Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bacon as currency

Yes my friend. Having worked in ski shops for the majority of winters I have been old enough to collect a pay check, bacon and beer are equal to or greater than common currency. Why? Because ski shop employees are notoriously underpaid. We are hungry and thirsty from spending our days turning dins, waxing skis and taking ski breaks. When you bring me a bloody mary garnished with shrimp and bacon in exchange for waxing your skis, not only will I not be taxed on it, I won't have to shell out the $6 I just spent the last hour working to earn for said bloody mary later.
We can't hook up everyone all the time, we will remember your good deed and repay you when we can. After having some awkward encounters recently I thought the general public could use a guide on how to get the occasional bro deal.
#1. Never speak of the bro deal. Tourists don't want to know that you just got for free what they just paid $40 for. And by the way my boss is standing right over there, reference to previous bro deals could result in a lengthy bakery talk ie me getting yelled at.
#2. If you have a pre arranged bro deal, for example you are a pro patroler and my shop as a rule gives you free tunes be sure to casually mention your career when you drop off your skis. There are a lot of ski patrolers out there and as much as I appreciate what you do, you are not as famous as you think you are. Also I feel like a real big jerk when I don't recognize you and the person who took in your skis didn't mark them paid because they didn't recognize you and I try to charge you only to find out you are not just any Dave, you are THAT Dave.
#3. Payment is due at the time of service. Stringing us along and promises of future beer will get you no where. Payment in advance is welcomed weather you bring in a 12 pack with the snowboard you just ran over a cheese grater or drop off a random pizza that your work just put the wrong toppings on, we will remember it.
#4. Do not get all huffy when I cannot pass along the bro deal to you on this occasion. Did I mention my boss is standing right there. Did I also mention we have yet to make a single sale today, I can't just give away demo skis. Getting huffy and causing a scene will not only result in your not getting the bro deal this time, it puts in jeapordy all future bro deals you may have received. Always be prepared with funds so you can buck up and pay as needed. By the way, that is the way most of the rest of the world does business.
#5. Figure out what your local shop employees like. There was a vicious rumor going around one ski town I worked in that because we were also a bike shop in the summer we must love fat tire. Everyone in the shop hated it. While we graciously accepted it and drank it, it was everyone's last choice. Locals could have saved alot of cash and made us way happier with PBR. The shop I work in now two of us are gluten intolerant so wine, hard cider and spirits are preferred.
#6. Get creative. We will remember your creativity and thoughtfulness and go above and beyond for you. You better believe the skis of the patroler who always brought hot pockets as a tip and the woman who would make us dank coffeecake for breakfast got bumped to the front of the tune line.
#7. Consider the actual dollar amount of the work you are having done when calculating exchange rates. While a six pack may be sufficient to cover an edge and wax, if your skis look like they have been shot up with a .22 I might suggest bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo, a nice gluten free loaf and a bottle of patron.
#8. Establish a relationship with your local shop employees. Get to know us. Buy us a beer when you see us at apres. Talk to us, you may discover that you qualify for the our little brothers played on the same soccer team discount.
#9. Know your local shops policies. While both the shop I work in now and the previous shop I was in condone drinking towards the end of the work day not every shop does. I once spent a few moments fretting over having tipped the dudes at the local board shop a six pack of high life for holding the last ticket in existence for the 9pm TGR opening that night only to hear a rumor their shop owner wasn't down with liquid tips. I hope I didn't get them in trouble I quipped as I took another sip of beer. If it happens again I'll bake them cookies.
#10. Never speak of the bro deal. Ever. We have already covered that this is inappropriate shop talk. I just want to clarify that when I am at the bar or skiing, I am not at work. Well ok, since I do bartend two days a week, when I am at the bar sometimes I am at work, it is a different job and I still don't want to talk about base welding your skis. Nothing will alienate you faster than forcing me to talk shop off the clock. If I bring it up on my terms that is one thing. Don't make me mentally clock back in.
In general us ski shop folk really are cheerful people who do our jobs because we like to be on the mountain as many days as possible. That is just the thing, it is a job and we have to make money for the business. When you do get the occasional hook up, don't take it for granted. Don't expect it to be the norm. Smile inwardly and tip accordingly.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Breakfast, lunch or dinner

I love breakfast foods, who doesn't? Sometimes with pesky work and trying to catch the bus to save gas money and save the world there just isn't time to make the delectable breakfast I had in mind. I always make it up to myself on days off. Sometimes I just can't wait that long. And really, when there are eggs and bacon involved, the meal is hearty enough for any time of day.
You may also know I am doing a gluten elimination diet to find out if I am intolerant. On the advice of my childhood friend Melissa, I am only eating naturally gluten free foods during this trial time. The reasoning behind this is that if you eliminate a food and then introduce all sorts of new foods you aren't used to, you aren't running a fair test. This method also has made the transition much easier because I am focusing on what I can have (a lot) and not getting distracted by strange new tastes and textures that don't exactly measure up to what they are replacing.
This recipe is so basic and already gluten free. On my friday this week (wednesday) I just couldn't wait until the next morning to make this, so I had it for dinner.
I had half a pack of corn tortillas in the freezer, left over from a casserole I made a few weeks ago. My first task was to gently break off three corn tortillas and defrost them. I am also big on one pot meals. Even though the house I live in now has a dishwasher, usually in my life that task falls on my own two hands. So, while I was preheating the skillet I just stuck the tortillas in it.
Next you will need to fry up one slice of bacon per tortilla.
While that is going on, spread half of each tortilla with a thin layer of refried beans, salsa and a sprinkle of cheese. This is a great thing, I am discovering that it was the gluten that was making my belly unhappy this whole time. That means dairy is now probably ok for me and I am not actually cheating by eating it! Microwave the tortillas and their toppings for 30 seconds.
Spread a thin layer of jalapeno jelly on the other half of the tortillas. This is a new discovery of mine since my friend Leo gave me some for christmas. It is like southwestern sweet chili sauce, a little sweet, a little spicy. Of course you could just use a dab of hot sauce.
By now your bacon should be done. I like to put it right into the tortillas so the grease soaks in.
Finally, fry however many eggs you want right in the bacon grease.
Wrap up your tortillas into tacos and you have a delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Taste of Home

I am as American as apple pie. I didn't always own up to it, I used to joke that I was going to go to school for Canadian studies, eh and I am still waiting for my Canadian Nordic skier to sweep me off my feet, marry me and take me away to Saskatchewan. Over the years though, and especially after living in Montana and becoming a park ranger I have started to come to terms with my citizenship. My family's american roots can be traced back to the mayflower and not traced back to illegal immigrants who would never tell the whole story of how they got here for fear of being sent back. I grew up in a great little city on the north coast where I ate food from just about every country people in america come from.
My Dad's side of the family is eastern european. The exact country varies depending on who you talk to and how the borders were drawn on the map. The one thing that seems to be agreed upon is pierogies in some shape or form. Even if my own family was not part eastern european, Cleveland is very much so. I can not remember making pierogies as a kid, though I have my grandmother's recipe. The pierogies of my childhood mainly consisted of Mrs. T's. Easy and ready right from the freezer in less than half an hour. Once as a child my Mom took us kids on a pilgrimage to Parma Pierogies. This is where I discovered that pierogies could be deep fried and filled with things other than potato. What a revelation! There was even a brief time when Parma Pierogies opened an east side store where we would sometimes eat lunch. For the most part though our pierogies were made by Mrs. T and that meant bacon. You see if you read my grandmother's recipe you are supposed to use salt pork to keep the doughy dumplings from sticking together. Since salt pork is not so common now a days my Mom would always serve up a side of bacon with our Mrs. T's to provide a similar flavor. I of course do the same.
Pierogies are one of those great comfort foods because weather you make them or buy them you can keep them in the freezer to always have on hand. For a while I had to make my own here in Montana as Mrs.T had yet to settle the frontier. Then this summer, there they were in the freezer section of my local grocery store. I literally exclaimed in the aisle, "this is the best day ever!" Before adding them to my basket.
Now I am going gluten free for awhile to see if it helps my belly at all. I anticipate experimenting with a gluten free pierogie recipe. As long as there is soft dough, warm potato and bacon, I know it will taste like home.