Monday, February 27, 2012

A Community Kitchen

I became a manager almost a year ago and I still wonder how to do it well. Projects are one thing, but managing people - that's a whole different issue. Fortunately for me I have the best staff a gal could ask for.

Traveling to Seattle is a fairly regular occurrence these days. While in town I try my best at team building, but really our activities tend to reflect my interests. After their first day in training we got tea and manicures.

This month I invited the staff to join me at Seattle Pacific University's Community Kitchen. We quickly realized that a community kitchen isn't necessarily about learning to cook, it is actually cooking. For some reason I imagined showing up to student chefs preparing and serving us tasty appetizers. Instead we rolled up our sleeves, put on our hairnets and started chopping beets and onions with the others. Just like our daily work, we weren't sure what to do when we started, but in the end we came out with some great results:

Chocolate cake made with garbanzo beans? I'll take two!

Delicious dal leftovers for lunch tomorrow? Gladly.

As it turns out community kitchens are everywhere. Bronx, you up for some neighborly cooking?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Brewing at Home

Dominic acquired several new additions for our household this Christmas. If you weren't familiar with his hobby you might wonder where these items belong. Sometimes they're in the bathroom:

Other times I've found them soaking in a warm bath in the kitchen sink:

Most likely though, you'll find them actively fermenting in the bedroom. We'll call these accessories 'hops', 'malts' and 'bottles'. That's right, Dom's turned into a homebrewer. In my opinion, brewing beer at home is more than a hobby. In hobbies there's a lot of room for mistakes. I don't know many people, however, willing to give two month's worth of patience, money and energy towards 5 gallons of bad-tasting beer. I knew I had to call in the experts in order to make this investment - and my new home decor - worthwhile.

Enter Black Dragon Brewery & Homebrew Supply and brother Josh. Dominic definitely would have struggled to succeed without them. First, I needed to purchase the right starter materials. That's where Heather helped the most. She organized my materials, packed my kit and made sure everything arrived from it's cross country journey in one piece. Josh was a lifesaver too. He added the 'flava' to a basic starter kit. He put the boogie in Dom's Boogie Down Brown Ale. I think the brothers spent three hours walking through the entire brew process one night on Skype. It was pretty endearing. Anything for family time I always say.

Dominic took notes from Josh on his computer. He spent the entire brewing process checking his actions step-by-step. Good thing we have a small kitchen:
I donated my kitchen utensils and pot to Dominic for this brew. I didn't know he would need my pantyhose too.

After a warm bath the malt was ready to join the grain-steeped, disinfected water for a swim. Let the stirring begin:

I'm not sure what he's looking for, but every week Dominic would check to make sure gravity was working:
Beer gets messy, but homebrewers have a cute name for gross leftovers at the bottom of the barrel: chub. Dominic had to make a transfer or two through a syphoning process where he created a suction to eliminate as much chub as possible. Gravity seems to help out a lot in the brewing process:

It looks like beer, it bubbles like beer, but will it taste like beer?

While Dominic got the kit for Christmas, he actually got a Brooklyn homebrew tour for his birthday. Mid-brew, he and a friend took a day to try out the work of some local homebrewers:

In a matter of weeks it was time for the batch to get a little sweeter (i.e. carbonated) and move into individual bottles. Good thing we had been collecting everyone's bottles at IPED parties all semester:

There you have it! Homebrewing by Sarah!

I don't drink beer, but I can say that when taken to parties that Boogie Down Brown gets consumed. We've even had requests for more. As of today Dominic has started his second batch - an amber ale. Look for future posts on this topic from the brewster himself. I haven't the slightest idea what I'm talking about here.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Freud's Last Session

The past two weeks Dominic and I spent our Friday nights going to off-Broadway's 20 for 20. It's a pretty basic idea - show up 20 minutes beforehand, pay $20/ticket. Quite a deal.

We saw Freud's Last Session and Rent with the 20 for 20 offer. Both shows were well worth far more than we paid.

Freud's last session is a play based on the idea that C.S. Lewis and Freud could have met. In his book The Question of God, Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr. writes about what the encounter could have been like. "In 1939, the year in which the play is set, Dr. Freud is at the end of a long and brilliant career and Prof. Lewis has begun to build his own. On September 3, 1939, the date of their meeting in Freud's Last Session, Dr. Freud was 83 years old to Prof. Lewis' 41. Though Lewis was half Freud's age, the clash between these two men is timeless." - Playbill.'

C.S. Lewis once wrote: "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." By faith Dominic and I see our world. Whether on the stage or on the street.