Oh man. Eek. I’m cutting it close tonight. 11:12pm my computer is telling me.

So let me just start with a little disclaimer – this post won’t be an award winner, it won’t be prolific  – in fact I have no idea what I am going to say. This here is the nitty gritty of NaBloPoMo (or NaMoWriMo – the difference I have yet to figure out).

I had great expecations for the day – recipes flagged, grocery lists written, camera batteries charged and while I did manage to get started on my edible Christmas presents by making 5 jars of Quince Brandy (I will share the recipe soon) that was about all I was able to check off my list.

Instead of finishing the to-do list I had the great pleasure of filling in at Delancey (famed pizza restaurant owned by Molly (Orangette and her husband, Brandon)  tonight. Due to some sick staff members I was called in to help feed the pizza-loving Seattleites their perfectly blistered and charred pies.

At 2 o’clock Brandon called to see if I wanted to create some sort of dessert to serve tonight. Doors open at 5. Three hours. No problem.

My head began to spin with possibilities and of course my first thought was apples – as we have been using them so much around here lately.

Apples. So many possibilities but my mind always goes back to the classic flavor pairings – caramel, almonds and butter – lots of butter.

Puff Pastry, roasted apples marinated in Calvados and caramel, almond frangipane and Creme Fraiche. And there it was – tonight’s dessert special.

2 1/2 hours remaining until dinner service I quickly cut up my butter then threw it into the freezer to chill while I measured out the flour. Caramel on the stove, almonds toasting. Measure the sugar, add the butter, fold, roll, stir, blend, mix, chop. Breathe.

For a brief moment I felt that all too familiar rush that used to be a nightly occurrence when I worked in the restaurant. I still seek that rare rush. It’s that feeling of – can I do it? You’re pushing myself to the limits to see what you can accomplish. It’s a thrill and then when it’s all over and you’ve succeeded you are flooded with intense pride – and exhaustion.

Tonight, after the dessert was all prepped and ready for Kari to work her plating magic when the orders arrived, I took my position next to Brandon and the intensely hot wood-burning oven. For the next five hours I pressed, stretched, placed, topped and repeat.

The dough warm from the active yeast working its magic to produce perfect bubbles stretched from the weight of itself as I gingerly worked it over my knuckles.

The smell of the housemade fennel pork sausage wafting off of the pizzas was enough to make me so envious of the diners until I too was able to devour my own.

I walked into Delancey wearing a black t-shirt, as I walked out the color was questionable as a coat of flour covered every inch of me – even my face which gave Brandon a good laugh.

So now I’m home. Full, tired, happy. It feels so good to return to a restaurant kitchen. It feels familiar – as a home should. In that place I am confident and sure.

8 minutes remain until the clock strikes 12. And I can’t help but think that this post is exactly the reason why I pushed myself into posting everyday for a month. Had I not have set this goal for myself I would probably be sitting in bed with my computer watching some tv show having forgotten the premise of the show by the morning. Don’t get me wrong, as soon as I hit the publish button I’m crawling into bed with my computer.

But the point is that I did it. I posted. It wasn’t a great post and I didn’t even include a recipe. But in order to truly excel at something you have to push yourself to be in daily practice even when the exhaustion and they layer of flour coating your hands makes it hard to type.

I apologize for not having more to offer you in the way of photos and recipes but I guess this post was for me. To remind me that it’s okay not to know what to say but that just the act of doing it is an accomplishment.

Tomorrow is a new day and a new post. Also, for those of you following the Food: A-Z project we are now on to “B”. This time we will only have one week to upload your “B” photos – so get them in soon.

Thanks for letting me write through my flour-covered, tired self. I will see you back here tomorrow – oh shoot. I guess technically I’ll see you back here today since it is now 12:07 am.


22 Responses to “Tired, but i’m here”

  1. Laurie

    Oh, I commented to Matthew last night that there was a new pizza cook working with Brandon. I’ve been wondering if I’ve ever met you in person, and I guess I haven’t or I would have recognized you. I’ve been enjoying your blog. We didn’t try your dessert (went home for birthday cake), but our pizzas were fabulous. Especially enjoyed the Hot Banana. Thanks!

  2. Damien

    No need to post a recipe everyday to make your posts interesting, believe me!
    (Though I like your recipes and photos too, so don’t you stop posting them often :))

  3. Thea

    Nah, you did just fine. No apologies necessary.

    And NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month – instead of 30 days of blog entries, it’s 50,000 words of novel-writing, uploaded to their website so they can count your words and help you stay on track. Insane, but fun.

    Keep the NaBloWriMo posts a-rollin’!

  4. Julia

    I want quinces! Quince brandy, lovely–all my folks will be getting apricot brandy this Christmas. And yes, that rush is a keen feeling. I know it well. And miss it, too!

  5. Megan Gordon

    What an amazing opportunity, Ashley! Sounds like an incredible evening…I like to remind myself every so often that each post doesn’t always have to include a detailed, photo-ridden recipe. You’re doing great! I’ve been stopping by each day. Keep up the good work! -Megan

  6. Anne

    Wow, I can relate to that what-the-heck-am-I-gonna-say feeling. NaBloWriMo sure is a lovely butt kicker. I sat down last night and started typing before I had a single idea in my head. I had NOTHING. After it was done, though, I felt like a good person. I really loved your post, and also your description of why a less-than-planned post is the whole point of a daily practice. And it’s so cool that you did it after such an unexpectedly busy day. Yay you!

  7. Charlotte

    Ashley, you are doing a great job!! I am happy that we have wifi in most places in Spain so I can keep up. Tomorrow is the last day of our two months here. Then four days in Paris and then back to bham. Your delicious recipes will help us remember how to cook. Looking forward to tomorrows post! Charlotte & Doug

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Charlotte – Your comment made my day. I had no idea you were a reader!! Seriously, thank you for saying hello. How’s Spain?! I can’t wait to hear about it. When you get back you and Doug will have to make a trip to Seattle. We would all LOVE to see you.

  8. Dana

    Good for you, Ashley. And so nice of you to help out someone in need. I’m glad it was a fun experience for you.

  9. Sara

    so exciting, what a fun opportunity. You certainly don’t always need recipes, this is just as inspiring…

  10. Anticiplate

    Ashley. You are the master fill-in-at-the-last-minute-pizza-stretcher- former-pastry-chef-make-an-amazing-dessert-at-the-last-second- extraordinaire. It was great to work with you! 🙂

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Anticiplate – wow. I need business cards with that title on it. Thank you. Hope we get to work together again soon – of course that would mean that someone would have to be sick and I don’t wish sickness on anyone.

  11. D. @ Outside Oslo

    Hi Ashley, the quince brandy sounds wonderful. I made raspberry aquavit, bay leaf rosolio, and limoncello this past summer, but didn’t think about making an infusion for gifts. Now you have me thinking! Any other homemade gifts you can recommend?

  12. nina

    No need to be apologetic about anything. Maybe because there is no recipe of photos it gave your excellent and witty writing style the chance to shine through!!!Well done!!!

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Nina – I really appreciated this comment. I value the opinions and desires of my readers and so often feel that I always have to come with a recipe but the fact is I rarely cook with recipes but I do always have a lot to say and process so I feel so relieved that this can be a space for that too.


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