Monday, June 10, 2013

Some Gourmet Basics

One of the things I absolutely love about the 50s housewife was her delight in every aspect of the job.

There is nothing more enchanting than the home of a woman who loves to keep it. It doesn't have to be fancy or of much wealth. Simple tidiness and organization create it's own form of lovliness.

In the beginning, I struggled often. I would spend a large part of the day away from home, come back, try to fit in a few hours of work, get tired and irritated and go to bed frustrated saying it wasn't possible.

I was still for the most part spending most of my day doing things that had nothing to do with the home, while longing to look like an ideal housewife and have an ideal home.

It won't happen. It's not because the job is too difficult. It's not because you wouldn't be fabulous at it. It's likely more of a result of you not desiring to put the time into it.

There is no such thing as a job you can be fabulous at without being there a great deal of time. I once made a great amount of money in a career and would find myself at the office until 10pm OFTEN. Many were frustrated that they couldn't advance to my level, yet, they were always out of the door at 5pm.

To master anything, requires the time and effort to be there, learn to love the skill and focus on it's mastery.

The only way to master keeping home is to desire to actually be home.
Once you learn to do this and be home and master homekeeping. You'll find it to be one of the most enjoyable and delightful jobs there is. If you just do the work and don't learn to do it with flair, it will be dull. You must develop a passion for it. It is essential.

I was once a housekeeper for my uncle. My grandmother had died and his house resembled one on the show "hoarders." It was so dirty no one even wanted to walk into it.
I watched my aunt mock him and pick on him and I saw his helpless little face and my heart sunk.
I couldn't bear the way she talked to him. I adored my uncle. (yes, this is the one that just passed)

I mentioned it to my fiance and he said, "well... clean it."   I had never taken on such a task in my life. I wasn't sure his house "could" be cleaned well enough. It was so unsanitary. But the more I thought on the idea, the more it appealed to me. Even if I couldn't clean it up much, I could make it better.

I remember mentioning it to my mom and her deciding she was going to come with me because she was sure I wouldn't know what to do. I was determined and I set out on my own with my own cleaning supplies and I did it. He paid me for 5 hours/day and I loved taking the entire 5 hours.

I never rushed because I wanted the full pay. In fact, I loved it when it took me longer because I often got paid extra.

I watched his home absolutely transform.It became a true haven. What had been a hoarding nightmare. I have literally thought of purchasing it from his wife not at his death. It was absolutely enchanting in the end. I was able to make it this way BECAUSE I was there 5 hours/day every day.
The first few months, I didn't do much besides load garbage bags full of things to give away or throw away. It was waist high filth....there were boxes full of old hamburger wrappers, candy wrappers, ice cream sandwich wrappers. There were bugs, and smells that were horrible.
But I delighted in seeing it transform. I loved organizing everything into neat tidy arrangements. I loved picking fresh flours and polishing his floors. I loved turning on his old radio to old tunes that reminded me of grandma.

When I'd get home after a long day there, I'd wonder why I struggled so much with my own home.
I wasn't there.
I wanted to finish in two hours what I simply could not do.
While I delighted in cleaning his home and fell more in love with it day by day.... I was neglecting my own.

I noticed this err and changed my schedule altogether. Instead of planning 75% of the day out of the home and 25% home. I switched. I planned 75% home and maybe ran an errand here or there.


I read an article also around the same time that said, if you allow yourself to cut corners a little here and a little there, you will end up cutting corners everywhere. Sometimes at first, you need to not allow yourself an out.
You need to require yourself to be home and do your chores. You need to quit "allowing" yourself not to or it will never get done.
Once I made it a point to be home, I started to love being home.
I decided I wasn't just going to keep house, I was going to keep it well.
Even at my uncles, it got to a point where I ran out of things to do after two hours/day. I started to love doing extras like putting up decorations for holidays, making him big meals, tending his roses, etc.
I learned to do everything with expertise. I started to study gourmet cooking, home design, makeup application, sewing, fashion, charm, etiquette, entertaining, gardening, cake decorating, baking. And do you know what? I LOVED it. I absolutely fell in love.


If you have been perceiving housekeeping as a huge chore instead of the delightful profession it is, you need to start taking on a few hobbies related to housekeeping as well.

When you own a business, don't you delight in making it the best you can? Decorating it and enhancing it constantly? Well, make that your goal as a housewife as well. Delight in doing it well. Delight in making your home lovely and entertaining well. Delight in making lovely meals and decorating in amazing ways. Study and master each element of housekeeping.  Watch movies from the 50's for inspiration. They say you need constant exposure to ignight your passion. Often sales seminars were wonderful just because I was around other sales reps and their enthusiasm rubbed off on me. The same is true of housekeeping. As you attend that gourmet cooking class and meet others with the same interests and talents, it will excite you. As you study cake decorating and meet others doing the same, it will delight you.
Learning to look your best and being around other women who do is essential.

Be around those with the same interests. Join housekeeping clubs or start your own. Master housekeeping and everything it involves. Throw gourmet dinner parties and design your home so well you "want" to have others over to see it. Then invite them over often.
Here is a bit of info on gourmet cooking since it's gourmet and nutrition day today.
It's a bit more in the way of intro. Before there is cooking there is learning terms and techniques that will guide you through. I recommend subscribing to a few recipe magazines, watching a few good network shows and attending life cooking demos.
I hope you are having a great week!
Much love always
Veronique

"the essence of preparing outstanding gourmet dishes is to use the freshest, finest ingredients available." - Charlie Trotter World Renouned Chef

Typically in gourmet cooking the following is intended:

all milk should be whole milk
all cream is heavy cream or whipping cream
all butter is unsalted
all eggs are large
all pepper is freshly ground
all salt is kosher
all flour is all-purpose
all olive oil is extra virgin
the oven or grill should always be preheated.

-season each component of a dish as your prepare it, if each part is seasoned to your tastes, the final dish will be to your liking as well.

Some recipes include secondary recipes meant to accompany a main dish. Always plan ahead. Read the recipe in advance, make any secondary recipes... do any food prep etc the day before so as to be prepared.

"gourmet cooking is simply taking the extra time to find the freshest products, taking a little more care in the preparation, and taking the time to put food on the plate in an appealing manner."

Farmers Markets are ideal for fresh ingredients.
Even better dive in and grown your own! Herbs are lovely in a kitchen window and theres nothing better the clipping fresh herbs for a recipe. Pick up gardening books, visit someone who has a garden. Attend gardening demos. Learn to grow your own. There is no way to have fresher better tasting ingredients.

If you'd like to have an appealing gourmet dish take the extra time:

- to cut vegetables into even precise cuts
-to cook foods separately before tossing together
-to shock blanched vegetables in ice water to stop the cooking process and keep them from getting too soft.
-to make crispy garnishes

taking time and effort to prepare gourmet foods makes a huge difference in the final look of the dish.


Plating a dish is almost as important as the dish itself.

When you put food on a plate, think of interesting appealing ways to present it.
-fan a food around another
-garnish with some herbs
-garnish with a contrasting colored oil
-serve on interesting plates or bowls
You can create amazing looking dishes with simple white plates. If you choose colored plates, it will be more work to create a visual result. Work with the pattern and colorscheme as you go.

Be flexible when planning and cooking a meal. Learn to improvise when missing an ingredient. Did the food have a certain flavor or texture... what can replace it? 



I often replace the following in foods
tomato paste - ketchup or throw tomatoes in a processor with some honey and salt
vinegars - all interchangeable for the most part
oils - usually interchangeable
sugar can be replaced with a variety of things. Remember how we mentioned the various sugars that exist? I've used fruits, honey, agave nectar, brown sugar, chocolate, caramel even sweetened creams in place of sugar before. I often take a recipe and make it my own by flavoring with my favorite seasonings. Learn your seasonings. Learn what tastes good with what. Enjoy seasoning every recipe you try with various salts, sugars, hot spices etc. See how it tastes. If its too salty, sweeten. If its to flavorless, salt and sweeten. Does it need tart... add some vinegar or pickle juice etc and perhaps a little sugar.

Learn what your spices taste like. Enjoy playing with flavors.

From this point forward, don't simply make a simple meal. Have fun creating tasty menus full of different ingredients and recipes. Find exciting recipes to make and make them! There are so many delicious things to make out there, start picking the pictures that look best to you and dive in!!



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