Do A Lot of Work
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One month from today I will be in charge of getting dinner on the table each weeknight for upwards of 20 people.

I am completely beside myself with excitement! And terror!

I’m grateful I was able to apprentice with last year’s farm cook and see what goes into feeding lots of hungry farmhands each night. But being in charge is going to have a new set of challenges.

I love to cook, and I want to get better at it. One of my life aspirations is to be like an Italian mama when I am old – one who doesn’t need a recipe and can improvise on command, adding spices and herbs along the way, a dash of this and a dash of that. So this work is personal to me, this feeding of people. And you know what? I have and will continue to make a lot of blunders along the way. These last few months I’ve been trying to keep my kitchen mishaps in perspective – I keep telling people I’m “cooking all my mistakes out.”

I re-visited this video today with a wonderful message by Ira Glass and wanted to share it with you, too. No matter what your craft (and I truly believe we each have one!), there’s a lot of truth in it:

 

You have to work at your work. You have to set up many cow fences and knit a ton of rows and poach a lot of eggs and write thousands of words and break a lot of guitar strings and practice talking in front of numerous crowds. You have to do it over and over and over again. But be encouraged! Because, as Ira reminds us, it’s all a part of the process.

What is kind of work are your working at?

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About Brie Aronson

Brie Aronson came to Polyface from southern California. During college, she was diagnosed with food allergies and had to begin asking about the source of every single thing she put in her mouth. This led to an interest in all things food and she sought out a way to learn how it can be produced ethically and sustainably. Her desire is to help people shift their focus from counting calories, being intimidated by their kitchens, and being disconnected from the land to one that experiences the life-giving enjoyment of food. Having completed the internship in summer 2010, she now assists with the buying clubs and sales building, leads school tours of the farm, and will be the summer 2012 farm cook.
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20 Responses to Do A Lot of Work

  1. Monica Dix says:

    Great post, Brie! Congrats on the promotion! I love you this piece by Ira Glass–so far I have found it to be true. As you cook your way through the seasons, I’ll be looking forward to your posts to learn from you, too. I recently started a personal chef job and it has taken my cooking (and organizing) to a higher level. Sometimes a challenge can pull more of your best work out of you!

  2. Marie Keefe says:

    I SO needed to hear this today – THANKS! Best of luck being Chief Cook! 🙂

  3. Lyndsey says:

    Please share some recipes & organizational tips! I have to cook for a crowd of hard-laborers a couple times a year & they are quite sick of chili & bean soup.

    • Brie Aronson says:

      Will do, Lyndsey – working on a post right now for some of those things that I am learning. I’m sure your chili & bean soup is great! 🙂

  4. Gotta love Ira Glass. I love to listen to podcasts of This American Life while haying, cooking dinner or doing animal chores (though I do like listening to the critter a bit more). I have three apprentices on my farm and at our staff dinner (where I try to be the best cook I can be) I plan to share this with them. As I look out the window at 80 lambs happily grazing in my pasture I can’t believe where I started with livestock farming 5 years ago (“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly first” Joelism) . We briefly met at a the Intensive Discovery weekend a few years back and you talked about you passion for food and farming. You’re probably closer to Italian mama status than you think.
    Patrick – Pat’s Pastured, East Greenwich – Rhode Island.

    • Brie Aronson says:

      Thanks for making my day, Patrick! Great to hear from you and best wishes for your farm.

      • Ever up north near RI say hello and I’ll introduce you to some good cooking from Little Rhody. There are lots of culinary benefits of being the Ocean State. Have a great season, keep listening to Ira.

  5. Mrs H says:

    What a blessing it is to have the opportunity to serve these many hands! Such a moment for ministry. Right now the work I work at feels like a lot of exciting details thrown together – we just moved to Virginia with the Navy, and so I am currently in the process of re-establishing contacts, filling out paperwork, finding a local church, getting into a yoga studio nearby, learning the roads and street names. Finding a local farm for milk & meat, finding somebody with local eggs, finding an organic CSA, meeting people at the market, putting out feelers for co-ops and group buy programs and, of course, getting ready for my new baby to be born next month!

  6. Sheri Salatin says:

    And for the record – I LOVE everything you cook or bake. 🙂 I’m super excited for June to come!!

  7. Shrader says:

    As one of the blessed people who will get to dine at your table this summer, I am so looking forward to the opportunity to fellowship with everyone and eat your food! I know it’s going to be an awesome experience. (And, just like Sheri said, for the record, the food you cooked in January was delicious.) Is it June YET!? How about now?…

  8. Leanna Hale says:

    You are going to do great! We loved it when you did the dinners solo last year!

  9. Dawn Whitehead says:

    When I cook for a lot of people, my biggest challenge is having everything being served ready at the same time and not forgetting to serve something and finding it in the refrigerator AFTER the meal is over!! I tried something new the last time: work it backwards – – set the table first and set out the empty serving dishes with a sticky note label on each for what is supposed to go in each dish. It actually worked!!! Nothing forgotten. Still working on tricks for having things ready at the same time. Any suggestions???

    • Monica Dix says:

      Working backwards to plan it sure does work–double check that you don’t miss any steps. For big meals, I also post a menu/checklist of the dishes (also condiments, flowers, or anything else to go on the table) in big writing where I will see it in the kitchen, or I will forget something!

  10. Chaya says:

    The video put it so succinctly. Us perfectionists struggle on this one, so thanks for the video. You briefly met my husband (Wilson) at the farm the other day when he was there to interview Joel–Wilson bragged about your bread! Would you be able to contact me? We’d like to see if you’d be interested in doing a podcast about the work you do in the kitchen, and why it matters so very much.

  11. audio design says:

    I am currently in the process of re-establishing contacts, filling out paperwork, finding a local church, getting into a yoga studio nearby, learning the roads and street names….

  12. Leilani says:

    Excellent video, thank you , thank you, thank you for posting it. You have no idea how many areas this pertains to in my life.