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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Freddy's Birthday Party

I have eaten green mole exactly once in my life.  It was at Freddy's Birthday Party, which as I recall, was a big deal for the grandmother of Freddy (as he was her favorite) and the family threw a huge bash with lots of great food, dancing, and buckets and buckets of cold Budweiser in cans.  Freddy and his brothers and cousins made up the entire dishwashing staff at Paragarys in Sacramento, where I was a newbie pizza/pantry cook, and where I met my lovely wife, and where I fell in love with cooking and restaurants, and where I met Patrick who was the sous chef, and became a short time roomate, and eventually my best man at the wedding, and who now is the king of the Sacramento catering and dining scene, running both Culinary Specialists and Mulvaney Building and Loan restaurant. (hows that for a recap?)

The party was a blast, it was deep in the heart of scary ghetto Sacramento, not too far from where we eventually bought our first house to fix up.  Patrick, Becca, and I were the only whiteys at the party, and we were treated like honored guests... and implored to eat and eat and eat.  The food was made with as much love as a Mexican Grandmother can muster.  And green mole was one of the dishes, which Patrick explained was made with pumpkin seeds, and it was awesome.

Green Mole finished and ready for chicken.
Braised pork ready to crisp in the oven and then gets our chili sauce.

Con Agra called again and we cooked for their all employee luncheon.  We were supposed to make green chili chicken (its this tex-mexy homestyle casserole style dish I ripped off from my mom) and braised pork with red chili sauce, which at its core is really carnitas (and is the base recipe for the pork we serve on our sandwich shop torta).  All was well, but when I started to make the chicken sauce, I remembered Freddy's Grandmother and had to try my hand at green mole rather than the green chili sauce.  With a bit of assistance from Diane Kennedy's "My Mexico" cookbook the mole was superb.  And when the guests at Con Agra asked "who made the mole?" they never expected to hear "me".  And when the guests asked "is your grandma Mexican?" they never expected to hear "no".  And when the guest said "only my grandmother makes green mole, and that was really good" he paid us the highest compliment possible.

Green mole got me thinking about Patrick, and Paragary's, and the old days when I was a pizza cook and Becca thought I was super cute with my flour dusted forearms.  So we made pizza for Frances' (our Frankie, kind of close to Freddy, huh) Birthday party.  Here is the spanish chorizo, red torpedo pepper, and jalepeno pie, for the adults, the kids got cheese.  And in honor of Freddy's Grandma, a shot of our pulled pork torta with a crisp and cold Pabst Blue Ribbon.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Ronald McDonald House

Our daughter was born three years ago today.  It wasn't a very happy time.  She was thirteen and a half weeks early and weighed one and a half pounds.  She was cared for in the Spokane Sacred Heart NICU.  Exactly one hundred days later she came home with us, a whopping 4 pounds and 14 ounces. 

Our son was just turning four.  The catering business was still a zero employee show with negative winter-time income.  Becca was not able to work at her hairstyling business.  It was a scary time.  We spent every weekend in Spokane with little to do except wait by an incubator.  The hotel was depressing, and expensive; and eating out was depressing, and expensive. 

And then we were referred to the Ronald McDonald House.  We had a nice little room, a place to cook our own meals, and toys and video games and books for our son.  He still says we should go back someday... and we always say "hopefully not". 

Today our daughter is healthy and stong (and still tiny).  The business is doing well.  We are so thankful to be able to give back to such a wonderful charity that is there for so many people in their time of need.  Below is our "press release".

Three years ago John and Rebecca Lastoskie gave birth to a baby girl they named Frances Kay. She was born 13 and a half weeks early, weighed one and a half pounds, and was very sick. After a painfully long and exhausting 100 days in the Spokane Sacred Heart NICU, and just shy of five pounds, Frances was sent home with her parents and brother to Walla Walla. Three years later she is a happy and healthy little girl who likes to annoy her brother... and amuse her parents.

For over three months the Lastoskie Family travelled between Walla Walla and Spokane, checking in on little Frances while trying to maintain two small businesses, and a sense of normalcy for their son. During that time the family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for short periods and they have never forgotten the comfort and calm the House provided.

It is with great pleasure and a sincere gratitude of thanks that Graze – ‘a place to eat’ will donate 10% of its sales for the week of January 17th to January 22nd to the Ronald McDonald House of Spokane.


John and Becca Lastoskie

Monday, January 3, 2011

Graze Index

(This piece of self indulgence has turned into a bit of tradition for me, so please forgive any overly sentimental chatter.) 

Four and a half years ago I started this two-bit little catering business with big ideas and dreams... with no clients, employees, advertising; or any idea how to go about getting the above mentioned.  Things have gone fairly well all in all.  A few bumps and bruises mixed in with a great many triumphs have paved the way.  The part I am most proud of is how utterly consistent we have become.  Just one solid meal after another.  Yes we have done some glitzy jobs, and some over the top weddings, and cooked in some crazy locations in some dastardly weather, but really it's the everyday plain jane catering meals we put out that make me smile the most.  Because after you count up the glitz, and the over the top, and the obscure, the vast majority of our guest counts are just solid, and honest, and cooked with love meals.

In honor of 2010, I present you with the Graze Catering Index (with apologies to Harper's Index). All totals are Graze Catering only, and do not reflect numbers from Graze 'a place to eat', our sandwich shop.

Guests served in 2006 --- 604
Guests served in 2007 --- 3,319
Guests served in 2008 --- 8,053
Guests served in 2009 --- 12,166
Guests served in 2010 --- 15,468

Number of events 2006 --- 17
Number of events 2007 --- 66
Number of events 2008 --- 83
Number of events 2009 --- 176
Number of events 2010 --- 194

Number of events 150+ guests 2006 --- 0
Number of events 150+ guests 2007 --- 2
Number of events 150+ guests 2008 --- 11
Number of events 150+ guests 2009 --- 16
Number of events 150+ guests 2010 --- 26

Number of weddings/rehearsals 2006 --- 0
Number of weddings/rehearsals 2007 --- 6
Number of weddings/rehearsals 2008 --- 18
Number of weddings/rehearsals 2009 --- 22
Number of weddings/rehearsals 2010 --- 22

2010: Sandwiches Served by Graze - a place to eat (dine in, delivery, and pick up) --- 29,619.
**** Look out McDonalds!!!

Thanks to all our past and future clients and guests. We look forward to serving you again.