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 : )