Cupcakes for Your Valentine

Getting Lucky through Cupcakes

For years and years valentine day has come to represent a nice dinner, a card, and a box of chocolates. Not anymore! Time to think outside the heart shaped box. But what special treat would accomplish the same result as the “get lucky” oriented goal of the longstanding aphrodisiac, chocolate candy? Why the cupcake of course. Cupcakes are neat, sweet, petite, and ready to eat! They can also release phenyl ethylamine from the brain which has been rumored to accelerate the sex drive. But don’t buckle up to soon, its not as simple as giving her some chocolate and waiting for a result. Lovers enjoy some romance, some sensual tango complete with a few moments of awkwardness, or sexual tension. Tension? That sounds promising but its up to you to put in an effort. The Existential baker starts with a cupcake. For me cupcakes represent the beauty, the wonder, the glory of women!
Way back when baking was done almost exclusively by males. Men dominated the field of scientific baking of cakes, breads, and pastries. Well of course men did the baking, why just look at the shape of our basic breads. Loaves, long glutinous proteins all puffed up and boldly bragging its airiness. In addition to the phallic loaf they made other male oriented shapes. Round rolls and hero’s. Oh the wonderful hero. Even the names seem oddly masculine in a sexual contest sort of way. Hero, hoagie, rocket torpedo, sub, blimp, zeppelin, and of course the aptly named grinder. And as more alpha males got into baking the hero’s grew in size. Six inch, 12 inch or foot long, three, four, up to six foot hero’s. That’s a lot of cleverly erected flour product to be waving around. Size matters! All for bragging rights as the bigger and better baker. While men dominated the bakeries it was all about the bread, especially the length!
During that time however, the women were expected to do their fair share of the baking for the family celebrations. Moms baked cakes for every occasion. Birthdays, weddings, holidays, christenings anniversaries, or any reason for the family to share in a delicious ceremonial treat. Psychologists would suggest its because females by their nature are more sharing and compassionate focusing not on her own happiness and enjoyment, but everyone else’s. Kind of materialistic and selfless like a mother would be. Yep, it was Mom, so everyone gets a piece. That’s why it is my opinion that the cupcake is the perfect sweet treat to represent a woman. Cupcakes are meant to be indulged by only one person. Sure you can share, but the nature of the cupcake is to be a one person show, a solo act, an act of self indulgence. Cupcakes deerve to have ones undivided attention as do the most important gender in life, the female. Aside from that cupcakes are small, and small is cute. Who doesn’t get that big surprises come in small packages. So get her some cupcakes guys, it’s one of the truly foolproof methods of pleasing a woman
Now comes the shameless plug, the moment of truth for me and my business, Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes. Of course I use only the freshest and most aphrodisiac enhanced ingredients, and I always bake with love and passion and what one puts into cooking come out during the eating. So just bringing home some of our delicious stuffed cupcakes will open some doors, but here at Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes we are true romantics at heart (get it??) Therefore we are offering some extra special valentine choices. If you don’t celebrate, or if you find yourself alone on valentines day we have you covered as well. So here they are.
In addition to our crowd pleasing Red Velvet and our assortment of delectable chocolate and vanilla cupcakes we are offering some lovers specials. The “C’mon Baby Do the Casanova” is a vanilla cupcake stuffed with banana’s foster (banana’ cooked in spice rum) and vanilla cinnamon icing which has been falsely reported as the treat Casanova used to seduce Brazilian Bossa Nova dancers. Brining cupcake love to a new level is our “Just Like Romeo And Juliet“, an Amaretto cupcake stuffed with a raspberry champagne custard and covered with a sensuous dark chocolate icing. It’s like a old time love song! And speaking of Elvis we will have the “All Shook Up“, a banana chocolate chip cupcake stuffed with peanut butter mouse an topped off with vanilla icing. The perfect compliment for your little “Teddy Bear”. In addition to just cupcakes we will have some other creative and seductive treats including our annual tradition of fresh strawberries dipped in Belgian Chocolate or White Chocolate.
Like I said, if you don’t like Valentines Day and don’t celebrate it or are in between relationships we have you covered as well with two special Anti-Valentine Day cupcakes. Buck the tradition with the all new “Love Stinks” the cupcake inspired from the classic cliché of sitting on the couch dipping a cookie into an ice cream sundae to peel away the guilt laden layers of being a solo artist, it’s a half chocolate half vanilla cupcake with a chocolate chip cookie baked into the center, covered in chocolate whipped cream and topped with a cherry. It’s a cupcake that simply drips of self indulgent bliss! Even if your not alone this is a crazy good treat because even if love does stink, the cupcake does not! The other Anti-Valentine Day cupcake is the “Emotional Rescue” a cupcake originally designed to offer a bit of emotional rescue to some special friends who needed it. The Emotional Rescue is a red velvet cupcake filled with Heath bar custard an finished off with a cherry brandy whipped cream. I have no doubt The Rolling Stones would be proud to sing a song about it.
We have entered the post “Sex and the City” stage and have moved on to women and their cupcakes. Guys, take the hint. Two Broke Girls, DC Cupcakes, and Cupcake Wars top the list of shows that have replaced the ever popular “chick flick’s”. So cash in by brining her cupcakes while fifty Shades is still spinning around in their romantic thoughts. Not only will they make your love happy, it will cause more elation being able to show your considerateness off to their friends and followers with pictures of these sweet pieces of gastronomic heaven on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. When I bake my cupcakes I always add some extra love and a fair amount of good Karma, so every bite is drenched in positive emotion. I opened the door guy’s, now all you need do is pick up some edible romance and let your partner know how very much they really mean to you.
Carpe Valentines Day and every other Diem and share the love. Remember my dear friends, while orgasmic pleasure is undeniably an intense enjoyable feeling its not JUST about the sex because if you have real love……. you have already “Gotten Lucky!”…………….PEACE

Love Apple Cupcake??

Love Apple Cupcake? Not on my Watch!

What could possibly be more appropriate for Valentines Day than something so romantically named as a love apple cupcake. Cupid could trade in his arrows for a batch of these passionate sounding treats. Ah, love, puppy love, true love, love poems, love songs, Love don’t cost a thing! But love apple? In a cupcake, really? Not on my watch, because this tempting fruit of love is not an apple at all, but a tomato!
That’s right, the confused red headed step son of the fruit family is not a crispy sweet apple, but a gnarly sandwich friendly beefsteak. From my kitchen that deceptive chameleon of a fruit/vegetable will not be found in a cupcake. Not on my watch! Now I admit I am not well versed in botanical history but it seems to me that the tomato is somewhat of an outcast. What dastardly evil deed must the tomato have committed against the vegetable brethren to have it excommunicated and forced to live out its existence living within the fruit family. What heinous crime has the ever popular tomato committed to be sentenced to a life of exile from its rightful place in the vegetable kingdom? Could it be the culprit that made mini cabbages sprout in Brussels? Did the tomato cause the beet to see red, or turn the chards so bitter? What could this star of pizza and pasta possibly have done?
Whatever its infraction it does have a lesser known partner in the crime family of fruits, the greenbean. (don’t get your hopes up for a greenbean cupcake either) Also techniquely a fruit the green bean seems to get way less notoriety as a mislabeled food. Perhaps its after being force fed this fruit disguised as a vegetable in its most rudimentary pabulum stage when we were Gerber babies leaves us unenthusiastic to its state of being. Perhaps it just flies under the radar or maybe its skinny self has left us a bad taste in our mouths. No matter, neither fruit will ever be found in its rightful place in supermarket produce sections, they will be left to sit amongst veggies and live out their lives ostracized by their fellow fruits who, rightly so, feel betrayed.
But back to the popular hamburger and sandwich accompaniment, our tomato. Let face it, we all treat it as if it is a vegetable. Yet despite being used exclusively in vegetable preparations by culinaryians the scientific community refuses to acknowledge its status as anything other than a savory fruit. Try as it may our androgynous treat looks, tastes, even feels like a vegetable. But alas poor beefsteak, though Horatio knew you well you remain a fruit. Never part of any ensemble cast of fruit flavored candy treats of chewing gums. Never a mention in the jelly bean world. No tomato flavored cough syrup. But that’s like comparing apples to green beans, and that information ain’t worth a hill of oranges.
While I am not usually one to jump on any kind of bandwagons I am ashamed to admit that I too have disregarded its natural born status and used the tomato as nothing other than a lost soul of a vegetable trapped in a fruits body and it will never appear in a cupcake. Did I say never? Here at Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes we never say never!
All things considered the tomato has risen above the pomp and circumstance and taken its place as an edible chameleon and keeps its true identity discrete. Besides, there is one thing the misunderstood vegetablesque fruit can boast amongst those who are aware of its authentic beginnings. It is the center piece of a very wise proverb. Knowledge is understanding that a tomato is actually a fruit and not a vegetable, but wisdom is knowing that the tomato does not belong in your fruit salad.
Enjoy Valentines and every other day, and share the love… PEACE

Baked With Love

I don’t use recipes because I am an existential cook. For me recipes are merely suggestions, a list of potential ingredients with chronological preparation instructions most commonly used for a successful reproduction of a culinary creation. I didn’t stay in the lines when I colored (or color with conventional pigments for that matter) and I have problems following directions. Not jut the “guys never ask for directions”, or throw out the directions and put furniture together incorrectly type of following. Although I will confess to harboring both of those qualities I mean recipe directions. As an existentialist I cannot in good conscience merely make a replica of a dish, I have a burning desire bordering on an intense need to recreate said taste temptations on my own terms. In addition recipes invariably ignore the intangible ingredients and techniques. That’s not meant as a put down, I would be hard pressed on how to integrate ingredients that are metaphoric or theoretic in nature in my lists. I am speaking of the intangibles of human emotion. That and my belief that the universe has the power to effect balance on levels we will never understand. So how many teaspoons of humor should one add to insert a touch of whimsy to the dish. One cup of what exactly will cause the one enjoying the creation to smile involuntarily. The use of emotional ingredients is out there in the universe waiting for the enlightened cook to grab its gusto and impart it into the organic creations of our trade. Of course the one emotional ingredient many of us are already familiar with (maybe even on a sub-conscious level) has been implemented by our own mothers for as long as we can remember. Love.
.No doubt Moms add lots of love to whatever they make. Damn Mom, how come everything tastes so much better when you make it? What cosmically balanced secret ingredient do you add? My Mom always told me she “added TLC”. Much more effective and safe than MSG, she imparted TLC, Tender Loving Care. Moms instinctively know how to add love to everything they make and you won’t find it in on any shelf in the supermarket, or on any recipe page. Not even her “Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook“, or “The Joy of Cooking” list TLC in the recipes . When I graduated from CIA I fancied myself a superb chef already. Damn I thought, I learned so much and now I am a helluva cook. I couldn’t wait to show off, especially to my Mom, who was so profoundly proud that her number 5 son was a chef. I dazzled the family with chateaubriand and béarnaise sauce, pommes Anna, and a gratin of roasted veggies. Not to toot my own cornucopia but that dinner was the shit (that’s a good thing). Something however seemed missing. Something always present in Moms dinners was void in mine. I was humbled and to this day I make it a point to NEVER compete with a mother in cooking. My dinner, while tasty as all hell (again, good), had a distinctive aftertaste of cockiness and arrogance (not good). It didn’t ruin the dish but it did make me aware that whatever Zen I put into came my food will come out of it. That’s when I began my quest to use my existential philosophies as an ingredient and apply them whenever possible to my techniques and recipes, or “Lists of Ingredients“. That’s how I use existentialism and positive emotions in my kitchen and when sharing lists or suggestions of preparations.
In my professional kitchen that’s a more difficult task than it would seem. As chef I am not only in charge of my own Karma, but the Karma of my staff as well. For starter I never allow them to call me boss, because that would suggest that I am in some way superior. On a person to person level we are equal, I am merely the guide an the one who will take responsibility for the good, the bad, and the ugly. I would estimate that 95% of kitchens I worked in over the years, while sharing many a laugh was a personal hell to work in. I have been called names that could make a beet blush and in at least four different languages. I was a ’Grand Pederast”, a “Puttana Basterdo”, a “Pendejo”, and a “Gamozo (still not sure what that means). After years of humiliation and dehumanization I made a conscience choice to run my kitchen empathetically and effectively. I have empowered my staff, taught them all to be pro-active, and they follow my lea of being result oriented as opposed to the blame and discipline oriented philosophy I grew up in. As a result my kitchen and my staff remain as positively focused as possible. Mistakes are still made, but instead of trying to hide them they ask what they can do to fix it. That small piece of good feeling and positive vibration are a key ingredient in our cupcakes. When we say they are baked with love, its not just a tagline. Our goal is to make good feelings come out of every bite. It’s about Love!
Love is by far the most mysterious and powerful of our emotions. Love can be mis-used, abused, refused, and bemused. Love can enhance you chance, put you in a trance, make you dance, and take a stance. When you are in it about nothing else matters, and if it lasts you are as lucky as one can get. On Thursday we all have the opportunity to express this mysterious emotion collectively. Like noetic science which studies the power of collective conscience we all share the power of love on the same day. Valentines day is the one day of the year we can all align our Jupiter’s with Mars and allow love to steer the stars. Power in numbers. That’s why it’s important to get it right. So starting Wednesday, Mistress day…(I don’t make this crap up don’t shoot the messenger) we will have an array of treats with an extra concentration of love from the kitchen, prepared with passion and caring. We throw in a little whimsy as well.
Now comes the shameless plug, the moment of truth for Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes. Of course I use only the freshest and most aphrodisiac enhanced ingredients, and I always bake with love and passion and what one puts into cooking come out ion the eating. So just bringing home some of our delicious stuffed cupcakes will open some doors, but here at Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes we are true romantics at heart (get it??) Therefore we are offering some extra special valentine choices. If you don’t celebrate, of if you find yourself alone on valentines day we have you covered as well. So here they are.
In addition to our crowd pleasing Red Velvet and our assortment of delectable chocolate and vanilla cupcakes we are offering some lovers specials. The “C’mon Baby Do the Casanova” is a vanilla cupcake stuffed with banana’s foster (banana’ cooked in spice rum) and vanilla cinnamon icing which has been falsely reported as the treat Casanova used to seduce Brazilian Bossa Nova dancers. Brining cupcake love to a new level is our “Just Like Romeo And Juliet“, an Amaretto cupcake stuffed with a raspberry champagne custard and covered with a sensuous dark chocolate icing. And speaking of Elvis we will have the “All Shook Up“, a banana chocolate chip cupcake stuffed with peanut butter mouse an topped off with vanilla icing. The perfect compliment for your little “Teddy Bear”. In addition to just cupcakes we will have some other creative and seductive treats including our annual tradition of fresh strawberries dipped in Belgian Chocolate or White Chocolate.
Like I said, if you don’t like Valentines Day and don’t celebrate it or are in between relationships we have you covered as well with two special Anti-Valentine Day cupcakes. Buck the tradition with the all new “Love Stinks” the cupcake inspired from the classic cliché of sitting on the couch dipping a cookie into an ice cream sundae to peel away the guilt laden layers of being a solo artist, it’s a half chocolate half vanilla cupcake with a chocolate chip cookie baked into the center, covered in chocolate whipped cream and topped with a cherry. It’s a cupcake that simply drips of self indulgent bliss! Even if your not alone this is a crazy good treat because even if love does stink, the cupcake does not! The other Anti-Valentine Day cupcake is the “Emotional Rescue” a cupcake originally designed to offer a bit of emotional rescue to some special friends who needed it. The Emotional Rescue is a red velvet cupcake filled with Heath bar custard an finished off with a cherry brandy whipped cream. I have no doubt The Rolling Stones would be proud to sing a song about it.
Have a fantastic Valentines day and fill all your days with lots and lots of love……PEACE

The Hipster Cupcake

Constructing the Hipster Cupcake

Hipster, noun/adjective- A subculture of generally younger middle class urban adults characterized by independent thinking, progressive politics, embracement of Indie music and Art, and health conscience pan-global dining habits. In “poser” circles it has come to be a pretentious Starbucks swilling, Urban outfit wearing group of upper middle class “artsy” clique of kids that eat healthy in order to say that they eat healthy. Such is the fate of being hip, once too many people jump on the bandwagon the wheels stop spinning and it becomes just another faux trend. But for the sake of the few true hipsters, and for the sake of my self serving post I will focus on the hip new eating trends of new and healthy foods as they apply to the construction of my hipster cupcake.
I have a burning need to constantly challenge myself culinarilly and since I have turned my sights to becoming one of the worlds best cupcake engineers I decided to create the ultimate “Today” cupcake. The Hipster cupcake. A cupcake that will be talked about on pod casts and will “blow their wings.” A cupcake that delights the “crumb crushers“, is “totally mezz and copasetic” and won’t cost over a “nickel note.” That my unhip friends would be “off the cob,” and not worth the “tar under your ground grippers.” But at my age how does one relate to a hipster? Hip I was many years ago but it’s a different world, different culture today. In my era to be hip you needed only know the latest rock band, the ground shearing word twisting folkies, and only smoke the best pot around. No dirt weed for a hipster, only gold or red grass, or when available hash. And if you were fortunate enough to smoke hash it was important where it came from. Don’t be puffing any domestic shit, only the good shit from Lebanon and Afghanistan. That’s where they used real camel or emu shit to bind it The pipe of choice was important too. Any old hitter could smoke from a chamber pipe, but a hipster used pipes like Chillums, un upright funnel pipe from India , or a meerschaum, a soapstone Turkish sailor pipe that colored with age. Today to be hip its more about listening to Indie bands with foreign names (complete with accent) or hip names like The bright Orange Overall Sunslingers. You need to be self aware and self assured and dress that way. You know, that unique style everyone wears, scarves, sunglasses, any inappropriate footwear, (boots when sneakers should be worn and vice versa). They eat things like tofu, or veggie burgers and spice it up with sauces like Sirachi or Harrissa. Essentially you need to appear to be completely different while fitting into the mainstream culture of being aware. So this is no simple challenge I give myself. My first step was research.
The best place to study the habits of a hipster is while they are engaging in social activity. Facebook is out because its been taken over by the mainstream, including dinosaurs like myself. Using the younger social interest sties will make look and feel like a stalker, and probably end up getting me on a pervert list. So I was left with scouring through the blogosphere in search of what a hipster is. Here then is some of what I learned about the young hipsters. Back in my day the cliché pick up line was “what’s your sign?”, an allusion to the fact that horoscopes and the zodiac were very “in”. It worked really good if the other person was so drunk he or she didn’t care what you were saying. Many of us used it anyway because frankly we lacked the self confidence to engage in meaningful conversation. The line was used mostly by Scorpios, Taurans, and Leo’s, but that’s a generalization isn’t it? Today it seems the hipster culture centers more around how young kids perceive health and well being and not so much on astrologic categorizations.. Nothing spotlights how hip a hipster is as by loudly proclaiming (to anyone and everyone) that “I’m a vegan” while slurping down a small glass of organic tigers milk. What bands do you like has been replaced with which type of yoga do you practice. Really, what type? Well shit, there is Anusara, Bikram, Hatha, Kripalu, and Lynegar just to name a few. Yoga poses like downward dog, upward frog, cobra, tree, camel, and Lord of the Dance. TMI to need to have to conversate about, but luckily for the kids they can just reach into their pocket, take out their phones, and Google it. Not so easy being a hipster, is it?
But back to the cupcake. Nothing can be more hip than being the first to know the next trend as its happening. Food trends can be overwhelming sometimes. It gets really hard to keep up with new products and the benefit claims. Foods or food supplements that will strengthen your organs, build your bones, shred the fat from your body and of course, a plethora of things to enhance the sexual appetite an stamina. They’re popping up like cornstalks in a cornfield. So before I can create a health maximizing hipster cupcake let me sort through some of the new additions to the already saturated, or should I say poly unsaturated market of “health” foods.
To begin I am assuming the liberty afforded the scribe of setting my own parameters of what does or does not constitute a health oriented hipster cupcake. Otherwise I jut may end up going off on such a far out tangent that we’ll need to create a new and even more pretentious category of eager diners. I will be looking new and hip foods that are not only organic and free (or low) of additives and preservative, but also high in fiber, anti-oxidants, amino acids, omega acids, and vitamins, yet low in bad cholesterol, sodium, and sugars. As of right now, all I have is a Fava bean flour cupcake stuffed with soy bean curd and topped with pureed carrot icing . As tasty as that may sound, I promise you it will never be sold at Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes. But you have to start somewhere. Now lets find some more pleasing options.
First the cupcake itself. A mixture of flours is in order as the bleached flours of yesterday are laced with the evil destroyer, gluten. Without getting to technical gluten is a protein if things like flour that add a “glue” like te3xture to a product. That’s what allows hot air to stretch a dough during cooking to give breads and the like a porous favorable product. But the cupcake doesn’t rely on yeast to create the air so we have some latitude. I will use almond flour, combined with a little rice flour, organic eggs, and hemp milk (that’s right, not just a cool name its high in omega 3 and 6!)…Sweetened up with stevia and fructose, and leavened with xanthium gum. Add some ground Dutch chocolate cocoa and viola, a hip chocolate cupcake.
Now to stuff it.
Normally I stuff my cupcakes with a variety of custards, mousses, jams, and fruit purees, but as yet I haven’t used tapioca. That would be the hip thing to do, so I made some raspberry tapioca an allowed it to cool. Cool, get it? Anyway, now we have the base. A hip chocolate cupcake stuffed with raspberry tapioca that is begging for a complimentary topping. What could possibly be more hip than a Greek yogurt icing? So there it is, some pomegranate Greek yogurt, a little grenadine syrup, and a touch of powdered sugar. It may not be the number one seller here at Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes, but nary a true hipster around could deny its authenticity…….Peace

Farmopoly

Amalgamated Farms of America Inc.
JT Hilltop

Somewhere in Kansas there was five farms of equal size, with equal crop output. Farmer’s ABCD and E. They were all family owned and operated farms an all enjoyed a happy and fruitful life. They worked hard all day and always had food on the table, clothes on their backs, small luxuries for entertainments, and found extra money for some of the modern appliances for a growing culture. They each sold all their crops at fair prices because the competition kept them honest. For three generations all five families thrived. But on the fourth generation, farmer A had a son that didn’t want to work so hard in fields and he forged a plan. He went to Farmer B with a proposition. He told farmer B that if they could put the two farms together, and call it Farm AB, they could tend to the fields with less farmhands and save them both money. Eventually we could have others working the fields and we would have more crops and more money. Of course this appealed to farmer B so no need to give it any thought. A partnership was born.
Over the next year, the two farms combined land and were able to increase the crop output. Not only that, they were able to let go of two farmhands each as the chores got shared. But farmer A’s son was still not satisfied. He had another plan in mind. He went back to farmer B and said to him, “You know, if we could sell our crops a little cheaper we could sell to farmer C’s buyer and not have to take the extra crops so far. Once we have him as a buyer we can raise the prices back up again.” This time farmer B wasn’t as enthusiastic but farmer A’s son was very convincing and he finally relented. They lowered their prices and as he predicted they sold their crops to farmer C’s buyer. Of course as a result, farmer C ha to travel much further to sell his crops and it became much too costly. Farmer C was struggling something awful, and he had to let 2 farmhands go and double up on his own work. After two seasons, farmer C was feeling weak and tired and the family was struggling to get by.
Now farmer A’s son sensed another opportunity so he went to farmer C an offered to pay off all his debts, and relieve him of all his problems by purchasing his farm. Farmer C was becoming frail and his family was not eating as well as they once had, but the farm was all he had and it had been in the family as long as he could remember. Farmer A’s son had already prepared for this problem and he had a solution. “Look farmer C, you can keep your house, and we will hire you in our much bigger farm. You will have a sure income for your family, a place to live, and you will never have to work as hard a you do now ever again.” Farmer C relented, and soon there were only three farms, farm AB, farm D and farm E
Now farmers D and E could see what was going on. They got together an agreed that neither would ever sell the farm, and if they both stayed strong they would always have their own farms and not become part of farm AB. No matter how farmer A’s son tried, he could not break either farm. He gave them both substantial offers to buy them out, he sold his crops at lower prices, he offered their workers jobs which many took, causing hardships on both farms. He’d offer them higher pay, an after a few months laid them off, leaving the farmhands out of work and farms D and E overworked and tired. But as agreed, both farmers held strong and waited out the bad times. Farmer A’s son was producing more crops than ever, and was doing it with less farmhands because the three farms combined could be run more efficiently and less farmhands were needed. The town was now becoming filled with out of work farmhands who were becoming more and more desperate as time went by. Crime rate in town began to grow out of control as morale of the townspeople plummeted. As a result taxes went up as the need for a larger police force became immanent.
Farmer B was beginning to regret his decision as he saw his one time friends having a harder and harder time of it. He saw how they were struggling and he saw farmer C become nothing more than a farmhand himself. A dejected and frail farmer doing his best to keep his family together, as hi children moved out one by one to find a better life. He now began to see farmer A’s son for what he was. A greedy and underhanded viper that could care less about anyone else. Had he made a pact with the devil? Farmer B was sure farmer A’s son would run him out of town at first chance.
The prophecy didn’t take long. With Farmers D an E holding firm and keeping up the pressure, Farmer A’s son began to recruit some of the foreman on the farm. Offering the promise of a raise they agreed to help force farmer B out of the picture by making his efforts seem unworthy. They sabotaged his part of the farm and let everything look bad for farmer B. Having hired a good lawyer who set up a nefarious contract agreement Farmer B soon lost all his rights in the companies decisions. Now farm AB was essentially run by farmer A’s son and farmer B had become just like farmer C, nothing more than a farmhand on his own farm.
Farmers D an E continued working hard and remained resolute in their promise to each other not to cave in to farmer A’s sons antics. He used his under pricing games forcing them to travel twice as far to sell their crops, he lured away the best and hardest workers from the farms with better pay, and he hired local out of work thugs to destroy portions of their crops. He did everything else in his power to make the remaining farms struggle as much as possible. Farmers D and E remained strong until one fateful day. While out in his field, farmer E experienced a heart attack. Not having any emergency services nearby he died before he ever got to the hospital. Farmer D of course did all he could to help his friends wife and family. Most of the town viewed this as a horrible tragedy. Framer A’s son however viewed it as an opportunity. He put pressure on farmer E’s wife and two very young sons to sell their farm. Unable to maintain the farm the recent widow collapsed under her grief and sold off the family farm. Now Farmer A’s son had Farm AB, which include the land and all the crops of farms A, B, C, and E. Farmer D worked his field hard and struggled but no matter how bad it got farmer A’s son never gave him a second glance. No offer to buy out, no tricks to force him out of business, farmer A’s son merely concentrated on maximizing his own profits and minimizing his costs by laying off more workers and purchasing in bulk. He knew it would only be a matter of time and he could get the farm for a song.
His big chance came the next season. An unusually hot and dry season created tremendous hardship for the farms. Nearing a major drought farmer A’s son shipped in truckloads of water to irrigate his crops but farmer D could not afford to have water shipped. Reluctantly, with his entire crop in danger, he went to farmer A’s son to ask him if he could purchase some of the water an pay him for shipping after his crops are harvested and he had the cash. Farmer A’s son seized his opportunity. “I will not sell you any water, but here’s what I will do. I will give you an offer to purchase your farm from you.” Farmer D had no intention of selling and the offer was actually insulting. Half what the farm was worth and barely enough money for him to move his family away. He refused the offer an headed back to his farm.
Unable to grow anything, the farmhands began getting nervous and started looking for work elsewhere. Many left the state and headed west to look for work. Farmer D could only watch as his family farm as it literally deteriorated into the ground. The banks were unwilling to lend him anymore money and expressed concerns of the loan he already had. At the end of the season, the farm did not yield a single crop, and the bank came to foreclose his farm. Broke, tired, and dejected farmer D felt he had two choices. Either he could take his own life, or he could join the farmhands that had left town and go in search of work. He chose to live because of his family, so they packed up and headed west. But there was one person who did decide to end his own life. Farmer B was so distraught watching what happened to his one time friends and neighbors families and despised himself for his role in their demise so vehemently that he hung himself in one of the many barns.
Now farmer A’s son owned farms ABC and E outright and was able to purchase farm D from the bank for even less than his original offer. Farms ABCD and E, were now Amalgamated Farms of Kansas. Farmer A’s son had achieved the modern American dream, to become the riches person in town. He had trampled over many people to get there, but they are insignificant pawns that needed to be played to in order to achieve the goal. The victory tasted very good to farmer A’ son. So good in fact that he felt it would be possible to either find farms with different crops an do the same thing there, or maybe find something other than farming he could manipulate and take over ownership of. He wanted it all, more and more and more. He could not get enough possessions to satisfy his unyielding greed. Maybe farm tool stores. He could build large farm tool stores and sell tools cheaper than the smaller ones. Maybe sell lumber an other farm needs as well, putting other small companies out of business. The possibilities seemed endless.
Farmer A’s son was very astute and he soon realized if he could own influential people in town he could more easily manipulate the markets in his favor. He backed the right politicians and showered them with monetary support, and created relationships forged in greed with the biggest bankers. It wasn’t long before farmer A’s son owned and ran over half of the businesses in the area. You may say he has achieved the American Dream, but to me it seems as though he has created the American Nightmare. Sleep well!
Peace

Is the future of Dining out a Dismal Prospect?

kitchens

In the not too different future chefs will be replaced with culinary scientist and the social activity of recreational dining may well become just a part of restaurant history. Foods will be prepared not for its outrageous presentations or amazing taste bud teasing virtues but for its optimal nutritive and regenerative quality. This of course is merely a theory of mine but it’s a little to persuasive and argument to be completely ignored. The world we live in is changing fast and generations are growing up quicker, living longer, yet burning out sooner. The age of instant everything is here and the population grows at such an alarming rate competition for jobs has turned into a near brutal contest. Today if you snooze you not only lose but you sink. Miss a call or an email or text and within literally seconds another person may be moving in on your prospects. Don’t know an answer to something? Google it and you’re informed in seconds. it’s a lightning quick pace today and fortunes can be lost or made in the time it takes to click a mouse. Where is the food industry headed? Look around and the types of eateries today. Froyo (frozen yogurt) establishments as well as student oriented fast food shops all have computers or game stations for the kids amusement. They have not a easier for but rather a need of constant stimulation and its all just part of evolution. How many of you remember being bored to tears on long drives and inventing games like “I Spy”, or “How many different license plates can you find?” How much wood would a woodchuck chuck? Ninety nine bottle of beer on the wall. Mindless songs and queries entertained many of us during long rides or field trips. Not anymore. That eerie glow coming from those traveling SUV’s filled with children are DVD players or even TV’s to keep the kids quiet. Even on short trips! No wonder kids today expect visual stimulation every ten seconds.
Gastronomic science is already becoming accepted and you will soon be hearing a lot about Molecular Gastronomy. Molecular gastronomy is cutting edge cooking where high level science meets haut cuisine. Chefs use controversial and provocative presentations an methods using equipment more often found in a University science lab room. Far beyond the short lived popularity of foaming chefs are well versed in scientific techniques using liquids nitrogen, anti-griddles, dehydrators, and thermal immersion circulators to alter the shape and taste of dining. There are already a number of high quality restaurants that specialize in molecular gastronomy. Taking serious strides in the early 90’s it’s a growing industry and quite controversial in the culinary corners. That’s a story for another time, my point is that science is already entering the dining experience and its only a matter of time before the novelty and entertainment value of molecular gastronomy evolves into a more clinical form of eating void of social entertainment while brimming with nutrients, vitamins, an other substances designed to enhance human physical performance. Not like steroids, but food an techniques developed to maximize the ability to move faster, stay more alert, and function with less sleep to give the diner the edge they need to get or stay on top in a whirlwind workforce. That is my assessment of the future of cooking. Scientist serving up stamina on a plate. Will it really end our last bastion of physical interactive social activity. I truly hope not, ining out is probably my favorite pastime in the world. Stay tuned…Next time……how the industry has evolved during my culinary career

The Oz Ultimatum (part I)

I’ll See You on the Dark Side of Oz
By JT Hilltop

The wonderful wizard of Oz. If ever oh ever a wiz there was the Wizard of Oz is one because…If you can’t finish that in a capella then you need to check your pulse. Wizard Of Oz is not just a story or movie its an American institution. A global treasure. Many of us who grew up before the age of instant information and entertainment on demand viewing The Wizard of Oz was an absolute must. An elementary school ritual which was all anyone talked about once we got back to school. It was a family night adventure and everyone sat around and watched it around buckets of popcorn and cuploads of soda. The movie mesmerized and hypnotized us and some parts scared the shit out of us. As children we were intrigued and believed in the story. And to boot it left us with a beautiful message when it ended. We learned that we need to face our fears and its best to fight them as a team. We learned that evil is wrong and good will always win out in the end. We learned the truly lesson that “the grass always seems greener on the other side” yet in the end “there’s no place like home.” As a child I absorbed these and other messages from movies like a subliminal sponge. Absorbing from movies such as the Wizard as well as from fairy tales and children songs. But as I got older and more cynical I took on a culture of “nothing is ever really what it seems.” I began to read into and interpret things in search of truth. I wanted to know what was underneath so I interpreted underlying meanings in movies, stories, poems, and songs. A personal fascination for me was the underlying meaning in rock lyrics.
Ah yes, rock and roll the beating rhythm of my generation. Rock song lyrics more than anything got deconstructed by my jagged mind and then placed back in an order that would tell an entirely different story. Sometimes songs were written with a hidden meaning on purpose and that offered a challenge as in the case of Don McLean’s “American Pie.” As teens my friends and I spent hours digging in to the layers of lyrics in an attempt to extract the inner meaning of that tune. When I hear it played today I still think of all the symbolic references and allusions to various celebrities both famous an infamous. To rock events like The Beatles playing Shea or The Stones at Altamont. McLean had deftly hidden all sorts of innuendo and cultural icon references and brilliantly he had masked the clues leaving it up to us to interpret. To me that was a stroke of genius, similar to the musings of the lyrical concepts of The Beatles and The Stones. Those young talents had intuitive understanding of life far beyond their years and successfully conveyed those ideas into words. Some lyrics are crystal clear, some seem to make no sense, and many are written in the abstract to add to confusion.
With many songwriting perhaps even the author doesn’t fully understand the complex structure of their own words. Maybe sub conscious or maybe totally unaware of what the brain is trying to express from them in such an abstract way they deny its very true underlying theme. I lay on you as an example the song “Space Oddity” written by the one and only David Bowie. Bowie himself claims it’s a song he wrote about space after seeing the movie “2001, A Space Odyssey” while he was stoned (I believe he called it out of his gourd) Both that movie and the moon landing were popular events at the time and he claims that was his inspiration. He even wrote a follow up or sequel to the tune called “Ashes To Ashes” in which his purported Major Tom reconnects with earth. I don’t buy it for a second. I look deeper into the embedded subliminal inspirations and I believe whether intentional or subliminal this song is about David’s very own struggle with his sexuality. Its pretty well known he went through what has been described as an androgynous stage and the song reeks of innuendo surrounding the freeing of ones sexual inhibitions. In a phrase it was David coming out of the closet and exploring his own sexual desires. Let me explore for, dare I call it, a deeper meaning.
Ground control to Major Tom, take your protein pills and put your helmet on. Okay, relatively obvious, semen and protein almost synonymous and a condom is the helmet to protect from disease. A common practice back at the time was to bolster the system with protein to increase a males sexual prowess an stamina. (Pre Viagra practice when ED was the name of a talking horse) Ground control is his mind, and major Tom is, well I’ll just call him Major Woody. The papers want to know who’s shirt you wear or which team are you on. Are you with the hetero’s or the non hetero’s? Maybe he’s not sure himself! Now its time to leave the capsule if you dare. Here then is that closet I mentioned David leaving. As he steps through that door he is walking in a “most peculiar way“, two derogatory comments used at the time to describe a gay man. He walks funny, like a girl, and he is queer or peculiar. No wonder the stars look very different today! Planet earth is blue and there’s nothing he can do. Back at that time porn was described as “blue movies”, to him the world is obsessed with sex and there is not a thing he can do about these new feelings. Or is there? He’s past one hundred thousand miles (around the block with women) he’s feeling very still (no zip to his ship). But not to worry, his spaceship knows which way to go. His compass points to experimentations with the North Pole! Tell his wife he loves her very much, she knows(love is not just sexual). He is feeling sorry and a tad guilty for going off on a sexual excursion. She already knows because you can’t hide your real self forever and your partner will likely be the first to sense it. Now the circuits dead there’s something wrong. He has no sexual electricity any longer for his woman and he can’t understand why. So that’s my offbeat take. Or maybe its about an astronaut that was lost in space and cut off from Huston. Floating in a very peculiar way without gravity around. I merely offer an alternative view. That’s what I do, I listen to words then try to make sense of what I hear in a more abstract fashion. I reconstruct words in search of the true meaning beneath the surface. I also enjoy using the same mental exercise in cinema and this interpretation is my reconstructive take on my all time favorite tale, The Wizard of Oz.
The Wizard of Oz is not just a tale of young girl on an adventure but the story of finding your inner strength, learning that what truly matters is not how much gold and glitter you acquire but how much love you acquire. “A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” The underlying messages in the tale are important and a dynamic learning tool for children but there lies underneath a message intended for adults as well. At least I believe there is so that’s why I am looking deep into the story of Oz to find out what meaning it can have for us as presumed adults. Join me down the twisted path of an existential quirky mind to explore the underbelly of a time honored traditional story. If nothing else, you will have an opportunity to exercise your eyes and hopefully your imagination, and perhaps a smile or two as well. To Be Continued

So You Want To Be a Chef? (an inititiation into culinary life)

A existential chef’s initiation into the industry circa 1970

Despite all the bad karma that seeped out of the sink drain I knew nothing could possibly drag me away from the restaurant industry. Maybe one day I’ll be the Chef, and become a raving lunatic who screams at anyone dumb enough to stay within ear range of my booming voice. An insane culinary Guru who proudly sports a tall white hat that accentuated a bulging forehead vein popping out and threatened you silently. At least it pulled me eyes directly to it and made me feel threatened. A slightly mentally deranged and touched in the head man who is permitted by law to carve carcasses with an array of razor sharp knives of all sizes. I can’t help thinking how proud that would make Mom and Dad. Oh the hell with the Stock Exchange Mom, I wanna carve lamb forequarters and exchange recipes. I want to carry big ass knives around and scare the shit out of the dishwashers. My gastronomic voyage would be completed once I became the all powerful illustrious king of the kitchen, The Chef.
Truth be told the restaurant industry simply jumped up at me and shouted “This is it” Este Este Este!!. This is what you ask? It was the people, the “restaurant people”, an almost cosmic group of mix and matched misfits. I was spellbound by this diverse group of dedicated individuals, who work together in a form of impromptu performance art centering around biodegradable remnants of the tastiest and most orgasmic morsels of nutrition I had ever indulged in. Each person plays an integral role in this drama. Like an experienced stage hand I set up the props over and over, so the chef could turn organic ingredients into edible works of art, perfectly arranged on the plate I had cleaned. Our lead waitress, Laura would put six of these recently cleaned, now presently food adorned plates on a large oval tray, also cleaned by yours truly, and with swanlike grace, effortlessly carry it off, to be placed in front of some more than likely alcohol saturated patrons. The patrons would then eat the wonderful dish of blissful organic delight, inadvertently leaving something on the plate that would eventually become my responsibility. The waitress would entertain them with a variety of skits, ranging from cute and flirtatious to downright suggestive. The performance continues. Meanwhile, backstage, the chef, Jimmy ( his given name was too hard to pronounce) is performing voice exercises and using my deer in headlight eyes as his focal point. Rapidly building to an everlasting crescendo, I listen intently to the chefs advice, disregarding the part where he assures me I should leave this God forsaken establishment or die. Another suggestion he had for me was doing something to myself I felt to be physically impossible. (Not that I wouldn’t try!!) That too, I chose to disregard! Sufficiently emasculated, red-faced, and disenchanted, I returned to my pot sink in a highly evolved state. Taking a “the show must go on” attitude, I needed to ready myself for the onslaught of table remnants that our patrons found objectionable. In walked the lovely leading lady, flashing me that piercing knee buckling waitress smile, and began emulating the chefs thunderous performance. Thankfully, it was not directed at me, but rather on the only person here that was truly as lowly as me, Rod the busboy. Now I got an opportunity to view my peer’s reaction to a brutal lexiconic workover, so I might hone my anti-beration skills for the next portioning of verbal abuse. It would not take long, and I unfortunately had little time to study my new mentor, and was left to my improvisational skills. The burning narrowed eyes of my dream vision met mine, and for just one second held me in a frozen state. While flashing her signature seductive smile, Laura’s eyes softened, and in that songbird like voice, she asked, “JT, will you set up my next tray?” With a wink, she was gone, the busboy was fighting back tears, the chef was deciding my fate, and I of course, was setting up Laura’s tray, like it had never been set before. As the chef pondered the proper interpretation of various swear words and insults, in order to more effectively crush my spirit, I arranged Laura’s tray oblivious to my surroundings. The chef began to explain to me who I was working for, but fortunately for me his lung pounding performance was interrupted by the appearance of an enigmatic presence. The next character to enter, stage left, was a tall, tuxedoed, and very suave Frenchman, bearing the title restaurant manager, Didier. Didier’s job, as I understood it, was to make the entire cast miserable, so we would reach deep down to our inner selves, and come up with the performance of a lifetime. I wanted to reach deep down and pull out a Smith and Wesson, but then again, I was young and impressionable back then, so I did indeed find myself motivated by the threat of that French penguin. That, and a paycheck, and another opportunity to allow Laura to know what an awesome dude I really was. Didier began to roar at all of us, and yet then again, to no-one in particular. It was delivered in a language foreign to me that sounded oddly complementary. Rod the busboy assured me that those seemingly sweet words that came thundering out towards the entire cast, were in fact foul French slang that could make the onions break down and cry! As Didier loudly and a bit too cantankerously explained to us how important it was that we comprehend the significance of his tirade. Even Jimmy looked worried when Didier was in the kitchen. Oddly, the only one that was not intimidated was Laura, the vivacious waitress, who seemed to render our fearful leader speechless using only her eyes. Like the Wicked Witch of the West, Didier disappeared in a puff of smoke. Or maybe Jimmy was burning something, I really don’t remember. But he was gone, Laura’s tray was set to absolute perfection, Rod the busboy had regained his composure, and Jimmy was ready with the next round of tantalizing treats arranged in artwork on my clean plates. All had performed admirably in Act 1.
Anyway, you get the picture; This performance goes on all night, every night. Some of the actors change, but the results remain the same. Curiously, at dinner time, Jimmy took on an air of compassion that made me think of my own father on some of his better days. He would speak ever so softly, and hold out a bowl of beef stew, which because it had some wine in it, was referred to as Beef Bourgogne. But delicious it was. No Dinty Moore for this restaurant worker. As quickly as everything had gone to hell in a mixing bowl, the calm and serene peace of family meal changed the entire setting. I sat at a small table with Ernie, the old man who was in charge of maintenance. Funny, because he could barely maintain himself, and as I later found out, he was the 65 year old uncle of the manager. I cleverly positioned myself so I could catch a glimpse of Laura each time she entered the kitchen. It was these Zen saturated moments that made us all forget how loud and harsh the decibel level could get at service time.
My gastronomic voyage had officially begun. I dove in with a work ethic beyond reproach. I have arrived!