Should kids go to Hooters?

Recently a mom friend told me that before an action movie that she was taking her sons to they would eat with friends at Hooters.

What?

“Yeah, some people have a problem with it she said.  But, my kids ( about 7 and 9yrs) like to play the basketball game there and they eat the food.”

“Well, maybe they don’t notice the girls in the tight t shirts.”  I said trying to be knee jerk supportive.   Then I thought of how early guys have told me they began masturbating.  Farrah Fawcett posters, etc.   But, hey, that’s not bad, part of life, right?

Now, I know I wouldn’t take my daughter into a Hooters because I don’t want her to get the message that she should be an ornamental woman.  There are enough messages of that left all over the world for her to see, so I’m not going to accelerate that.

I’m also a food snob, so I would have to be roadtripping for hours, super hungry and have to pee to go into a Hooters solo. Chicken wings, burgers formulaic food is not my bag.

But, would I take a boy in there? NOW ( National Organization for Women for those of you who weren’t brought up going to their rallies as I was) takes issue with Hooter’s catering to kids.  The business model of Hooters, is pretty crass.  Do men and boys like sexy girls?yes.  Should that be stopped?  No.  But, I would very uncomfortable being with my son in that atmosphere.  On Parent Dish I found out that they have Hooter gear for kids! Blech.  A parent who would buy their little girl a Hooters shirt might be a candidate for a visit from child protective services. (Check out this photo from Esquire.  I hesitated to even share, except it was already posted.  My compromise is not putting it here.)  Young boy does not look happy at Hooters.

Okay, sorry, my hippie feminist upbringing that strives to be non judgemental was just trumped by my hippie feminist upbringing side that use to spell women with a “Y”.   I think I would rather take my son to a lesbian, socialist coffeehouse than a Hooters.  Than I’m at least supporting a small business owner.

 

 

Brussel Sprout breakfast

I’m a Brussel Sprout fanatic.  Side dish with dinner, a lunch salad with smoked trout.  Now, it’s even part of my favorite breakfast.

What you need for this:

2 eggs

Brussel Sprouts – 2 chopped lengthwise

onion- 2 tablespoon, small diced

cooked bacon – 1 slice into lardons

dried oregeno- pinch

salt and pepper

Half and half- just a splash

Cook the bacon till crisp, chewy, set asidein the bacon fat saute the onions and  Brussel Sprouts.  Takes a little longer than my usual left over from dinner broccoli, but if I have made lunches the night before I have time.  both should get softer and carmelize.  Add Salt , tiny bit.

Reduce heat and crack the two eggs right in there. Add a pinch of dried Oregano. Get your fork and start swirling.  Most people over cook eggs.  When almost done, just soft add a tablespoon of half and half.  Turn off the fire, put the bacon back in and fork it up in the ( hopefully) iron pan.  Quickly plate, little freshly ground pepper at the end.

Rex likes to climb up on the counter and “help” which is tough when I’ve moved the hot pan portion of cooking, but I make things up or he has a fit.

Like most of my creations, it may not be pretty, but it’s tasty!

 

 

Fish Night : cooking for the family

Here is another of my super simple and tasty meals that can be made well even if there are interruptions, which with a house of kids is about as common as an avocado going bad before you use it ( how did I not see it there?).

Petrale sole, caught wild, bought fresh so I had to make it within a couple of days of buying it.  Rice, and salad.  Does it please everyone in my family? No, Rex won’t eat fish or salad. So he got hot dog, grapes and rice.  If he was a baby I’d call that meal “choking hazard delight!”

Our family this night was myself, Viv, Rex and our neighbor gal pal ( 10 years old) Gracie.  She is far less picky than my kids so she is a delight to feed.

First, I make the rice.  Much to Chef Husband’s chagrin I, like my father before me, I love the rice in the bag.  Sorry, rice is my Achilles heel and I can’t take the time to spend 40 minutes making the kind of rice he does.  Boil in a bag of salted water and then after I drain it stir in a bunch of butter.  The kids love it, and darn it is tasty.

Meanwhile, I take the fish out and lay it on a paper towel.  Good to get the moisture out and let it rest. It’s pooped.

Then set up my work station. Flour, egg mixed with a little milk, breadcrumbs with dried oregano.

The fish goes in the flour first.  Then the egg, then the bread crumb.  After that trip through three bowl lane the fish is tired again and needs to rest.  Back to a paper towel while it all sets.  It works out better this way.  ( note: Rex’s dinner is ready to go nearby)

Then I go to the garden and pick our lettuce. Our best crop of 2012.  Wash and drain it. drizzle a little ranch dressing on it because universal truth everyone loves ranch dressing.  I’m not kidding around with oil and vinegar, little bit of ranch, not a ton, and my daughter eats salad. 

I get the plates and forks ready because the fish takes no time to make.  I heat up the pan on low with olive oil, place the sole in the pan with a little chunk of butter. Not to get all Paula Dean, but butter does make things better.  Everything.

Then I go to the backyard and yell for Gracie and Vivien to come in for dinner.  Each side of the fish takes one minute.  No more.  I ask the girls where Rex is.  They go to get him and as I am about to put the next fish in the pan I realized the yelling for him has gone on to long.  I turn off the pan.

“Where is he?”  I yell out.

The girls say they don’t know.  Visions of him hurt and unconscious in the yard  cause me to run out of the house into our back, back yard ( it’s long and large). I scream his name with no response.  Then  I find Rex looking downcast, sitting by himself by the fence in the wood chips.

“Rex, are you feeling sad?”  He nods his head. I think I know what happened.

“Do you feel like the girls left you?”

“Yes, I want to play.”

“But, I called you into dinner.”

“But, I want to play.”

“It’s still early and dinner won’t take long.  Then you will still have time to play, okay?”

“Okay.”  I pick him and we walk and I explain to the girls that they need to be like the Marines and not leave a man behind.  Always bring him up with you when you come in.

Now, they are all at the counter and I make the rest of the fish.  I serve them the salad, chopped, rice and fish. Then I finish making my portion of it all and by then Rex is done and I sit down to eat ( three seats at the counter).  They had juice, I had a French Rose.

The girls clean their plate and then ask for more rice.   Success. 

4 pieces of fresh petrale sole

1/3 cup of flour

one egg

1 tablespoon of milk

salt

pepper

1/3 of a cup of breadcrumbs ( store bought)

a couple of pinches of dried oregano

olive oil

1 table-spoon of butter per two fish

inappropriate sandwich shapes for kids

In my quest, like many parents, to keep my children interested in that thing called eating I have tried on occasion to form food in fun ways.  Astronaut carrots, deforested broccoli, you know the usual.

As I was taking my pizza cutter to shape a sandwich for Rex today I had the impulse to make really inappropriate sandwich shapes.  Here are are some of my favorites:

A gun

Devil, but it didn’t look devilsh enough, so I thought I would try the crazy anti semite leader of Iran Ahmandad..whatever and add coffee grounds for his permanent sort of beard.  This was not my finest.

I was more pleased with my next creation, Crime Scene House

By the way, Rex picked up the gun sandwich and the barrel went limp.  “Momma, it broke.”  Yeah, there is a reason sandwiches are  NOT shaped like that.

What kind of sandwiches do you make your kids?

Great recession food humor

Now, I’m getting my groove back humor wise.  .  The great gift of comedy is lifting your head up out of the gutter of your dark thoughts. Or to put it another way, get over yourself.

Here is a good stab at some recession vocabulary from another site.  My favorite is DUPPIE, depressed urban professional.

Today I’m thinking of combining my interest in comedy with my husband’s, and by extension myself, interest in food. How about recession food?

Foreclosure Chile– eat it fast before it’s taken away from you.
food

Short Sale Short Stack — you sell your pancakes to the person next to you.

Toxic Asset Meatloaf –this will turn you into a vegan

Pork ala Ponzi — you eat this in a room that you have to be invited into.  The sauce is Mad-off of other people’s food and you must first give your own food, before you get a serving.

Double Dip ice cream — coated in chocolate and regret.

Glass-Steagall of red wine — it will numb the pain for a minute as think about how this was Clinton’s greatest failure, not all that seamen nonsense.

Sub Prime meat — what public school kids are served at lunch.

European Contagion Cheese — runny and smells, but paired with a dried apricot on a smal wheat round goes down nicely.
food
lil’ Fannie Mae Cookies — do you have the income to cover this? Maybe you should rent a cookie instead.

Crudite default Swap — by the time the carrot gets to your mouth it won’t be worth much.
food

One perfect Egg

I have finally perfected my husband’s wonderful olive oil fried egg.  Obviously, others have made this, but it was new to me when Mark first made it for me years ago.

Now, it’s great with a little romesco sauce on top of it.  It’s nice on top of a crispy corn tortilla with a slice of jalepeno jack cheese. But, all that is beside the point if you don’t get the egg right.

What you will need to make this:

One medium to large egg

olive oil- about 1/8 to 1/4 of a cup depending upon the size of your pan.

kosher salt

Ideally, an iron skillet

I much prefer cooking with these.  I feel like I have more control over the temperature.

Make a shallow pool of olive oil. The egg should “swim”, but not be submerged by the oil. You might think, this is too much, it’s not.  Put the flame on low.  Don’t crank it or it will smoke.  Let the oil heat up.  If you put the egg in too soon it won’t work.

Drop the egg in. Hear the crackly of egg to hot oil.  Have a large spoon handy that you can bast over the yellow part of the egg.  This will create a thin white top on it.

Don’t cook through, the egg will be running when you eat it.  The edges of the egg are crispy and brown.  Remove from pan ( takes 2 to 3 minutes to cook).

Sprinkle with kosher salt, eat asap.

Enjoy.
egg

We are closed

Saturday night we closed The Tar Pit.

The restaurant we (largely) own.  Long story short, the landlady wants to raise the rent, we thought it should be less as the lease was negotiated pre recession. This has been VERY emotional.  We have a lot invested in it. Other people invested in it.  We have employees.  There was going to be no point in staying open with high rent. None.
We just had a triumphant night with Mark cooking with Roy Choi. ( watch that here) Best to leave while we are ahead.
When we made the decision I was sick to my stomach.  I said, “I think I’m going to shit in my pants.”

We had to leave to go to a food event Mark was working on.  Our manager would notify our employees.  Mark started calling the investors while I drove and the kids watched “Home Alone” and “The Wizard of Oz” in the back seat.  We didn’t want to be defeated, but in this economy we can’t be squeezed anymore.  We had made cuts were we could.  We had the best manager and the best chef we have had since we opened. Our staff was the kindest, least drama mama’s we had had thus far.  The drinks were the best.
But, the roof was leaking ( literally and metaphorically) and it was time to act.
I was glad we were away while the news sunk in.  Back at Dolphin Bay with the sun shining, a big suite. It forestalled reality.  People who fail don’t live here.  It was also good to be in close quarters with my kids. we are closed

On Thursday I picked Vivien up from school and when I said, “Vivien we are closing The Tar Pit.”  She started to cry.
“why mommy?”
“The rent is going to be too high.”

“This is bad mommy.  This is a lot of money.”  I cringed.  Had I said that to her?  I don’t want her to have money anxieties like I remember having.  It’s a fine line though, you don’t want your kids to be spoiled, but she is so little.
“We are okay Vivien.  We still have savings, we have our home.  Nothing is going to change.”  Then I took her for a cookie.

As we drove back to LA Saturday for the final night I was starting to feel better.  At least we aren’t living in indecision.  “have you talked to her Mark?  Did she change her mind?”  Even if it blew we knew were we stood. Poor Mark was miserable about calling his investors.
“Tell them we lost more than anyone.” I would say.  He would ignore me.  He actually sounded like a sound business person when he spoke to them not like a girl who feels bad about forgetting a lunch date like I would have, “well, I overslept and the cat coughed up a hair ball, and…”

As we drove down an idea started to form…this was not it.  We had spoken of this, but it started to really sharpen in my own mind.  We would take our barstools and shakers and go where we were wanted.  Where the rent was a reasonable percentage of the sales. Maybe, it would be better.

We got home and Oliver kindly watched the kids as I changed to go out for the final night and to thank our staff.  I will say this, we did create a lot of work the last couple of years.  With our own money we  were the job creators.  I have learned a TON the past couple of years.  It’s been like a really expensive Learning Annex course, “How to run a small business”, but with drinks.

“I know what to wear to an opening, but what do I wear to a closing?”
“Something with color” said Chef Peel, the eternal optimist.
When I got to The Tar Pit I had to wait 15 minutes to park.  That was a first.  The place was not only crowded, usual for a Saturday night, but it never waned.  I sat with an investor.  He was down, but hoped we would go on.  I saw some friends who had heard through the grapevine who came in.
we are closed we are closed

There were tons of people I didn’t know.  Old employees came in by the bucket.  It’s the transitory nature of hospitality that people come and go, but we have one server, Natalie who opened with us. She is so sweet and always wears a flower in her hair.
we are closed
Tonight she had a really big flower.  She got up and sang. We all cheered for her.

I was most touched by the chef friends who showed up for my husband.  Roy Choi walked in.  We can find a place for some people at Campanile, but most of our staff had just lost their jobs.  Roy gave his card to the kitchen staff and told them to call them.  He had ideas of where we could go.  He has a great appreciate for Mark.  I love that guy.
Govind Armstrong walked in.  We hadn’t told him. He just heard about it. He started working for Mark when he was a teenager and now he is a major chef in his own right ( just opened Post and Beam, which we will be going to later this week)  He was at our wedding.  I was glad he was there.
we are closed
Person after person told us where we should move, that’s a hot area, think that developer would love a Mark Peel restaurant.
I had to go and let Oliver go to sleep, but it was hard to leave.  We had all been up beat and I went around a few times to hug the staff.  I was in the bar well telling three of them, “thank you so much for all of your hard work,” and my voice cracked.  I had to get out. They didn’t need me getting soppy on them.
People had to be thrown out after closing.  Fingers crossed we will be able to welcome them back one day.
we are closed

My husband knows his meat

In the ramp up to our one night only event at The Tar Pit Mark and chef Roy Choi visited the best butcher in Los Angeles.  Harvey Gussman is a legend to chefs in LA.  In France their is a great appreciation for a good butcher.  In our jumbo corporate food world this art gets lost.  But, you can taste the difference between a good steak and a lousy one.  It’s not just the chef, he needs the right tools. on Flickr”>meat
I learned a lot watching this video.  I also know that if I became a vegan my marriage would be in jeopardy.  Well, Mark says we’d have to go to counselling.

Check out two food legends discuss their knowledge of meat.  Food lovers, like moi, love this stuff.

Diner home cooking and Roy Choi, Mark Peel Mashup

I get asked a lot “why do you ever cook? Your husband must do all the cooking.”
My standard answer is “if I am at his restaurant he does.” Even when Mark is home at night ( at most two nights a week) I am the executive chef and he is my sou chef.   I tell him what we have and what I was thinking, then he takes and comes up with something.  Is that something that would be featured on a special tasting menu at Campanile?  Not usually.   The kind of food a great restaurant makes is a little too involved for a family of five when small kids and one grown lady will get really cranky if they don’t eat on time.
Also, I have to remind Chef Peel about what the kids will really eat.  I use to say, “okay, we have sausages, broccoli, grape tomatoes and various pasta.”  Mark would cook it all, and spice it well, then he would put it ALL TOGETHER.  For a my little kids that was a big yuck.
“No, the sausage, must stand alone, the broccoli, must stand alone, and so on.”
I will never be a chef like my husband.  Not even close.  But, I have realized I am a diner cook.  If you walked into a NY diner and looked at the menu, that’s the kind of stuff I can do pretty well.  Chicken Milanese, fettucine alfredo.  My vegis are way better than a diner, though. When I want exciting food, I can go out.
——————————-
Speaking of going out. I’m very proud of putting together a special culinary event. Even people out of LA have heard of the Kogi truck.  Chef Roy Choi put delish Korean meats in a taco and a cult following was born.  He is a very creative chef who has branched out into restaurants without wheels as well.  I went to his latest restaurant, The Sunny Shack and loved it.  I knew Mark would love the adventurous spices, the stewed goat.  Mark kept back with me one night and they chefs were pleased to talk about their shared passion.  Roy had been a fan of Marks.  I said, “Hey, would you do a special night at the Tar Pit?”
Several weeks and our team and Roy’s great team meeting and such and an exciting night is born.  Here is the flyer the Kogi gang put together that I love.
choi peel

The event is almost sold out.  I don’t even have a seat.  I’m meeting with our managers today about the event and one thing on my agenda is, “can you guys set aside some food for me?”

Cooking with Coolmom & kids: oatmeal

Cooking with young children is not a quick job, but they love to help. Nothing fancy, not giving my husband a run for his money.  Just like to get the offspring involved in food preparation.  The hope is that they

1) understand what goes in food

2) an appreciation for fresh, healthy foods

3) They won’t starve when they go to college and call me when they are 18 asking me how to cook rice (yeah, I did that, and thanks mom for not saying “read the bag you dumbass.)

I get fixated on a breakfast for about a year at a time.  Right now I’m into Oatmeal ala Daph.