Friday, January 22, 2016

Speaking of restaurant work ...

Blessings, Darlings!

I worry about  my coworkers.  Most of the folks at the restaurant I work at are on the hairy edge of financial ruin.  The industry just doesn't pay much. 

So, on this day where it's 1 pm and the temperature is 19 degrees and the wind chill is 13 degrees - most coworkers don't have 'real' winter coats.  And some don't have cars, so they are walking to work.  NOT a good combo.

At best, many are layering a jacket and a sweatshirt right now.  A combo that works well when the temperature is over 20 and there's no wind, but not right for today.

I'm trying to find any coats-for-adults charities in my area to get some coats to (and direct coworkers to) but so far I've only found that type of thing for kids.  I might have to drop some more 'fun' stuff in my life and start this up myself for next winter. 

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Restaurant scrounging, Part 2

Blessings Darlings!

More ethical ways food is available to those who work in restaurants.

We cut off the heels of whole loaves of bread before slicing the bread for things like French Toast.  Those heels often come home with me - they are great for stuffing, for croutons, for bread pudding.  The heels of the sweet breads (like banana bread) are cut off before we slice it for serving, too - those can be taken home as a sweet, or even made into ice cream sandwiches!

Menus often change in restaurants like the one I work in (a national chain of family restaurants) pull some items from the menu every quarter or so.  Restaurants can find themselves saddled with products in dry stock that they are no longer using.  In the past year, our chain has stopped using a multigrain pancake mix, a dry mix for French toast, a dry cheese sauce mix for a cassarole, etc.  The unused mixes were given to workers who wanted them. 

Have a garden, and need mulch/compost ingredients?  A prep cook has the nasty outer leaves of leaf lettuce, and the stems, to contribute.  I can take home the rinds of melons after I've diced the good stuff.  Maybe the stems of broccoli that was cut and portioned for cooking.  Servers are going to have access to used coffee grounds.  The nitrogen level of those coffee grounds are amazing when added to a compost pile! 

Some of my previous coworkers took home the peels/top/bottom of pineapples.  They'd throw them in a pot with water, add sweet spices like cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg, and some sweetener, and make a tea (if served hot) or pineapple ade if served cold.  Very high in potassium, they found that it was a tonic for legs after having spent an 8 hour shift standing.

We serve pot roast.  Out of a container in a steamer.  When the container is empty of pot roast, it often has a cup or more of a fat/au jus mix left.  I chill that, peel off the heavy layer of fat, and bring the au jus home to use as soup stock, or to cook barley/rice/whatever in, or use as a base for the stew mentioned above. 

All these are ways I get a 'second use' out of good foods that would just get thrown out at work. 

OTOH, the restaurant gives left over rolls/biscuits/some pies/etc to feed those in ... uh ... more need than its workers.  Since those items are NOT being thrown away, not going into the waste stream, those I don't mess with. 

Frondly, Fern


Blessings, Darlings!

I'm too excited to sleep!  So I'm blogging at 4 am.

Oh, the sleeplessness STARTED because we have serious snow predicted for Friday and Saturday, and I'm like a Kid - I can't wait and am too wound up to sleep!

Then, I turned on the TV ... and saw the Dow futures crashing again, and my Adult kicked in.  Our consulting company gets LOTS less business in a bad economy.  In an almost-worst case scenario (that is, if we get NO more business this entire year, and my 2nd job goes under, BUT the banks stay open), can we get thru' the year off of our savings? 

THAT'll keep a person up nights!

(The answer, of course, is that we'd get by because we'd have to.)

Frondly, the Woke As Fuck Fern

Monday, January 18, 2016

Restaurant Scrounging, Part 1

Blessings, Darlings!


Those of us with lower end incomes - in my case, my second job isworking at a dead end restaurant job - don't have the income to get a real 'retreat' where we'll prepare for what will come in a future collapse.  We're too busy living too close to a personal la vida collapse now. 

However, that doesn't mean that we can't glean things from the not-yet collapsed world out there.

My mother in law, who worked as a waitress for years and years, is often quoted as having said that "A hungry waitress is a stupid waitress'.  She wasn't talking about being hungry making you stupid - tho' that can certainly happen.  Nor was she talking about either stealing stuff from work, or about eating what customers left on their plates (yuk!), but about maximizing opportunities.

And restaurant work gives you a lot of opportunities.

Let's start with one of the basic necessities of life - coffee.  I work closing shift at a restaurant, as a prep cook.  I've trained the servers to let me know when they are going to dump the leftover coffee, so I can fill a container and bring some home for my morning coffee.  No, it's not fresh Starbucks coffee, but it will give me my morning caffeine the next day. 

Many days I'm the person who chops scallions to top soup and salads with.  The green onions we use are the same green onions that grow into regular old white bulb onions. I chop off the ends with the roots, and bring those home to plant, using them as onion sets.  Free onions, for very little effort.  You have to plant those ends very shallowly, or they won't form bulbs, just so you know - I had to learn that the hard way.  OTOH, I found a lot of recipes that use green onions as a major ingredient with those first batch of 'failures'.  By the way, onions were vital in England during WWII, both because there weren't many other things to flavor food with and because they add a lot of vitamin C and such to the diet.  They are easy to grow here ... if you have sets. 

Often I'm the person who slices the lemons so folks can use them in their tea/water/add them to their lemonade.  The ends are cut off of the lemon first, so customers get more of the 'good stuff'.  I take those ends home, zest them, and have lemon zest for cooking.  Adding the zest to cakes, some cookies, and even to pancake batter is a wonderful thing.  And, again, free.  Zest might not be useful for bartering after a full collapse, when just getting calories is going to be an issue, but right now it means one less things I have to buy in a store for the home-cooking that we live on.  Work in a bar?  Many of them just use the peels of lemons in their drinks.  A friend's uncle who works in a bar takes the peel-free lemons home.  Lemonade!  Lemon juice!  Marinades!  A good source of vitamin C that you don't have to go out and forage

Sometimes restaurants over order things.  I noted that three gallons of milk were at their 'sell by' date yesterday.  Restaurant policy is that they don't serve things after that date.  I'm going to see if the manager will let me take one of those gallons home tonight, rather than just dumping it.  (Update - she did!)

The cooked carrots on the grill line steam table ... well, at the end of the day they are often nasty.  OTOH, the back up ones I occassional have in the prep hot-box are going to be in  good shape.  But mine, too, will be dumped at the end of the day, unless I bring them home and add them to some leftover beef from a previous roast I made, add some potatoes, and call it stew. 

Or - we start dinner shift with 5 or 6 pot pies made and ready to go.  They can't be saved and served the next day.  That is, they can't be served to paying customers.  OTOH, they are fine leftovers for my family.  Since they will be thrown out anyway, the managers don't mind me bringing ones left at the end of the day home.

More to come ...

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Financial Fun

Blessings Darlings!

Today being the first of the month, one of the activities of the day was paying bills.  This included the electricity bill ... the last electricity bill before they show the cost of heating out home.

Our winter heating bills are bloody scary.  I have to assume that they will be at least $400 a month for December thru' April.  All electric heat, and heat pumps, are not what I'd choose on my own.  But, it's what we have.  Damn, I wish we had a woodstove, or at least a fireplace.

All our time yesterday was spent on health insurance.  It was the last day of open enrollment at Job #2 (Job #1 doesn't offer insurance).  At the end of the number crunching, benefit comparisons, and discussions about if the tendonitis in my hands will let me continue to work both jobs ... we have our basic health plan thru' the ACA marketplace, and vision and dental care thru' Job #2.  Dental and vision feels EXTREMELY luxurious, even tho' the coverage is very limited.  By the way - none of the ACA marketplace plans have dentists in my area.  Welcome to West Virginia, where having teeth is extremely optional.

The death march to try to find tax info from the past continues.  I don't know when it will end, but we (mostly me) persevere.

At least the water and electricity will remain on for another month.  THAT is a good thing.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, October 19, 2015

Them Ancestors

Blessings Darlings!

As many of y'all know, I don't use 'calendar dates' for the Celtic holy days.  I use nature's signals.  And given the recent unusual cold weather in the Northeastern US - we had our killing frost last night.  So by my reckoning, Samhain is this Wednesday.

So one wonders, why are the Ancestors coming early this year?  Is part of the message that we REALLY REALLY need their wisdom now, during what Byron Ballard calls 'tower time'?  Well, yes, of course we do.

Step up your workings with the Ancestors, my loves.  It is critical!

Frondly, Fern

Monday, October 5, 2015

Learn to cook. It's not hard.

Blessings Darlings!

Work - at the restaurant - has been a bear lately.  We've been getting slammed with customers.  And it's not as if our food is something to write home about.  Folks can make this stuff at home easily, and without spending much time.  And without spending the silly amount we charge for this stuff.  Really - $1.25 for a cup of soup?  Two dollars for a soda or a cup of coffee?

I just don't get it.

Make your own dang French Toast - beat a couple of eggs with a splash of milk and a dash of cinnamon.  Dip slices of bread into that mix.  Fry the dipped bread. Done!

It's not hard. We are not serving you fancy stuff. 

Take a dead chicken (really, this is a recipe, not another dead chicken spell). Put some poultry seasoning, or lemon pepper, or garlic salt, or BBQ rub on it.  Put it in a pan.  Put it in the oven at 350 for one hour.  During the first half hour - talk to your kids.  Second half hour, cook some rice and  put some frozen veggies in a pot and simmer them.  Done!

Have the kids do the clean up.  They need to learn that.

Frondly, Fern the Fed Up