Culinarily Yours

Keeping Count

When making cherries jubilee for multiple guests, I want to be able to provide the same amount of cherries in each serving. The question then becomes, how many cherries do I have on hand to be divided between the guests? By looking at the picture above, I could easily tell you, because I know Chef Husband’s system.

What’s the Trick?

For our recent jubilee, I donned my fancy black nitrile gloves, to prevent the inevitable staining of my fingers. The dark sweet pitted cherries were first drained, then each and every cherry was counted. Each and every one.

Don’t dismay, there is a quick trick, and an insurance policy against forgetting where you were in your count, when you hear, “Mommmmm!” Or in Chef Husband’s kitchen setting, “Chef…I need one Cherries Jubilee ON THE FLY!”

Grab Two Empty Containers

With two empty containers at the ready, from my strainer full of cherries, I quickly pluck and place a cherry, one by one, into a larger container, counting “1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9“. Then I put number “10” into a second smaller container. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat, until all the cherries have been counted in groups of 10. Each number “10” is a counter cherry.

In today’s exercise, I  have 10 cherries in the little bowl which tells me I have a total of 100 cherries to divide between my guests. How many times could I have been interrupted in counting up to 100…straight through? If you’re a mom, you can imagine.

Interruptions are Inevitable

Especially in a professional kitchen, a lot could have happened in that 60-90 second period. Imagine if you had to count out 500 or 1,000 pieces of something. With this technique, if ever an interruption presents itself (as it does in the kitchen, as it does in life), you just need to count your markers to see where your count was, when you were interrupted.

So, when the dog suddenly runs through the house after playing in the mud, to confirm where you left off, simply assess how many groups of 10 have been completed so far. However, it’s a good point to note, you have to finish counting the 10 you’re working on, before averting your attention to whatever distraction unfolds.

Pick Up the Pace

As the lunch lady, when I am prepping lunch at my son’s school, I use this technique for counting several hundred chicken nuggets on Chicken Nugget day. When I really want to walk on the wild side, and crunched for time, I even count by twos and threes.