Sunday, 3 June 2012

Shenanigans, silliness, and shared treasures

Do you know what my favourite thing to do is at work? Unwrapping butter. Do you know what my least favourite thing to do is at work? Rewrapping butter. On Monday we made two double batches of brown sugar fudge on and each batch calls for 12 pounds of butter. Larry measured out the other ingredients and left me to the simple task of counting out 24 pounds of butter and dividing them into 2 bowls. However when he came to check on my progress he looked at the mountain of butter I was creating and asked, “What are you doing?”
I answered, “Measuring out the butter.”
He counted the piles, puzzled. “How many pounds of butter are you doing?”
“24 pounds.”
“Are you sure?” Larry asked giving me a funny look. “How many batches are we making?”
“And how many piles do you have?”
An awkward silence fell between us and Larry looked at me like I had an extra nose. “Joelle, count the butter please.”
I proceeded to count, convinced Larry needed his eyes checked, I know my butter. “One, two . . . oh. Three?”
“Why do you have three piles of 12 pounds of butter?” Larry asked, stifling a chuckle.
My face flushed with embarrassment and I looked at the butter piling on the counter. Sure enough there were three piles of butter, not two, which for those of you have great math skills can clearly see that is 36 pounds of butter, not 24. Larry and I both burst out into spats of giggles and chuckles. I looked at the extra butter, knowing what I had to do with it. With a heavy sigh I began individually rewrapping the butter in its original packaging. Larry puttered around the kitchen and glancing at me every now and then smiling to himself amused by my lack of basic math skills. I suppose I should have told them before they hired me that I failed math and have dyslexia. Oh well, it all adds to the adventure.

The next day, my boss Mary-Ellen, got mischievous with us and locked three of us in the walk in fridge and then turned off the light. I loved it and was laughing the entire time but Larry came out of he fridge scolding and shaking a disapproving finger at Mary-Ellen. It was all in good fun though and I hope this is the beginning of many harmless jokes in the kitchen.

I learned some new skills this week: how to sprinkle sea salt on caramels, how to make a curly Q on the coffee butter cream chocolates and how to place the potato chips on the enrober conveyor belt.

Sprinkling sea salt on chocolate covered caramels is harder than sounds. If you sprinkle too much on it tastes like a mouthful of salt water and confused caramel. If you add to little it just tastes like chocolate and caramel. I must confess that I had both experiences and after about 30 caramels I finally got the hang of it and sprinkled like a pro. Making a curly Q on the coffee butter creams is equally challenging. We use a special high tech tool called: a paper clip. As the butter cream comes out from the water fall of chocolate you gently swirl the tip of the paper clip on the surface of the chocolate quickly and deeply until the perfect swirl is achieved. I admit that placing potato chips on a conveyor belt is a simple enough task. But you have to make sure you space them far enough apart or they may over lap and get stuck together. Sometimes the chips get stuck in the belt and you have to straighten them out before the chocolate sets, so in actuality placing potato chips on a conveyor built is a delicate kitchen task.

Mary-Ellen put my pastry chef skills to work this week as well and assigned me the task of drizzling melted milk chocolate over the chocolate butter creams and blue berry butter creams. Drizzling chocolate, sauce, or any other delicious liquid is a fine skill to have. If you drizzle too much it looks thick and awkward, but too little and your product looks stingy. Maintaining a consistent flow of chocolate is no walk in the park either and your hand is liable to cramp more than once. But I drizzled like a pro and the chocolates look divine, if I do say so myself.

With the production part of work moving to Charlottetown the last half of the week was filled with packing and cleaning the chocolate shop. I look forward to moving to the new plant. We will be moving from a 1300 square feet to 5000!! There will be so much more room to create and make chocolates and other yummy goodies, I can't wait! Plus with the plant just on the edge of town I can bike to work. That is what I am excited for the most! Zipping through Charlottetown at the break of dawn, inhaling the quiet streets as they wake up and get ready for the day and then following the flow of five o’clock rush hour home at the end of the day.

On Saturday I was invited to share in a treasure. My dear friend Bernice and I went to her favourite beach on the north shore and spent 3 hours looking for sea glass. In Ontario we call it beach glass but they are one in the same. Small shards of rounded and smoothed glass from sunken ships and broken bottles are naturally scattered precariously along the edge of the water. When we arrived the tide was out leaving a vast bed of treasure to be found. Nestled between, under, beside, and even on top of small pebbles was 100’s of pieces of sea glass. In the three hours that we spent hunting I must have found at leas 60 pieces of sea glass, 4 unique sea shells, and 3 pieces of pottery. The sea glass came in a range of colours from yellow, green, brown, black, and white. Bernice told me about countless adventures she had while hunting for sea glass, special finds that were like diamonds to her, and hours she spent in worship on the beach just looking for beauty. She told me about the different colours of sea glass and how some are more rare than others and about sea glass hunting etiquette.

Rule #1: If it is still sharp throw it back. The perfect sea glass has edges that have been rounded and weathered over years of traveling the sea. Edges that still have well defined lines and sharpness are no good.

Rule #2: Know what you are looking for. It is easy to pick up every piece of sea glass you find and coming home with more than you need. Look for a piece that is special and unique to your definition of beauty. If you delight in the tiny mosaic like pieces then nothing bigger than your fingernail is ideal. If you’re a “go big or go home” character than keep an eye out for the biggest chunkiest pieces. Perhaps you favour certain shapes like diamonds, tear drops, or oblongs, there are plenty of that variety as well.

Rule #3: Leave some for the rest of us. It’s easy to take all the sea glass you find but if you already have 5 green pieces shaped like tear drops and you’re debating whether or not to take the 6th leave it for someone else. I doubt the ocean will ever run out of sea glass but it’s polite to leave treasure for some one else to find.

As the summer opens its arms on the Island I am struck with the yearning to loose myself in the treasure hunt. Trees have stretched out their leaves into full foliage and paths through the forest are hidden by their green canopy. Glimpses of such mystical paths are enticing beyond ignoring and I itch to spend hours weaving my way through the Island on paths less traveled. Who knows what treasures I will find this summer, who knows what paths my feet will find, and who knows what adventures I may find myself in the thick of. 

The North Shore

Treasures, treasures, treasures!

An old piece of pottery

A beautiful and aged sea shell

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