Crosby, Stills, Nash, Teach Your Children
A girl can always use a little money of her own. It was 1973, I was bored, new to Vashon, and wanted a job. Choices were slim—my previous work history consisted of picking currants for Mr. Chomie, car-hopping at the A&W Root beer stand, and selling Christmas ornaments as a Trim-a-tree salesclerk. Classified ads in the Beachcomber listed these “Employment Opportunities:” LPN at the Vashon Island Nursing Home, production worker at K2 Skis, and bookkeeper at Wax Orchards. But wait, here’s one: “Lunchroom aide at Vashon Elementary.” I knew how to cook, I had two kids that went to school, I could make a ham sandwich.
Apparently there were not many applicants because I was hired immediately and started in a week. The work was hard, the kids were noisy and ungrateful, my feet ached, and the Supervisor was mean. Who knew? I did learn how to make lunchroom rolls, vats of green Jello with fruit cocktail, sheet-pans of Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks, and eatable tuna noodle casserole. I lasted a school year and was back on the job market that summer. My options were still the same: nursing home, ski factory, Wax Orchards.
On a weekly shopping trip to Minglement, the local “Health-food store,” I told the owner I was looking for a job, “Want to work at our new restaurant?” There you go: I knew how to cook and, not only could I make a ham sandwich, now I could operate a steam kettle. Again, lack of applicants paved the way, I was hired, and started in a week. I spent that week reading Julia Childs, the Time Life series of international cooking, practicing boning whole chickens, and filleting fish. For the first two weeks at my new job, I painted bar stools, unpacked Rykoff orders, and scrubbed floors. We—the braless, sandal-footed, loose-haired, apronless cooks—eventually got into the kitchen where we chopped onions, diced tomatoes, sliced turkey breasts, simmered sauces and began the Sound Food adventure.
Our fearless leader, Jeffrey, radiated cool and exotic. He was slender and lithe with a Sikh-like beard and dressed in flowing white clothes. His tongue was as sharp as his knives and no culinary indiscretion went unnoticed. “Only careful attention to every detail will produce the desired effect.” We were to mince onions with care, tear (not cut) lettuce, peel garlic mindfully, simmer soups slowly, and bone chickens thoughtfully. Jeffrey introduced his staff to tofu, nori, steamed black cod, knobs of ginger, bulbs of garlic, daikon, a proper stir-fry, tamari, shiitake mushrooms, tempura, and the concept of serving fresh, regional ingredients. I was in heaven.
I started in the kitchen as a lunch cook. My friend (and one of seven owners) Rae Anne and I manned the line—she had a Batchelor’s Degree in Nutrition and I had three years of English Lit. It took us three weeks working the lunch shift before we used the grill (not a wood-burning grill but an electric, hot-top, truck-stop grill) instead of a sauté pan to cook hamburgers.
The restaurant filled with hippies and their children, long-haired musicians, long-skirted waitron units, an incidental bluish cloud of smoke (who knew where that came from), laughter, live music, a few curious Spinnaker regulars, and an occasional straight local in for a good bowl of soup and a sideways glance at the freaks.
The Sweetie juggling on the Klinks’ front porch
Me, Bob the Baker, Sue, Jeffrey and other Sound Foodies
Bob the Baker was the Master behind bread racks that he filled with crackling French baguettes, whole wheat loaves, giant cookies, cheese and apple danish, and amazing brownies. Every day as he walked out the back door, he would turn around, and look back approvingly at the efforts of his early morning labor. Not only could Bob bake, he was charming, guileless, generous, and could dance the patent leathers off Fred Astaire.
Our numbers were certainly not of Woodstock proportion, but there was good will, warmth, radiant spirit, and friendship. This charmed circle could get a bit tight, however. One day a waitron friend came back into the kitchen, sighed and said, “I can’t do this anymore.” She had been waiting tables on an eight-top that included her soon-to-be-ex husband, his new girlfriend, the new girlfriend’s ex-husband, that ex-husbands new girl friend (who recently ended a relationship with the ex-husband’s new girlfriend), and her new boyfriend (who was her ex-husband’s new girlfriend’s ex-husband). Everyone at the table had slept with everyone. My friend quit that day and took a job in the city baking cinnamon rolls.
Anyways, Sound Food introduced me to my real self. Frank Miller and Jeffrey Basom invited me in to a world of good food, hard work, controlled chaos, uncontrolled daily drama, and infinite rewards. I can’t thank them enough.
Sound Food Chocolate Mousse Pie
- 1/3 c. maple syrup (I have used Mrs. Butterworth’s in a crunch)
- 1 t. cream of tartar
- 3 egg whites
- 1 c. chocolate chips
- 1⁄4 c. strong coffee
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 1 t. vanilla
- 1⁄2 t. almond extract
Melt chocolate chips in hot coffee. Whip egg whites and cream of tartar to firm peak, adding maple syrup after soft peak stage has been reached. Stir melted chocolate chips into egg whites. Whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Add vanilla and almond. Bring back to soft peak
Don’t whip the heavy cream to a stiff peak or it will be difficult to incorporate the chocolate chip/coffee mixture without loosing the fluff.
Fold whipped cream into chocolate chip/whipped egg white mixture. Chill.