Chopping and Chewing

 Potato Buttermilk Soup, Potato Chips:
From the Chicks With Knives "Root Down" Menu at Test Kitchen on September 30, 2010.

I can confidently say that I have reclaimed my kitchen identity of late. I have re-bonded with my kitchen. I guess it began a few weeks ago when the temperature dropped into Autumn degrees. I simply suddenly wanted to be cooking. A lot. And so I did.

As you may recall, there was meatloaf. But there has also been spaghetti and meatballs – actually, my first-ever homemade meatballs (recipe to come). There has been a beautiful zucchini and basil soup (recipe to come), Swiss chard “purses” with sausage stuffing (recipe to come), and then there was the day I spent cooking in another kitchen world entirely.

I have recently become acquainted with Rachael, from Chicks with Knives, who asked me if I would like to help out in the kitchen in the preparation of their dinner at Test Kitchen. Incidentally, A friend had already asked me if I’d like to be her dining companion for the actual dinner. But hey, I could still spend the day prior helping with all things prep.

 Chicks With Knives: Suzanne & Rachael

At this point I might add that I have never worked in a professional kitchen. Nor have I ever really worked with other chefs. It’s always pretty much just little, old me in my little, old kitchen. But in there I can work magic. So why not spread out a little bit? Gain some perspective? Learn some new things?

At this point I might also add that I am a very prideful person. I’d say prideful to a fault. I really hate to screw up in front of people. When I was a little girl and got my first pair of roller skates, rather than have my mom show me what to do, and have her see me fall down in the process, I went around the block and taught myself how to skate. I didn’t come back around to my house until I had gotten it right.

So, I was admittedly nervous when, on the phone the night before, Rachael asked me to rate my kitchen skills from picking chervil to somethingsomethingsomething Eric Ripert (I couldn’t hear most of her sentence – just Eric Ripert). Gosh. I don’t really know since I’ve never had anyone to compare myself to except from watching Iron Chef or Top Chef. And if that’s my gauge, I guess I’m picking chervil.

 Rachael and some of the kitchen gang.

Miss Squashblossom in front of the wood burning oven, plating salads for the evening. 

And so, with thoughts of embarrassing myself in front of others, I spent a restless night. And then the next morning, with my freshly sharpened chef’s knife and my apron, off to Test Kitchen I went.

Hey, guess what? Everything was fine. Actually, everything was better than fine – I felt that I was really helpful and I had so much fun! Hell, six hours flew by like ten minutes! I hardly even noticed that I had given myself a right hand full of blisters from so much knifery. It felt good. I slept well that night.

"A Nice Salad"

So this brings us to the next night: the actual dinner, which I was to attend. I am almost always a super on time person and I abhor tardiness. But for some bizarre reason I am almost always running late when this friend is involved. And she’s always early! Not this night. I got there a little early even. Enjoyed the better part of a cocktail at the bar while I waited. Popped my head into the kitchen window to say hi to everyone. Kinda wished I was back there, too, but I knew I wanted to experience both sides of the coin regarding this meal. It seemed, to me, a rare opportunity to go into a restaurant to dine with the insight and exposure that I experienced prior.

Poached Rib Eye, Juniper, Parsley Root Puree

Dinner was great. The food was plated beautifully and the pacing was absolutely perfect. I felt their food was thoughtful, seasonal and inspired. Their cuisine is not too far off from my own, conceptually. And it was simply too much fun to take notice of “my” beautifully julienned celery in the fennel, persimmon, celery and chorizo salad, and to taste the lovely, creamy and nutty parsley root and potato puree that I saw from beginning to end the very day before. And even though I can get freaked out by cooked fruit, I savored every bite of the apples – that I had peeled!

Pumpkin Pot de Créme. Chocolate, Beet. Apple Tart Tatin.

And so. A little micro-adventure for F for Food. A new thing. And this makes me very happy. Except my kitchen seems kind of small, now.

*All of the lovely photographs of the food I swiped from Kevin Eats.


  1. What a great experience! I sometimes find it hard to enjoy the fruits of my labor since I'm so pooped from cooking. However, returning the next day would be perfect.

  2. It really was so very neat. I hope I can do more stuff like that in the future!

  3. hahah! I was wondering where the photos came from. I was like, hot damn, if an iphone can take pics like that...

    It was a great time. Thanks for sharing both sides of the story- from in the kitchen and out!