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holding food for take-out service

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
This summer will be the first for our take-out kitchen.  We aim to provide travelers and campers fresh-made, home-made foods quickly.  The 'quickly' part is the bit offering me the most trouble.

Any thoughts, tips or tricks for holding the following?

Stuffed mushroom 'burgers';  grilled portobello mushrooms stuffed with lemon pepper chicken/spinach & feta/garlic, bacon & mozz/ etc.  My thought, so far, is to roast off the mushrooms in the oven, then hold them at 140o.  To serve, stuff & grill on the bbq until the stuffing melts, pop em on a toasted & dressed bun and off they go.

Hamburgers, sausages;  bake until cooked through, then hold stove-top in a pot of consume.  For service, pat dry and sear on hot bbq for grill marks and a bit of char.

Chicken burgers;  we likely won't have a fryer going, so I thought we could bake off the breaded chicken and hold it in the oven, then toss it in a sauce of choice before bunning it up for service.  The non-breaded chicken might be held the same way as the burgers; in a pot of stock, then pat dry and quick grill for marks & char.  Not quite sure how to hold the chicken without drying it out...

For equipment we'll likely just have an oven, range, and a couple bbq's.  I'm working on getting a larger range with a grill and a couple more ovens.  Is there anything else we should be looking for, equipment-wise?  I'm used to cooking to order from fresh for people willing to sit and wait for it; this street-meat style fast service has me a bit baffled.
post #2 of 33
Thread Starter 
Should I have posted this in the pro's section?
post #3 of 33
I don't think so Charron, the pros look over here too, it gets boring on the pro side.  I don't have much experience in this but here is 2 cents worth.

Do you have a cooler? whenever I got talked into street food by a friend in San Francisco, he always had a fridge hooked up in a truck.. alot of prep was in a large camp cooler with a block of dry ice covered by cardboard for our coolant. It stayed cold.  we passed inspection or the health inspector was just too busy to care for a one day festival

I ask cause mushrooms just look flabby and bad after holding so long. The last place I worked we did a mushroom panini. the mushroom were stored cold after being cooked in the oven with balsamic and oil and s&p and then heated on the panini press, with roasted bells and squash. They should take 2-3 min to heat on the grill, I think it will save you product in the long run.

Same for the chx, pre baked, chopped and cooled. Then bust out a saute pan with the sauce your going to use for a fast reheat.



Otherwise I don't think you should go with this menu, i would go with meats that don't care (or at least not much) how long they are held warm. Roast beef in jus,  pulled pork, brats and beer and for a vege sandwich, a ratatouille burger or wrap (come on you know it would sell just be sure to strain it a bit)  All those will hold and keep holding with the addition of a little water to keep them from drying out.

best of luck
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post #4 of 33
Probably would be better, since it's basically specialized for commercial work. From what holding of food I've done for large gatherings, etc. you seem to already have that figured out (keeping burgers in stock) .. I also will wrap things in foil and place in a cooler as a hotbox. The breaded chicken breast might be a problem balancing between soggy breading and dry chicken. Sorry I don't have any more information.
post #5 of 33
Charron, where will you be serving from? and why the need to have the quick serve? If it's good, they will wait for quality. The quality from holding will suffer vs fresh off the grill....
post #6 of 33
Thread Starter 
Chefbuba, we have a bit of an oddball set up.  We are, first and foremost, a variety store; chips & chocolate bars, pop, road maps, safety pins etc.  We are also out in the country, at least 15 minutes from any of the surrounding towns, so we have 'locals', and we are on a road regularly traveled by persons on their way to vacation areas.  Most importantly, we have a provincial conservation area literally in our backyard with several hundred camping and trailer sites in it, and we have our own gate to the park to facilitate walk-up traffic.  To accommodate the campers in the summer we stock a variety of fresh and dry/canned groceries, camping goods, toys & games, etc.

My home is attached to the back of the store, or more accurately the store is on the front of my home.  Our 'kitchen' started life as the bedroom that was closest to the store.  We renovated it to include the electrical, plumbing, and surface & equipment requirements demanded by the health board; it is a completely separate, certified commercial kitchen but on par (equipment-wise) with a standard residential kitchen.  Shortly we will be replacing a large window with a door to gain immediate access to outside, where another fridge, chest freezer, bbq's and (if all goes well) a propane fired range & oven will be located on a covered deck.

The 'street meat' style of menu is for me:  I need to keep it as simple as possible to start since through May and half of June I will be the only one in the kitchen.  If you think of my store as having stations, we have Store & Fuel Tills, Ice Cream, Propane & Firewood, and now Kitchen.  There are only three of us on staff until mid June... one less than we really need.  Mid June, school lets out and we really get flooded but that's when we'll have at least four more staff arrive, including another cook and a chef.

Fast needs to happen because as a take-out-only kitchen there are not many places available for customers to wait.  Fast and simple needs to happen because, as much as I thrive on pressure, I can only do so much on my own, and chances are I'll be called away to another station and so need the food to be ok on its own for a bit.  The 'simple' is also for the customers; familiar stuff that they can decide on quickly, then get out of the way of the other customers.

Whew, after typing that all out I'm feeling the underlying current of panic rising a bit...   Any hints, tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Of course, if anyone wants to come work with me for a month or so (for the fresh air ) I wouldn't say no...



P.S.  Gunnar, I really like the idea of a ratatouille wrap. (It's just so much fun to say lol)  I think I'll start experimenting with that today
Edited by Charron - 4/15/10 at 9:56am
post #7 of 33
Thread Starter 
yea, this is a gratuitous bump.  I could really use some advice, though.  Please.
post #8 of 33
you know, when I go camping (which hasn't happened in years) it's breakfast that I really want cooked for me. sausage, bacon, eggs, pancakes, waffles (waffles! a camping luxury!). oh yeah, Chicken fried steak with gravy, yummm.  fast, fast, fast and easy.


so Mr. Transporter of the Dead, where is this campsite? You still haven't answered that post I left on the wall of your profile.
Edited by Gunnar - 4/16/10 at 6:27am
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post #9 of 33
Thread Starter 
lol  The speakers were actually broken at my end.  I didn't know messages could be posted like that so I've never bothered to look.  

Breakfast, we already have down pat.  Omelets made to order, pancakes, potato skillets, 'breakfast bundles' of egg & meat in a soft tortilla wrap, toasted sandwiches, muffins, bagels (not my own bagels yet), etc.  Bacon & sausage are cooked off first thing and get a quick flash on the griddle for service.  Eggs, except the hard boiled, are cooked to order and can get out in under 3 minutes... though no one has ordered poached, yet.  Steakette & egg sandwich takes the longest so far at 8 minutes, though that time will be reduced in the busier season when I can prep some and not cook from frozen.

Our sandwiches are pretty quick, too.  The roasted meats are all sliced, portioned, and frozen.  One minute in the ancient nuker on high thaws them to warm-but-not-burned-around-the-edges perfection.  Then its a quick mix for the salad sammie fillings, or just assembly.  Toast usually keeps me waiting...  I was concerned with using the nuker in the beginning, but our customers love our sandwiches so I don't fret anymore.  In the winter home made soup and chili I hold cold and reheat to order.  Again, it seemed like cheating but the food has been well received and I didn't lose as much to hot-hold breaking.

It's Pinehurst Lake Conservation Area in my backyard.  They have a website.

Oh, and I have an extra 'r' so it's more rolling, less rowing.
post #10 of 33
wow it's too bad you didn't have a deep fryer ...everyone loves home cut fries and they are probably the #1 money maker in the world.
My parents live in Southampton Ontario and there is an amazing place right on the Beach called Gerry's Fries . They have been there for over 50 years and they are only there  seasonally from spring to fall and they take off for the winter...People line up for a half hour ....me included! Oh they have other little boxes of deepfried like O rings and of course burgers and dogs and such ...but the main is the fries ...not much over head costs ..
Anyhow there is also Armonds in town too ...he is a certified Chef and his father left him this great little spot he use to sell pizzas out of Armond does not have anything deepfried ...but he does have a Panini Grill and he arrives 5 a.m., makes all his own foccacia for the sandwiches ...pre-grills all his chicken, turkey and steaks for his wraps and sandwiches ...oh theres of course tunasald, chickensalad,eggsalad grilled veggies  in a wrap or on focaccia or whole wheat or rye or white ,,side salads,,,,and his homeade soup ( might be good for rainy camping days)... (and other things like Quiche and Bistro items that maybe would not be right for your location... I don't know ).Armond also takes off for the winter shuts up shop and works out in B.C. for a Heli Skiing resort!
Anyhow ,what I'm trying to say is keep it simple, it seems that the place,location,facilities and your clientel are crying for simplicity you'll only win in the end cost  and sanity wise
Edited by gypsy2727 - 4/18/10 at 3:36pm
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post #11 of 33
Charron... I'm in the same boat as you, doing burgers, 14 sandwiches, soups, salads, and daily specials....anything from osso bucco, bbq, chicken fried steak, pastas,mexican, asian,,,
All from a 20ft trailer. ....I prep it, cook it, clean it, take your order  and $$, get your drinks, answer the phone....and try to carry on a conversation with you while waiting....I'm a lunch only...11-3  People will wait when it's good...I had people waiting all day today...It's all cooked fresh and to order..use.the best bread I can get.... All my meats sliced to order in front of the customer... They know its fresh. It's all made in front of them.

A fryer would do good too... Hand cut fries are a big hit... #50 sack of spuds cost me under $5...makes alot of fries at $2 an order... and they get alot...everyone likes a big order of GOOD fries. Home made beer battered onion rings....I hav e guys calling to ask when I'm making onion rings.
Bottom line is they will wait if it's good... They are waiting for your breakfast to be cooked to order... Whay not the burgers and the rest of the menu.
post #12 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the thoughts.   Fries are out for one reason: the park has a concession stand that serves only fries and onion rings, and so as a courtesy to them we will offer neither.  No, we don't have to leave them off the menu but we prefer to stay on the best terms possible with our neighbors.

Chefbuba, how long does it take you to cook each burger?  Idealy I would like to have everything - from order to service - ready in 5 minutes or less.  It would be lovely, and easier, to have restricted hours but the store is open from 6am to 9pm and while we can have a cut-off time for breakfast, the lunch/dinner menu will still have to cover from about 11am to close.

Am I being reasonable, thinking to hold meats in appropriate stocks?  Is there a trick available to keep breaded chicken from drying out?

Gonna go throw a portobella on the panini press and see how long it takes... may as well cook one off and pop it into some veg stock to see how it behaves...
post #13 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefbuba View Post

Charron... I'm in the same boat as you, doing burgers, 14 sandwiches, soups, salads, and daily specials....anything from osso bucco, bbq, chicken fried steak, pastas,mexican, asian,,,
All from a 20ft trailer. ....I prep it, cook it, clean it, take your order  and $$, get your drinks, answer the phone....and try to carry on a conversation with you while waiting....I'm a lunch only...11-3  People will wait when it's good...I had people waiting all day today...It's all cooked fresh and to order..use.the best bread I can get.... All my meats sliced to order in front of the customer... They know its fresh. It's all made in front of them.

A fryer would do good too... Hand cut fries are a big hit... #50 sack of spuds cost me under $5...makes alot of fries at $2 an order... and they get alot...everyone likes a big order of GOOD fries. Home made beer battered onion rings....I hav e guys calling to ask when I'm making onion rings.
Bottom line is they will wait if it's good... They are waiting for your breakfast to be cooked to order... Whay not the burgers and the rest of the menu.

I got agree with Chefbubba.  I will gladly wait for quality meal. 
"J'aime cuisiner avec du vin, j'ai parfois même mettre dans les aliments je suis cuisson. ""Mi piace cucinare con il vino, talvolta ho persino messa nel cibo sto cottura. ""I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food I'm cooking." - Julia Child 
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"J'aime cuisiner avec du vin, j'ai parfois même mettre dans les aliments je suis cuisson. ""Mi piace cucinare con il vino, talvolta ho persino messa nel cibo sto cottura. ""I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food I'm cooking." - Julia Child 
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post #14 of 33
Yo Charron,
I'm just a home cook, but have thought often about buying or opening a setup similar to what you have, near remote outdoor activities, sort of seasonal.  In fact I was talking with the wife about it this morning, when I read something about a favorite fishing area.

I have to agree with Chefbubba, but again who will wait and who will not depends on who the customers are.  Travelers are less likely to wait long times unless the wait area is comfortable, even if outside there still has to be shade, sitting area and even something to keep hold their interest.  Locals who like your quality are willing to wait.

If due to overhead and business flux, it is hard to man the facility at various times, then go for a simpler kind of menu.  Tri Tip or Brisket sandwiches, Pull Pork BBQ sandwich, in other words do the BBQ thing,  even Ribs, most bbq meats hold well for several hours if stored properly, and when your out your out, bbq sauce can cover a lot of mistakes.  Precooking hamburgers would be heresy here in Calif.  Every year we go up to Yosemite Valley, there is a hamburger joint at one of the last little towns about 30 miles before you get to Yosemite.  We always stop there for lunch or early dinner, great hamburgers (1/3 lb is the avg, they offer 1/2 lb), great milk shakes, juke box in the out side screened covered sitting area, sitting is picnic tables with benches.  The place is usually busy.  So we try to hit it at either 10am or 2-3pm for a little less crowd.  From my experience a lot of travelers want a good fresh cooked burger.  Do oven fries, done right they are better than deep fried. 

But keep the menu simple.  You can even just go deli cold or heated sandwiches, meat already pre-sliced in wax paper with correct slices per bun, like subway allow them to pick their toppings.  I can tell you the some of the best deli spots have very limited menus but the few things they do they do exceptional "BREAD".  Can you serve beer and wine?  Bottled only keeps it simple.

Anyway just some thoughts from the consumer side....
post #15 of 33
Charron, I really think the mushrooms need to be done to order, ala minute, or if held in a low oven, they will be rubbery.  I am surprised no-one had ordered poached eggs, they are my favourite way of doing them.  You can even poach them, plunge into cold water, then reheat for a short time when needed.  Maybe they need a special name one the menu/board..

If you are considering the other caterer's option of providing fries - why not do game chips?  Or wedges?  (oh I love them with paprika and sour cream and grated cheddar)..

If your hours are that long - what about serving sloppy joes (is that the right term?).   The ragu can easily be re-heated, bread rolls will keep all day long/....just a thought.
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
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post #16 of 33
Thread Starter 
Aw, Deltadude, you are so much more than just a home cook.   I hear what you're saying, and agree totally, about the cooked from fresh factor for the burgers.  I thought it wouldn't be an option, but suddenly (yep, just noticing that everyone has been beating me over the head with the obvious) I realize that people, the regulars, will wait.  And, at the same time, I can offer faster foods for those who don't want to wait.  I can figure some way for the menu to reflect that.  Of course my first thought of a 'quickies' section on the menu won't do, but I'm sure if I think on it a bit more I can figure something more appropriate out.

DC, I really like the idea of including sloppy joes.  I'm all about the appearance of variety achieved with the versatilty of ingredients.  Tacos are already on the menu so the beef will be on hand ready to be sauced, and of course the hamburger buns will do.  The salad clamshell containers will have to sub in for the burger wrapper, but meh... no big deal.

I'm really starting to feel better.  Thanks guys.
post #17 of 33
I did Sloppy Joes the other day for a special,,, never served them before... sometimes have at home over a baked potato.. Thought I would be putting it all in the freezer and eating at home...sold 18 out of 20!   Big baker, s&p, butter, cheddar cheese, joes, more cheese.
post #18 of 33
Thread Starter 
Sloppy joes are on the menu for sure, but I'm just a bit confused by what DC meant by a 'ragu'.  I've always made em with ground beef, and every recipe I've looked at says the same.  Ragu, to me, is chunks of partially shredded meat in a thick gravy.

On another note, I'm wondering if I had an epiphany today...  what if I took strips of breaded chicken, cooked them until done through, cooled them to hold, then popped them in the toaster before tossing in sauce to serve?
post #19 of 33
Thread Starter 
Aw, no thoughts on the toaster trick?  I admit, I haven't tried it yet... but I will
post #20 of 33
I had "ragu" at my sister in law's when they lived in Quebec... it was basically a casserole of ground beef with macaroni and tomato sauce topped with cheese and baked until the cheese melted. 

The toaster trick.. I'm not sure... I'd be concerned that the toaster oven would burn the chicken to a crisp instead of warming them thoroughly... it's worth a try though
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post #21 of 33


Whew, after typing that all out I'm feeling the underlying current of panic rising a bit...   Any hints, tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Of course, if anyone wants to come work with me for a month or so (for the fresh air ) I wouldn't say no...
 


Well you are just down the highway from me.. not sure about a month but maybe a week?   (for the fresh air of course) 
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post #22 of 33
Thread Starter 
lol  Leeniek, I'm not sure I'd be a vacation from the knumpties you've been working with.   There would be just one of me, but I'm pretty potent.

The park opens next friday.  I'm scrambling a bit to finalize the menu and get the kitchen ready.  Cross your fingers for me...
post #23 of 33
Well lets see...what I have had to deal with... people finding the schedule to be a guideline as to when they turn up for work, cooks producing food that looks like the dog's dinner, try and sell it and and then argue with me when I tell them to remake, cooks who talk too much,  cooks who think doing a certain task is beneath them, cooks who talk to themselves, cooks who repeatedly ask me for more shifts on the schedule and either don't listen to my answer or think the situation will change magically in a week...  all along with making sure the kitchen is running smoothly despite these issues, keeping the dishwashers happy and dealing with questions from servers and owners along the way...

If I can handle that and still get us through the day... I think working with you will be a breeze!  I could do the kitchen and you could take care of the store and we could help each other when we needed to.  That was how it was for me when I was at the cafe... i was the kitchen and if I needed help I'd ask but for the most part I was able to get myself on track... and if I was behind it meant they were too so we just sucked it up and dealt with it.  

So how is your menu looking?
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post #24 of 33
Thread Starter 
lol on my best day I could be all those problems and a lot more

Here is the menu so far... haven't quite finished the cost analysis so the prices are not all set yet (only a week left, what's the hurry?)   At least I've nailed down 99% of the suppliers.

It may seem like a lot, but I'm sure with your professional eye you can see the excessive overlap of ingredients that should help make this menu work, even with just one (me) at all stations.  Thank goodness my kitchen is so small.

Breakfast
Snack wraps; omelette, salsa scramble, potato skillet, scramble & cheese
Fried egg sandwich
2 eggs & toast
2 egg omelette sandwich
Steakette & egg sandwich
Breakfast bundles; full size wraps with egg & breakfast meat, or two egg omelette a la carte, or potato skillet a la carte
Breakfast plate; egg & breakfast meat, or two egg omelette a la carte, or potato skillet a la carte... with toast
Pancakes, waffles, or French toast with house blend syrup & berries
Pancakes, waffles, or French toast with house blend syrup & breakfast meat
Deluxe breakfast plates; Steak, peameal, or porkchop & eggs & beans & toast
 
Lunch & Dinner (served after 11:00 am)
·         Burgers
Hamburger
Cheeseburger
Bacon Cheddar Burger
Sloppy Joe
Crispy Chicken Burger
Pulled Pork on a Bun
Stuffed Mushroom Burger
 
·         Dogs
Weenie
Footlong
Sausage
 
·         Wraps
Crispy chicken snack wrap (caesar, buffalo, sweet & spicy, pineapple curry, Jerk, peppercorn brandy, honey mustard)
Hearty Salad Wrap; Chicken Caesar, Steak ‘n Egg Caesar, Beef & Bean Garden, Grilled Mushroom Garden
Sandwich Wrap; Roast beef, roast pork, roast turkey, tuna salad, egg salad, veggie medley
Ratatouille Wrap
 
·         Sandwiches
Toasted Tomato
Grilled Cheese
Cuke & Feta
BLT
Roast beef
Roast pork
Roast turkey
Tuna salad
Egg salad
Chicken salad
 
·         Mexican
Quesadillas; chicken, southwest, beef & bean, cheese
Nachos; & salsa, & cheese, loaded
Taco; hard beef/bean/chicken, soft beef/bean/chicken, double deck’r bean & beef/chicken
 
·         Salads
Garden
Ceasar
Potato
Pasta
Greek
 
·         Dinner Specials
will include...
pasta dishes (lasagne, spaghetti & meatballs, sausage & pepper penne, baked mac & cheese, etc)
casserole
pasties
calzone
meat ‘n tater with veg
and whatever else strikes our fancy (or will use up over-prepped foods)
 
post #25 of 33
Thread Starter 

Yep, stupid bump again.  I could  really use some feedback and opinions... Open is 4 days away.

post #26 of 33
Hey did you actually test that ratatouille wrap? I am curious how it turned out.

as far as the menu goes it looks a little long but then I am sure those specials will be one at a time not altogether and I would get rid of the pasta salad too.  Also as long as breakfast is breakfast and not all day that should be good too. Keep you focused on the mealtime flow.  You might rotate those salad sandwiches, Egg salad is special cause not everyone makes it all the time.

Otherwise I can see you being very busy with happy customers. Best Wishes, would come visit but Canada doesn't like me (or didn't, my last visit they made me sign a form saying I would leave in 9 days) and you are like 3000+ miles away.
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #27 of 33
I'm with Gunnar.. keep breakfast to breakfast and do not offer it all day and also seeing as you are the only cook you might want to choose a few select items to feature every day just so you don't find yourself in the weeds because you cannot keep up with the store and the kitchen on a big menu.  Once you have things running smoothly you can add items to the menu but I would suggest a smaller menu to start and talk to your customers and see what they would like to see you offer.  I know you will have a tranisent clientele but if youcan switch something up and make your current customers happy that would go a long way to ensure the success of your food counter.  


Hey Gunnar.. how come our government asked you to leave in nine days? 
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post #28 of 33
Hey Charron,... if you need/want any live advice let me know and I can PM you my number
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post #29 of 33
Hello,
your post is very nice.you provide very nice tips for holding food.I just want to share some tips with all of you-
There are different types of hot-holding food trolleys-

Mobile hot cupboard trolleys - These are well insulated which maintains food temperature during transport to the service point and have internal heating elements which can be plugged into an electricity supply on arrival to main food temperature. Some have a steam generation system which in addition to keeping the food hot, will keep it moist, preventing drying out and skinning of sauces.

They can also provide a full meal service with options of a bains-marie for hot sauces, over-counter lighting and service areas and an outward finish which can make them look part of the board room furniture

Regeneration trolleys - These have a much more powerful heating system. They are designed to accept chilled or frozen food, keep it chilled during transport, then heat it back up to a safe and pleasant serving temperature close to the point of service. They can take either individual plated meals or bulk food dishes and the heating process begins when the regeneration trolley is plugged in to an electricity source close to the point of service.

Thanks pasta dies/

post #30 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by leeniek View Post



Hey Gunnar.. how come our government asked you to leave in nine days? 

It's actually a really long story that starts with a lost license and a 3 day layover in Se-Tac airport that left me broke and ends with me laughing at the American  Port of entry guy when he won't let me come home to California cause he didn't like my Seattle ID card that said I was a resident of California. Canada let me in , but thought I was up to something they pulled apart all my luggage and made me sign that form. Then they showed up at my girlfriends door looking for me cause American Customs guy didn't forward the form I gave him that they had given me...meh.  That's not even scratching the surface of that experience.
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