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January 27, 2005 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-01-27

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4B - The Micoan Daily - Thursday, Ja ary 27, 2005




The Michigan Oily


in mywordsla first-person account
1W 3... cook cken Ragout

By Andrew McCormack
Daily Arts Writer

By Christine Beamer
For the Daily
T he last time most people
attempted to start a business
was probably when they set up
a lemonade stand in third grade. But
fast-forward a dozen years, add some
marketable skills or a niche to fill, and
there is no reason anyone can't make
a little cash on the side and venture
into the world of business again.
Take School of Nursing sophomore
Kate Pittel, for example. She cre-
ates unique handbags and sells them
online at www.umich.edu/-kpittel
and at three stores around Michigan,
including Primitive Vintage in Ann
Arbor. Here is her advice:
"Start with something you like.
Don't make anything you wouldn't
Pittel has sewn since she was
eight and said she has always had a
flair for fashion, but it was not until
high school that the two interests
came together. Pittel said she started
making purses because of the unim-
pressive selection she encountered.
"I could never justify shelling out
big bucks for stuff I thought I could
make myself." Because of her self-
described insomnia, Pittel had plenty
of time to refine her bagmaking skills
in college. "Instead of watching crap-
py infomercials and bad reruns all
night, I started sewing," she said. Her
habit of making the bags during the
night spurred her to name her prod-
ucts "Insomnia Handbags."
"Don't get discouraged; if you

think what you sell
chances are someone

is special,
else will,

Encouraged by compliments from
friends, she went to several stores
to see if they would sell her bags on
consignment, where she and the store
would split the revenue from the
sales. She was turned down by many
owners before finally finding one
who took her bags and agreed to sell
it for 50 percent consignment. Start-
ing a business "is a lot of hard work,"
Pittel said, "but it's also an amazing
"Just go for it."
Two years later, Pittel still basi-
cally runs the business herself, with
the exception of her website. "I am
not tech-savvy, so a friend from high
school created and maintains my
website. He is fantastic and works
in exchange for homemade cookies
and care packages." she said. With
the help of a photographer friend, she
is planning to release a catalog this
Her final tip for aspiring business
people is to "have fun with it. If your
business stops being fun, you will be
less motivated to do it."
Kinesiology senior Brian Balfour
and LSA senior Erik Schielke,
lso started a business in Sep-
tember 2003. But instead of marketing
a specific product, they target a specific
demographic - college students. Their
company is called Celestine Inc., and,
according to Balfour, it "is a web-com-
pany that specializes in development,
marketing and consulting for those that

In the words of immortal director
Robert Rodriguez, "Knowing how
to cook is like knowing how to fuck.
You're going to do it for the rest of
your life, so you might as well be
good at it."
But just as there is no quick guide to
repairing a car, there isn't a newspaper
article that's going to make you a skilled
cook in one read on the crapper.
The best we can hope for is to work
through one awesome recipe - Chick-
en Ragout in red wine. This won't be
too difficult; it is French cooking at
some of its best and most basic. I've
chosen this recipe because by the end
of it, you'll have learned how to brown
meats, sauted vegetables, thicken a
sauce and have something decadent
in your pocket to serve company.
Most importantly, it will illustrate
two truths: Anyone can cook amaz-
ing food with a little bit of confi-
dence and a great meal doesn't have
to be an expensive one.
This recipe serves two people, but
it (and most other recipes) can eas-
ily be adjusted for more - just make
sure you increase ALL the ingredi-
ents by the same multiple.
Step One
Let's get started. Get about two
pounds of chicken (any part will do,
but I recommend leaving the bone
and skin on). Dry the pieces thor-
oughly, and melt your butter in a pan
or casserole with the olive oil. Any
pan or casserole will do, as long as it
is at least two inches taller than the
Step Two
When the butter incorporates into
the oil, you'll get a strong whiff of
olive oil before the mixture starts
to bubble. When the bubbles sub-
side, slip the chicken into the pan,
skin-side down. If you didn't dry

the chicken properly, it will stick
to the pan. Don't get nervous and
start moving the chicken all over the
place either. Check it from time, but
you shouldn't be too worried about
it burning. Have patience and let it
Step Three
When the meat acquires a deep
nut-brown color, turn it over and
repeat until you've colored as much
of the bird as possible in this way.
Remove the pieces and season them
while hot with a little pepper and
kosher salt. Set aside.
Step Four
What you've just done is "brown"
a piece of meat. This creates a seal
on the outside that conserves mois-
ture, tenderness and flavor. Many
recipes ask you to do this, and the
process is always the same: Heat up
some kind of cooking fat and quick-
ly cook the outside of something
until it acquires a deep, pleasing
color. The trick is patience. All and
all, this should only take about five
Step Five
Now, make sure the cooking liquid
is still hot and throw in your onions
and garlic. Let them sauted until the
onions are tender. If the vegetables
are looking a little too dark, adjust
the heat accordingly.
Step Six
Put the chicken back in, along
with the bay leaf, thyme, tomato and
wine. Pour in just enough chicken
stock to cover the ingredients. Mix
all that good shit up real nice, mak-
ing sure that the onions and garlic
aren't still stuck to the bottom. Turn
the heat up to high, and when the
mixture breaks into a boil, reduce
the heat and let it simmer for 20 or
30 minutes, whenever the meat is
super tender.

Step Seven
A word to the wise: boiling and
simmering are not the same. The
practical difference is that when
you boil, there are a lot of bubbles
and when you simmer, there's not so
many bubbles. In fact, there should
be as few bubbles as you can manage
in a simmer. If a recipe's asking you
to do one, make damn sure you're not
doing the other. A lot of times, when
you stir something it will loose its
simmer. Don't worry about this, just
leave it alone and the bubbles will
come back, I promise.
Step Eight
Remove the chicken and get ready
to make the sauce. Pour the cooking
liquid through a strainer into some
kind of vessel. Crush up all the little
bits of goodness caught in the strain-
er to get as much of the flavor out of
them that you can. Return the liquid
to your pan.
Step Nine
Reduce the liquid at a healthy boil
for about five or ten minutes. Taste
the sauce and if you don't think it
is strong enough, boil it down some
more. When you figure it's ready, stir

in the beurre manie slowly. I find the
best thing to do is shape the paste
into little balls and drop them in one
at a time. You should have a silky,
rich sauce that is just thick enough
to coat a spoon.
Step Ten
If the chicken is cold by now,
heat it up in its sauce. When you're
ready, serve it over a bed of mashed
potatoes (which I like), rice or some
other starch. Now, go get drunk and
eat it up.
If you're interested in getting
to be a better all-around cook, the
best thing you can do is pick up a
very general, broad-focused cook-
book (the most famous of which is
certainly the "Joy of Cooking").
When you find a dish you like,
make a conscious effort to look up
the recipe and make it. After a short
time, you'll have five or ten things
you really enjoy. Learn those recipes
inside and out. This will teach you
how to follow a recipe and get you
familiar with the basic techniques of
a kitchen. Rock on.
Much of the above recipe was
taken from "The Way to Cook", by
Julia Child, a true master of her
craft. May she rest in peace.

Kate Pittel stands In Primitive Vintage, where the handbags from her small business, Insomnia Handbags, are sold.

are trying to reach the college demo-
"There's a point where you have
to stop planning and start acting."
The project that spurred the cre-
ation of the company was www.
Party Campus.com, an organization
similar to The Facebook but with a
focus on creating a social network

and a directory for local nightlife
events. When Balfour and Schielke
were roommates, they lamented the
lack of a social network to coordi-
nate parties on campus and began
to toss around ideas about creating a
network. Later that summer, Balfour
brought the idea up to some entrepre-
neurs, and was surprised when one
of the people offered to become an
investor for the company. "Getting
yourself out there is the only way you
are going to learn the true potential
of your product or service," he said.
"The toughest thing about start-
ing a business is keeping a posi-
tive frame of mind and working
through the tough times."
Balfour found that many people do
not respect college students who dabble
in business. "It was hard to convince
someone to invest in two young people
still in college, with no degree, in a sec-
tor of business that was just bouncing
back from one of the biggest crashes of
all time," Balfour said. He also found'
that running a business took up a great,
deal of time and, in the process, has
had to sacrifice being on the men's var-
sity rowing team. Also, The Facebook
has soared ahead of PartyCampus.coin
in popularity as an online social orga-
nization, and Balfour and Schielke had
to figure out how to find another niche
for Partycampus.com.
"You need to keep believing in
your concept"
Nevertheless, Balfour and Schielke
have not given up on PartyCampus.
com by any means. They plan to
relaunch it in February as an online
college social magazine featuring

articles written by college students
from all over the United States. They
also have a new project that they
declined to reveal details about. As
they have learned from their compe-
tition with The Facebook, their com-
pany has expanded from just Balfour
and Schielke to include four pro-
grammers, about 12 writers and two
prospective editors. Most of all, they
have gained experience in what they
want to do in life and, as Balfour said,
"I was amazingly lucky to be able to
do it at such a young age."
Balfour's advice to aspiring business
people is straightforward and concise.
"Do your research, have a bias towards
action and stop making excuses," he
said. As he explained, someone who
wants to start their own business should
be taking every available opportunity
to learn about their respective field and
business in general.
Like Pittel, he also recommends that
someone who wants to start a business
needs to risk failure to try and market
their product. "So many great con-
cepts are developed but never put into
action because people are afraid and
kill their idea with being too conserva-
tive," he said, "Entrepreneurship is not
something for those that have to know
what all the results of a certain action
will be." Finally, he adds that the most
effective method of solving every prob-
lem is to spend your time looking for
the answer instead of complaining
about the problem.
And so as Pittel, Balfour and
Schielke reveal, when it comes to
starting a business, the hardest step
is stepping out.

Located in the heart of miracle Strip
Where the pool never closes
and the fun never ends !
)oYour Host: john A ,lison Peel
12830 3ront ve ch Road
Panama city bea~ch, 3C 32407'
(850) 233-0028
- .ra WM=


Insomnia Handbags are sold in three stores around Michigan.

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