From culinary student, to cook, to whatever the future holds
Hello from the Great Disappearing Woman!
I wasn’t entirely sure I’d be back to blogging for a moment there. This change has been wonderful, but also has involved many adjustments and trial and error. Mostly error.
In April, I said goodbye to Metropolitan Market and moved over to PCC (officially known as the Puget Consumer’s Co-Op). Casually referred to as “the hippie grocery store”. It’s a Seattle-only company (both locally owned and run). Cooperative groceries mean that the business is technically owned by all its members. People can purchase a membership and receive a discount, or are free to shop anytime as non-members at regular prices. All employees are automatically made members upon hire.
The store is exactly where you’d imagine I’d work. When you walk in, it smells like food and essential oils. Almost everything in the deli case is made completely from scratch. Produce is a central focus at most stores. Every aisle boasts organic, gluten free, and vegan options for various products.
As far as my specific store, it’s on highway 99 next to Greenlake. I was hired to be the AM breakfast cook, which means I clock in each day at 4am. No, that is not a typo. I am getting into my car when other cooks I know are drunkenly stumbling into bed. Hell, my first day, I’d just recovered from a drunken-bed-stumbling event two nights before. When my alarm goes off each morning, it looks like this (or even earlier):
At first, I had a deep-seated fear of being able to get up and function at such an early hour. However, things have eased as time has gone on, and I find myself less and less bothered by it each week. It is awfully quiet and peaceful at 3:30am. The air is still, some pre-dawn birds are starting to sing the sun into existence. Traffic is never really an issue, though they’ve been doing overnight construction.
The much larger difficulty has actually been putting my obstinate self to bed at a reasonable hour. I struggle to find the balance of eating at the right time, getting in a little exercise, and winding down before I should be hopping into bed. I want the sleep, I simply hate putting myself in bed when the sun is still shining. Like now. I should be asleep now. Not that getting off work for the day at 12:30pm is anything less than awesome. I love busting out of work on sunny days and knowing I can bask in the rays all afternoon. But, with a super early bedtime, I find myself feeling like I’m watching the clock on “24” count down to my imminent sleep time while I’m still wide awake.
The deli lead (aka: the assistant deli manager) is a friend from Metropolitan Market, so I was able to come in and know at least one person. The rest of the kitchen staff is made up of largely industry people. Folks with varying experience and pretty decent sense of humor. As all aforementioned food in the deli is actually made, many cooks are required. The kitchen is set up as a production kitchen. Standard restaurant kitchens often have small appliances, small stacks of various sized hotel pans, little jars of tools, and a massive selection of plates. A production kitchen is set up to produce a massive amount of food. Our kitchen has two full-sized convection ovens. It also has a 6-burner industrial range, a two-story steamer, and a bunch of prep tables. However, for the amount of food that is produced, our kitchen is somewhat small. Everyone somehow finds their spot and takes great care to work around one another. There are lots of giant pots and pans swinging around, containing massive quantities of hot soups, steaming eggs, or sizzling sheet trays of bacon.
Most everyone there loves food, and I find myself awkwardly generating conversation by talking about “have you tried this or that restaurant?” We have a little radio, and are encouraged to play our own music. I had my pandora playing my Jet station the other morning, and everyone else seemed to really enjoy everything that was played. Is there still some of the standard deli-drama? Yes. Do I walk into whispering hallway conversations sometimes? Of course. But all in all, it’s a good place to work. The people that work in all parts of the store are fairly close-knit. People know about each others’ families and vacations. I met a fellow Oregon Country Fair Family coworker!
But the best part of all? I love and feel good about the ingredients I put in the food I cook. Free range eggs, grass fed meat, organic oils, whole grain breads and tortillas, and NO deep fryers. I use brands I have in my cupboards at home (Bob’s Red Mill, Lundberg Family Farms, Spectrum, Cadia, etc). I feel good about the food I cook and serve to people, even if it is sometimes a huge pan of scrambled eggs coated with a hearty fistful of cheddar cheese.
This has helped me push to more consistent healthy eating at home. I have organic veggies and a massive bulk sections at my fingertips everyday during my breaks or when I clock out. I also have the time to go to local farmers markets after work for additional ingredients.
However, some habits die hard. I’ve never been one for bacon and eggs in the mornings. But, I love, love, LOVE the italian breakfast model: high quality coffee in one hand, pastry in the other. I am notorious for baking all sorts of tasty and bizarre things in the name of maintaining my morning ritual. It’s MY morning, don’t judge. But in the name of trying to push towards healthier foods every time I eat, I’ve made a recipe for breakfast cookies. I know, I just combined two of your favorite words. Breakfast. Cookies. You’re welcome. These little guys are packed full of organic quick oats.
To up the fiber content and add a binding agent without the extra calories of eggs, I threw in a tablespoon of chia seeds. To round off the fiber trifecta: stone ground whole wheat flour. I did use a little bit of butter, but the majority of the moist ingredients is comprised of organic plain yogurt.
Part healthy, studded with a few dark chocolate chips to satisfy the extra sweet craving. Being super high in fiber, this will help slow the digestion of the sugars and keep you going to hours. As with the legend of the phoenix, you’ll arise from your bed triumphantly and conquer your day with one of these bad boys in hand. Don’t forget the coffee!
Phoenix Breakfast Cookies
1 cup organic quick oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cane sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup yogurt
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350* F. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, salt, and sugars. In a small bowl, whisk together chia seeds, butter, yogurt, and olive oil. Mix wet ingredients into dry. Fold in chocolate chips.
Drop by spoonful onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in freeze for 10-20 minutes. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until brown around the edges and just firm in the middle. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet. Store in airtight container for up to three days.
Crispy around the edges, soft in the middle. Trying to hurry up and sleep so I can make some cookies and bust out one of these. If you’re not a chocolate fan, you can swap out for dried fruit and nuts. DO NOT skip the freezing part or your cookies will spread too much an make a giant single cookie. Unless that’s what you want, I suppose. Whatever makes your morning work.
when if you get sick of these, come on down to Greenlake Aurora PCC and try some of my breakfast goodies.