Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Personal Chef to the "Jock Chef"

My buddy, Shayne Graham, and I spent a lot of time together in the days before this taping:

Shayne the Jock Chef

Before you get the wrong idea ~ Shayne really CAN cook.

In fact, he's quite competent in the kitchen. And, not too bad on the eyes either.

But that's neither here nor there.

Shayne called me in late September and said that ESPN The Magazine wanted to shoot a video of him cooking for Jock Chef. He needed to do something "different" from what the other athletes had done ~ dishes they learned from mom like fried chicken and greens, roasted chicken and veggies, or pretty much anything with shrimp.

We decided his menu needed to be upscale, but healthy and flavorful. And it needed to be easy to prep, finishing and putting one course in the oven and naturally flowing into working on the next without it being too complicated to follow on video. And it had to be something he'd naturally cook if he had the time and didn't have moi as his personal chef.

Bison was the answer.

We practiced. And practiced. And practiced. The final menu? Bison Tenderloin rubbed with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper roasted medium rare; Roasted Asparagus; Scalloped Swiss Potatoes; and, a medley of mixed berries with fresh whipped cream.

Was it a success? According to ESPN, "Dude can Cook."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Perfect Christmas Gift for Chef Debbie

Sweet husband, Tim, and I don't buy Christmas gifts for each other.

Let's face it. We have absolutely everything we need ~ our health, fluffy butt Rusty, a house we love, jobs we love, each other.

With all that, we certainly don't need presents!

But. I was given the most amazing Christmas gift.

7:30 p.m. Christmas Eve. Finished cooking for the day. Wine. Cheese. Sweet husband and I are enjoying a snack together. By ourselves.

Then my cell phone rings.


Hi. This is Debbie.
Hi Deb. This is Diane. We just finished dinner and wanted to say THANK YOU! It was amazing. Hold on. Everyone wants to talk to you.
Group yelling in the background
Back to Diane.
Dinner was amazing. The beef wellingtons were perfect. The roasted asparagus was perfect. The shrimp was perfect. The crème brulé was light and fluffy. It was perfect. I didn't want to bother you on Christmas Eve but just HAD to tell you how perfect everything was for dinner.
Internal BIG SIGH of relief.
Diane, you've made my day. This is the nicest present anyone could have given me. Thanks so much!
Sometimes the best present is the simplest present.

Thank you, my friends, for your love and support throughout the year. For putting up with my (occasional) grumpybuttness. For offering to help chop, sauté, grocery shop or anything else when I'm absolutely swamped. For visiting Bacchus with me occasionally.

Merry Christmas. I hope your day was filled with love, good food and great wine.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Roses for Chef Debbie

The holidays are almost over.

Very loud singing chorus of Hallelujah!

Don't get me wrong. It's been a long, hard and profitable year with the last couple of months bringing 7~day work weeks and sometimes 2 clients a day. That can mean 18 hours, or more, at a time on these old legs.

Old being the key word.

Knowing how hard I've been working ~ and trying to not be a grumpybutt (which I've been told can "occasionally" occur when I'm overworked and to my mind under appreciated) ~ sweet husband did something he's never done before in our 20+ years together.

Surprise roses.

For no reason.

At least, I think, for no reason.

Or maybe it's because after he hurt his leg helping me at Thanksgiving, I've tried to not ask him to do so much.

I've tried not to ask him to load and unload the Yummy~mobile, haul and tote everything in and out of every client's home every day or ask him to come load me up "just a few minutes early to help me finish cleaning up."

Just a few minutes cleaning up in Yummy~world that means 2 hours scraping plates, cleaning and reboxing chafing dishes, washing or drying said plates, reloading the crates to reload in Yummy~mobile, yada yada blah de blah)

Thinking about it, the surprise roses were for no reason.

Except that sweet husband really is a sweet husband.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Chef Debbie's "Christmas With The Crazies"

What is it about this time of year that brings out the crazies?

This time last year, I swore I was going to turn my cell phone off this year. But I haven't.


Today's phone call:

Hi, this is Debbie
Hi. I want to buy my boss a gift certificate for Christmas. He's a single guy and I was thinking about a meal or two for him.
I have a small package that would be perfect for him. It's just 3 entrées, 2 servings of each, with the appropriate side dishes and it's just $xxx.
What! For that kind of money, I'd expect 3 or 4 weeks worth of meals! I just want a couple of meals and it shouldn't cost any more than $30 or $40. After all, it's just a couple of meals and I can't believe it would take you that much time.
I appreciate what you're saying. Let me tell you how a personal chef service works so that...
Interrupting me with a big, very audible and prolonged SIGH from her...
OK I get that I have to pay for your time also. I can go as high as $45 but that's as much as I'm going to pay. After all, in today's economy, you can't be that busy.
I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that my price is negotiable. The price for the service I just told you about is $xxx. Perhaps you should consider a gift certificate to...
wanted to say McDonalds, Taco Bell or Burger King but instead...
a nice family style restaurant like Friday's, Chili's or Applebee's.

Geesh! You always sound so nice on the radio. Guess I'll just have to call the station and let them know you aren't very accommodating to their listeners.

Why me?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Yummy~issimo! Thanksgiving with Shayne Graham and The Bengals

In case you haven't noticed, I haven't written in a while. The last couple of months have been so crazy that I didn't want to drag you into the Yummy! frenzy that is my life.

It has been nonstop cooking since I can remember. I got it into my pea brain that this year I was going to bake for Thanksgiving. I hate, hate, hate to bake and typically leave desserts to somebody else. Anybody else. And, as if that wasn't bad enough, I decided I'd make all homemade pastry for said pies. YIKES! I evidently had visited Bacchus a bit too much when I had that crazy idea.

Did I mention that I needed 19 pies for Thanksgiving?

Yep. 19.

After I got through all the client orders for Thanksgiving, I only had half of Wednesday left to prepare for my Thanksgiving dinner at Shayne Graham's beautiful house. I really needed about 3 days!

But I absolutely could not disappoint my Bengal buddies. Imagine feeding a bunch of 6'5" 350 pound men. I didn't think it was possible for any human to eat as much food as they did.

I cooked 2 ~ 24# turkeys, made 8 loaves of homemade cornbread so that I could make 15# of cornbread dressing, 2 different potato dishes, gravy and 11 sides.

And pies. Don't forget the freaking pies!

The first person through the door was my buddy, Frostee Rucker. Limping a little. But with the biggest smile and an even bigger heart, he's one of the nicest people you'll ever want to meet. Except possibly for Jason Shirley. I hadn't had the pleasure of meeting Jason yet until dinner but he's right up there in the "Super Nice Person" category along with Shayne and Frostee.

I got through Thanksgiving with only one minor hiccup. Moving a big stack of heavy, dirty plates wasn't one of my better ideas. Actually it belongs in the same category as making all those pies.

Yep. Dropped the dishes. Broke the dishes. Had a huge mess all over the gorgeous wood floor and cabinets. Food, broken dish shards and silverware for as far as you could see.


But. The pies were awesome. Flaky crust. Fluffy spiced pumpkin with rum. Crunch pecan with bourbon. Peanut butter and banana with no alcohol. More pie flavors than I can remember.

But I sure was glad to get home to visit with Bacchus.