"The New Knife Kits are Here!"

The new knife kits are here! The new knife kits are here! And not only that, I found my special purpose. I’m going back to school, Arizona Culinary Institute, to be exact – Boo Yea!! Classes start May 18th and I’ll be the one up front terrorizing my instructors.

Now, I know some of you may be shaking your heads and saying, “Aren’t you already a Chef?” Yes, I’ve exploited that moniker; but the fact of the matter is I’m just a REALLY good cook with big boobs and a nice smile It’s opened doors…what can I say?

You know that lightning bolt simile? Well, about 2 months ago I was going through some old journals and found a magazine ad for Vanity Fair Lingerie with a message conveying love and appreciation of self as we grow older. The year was 1998 and I had just given birth to my daughter. I pondered what the hell I must have been thinking back then to have ripped this communique from its’ binding and tucked it away in my diary. After about 10 minutes of so called pondering, I still had no fricking clue. Then, I turned the page over and there was an advertisement for Culinary School. Que lightning strike!

Right then and there I applied to ACI. My best friend said, “Did you feel it through your whole body?” ABSOLUTELY! I’m still a bit charred and smoking, but anticipating every minute of my new adventure.

Attending ACI is not about becoming a certified (or certifiable) Chef; it’s about doing something just for me and for the pure and simple joy of it! I made the decision rather impetuously, yet was comfortable enough to know that it was the best one I could make for myself both personally and professionally. To be fully absorbed in a kitchen every day, learning from the exceptional team at ACI and doing what I love most makes me giddy.

I’m sure there will be challenges; in fact, I’m hoping to be challenged on a daily basis, because that’s what learning is all about. I’ve got quite a few of the basics down, but my knife skills suck and baking and pastry scares the crap out of me ~ too many rules!

I have absolutely no idea where this will take me and that, in and of itself, is the wonder! I do know that it can only elevate my comprehension in my favorite sandbox, fulfill a dream and enrich my life in so many ways. I’m pretty sure Chef Humphrey is up there shaking his head, chuckling a little and saying something like, “Are you kidding me? I’m not teaching Heidi Basics?” I’m sure you’ll be on my shoulder, Glenn!

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Demi-Glace and a Damned Great Guy

The first time I met Glenn was at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival where I was ‘getting my feet wet’ with the ACF. He drifted into my peripheral, white-coated and commanding. I turned to face this figure and looked up…and then up some more…and I thought, “This guys a Chef?  No way!  Are you sure he’s not a captain of a fishing boat, or maybe a herder of bovines on the craggy bluffs of Norway?  Wait, wait--I know! He’s the leader of a Harley Gang!”

Well, come to find out, he did sail the seven seas and twice around the world.  Glenn grew up on a farm in Connecticut, raised cattle and outlined cuts of meat on their bodies with indelible ink. Maybe he didn’t turn out to be the leader of a Harley Gang, but he was definitely a leader who adored his bike and those who shared the joy of the open road.  But I digress…

Upon our first meeting, I hoisted a 20-pound bag of ice over my shoulder--you know, like a lady--and he walked up to me, shook his head in that way that he did, chuckled a bit and said, “What are you doing?”  I replied, “I’m helping!” Obviously, I should have said, “Trying to impress you!” But he knew that, and as our friendship grew, I came to understand that Glenn didn’t want to be impressed. He was a man who sought authenticity.

We became compatriots in the ACF and I, in turn, sought his advice constantly. He represented his beloved ACI on radio and film with into the Soup and then he did it just for fun! He was a walking, talking, culinary encyclopedia that I called upon for answers to on-air questions like, “Why does fennel taste like licorice?”  “Is there really such a thing as lemur shit coffee beans?” “Is Veloute a Crayola color?”  He’d lean into his mic with that smile on his face and translate the complex language of the kitchen in a way that even the most novice cook could understand. It’s just one of the reasons why his students loved and respected him: He was an accessible genius.

I’d call him on a Friday night when I’d screwed up a sauce and he’d tell me how to fix it, or in dire circumstances, where to get the best pizza. Glenn always had my back and I hope somewhere along the way, I had his.

My final frolic in foodie land with Chef Glenn Humphrey was over Super Bowl weekend. I got a last minute call to employ Grey Tie Events for a VIP. They wanted two breakfasts, dinner for 8 and me to Chef it.  Um, I don’t think so.  “Hey Glenn, can you help me?”

He told me that he had been in the hospital the week before, so I convinced myself that I could pull it off on my own; but as I began to prepare for the occasion, images of a straightjacket and padded room filled my head and I couldn’t find my flask. I panicked and called my ol’ compatriot again.  He said, “Give me the menu and I’ll cook it!”  Despite being sicker than any of us knew, he got my back; and together, we knocked it out of the park!

You’re probably wondering where that Demi in the title fits into this little missive.  VIP dinner menu included some Prime Rib-Eyes and Glenn, being the classy and uber prepared act that he is, brought along a quart of heaven, just in case.  Lucky for me, our clients’ tastes leaned toward the more simple side of steak sauce. So, Glenn asked if I’d like to take it home. Hell, yes!!

When I went to visit him in the hospital just hours before he passed, I said, “Hey Glenn!  Guess what I had for breakfast?  Scrambled eggs and Demi-Glace! I put that shit on everything!”  I saw a twinkle in his eye, heard a faint chuckle, and he shook his head and smiled.   

Damn, he was a great guy!

Weekly Whet Your Whistle ~ Caribbean Pain Killer

Hey there boys and girls!  I figured I might as well make a comeback with a cocktail...what else?  Back in my sailing and chheffing days, we'd holler out this phrase around Jimmy Buffet hour and it would get our guests rarin' to go..."Anyone for blender sports?!"  Yes, indeedy.  This little classic from the Islands will affect you just as the name attests, no pain, mon!  Have a great weekend, soupers!!  

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Mostly Meatless Mondays! Roasted Chicken and Pepper Salad

OK, this isn't "Meatless" AT ALL, but it's really quite good for you and I made it up, so that's all you need to know, right?  Yes, I'm going crazy AND it's Monday.  Not much we can do about that except perhaps kick off your shoes one night this week, fire up the grill, grab a cold beer and make this for dinner! 

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Soup of the Week ~ Smoked Turkey Lentil!

I created this recipe for a friend who wanted to eat healthier and learn some basic soup techniques.  Lentils (legumes) aren't as tricky as one might think, just PAY ATTENTION!!!!  Oh, and um, these are guestimates, but I'm sure that my savvy readers can work it out.  Have fun...

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The Weekly Whet ~ Black Crush a/k/a Juancoction!

Many of my best stories occur whilst sitting at a bar (yes, I'm known to do that on occasion) and this one fits the bill, to a tee.  My latest and greatest tender of libations is John, from The Islands Hotel in Newport Beach, CA.  My BFF and I were sipping on his "Black Crush" and he pointed out the fact that the caddie at the end of the expanse was 50 and gee, didn't he look great?!  My comment, "I can't see that far and I'm not even 50!"  The older gentlemen to my right chimed in, "Wow, you're a pretty good lookin' 60 year old!"  That quip got a high five and laughs all around.

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Mostly Meatless Mondays! Cremini Goulash

Yes, I know it isn't Monday ~ I'm not that far gone.  However, I just received this amazing recipe from amazing vegan Chef, Jason Wyrick of The Vegan Culinary Experience.  Take a minute to visit his site and subscribe to his newsletter.  And um, how could you possibly go wrong when Mushrooms and Goulash are the title of a dish....YIPEEE!!! 

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Soup of the Week ~ White Chili

There's nothing like crawling out from under a rock and going to visit your best friend!  She has a way of challenging me to be a better person and I love her dearly for it.  I walked in her door Friday afternoon and she handed me a soup recipe to post on the site.  Basically, she told me to get back to work....where in the hell would we be without our friends?  Oh, and we did a little digging....
 

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Shitstorms and Heirlooms

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve kind of been under the radar for awhile and have neglected my duties with into the Soup.  Rather than go into great detail, let’s just say I was bombarded by a shit storm…or 7!

Can you imagine being in a real one – figurative speech aside.  YUCK!!!  It’s not in my nature to crawl under a rock, but I did; and upon emerging, you can bet I took a long, hot shower.

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Kakavia or Greek Fisherman's Soup

Kakavia or Greek Fisherman's Soup
A classic Greek dish often compared to the French bouillabaisse, any Greek will tell you that it's tastier and easier to make! Traditionally made with the catch of the day, the selection of fish and seafood can be changed with the seasons, as long as the fish are fairly small and suitable for boiling.

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