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Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

Naples21416Sabrina-124

Its moments like these that really count. Photo: Christopher Dunlea

It’s still a mystery to me how this life works or even why.  I know the religious cats out there like to leave it up to their god or gods.  The fatalists believe our lives are already predestined according to the rules of fate.  The transcendentalists like to watch how life unfolds in front of them.  As for me I spent most of my time confused and boggled by both my everyday life and the greater scheme there of.  In addition I find myself in a constant state of awe and utter amazement of the world around me.  Most of the time I just plain spend too damn much time attempting to figure out just what is going on instead of just going with the flow, a motto I have very much been carefully learning to adopt.

Maybe If I had been able to “go with the flow” so to speak things would not have gotten as out of hand as they did.  For there has always been a fine line between going with the flow and standing up for what you believe in.  Whats right is right after all.  A friend of mine took note the other day that my blogging seems to revolve around my former relationships to define epochs in my life.  This thought began to marinate in my mind a bit and I thought that maybe my friend was right. My life for at least the last ten years or so has been defined by one woman or another and each one subsequently led to my personal demises.

Once again this little blog saga that I have been dragging out is nothing more then a pathetic epilogue , a sad testament even,  on some level to another failed romance.  If I have learned anything from all of what you have already read and are still to read it’s that women in general are fucking nuts.  Believe me I know crazy.  I’m completely bat shit, certifiably insane. I crossed over that line and never looked back around ten years ago.  Ultimately my thoughts are that I will never understand the female psyche and I suppose I don’t really care to anymore.  I am just going to do my thing and let them do theirs.

Anyhow so last I left off I had been jilted by yet another she devil. I know now she was just a rebound, but at the time it killed me.  I think the hardest thing that anyone has to do is get over a relationship and many of us can’t help but jump right into another one to if even for a brief moment be able to relive the same feeling of love we had with our exes.  This momentary memory becomes pure bliss and we forget our troubles.  What usually happens at least for me and others I have talked to is that I end up putting way too much emphasis and pressure on this new budding relationship causing it to falter before it even got off the ground.  This was exactly the case this time around, though it didn’t help that she had one of the least agreeable dispositions I have ever come across in a relationship.

After the break up that was the pretty much the premise of the “When it rains it” blog I went into my usual downward spiral of drinking, drug abuse and incessant partying.  At the same time I was also losing interest at my job.  I was promised all these so called changes that were going to take place to make my life easier.  Instead they just made my job harder and way more annoying.  Over it and feeling very aggravated with my life in general I began to act out against the management a bit.  I even began to stir up a bit of mutiny among my fellow employees.

The fact that it was an El Nino winter and the WNW swells kept pouring in didn’t help either. In fact I began using my sick and vacation time in pursuit of catching good days out at Naples, El Capitan and other of my favorite waves.  At that point I was over missing decent waves for a job that was going absolutely no where and for a management system that completely didn’t care.  When I think of all the great days of surfing I have missed for that stupid job it makes me sick, including the once in a life time Hurricane Marie swell.  You can click this link for that skinny on that one.

Napleswave

Saying the winter was solid is almost an understatement.  Photo: Christopher Dunlea

I guess it was late January when everything went down.  The hard part about work place politics and one I have never been all that good about is knowing who’s ass to kiss and who to side with.  My problem always is that I don’t kiss anyone’s ass and just about all the time say exactly what is on my mind good or bad.  I finally had enough of all the new changes going on with out any consultation of my own.  I steadily began making complaints and inquiries into everything that was taking place.  I suppose my bosses and a few other employees who were looking to climb the ladder a bit at my own demise got into cohorts against me and began compiling incriminating evidence, most of which was absolute bull shit, against me.  I was the only one with the integrity and gall to challenge what I felt was unfair policy and as a result like any great martyr I took the fall for it.

Ultimately it all led to my termination for a charge of which I was guilty of just that it had been known that I was an offender of such since I initially began working there six years ago, and was never warned or questioned about.  As a matter of fact my own bosses used to joke with me about it.  I am not going to get into here cause it is a tad embarrassing and could hurt my professional reputation.  The evidence against me was severely lacking and mostly hearsay.  I actually consulted a few lawyers about the possibility of a wrongful termination suit and was advised against it, being told although I had a decent case it was not worth the time, money and effort.  In the end I took what little severance I was offered and moved on with my life.
archesChris

By February and my birthday I found myself totally and completely at a loss.  I had no job, very little money, no prospects and no girl friend.  Some would say my situation seemed rather bleak and if I was a normal person I would have felt the same.  As I dug deep into my inner self and came to grasp with my situation I actually realized that my current state of things though sounding a bit desperate was the best possible scenario one could ask for and one I have found myself in before.  Life had basically in one fell swoop handed me a do-over.

Basically I was involuntarily handed a clean slate to draw up whatever plans or lack thereof I saw fit.  Slowly I began to climb back up to my former self. As of press time after a tough spell I feel greater then ever.  The world is my oyster and I’m hunting for pearls.  The winter was amazing.  I got to do and experience lots of wonderful things that my career had taken from me the past six years.  I finally remembered what it was like to live.  In the end as angry as I was at Sodexo and everyone involved in my unemployment I feel the need to express a great sense of gratitude for setting me free.  I don’t know what’s next for me at the moment, but I am exploring some different avenues all a bit outside of the box. Time will tell my friends, it always does.

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Hoping for a grand future.  Photo: Christopher Dunlea

 

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I know its been awhile and as far as content goes this blog has been a desolate waste land over the past few months.  What can I say for myself except for that fact that I have been rather busy these days.  Apparently trying to make my way in the real world has been a bit harder then I had initially thought.  Anyhow I thought I would take a minute to bring everyone up to speed and reaffirm that this blog is not dead.

As usual I have been rather busy doing nothing of an importance or significance besides keeping my head above water.  I suppose sometimes that is all one must strive for.  At the same time there are a few things in the works at the moment and if anyone or a number of them come to fruition I could be styling on a whole new level.  Since all of this is at the grass roots level there is not much more elaboration I am at liberty to offer up at this time.

Besides that I had a few personal issues go down in my life as a direct result of some of my past writings on here.   I held out and stuck to my originally convictions though ultimately the entire ordeal ended in censorship of my own personal words and even the temporary if not permanent removal of a few of my better posts.  This came as quite a blow to my emotions, artistic integrity and pissed me off creatively forcing a short hiatus from writing anything but the surflog, which regrettably has also been altered to my utter dismay.  Despite all of this bullshit I have managed to keep the regular diligent record of my daily surf sessions.

Facemask

This is exactly what censorship boils down to in my opinion…

This was not the first instance where I have had to go back and make some changes due to something I have written that hurt someone I cared about in my life.  All I do is honestly speak my mind about the everyday things that happen in my life.  Of course, since it is my life all of the people in it on occasion find there way into my writing and this would not be a problem other then the fact that what I scribe is available to be read by anyone with an internet connection.  As a blogger for many years being in the eye of the public has been a fact that I was more then willing to except and still am.

At the same time I also have to respect the feelings of those other people in my life and understand their reasons for not wanting to be a part of SurfingRuinedMyLife.net.  Maybe I have finally grown enough as a person over the past few years to finally respect that.  Whether I have made the right decision or not is still to be determined.  What I can say is that it was the right decision for me.  This has always been a surf blog anyhow and I think moving forward I will spend more time writing about surfing instead of just bitching about the melodrama of my some what semi-charmed life I in southern California.

Lets get back to the roots of this blog...Surfing

Lets get back to the roots of this blog…Surfing

I think less crying and more surfing will suit all of us just fine.  I will of course do a bit of complaining as usual, but we can all agree it is my useless rants that help add a bit of comedy from an other wise boring work.  Expect some new recipes for I am at times cooking again for fun.  As usual there will be new books cause a writer who doesn’t read is like a fish that doesn’t swim.  Hopefully I will have a few other cool things up my sleeve as I search for new inspiration.  I just don’t mean in writing but maybe in life as well.  We all know things here in Santa Barbara have gotten a bit stagnant for me and I feel its time I picked things up.
Ravioli

I have finally managed to surpass my incessant partying with time in the water.  After nearly five years of self destructive party and ten years of self destructive surfing I believe I  have began to find a balance.  I can attribute a lot of this to the many people who have remained constant in my life and even those who exist in it no longer.  Bizarro has helped me find a new vigor for both my cooking and surfing through his new found interest in both. On the Surfing front we have been shooting up a storm.
11333499_1675042429395234_720614452_nI don’t really know what the future holds and wouldn’t want to know anyway or it would not interesting.  I have bit more free time for the next two months and I am hoping to add more content and have a few adventures along the way.  Finally I thank all of you for reading and sharing my life with me at SurfingRuinedMyLife.net.  Here is looking forward to a fun summer.

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No blogs, just surf

No blogs, just surf

June came and went with not a piece of writing here on SurfingRuinedMyLife.net.  For that I must say I am sorry.  I thought I would take a moment to explain myself a little bit.  First off things have been a bit on the crazy side.  Alright, when isn’t my life on the crazy or hectic side?  Normally by July I have hit my stride of chilling on Uncle Sam’s nickel.  That was exactly where I saw myself by now.  Unfortunately my superiors at Westmont had other plans for my summer.  While I would usually find myself living on the dole of unemployment with a little hustle and flow on the side I found myself stuck in the kitchen four days a week.

The Westmont Grind

Back in April I had been asked if I wanted to work May term hours.  May term is a one month micro semester Westmont runs for it’s students.  Like any institution of higher learning this means they compress classes into a short time period but still charge students the same amount of money per credit for the normal semester.  The motherfucking business of education.  “Hey come spend all your money and go into debt, then graduate with a useless degree and have to go work for minimum wage for some idiot like me”.  The only difference is I too am a well educated idiot working way outside of my degree or education for way less money then I should.  I think I just summed up every American from 22-35 at the moment.  Ain’t this country grand.  America land of the free only if your rich while the rest of us have become the in debt slave laborer. Sorry for the rant but it has been a while.

I did the math and realized if I worked all of May and saved the bulk of that money I could kick it on unemployment for the remainder of the summer and still have my “extravagant” or lack there of life style with out any change, unlike my usual summers where by August I am eating out of the trash and basically sucking dick for crack.  Well maybe not that last part, but you get what I am saying.   The fuckers stuck me on the morning shift meaning I had to get up at pretty much 5:30 every morning and leaving me forced to surf windy blown out shit in the afternoons.  It was only temporary…or at least that is what I thought.

May term came and went and I began getting even more hours as an influx of camp and convention groups came in.  Apparently Westmont whores out its campus to anyone willing to pay for it all summer long.  This sort of makes me a prostitute for the institute I suppose.  Whatever, dollar bills!   I have been working about 25-40 hours a week, work depending since May.   My schedule changes week to week which is certainly a pain in the ass.  I still manage a surf everyday and am stacking some mean paper while flipping burgers.

Reaping the fruits of my labor.  Your looking at a bacon double cheese burger for yours truly.  You think I would feed the customer this well, as if.  Yes that is a plastic plate on top a 350 degree F flat top grill.  Safety as always is my number one concern.

Reaping the fruits of my labor. Your looking at a bacon double cheese burger for yours truly. You think I would feed the customer this well, as if. Yes that is a plastic plate on top of a 350 degree F flat top grill. Safety as always is my number one concern.

Also it looks like I may actually become the full blown sous chef this fall considering that our old sous chef and my fellow friend in suffering Geoffrey is taking off a few months for hand surgery due to old age.  The guy is like 62 and been a war horse in the kitchen for over 40 years.  I am bummed to see him go as I have been able to learn so much from him and he over the past  six months has become sort of a mentor to me not to mention a great friend.  Honestly I don’t really want his job.  If I get impressed into it I am looking at twice the head ache, three times the responsibility, 100% more bull shit for if I am lucky $2 more an hour.  Whooooooooooooooot!!!!!!!!!  I am actually going to have a sit down with my general manager this week to see what is going on with the fall semester.

Catering

This was close to 150 salads for a wedding at some Hollywood directors 30 million dollar estate in Montecito.

This was close to 150 salads for a wedding at some Hollywood directors 30 million dollar estate in Montecito.

Those of you who frequently read the surflog know all about most of everything I have written and will write in this blog.  Basically I may not write blogs everyday or even monthly these days, but I do however write in my surflog, my online journal, daily.  So if you have not discovered it yet give it a peruse every now and again.  My boy Trevor recently became Executive Chef for a local catering company here in Santa Barbara.   I will not disclose the company so as to not cause any problems that this blog so often does in my life when I name, names.

He asked me if I would help a brother out for a bit while he got on his feet there.  At the moment I am currently his sous chef.  I am a double sous.  Always a fucking a bridesmaid and never a bride!  On my days off I am stuck either at an event busting my ass or in his kitchen prepping for an event.  Its a good learning experience and even more paper to stack.  At this point I am doing the best I have monetarily in about eight years or so.  Last night I took Heather out to dinner, where I proceeded to get sloshed and told her “MONEY IS NO OBJECT”.  And you know what?  It wasn’t…

Here we are at the Palace toasting to Trevor's new found success

Here we are at the Palace toasting to Trevor’s new found success

And we cooked up a surf and turf feast for the occasion.  That is grilled tri tip, Grilled fresh local prawns, orzo and roasted vegetables, and goat cheese horse radish bruschetta

And we cooked up a surf and turf feast for the occasion. That is grilled tri tip, Grilled fresh local prawns, orzo and roasted vegetables, and goat cheese horse radish bruschetta

DING REPAIR

Look at the ghetto set up I have going here.  My board is propped up by a cooler in the ally way on the side of my building.  I like to call what I do no guerrilla surf board repair.

Look at the ghetto set up I have going here. My board is propped up by a cooler in the ally on the side of my building. I like to call what I do now guerrilla surf board repair.

It never fucking ends. Just when I think I am out I am always sucked back in.  I don’t even have a space to repair boards.  I literally glass boards in my bathroom and then sand them in the ally next to my building.  Its a fucking pain in the ass and I hate it.  Yet for some reason surf boards keep showing up at my house to be repaired.  It’s true that  I am always breaking my own boards and needing to fix those.  I have four spares meaning I only really need to fix boards a few times a year when I have destroyed all four.  Usually in that time period I end up getting a new one anyhow.  My quiver is in reality a bunch of destroyed boards with one or two good ones.

People still show up at my house with dings.  They hit me up on Facebook.  “Hey so my boy said you fix dings…ummm can you help me out bro?”  My own friends are constantly hitting me up to repair their boards.  “Please Chris, don’t make me go to a surf shop, your the man”.  I am the man who hates fixing surf boards.  I even get phone calls on occasion from people in New Jersey who need a board fixed.  WTF.  It will never end will it?

Just in case you thought I was exaggerating.  That is a surfboard about to be glassed IN MY MOTHER FUCKING BATHROOM!!!!!!

Just in case you thought I was exaggerating. That is a surfboard about to be glassed IN MY MOTHER FUCKING BATHROOM!!!!!!

Surfing

I have actually been surfing up a storm.  Jalama has been the best it has been in ten years.  The kelp is good, the sand is decent and there have been waves thus I have been staying wet.  A normal day for me goes like this.  I wake up a 5:30am, go to work and make food for about eight hours.  Then I get off at around 3 pm, meet whomever hit me up first at my apartment to go up north with me.  I only take one person and its first come first serve, no nepotism.  Read The Rule of Two blog for more on my philosophy on that.
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I change out of my work clothes, load up the car and shove off on the hour or so drive to Jalama.  When we get there its not over, oh no.  There is about another 25 minutes of walking on the beach to get to the spot, maybe further, swell and crowd depending.  Then we surf for two hours, make the walk back, followed by the drive.  If I am with Trevor we always stop at Denny’s in Goleta for a post surf dinner.  If it is a party night then my day is not over.  I come home, take shower, suit up and cruise to the Wild Cat.  As you can see by this account of my day to day there is not very much time for blogging.
SpringSurf14-524I managed a perfect month back in May surfing every single day of the month 31 sessions in 31 days and a few doubles as well.  I don’t think I have accomplished such a feat since I lived in New Zealand.  It was fucking exhausting and I surfed all sorts of garbage in all sorts of dumb crowds.  You can read the May surflog to find out all about that one.  Basically I have found a renewed love for surfing and my performance is off the charts. I may be surfing better right now then I have ever surfed in my life.  Maybe I will write something about the perfect month here if I ever find some time.
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I guess that pretty much should bring everyone up to speed on what has been happening in Lisanti Land.  Heather and I are still together.  Even I don’t understand how or why that is.  At the moment it is actually going along at steady calm.  Whether or not I am doing the right thing for me or her is yet to be seen.  Just as I felt at the beginning I still feel now completely uncertain and confused.  Then again who really gives a fuck anyway cause at least I am surfing every day.

My cooking partner in crime Calvin finally moved back out to Santa Barbara and is currently living on the couch here at the Palace.  Where would I be with out a guy on the couch?  Him and I are in the process of the early stages of planning that Italian restaurant I always talk about opening.  He moved here with the intention of getting this place off the ground with me.   With any luck our goal is the try and open it by July of next year.  Lets keep our fingers crossed.  Expect to hear more on this from time to time as it begins to consume my life.

Here is some homemade potato gnocchi in a meat sauce to get your mouth watering.  This is just a taste of what I will be serving up at my restaurant.

Here is some homemade potato gnocchi in a meat sauce to get your mouth watering. This is just a taste of what I will be serving up at my restaurant.

What can you look forward to here on SurfingRuinedMyLife.net?  Kooky actually wrote a Kooky’s Korner for me to publish.  Of course this happened about a month ago or so, but my lazy ass never got around to publish it.  Since I have not heard from him since he may be dead in Tanzania right now, though he will live on here on the blog.  Nick the Kook was nice enough to write some of his recent adventures in Chile.  He wrote these like two months ago and I never posted it.  I am sure at some point I will rant about some bull shit like how I got a pimple on my right ass cheek and now it hurts every time I sit down to take a shit (that has not happened).  There you have it,  the last 45 days or so in my life.  Glad you still decide to read the trash I put out here.  Bye bye for now…

Calvin, Mark and I doing some R & D for the restaurant at the Wild Cat.

Calvin, Mark and I doing some R & D for the restaurant at the Wild Cat.

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Tell me this doesn't make your taste buds yearn.

Tell me this doesn’t make your taste buds yearn.

How this amazing breakfast/dessert item has eluded  me all of these years is beyond my comprehension.  Apparently the Dutch Baby has been pleasing the breakfast enthusiast for a long time.  I know its been a while since I have posted a recipe up here due my own personal laziness, but I promise my friends it was well worth the wait.  About a month ago Heather told me about this giant oversize pancake she used to eat when she lived in Portland called a Dutch Baby.  After doing some research on the subject I just had to have one.  This past Sunday was the day.

I woke up and was craving a Dutch Baby.  I was lacking a medium size cast iron pan.  Immediately I went on thrift store lurk.  Two thrift shops later and a debate on whether this some what fly pair of chocolate loafers looked good on me and was worth $10 (it wasn’t), I found my pot and was ready to go.  This thing blew my mind and I am sure it will yours as well.  Cook it up for your peers and they will no doubt be giving you praise.  The best part is it is fairly easy and cheap to make too.

Total Cost: $9
Feeds 2-4 people

Ingredient List:

  • Butter – 3 Table Spoons
  • Eggs – 3 (large)
  • Milk – 3/4 Cup (Whole)
  • Flour – 1/2 Cup (All Purpose)
  • Sugar – 1/3 Cup
  • Vanilla Extract – 1 Tea Spoon
  • Cinnamon – pinch
  • Salt – pinch
  • Pepper – 1/2 Tea Spoon
  • Confectionery Sugar – Table Spoon
  • Lemon Juice – Table Spoon
  • Medium Size Cast Iron Skillet (8-10 inch)

Step 1: Preheat Oven –  Preheat Oven to 425 Degrees F and at the same time on a medium flame melt 2 table spoons of butter in a medium size cast iron skillet (8-10 inch) If you do not have a cast iron skillet you can use an 8-10 inch baking pan or sautoir pan.  If you use the sautoir pan be sure to make sure it does not have a plastic handle or it will melt in the oven.

The pan with 2tbs of melted butter

The pan with 2tbs of melted butter

Step 2: Make the Batter – Combine milk, eggs, flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and vanilla extract in a large bowl preferably with an electric mixer.  Beat till foamy.  Pour finished batter into skillet with the melted butter and place into  preheated oven (425F) for around 20 minutes or until Dutch Baby has risen to it’s maximum height and has browned up.

Your batter should be rather runny looking

Your batter should be rather runny looking

Notice the layer of foam settling at the top of the finished batter.

Notice the layer of foam settling at the top of the finished batter.

Step 3: Serve After 20 minutes or so pull out your finished Dutch Baby.  It should have risen rather high and the peaks should have a brown caramelized appearance.  The Baby will fall rather quickly so don’t be alarmed.  Slice up the remaining table spoon of butter and spread it over the top.  Squeeze some lemon juice over the top.  Cover with confectionery sugar.  Fruit topping is optional, add to your own taste.

Your finished Dutch Baby fresh out of the oven sans topping.

Your finished Dutch Baby fresh out of the oven sans topping.

Your final product ready to eat...YUM

Your final product ready to eat…YUM

 

 

 

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Westmont Flyer

 

About a week ago I was at work chopping onions and crying my eyes out when I felt the presence of someone standing behind me.  Sure enough it was my head boss.  I assumed I was going to get scolded for a variety of reasons or instances, which most likely would have been warranted.  Expecting the worst I put on my George Costanza frustrated face preparing to pretend like I a gave a shit.

To  my surprise instead of it being the usual negative feed back I have come to love I was asked to come up with and execute an Italian menu for a special event at the Westmont Dinning Commons.  My first thoughts were “awesome more shit I have to do for way too little money”.  Then I warmed up to the idea and decided to really give it a go.  I have been boasting for years that if I was given the shot I could turn out a scrumptious meal.  Finally I was handed just that.

I sat down with my friend and Sous Chef Chantelle and we figured out a good, feasible, cost effective menu.  I am not one to use my own personal recipes with anyone especially for commercial purposes. Those are mine for my restaurant if I ever decide to be ambitious again.   My heart was in this project and I committed two of my original dishes. By the weekend I was rather excited although a bit nervous.  We always do special events like this at Westmont and on paper they sound amazing, but in reality by the time they get to the front line it is far from what we had hoped it to be.

One of the Sausage Sicilian Pizzas

One of the Sausage Sicilian Pizzas

Wednesday was the big day.  We had Sicilian style Sausage, Pepperoni and Cheese pizzas for our  pizza station, an authentic Anti Pasto Salad on the salad station, Fettuccine Florentine on the saute station, Chicken Parmigiana Sandwiches on the grill station.  On top of that there was Chicken Marsala over spaghetti.  I did my own personal Pasta alla Rossado and Eggplant La Fresca as well.  Chantelle was amazing in helping make my vision come to fruition.  If it was not for her hard work and organization I don’t think I could have pulled it off.

The Anti Pasto Salad

The Anti Pasto Salad

She had everything prepped out the day before, a strategy and a check list.   And ff course the infallible help from all of the other cooks in the kitchen with out whom this task would have been impossible.  When I first walked into the kitchen Wednesday morning I was a bit apprehensive about how things were going to go.  In the end we all pulled it off and considering all the positive feed back I got on the entire meal I must say even my negative ass would have to deem it a success.

Fettuccine Florentine

Fettuccine Florentine

Italian-Day-Line

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I stood on a bench this morning overlooking the break at Mesa Lane.  It was tiny maybe knee to thigh at best.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous.  Fresh off a new hair cut, I took a deep breath of the warm sweet summer sea air.  There is nothing like the feeling after a good hair cut.  You look at yourself in the mirror when all is said and done and there is this sort affirmation “you have arrived”.  Alright maybe that is a little bit of a stretch, but it is what such means to me.

There  were two guys out making the most of the meager offerings, a grom and his mentor.  The kid was struggling to catch a wave, as I stood there watching his agony. The guy out with him pushed the kid into the next wave.  The grommie stood up and cruised across the the wave’s tiny face.  I let out a giant hoot so loud he probably heard it in the water.  At that moment I felt his stoke and reveled in it.  What a day, what a week, what a month, what a year!

I just stood there in utter amazement of how beautiful the world around me was.  The islands were in full view.  A speed boat with boards on top cruised by most likely en route to the ranch.  A pod of dolphins frolicked along the swell lines. There was an old man walking his dog on the beach and some woman a little further watching her three dogs running in a blissful caper through the surf.

A huge smile was on my face.  I could not help but laugh out  loud at both life and myself.  One year ago (I sort of judge my years now from June 1st to June 1st) I wrote this blog: “A New Normal: The One Year Plan“.  Ironically while checking my daily stats I noticed someone read that this morning and it got me thinking.  What a pathetic miserably sad state I was in when I wrote that on June 30th 2011.  Back then if one would have told me that I would be sitting here writing a blog like this I would have strangled them to death after which committed seppuku.

Last night at my weekly family dinner I have now been hosting for five months surrounded by five  of my regulars, who really have in my mind become family and three new comers to the table I raised a class of champagne and toasted to what is looking like a very bright future.  Before  we get there let me take a minute to remember how arduous a road it has been to get thus far in 2012.

There were plenty of proclamations made all of which were pretty much shattered about a day after they were made much like most New Years resolutions.  And yes more drinking ensued, but  it was more fun drinking then depression drinking and slowly but surely everyday I began to feel a little bit better and a little bit stronger.  I did let a few unworthy people into my life whom I carelessly mistook as having potential.  But that passed too.  We renovated the Lisanti Palace so I could wake up everyday to a respectable looking apartment and want to get on par with my new ambient.

March came around and I saw the departure of Kooky Kyle who if not for him I may not have gotten through November to March.  I was sad to see him leave, but happy to relinquish his duties as keeper of the Lisanti Palace.  He went on to conquer his own demons in pursuit of wanderlust.  You can read about his post Lisanti Land adventures in his occasional segment here on SurfingruinedMyLife.net Kooky’s Korner.

After Kooky the keys to the Palace, ha that’s a joke to anyone who has spent time here(or the butter knife we use to open the laundry room) were passed on to this guy Dan.  He showed up on the scene and met all the requirements I have for a roommate. He did not shoot heroin, smoke meth or crack or any other heavy drugs for that matter, had a steady job and kept his mess to his room and was gone more then home.  The guy was some type of ultimate frisbee champion or something.  I though whatever as long as he pays the rent.

Turns out the guy was alright with me and I guess we have become a modern version of the odd couple.   The thing about Dan is he is super positive all the time always building one up.  When he would come home and find me depression drinking by myself in the dark he brought me out and got my head out of my ass.  No matter what the guy always got me looking on that bright side of things.  He helped fill out my dinner parties and as a result they are becoming quite the event.  Last night I made four contrasting styles of pizza and calzones followed by a splendid peach and kiwi French custard dessert.

This kid Sean I have know for years here in Santa Barbara found himself temporarily homeless and I think every reader here should know by now that no friend of mine will go homeless as long I have a couch.  Shit I have three and a leaky blow up mattress.  Sean came to stay for a few weeks before moving back to Bakersfield with his dad.  As it turned out him and I had pretty much went through the same type of shit over the past year.  Empathy can be rapturous at the right time.  Sean did something for me no one had yet out of all the astounding people that came into my life, each whether negative or positive contributing to where I am right now.  Sean allowed me to open my mind to possibilities I had for far too long been too skeptical to believe.

Last night as I raised my glass to make a toast to my new life.  Before doing so I silently thanked everyone who had a hand in the moment who could not be at my table, in time order: Adrienne, Aniaya, Heroin Bryan, Silly Steve, Sleepy Time Nick, Jules, Rye Guy, Kooky Kyle, Sorbo, Calvin, Dave, Vespera, Danny Boy, Sean, Jennifer, Anna and my always everyday people Ryan, Lindsay, Mauriello who put up with my shit on a regular basis.  From all of these aforementioned people I learned a bit more about myself and capabilities.  A king is only as strong as his court.  Thanks to all these people I will never have to worry about walking around naked unless I so choose “The Emperors New Clothes” style.

What the fuck am I rambling about you ask?  I mean seriously right I have been muttering on for over a thousands words now.  Who do I think I am Faulkner or something.  Well, about two weeks I hit a serious cross roads in my life and was walking the fine line between cashing out on my life here in Santa Barbara, hanging my hat where ever the wind decided to blow me or continuing on the path I originally set out on two years ago when I quit the gas station and got back to cooking.  The whole “growing up” thing and creating a “real life”.  Ultimately I chose the the latter.  Its fine time I stop running.  Maybe this past year was my time in the rock quarry like my fictional counter part Howard Roark (The Fountain Head, Ayn Rand).

I began putting out my resume to anyone and everyone, for any job available be it dish washer, prep cook or chef.  Yesterday I got hired as sous chef at a small bistro in Carpinteria.  Now, its only a trial right now and Monday is my first day, but Westmont was only a trial and that seemed to work out.  All I know is I am ready to meet this new challenge and move forward with the rest of my life.  Enough splitting rocks for it is time to fulfill my destiny.  The best part is all of it is for me and no one else, not a woman, not to impress, but just for my own personal quest to cook the most scrumptious food possible while enhancing my own person skill set.  “Please allow me to reintroduce myself”  my name is CHRIS LISANTI and I am not small!!!

Ahhh yes, here is to the Summer of Alf.

Sometimes in life it is the path more traveled upon that is the hardest to follow. I think I have finally chosen the right road.

 

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Citrus Torte finished with Marsala Cream...Yum!!!!

Citrus Almond Torte

Yep as you can see I am cooking for pleasure again, well wait I think I need to rephrase that.  I am always cooking for pleasure.  Most days of the week I can’t believe I get paid to cook in the environment I do.  Getting into the food service profession as a career finally has been the best decision I have ever made in my life.  Back to what I mean by cooking for pleasure.  At Westmont I do my best to be as creative and stickler for quality as possible, but given the size of the portioning and ingredients given to work with, plus the time allotted I at times find myself producing a product I am less then proud of.  Still I do the best I can.  

  For a long time I had no one to cook for but myself leaving me severely unmotivated.  Given the clean up and effort I just could not bring myself to do it.  It is for that reason I started having weekly dinner parties here at the Lisanti Palace.  For starters it brings back the grandiose family sit down dinners I grew up accustomed to as a youngster and second it allows me to try out possible recipes for my my restaurant I hope to open someday.  Look for a blog on that really soon.  

These dinners have allowed me to try out all sorts of items, from entree’s to appetizers to sides to even dessert.  Some of the recipes are family secrets and I wont give them here.   Others I have taken from different sources and tweaked them to my liking.  Those are the ones I will post here on SurfingRuinedMyLife.net.  Please don’t feel disgruntled and instead respect the integrity of recipes passed down through my family from Naples, Italy for generations for as long as anyone in my family can remember. 

I know the last five recipes or so have been desserts, but that is an area that has always been weak for me and one I am slowly getting a handle on.  Also the dessert category of Recipe D’Jour was lacking and I wanted to beef it up before the eventual redesign I am working on for this entire blog (that too is another blog for another day).  This Citrus Almond Torte is one that is rather simple to create, wont break your bank and can be made in a reasonable amount of time.  Did I mention it is rather tasty as well. 

Serving Size: 8-10
Total Cost: $11.50
Prep Time: 35mins
Cook Time: 45mins
Cool Time: 1hr 30mins

Ingredient List:

  • Torte
    • Butter – 4oz (room temperature)
    • Sugar – 3/4 Cup
    • Large Egg – 1
    • Egg Yolk – 2
    • Almonds – 1 cup (toasted, ground)
    • All Purpose Flour – 1/2 Cup
    • Orange Juice – 2 Table Spoons
    • Lemon Juice – 2 Table Spoons
    • Orange Zest – 1 Table Spoon
    • Lemon Zest – 1 Table Spoon
    • Coriander – 1 Tea Spoon
    • Salt – Pinch
    • Egg Whites – 2
  • Marsala Cream
    • Chilled Whipping Cream – 1 Cup
    • Confectionery Sugar – 2 Table Spoons
    • Marsala Wine – 2 Table Spoons
  • Orange Sauce
    • Orange Juice – 1 Cup
    • Corn Starch – 1 1/2 Table Spoons
    • Sugar – 1/4 Cup
    • Orange Zest – 1 Table Spoon

Step 1: Get Your Ingredients for the Torte Together – Take two eggs and separate the yolks from the whites, you will need both parts at different times so do not throw away either.  Zest both your lemon and orange.  Use actual fruit for your juices needed.   Whip egg whites till stiff but not dry, make sure if your using an electric mixer beater is clean.  Preheat oven to 375 F.  Butter and lightly dust with flour an 8inch springform pan.

Step 2: Mix Ingredients – Beat butter in a large bowl until fluffy.  Cut the butter into small manageable pieces to make process easier.  Gradually add sugar till blended. Add the whole egg, then the yolks one at a time beating well after each addition.  At low speed beat in almonds, flour, orange juice, lemon juice, lemon zest, orange zest, coriander and salt.  Be sure to scrape down bowl as many times as necessary in order to have a conform mixture.  Fold egg whites into batter in two equal parts.

The finished batter.

Step 3: Bake in Oven – Pour batter into your springform pan, place in oven preheated to 375F for 40 minutes or until you can put a tooth pick inside its center and it comes out clean.  Cool at room temperature for an hour and a half.

Torte after coming out of the oven.

Step 4: Make Marsala Cream – Beat whipping cream and confectionery sugar till soft peaks form.  Mix in Marsala. Refrigerate if holding

Step 5: Make Orange Sauce – Whisk orange juice and cornstarch in bowl till cornstarch is completely dissolved.  Melt butter in heavy sauce pan over medium flame.  Whisk in sugar, orange zest and orange juice cornstarch mixture.  Whisk until sauce boils and thickens, should take around five minutes.  Remove from flame and cool.  Refrigerate if holding more then a few hours.

Step 6: Serving Options – When serving this Citrus Torte you have several options.  First and the simplest way is to cover the top of the torte with powdered sugar and then if desired serve either the Marsala Cream or Orange Sauce or both on the side.  Second you can use the Orange Sauce as the topping of the Torte.  To do this just drizzle entire Torte in Sauce till you get the desired covering (pictured below).  Finally you can use the Marsala Cream to actually Ice the Torte as shown in the opening picture and then serve the orange sauce on the side or if you are plating it by the slice I like to drizzle the sauce over the middle of the slice after it has been placed on its side.

Torte Served with just the Orange Sauce.

 

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