Monday, August 25, 2008

John Prine drinks Evian...

John Prine came to town this week! Our little corner of the world gets some pretty amazing people coming through and Mr. Prine is a favorite who comes to perform every few years. As usual, we got the catering rider via e-mail from our local promoter and, honestly, as far as 'talent' riders go, this one wasn't that bad...we weren't supposed to be cooking for them, just some deli trays and some very specific beverage requests. They had one show scheduled for Tuesday , which sold out, so they added a second show Wed. allowing the guys to slip in some kayaking or fishing... (good for them! too often traveling performers have to get on a plane and head to the next town, never getting to really appreciate how beautiful it is here.) Since I was off from the bakery on Tues, I offered to do the set-up backstage. Melissa, my delightful right hand girl, had already done most of the shopping so it seemed like it would be kind of fun, and maybe I ‘d get to meet some of the band. I had the kids with me because it was the day before school and we still had a few items on their supplies list to get, plus they are great little porters always ready to help carry stuff from here to there...which is just what we ended up doing on this day! We started by going to the Bakery to pick up the stuff, whip out a deli tray and get the final list for what we didn't have. The sun was shining, one of the rare beautiful days we've had this summer. The kids were chattering (and fighting, let's be honest!) over the next days schedule of events and asking all kinds of questions about who we were delivering food to and why does it need to be Canada dry diet ginger ale and not the store brand? Which, as far as I can tell, after going to every store in town that might even think about carrying soda, is not available here in Homer-town. Given the circumstances, we tried to sub in what we could and left out the things we couldn't. After all this is Homer ALASKA, right? right! So we go the Auditorium with all of our goodies for Mr. Prine and his band. We are lucky to have a beautiful 500 seat theater with nice dressing rooms, etc. attached to our high school. It was fun setting up, we had cut flowers from the bakery yard and put little vases of them out and tried to make it all very nice. As we were leaving, I realized we needed more Ice, so off we went to the store again and raced back to the theater hoping to get there before the performers moved in. We were met at the door by ‘the manager’ and he immediately set about telling us to move everything to another dressing room and fired off a list of things we had not addressed (which were not on my copy of the rider, I might add!). Being all eager to please, I jotted down a new list, the kids and I went back to the store AGAIN and returned to the theater thinking this was the last of our obligations. (All the while Jane and Charles, my kids, are going off about how rude and bossy this guy is being, me, I just want to do good job and get the heck out of there!) But before I could escape ‘the manager’ stopped me and asked what we had planned to feed John for dinner after the show(!) I shrug with resignation and say it’s not on my list, but if John Prine needs dinner at 11:30 at night, I can make that happen…”what would he like?”, I ask. “Manicotti with sausage” was the answer,( “oh yeah and neopolitan ice cream with smuckers fudge sauce and John needs a real plate and bowl and silverware, too”…!) I’m sure this guy was thinking we had some Italian restaurant in town that I could go get it from, but since there isn’t anything like that here, I went back to the store AGAIN and bought the stuff I needed, took it back to my kitchen and made the best darn manicotti ever with sausage and fresh mushrooms and homemade sauce. We delivered it to the theater just as the show was ending. Mission accomplished!
Rather than being paid cash, I had traded the dinner for tickets to the next nights show and took that opportunity to track down ‘the manager’ to see how things went and to gather up my supplies from the night before. When I found him, all he could say was, “it was fine, I loved it! There was one problem, though, John Prine doesn’t like mushrooms, he spit them all out, but, hey, the rest of us thought it was really great!” ...As for the was REALLY GREAT! And I as watched him stop between songs to drink from his 500ml bottle of Evian (no exceptions!) I felt a certain pride that at least I got the water right!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Root Beer Man!

John has been brewing his own beer for almost 10 years now and for the past few months has been hooked on the idea of making his own root beer. Last Saturday at a garage sale he found a brand new keg cooler.(only $68.00!) Well that lit a fire under him to finally try a batch of our kids favorite soda! He spent a lot of time testing different amounts of dextrose and extract and after many tastings, I think he's come up with a winner! I'll print the recipe as son as I can get it out of him...I have my ways of making him talk! (p.s. Happy Anniversary, Honey!)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

a hard week...

Every one has their bad days...every once in a while they stretch into bad weeks. For me it began last week with news that a gentleman from town had committed suicide. He was a long time local who's kids go to high school with my daughter and his wife, a great customer, has the same name as me...(a topic we often discussed because never has either of us been in a place with so many women named Carri) We got word the way we usually do by people calling up for trays of sandwiches or breakfast things to take up to the family. It begets many tearful conversations and makes it difficult to focus on the tasks at hand. (nothing like consoling a friend over the death of their partner and having to turn around and make a latte for some impatient tourist who doesn't know whats going on!) But focus we must and with wedding season in full swing I had 100 petit fours plus two other wedding cakes to deliver before the weekend was over. Well,my anxiety escalated as the petit fours were a little problematic and my inexperience with the medium definitely showed in the final product. (in other words, they looked like shit...okay, not shit...rustic, yeah, that's it) I delivered them in boxes, hoping the wedding they were being served at was one of those down home Homer weddings where nothings too perfect. My heart sank when I walked into the reception area and the vision before me was that of the most elegant wedding I've ever seen! My petit fours were SO not worthy of the lovely setting...I tried to console myself thinking that at least someone else made the wedding cake and those little gems of mine, while they weren't the most beautiful, they would be mighty tasty! Well, I still had to get myself back to the bakery to frost another cake (to be picked up in 45 minutes)...this one with the couples name and the date written on the top of the cake. I got it done, just in time loaded it in the groomsmans car and off he went. I breathed a sigh of more cake to go and it wasn't being delivered until the next day. (see the Russian wedding below) My calm was shattered when a very short time later the phone rang with an irate bride on the other end saying I had misspelled her name on their wedding cake! Luckily they weren't so far away, they were able to bring it back for me to fix (while they watched!). crisis averted. right. The next day we delivered the cake out to the village. It's about 30 miles one way, Sunday morning of what is usually a day off for me. I didn't charge extra for the delivery because I knew that money was tight on this event and I wanted to help. We left there happy with the cake and getting to see the village, and I went on to have a couple of fairly relaxing days off. Thinking that the vortex had passed, I went back to work on Wednesday pretty refreshed and with renewed bravado. That lasted about an hour until the women who'd ordered the cake for the Russian wedding came in. I was excited to hear how things went but she handed me the bottom tier of the cake, half eaten, complaining that it was burnt and dry and her mother insisted she get her money back...I was stunned! Of course, I apologized profusely and refunded her without hesitation. After she left we looked over the cake and considering it had been sitting since Sunday, it actually wasn't bad at all! I went upstairs to the office to take a moment to regain my composure and there was an e-mail from a gal who was inspired by our business gushing about how she wants to open a bakery in Talkeetna.(don't take this tale to heart Anita, mostly owning a bakery is all good, you go girl!) That was all it took, the tears starting flowing and could've gone on for days except that I had three more weddings to execute cakes for and one alone involved 15 individual cakes, each one a different flavor! So I set about baking 25 cakes on Wed, crumb coated and mostly frosted them all on Thurs and so it went...this time, all went off without a hitch. Whew!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

a Russian wedding

Todays wedding cake adventure involved driving out past Anchor Point to the Russian village of Nikolavesk. The cake was for a wedding that was supposedly going to be filmed by the Today Show. While we didn't see a camera crew, we did enjoy meeting the bridesmaids in their lovely traditional dresses, who were also apparently responsible for serving the food, as they were all there preparing while the rest of the wedding party was still at the church. The community here is very private and outsiders are only welcome if invited by someone in the village. Since I had such an official reason for being there, I decided to bring along John and his visiting mom to see it. While I was setting up the cake John quickly ingratiated himself to our hosts and was off on a tour of the yard and gardens...I tracked him down photographing these gals, telling them how beautiful they look...he's such a charmer, maybe I should marry him, oh wait, I already did! Lucky me!