Friday, September 5, 2008

A Toddler's Mise En Place

Most of you know this, but for those who don't, "mise en place" means “put in place,” or when talking about your kitchen, it means getting everything diced, chopped, prepped and ready to go. You lay out the foods, you gather up the utensils and tools. You get yourself ready and then you cook.

So, I want to show you my mise en place when we made pizza the other day with the girls.

By the way, we used fresh basil from the girls garden...

We also grew cilantro, fennel and cherry tomatoes (or as Lucy says, "Toe-mah-toes", like her father) It's like Old McDonald's farm around here. But no cows.

And we used a pepper from "Lucy The Pepper Plant". Lucy actually grew a Cubanelle. Again, Old McDonald. No cows.

Lucy looks a little "Laura Ingalls Wilder/Wife of a Polygymist Cult Leader" in this photo with her hair curly. Note to self: Stop doing the children's hair. You aren't good at it.

Just for edification purposes: This is what a real chef's "mise" looks like.

And this is what our mise en place looks like:

First, hop on the work space to get a better vantage point. Chefs are always advising this. Not enough people actually do it.

Pour salt in cheese.

Get as much cheese as possible dispersed across the work table. The more scattered widely about the room or shoved deeply into crevasses and flooring, the better.

Pour more salt on cheese. You can never have too much salt in your cheese.

Let nothing deter you from using all the cheese all over the work station. This is how Anthony Bourdain does it. Even if he doesn't admit it.

Put cheese on tomato.

Put basil and more cheese on tomato.

Put salt on cheese, basil and tomato.

Ask for more salt. Because you never have enough salt.

Step back. Admire your handi-work. Feel good that whole rooms were destroyed in the cooking process.

Sit in laundry basket near the cheese littered, bacteria-laden, crumb-infested floor, that is an affront to all good parents everywhere, and wait for pizza to be done.

And that, my friends, is mise en place. In my house.

xo YM

The real picture of mise en place (above) comes from Michael Ruhlman's blog. His wife, Donna Turner Ruhlman shot the photo. She's a professional. I tell you all this because I have shamelessly lifted it from his blog without even asking. (See? I'm like Sarah Palin after all. Messy life. Sketchy moral compass.)Thanks Michael!



SaintTigerlily said...

Salty! I need to come over and eat pizza and meet your girls. Is that weird and stalkerish ?- because I swear I meant it sweet and flattering. This doesn't have anything to do with the fact that I would like my life to be simple and to stand on a chair at a counter and pour salt in cheese with abandon.

No no. Not at all.

Thanks for all of your support.

Rebecca (Foodie With Family) said...

Story of my life. Really. Please pass the salt.

melissa said...

I click on your site only to be greeted by that beautiful, laughing little face. That made my day.

Wife of a Polygymist Cult Leader


Hilarious as always Kim. I love your honesty. And I grinned in terrible amusement over the pictures with the whole tomato, with cheese all over it. Too funny.

Christine said...

Your kids are so cute. I just want to gobble them up! Which is I guess a good thing, since it seems like they make a terribly salty pizza.

Mommy said...

Do you deliver?

Anonymous said...

Does any cooking get done at your house that isn't some kind of epic grand adventure? It all looks so involved. I love the shots of the fingers and salt. She's got that motion down perfectly!

janelle said...

Thanks for the tip on the Ruhlmans!

Love it!

And loved the photos of the pizza-making and translation of mis en place.


melissa said...

I popped in again tonight and saw the adorable laughing picture... and grinned. Your kids are therapeutic. ;)

Krysta said...

kim. did anybody tell you that you are the world's best mom? your kids are always going to talk about how cool you are, letting them experiment and just be themselves... instead of making them into the cookie cutter perfect kid. kudos chick-a-roo!

Anonymous said...

Kim: The girls look wonderful...and their mis en place echos some of ours when we've had too much wine (like right now). Hope all is well back east. The desert is hot.

ps...I'm so drunk it took me 4 attempts to post this message.! Woo Hoo!!!!!!!

Tall Kate said...

I *loved* this post. My 3-year-old is similarly a salt-a-holic. I bet your pizza was awesome.