Monday, July 26, 2010

Old Broads in the Kitchen

I'm discovering that old broads make the world go 'round. Maybe it's because I am one, and I fancy that a network of old broads is an unstoppable force. As Bette Davis said, "If you want a thing done well, get a couple of old broads to do it." So I collect old broads and cultivate relationships with them. They're everywhere, and I've found some gems. I'm building my network.

In each of the little Rocky Mountain towns we've visited, there's always a cafe that serves up perfect eggs, juicy burgers, homemade pies, and specialties of the house like Buffalo chili and sweet potato fries. If you peek into the kitchen, you'll find an old broad who has honed her skills cooking for a family. Her resume is thirty-plus years of short order breakfasts, production line sandwiches and Sunday dinners for a crowd. She invented multi-tasking. For her, all cooking is homecooking, and at her cafe, you want to tip the waitress and kiss the cook.

One Sunday, we pulled into Pat's Falling Rock Cafe in Howard, Colorado at about 10:30 in the morning for a late breakfast. We were the only ones in the place, and we could hear a lot of pan-rattling in the kitchen and snatches of a tense conversation: "...need some help...get these potatoes in the oven....never be ready for the church crowd."

A hand-written sign behind our table said "Sunday Special: Pork Chops and Scalloped Potatoes." I surmised that a breakfast rush had kept Pat from prepping her potatoes, and we all know how long homemade scalloped potatoes take to bake! I felt for her, and when the waitress came to take our order, we both ordered the simplest thing we could think of: a couple of eggs sunnyside-up, bacon and toast.

While we waited, we looked at the drawings and paintings that covered the walls -- many of them portraits of Pat. "Who's the artist?" I asked the waitress. "Pat's husband," she replied. "He usually helps in the kitchen, but he couldn't be here today." So that's why Pat was behind.

Things quieted down in the kitchen as Pat got to work. The sizzle and aroma of bacon filled the air. I said to my husband, "She can turn these eggs around pretty quick, and then she can get on those potatoes."

We were halfway through our perfectly fried eggs and deliciously crisp bacon when two cars and three motorcycles pulled into the parking lot within seconds of each other. A couple, a party of four, and three bikers came in. The waitress looked stricken. The pan-rattling started again, and I began to worry about poor Pat. There was no hope for the potatoes now.

I said to my husband, "I think I need to go back there and peel and slice potatoes for her, or she'll never make it." He calmly nixed that idea, although he understood where I was coming from. It's some kind of Old Broad Code of Conduct -- never abandon another old broad in her time of need. But a husband can trump that when push comes to shove.

While he paid for our breakfast, I ducked into the kitchen to give Pat a little encouragement. "You really have your hands full, don't you?" I said with a smile. Pat was beyond stressed. "I just don't know how I'm going to do it," she moaned. "I know you can do it," I answered, "And I'm praying that the preacher will have a good, long message today so church will let out really late!" That got a laugh, which was good enough for me.

Deb recommends:
Pat's Falling Rock Cafe
10281 Hwy. 50
Howard, Colorado

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