Saturday, January 31, 2009

Summer job seach

I started a new phase in my career this week. After working for a large government agency for over 20 years, I retired at the end of August. I spent most of those years running large institutional kitchens for the State of California.

Since September, I've continued to work part-time for the agency that I've worked for the past three years. I have appreciated the opportunity to continue laboring away at my old desk and working with a talented crew of fiscal analysts in Sacramento. The job has kept the bill collectors away and kept me busy.

But my heart is in food service, not the tedious process of analyzing government spending plans. As I have said in my profile since 2005, it's been my goal to chef for a children's summer camp for many years.

I sent two applications to perspective employers this week. Although I won't reveal the identity of the camps, they're located in the Western U.S.

My initial though was to restrict my search to camps in Northern California. I was concerned about the distance from my Gold Country home to a site over a thousand miles away. I figured that there were enough camps close to home to make the process competitive for me.

I changed my perspective after I received an inquiry from an out-of-state camp administrator. He encouraged me to broaden my search. This camp, a Wisconsin camp that's been around for over six decades, has hired staff "from all over the U.S."

Here's his response to my email:
This past summer our kitchen manager was from (the Southwest). I understand the distance from California is considerable, but in addition to our competitive summer compensation, we do provide transportation. If this is something that you might be interested in exploring, I could set up a conversation with our camp director.
Ultimately, the camp re-hired last year's kitchen manager. But his correspondence encouraged me to expand my search to the west. One of the two applications went to a Rocky Mountain state.

I'll offer my thoughts on the process as it moves forward. As I said above, I'm not going to reveal the camps submit applications to, nor those that I secure interviews. I will discuss the process when it's appropriate, as long as I can conceal the camp's identity.

More to come ...

Friday, January 23, 2009

I'll see you in six months ...

Outside of the death or serious injury of a service member, saying goodbye to family has to be one of the saddest moments for the family and sailor. I remember working in a daze for days, feeling alone and looking forward to the first mail call. On the bright side, I was one day closer to homecoming.

PEARL HARBOR (Jan. 20, 2008) -- Culinary Specialist Seaman Jeff Norman, assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG-70), embraces his wife before deploying on a surge to the western Pacific Ocean. Hopper will conduct operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet, helping protect the territory, citizens, commerce and other vital interests of the United States.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Wallace Ciccarelli.

Don Mason's Dutch oven newsletter

Here's the winter edition of Don Mason's Dutch oven cooking newsletter. To have a copy emailed directly to you, contact Don at

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Roadside chuckwagon plans on eBay

Here's an interesting set of plans for a family chuckwagon-trailer. The optical appeared in the May 1965 issue of Popular Mechanics.

If you don't want to purchase the plans on eBay, Google Books has published the entire May issue of the magazine. It ran on pages 132 to 137 and was continued on page 200.

The link will take you to page 200. You can find the begining of the article from there.

Here's the eBay description:
Up for bid is an ORIGINAL seven page plan from a vintage magazine. This article details the building of an awesome carry all trailer designed ultimately for cooking when camping, vacationing and on fishing trips.

This Chuck Wagon has it all even a speaker system. This is a complete kitchen with hot stove, pull out table, drawers, storage, compartments for clothes and food and even an iceboxbox for perishables.

This trailer contains everything you could need and want for any camping trip, hike and even tailgating at a game. You receive the original plan not a copy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Each aircraft carrier has multiple feeding venues for the officers and crew. In addition the the general mess, where enlisted sailors and Marines take their meals, the wardroom mess serves officers, cabin mess the captain and flag mess the admiral. Chief petty officers eat in the CPO mess, otherwise known as the Goat Locker ...

PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 6, 2008) -- Culinary Specialist Seaman Jessica Menz, from Minn., carves an orange and cherry tomatoes into a fruit sculpture in the Chief Petty Officer's Mess aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Culinary Specialist makes fruit sculptures as garnish for a better presentation of the food they serve. The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is on a routine deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility operating in the Western Pacific and Indian oceans.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Oliver Cole.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Municipal self-help in Eastern Texas

Steve Litten from Buna, Texas sent me this message last weekend. In his responsibility as the fire chief for the Buna Volunteer Fire Department, Steve explained how his department saw a problem in the wake of Hurricane Rita in September 2005 and solved it with community resourcefulness.

Here's what Steve's has to say:

After Hurricane Rita hit us, we worked on the emergencies and clearing roads first. We then quickly saw that we - and the public had nothing to eat. We immediately began to assemble BBQ pits and propane burners to cook with.

The area had no power, so with us gathering cooking supplies being seen, we soon had donations of the supermarkets and the restaurants and the school's supply of meat to preserve and prepare. We lined up freezers and cooks to start. In this heat, we soon had our firefighters overcome with heat exhaustion trying to take care of all our community's needs.

Since then - we have been hit twice more with hurricanes - although not as bad. We are now preparing for the next disaster. We have obtained two Military Kitchen Trailers. We are converting them to propane and are now learning how to cook on them. We have converted military "Shelters" to refrigeration units.

This is a new experience for us, learning how to cook for so many. I have found your site very helpful and would like to thank you for it. If anyone has a manual for using these kitchens, it would be helpful.

Thanks for writing, Steve. You letter is a testament to the help that a community can find within themselves in times of trouble. I have located my file on the U.S. Army's mobile kitchen trailer. I'll email so that we can make arrangements to pass the information on to you.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

US Navy Recipe Service for sale on eBay update

Interestingly, no one bid on the 1950s U.S. Navy recipe set on eBay. The auction, which just concluded, ran for about a week.

Watch the eBay listings if you're interested in this recipe set. Although it's tempting, I already have several recipe sets from the era and won't be bidding.

Click here to locate seller's listing. I'm sure that he will re-list the item soon.

You can also locate this set and similar military cookbooks, like the 1944 Cook Book of the U.S. Navy, by searching on the terms "navy recipe."

Measure once, cut twice

At the moment Jacob is the only apprentice volunteer on the El Dorado Western Railway. He comes to the engine house every other Saturday to help the crew restore the Diamond and Caldor No. 4 Shay locomotive and other El Dorado County railroad artifacts.

And in the process, he learns a few skills that will help him throughout his life here on earth.

Since I don't work in the trades, Jacob's visits to the engine house give him an opportunity to acquire essential skills. This’ll give him a head start when he takes an ROP class at his high school next school year.

Unlike earlier generations (myself included), boys today don’t take as many shop classes in junior and senior high school. Although I've spend most of my career working as a cook and chef, the wood and metal shop classes that I took in the 1960s have helped me along the way.

"You check it again because it's easier to check than fix," said Keith Berry, a close friend and president of the railway.

Jacob has spent the morning assisting Keith measure and cut the pieces for the battery box to the Diamond and Caldor Railbus No. 10. Once cut, another volunteer will fabricate the box.

Keith shows Jacob how much pressure to apply to the chop saw as he cuts a piece for the coupler pocket on the railbus. He is also learning how to use a powerful tool wisely and safely.

Jacob cleans the edges on the piece of tubing for the coupler pocket. This ensures a clean surface when the welder welds the piece in. And it gives Jacob a chance to learn how to control and use the grinder.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

US Navy Recipe Service for sale on eBay

Here's another item from my eBay watch: It's post-World War II Navy recipe set. The starting bid is $5. The auction ends just after noon on January 10, 2009. There are no bids currently.

Good luck and enjoy ...

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year resolutions for the Christian in 2009

I've never been one to make New Year resolutions --I suspect because I would soon forget them. But when it comes to my faith, it's something that I continually try to improve through out the year.

I borrowed this article from the bulletin for the East Foothill Church of Christ in San Jose, California. Evangelist Lalo Enriquez, who also serves as one of the elders for the church, has published a list of spiritual resolutions in the church bulletin as long as I've know him (he's also my father-in-law).

Even though the New Year is a good time to emphasize resolutions, you can start working on these goals any time during the year. And don't give up when you fail. When you slip, "press on" as Paul did (Philippians 3:12-14).

By Lalo Enriquez

Again, it's the time of the year to make New Year Resolutions. Children of God must include SPIRITUAL COMMITMENTS along with "normal" things like diet, finances, work or school. Have you made you "spiritual resolutions" yet?

If not, allow me, as I do each year at this time, to suggest some. If you have made spiritual promises to God, pray for strength and courage to keep them to God's glory.

Resolve to Read Your Bible Every Day, at home, work, by yourself or with your spouse and/or children. We have reading charts by the entrance. (See this Google search for Bible reading charts.) They are designed for reading the Old Testament twice during the year and the New once. The daily reading averages three chapters each day.

Buy a small pocket or purse-size Bible. Read it at least 15 minutes during lunch, or during a break. God's word is precious, "more to be desired than gold (Psalms 19:10).

Resolve to Pray Daily. Christians need to pray every day, preferably several times; before leaving home, or while traveling to work in the car, the bus, or walking. Pray before meals; with your children, spouse or fellow Christians at work or school.

We should have times for extended prayer; but not all prayer has to be to long. It can be as brief as simply asking the Lord for wisdom and strength during times of temptation (see James 1:2-8). The apostle Paul encourages, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and "in everything ... let you request be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6).

Resolve to Attend Every Service Possible. We know that illness and perhaps other circumstances often keep us away, but attend every service (of the church) possible. Let's not allow Satan to weaken us into thinking "one service per week is plenty."

Christians need to assemble together regularly to worship God, to acknowledge His greatness and majesty, to partake of the Lord's Supper, to sing and pray, to support Christ's kingdom with our finances and to feed our soul with the bread from Heaven. Our fellowship is not only with God, but also with others who are likewise committed to Him.

Resolve to give at Least 10 Percent of Your Earnings to the Lord - if at all possible, or at least more than you did in 2008. Look at the examples of those who gave to God: the poor widow - all she had (Mark 12:41ff); the Macedonians - even beyond Paul's expectations because they had first given of them selves to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:1-5); and the Corinthians - with great liberality (1 Corinthians 9:11). Then let us consider Jesus who gave us His life and more for our salvation.

Resolve to Invite People to Services. During 2009, let's keep inviting our friends and neighbors to services or to a Bible class in their home, our home or here at the building. Also, if we know of Christians who aren't attending, let's invite them. Encourage them to get back right with the Lord. Also, invite your family members.

Resolve that the Lord will Control Your Life AT ALL TIMES! Remember His teaching on "walking by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). We are to be led and guided by the Holy Spirit through God's Word in all things, not by our carnal desires and senses. Christians who are controlled by human pleasures, desires, emotions, weaknesses, etc., are headed for a sad and very difficult life. Let Jesus control your life in 2009.