Wednesday, December 23, 2009

to eat is to live, to love is to cook....

...this is my motto. On my final for my careers class, it asked what my personal motto would be towards a career in the hospitality industry. I didn't quite understand this, but after some heavy duty pondering on teh subject, this is what I came up with. Kinda after the fact, but thats ok.

I really feel that yes, eating is a necessity (spelling?), but food is not only a way to survive and keep you alive, it is to live. It is a lifeline, and a common ground by which all people co-exist and live together in this vast, crazy world. No matter what is going wron, what kind of day you had, what emotional state you are in, no one can deny good food. Every one needs, wants, and loves to eat. And no one can deny the desire to eat. We need it to support us, to live.

And to love is to cook. Love in my eyes is to give your heart and soul. To put in effort towards more than just yourself towards one thing, person, or goal. Also, to put faith and trust in someone besides yourself.To cook means making sure everything comes out perfect, take time to put a magic touch on every part of the meal to show affection to someone through this creation that was made especially for them. Love makes people happy. Food makes people happy. To me these two make the world go round.

and this is what i would name my cookbook If I get that far one day. NO! let me rephrase that... WHEN I get my cookbook.

Oh and I think Im getting a camera for Christmas, so food pictures will be a result of that for sure!!

and catering went well. I feel like we were on dinner impossible with that really masculine chef dude who does impossible dinners. I know how he feels now. Just on a smaller scale, and not on television, and Im not a buff chef dude. But it was the same. We slaved all day, scoped out the deals at Costco for the perfect tri-tip cuts, then in a flash we dropped it off and we were done. I felt like I just had a baby with him and then we sent it to the adoption agency, dropped it off, and we were done. Didn't get to see it grow up. It was sad...but so worth it! And I feel so much closer to finding my "niche" I feel something brewing. I just really wish I had a direct connection to God's home phone sometimes. I really just want to chat with him. I really want to see what Im meant for sometimes. It would help me out a lot!

But any ways, all finals went well. Classes are over till January. Until then just killin time with baking, and Christmas.Got my books for next semester! Im pumped for nutrition class. woo hoo!


Thursday, December 10, 2009


So, here are some updates:
-chef scared the crap out of me and ever since the falling cake incident and mushy bread incident, I thought I was going to fail the class. But thankfully so, I didnt. I re-did my bread final and it came out amazing. Cinnamon raisin bread mmm. Let's just say I got an A. And as for my cake, he said it wasnt my fault that it fell over. YAY! So baking is over with! Im excited about that.
-Me and Matt have a catering job this friday. Only for 20 people, but it is for the nursing board at Stan State. And Matt wants to be a nurse, so this is pretty much a make or break job. So, crossing my fingers that it goes well!
-Up at Columbia, there are weird things that I have never experienced. SNOW DAYS!! Here in Modesto I have never seen it snow, let alone have a snow day.
-I got my classes for next semester. B lab, which is more extensive cooking class. We actually get to do more than prep sandwiches and over easy eggs. This class will be so fun to dive into the fine details of cooking and the "real stuff." Also, I will be taking a nutrition class. Hopefully this makes me realize what I am consuming so I stop eating all this junk food crap that I hate to say that I love.

as for now, it is winter break! Finally, no more finals, no more classes until January. So until then it will be at home cooking...

Saturday, November 21, 2009


hmmm so lets see. To sum it all up, I spent 7 1/2 hours in the bakery making bread and a triple layer chiffon cake. Home made strawberry peach whipped cream, french buttercream, and a marbled chiffon cake. I put my heart and soul into that cake. Then I go to put it on the counter to grade, come back after cleaning and it has fallen. hmm... embarassing to say the least. I was crushed. I had a slight mental break down on the way home with my boyfriend worried sick that I was going to crash my car out of pure fluster-ed-ness. (?) Good news though, my teacher saw the cake before it fell. But nevertheless, he still saw it fall. So who knows what my grade will see. As for the bread, the moral of the story is never improvise with baking. Banana turns bread verrryyy mushy, and you cant use oats to replace wheat bran. Kinda doesnt work...So that one I am going to re-do : )

As for my mental health, Its been one of those weeks. I seriously want to escape. I am contimplating not taking any cooking labs. Yes it will be sad, but it will be a break from tedious cooking and give me free time to cook food at home that isnt being judged from all aspects. I do love my school, dont get me wrong. Its just hard. I want to crawl up in a little ball and pitty myself, but I know that would be the total wrong thing to do at this point. I think instead I will drown my frustrations is cookies, and look on the brightside. Thats the only thing I can do.

Hey, and the cake was delicious. Just ugly. So thats a plus. I can bake, I just need work on the pretty parts of food.... that will come later.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finals have arrived!

So... I'm starting to think this whole "cooking" thing just isnt for me. I love to cook, and I love food, but after a few guest speakers and a crappy day in the bakery with white chocolate frosting (long story). I am learning that this is definitely a career that is a day to day adventure. I am frustrated one minute, creative the next, and just plain confused most of the time. I know that this is the reason I am in school for this, and what else would I do? But the problem is I feel like I know nothing at all. People are making reductions and cakes that are beautiful. I feel in over my head with projects and math and I know I am just running away from homework and putting things off until the last minute. I am worried that I will not finish or be good enough as of this point. Hopefully my final projects save me, and maybe this is a sign I shouldnt take as many classes next semester. I am just frustrated and tired, and dead lines are killing me. Its hard to be so positive when everythings on the line. I hope that it all goes well.

Let me put it this way...

my baking final-berry chifon mad hatter hat with polka dots and a buttermilk walnut bread with a banana cinnamon swirl. Well see how it goes...
The rest is all written papers and tests, but im stressed!!! I hope this semster just goes by fast and next semester isnt to bad.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

my vision...

I would love to own a bakery cafe. I would serve breakfast, brunch and lunch. I would have fresh pastries, yummy sandwiches, fresh baked breads, and great coffee. It would have many comfy couches and a very homey atmosphere. It would feel like your house but much better food. It would cater to any one and everyone. I would have random art classes, and cooking demonstrations once or twice a month and would support my local community and churches. I would have a diverse menu, but with some oldies but goodies. It would be a place to eat, enjoy, and relax. I think a place that is a great place is one that gets every sense flowing. When you walk in you smell the smells of chocolate and bread and spices all working together, you see colorful flowers and plates and coffee mugs, you taste the great flavors in the food, and you feel the warm fire from the fire place or the nice comfy couches, and you hear people saying "HEY HOW ARE YOU TODAY?" or you hear great music and the sound of mixers and espresso machines..

things i must have:
-breakfast sandwiches
-coffee/espresso bar
-fresh bread and pastries
-wine and fancy mimosas
-purple and red and orange
-comfy couches
-funny nice people who smile a lot
-a deck or porch..outside seating with tea lights and comfy outdoor furniture
-catering/preordering music or just great music playing
-great soup and stews
-fire place
-free wi fi
-paintings and art
-community bulletin board

Monday, October 19, 2009

cakes, cakes, and more cakes...

So its been a month or so, but in this last month I have made cakes up the wazoo. I dont know if that's politically correct, but its true. I was dreading cakes! To bake a cake takes patience and precision. So many things could go wrong. I didnt see the point of making a frosting for an hour by scratch, then baking a cake from scratch for another hour than having to wait for another couple hours to frost it than eat it, but my heart has been changed... I hate when that happens. I was going along just fine without liking cakes, then all the sudden I successfully accomplish a good cake and eat a really moist cake so I cave. Darn... here goes my waist line : /

Now, I love making cakes. I've made devil's food cake (chocolate), silver cake(the most "normal" of all the cakes...comparable to box mix), chiffon cake (really moist sponge cake), and am going to now attemt the imfamous genois cake(a sponge cake on crack). Genois is a difficult, tempermental cake that incorporates folded in egg whites and melted butter. Which under any circumstances would be a bad combo, but done right and it is supposd to be the most moist cake someone will ever try. So we will see.

I still have to decide on a cake to do for my final. It is now turning into being a cake show for my friends to make the cut for a final decision. It is a choice between red velvet cake, carrot cake, lemon pineapple chiffon, or an experimental peanut butter jelly cake.. the last one is still in the works. SO well see what happens.

All I do know is, is ever since I've become a baker, I am happier and so are my friends and boyfriend : ) I am slowly realizing that even people who say they dont have a sweet tooth do, and every one is a little bit happier with some sugar in their diet.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Where is the balance between being a full fledged adult and keeping a child like view on life?

Sometimes I feel like I am hecticly (sp?) busy, and standing still all at once. I dont know who I am going to be, and sometimes dont even know who I am. And especially when it comes to "my calling" in life, I still havnt figured it out. I still am putting the pieces together as to what my "Calling" is. And my question is, is does any one have it all figured out. Because I'd like to talk to them and find out how. I feel like Im the only one who doesnt have anything figured out. All I know who is who I am now. I cant see into who I am going to be. Its a bittersweet feeling being in your 20's. There's a lot of room to grow and still a lot of time. But the choices I make today effect the rest of my life. Where is the balance between being a full fledged adult and keeping a child like view on life?
As for a career, My boss has brought up cooking in the restaurant, but it is "only applebees." So we will see. For now I am remaining a loley server. But I do have big goals...I want to start a catering business and cater to any services people would need. Cooking lessons for kids or families or people, cater their parties or weddings or events, or baked goods. Pretty much anything they would need. But God will provide if it is the right thing. I just hope all the pieces get put together. We will see I still have 2 years. Crazy things could happen!

The infamous checkerboard cookies...

So I am through one month of school already! I have also made it through pies and cookies. I had to take on the task of "the infamous checkerboard cookies." They sound harmless but they are hell! Who ever heard of rolling out cookie dough. I hadn't. I also didn't know it turns into playdough. So when making cookies that you need to roll out...freeze, then play with it, then freeze more...and repeat. These cookies are yummy, but scary. All you have to know is it takes layering of two types of cookie dough then cutting, then layering more, then stacking. Its weird. But good news...I got them right on the first shot. Me and my partner in baking John, who has a key eye for precision made what the teachers assistant called, "The best checkerboards to come out of this level class." I call that a score.
Cookies and pies werent that bad. I've made pie crusts, tarts, and now many cookies. Now is on to cakes...My down fall. Give me bread, give me danishes. I am freaked out by cakes. I can never ever ever for the life of me figure out how NOT to burn my cakes. And we have to make frosting too.... : ( even worse. But I think it should be no biggie. Ill just have my friends taste test and I guess I'll have to practice!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Its a love/hate relationship

Practice makes perfect. I am learning as I bake more that this is so true, but I am also learning that no matter how many times you make THE SAME pie crust recipe, that it may or may not be good at all!
In baking this last tuesday, it was my second time making pie crusts. My group is on pies and cookies. So we made a chocolate cream pie, and I was in charge of the lemon mirangue.... pie crusts, as much as they are complex, dont compare to There is a 1 minute window of perfection, then BAM...its overwhipped before you know it. Grrr...
I am slightly frustrated/dillusional about pie now. I think I have a love/hate relationship with pies.I am dreaming about ways to make "the perfect pie crust." I am constantly thinking about fruit fillings, cream fillings, and even random mixes of things that could go well. Even with all this day dreaming, I still cant get it right.
Today, I practiced in my off time on a lemon mirangue and chocolate cream pies. I feel like those pie crusts turned out beautiful. Flakey and moist but still delicate. The problem was the mirangue. AGAIN. SO Im coming to the conclusion that I am going to avoid mirangue at all costs! (definitely the hate part of my relationship.)
As for the kitchen part of my training...I FLIPPED AN EGG WITHOUT ANY USE OF A SPATULA! it was so fun. I mastered it. and its way easier then it seems. Although I did break a few, but owell.
The trick is to think of it as a J motion... or i think of the pan as a skateboard ramp and the egg as the skateboard. have a well oiled non slip pan. cook the egg till whites are done. constantly moving the egg around by moving the pan in a circle. scoot the yolk to the top of the pan away from you.(counterbalancing the weight to make it easier to flip) and presto just have confidence, and flip it.

I think thats the key to cooking or baking or even in life in general. Have confidence. Whether its flipping an egg, making a crunchy piece of french bread, or just trying something new. Try it. If you have confidence in what your making and tell yourself that you can flip that egg, sooner or later youre going to believe yourself and actually accomplish it. Its your choice to believe it sooner or later and make it happen.

Also, in the short time I've been doing this, I'm realizing how important trusting your gut is. When you think your cookies are a little to cooked, they usually are. Timers and recipes are just a guideline in my book.

And the last thing Im learning is that I thought I wasnt a baker before, but I was sooo wrong. I am really enjoying it. Yes, baking is so much more precision and less guess-timating of ingredients. But I think Im realizing the whole thing of it.
At first I was just fighting my feelings towards baking. Baking is confusing, testy, moody, and so tempermental. My old relationship cooking, was so much more flexible and easy to work with. Im seeing now that maybe I like a challenge. I love that with Baking there is always room to grow and learn. No matter how many times I think I have it mastered, I never will. And there will always be something that could be improved or go wrong from the slightest variable. But Its so therapuetic knowing that something is more complicated than me at times. lol

*** the little points on the mirangue of a pie is called "Weeping" the mirangue to make it stand up like mountain peaks.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

the cheesier the better, pesto tomato sandwich

ingredients: basil pesto
yummy crunchy bread of your choice thats good for toasting
-foccacia bread, dutch crunch, or sourdough
purple eggplant (just try it, its good!)
**for picky eaters, you can choose chicken or turkey, or no
meat at all.
sliced mozzerella or havarti cheese.
**(both are melty and gooey and will work quite nicely)
olive oil
lemon pepper

-If using eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch thick round slices.
**Before grilling, fix your bread so it is ready when the eggplant is ready.
-set oven to broil (about 500 degrees)
-on bread, not toasted, smooth pesto over both peices of bread on one side, then place a generous amount of cheese.
*about 1/4 cup shredded or two slices sliced.(use your best judgement for full effect of how cheesy you like to be.)
-place garnished bread pieces pesto up and not put together in over until brown. on the middle rack. KEEP A CLOSE EYE!! BROIL COOKS THEM FAST!
-NOW GRILL EGGPLANT in a medium heat skillet.Add a generous amount of olive oil to the pan until bottom is coated.
-add lemon pepper or salt and pepper to both sides of the eggplant.
-Grill on both sides and flip when brown, or until softened to your liking (Some like it crunchier or softer than others).
**DONT CRANK UP THE HEAT. the eggplant will burn or not be cooked all the way inside. keep the heat mellow and you will be good.
**for chicken, cook until no longer pink in the middle.same heat setting.
-after egglant is grilled and done, put sliced tomatoes on one side of sandich, and then grilled eggplant on the other.
-push the two pieces together and put back in oven to broil and toast for about 2 mins on each side.
-cut in a diagonal and serve. YYYUUUMMM!!!

***This sandwich is easy and pretty healthy. Cheese is good for the dairy in your life. Pesto is high in fiber. tomatoes are just plain good for you, and I think low carb diets were invented by party poopers and people who dont enjoy life so dont listen to those dumb diet rules...BREAD IS GOOD FOR YOU! Pick whole grains and you are good to go. Plus eggplant is a veggie, and if you use lean chicken it is protein. So knock yourself out with this one, and feel good about it!

when cooking or life gets dull...just SPICE IT UP!

Well, my first complete week of classes is done. I have met all my teachers, seen the kitchen and the bakery,(which is so exciting that I get to work in both!), found a great carpool partner, and met the people in my classes. We all had to introduce ourselves and say why we wanted to be in "the food industry" and what we did over the summer. It was great and there were some people who were as drivin as me, some more, and some less.It got boring after the 5 class we had to do it in, but owell. I am eager to see what their interests are, what they are good at, and see that I am not alone in making mistakes in the kitchen.
I already have so many papers to write on the differences of flours, my expectations, my thoughts on food, and everything else in between. It is exciting to be writing about something I love. I just cant wait to get in the kitchen. IM SO ANTSY!!
I do have to start thinking about two of my finals though. One is a two part final for baking. It involves coming up with and completing one yeast bread recipe and successfully baking it. (NOT BURNT) and the next is to create a simply decorated cake from scratch. So far I am thinking about making my Nonna's trusty and old fashioned italian fluffy foccacia bread topped with stewed tomatoes, a little basil, and olive oil.(We just call it foccats in our family) and a home made german chocolate cake with fresh coconut sprinkled over. Not to sure yet though, well see.
My next final is to interview two people and complete reports on them. They have to be people that do what I potentially am interested in doing. Thats all fine and dandy...until I realized that I need to find a way to meet people in what I want to do. I dont know many people who teach kids how to cook or own successful cafes. So we will see. Maybe God will drop someone in my life that is a successful cafe owner or Rachel Ray will stop by Applebees in the near future...not likely to happen, but that would be SO cool.

To sum it up...after the first week:
-I am too shy...that has never been a problem for me, I am just so worried that I wont stand out or I'll make the wrong impression. But I need to suck it up and do my best and show them who I am in the kitchen.

-I am as of now around 130 pounds. I am hoping those pastries wont go to my hips too much, but even if they do IT WILL BE WORTH IT! I might even want to gain a little. They say never to trust a skinny chef.

-I am already finding it hard to balance my work load. I do appologize to my family, boyfriend, and friends in advance for deserting them, but will make it up in pies, cakes, or savory treats of any kind. I pinky promise!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Well, so far so good. Except a 7:30 class, with an hour commute before hand. Dont get me wrong, I am a morning person....sometimes, and I enjoy the drive up to the mountains. Its just going to be a hard adjustment to wake up at 5 am, when I am used to waking up at 11 during the summer, but owell I will adjust when I think of the yummy croissants and tastes tests I get to do in class shortly after I wake up.
I love Columbia. The library, the trees, the people.It is such a change from my busy town of Modesto. People are a little bit hippy-ish, and are definitely "mountain" people. But I love the slow way of life and relaxed pace of the classes. Small class sizes, and mellow teachers make for less stress. And once I get cooking I know it will come in handy for the teacher to know my name when he's yelling at me about burning my group's french bread. I just hope I make a good impression and not be "that girl" whos known for a huge disaster in the kitchen...
My 6 hour baking class was the first on the agenda today. It was amazing just to see what we will be up to in that bakery. Even hearing about the final assignment makes me anxious to get my hands on the rolling pin. I can smell the butter in the air already!
My only worry is that...sigh...I am not a baker by nature. It is such a science and cooking is an art. I am definitely not a scientist. I am a gray area artist when it comes to food. I can add a dash of salt here or a pinch of cinnamon there to alter a recipe when it comes to cooking, but baking is TOTAL OPPOSITE. One mistake and your souflee is droopy or your whipped cream is just really stiff milk. I am trying to have faith that my culinary instincts will kick in and help me out and that it wont matter that I failed chemistry when I try for that perfect chiffon cake.
I still have two classes to go, and I think they are more of my forte'....Intro to hospitality management (front of the house stuff: serving, running the front of a restuarant or hotel...the management aspect) and intro to food prep (slicing,dicing and spicing). These will be a breeze hopefully. Again I will not know what to expect, but I have a feeling I'll fit right in.

Oh...and the best part is....I GET TO WEAR A CHEFS UNIFORM!! HAT,COAT,APRON AND ALL!!!! lOOKING GOOD! ; )

***"mise en place": everything in its place or ready to go.(To me this is when you see the little food dishes already prepped for the food network people, this is a french term for dirting many dishes, just so you dont make a mistake when baking/cooking)

-THE HEART ROCK CAFE is the best little cafe.Its in downtown Sonora. Free wireless internet, live entertainment on weekends, yummy food and treats, and the owners are!

-They have mixers that are 80 QUARTS! they make your mama's kitchen aid look tiny!

***If you burn anything when baking, DO NOT throw anything out. There is a way to save it most of the time.
-if you burn cookies, add a little more butter, and sugar/vanilla and make pie crust out of them

hopefully I will have more and more tips as my classes go on. But until then, thats all she wrote : )

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I love the smell of new cook books!

I am officially excited for school! Less than a week away and I am ready to start learning and soaking it all in already! I got my books and literally couldnt stop hugging them. They felt so good and I could smell the roasting garlic and crunchy bread in the air.(Yes, I was day dreaming about food). I cant wait to bake my first successful apple pie with crumb topping. I cant wait to meet people as passionate about food as I am. I cant wait to meet my teachers and learn from their experiences. I cant wait to wow my family and boyfriend and friends with my culinary goodness. I just cant wait!
I am not looking forward to a few things though:spilling all over the place, making weird meat gelatin molds(yes thats a weird french recipe), possibily cutting my finger with a huge knife because I dont know how to cut AT ALL, and so many other dissasters that could/will happen. And I definitely dont want to kill a lobster :(
Altogether though, I know it will be such a good experience. After all my expectations, I know it could be nothing I thought it would be, but I am so ready! Throughout the next semester I will be blogging and sharing all of my mistakes, frustrations, ups and downs, as well as great recipes and new discoveries in my culinary adventures.