Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blog Upkeep

I haven't been a very decent blogger. Blogs take time and creativity and thought, all of which I have been putting into other areas of my life lately. My goal this summer is to continue with the blog, but instead of posting once a year, post several times a month. Here goes...

I moved to San Luis Obispo last October with high hopes and a determination to get out and try living somewhere new and fascinating, somewhere I had been very few times before. Moving to a new place is something that most of us have done. It's easy enough. You take all your crap, pack your car until it's skimming the tops of the wheels, slowly move down the highway to your new home, unpack your crap, find out your crap is not going to fit into your new place, try and decide whether to get rid of your milk frother or your popsicle making kit because both won't fit, stuff your new closet's nooks and crannies with random objects, shut the door and hope none of your new friends that you will meet will open it, and breathe a sigh of relief that the moving part is over with. Then comes the hardest part. Meeting new people. The only other time I've moved away from the Sierras was the time I tried to be a university student at USD in the middle of San Diego. College's make it very easy for newcomers to meet and greet by planning group activities such as making you pick up other people's trash, that they shouldn't have dropped on the ground in the first place, for hours with no food or water until you're all hangry (Definition of Hangry) and upset and annoyed with each other to the point that you feel like you've become brothers and sisters within a few hours of meeting each other. It also helps that you all live together in one big "house", sharing each other's germs and food and boyfriends. 

I was confident that it would be just as easy this time, especially since my boyfriend, Steve, was moving with me, a surefire friend. Our studio was on the side of Johnson, which was a busy "neighborhood" street that looked more like a freeway around 5 PM when everyone got off work. Our cat Kyle ran away the minute we got there, scared out of his wits after coming down from the mountains. Our neighbors were mostly older, retired folk, who grumbled at the idea of a younger couple moving into the studio on the end. I'm certain Steve's loud, modified engine in his car didn't win us any bonus points either. Back in August we had gone to San Luis to look for a place to live and we had chosen the worst time to do so. We had two days to find someplace to live before going back to work. They were two days of frantic searching. Everything decent had already been nabbed by Cal Poly college kids, so most of we looked at in our price range resembled a cockroach infested hotel room with moldy ceilings or meth labs with scary disassembled stovetops and black windows. When we returned the keys of one such place, the realtor asked what I thought of it. I told her it looked like a definite fixer upper. She responded with, "Yeah, It's more for someone who owns a dog and likes to surf." I'm still trying to figure where she got that stereotype from and if it had ended up being true. So when we came across the studio on Johnson Street, it was a "wemustliveherebecauseeverywhereelsesucks" situation. The landlord seemed a bit hesitant at first to rent two young people this beautiful studio sitting on the end of the row of these beautiful vitruvian houses. The landlord boasted about the solar heating system, the well insulated walls to keep out the car noise on the freeway (Johnson St.) three steps from our front door, and the water heater that heats water as needed ( DO NOT HAVE/LIVE SOMEWHERE THAT HAS ONE OF THESE INSTALLED, THEY BURN YOUR SKIN OFF!). I couldn't stop smiling, finally a decent place! Who cares that it's at the very tippy top/over our price range, it's a place to live and it's awesome! Steve wasn't smiling quite as big, being more practical, but I had already made up my mind. This was where we were going to live! A few months later, when we realized half our stuff wasn't going to fit inside this must have studio apartment, sweat dripping down the side of my forehead from numerous trips up and down the stairs carrying heavy boxes full of my "Ihavetohaveit"crap, our landlord explaining that our overpriced rent payment was due in a week, I was thinking to myself, "IS this where we are going to live?" 

                            Madonna and Bishop Peak, San Luis Obispo, CA

to be continued.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Wild Women's Wine Walk

As the leaves up the canyon begin to change into their fiery reds, yellows,and oranges, the workers at Rock Creek Lakes Resort begin to grow restless as the end of the season draws nearer. You might even say a couple of them have gone completely nuts (myself included). This is the best time of season to be on the lookout for a pie lady on a walkabout or a cabin-cleanin' dame wandering around in the forest. They tend to be milder in temper during the evening hours, wine glasses in hand,which is when you're most likely to have a sighting! 

I happen to come across this pack of four, who invited me to join them in what they described as: The Wild Women's Wine Walk. A 1.75 mile stroll around Rock Creek Lake that in order to participate in, you had to fulfill their one requirement: You have to be a woman (with a glass of wine)! 

About half way around the lake, and about halfway through our glasses of vino, our group of pie makin', cabin cleanin' wild women seemed to have deviated from the main trail, and we were forced to wander about a bit confused while trying to find the whereabouts of our dear friend Robin. We never did find Robin, but we did find the window to her cabin to be a creative spot for a photo opportunity! 

Once we found our way out of the trees and back onto the well beaten path, I started to take note of some of the behaviors of these amazing wild women. They all love to laugh and drink and be merry, but once they came across a patch of current bushes, they immediately became silent and began to grab fistfuls of the small, juicy berries and proceeded to stuff their mouths. 

The pie queen falling a ways behind the group while nursing her berry obsession.  

Eventually the group of wild women wine walkers came to the end of the lake trail, frozen fingers gripping empty drinking vessels, content with the success of the evening wine prowl. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sorry, no tiger.

There is no tiger in my life of (Pi) pie story. The 5 or so months I work for  my parents at their summer lodge consist of mornings chained to the two ovens in the small kitchen, which magically produce up to 40 pies during busy mid-summer days. Our all-time record, that occurred this summer, was 42 pies. Every summer since I was born, I've watched my mother roll out countless amounts of pie crusts each morning, something she's been doing every summer for 33 years now. Baking pies is no easy task, especially at almost 10,000 feet in elevation. Fast baking at the altitude is an oxymoron. She rolls pies crusts for usually 5 hours, while her pie minions (the other four plus helpers, including myself) play ring around the rosy trying to find empty counter space on which to prepare the various pie fillings. We make it all from scratch, no Betty Crocker cherry pie fillin' in a can will be found in that kitchen, which means the preparation can take up to 1 1/2 per type of pie; for example, skinning and slicing 20 cups of peaches for our fresh peach pie. But it all starts with that dang crust. Now, to those of you who are expert creators of pie crust, I salute you, because I'm terrible at it.  I have decided I lack the patience and artistry to create such a delicate, light, delicious layer that is the foundation to my mother's pies. Now, this is a skill I'm determined to master, and with her as my Mr. Miyagi, my time will come. The problem with my Mr. Miyagi, is that she doesn't set timers...FOR ANYTHING! She's been a slave to pie for so long, that she's become a pie psychic!

"Alright, and how long do I cook this for?"
"Oh....maybe an hour fifteen...somewhere in there...that'll probably be alright...sometimes those pears can take only 45 minutes...although it can take up to two hours when the barometric pressure is lower..."

My mom's amazing. She get's up at 4:30 am, while I drag my ass in the door an hour and half later. She's already had two cups of coffee, and pie's flying in and out of the oven faster than you can say, "Would you like forks and napkins with that to-go order?"

Which brings me to pie lickers.

Pie Licker (n): a person who licks pie.

Most people don't lick their entire pieces of pie, but I'm using it to describe the people who lick the pie plates so clean, you can't tell if the plates already been washed clean or not. Don't get me wrong, I lick my pie plates clean as well, but it's different when you've been up since dark 'o clock making them darn things.  I guess the kind of pie licker that rubs me the wrong way is the person who walks in at 6:30 pm after we've been sold out of pie for 4 hours, and let's out a pie licker cry, "awwwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhuuuuuuuuuuuuugggggggghhhhhhhh." Then he or she usually follows it up with, "You're out of pie?," as if this is unusual a half hour before closing time, and then a "Well can't you just make more?"

Now, I know for a FACT, that I would be one of these pie lickers if I didn't work at Rock Creek Resort, so please know I'm not meaning to offend any of you other lickers. However I beg you not to ask, "Why can't you make more pie." This is a FAQ, that in order to be answered, I feel like throwing on a tour guide's vest and giving the pie licker a tour of our kitchen. Up to 42 pies! Coming out of two ovens?! I think that's pretty darn impressive.

Now, to those of you who made it to the bottom of this long, pie complaint post, I want to thank you. Choosing the end of the summer, when Rock Creek Resort workers are burnt out on pie customers, pie phone calls, and "not another Rock Creek Special order!" , was probably not the best time to start my Life of Pie blog. Pie has actually helped me become a better kitchen worker in general: I've learned to stop grabbing pots that are boiling over without proper hand protection, I've backed into the oven enough times to look over my shoulder before walking backwards, and, thanks to my friend and pie coworker Sara, I've learned to not carry two pies in my hands when the spring on the swinging door finally gets fixed and now you have to be as fast as lightning to make it through the doorway before getting the wind knocked out of you as it slams you in the back while those darn pies fly onto the floor. Working in a kitchen has helped me appreciate the energy that goes into making food. It makes me realize how delicious grub made from scratch really can be, and it makes every piece of pie I eat taste better with each bite, knowing the amount  effort that goes into each piece.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Why be a blogger?

The inspiration behind the blog came from a friend of mine named Julie. Julie and I have been pen pals all summer, and she finally came to work at Rock Creek Lakes Resort for the month of September. Julie is one of those amazing, inspiring people who makes you want to do something crazy awesome. When I read Julie's blog,, I thought it was pretty neat that there was a place where she could write whatever she wanted, and not have to have it placed into a News Feed with 1,000 other friend's statuses. Whether anyone actually ends up reading this blog or not, I like the idea of someone skimming down my posts because they're interested in what Amy's been up to.