Here is my story: a new installment for Papa's Cookhouse.
While work began with the emptying and cleaning of the old woodshed, Papa worked out the next part of is plan. First, a to-do list of people that must be contacted, followed by a second list of things to be done. Number one, of course, was a long chat with his old friend Philip Pfeiffer. Of similar age to Papa, Philip was a master craftsman, a carpenter with the enviable talent of being able to take a vague outline of an idea, then delivering exactly what the customer wanted. Philip was now semi-retired, handing the business to his sons, Duncan and Patrick, while keeping his hand in as manager/supervisor/consultant and gatherer of new clients. Years ago, Papa and Philip had worked together building the current 'Papa's Cookhouse' when the original small kitchen became inadequate. Second on the list was a call to Jim Macleod, overseer of a prison half-way house where young first offenders were under the guiding hand of a trusted long term prisoner, Oliver Machenko. Oliver Machenko was a cook, working in the kitchen of the low security prison halfway up the state. He'd worked his way up from maximum security, with multiple stays in solitary confinement, to regular prison. Now here he was in a minimum security facility, little more than a half-way house really. The kitchen was his domain: his menus, his methods, his rules. Oliver was a trusted man now. New inmates, first offenders who were in for rehabilitation were taken under his wing and taught to cook. Nothing fancy, certainly not gourmet, high-end restaurant meals, but plain cooking that would possibly help a young man turn his ways around and go straight. The sort of cooking that would get a man a position as a short-order cook in a diner perhaps. Not all the newbies were interested or had a flair for cooking, but most seemed grateful for the chance to learn how to make a decent pancake, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes and sausages with a good onion gravy. Flipping burgers while keeping an eye on the bacon and stirring the onions so they didn't burn - any young man who learned that within a week or three was considered a cook by Oliver. And of course there was coffee. A decent cup of hot coffee was what set a diner apart from all the rest and Oliver taught his boys well. Coffee made in Oliver's kitchen was never served lukewarm or weak. It seemed that Oliver had finally settled down. Jim Macleod finished reading Oliver's latest parole application and sat back in his chair. The phone call from Papa had come at just the right time. The parole board was meeting next week and Jim felt that Oliver and a couple of his young 'trainees' were ready to stand before them and plead their cases for release.