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A Labor Day Thank You To "The Help"

kitchen: the long shot

Dear someoneElse, theKid, and various friends...but mostly someoneElse,

As we celebrate Labor Day weekend in the US—mainly by spending three days doing as little labor as possible—I'd like to pause a moment and salute all of your labor on behalf of this site, my cookbook and the rest of my food writing endeavors.

You, and people like you, are the unsung heroes of the food writing world: Our partners, children, roommates, family, friends and random people we happen to con into doing a little cleaning up...since we did all the cooking.

Barely acknowledged, and then usually in some way that reflects well on the writer, you toil unseen and unremarked while the cook reaps all the praise.

"Unseen" was going to be a joke. I was going to post a photo with a blurry figure working through a sink full of dishes in the background. I searched my 45,000 photo library and came up blank. Then I asked friends. Nothing. So, yeah, unseen. Unnoted. Definitely unthanked.

Unsung, and if you were, it would be definitely a Blues song.

Math is admit

In one post, I describe 8 different baking projects that were done over a two day period while getting ready for a multi-day party. Each required a mixing bowl, and I am sure I used the Kitchen Aid mixer for most of them. The mixer that was magically clean every time I reached for it. It's magic, right? My rough count is a dozen or more baking pans and 1 large pot of boiling water. Billowing steam always helps when people are stressed and overworked, right?

Thanks for cleaning that up.

Full disclosure The bash I was cooking for involved half a dozen people and a four day sleepover. I do not think I cleaned house for it, either. I did, however, do that to the dining room table while the house elf someoneElse was trying to clean.

Thanks for cleaning that up.

Let me point out one of my favorite posts. Not because the post is so well written or the pictures are gorgeous (though the first has that lovely natural light we photographers are always going on about) but because it makes me look awesome—and if you read me at all, you probably know I don't use that word lightly.

How awesome? Prepping for another iteration of that party, I made three kinds of cookies (all double-batches), a cake, pizza crust and sauce, homemade danish, enough fresh spinach dip to feed an army, five chickens, bread, deviled eggs, and a salmon dinner. kitchen: work island

I totally rocked it.

Okay, so... counts on fingers

I get Kitchen Aid (6 times), a food processor (2+ times), blender (chicken marinade), half a dozen pans, and a few pots. Not to mention the trash, trashed counters, cutting boards, and a mess of knives, tools and cups of tea for the cook.

Thanks for cleaning that up.

In that post, there is a casual mention of plans for "old-fashioned country breakfasts" of eggs, pancakes, bacon, hash browns (and if I recall correctly, toast, sausage, fresh fruit and a couple of rounds of custom made espressos). Sounds like I am getting up at the crack of dawn so that the kitchen will be rich with the smell of fresh coffee, bacon and maybe even something freshly baked.

Because I, the writer, totally rocked it with my awesomeness. (PROTIP: It is surprisingly easy to rock it with your awesomeness if you are telling the story.)

I must confess. (Actually, I don't have to since someoneElse has no blog on which to differ, but I am in confessing mode here. But I digress.)

Not only did I not cook most of those breakfasts, I think I slept through them at least once. Okay, maybe more than once. I did get up for at least one. It was very tasty and the espresso was excellent. There was alcohol involved.

Thanks for breakfast. And for helping me clean it up.

Burnt Orange Sauce in a Favorite Copper PanOh dear, this pan was particularly egregious. It got me a laugh from my cookbook editor and sympathy from many others. It's a beautiful old hammered copper pan that I really like for making small amounts of sauces—sometime with oranges. It also conducts heat alarmingly well.

I don't think I cleaned it, yet somehow it is pristine again. Must be the magic...or someoneElse.

Thanks for cleaning that up.

As if it's not bad enough that I create the unavoidable mess, I am not all that great at avoiding them. Do you know the trick with the towel and the flour-filled kitchen Aid mixer? I do! It's very useful, a flying flour containment system in a single kitchen towel. I should do it more often. When I do, cleaning up the baking area is a breeze. When I don't and flour spews out of the mixer. Well...

Thanks for cleaning that up.

Then there was the day I decided to live blog a Buche de Noel. Started about 4 pm, on Christmas Eve; opening move was buttering a pan with garlic butter. People were impressed. I think I used the mixer 3 or 4 different times, dripped sugar from candied rosemary all over the kitchen, put it on a few plates before deciding on a slab of marble. My kitchen looked like the elves had been partying. Fun times.

Thanks for cleaning that up.

Let me end with a great big thank you for being my cookbook cleanup crew. My 4000 photos were probably matched by 4000 dirty dishes, of which I think I did a relative few. I really don't remember, it's all a blurry memory. Those nights when you arrived home to six semi-demolished desserts, a trashed kitchen and a blank stare when you asked about dinner. The nights you said, "Have some tea, I'll do some dishes."

Thanks for cleaning that up.

Much love,


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