Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Not too crowded, not too many railings, but good views into the depths. I've been to the South Rim several times. I think the views are better on the South Rim, but the traffic is less on the North. Plus, there's not near as much cement and it's not as hot because of higher elevations.
We hiked along the rim, and down a ways on the Kaibab Trail. Then, headed to Las Vegas for a night in Luxury before Rainmaker flew back home on Wednesday.
Now, on Wednesday evening, getting back into the grove and grind of my seasonal work, I do feel privileged to work in Zion. This is a special place.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Now, this is just another part of Line Cooking, and its both heady and sobering.
You get this smallish saute' pan going with oil in it (about the size of a small frying pan, with sloped sides) and then add ingredients. But wait, another two orders have just been called, and so now its three pans on three burners, run get the meatloaf order, now half a chicken, then cut the bread for servers.
Don't let the stuff in the pans burn, shake it, flip it. Using a spoon or spatula is totally armature. Sorry, I'm working on it; I'm used to spoons.
While all this is happening in the same minute, orders are called down the Line to the broiler bitch (see previous post) and the wheel man assembles all this for the waitstaff to carry out. Its my duty to have my stuff ready in a timely manner, not over or underdone, with no sign of panic.
My mentor, Billy Ho, says Never Panic.
I'm working on the panic.
Its really been fun, and educational. I still am the only woman cooking, which seems weird, coming from a kitchen in Highlands where it was just the opposite.
Kitchens have personalities. Anger and Depression is contagious. Smiles always warm the soul no matter what the emergency. Seems like a woman's thing, though. Guys: its OK. Smile.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Yes, I'm making meat loaf for front of house. Its going in two hotel pans, making four long loaves, and has to be cooked by service time. All doable. I've done this before. Somehow the guy training me thinks its rocket science.
Just another day of work, in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Rainmaker and I compare notes, and there are just too many hikes that are right up there with the best: Angel's Landing, Observation Point, Hidden Canyon, and don't forget the Narrows.
He flies back to Georgia soon, I'll be able to revisit these places before my contract ends. Especially the Narrows. It should be quite different in August.
People still come and go: fired, transferred, newly hired, newly initiated into the whys and ways of seasonal work.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Spray a sheet pan and bake this batter in a moderate oven until firm and golden brown. Not too hard if you do it in steps.
We serve a Ragu over that in the restaurant.
But, what caught my ultralight backpacker eye was the bag the fine cornmeal comes in.
Its lightweight, strong, and doesn't leak. AND they throw them away. Of course, this is America.
But as all ultra lighters (us frugal ones, anyways) know, a lot of good gear can be had by recycling.
Some call it dumpster diving. Not so. Its saving the planet.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
So, the empty bag was put in my locker until now, and I plan to use a twist tie to secure the opening, after filling it with oatmeal. No more worries about Ziploc baggies.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Or, if I set it to " snow and beach" I won't have so much glare on the cliffs.
By watching him, I learn to pan a little slower, take some time to get acquainted with my camera, and basically, bring my reading glasses to read the menu on this thing.
Still, it beats using a disposable camera: the dinosaur of the photographer's world. I used to love them because they are cheap and have so little commitment or investment.
But, as we discussed, the best things are not free. A little time investment, a little emotional investment, goes a long ways. Some cash investment doesn't hurt either.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
First, I get this huge side of beef (well, maybe about 20 pound chunk of New York Strip). Then I found the scale, covered the tray where I laid the meat portion with plastic wrap.
Then, I got a red cutting board, sharp chef's knife, and 400 half pan for the steaks.
The goal here was to trim the excessive fat off the huge chunk of meat. Then, at first using an educated guess, I cut what I hope is a 10 ounce portion. Weigh it. Pretty close, a little over, but that's better than under. My co worker is training me, and he's pretty good.
After doing that whole chunk, we do another.
Then it's rib eye steaks. The goal here is a 12 ounce portion. A person can tell a rib eye by the way the fat swirls at the top, and the huge chunk has these lobes where it was trimmed from the ribs.
Once the restaurant opened, and steaks were ordered, the real challenge begins as order after order pours in for "Rare" "Medium Rare" "Medium" "Medium Well" and "Well". The New Yorks get salt and pepper. The rib eyes get a special rub. I mixed this rub which included about 8 spices.
A person doesn't want to over cook a steak. It can always be refired if the customer says its too bloody. Its just meat juice, there's really no blood in it. But, just do it.
But, if a steak is over done, no good. A person has to get rid of it. That's a lot of money down the drain.
Later that night I got introduced to the Saute station. More about that tomorrow.
I look at this Zion experience as more than a job. Jobs come and go, but this is a whole 'nother ball game. In a kitchen with just men ( women servers but no women cooks) seems like every day I have to prove myself, hang in there, no overly emotional displays.
As cooks, we can do some outbursts. Hell's Kitchen and Chef Ramsey saw to that.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Then, I was wondering about the Oil Spill in the Gulf, and found my answers. Not Solved. Hidden agendas, fears, money. As always, we learn it is far worse than they told us.
Also, I was wondering about new health finds. Brazil is loosing the battle of the bulge, kids in Africa are still dying in spite of our efforts, skin cancer on the rise.
And, closer to home, I was wondering how much information was available on how to make your own backpacking gear. With the economy still in the trash can, every penny saved is a penny earned. And who can find a job to earn a few pennies anyways? I'm here in Zion working until September by choice. I could work longer if I wanted to, but family matters call.
I found this link, a valuable link for anyone who wants projects for the kids, or yourself. A person could start making Christmas gifts now, or birthday gifts. Or, just use these ideas to save money on outdoor gear regardless of pending holidays.
So, I am happy for the Internet. Some folks are still resisting the 21st century by refusing to become www savy. I like it. What can I say?
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
We hiked upstream, cliffs rising majestically on both sides, the water a cool 61 degrees. At times it was waist deep, other times we merely waded. Once in awhile we walked on boulders, other times dry sand.
Most wore shorts, a few of us long pants, a very few wore bikinis. There were a couple small girls, lots of teens and mostly young fit adults. One can rent shoes and poles from a Zion Adventure Company for this very purpose. I wore my New Balance trail shoes.
Cameras in tow, we fought a strong current while crossing side to side, following groups of people who were following others. Actually, I was surprised how many were on this trail.
I hope to go again this summer, work permitting. As the water level drops and the temperatures climb, it should be possible to get all the way back to the waterfall, past which one can not go upriver.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
It has a trunk, but no rear defroster.
It has a tape player, and awesome speakers. For those of you too young to remember, the tape came after the vinyl disk but before the CD. Thats light years before the mp3 and the IPOD.
The tires are small and inexpensive. The battery will last over 7 years. The oil filter looks like it belongs on a lawn tractor.
It is a stick shift. I've finally changed the spark plugs on this 1996 gem of mine. With 114,000 plus miles on it, I figure to keep it many more years.
If we all had good mileage cars, could we finally quit drilling for oil?
If we could learn to combine trips, car pool, or walk a little bit more, could we quit buying oil from the middle east?
Maybe we just need to quit buying all that plastic crap made with petroleum?
I think when we finally get a handle on alternative sources of energy, and we cut back on our endless consumption, oil will be the vinyl disk of the Energy Industry.
Grandkids will listen to our Remember-When stories, When I Was Your Age stories and say, "You actually Burned Oil in your car to make it run?"
They'll shake their heads, wrinkle their nose and say, "that's nasty".
Saturday, June 19, 2010
This morning we hiked up to Emerald Pools. Even with an "early start" after breakfast there were many other hikers. A lot of kids too, some with little hiking poles.
By turning left after the main North Fork Virgin River bridge, we ascended first to the middle pools. Then, threading our way through the crowds, we took another left and headed up to the upper falls. The water fall had all but dried up. It was cool, much cooler there. Shady, water, and good sitting rocks were taken advantage of by yours truly.
Then, after due time, we descended down path ways, rock steps, between massive three story boulders, to the junction with Kayenta Trail (heading north to the Grotto area) and the lower falls trail. The lower falls actually is a raining -dripping event which felt wonderful in the heat. Rainmaker had his High Definition camera tucked under his shirt for protection.
I really enjoy hiking early mornings because the trails are less crowded, and the shade is so comfortable for viewing this fantastic place. Today, a Saturday in mid June, many people were out early with their families enjoying it as well. Its good to see the children here.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
This morning before work,
and after a good breakfast in the EDR, I enjoyed a hike up in Hidden Canyon with Rainmaker.
It was cool and we passed only one couple until the return trip.
The trail has some chains embedded in the side of the canyon wall where one may grab ahold to aid in climbing, decending and generally avoid death.
A couple mountain bikers tried to use the trail, but I found my "voice" and told them it wasn't allowed. The sign clearly shows a red X through the bike picture.
There's also a sign warning of possible death, and that others have died on that trail.
Hidden Canyon doesn't seem that scarey, though. Some pavement, some drop offs. Not a place to be caught in a flash flood. Basically I felt today we escaped injury, Angels Landing is death.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
I love doing explorations. Hiking alone is great fun Seldom does a person actually go a whole day on a trail without encountering another individual. During those times we can shrug off societies rules of no burping, talking aloud to oneself, farting, or childlike wonderment.
We don't have to be way cool. Our clothes don't have to match or be designer labeled. In fact, the shirt I found was a Small and I cut its label off.
We can fail to reach our objective without feeling weak. We can elect our break times or continue mercilessly in heat and storm. I like it.
A good trail partner is a rare gift from the gods. If you find one, treasure them, and let them know it.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
We park employees may drive our vehicles up to the Lodge which has the same parking lot as our dorms. Of course, window stickers and Employee IDs must verify that we are indeed employed here.
The shuttle bus runs frequently beginning before 8 a.m and ending around 11 p.m. They are free to ride as often as you like. That's pretty cool cause you can catch a ride up to the Temple and hike that paved trail and catch the bus back. Or, ride it to the various trail heads in the park, do the trail, then jump back on the bus to the next one.
During the mid morning to mid afternoon rush, they actually come every 7 minutes. On the front of each one is a place to load bikes or kayaks. Very user friendly.
The one I road back from the Visitors center had a recording with a nice voice describing all the views and landmarks as we road past. Gave the driver more time to focus on the road. According to a sign I saw, a bus is not allowed to pass bicycles. If you're on a bike and you want the bus to pass, you must pull over and stop.
Good rules to follow to keep everyone safe, comfortable, and accommodated in your National Park.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Hiking there is a trick. Its a special location only the immediate locals know about. And, they're a dying breed.
There's special mosses, lichen and vegetation that one must not step on or it will die. Rainmaker showed me how to find this place, and how to respect it. To watch and take care where every last footprint (and seat print) falls.
Every place I touch will be left with an impact. Even the little places. Some things will suffer, like the mosses. Some places will benefit, like a garden.
The things I chose to buy, to throw away, to wear, all this has an impact on the earth. The car I drive, the kinds of entertainment I enjoy. How often I must "upgrade" my electronics.
Sort of a heavy thought, a responsibility.
When I got to Zion, I was given a metal water bottle. They have established a free Spring Water bottle refill station for the public to use, in an effort to reduce the plastic consumption.
The flip side, of course is the reckless oil spills, wars, and strip mining that go on constantly. How will my couple footprints ever matter compared to all that?
It is a subject to ponder. Personal responsibility versus detached apathy.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Now lizards are a whole 'nother creature. I'd like to get a picture before I leave this fall, but so far none have sat still long enough.
Today was a good day. I enjoyed my co workers, cooked on the Line, trained my replacement, and didn't even feel tired. Now, that's almost like having fun!
I guess its all about knowing where to look, and when. Travel down the right path, at the right time and the trail gods will grant your desire.
Least, that's how I'm chalking up today's goodness.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
To everything there is a season, and a time, under heaven.
Today I met the guy I'll train to replace me in the EDR. The Chef says to do a good job. Then, I can move to the Line. It will be seriously hot there, facing the "window" or place the plates get put when they are ready to be sent out. At arms reach, under that shelf like set up, with heating elements above, is counters and all sorts of additions for the plating.
Behind me will be grill (or broiler, they call it) flat top (where we place Talapia, trout, arrowhead chicken breasts, grilled cheeses). That station, I'm informed is for the "broiler bitch". Male or Female.
Then, behind the "wheel man" is a deep fryer, gas burners going constantly, and farther down the line is the "saute" station, with more hot boxes, gas burners, and stuff I've yet to learn.
Of course there are cold drawers for keeping all this fresh meat and condiments cold and at arms reach, and hot steam tables for keeping all the hot sides ready to plate.
So, its going to be hot work. I am looking forward to it. Making beautiful plates of scrumptious food for each diner.
Maybe I'm not a burned out cook. Maybe I just need a new station.
Friday, June 4, 2010
I think I'm a burned out cook.
Today I saw something interesting, and it reminded me of the universal mom-habit of applying spit as a cleaning agent.
Seems chef's hands are always clean, and are the universal tool.
Or so we are all led to believe, or assume, or hope by virtue of its common practice.
It is a widely accepted opinion that Food and Beverage is the hardest and least appreciated department, especially the Employee Dining Room (EDR) crew. If anyone out there cares, give your EDR person a thanks today for a job done, even if not well.
Zion is getting hot, nearly 100 degrees. Its still lovely, and I can't wait for my days off to enjoy some more of it. The river has slowed, the banks receding. The grass remains green here in the valley, however, because it is watered with sprinkling systems.
I feel removed from the general news loop. No one really talks about all the pressing issues the country faces. We work, we sleep, we hope for days off to play.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Even though I came here to see all this, sometimes I get caught up in working and sleeping. Then on days off, pile on the hiking miles.
I work 1 p.m to 9 ish. So, there's time in the mornings to enjoy the warmth and glow of this canyon. That's what I'm doing now. Sunshine, exercise, a walk before work. Nothing sets the stage for a beautiful day like a commune with nature.
Zion is quiet this morning after Memorial Day weekend has past. Deer roam freely, wild turkeys ramble through the grass. Lizards scurry happily. Least I think they are happy.
All things in their season. One season at a time.