Monday, March 28, 2011

For the Love of the Car*

I only speak with two days of experience, but I think I made the right move leaving Anheuser-Busch for Volkswagen. From beer to fast cars...yikes!

This opportunity found me in late December. I wasn't looking for another job, but did a triple take when I read about this one. The position advertised was Operations Manager for a Parts Distribution Center in west Jacksonville. The more I learned about the company culture and the job itself, the more I was impressed! While I was considering VW's offer, Fortune magazine came out with their 50 most Admired Companies. VW had moved up to 35th! I think it was a sign. Sold!

The management and warehouse staff alike were very welcoming. These people are good: my cubicle name plate, cell phone and office supplies were all ready on my first day! They clearly have a good process in place already. I think I see a few things to improve on. But no "HOLY COW, this #$%$^ is messed up!" moments. :)

In only two days of meetings, it was clear that the managers took their employees' happiness, development, and success seriously. That's a company philosophy I can get behind!

Here's to a very long career moving parts around the country!

* Extreme car enthusiasts will recognize that slogan as the VW tagline in Europe in 2004....yeah, I can Google with the best of 'em!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lenten Vegan

Dr. Uncle Mike is as talented with a chef's knife as he is with words. He's combining those gifts and is blogging about being vegan* for his Lenten Sacrifice. Shame on me for not sharing this sooner! Please enjoy his recipes and commentary as much as I do:

Lenten Vegan

* Being vegan? Going vegan? Keeping vegan? I don't know how the phrase goes....All I know is there be none of the meats or dairies!

Week 62 Menu

Sunday: Fillet of Grouper with Four-Onion Marmalade and mashed potatoes

Monday: Homemade calzones (clear-out-the-veggie-bin filling!)

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Ribs in the slow cooker

Wednesday: Dinner at church

Thursday: Spinach and Chicken Enchiladas from the freezer (GoodLifeEats)

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Another wedding! (again, Scott is the photographer!)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cue the Fat Lady

Well, it's official. After a lot of internal and familial introspection, I decided to quit my job at Anheuser-Busch. It's actually not as dramatic as it sounds. I did have another job lined up. At dinner I told Scott for the next 12 hours, I was a Stay-at-Home-Mom. His response: Don't get used to it.

I had been with AB since I was 19. Nineteen!!! That's all of my adult life and almost half of my entire life. Whoa. It was extremely difficult to say goodbye to my friends. With two of my best friends, we couldn't say goodbye. We decided if would be better if we said I was just "going on vacation." [We're pathetic!....that sounds like a good ol' "where did the dog go?" euphemism!]

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Week 61 Menu

Sunday: Roasted Turkey Roulade, roasted potatoes & arugula
Monday: Steaks on the grill and broccolini
Tuesday: Meatballs and marinara
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Squash Pancakes
Saturday: Dinner at a wedding (Scott is the photographer!)

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Lesson in Patience

I got a summons to report for Jury Duty. It was my first Call to Duty - in Illinois, New Hampshire or Florida! So, I went to the Courthouse along with 400 of my fellow Duval County citizens.

My iPod was loaded up with music and podcasts and I had a new novel that had my rapt attention. But, even those diversions weren't enough to battle the mind-numbing boredness of waiting in an uncomfortable, straight-backed chair for 6 hours waiting to see if I had been selected for one of the 25 trials. As the time ticked by, I was almost begging to be picked so I could move to a different room!

Well, I was eventually released from duty...they had all the jurors they needed for the week! Part of me was relieved that I didn't have to go back for more hurry-up-and-wait. But, the other part of me felt like I was in elementary school, they were picking kickball teams and I was the last kid on the wall waiting to get picked!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Week 60 Menu

Sunday: Homemade BBQ Chicken pizza
Monday: Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe (Smitten Kitchen..peer pressure from menus last week!)
Tuesday: Chickpeas with Cilantro & Paprika (Three Many Cooks)
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Artwalk at the beach!...that means pizza at Joseph's!
Friday: Corned Beef in the slow cooker (St. Pat's one day late!)
Saturday: Out.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pommes Chef Anne

The second half of my Worst Cooks meal was this potato side dish. I served this side dish with a seared mahi. Again: it really didn't mesh as a meal, but it was yummy.

I really thought this was a pretty, yummy side dish. I used one potato (for two people) and a small skillet. I added some french onion soup mix between the layers (Chef Anne would kick me out of her kitchen!) and it made the potatoes quite tasty. The flip out of the skillet onto the plate worked very well. But, I think I fell short on the "make the layers compact" step. The whole fritter/pancake was a little loose. But, if you have a mandoline, a skillet and a hot oven, it's an impressive, pretty easy side dish.

Pommes Chef Anne
from Chef Anne in Worst Cooks in America

3 russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
Extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

1. Working 1 potato at a time, slice very thin on the mandoline.
It is important to work with purpose here (quickly) because the potatoes will discolor. Do not put the potatoes in water because this will wash the starch off the potatoes.

2. Coat an 8-inch nonstick saute pan with olive oil. Starting from the center, make concentric circles of potatoes in the bottom of the pan.
Remember that eventually the bottom will be the top so it is important for the first circles of potatoes to look pretty.

3. Brush each layer with olive oil and every 2nd or 3rd layer sprinkle liberally with grated cheese and salt. After every layer of potatoes, press the potatoes so they are very compact. Repeat this process with the remaining 2 potatoes.

4. Place the pan of potatoes over medium heat and cook until the olive oil begins to sizzle and the potatoes begin to brown on the bottom.

5. Put the pan in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place a tight fitting lid on the pan. Drain the excess oil out the side of the pan.

6. After the excess oil has been drained, completely flip the pan so the cake is turned out onto the bottom of the lid, then slide the cake off the lid back into the pan so the brown side of the cake is now up and the top becomes the bottom.
We see now why draining the excess oil is important. If you attempt this without draining the oil it will drain out on your wrist and burn you.

7. Return the cake to the oven and bake until the cake is fork tender, another 10 to 15 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Seared Mahi-Mahi with Mango Sauce

This year I got hooked into "Worst Cooks in America." I was so hooked that I watched the whole first season on OnDemand to catch up! Confirmed horrible home cooks go through a boot camp to learn how to cook like professional chefs. The "recruits" served up some fabulous dishes. One of the final rounds was serving a dish to Chef Anne, Chef Robert and a surprise guest - one of the recruit's loved ones! Georg (my favorite) served the chefs and her wife a mahi dish (at her wife's request).

I made the mahi and mango salsa, but left out the rice. I wanted to make another side dish from the show (Pommes Chef Anne). It totally didn't tie together with the meal, but it looked yummy!

Seared Mahi-Mahi with Mango Sauce and Fragrant Rice
from Chef Robert Irvine in Worst Cooks in America

1 cup jasmine rice
2 cups water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 scallions, green parts only, chopped

Mango Sauce:
1 mango
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 lime, juiced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 clove garlic, quartered
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger

4 mahi-mahi fillets
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 scallions, chopped, for garnish


For the rice:
1. Combine the rice and water together in a large saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Cook the rice for 20 minutes.

For the sauce:
1. Peel the mango and slice the flesh off the pit. Dice the mango flesh.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Stir in the mango, cilantro, garlic, and ginger. Set aside.

Heat a large, nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat.

Rub the fish fillets with the oil, salt, and pepper. Place in the hot pan and sear until golden on 1 side, 3 to 4 minutes.

Turn the fish over and cook until cooked through, another 3 to 4 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the fish. You'll know the fish is done when the flesh springs back. Remove the fish to a plate.

When the rice is cooked, fluff it with a fork and gently stir in the cilantro and scallions. Season with salt, to taste.

Place a mound of rice on each plate. Top with mahi-mahi. Spoon the mango sauce over each fillet and top with chopped scallions. Drizzle the liquid from the mango sauce around the rice.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Week 59 Menu

Sunday: Seared Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa & Rice (from Worst Cooks!)
Monday: Squash Meatballs & homemade marinara
Tuesday: Stuffed Shells (TWFD) didn't make it last week
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Chicken on the grill
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thanks a Lot

Shelby: I use keys to open doors at work.
Me: What else do you do at work.
Shelby: Check messages on iPod.
Me: Is that what you think I do at work?
Shelby: Yeah.

Thanks a lot.