Friday, July 31, 2009

A Gift and Some Good Things To Know

Some of you may remember from previous posts our 10 year old nephew Shane, has cancer. He is now preparing for his fourth (4th.) round of chemotherapy. Shane is a trooper, fighting back against this monster with everything he has.

I have been fortunate in my life to have worked and studied with many talented people. 

Professors and teachers who were passionate about sharing knowledge. Bosses who truly wanted me to succeed. Chef's who were more than happy to share their life's secrets and recipes. 

And a truly gifted graphic artist/designer. Anita is one of those rare breed of individuals who is both talented and humble. She is patient beyond Job. I know. Anita designed my logos, website, business brochure, business card and all my stationary. 

She put up with endless edits. Frantic reprints. A thousand requests... 
She designed my aprons and continues to offer me suggestions and redesigns. (She took one look at my original, pitiful attempt at a blog header and fixed it immediately)

Recently Anita has gone above and beyond the call of a Graphic Artist. On her own time, with again the patience of Job and the fortitude of a saint, she designed [pro bono] a logo for Shane. 
She took the time to get to know him, waited for me to take pictures, designed and redesigned as an entire family weighed in with opinions.... Here is Shane's logo and mantra, soon to be appearing on T-Shirts everywhere:
Yes, that is Shane's face and body in a Jedi Knight uniform. He's a big fan of Star Wars and he is striking back against cancer (Mr. Lucas, I hope you understand)

There are gifted people in this world and then there are people who are a gift to know. Anita is both. 

*If you'd care to contact Anita for your design needs, she is beyond reasonable, I know (cook's don't make a lot of money and this blog thing doesn't pay the rent)...  you can contact Anita at

Tell her The Good Cook sent you.

Because I have been remiss dear readers in giving you culinary tips and tricks, here is your weekly reading list of culinary terms. Enjoy. 

These terms are from my Soup and Bread class:

Some good terms to know:

Mise en place: (meez ahn plahs) A French term referring to having all the ingredients necessary for a dish prepared and ready to combine up to the point of cooking. Good cooks know that stuff happens in the kitchen. Kids cry, dogs need to go out, phones ring. By practicing Mise en place, you will never ask yourself, did I add the salt yet???

Mirpoix; mirepois: (mihr-PWAH) A mixture of diced carrots, onions, celery and herbs sautéed in butter or oil. Sometimes ham or bacon is added. Mirepoix is used to season sauces, soups and stews, as well as for a bed on which to braise foods, usually meats or fish. A white mirepoix omits the carrots and often incorporates mushrooms and/or parsnips.

Stock: In the most basic terms, stock is the strained liquid that is the result of cooking vegetables, meat or fish and other seasoning ingredients in water. A brown stock is made by browning bones, vegetables and other ingredients before they’re cooked in the liquid. Most soups begin with a stock of some kind and many sauces are based on reduced stocks.

Reduction: (reduce) Culinarily, to boil a liquid (usually stock, wine or a sauce mixture) rapidly until the volume is reduced by evaporation. This will thicken the consistency and intensify the flavor.

Chop: Using quick, heavy blows of a knife to cut food into bite size or smaller pieces.

Mince: To cut food into very small pieces. Minced food is in smaller pieces than chopped food.

Poach: To cook food gently in liquid just below the boiling point when the liquid’s surface is beginning to show some quivering movement.

Yeast: Yeast is a living, microscopic, sing-cell organism that, as it grows, converts its food (through a process known as fermentation) into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Baking Powder: a leavener containing a combination of baking soda (an acid) and a moisture-absorber (such as cornstarch). When mixed with liquid, baking powder releases carbon dioxide gas bubbles that cause a bread or cake to rise. Baking powder is perishable. To test if your baking powder is still good, combine 1 teaspoon of it with 1/3 cup hot water. If it bubbles enthusiastically, it’s fine.

Expect a pop quiz in a future post! 


  1. What a fabulous friend. Shane's logo is amazing and truly shows what you said, that he is a fighter. I hope that all goes well with his treatment and your entire family can live worry free.

  2. Eternally,

    Thank you for your good thoughts. We are looking forward to the day he is listed as a cancer survivor! Wow - just think what I'll cook for that party.

  3. That's really great, Shane looks so cool!

  4. The logo and the t- shirt are a nice tribute to a brave young man. I will keep Shane in my thoughts and prayers. Thanks for the link to Anita.

  5. Rain,

    When we were in Michigan Anita had me take pictures of Shane in that stance, she then "dressed" him up courtesy photo shop. Isn't that amazing?


    Thank you for prayers offered. Anita is actually closer to you than to me.. she hails out of Jacksonville FL. A real southern charmer.

  6. Only good thoughts for your sweet nephew! As for your friend, she is a keeper! Now, about that pop you grade on the curve?

  7. Oooh! I had never heard of Mise en Place (before your previous post) and Mirepoix. I love learning new culinary terminology! :)

  8. Kathy K,

    In my kitchen everyone gets an A for effort!


    Glad to oblige!


Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

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