Friday, July 15, 2011

G&T Perfection

I did not take a liking to Gin until I was almost 40. Since then I've grown quite fond of Gin and Tonics during hot summer months. Refreshing, light, and crisp, they're the perfect summer drink. And I've learned to make them perfectly.

As with any recipe, the perfect G&T starts with the ingredients. For this drink you will need:

*Limes -- I"ll leave it up to personal taste whether you use regular or key limes. If using regular, a half a lime will do per drink, for key limes use on or two whole limes (depending on HOW small they are)
* Salt -- less than a pinch, literally just a few grains will do. Sea salt is best.
*Gin -- a good gin is of course key to a good G&T. I'm partial to Bendistillery's Cascade Mountain and High Desert gins from right here in Oregon. It's a fairly new craft distillery, but their gins and vodkas are superb.
* Tonic Water -- This, believe it or not, was the secret that led to my G&T's going from good to truly great. There are actually varying qualities of tonic water. The best I've found so far is a brand from England called Fever Tree. Here in Eugene I can get it at Market of Choice. It's pricey stuff, and I don't always use it, but when I'm in the mood for a special, over-the-top treat, this is the stuff.
* Ice -- good ice, preferrably made from distilled water.

Halve the lime around its equator. Cut one half into eighths, use the other half to cut garnish slices. Place half of the lime into the bottom of an old fashioned, add a few grains of sea salt, and muddle, being sure to bruise the skin of the lime. This releases essential oils that really improve the flavor of the drink. add a few ice cubes, 1 ounce of gin, and finally top off with tonic water. Stir, garnish with a lime slice.

Best enjoyed while wearing white and a Panama hat.

Monday, July 04, 2011

John Adams - Declaration of Independence

One of the most stirring recreations of the ratification of the Declaration I've ever seen.

Their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. And they meant it.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

For What It's Worth

Wow. Has it really been over six months since I blogged? Indeed, it would seem so. I"m a bit chagrined. I restarted Memento Moron with high hopes for recapturing the halcyon days of.... oh, who am I kidding, they were never truly Halcyon, though for a while I did have a readership and felt myself a minorly significant voice. I enjoyed myself, and I don't honestly believe I'm completely done having something to say. Evidence, on the surface, seems to suggest otherwise.

In my own defense, I've had good reason for being a bit mute. Ever since late December (Hmmm.... right about hte time I stopped blogging, not coincidentally), I have been working 6 nights a week. Most people who know me know how unsatisfying I found my current position -- I love my profession, I hate this position. Underpaid, overworked, underappreciated. But in this economy you do what you have to and thank God you have a job. So I endured -- for two years. The last half a year of that has been the worst. Four full shifts (including 3 splits and one day where I work 11 AM - closing) plus two evening half-shifts has left me with four instances in the last 6 months whereI had more than one day off in a week. It's more mentally exhausting than physically. People (well, mostly my boss) tell me that two half days is the equivalent of a whole day off. No. No, it's not. Any time you wake up in the morning thinking, "BY x:yz O'Clock I have to be ready for work", is NOT a day off. It's merely a long morning. And my one day off and two long mornings have been spent in the company of my son (Whom I've been addressing as "The Upgrade" these days). So you can see, my time for myself, let alone for blogging, has been limited.

That's about to change. Two weeks ago this coming Wednesday, I accepted a position with another business and tendered my two weeks notice at The Hell Job. As of the end of this week, I will be a cook at a local retirement community. The job offers a higher pay than I've been making, benefits and vacation, and most importantly, saner hours. I'll be starting at 32 hours a week, with a good likelihood of picking up full time hours fairly quickly. The latest I'll work is 7:30 PM, and my new boss has already agreed to do as much as he can to work my new schedule around optimizing my time with my son (in other words, working me on my Ex's days off).

The change has been quick and drastic. If htis was a relationship instead of a job, it would be a whirlwind romance. And in many ways, I'm almost that giddy. I had been contemplating looking for new work for a while, because the atmosphere at the old job was wearing on my spirit, and I was dreading the approach of the summer rush. I saw an ad for this job on craigslist, and had toyed with applying, but was dawdling, when an acquaintance of mine mentioned she used to work there and encouraged me to apply. So on Friday, June 17th I posted my application. On Monday morning I, still in bed, got a call from the chef wanting to interview me. I went in Tuesday morning, and Wednesday morning their HR director called me offering me the job. I gave my notice at the end of my work shift that night.

I admit that the time period between the interview on Tuesday and the call on Wednesday was gruelling. I really was impressed with my then-potential boss, with the facility, and the details of the job. I wantedthe job, and I made no bones about saying so to him, in the interview. But once I left the interview, I had work that day, and all day my thoughts were on how crushed I would be if I didn't get the job. I honestly think I would have started considering giving up on my culinary dreams. I'm getting too old to work dead-end jobs for barely-above-minimum wages.

But if I had been thinking objectively, or advising a friend who was in my position, I would have felt fairly confident about my prospects -- there were very promising signs. The interview lasted an hour and fifteen minutes. While he did ask me about my experience and myself as a cook, most of the interview time was spent telling me about his experience as a chef, and about the job and the facility -- including a tour of it. After the interview, later in the day, I received voicemails from two of my three personal references saying htey'd just been called. The fact that he contacted them AFTER the interview was a good sign. And both ofthem gave him stellar recommendations. Furthermore, two of my instructors from culinary school, including my favorite chef, are personal friends of his.

I came away from the whole experience not only with a great new job, but with a valuable life lesson: My own worth. I've long believed in the saying, "You get what you pay for" regardingthe quality of products one purchases, and especially regarding food within the industry. But I had never associated it with myself as a worker, a human resource. FOr two years my current boss undervalued me -- he'd pay lip service to what a good worker I was, and how much he appreciated me, but he hadn't given me a raise in 18 months, he worked me the most gruelling and inconvenient schedule of all his cooks, and gettign time off was like pulling teeth. My new employers, on hte other hand, jumped at the chance to hire me, and offered me a much better compensation for my labor -- both monetarily and in terms of the conditions in which I will work. The message this conveyed was not lost on me: We think you're worth this.

It's a lesson I'm taking to heart. I'm determined to never forget it, and I'm committed to proving them right.