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ChefBlog

Chef JoAnna is one of the original Los Angeles food blog writers. She started blogging before she enrolled in culinary school, but when school ended she decided that blog had to go. She started ChefBlog to transition from student to professional, and has been blogging about her Personal Chef and Catering gigs regularly (more or less) since then. Now residing in Prospect, TN, JoAnna is working on her new gig, MockingbirdAcres.com


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July 11, 2009

[Mockingbird Acres] Y'all doin' allright? How's 'at house comin' along?

Even tho it's july things 'round here are moving slow as molasses in january. Frankly it's hard to muster up the fortitude to type out the mundane details of things that come to pass on a daily basis, because to me, it feels like i'd be writing about the things that HAVEN'T happened. It's probably not too interesting for you to read, "well, still no walls" again and again ...and again. But enough little things do eventually accumulate and i submit them here for your reading pleasure.

Kelly's fine, I'm fine, both Render and Noodles are fine, the three remaining keets are fine -- although getting uglier by the minute -- and 9 out of 10 chickens are fine. (well, we technically still have 10 but only 9 are fine... Kelly owes you a story, and it's his story, so I'm not going to tell it. Please call him and remind him if you are in the mood.)

The house is inching along towards progress. Today, FINALLY, we had some professional drywallers actually show up and hang some drywall. Dwaine and Randy, twenty-something brothers who are just over a year apart in age, did half the bedroom ceiling and the guest bathroom. They're not twins, and don't even look alike, but they finish each others' sentences and will talk as long as you'll let them. they're fun, but I finally had to go outside, and put armour-all on my car just to be out of earshot. They're hard workers... when they're working, but get them on a topic, and next thing you know another half hour is gone -- but in that time they've offered to share their family's garden surplus, bring over some of last fall's venison, or let you have some of the bounty from a weekend of fishing. Dwayne loves to cook, so i told him if he brought anything, we could cook it together ....as soon as my kitchen's useful!

The past two weeks worth of delays feels like forever, and my patience is running really really thin. (have i said that before? yes? well, it's even thinner.) To avoid losing it completely, I've been driving into town and pulling my digital vagabond stunt for hours at a time: the free wifi at the library, in the parking lot of the Country Kitchen restaurant, in the funeral home parking lot, and -my new favorite - at the Subway Sandwich Shop . I used to go inside Country Kitchen and just order a sweet tea, but I always felt like i was taking up a booth as well as the servers' time. At Subway $1.60 gets you a fountain drink with unlimited refills, and no waitress expects a tip. Plus, they're very slow, so if anything, i'm helping the place not look deserted.

You might surmise that we haven't gotten Internet access at the house yet (you clever fox!) but even more depressing than that, we still don't have landline telephone service. I finally called AT&T and asked what's up, and four operators later, I discovered that they had the wrong phone number to try to reach me. wow. Anyway, I finally got things straightened out and then, as we came home from an errand the very next day, we found a huge truck with a HUGE drill was on our driveway, Two shirtless (eww) guys were operating this beast of a machine to bring us phone service! Alas, they didn't actually do the deed, so I still have impotent blue wires dangling from my office wall.

On a more positive note, I found a used 3-compartment professional sink, and got it pretty cheap. It's a gorgeous solid hunk of stainless steel that stretches over 8 feet long, with a built-in backsplash and gorgeous deep basins. It was pretty grimy when i bought it, but i cleaned it up really well and as soon as the plumbers return, they'll run the pipes to install it. Then, they get to figure out how to install my rigged up invention. I bought a 4" deep hard-plastic prep-table insert pan, in which I'm going to melt a hole (with my Crème Brûlée torch that has peformed many important tasks, but hasn't seen a real Crème Brûlée in a long, long time) so that i can attach a standard sink drain, so that it can mate with the plumbing under the house, in order to achieve the Dept of Health's required air-gap. I also want them to install a faucet similar to the one they installed for the washing machine, so that i can attach a potable-water hose, so i can attach an adjustable garden sprayer. I can't believe i get to trick out my kitchen this much... it will be my own custom designed food laboratory, with all the bells and whistles I want, as soon as i can afford them, (AHEM induction cooker) It's going to be so awesome!

I have been working more and more, with a weekly gig, and a couple more private cooking lessons booked. I have to say, with the economy in its current state, combined with the fact that i've lived here for less than a year, and the realization that so few people seem to know that they can hire someone to do what i do, I'm happily surprised with the amount of work I've been getting. Whenever I go to the Whole Foods in Cool Springs, I try to get a good parking space that will show off my car. I've even been approached a few times - right there in the parking lot - by women asking me "Are YOU Chef JoAnna?" We go inside the blissfully air-conditioned store and I give them a card, and we chat for a bit. Most of them want to hire me for the "in-home-fine-dining" thing, but they don't have anything planned at the moment, so i offer to send them a brochure, and get their e-mail address. I guess it's time to start up that monthly newsletter again.

I finally opened a local banking account for Chef JoAnna, Inc., which took about an hour, because the very nice young lady who was helping me is a foodie and we got to talking, and well, you know the rest. She was really excited to hear that someone's trying to open a place like we're planning, and was very eager to tell people about my chef business. I told her about the concept of food miles, and the garden, and how we can serve our hens' eggs but not any meat we raised, and why it was important to eat locally... she was totally into it.

Not much to add to the wildlife report. There is a mama and baby deer we see on the property all the time. They get up pretty close to the house, but no damage to the garden. Luckily, the Fort-Knox of fence we put up around the garden has kept all non-bug pests out, Kelly and I shared the result our first harvest the other night - a meager handful of green beans - and it was delicious. Today I picked a small yellow heirloom cucumber and a scalloped edge squash. I have dozens of tiny heirloom cherry tomatoes that are still bright green, the okra is starting to grow its little fuzzy fingers, and we have crooknecks and zucchini and pickling cukes and specialty bell peppers and whispers of all kinds of greens that are growing back after the bugs devoured the original foliage.

Even though the house is an empty shell right now (even more so because all our stuff is jammed floor-to-ceiling in the closet to keep the drywall dust off of it) I'm still having visions of what it could be like as a little cafe. The walls are painted, art is hung, tables are set, and music is playing. A threesome of 50'ish ladies is enjoying a plate of tea sandwiches and home-made sodas. A pair of 20'ish girls are sharing macaroons and madeleines over their lattes. A local couple, on their way to somewhere else, saw the sign on the corner. They had only stopped in for a coffee, but lingered for the strawberry tart and persimmon linzer torte when they discovered the fruit came from my garden. It's an idealized, technicolor fantasy, but if I keep focused, who knows what can happen?



Today I learned: Black nail polish applied to toes makes your toes resemble watermelon seeds, and therefore, chickens will peck at your feet if you are wearing flip-flops.

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Posted By JoAnna to Mockingbird Acres at 7/10/2009 04:20:00 PM

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