Chef Tom – Short Ribs and Short Stories

A Reminder: These short stories are from a writing program called Round Robin. Write something every day, set the timer for 12 minutes, the title of each piece is the daily prompt. Stop writing once the alarm goes off.

Jesse

Ready to change

Jesse: I love that you guys are here with me for this.

Mom: You are our daughter. We love you very much.

Jesse: Well, thanks. But we might want to wait until I get rid of this pesky pee-pee.

Dad: (laughs)

Mom: You are so bad.

Jesse stands in the mirror and finishes her lip gloss, taking a last look to make sure the eyes work. She carefully places her wig over her cropped hair and brushes the curls into place.

Jesse: I know it took forever, but now I’m ready.

Mom: It’s a big decision.

Jesse: I’ve been wrestling with the whole “choose your own pronoun” thing which I haven’t really liked very much. People are so serious about it, especially some of my trans friends. But everyone is walking on eggshells these days, afraid to say something that might offend. It’s exhausting. I don’t want to have to demand that people try and get one more thing right. I never wanted to go from being a he to being a zir, or a they, or whatever. I’ve always known that I am a she. I appreciate the need to reject binary, but it just sets you up for a lifetime of having to explain yourself.

Ladies and Germs, this is my pronoun of choice. If you’d like to be my friend, please read and sign this agreement. Sign here, initial here and here.

I’m sorry but we live in a he/she world. Made-up gender names just makes everyone have to work so hard. Who needs that PC bullshit. All my life I’ve had to translate pronouns in order that they might apply to me. Goes with the fucking territory. But I am the one choosing to change teams here, so it’s my responsibility to give everyone a break.

I know, boring.

Dad: Not boring, Jesse, I hear you.

Jesse. Thanks Dad. Point is, it’s taken a lifetime, but I’ve mastered the art of translation.

You could even say I put the trans in translation.

Mom: (chuckles) Oh brother.

Jesse: Ok, how do I look?

Mom: Beautiful, as always.

Dad: Lovely, my dear. You ready?

Jesse: I think so. Doctor told me the procedure will take three days. You guys don’t have to stay that long.

Mom: We wouldn’t be anywhere else. (points to Jesse’s t-shirt with the words #wokeain’t in big black letters) You really gonna wear that?

Jesse: Too soon? Fuck it.

I love you guys

Dad: We love you too, son. (smiles)

Jesse: Asshole

(Laughter)

 Paris

Has been my joy

Three years after her reassignment surgery, Jesse picked up and moved to Paris. She’d connected with one of the leading expat food writers there and he invited her to come stay and meet his husband, his friends, and his many connections in the industry. Her food blog had grown exponentially after she included the story of her transition. There was so much heart in her writing, so much joy, that her followers shared her blog with their friends. People started paying attention.

The context of her blog was cooking and recipes and exploring the restaurants of the Bay Area. Woven throughout her startlingly honest reviews, detailed recipe tests, wild stories of catered parties, and bold commentaries on other food blogs, were her light, funny, and heartfelt stories about her evolution. Jesse’s Appetite became a sensation in the blogosphere and Jed Horowitz, former pastry chef at Chez Panisse and renowned food blogger himself, thought she was brilliant.

Five years of French was finally going to pay off.

A tearful goodbye to her parents and closest friends and she was on an overnight to Charles de Gaulle. Jed promised she could stay with him until she found her feet. He’d already penciled in the first three weeks of exploring farmer’s markets, patisseries, bistro’s and cafes, and lots of foodie rendezvous with his colleagues and good friends. They all wanted to meet Jesse.

She Ubered to Jed’s apartment in Sant-Germaine, rang the bell, and was met with cheek to cheek kisses and welcome and can’t wait to show you off. After she power napped, he whisked her down to Sant-Michelle, across the Seine, past Notre Dame, to a bistro in the Marais where a half dozen of Jed’s closest friends greeted her with open arms, glasses of good wine, and lots of laughter.

During the rare moment of a lull in the conversation, Jesse took a second to reflect on where she was, what she’d been doing in her life, and the eager anticipation of what lay ahead. She smiled.

Salud! Jed touched her glass with his. You look happy.

I am so happy, said Jesse. Thank you for this.

Mais bien sûr! Try this, he said, spooning out a warm serving of Cassoulet into her plate.

Coming Out

Feral heart

Jaimie kicked the closet door open.

He’d been hiding his true self away, scared, angry, and over it. On his nineteenth birthday, while blowing out one symbolic candle in front of his best friends and his family, he made a wish – more a promise than a wish.

This is it. Tonight’s the night. I’m coming out. Fuck this.

He didn’t take the shotgun approach to blast everyone at the same time but cherry-picked his way through those closest to him. Expecting pushback, vitriol, sass, something/anything, everyone seemed to take the news in stride. To a person, no one got up in his face. He was disappointed. Everyone had figured it out long ago. Jaimie was the last person to really own the fact that he was gay.

Cut to six months later.

Walking down the passenger ramp from his plane into Amsterdam‘s Schiphol airport, Jaimie headed towards baggage claim. When he got his bag, he took an Uber to The Bulldog Hotel in De Wallen, the red-light district.

For the next two weeks, the handsome young country boy fucked the entire city. For that short but intense period, the world made a significant uptick in being gay. If he was cute, Jaimie snagged him. If he looked at Jaimie two seconds longer than usual, he was next. Jaimie had a big hotel room and a big bed and ordered a couple of extra bathrobes and lots more tiny bottles of shampoo and built himself a lair nest into which he drew a long string of conquests.

Jaimie had a big itch to scratch so he sharpened his nails and went at it. His trysts were anonymous, energetic, and frequent, so that by the end of his sexventure, he was tired, sore, and more than sated.

The boy got it out of his system and headed back to Tulsa, to his quiet suburban hometown. He ended up telling many of friends about his vacation to Europe, but only a chosen few ever heard the deliciously sordid details.

=====

Short Rib Bowl

Braised Short Ribs Bowl with Olive Oil Mashers. Buttered Carrots, and Roasted Broccoli

Short Ribs

Ingredients

3 pounds bone-in beef short ribs

1 teaspoon pepper, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 celery ribs, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup dry red wine or reduced-sodium beef broth

5 cups reduced-sodium beef broth, divided

1 fresh rosemary sprig

1 fresh oregano sprig

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Season short ribs well with pepper and salt. In an ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown ribs in oil in batches. Remove meat and set aside. Add next five ingredients to drippings; cook until tender. Add wine, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan.

Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced by half.

Return ribs to pan. Add 4 cups broth, rosemary, oregano, bay leaf and remaining pepper; bring to a boil. Bake, covered, until meat is tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Remove ribs to a serving platter and tent with foil. Discard herbs.

Pour drippings and loosened browned bits from roasting pan into a measuring cup. Skim fat. Add enough remaining broth to drippings to measure 1 cup. In a small saucepan, melt butter; stir in flour until smooth. Gradually whisk in broth mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir until thickened, 1-2 minutes. Serve with ribs.

Olive Oil Mashers

Ingredients:
3 large Russet potatoes

1 cup chicken stock

Butter

Salt and pepper

Directions:
Wash potatoes and cut in half lengthwise, then into thirds crosswise. Place potato chunks into a large enough pot to cover them with cold water. Add a few pinches of salt, cover, and bring the water to a boil. Boil the potatoes until easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Drain off the water. Mash potatoes with enough stock to make them creamy. Add in butter and salt and pepper to taste.

Buttered Carrots

Ingredients:
6 large carrots, trimmed

2 Tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Peel and trim carrots. Slice in half crossways. Slice thicker carrot ends in half lengthwise. Steam them until al dente. Drain the steamer. Place butter and salt and pepper in the bottom of the still-hot steamer, add the carrot, and give a good shake to coat evenly.

Roasted Broccoli

Ingredients:

3 large broccoli crowns

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375.

Cut the crowns into thirds. Toss the broccoli pieces with olive oil and place on a lightly oiled baking tray. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast in a hot oven for 15 minutes, or until thickest part of the stem can be easily pierced.

Assembly

For each bowl:
Place a dollop of mashers in the bottom. Lay over some short ribs with gravy. Place the carrots and broccoli next to the meat. Garnish with chopped chives or parsley.

=CTH=

Chef Tom is currently transitioning from Personal Chef to Private Chef. He also teaches cooking classes, caters small parties and leads overseas culinary tours. His specialty for the last twelve years has been cooking for people with food allergies and sensitivities. His motto is “Food should give you pleasure, not pressure.”

Check him out at www.hippkitchen.com

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