But enough about that. Let’s talk babies.
I missed a week on this feature, and for that, I apologize. We threw the poutine party last weekend, and it kept us pretty busy, so we’ve been a bit slow on the content lately.
But enough about that. Let’s talk babies.
There isn’t a whole lot of news with our little guy. He’s creeping up on 4 months, but he’s still a little peanut. The biggest change in the past couple of weeks has been his reaction to tickles. Since he can’t giggle yet, he holds his breath and lets out some kind of weird grunt, and it’s absolutely hilarious (and maybe a little bit mean).
I eat meat.
I also married a vegan.
This aspect of our lives is not without it’s own share of complications. We have both had to make accommodations for one another’s dietary doctrine. However, neither one of us views this compromise as a challenge or hassle.
Sometimes, google does funny things. Sometimes, google doing these funny things results in losing entire (nearly) finished drafts that were about to get posted.
Tiny rant aside, let’s talk about the poutine party. It went down last friday, the 22nd, and was a total blast. I want to thank everyone who showed their support by showing up. It was an experience that reaffirmed our decision to go down this funky entrepreneurial path. We hope to see at least some of you at the next one.
This first party was a huge learning experience for us. It was a test of not only our cooking skill, but also our recipes and logistical ability. We hadn’t served our poutine to the public in any way prior to this, so we didn’t have any feedback or product pars to go off.
It’s not often that I go grocery shopping for a group of twenty (or more). It was particularly interesting doing that level of shopping whilst carting around our new baby. The cashier gave me a pretty funny look when she saw the sheer quantity of cheese curds go across the conveyor. It felt very silly, but it was exciting knowing that we were about to turn this massive grocery trip into our public debut.
Cooking for a large party in a small home kitchen is a unique challenge. Organizing the order in which to prepare everything is key, because space is very, very limited. Also, running four burners and the oven simultaneously, and without a hood vent, makes for a hot kitchen. Our poor A/C never stood a chance. But, heat aside, getting to test our newly scaled-up recipes was an absolute blast.
Preparing the house, however, was another matter entirely. It’s crazy how a seemingly tidy house becomes a disgusting hovel the instant you start preparing for company. We spent the better part of a week getting everything clean and shiny, and I still feel like it wasn’t as perfect as it could have been, But, then again, few things are.
The day of the party came, and it was time to hurry up and wait. I don’t know how many times I wiped down the same countertop. I mopped the floor at least two or three times. Waiting for the clock to strike the appropriate time to start getting the food ready was positively agonizing. We passed the time toiling over little things, like how to label the jars of pickled things, and how to best organize the ice chests against the living room wall. To say that we were feeling anxious would be quite an understatement.
Then, the guests started to roll in. The time had finally come. The house was clean, the food was hot, and the fryer was ready to get to work. This is where the plan started going south.
I am the kind of cook who likes to iterate on my techniques. I always try little tweaks, changing small parts of the process in order to increase efficiency. This time around, I figured I would try a little experiment. I put the fries that we hand cut and blanched the night before into bags, and froze them. The idea was that a frozen fry would result in a crispier exterior, while leaving the center perfectly cooked, and not too mushy. This theory has worked for me before, but we hadn’t tested our new fryer, so we had no idea how easily it would maintain it’s temperature. As I’m sure you could guess, fries don’t get very crispy if the oil isn’t hot enough. This little experiment came back to bite me in the ass in a big way. We just couldn’t get the fries to cook. This blunder had us reeling for a solution, so we tried to get our smaller backup fryer running simultaneously. Well, come to find out, electric fryers suck down a whole lot of amperage. As a result, we tripped the breaker (which killed power to the entire kitchen) like 5 times. Things were looking pretty bleak.
To add to our mounting frustration, we lost the entire pan of pork meatballs that were going to be served on the italian poutine. We reheated them in a pyrex pan, and when the pan touched the stone countertop, the pan (alongside our hopes and dreams) shattered into a million tiny shards of disappointment. The meatballs were ruined, and the explosion took the garnish with it. So, we were not only unable to cook our fries, but were also lacking two of the main ingredients for our second course. Thankfully, those who were in attendance were patient and understanding.
We managed to salvage the party with pots of hot oil on the range top. Because both Jenny and Myself have a bit of an obsession with kitchen toys, we had everything we needed to make it happen. Fries started to come out crispy, we grabbed a last minute garnish from our garden, and we utilized the vegetarian meatballs that we had prepared just in case to salvage the italian course. It came together beautifully. Our years spent working in broken restaurants had paid off, and we were finally cooking up a storm.
By the time we got the banh-mi course served, everyone was full and happy. The food was well received, and the guests were satisfied. We definitely learned a lot from this experience, and we can’t thank those who attended enough for their patience. We hit some pretty major speed bumps, but we still managed to get everything served in the time that we allotted. For those of you who came to this one, we promise that our next party will be a much smoother experience, and we are incredibly grateful for your support.
If you see yourself in one of these photos, please save and share it! We want everyone to see what a good time we all had. These photos are for all of us, so don't hesitate to use them on your own social media.
This is a new feature. In this series, I will be discussing, at some length, the tools of my trade and how I’ve come to choose them. I am a gear nerd through and through, so I get really excited when I get to talk about my tools and toys. In the first piece of this new series, we’re gonna talk knives. Chef’s knives, specifically.
It's not August 10th, which is National S'mores Day, but here at the Church of Poutine, we are still celebrating with our S'mores Poutine.
Did you know that the term "S'mores" is just a contraction for "Some More," and invented in the 1920s? Did you know the Girl Scouts of America take credit for coming up with the idea?
By Mike Church
I’ve been in the stay at home dad game, completely unsupervised (who’s bright idea was it to leave me alone with a helpless, tiny human being!?) for about a week now. So far, so good. At least the baby is still alive.
When you first think of poutine, what comes to mind? It’s probably fries, gravy, and cheese. That’s not what we do in these parts. We take poutine & mess with it. We tweak it. We ruin your idea of traditional poutine. So let’s screw it up completely.
By Mike Church
I am a member of a declining profession. You wouldn’t know it by the way chefs are portrayed in the media, but there is a serious problem facing restaurants around the world.
Nobody wants to cook for a living anymore.
A comment on an earlier blog post got me thinking about the large variety of reasons people are getting out of the cooking game, and I felt the need to explore the issue a bit further.
I can cook eggs. A lot of them, and really quickly too. I can cook more eggs in 10 minutes than the average person eats in two weeks. I can feed 20 people a full breakfast in as many minutes, and barely break a sweat. Burgers and steaks, all cooked to exact temps? Can do. Pan frying thirty pounds of potatoes an hour, keeping them uniformly seasoned and perfectly crispy? All day, every day. When you work brunch service every day for 2 years, you learn a few tricks. I learned how to work three stations, call the board, and expedite the window all at the same time. I learned how to be an absolute breakfast monster.