Hmm, do I need to buy flour?

So you want to make dinner rolls or conrbread as a side dish for a client entree, and you’re standing in the grocery store wondering if they have flour, cornmeal, baking powder etc.  Or you know you bought a big bag of brown rice on your first cook date with them, but don’t recall if you’ve used it all yet…do you go ahead and buy it, knowing you might be overbuying (and either have to return it or justify the extra expense to the client), or risk gong without and finding out you did in fact need it?  One of the many daily conundrums facing a busy personal chef…

Some chefs keep very detailed records of the items in their clients’ pantries, and I applaud this, while finding it completely impractical for me 🙂   Just keeping track of where I wrote it down, or making sure to find extra time in every cook date to do an update are things that  I find challenging.  (I did try doing this several years ago but gave up after I seemed to never note the things I had real questions about.)

So what do I do now?  I use the nifty Voice Memos app on my iPhone to leave myself little updates as I go thru the cookdate.  (Before Voice Memos came out with the 3.0 version of the iPhone software, I used a free 3rd-party app called Recorder, available in the iPhone app store. )  The cool thing about Voice Memos is that you can pause it and resume later – helpful when you want to keep one recording snippet for the whole cookdate (although, tragically, you can’t keep a recording on pause and use the iPod functions at the same time, so if you listen to music or podcasts while cooking like I do,  you have to make a separate recording if you need to add something to your reminder.)

Given the state of my memory, usually what I do is towards the end of the cookdate, I hit record and start talking to myself…”grab a new large bottle of olive oil next time…they have all sorts of rice and pasta so no need to buy any the next couple of times…pick up some Glad Press-N-Seal.”   Then, I hit the Share button and email the snippet to myself with the client name and date in the Subject line.  Next time I’m shopping for that client, I bring up the snippet, and there you have it – you, telling yourself what to do.  (Sometimes I also tell myself jokes to see if I’ll laugh when I hear them again, but mostly I think I laugh at the fact that I’m trying to make myself laugh.  The people in the grocery store are used to seeing me laugh and talk to myself.  I believe they call that  “local color.”  🙂

Don’t have an iPhone but like this idea? Check out ReCall – a service that lets you call a toll-free number, leave yourself a recording, then get an emailed transcript and recording (among other cool features).   This was the first reminder service I used a couple years ago, and it’s gotten a LOT more full-featured since –

Happy Cooking!

Chefchick Says: A damp towel or a few wet paper towel sheets under your cutting board keeps it from slipping – and if you use the color-coded thin plastic cutting sheets, it makes for a much better “knife feel” under your blade.


One thought on “Hmm, do I need to buy flour?

  1. Great tip. I write notes to myself on the client menu, but since I’m a maniacal recycler, half the time my great notes end up in the client’s recycling bin.

    Cool, I just discovered that my Treo has a CamCorder app. (I’ve had the Treo for over 5 years and never noticed the CamCorder app. Duh.) I can use that to record voice notes.

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