".

Remember, I have a little girl who thrives on social activities. She has been begging me to do this for awhile, so I finally bit the bullet and took care of it. But I'm doing it a little differently. Every girl that joins has to have a Mommy that is willing to host a meeting or 2, and take over some part of the troop. I refuse to do all the training, paper work, handling of money, meetings, badge stuff, ceremonies, etc., etc. Basically, if the little ladies want to join, their Mommy has to do offer up a skill that we need.

I'm hoping to be fully "staffed" before summer hits.

Now Evan wants to join Boy Scouts, and I have to explain to him why I will never allow him to join that homophobic group. The kids have always been taught about equality and how they are allowed to love anyone they want to love as long as that person treats them well and loves them in return. They don't understand that not everyone believes in equal rights for everyone. Why do stupid people have to make my parenting life suck stinky wiener cheese? Besides, what do they have to offer me other than Christmas tree removal? I'm going for the cookies, baby.

Now I'm off, I have a mommy to interview regarding her sewing skills. Because this mommy knows nothing. at. all. about sewing.

Friday, February 19, 2010

That's right

Two posts in one week, holy fuck, what is the world coming to? Maybe it's the fact the kids are on mid-winter break and I have "time" to kill. Most likely it's the fact that the freezing office has the computer and no screaming, fighting, yelling kids in it to bother me. Call it hiding out if you want to, but you'd do the same damn thing in my shoes.

I love them, but God almighty would be sick of them after this week. Since they both started school this year, they have been getting along pretty well. They aren't around each other that much during the week, and when they are, we are busy with stuff. And when the weekends come, we are off doing stuff, or they are playing pretty well together. But a whole week off from school, and it's like World War III up in here.

And it's not like I'm not keeping them busy. We have been everywhere, had a few friends over to play or they've gone on play dates at their friends home. We've done Pacific Science Center, the park, visited Daddy at work, and so on and so on. It's now Friday, and I can tell you straight up, Momma needs a damn break. I need a day to wear no bra and wear pajama pants all day, with a bowl of popcorn, a large coffee, and I don't know, Twilight to let me go brain dead for 2 damn hours.

To make matters just a tad worse, when they are home, all hell seems to break lose, and the poor house becomes a disaster. It's like they forget how to clean up after themselves, and the garbage can, what is that? It's apparently so much easier to throw shit in the general direction of the garbage can, or better yet, how about just tossing it on the counter. Dishes sit wherever they used them, never coming close to the damn sink. And dirty clothes? Not a chance they make it to the hamper. I actually felt like I'd accomplished something the other day because the hamper was empty, and then Kenzie brings out 2 arm loads of clothes. Half of which I bet are clean. Grrrrrrrrrr........................grrr.

Thank God they go back on Monday. Thank God I don't work at school on Monday. I promise here and now, I am dropping them off in my pajamas. I will come home, plop my ass on the couch and watch some mind numbing show, and maybe suck down a whole pot of coffee, uninterrupted. I will keep the volume at a normal level, never once turning it up so it can be heard over "KENZIE, GIVE IT BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" or "EVAN WON'T LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!" or "I WANT TO PLAY WITH THAT, IT'S MINE!!!!!!! MOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!". I will get Kenzie off the bus in my pajamas. I will feed her lunch, put her down for quiet time, and sit back on the couch, and maybe read a book without interruption. I will eventually put pants on to walk down the street to get Evan off the bus, then come home to put pajamas back on. We will eat hot dogs for dinner, that I will make Jay make. And then I will go to bed. Fully rested and happier than ever. Amen.

Who am I kidding? That will never fucking happen.