Wednesday, October 20, 2010

You're having a bad day, and then...

Things right now aren't great.

My family just made the decision to call in Hospice for my father, and now it's just a waiting game. Which, no matter how prepared you think you are, is impossible to be ready for.

Beyond that, things have also been tough on other fronts (though not work, or family, woo hoo!), and I'm just feeling beaten down.



Then, my husband forwards an article in today's Frederick News Post about tools in the kitchen by the lovely Susan Guynn. He didn't read it, but thought I may be interested.

Lo and behold, I'm actually quoted in the article. Hey...I remember talking to Susan a few weeks ago. Cool! And I even sound like I know what I'm talking about! Here, see for yourself:

"The one thing I couldn't live without is my KitchenAid mixer," said chef Christine Van Bloem. "It's the ultimate workhorse." Van Bloem received hers as a gift after graduating from Peter Krump's New York Cooking School (now known as The Institute for Culinary Education) 15 years ago. Van Bloem teaches others the pleasures of cooking at The Kitchen Studio on Buckeystown Pike in Frederick.

"I can walk away from it and it keeps working." She uses it when making baked items and for making pasta. "I'm dying for the meat grinder attachment," she said, along with the sausage stuffer attachment. "I want to make homemade sausages."

A less expensive kitchen tool is the microplane grater/zester. "I tell my students it's like hundreds of tiny little knife blades on a stick," Van Bloem said. It's perfect for grating nutmeg, chocolate and Parmesan cheese.

"And it goes without saying you need an excellent knife." She recommends Edgeworks Knife & Supply Co., a downtown Frederick store, as a good resource for choosing the perfect knife. "It's a great place to go and learn about knives," she said. "If you spend a little more money on a knife, you'll have one that will last for years."

Her 95-year-old grandmother recently gave Van Bloem her favorite knife -- one she used for more than 60 years. Sharpened so many times over the decade, Van Bloem can no longer identify the type of knife it was. She plans to retire the knife and display it prominently in a shadow box.

So, I'm sitting on the couch, rubbing my calf (because I stepped off a curb funny today and
strained, sprained, or cramped the sucker), trying hard not to feel sorry for myself when I see someone on the front porch.

I open the door and there is my neighbor Kathy. And guess what she has in her hands...

No, really...guess.

I'll wait.

Ok, ok! Kathy magically appears on my front porch, bearing a gift for me. Out of the blue:
Dear, lovely, sweet, kind Kathy walks into my living room carrying a brand new meat grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer.

A present.

For me.

Because she read the article and knew she had one she had never used and thought I would enjoy it.

Timing, as they say, is everything.

I'm very emotional right now, but still can't help but squeal with delight. And then tell Kathy about my dad, because it's the overwhelming presence in my life right now. She shares the story of her own father's passing, along with a few words of wisdom, and somehow, peace. We both tear up, feeling a little awkward, but also like we both understand what the other is going through, or has already experienced.

I know that the next few days, or heaven forbid, weeks, are going to be a symphony of discord, with waiting and praying and suffering.

But I also know that I'm not doing this alone. And that over a meat grinder, I've found not only kindness, but someone who understands this end game.

And for that, I will always be grateful.

Thank you Kathy. Thank you so very, very much.


Unknown said...

How absolutely, fabulously, wonderfully marvelous!

My mother died suddenly five years ago and Patrick's very dear grandfather died last year. He was taken care of by Hospice and P's mother is now the executive director of Hospice of Montgomery County. Your message the other day really hit home when you told me the news.

I'm sending warm vibes and support your way, so you can reserve it and use it as you need. ;)

Jennifer G. said...

What an amazing post. I had no idea you were in the middle of this difficult time in your family's life. My thoughts and prayers are with you. You are a pillar of strength woman and I truly admire you. (When I am not busy being envious of your various culinary talents.)

Chef Christine said...

Thanks so much Adrienne. I have a feeling that I may develop an emotional attachment to the meat grinder.

And I already have an undying gratitude for Hospice. The lovely social worker, Pam, brought such comfort just in our first meeting, I'll always be grateful.

Hanna said...

We had to make the decision to put my step-father in hospice care just 3 months ago. You're right; you know all the ways of it but when it comes right down to it you're absolutely not ready for it. I will absolutely keep your family in my thoughts.

I have 2/3 of your recommendations, having just acquired a much desired zester. I spent more money on it than I should have but it has earned it's keep. I under utilize the mixer and now knowing that there is an attachment for sausage making puts me even further behind. BUT I will make sure Santa sees that on my list. When I married my husband I inherited his knives, which were substantially better than my mother's. One day I'll get the knives down.

Take a load off, sit down, rest, make up a good sausage recipe and just breathe and soothe yourself.

*hugs* said...

This is an inspiring post. I've been down in the dumps for various reasons as well lately, and your story even made me feel better! I have a barely-used Kitchen-Aid maker which I've only used to make greek pastries for the Greek Festival. Maybe i'll get it out and try to whip up something that will get my spirits up! (although if someone brought me a meat grinder, I wouldn't even know what to do with it...)

I am very sorry to hear of your father. I'll be sending warm vibes and thoughts your way!

Anonymous said...

What a mix of bittersweet and amazement! I truly feel for you. My grandmother died in peace at my mother's home while getting home hospice care - it was the right decision (and was actually her decision). Hugs.

Kelley said...

Owen and I are very grateful to have you, Chef Christine, as part of our lives. He is so enthusiastic about your class and recipes.

Little did we know when leaving Wednesday night what a sad time you were going through. You have a vibrancy, a light, that shines.

You will be held close in our thoughts. Hugs from the both of us. Kelley and Owen

Chef Christine said...

My father passed away at home early Monday morning. Needless to say, this has been a difficult week, but we're doing our best. Thanks so very much for your kind thoughts and words. cvb