Category Archives: food

Gee, thanks Trent. Now I’m a chef.

Chef and his signature dish.This has got to be my last after-midnight post. This schedule is killing me, but I’m just so pumped about a couple of things going on right now that I can’t stop working on them. I’m also pretty pumped to have more than a week of daily postings to this blog — just 2 more weeks and the habit will be formed, they say — but I do have to figure out how to get it done before 2am.

What really pumped me up today — the pump, if you will — was an article posted by Trent on The Simple Dollar. This is one of probably a dozen personal finance blogs I subscribe to, and it is by far my favorite. The article was about the benefits of setting up multiple income streams in your life, effectively diversifying your human capital to increase your income and cushion the blow if something happens to you day job.

Here was my comment on his blog:

“Trent, thanks again for the kick in the pants (the backside kind (good), not the frontside kind (bad)).

“I’ve been thinking about the multiple income stream idea for a while, and I guess my chief concern was that raised by Barbara Stanny above. I figured I’d earn more by focusing on my highest-income pursuit – my day job – rather than diversifying my human capital, since nothing else I could do would earn me as much per hour of effort as my day job, not even close, especially with overtime factored in.

“This post got my cranial juices flowing, though. What if I break out of the time-for-money paradigm? Right now I’m developing an information product related to cooking that could generate a passive income that could scale WAY beyond the number of hours I put into it. That was already in the works. What THIS article got me thinking was: why don’t I start a personal chef / small-scale catering business?

“I already do the majority of my cooking 1 day a week…what if I just doubled, tripled, or quadrupled the quantity (which does not increase the level of time and effort by the same amount) packaged it into meals, and sold it to folks who want home-cooked meals without the hassle? This is turning my greatest passion – cooking good food for people who appreciate it – and turning it into an income stream. I figure at the very least, my passion for cooking will start to pay for itself, and what I learn from this business may improve the quality of my info product.

The punchline: I posted an ad on craigslist earlier this evening. If anyone’s in the Minneapolis area, search for “personal chef”. Bon appetit.”

Sorry for the long quote — especially one that’s already posted someplace — but it demonstrates that I’ve done my 500 words today, even with a weak post like this one. I guess I just want to make a couple of things clear.

First, follow your bliss, even if it’s only by a couple of baby steps each day. That craigslist ad was a huge step for me, because it’s starting the ball rolling on testing a career in cooking — even for only a few hours a week — that I’ve always dreamed about, and that act of putting myself out there only took 10 minutes and is completely anonymous if I fail (unless you’re reading this…d’oh!).

Second, I guess it’s alright that most personal finance blogs, when they’re not filling pages and pages quoting each other, publish a lot of repetitive stuff, just like magazines do. Eyeballs are drawn to new posts, not new ideas. Because a lot of these messages take time and repetition to set in, especially when your skull is as thick as mine. I’ve read about the value of having multiple income streams dozens of times, but I’ve never put it into practice. Trent just happened to have that thought today, when I was receptive to it and needing to be reminded. This time I’m ready. Thanks again, Trent.

Call to action (which I’m going to start calling “required reading”): read Trent’s article about multiple income streams, as well as this one on Monster about monetizing your hobbies. List 3 things you love to do and would do for no money. Pick the easiest one to monetize, and post an ad on craigslist advertising your new business. You can always use their anonymous email feature in case you chicken out, but I want you to try this so you can see for yourself how responsive people might be to your new business. You might be surprised. Then, you might also wind up following your bliss.

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Saturday night free-ver

That's Frugality / voluntary simplicity / urban po’folks nerdiness is in full effect: tonight’s romantic evening was all about leftovers and DVDs from the public library.

Luckily, I’m an amazing cook, and I had the foresight to make a double batch of everything for last night’s Shabbat dinner. We had sweet & sour meatballs with noodle kugel and farmers’ market green beans with some Aussie shiraz brought over by last night’s guests, and the Mrs. found some intertesting movies at the lie-berry.

The first was a real treat (for me): Orson Welles’s 1963 adaptation of Kafka’s”The Trial” starring AnthonyPerkins. Holy crumble, was that an amazing film. The Mrs. hated it, and afterward said something about my penchant for “crap movies”.

I admitted “The Trial” was no “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days”, but then, what is? Her deft response: “You liked Pi!”

Yes, I did. Do. And forever shall. I even quoted that movie’s main character Max Shapiro when she said that “The Trial ” was boring and dumb.

“WHAT IF IT’S GENIUS?!”

Up top, Aronofsky fans.

The second was a further sortie into our new passtime of exploring foreign film together. “Cafe au Lait” is a French movie, circa early ’90s, I’d say, about a young woman who’s pregnant and informs the two potential fathers simultaneously. The two men compete with one another for primacy in her affections and eventually reach a kind of humorous detente.

Bonus: the two men are a wealthy African Muslim law student and a poor Jewish bike messenger who’s also a drug dealer and an aspiring rapper. Even if you’re not impressed by this attempt by the French to rip of Spike Lee as clumsily as they’ve ripped off the rest of American urban culture, the whole thing’s worth watching for the one scene where the tipsy Jewish grandpa (or Grand Pere, according to the credits) dances around the living room solo singing something in elderly Franco-Yiddish.

As much as I’m filled with anxiety and nausea by the sheer cognitive dissonance of French rap, I give this movie a full thumb and three quarters for good writing, good characterization, and several moments of genuine humor and unsaccharine poignancy. The catch: it’s in French, so get your reading glasses, Grand Pere.

Call to action: if you’re having an evening in with your special lady or gentleman, fight the urge to just get BlockBuster and take-out. Challenge yourself to try something new: drop by your local library and get a couple of movies outside the norm of what you’d usually see, and make the most romantic dinner you can out of what you’ve got in your fridge.

It’s the time you spend together that makes an evening romantic, not how much you tip the pizza dude. And I pity the fool who doesn’t LOVE “My Dinner with Andre”.

Friday evening resolution

Shabbat Shalom!  Hey!50% too clever, I know. But worth mentioning all the same. That’s what you get when you force your work ethic upon me, Seinfeld, even if only memetically.

Damn you, Jerry, and damn your stupid chain. But here I am, punning the blog’s name.

So around the same time I stumbled on the name “Monday Morning Revolution” (and was shocked by the revelation it was not already a registered domain), I decided that I should host people for Shabbat dinner every Friday that I was free to do so. I decided I’d wait until after my wedding in August (an impending wedding is a useful excuse to get out of just about anything) and then make it a full-blown resolution.

We were wed August 12th. Our first Shabbat dinner guests as a married couple came on August 31. The following Friday was someone’s birthday, so we bagged the big family dinner and went out. Then this week (tonight actually – yes, I blog on Shabbos. But I don’t roll.) we had some more people over: one gal from our Intro to Judaism class and a couple we met in our premarital workshop (a.k.a. group therapy for the betrothed).

We’re 2 for 2. Maybe I should knock on some wood here, but I’ve yet to be disappointed by the experience of having people over for Shabbat dinner. Jews, non-Jews, old friends, new friends, it always works out awesome. Of course, getting all those swell dishes for wedding presents helps, as does the fact that I love to cook in large quantities, but that’s beside the point.

The point is the emulation of my own personal Biblical hero, Abraham. I won’t go into too much detail here, but in the book of Genesis, Abraham is clearly the hostest with the mostest, and his hospitality is rewarded by thousands of years of spiritual progeny in three major world religions marking him as their single common patriarch.

OK, maybe I’m getting a bit uppity, and I really should be in bed right now (damn you, Seinfeld) but I just read a mention in someone else’s awesome blog about one of my favorite books, Never Eat Alone, and that, plus a belly full of kugel and meatballs and a heart full of friendship have inspired the following call to action:

Read Genesis, especially about the life of Abraham, then read Keith Ferazzi’s Never Eat Alone, then go back and re-read Genesis. You should be able to knock all that out in a weekend. Don’t ask me why – both books have been extensively reviewed elsewhere – just trust me on this one. Then ask a few friends over for dinner the following Friday night. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel about your life.

Stay tuned for more Shabbat dinner-based messages; this may be my most inspired and fruitful resolution since “Regular Bathing”.

Wine with dinner: a touch of class for 75 cents a day

Wine with Dinner

What’s the cheapest way to feel like a million bucks at the end of a long day?

Wine with dinner. You know, like a grown-up.

While I have recently resolved to be more frugal with my resources so that I can enjoy more time with my family and with my chosen goof-off pursuits in the future, I have also resolved to make a major change in my dining habits: have at least 1 glass of wine (but not more than 2) almost every night with dinner. For my money there is no better way to end a long day in the drudge, brighten an otherwise humble meal, or make me feel like an unqualified success than having a glass of wine with dinner.

You scoff: yes, John, for YOUR money, but that’s too rich for my blood. P’shaw, I retort.

Trader Joe’s near my neighborhood sells this wonderful stuff from the Charles Shaw vineyard, affectionately named “Three-Buck Chuck”. It comes in several red and white varietals, and it’s delicious table wine.

(In California it’s called Two-Buck Chuck, but I reckon gas prices and shipping to Minnesota account for the extra Buck, Chuck.)

And if you get bored with that, or simply want to show off, there are plenty of other great wines there for $4 and up. One of my personal faves is the J.W. Morris Gewurztraminer, $3.99.

A typical bottle of wine pours 4 glasses, so at 75 cents a glass, you can significantly and affordably improve the quality of your life by having a glass of wine with dinner every night.

Call to action: find the nearest Trader Joe’s or other purveyor of discount table wine, bring home a bottle for dinner, and see if I’m wrong.

Trust me, store brand mac & cheese never tasted more sophisticated. Bon appetit!