Allez Cuisine!

Here’s another first: On Saturday, we did our first real paid catering gig (along with my mother and my uncle Kevin – my mother was the head chef). Marcia has worked as a professional chef before (at the Bed&Breakfast she used to manage), but this was my first time in the professional arena. It was the first time doing catering on someone else’s site for both of us. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun too.

Marcia, Karen, and Jacob

The event was a wedding reception with about 150 guests, with an Italian food/decor theme. The menu was a mix of traditional Italian and non-traditional Italian-inspired food. The entrees were Grilled Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo (traditional), and Inside-Out Ravioli (a non-traditional but very delicious creation of my mother’s). We also did a fruit salad, a chef’s salad, some REALLY good breadsticks, a cheese tray, and a few other tasty morsels. We did not do the wedding cake, though we did provide a chocolate fountain which was a real BLAST, as you will soon see…

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

But let’s start with the strawberries – In talking with the mother of the bride, it became apparent that the bride’s favorite treat is chocolate-dipped strawberries. It was decided that we would provide a plate of chocolate-dipped strawberries for the bride and groom to enjoy. At first, we were just going to do some simple traditional dips, but then my mother got a crazy idea – and when she gets those ideas, there’s no stopping her. She wanted to use white and dark chocolate (dark in color, not in flavor) to make half of the strawberries look like tuxedos, and then use white to make the other half like like wedding dresses. It took a little bit of [very tasty] experimentation, but when she figured out how to do it, the results were great:

The world's coolest chocolate-dipped strawberries
We offered a few of them to the pastry chef who did the cake to put them on or around the cake if he wanted, and he loved the idea. The rest went on a plate for the bride and groom to share. We also made some more plain dipped strawberries for the rest of the head table to enjoy.

Cake Flower

The pastry chef (who was a friend of the bride’s family and also a wedding guest) had his daughter with him. She was probably 6 or 7 years old. While he was putting the strawberries we gave him on the cake, I was talking to the little girl, who said “my daddy made the cake.”

“It’s pretty,” I responded, “and you can eat everything on it!”

“Not the flowers,” she said.

I went into teacher mode. “I bet you can.”


“What kind of flowers are they? Are they carnations?”


“Then you can eat them. What do you think they taste like?”

She half-shrugged, half rolled her eyes at the idiot who thinks you can eat flowers.

“They taste like pepper.”

She’d had enough. I was clearly insane. She laughed at me, said “Nuh-uh!” and scampered off.

Later, I was lucky enough to serve her her food. I asked if she wanted salt, pepper, or flowers on her pasta. Again, the “for a grown up, you’re really stupid” look.

For the record, you CAN eat carnations, and they DO taste like pepper. Just be careful when you buy them that you get ones grown without any pesticides, because pesticide not only tastes nasty, it’s not very good for you.

Chocolate Fountain of Death

About halfway through dinner, we were all serving or preparing more food, when someone came in, grabbed Kevin, and said “the chocolate fountain is exploding!” We thought that perhaps it had spilled a little, or maybe overheated and ruined the chocolate (it does happen on occasion).

No. This was pretty literal.

A piece of food had fallen into the bottom of the fountain, and worked its way into the auger that moves the chocolate from the bottom to the top. It got stuck inside the auger tube and began acting as a lifting shelf for the auger, so the auger started climbing up the tube – like it was unscrewing itself from the fountain. Once the auger got above the top of the tube, it started flinging chocolate about. To make matters worse, a few moments after that, the whole fountain started to spin about because the movement of the auger had thrown the balance off. Then the rotation caused various pieces to come apart, and very soon the whole thing had come apart, flinging chocolate all over 4 bowls of strawberries, pretzels, and cookies, a white tablecloth, and a surprised little boy.

The fastest way to clean up the mess was simply to clean the fountain, swap the tablecloth for a fresh one (luckily, no chocolate got on the floor or walls), and get things moving again quickly. Kevin put the soiled tablecloth in a freezer so it could be easily cleaned later (you can peel the cold chocolate off of the cloth and have a pretty good chance of saving the tablecloth). After things calmed down and dinner was done, we took a moment to take some pictures of the tablecloth (this is after being frozen):

Kevin and Jacob with the chocolate covered tablecloth
I wish we had gotten some pictures of the little boy who was equally chocolate covered, but he got cleaned up too quickly. Thankfully, the bride and groom and all the guests thought the whole incident was quite funny, and nobody was upset at this minor disaster. I think it’s the only thing that went wrong the whole day (which means my knife skills have improved!).

The Aftermath

In the end, we received many compliments from the guests, and the bridal party (especially the mother of the bride, who hired us) was very pleased. We were happy with a job well done, and a buffet table well-eaten:

The buffet table after the wedding
A number of people asked us if we had a catering company, or if we were available for hire. The four of us have threatened to start a catering business before, but have not actually done so. Perhaps with a little more experience, we would feel comfortable doing that. Only time will tell.

You Never Know Just What a Kid Will Say

I spend some of my days subbing at a preschool on the local college campus. There is one little girl there that is currently 2 yrs 9 months old. Last winter and spring she called me “Jerry” and had other adults that help thinking it was my name. She did learn my name, and I like to quiz her to see what all she knows (I do this with all the kids). Yesterday while we were outside playing, I was holding a baby, and she came over to me to see the baby. I was quizzing her on what different animals say, and here are a few of the questions and answers:

Me: What does a monkey say?

Her: ooooo oooo aaah aaah

Me: What does a doggy say?

Her: bow wow

*after many more animals, I tested other things*
Me: What does (child’s name) say?

Her: I talk

Me: What does a teacher say?

Her: I love you

Me: What does a Mr. Scott (one of the preschool teachers) say?

Her: Time to put our books away, books away, books away, time to put the books away and lay down for our nap *I am not sure if that is how the song goes, but that is what she hears*

Me: What does mommy say?

Her: I am proud of you

Me: What does a police car sound like?

Her: (in a deeper voice) Come with me, you are going to jail

I really like this job. Most of the kids remember me from time to time that I work which is great since I am not there “regularly” and I just can never be too sure what will escape their mouths.

Last spring one of the little girls got a new baby sister, and on one of the occasions that I was there and holding said baby, the big sister was cooing at the baby. One of the other little girls, who is an only child, came over while big sister was playing with baby sister, and told me that she wants a baby sister. I told her to talk with her parents about it. They got a pretty good chuckle out of the story.

Head cold

Runny noseApparently this weekend is the time for my annual summer head cold. The human body is an amazing thing, and today I am particularly amazed at the incredible amount of SNOT the human head can manufacture in a short period of time.

Fortunately, this is just the summer sickness going around (at church today fully half of the guys I talked to were in various stages of the same thing), and from all accounts, I’m at the peak of it and it should subside within another 24-48 hours. Thank goodness?

We Went to Indianapolis …

We went to see the DCI contest over the weekend.  We have been planning this for all of our married life.  It was a lot of fun (I am sure Jacob will post more about the show).  We also went to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  Here we are out front.

We wandered around shopping (we didn’t buy very much stuff-yay for us).  Then on the way home we played the game that starts with “I/We went to [place] and brought back:  [stuff starting with each letter of the alphabet, taking turns in order].”  I bet you can’t guess who had which letters…  Here is our list.

“We went to Indianapolis and brought back:
Gucci shoes
Ice cream
Juju beans
Order form
Practice pad (which is true)
Quick steal
Row boat (to carry it all)
Sausage links
Windshield washer fluid

I am a Big Slacker – I Mean Packer

We have been in the middle of a move across town. So while I have been packing I have been slacking on this blog site (if only that were the only area in my life). Now that the packing is done perhaps I can keep myself on track with this. We’ll just have to see about that, considering we still have to UNpack.

I have some slide shows I need to show-off, however my computer seems to shut off when I try to render video to a different format now.
More videos to come as soon as possible, but here are some pictures.

Mallory’s Birthday Party:

Every time I turned around this is what I found:

The first slide show is from May, my niece’s (Lydia) birthday at the zoo. For some reason my video editing software hates me and all I could accomplish to add at this time is this video and one of Gavyn playing in the water at the zoo, and an orange baby.


The next day we went to Lockridge, Iowa to see my Uncle Shannon and his wife Vy:

Noah and his parents Martin and Ashley

Kite Flying Fun with Dan (and Jacob too):

This is really turkey for brains – ground turkey that is. Jacob said it came out of the package that way.

Dave Wetmore was the Grand Marshall for the Macomb Heritage Days Parade! There were two bagpipe bands.

This is “not someone playing with” my camera on 4 July 2007:


Both of RondaJo’s girls seem to love doing this:

Water time:

The girls made it look so fun, Matt had to give it a try:


Imagine going on a Youth Conference to serve food, ten years after you graduate high school. Upon arriving and seeing the youth get on the buses, you discover that one of the bus drivers is none other than your high school principal. That is right folks, Bob Bowen is a bus driver for Burlington Trailways:

The first day of this conference was my birthday (12 July – in case you were wondering) and this was the beautiful evening sky we saw:

With all the crazy gas price fluctuations, we all “know” that gas is “cheaper” in Missouri, however while in Kansas City, MO I was surprised to see these prices:

$31-32 for a gallon of gas???

I apologize for such a long entry, and promise there are more videos to come as soon as I get the computer to work with me.

Midland is Not the Same as Midwest

What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)

My Accent:  Midland

(“Midland” is not necessarily the same thing as “Midwest”) The default, lowest-common-denominator American accent that newscasters try to imitate. Since it’s a neutral accent, just because you have a Midland accent doesn’t mean you’re from the Midland.Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
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Only in Illinois… part II

Some time ago, I wrote about all the miles I’d put on my bike in the past year, and some of the interesting things that had happened in the process. One of those things was chasing a herd of cows down a farm road… Only in Illinois.

Well, today came part II. I was about 12 miles into my ride, headed north on a narrow road that probably doesn’t even exist on most maps. I was moving along at a decent clip – around 23mph, when I suddenly heard a loud rustling on the side of the road just ahead. A calf (or at least a small cow) sprang from the brush and ran for her life just ahead of me!

On both sides of the road were fences, so the cow had nowhere to go. She wasn’t going to let me catch up with her, so passing her and leaving her behind was out of the question. I didn’t want to run the cow several miles up the road to the end of the fence, as that would just leave some farmer with a lost cow.

I hit the brakes and slowed down so the cow could just walk and still “run” away from me, while I contemplated what to do. I could turn around and go back the other way, picking a different route than I’d originally planned. I could go to the nearest house and see if they knew whose cow it might be. I could call the police on my cell phone.

My new pacesetter and I came around a slight bend in the road, and saw the farmer and his son, just getting out of a pickup truck by an open gate. Aha! That’s how she escaped. The cow suddenly realized she was trapped between two bad things – the farmer that would make her go back into the pasture, and me, who had two wheels and a bright yellow shirt. She hesitated, considering going back the other way.

I sped up.

She turned and ran.

We repeated this 3 or 4 times, me using a bicycle to actually herd a cow towards its pen. When it got close to the gate, the farmer’s son (who looked to be about 10) whistled and clapped, and the cow turned and went straight into the gate.

I’ve never ridden a horse in my life, and I don’t know how well I would like chaps, boots and a ten gallon hat; but today, on my trusty Trek and in lycra shorts, clipless cycling shoes, and a bike helmet, I got to be a cowboy.

I waved to the farmer as I passed the truck, then sped up and continued on my way. I only looked up when I passed the main part of the herd farther down the pasture, to smile, wave at the cows, and shout “You stink!”

Thank goodness the rest of the ride wasn’t upwind.

We All have Aspirations in Life

Yesterday I went to Nauvoo with my friends Jessie, Megean (visiting from Kentucky), and Aiden. This is a slide show of our trip. We rode the oxen wagon, Aiden dressed up, we saw the temple, Aiden pretended to sleep in every patch of grass we saw, and she danced in front of the temple.

Ayer fui a Nauvoo con mis amigas Jessie, Megean, y Aiden. Aca está un video de nuestro día. Pasabamos por la carta de las vacas, Aiden se puso ropa antigua, vimos al templo, Aiden jugaba en el pasto y bailaba en frente del templo.