Sunday Updates – October 31

Happy Halloween!  I’ve never really been a huge fan of Halloween, really.  I liked the candy, but walking around in the cold for hours?  No thank you!  I don’t really like dealing with costumes.  They always seem to be grossly uncomfortable and ill-fitting.  And, I’m not a big drinker, so going to a party to get completely shit-faced doesn’t hold much appeal for me.  It’s fun on occasion, but I don’t usually see the point.

Speaking of drunkenness, I took the first of two mixology classes yesterday.  It was pretty good.  We learned how to pour shots.  We did what they call “free pouring,” which means that you pour by count, and if you count the same every time, you should end up with consistently poured shots of the same amount every time you pour.  It helps you to pour multiples, too.  We tried 5 different things:  Frangelico; a coffee liqueur; Bailey’s; an off-brand Irish Cream; and Peach Schnapps.  Next week, we do a “practical” exam and Chef Steadman said he’d make us a layered drink (think Tequila Sunrise) and frozen drinks.  He’s going to show us a way to make frozen drinks so that there’s never anything left over in the pitcher.  He also said that he’d let us try his favorite whiskey – Bushmills 21 – and some South American Rum.

I decided that I’m going to drop the Comm class.  I just can’t find the motivation to do it right now.  I can do the Math class (even though I’ve had math up to Calculus at other schools) because there’s a purpose to it.  I’ll learn about costing and business-y math stuff.  The Comm class seems pointless right now.

I got the grade back in my Sanitation class – I got a 98.  Chef Meredith said that there were a few questions that weren’t in the book, so she added 5 percentage points.  I got 3 questions wrong (probably the 3 that weren’t in the book), so I ended up with a 98.  I would have liked it better if she had just thrown those three questions out instead of adding 5 percent, but I’ll take a 98 over a 93 any day.  On my last Nutrition test, I got a 97, which gives me a 100 average so far.  In Math I have a 98 average.  My baking classes haven’t really had any graded assignments yet, so I don’t know what I have there.  I have an exam in Breads and a paper due in Intro to Baking tomorrow.

Now, on to other news!  I saw the movie Red with my cousin on Friday evening.  I liked it quite a bit, but I have fairly simple requirements for a movie – it has to have decent dialogue, it has to have a few laughs, and shit has to blow up.  Red hit all of the (admitted low) marks, so I liked it.  I just love a good action movie.  This one had Helen Miren firing a .50 caliber machine gun, which was pretty awesome.  Really, I have the movie tastes of a 15-year-old boy (minus the interest in cheerleader movies).  I like action and super-hero movies, and I like comedies.  I do not really care for the typical “chick flick” mostly because I hate crying.  I do enough of that right now; I don’t need a movie to help me, thank you very much!

I am going to go see the newest Harry Potter movie with the same cousin in a few weeks.  He is a big fan of Harry Potter, as am I.  He told me that he’s going to re-read the series in preparation for seeing this next one.  I thought that sounded like a pretty good idea, so I’m going to do that, too.  I got the first two in the series at my local library.  I’ve requested the next two, and my nearest branch has the final 3, so I should be set.  It comes out on November 19th, and I think I can get through all 7 books in that time, especially since I’ve already read them all.

As I write this, my dad and two of my brothers (Joe and Richie) are running in the Marine Corps Marathon.  I had planned on running it with them, but life got in my way a bit, and I just couldn’t seem to make the time to run before my move, and I haven’t been running since I came back to Ohio.  Although running (and exercise in general) probably would be the best thing for me, I have a lot on my mind, and running is hard for me to get done.  Running has always been very soothing for me; it clears my head and allows me some perspective.  It’s meditative for me.  But, my depression and laziness have been winning, so I haven’t been running.  It’s funny that the depression would be helped if I were running regularly, but it’s the depression that’s keeping me from doing it!  I did run on the bike path after class one day two weeks ago, but I haven’t done it since.  I’ve decided that I’m going to commit to taking work-out clothes to school at least 2 times every week, along with things to shower with when applicable.  I just need to get a duffle bag out and pack it.  If I pack it the night before, I should be able to make it happen.

I’m thinking about getting a new iPod.  The one I have is probably 7 years old, and it no longer holds a charge.  I’m thinking I’ll get a Nano.  I don’t really need a lot of space, and the others are just so expensive!  I should probably get a job before I buy an expensive new toy, though.  I still have savings, but the money is going to run out.  I just don’t want to work.  This break from employment has been pretty nice, really.  I’m not accountable to anyone but myself, which I kind of like.  I’d also like to not completely drain my savings, though.

I’ll write again next Wednesday or Thursday, if not earlier!  Have a lovely week, everyone!

Challah and biscuits and danish, oh my!

Yesterday, we made challah bread, biscuits and the dough for the Danishes we will make next week.  I was pretty tired when I got to class, but I perked up pretty quickly.  I crashed immediately afterward, of course!  Since we made biscuits yesterday, Chef Weber made sausage gravy for us.  It was great!  I did eat a little something at home, but only enough to prevent a severe case of the shakes from all the coffee and hard work in class.

We made the dough for the challah and braided it.  My group-mates and I wrote down the wrong recipe for the Danish dough, so we were a little behind the curve.  We started out really well, so I was disappointed that we appeared to have screwed it up so badly.  I feel like I let the other two people in my group down.  Granted, the other girl in the group also wrote down the wrong recipe, and the guy in our group did not write them down at all, so I guess I shouldn’t feel all the guilt.  Chef Weber let us use his copy of the textbook, so it worked out, but it was a little stressful.  Next time, I need to pay closer attention and make sure I hang on to the paper he gives us at the start of class.

Today is a beautiful fall day – cool and crisp and dry.  All of the leaves have changed color, and many of the trees are bare, thanks to the massive wind and storms we’ve been having the last couple of days.  It’s sunny out, too.  This is my favorite kind of day.  This and a warmish spring day when all the flowers are in bloom.

I had math this morning, and I have sanitation this afternoon.  We took a test in sanitation last week, and I think we’ll get those back today.  I’m a little nervous about it.  There were 3 questions that I know were not in the book and weren’t covered in class.  (Chef Meredith let us use our textbooks for the test, so I can say with absolute certainty that the information in those questions wasn’t in the book at all.)  Math is going better than it was when it started.  I got a perfect score on our last quiz, and she gave us a bonus exercise today worth up to 5 points.  I’m fairly certain that I got all 5 points.

Next week I have Tuesday off.  It is an “learning day” for the faculty, so there are no classes.  It’s also election day.  I don’t remember seeing very many political ads in Maryland, but there are what seems like hundreds a day here!  It’s looking to be extremely contentious.  I will be voting, but I want to make sure I do some research on the different candidates first.  I don’t trust the ads to tell me the truth.  The last time I voted in Ohio, the blue-hair behind the desk sneered at me, which wasn’t very nice of her.  I’m hoping I’ll hve a more positive experience this time.

Next week, we’re making cupcakes and a simple buttercream in Intro to Baking; and, we’re making blueberry muffins, Danishes, and puff pastry in Breads.  Tonight, I’m making more buttermilk biscuits and some sausage gravy.  My dad was pretty disappointed that I didn’t bring any home last night, so I’m going to make them when I get home today.  It’s also trick-or-treat tonight in Lancaster.  I think that my parents usually get a fair number of trick-or-treaters, which will be kind of fun.  Where I used to live in Maryland, we never got any.  The one time we did, the mom demanded candy, too, even though none of them were in costume.  It was lame, and it just meant I had loads of candy lying around the house begging me to eat it.

I have my first mixology class on Saturday!  I’ll definitely post something this weekend to let you all know how that went!  Check back on Sunday!

Monday Monday

Call it boredom, but I’m finding the urge to post a lot these last few days.  I had a really good day today, so far.  It’s only 3 in the afternoon, but it’s been really nice.  I’m starting to feel more comfortable in the kitchen classroom, which is a wonderful thing.  I’m finding that I have a good idea of where things are stored and kept.  I’m getting along well with all my classmates, and I’m settling into a kind of groove.  I think it’s probably fair to say I’m the oldest person in most of my classes.  Because of that, I tend to step into my oldest-child shoes.  It’s a comfortable fit!

I had my Intro to the Baking Industry class this morning first, followed by Breads and Baking Basics.  Intro was a lot of fun today.  We got to make more cinnamon rolls, and Chef Touria let us cut up fruit to improve our knife skills.  We segmented oranges first, then we did pineapple, and some of my group did strawberries, all of which we used to make smoothies.  We didn’t have any yogurt or ice, though, so they weren’t as good as they could have been.  They were still yummy, though!  The cinnamon rolls look better than the ones I made last week in Breads, but I haven’t tried them yet.  Everyone in the group said that they were way better than the ones we made on Wednesday.  We used the soft roll dough, and just made cinnamon rolls out of that instead of the sweet dough we used last week.

I have been having some sad days, lately.  I miss everyone terribly.  It’s been a difficult transition, despite my sunny posts.  I know that I’ll rebound eventually, but there have been a lot of days that I’ve doubted that.  There have also been days that I’ve doubted my ability to finish this program.  It’s something I’ve wanted to do for many years, but I’m unsure of myself now that I’m actually doing it.  I know I present an exterior of confidence, but I have a lot of doubts about myself.  It doesn’t help that it’s a rainy day today, making my mood a little overcast like the skies.

Even with the doubts and sadness, I have had a good day so far.  I just wish some of you were here with me!  Posting about my adventures is fun, but nothing beats chatting with my friends.  Some of you can expect phone calls in the coming days!  🙂

Sunday Update – October 24

I like this title for my Sunday posts.  I hope you all don’t mind the redundant titles.  If I come up with something clever, I’ll mix it up, but I like this for now!

So, I had the beer half of beer and wine yesterday.  It was a lot of fun.  We started out sampling some champagne.  We tried a “true” Champagne (meaning, it came from the Champagne region of France), then an Italian sparkling wine.  The Champagne was a Perrier-Jouet, and the Italian was a Martini and Rossi Asti Spumante.  The differences were in the price and the dryness.  The Champagne was far drier than the Spumante.  The Spumante reminded me of the Reisling we tried last week – lots of apply flavors, very much on the sweet side.

Then, we watched an episode of Modern Marvels from the History Channel, followed by a casual beer tasting.  I tried quite a few beers – Dead Guy Ale, Siberian Night Porter (from an Ohio brewery called Great Lakes), Arrogant Bastard Ale, Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA, Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat, Stone IPA, and Red Stripe.  I’ve had Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA and didn’t care too much for all those hops.  Oddly, I kind of liked the 90 Minute IPA.  It was definitely fruitier to start, then very hoppy.  I have had Red Stripe a couple of times before, but it’s been since I first went to college in the late 90’s so I thought I’d give it another shot.  It’s a pretty good beer.  Nothing I tried really grabbed my attention, though.

We also had to take a final at the end of class.  I am pretty sure I aced it.  It was open notes, but I left the wine handouts from the first class at home, so I didn’t have those to rely on.  Luckily, I usually can remember things if I have read them, so I think I did okay on the small number of wine questions that were on the test.  It was probably 15 questions long, and we had to write out some answers in complete sentences.  Very easy!

In the week ahead, we are doing biscuits, danish, and challah in bread class.  I have a test in nutrition, and a paper on yeast due tomorrow.  The paper is only required to be 1 page, so that shouldn’t be too difficult to knock out before I go to bed tonight.  I have decided that I’m going to drop my communication class, so I have to take care of that tomorrow, too.  I just don’t have the energy or attention span for it right now, and I can probably get transfer credit so I can take a bunch of fun stuff.  I’m thinking of taking swimming at some point, and they offer yoga.  I haven’t looked through all of the possibilities yet, but I’m sure there will be plenty from which to choose.

More to come later in the week!

Some Random Stuff

1.  I forgot to update you all on this!  I got second place at the fair for my brownies.  My peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies did not place.  Any of you who have tried my brownies know how good they are, so I’m thrilled that I placed at all, but part of me is a little puzzled as to what could have been better than those!  It’s mostly just my arrogance, but seriously, I want to know what the #1 brownie had that mine don’t.  I’ve been blaming the little old ladies who volunteer to do the tasting.  Maybe my brownies were just too rich for them.  But, I’m glad I won anything at all!

2.  I looked up the scale on the America’s Test Kitchen Web site, and it is OXO.  It’s the 11-pound capacity one with the pull-out display.  I decided that instead of further depleting my savings by buying kitchen stuff, I’m going to ask for that for Christmas.  I don’t need it immediately; I just want it immediately.

3.  The experience of registering my car and getting my license switched over to Ohio was possibly the smoothest, least obnoxious experience at a Motor Vehicle department I’ve had in ages.  It took me a total of about one hour to get the following taken care of with the BMV (Ohio’s equivalent to the MVA):  Take the vision and driving-laws test; get my Ohio license; register my car.  The fastest one was registering my car!  I waited 2 minutes, and was out of there in less than another five.  It took a little longer for the other two just because of wait times.  I like getting a new driver’s license because I like that it’s warm when they first hand it to me.

Fun day ahead – I have the beer portion of my beer and wine class today!  I’ll update you tomorrow!

Sweet

Long busy day yesterday!  In baking lab, we made sticky buns and cinnamon rolls.  Chef also asked me and my lab partner to make biscuits for the class.  He asked another group to make scrambled eggs so we could have breakfast.  The biscuits turned out very well, as did the scrambled eggs.  I had my eggs on top of the biscuit halves with a little Tabasco and some salt.  It was awesome!  The sticky buns and cinnamon rolls both turned out really nicely.  The only problem was clean-up.  Sticky buns have a topping that is basically a carmel, and that crap does not want to come out of the pans!  We used muffin tins, and they were a bear to clean.  One of my classmates, Mark, said that if he ever makes them again, he wants to try to use muffin liners.  I don’t know how that will work or if there’s a trick to getting the sticky off the tins.  Maybe just more butter.

Earlier in the week, I made salmon for dinner.  My mom bought a 2-pound fillet, and I cooked it two ways.  I cut it into pieces and marinated half in a sesame ginger dressing then baked it in foil packets.  The other half I just seasoned with salt and pepper and fried it in a pan with olive oil.  The second way is my favorite way to cook salmon because it’s fast and easy and is pretty consistent.

I also baked some Quiche Lorraine scones that were really yummy.  They have bacon, swiss cheese, and green onions in them.  I’ve thought of a few ways to alter them already.  I’d like to replace the swiss with a Gruyère or a smoked cheese, maybe a gouda, or even cheddar.  I’d also like to play around with a red onion or a sweet onion instead of the green onion.  The green onion was a little mild for my taste.  I could smell it, but I couldn’t taste it as much as I’d like.  I also think it needs more bacon.  The recipe called for only 7 slices of bacon, but I think that I could have cooked the entire pound and been happier with the finished product.  Next time I make them, I’m going to ratchet up the cayenne (or change it to black pepper), add more bacon, change the cheese to a sharp cheddar, and use diced red onion.  Really, this recipe has a lot of possibilities, and I think I’ll really like playing with it.

My next culinary investment is going to be a digital kitchen scale.  My parents don’t have one, so I need to find something that will allow me to practice at home what I’ve been doing in the baking lab.  America’s Test Kitchen recommended one that had a pretty good-sized capacity, and you could pull out the little thing that tells you the weight so that you can use all kinds of different containers.  I think it’s OXO.  I saw an OXO one recently that looked like I remember the ATK-recommended one looking, but I don’t remember what brand that one was, so I can’t be sure.  Good thing the internet exists!

This weekend is going to be pretty relaxing.  I have beer and wine on Saturday, but my parents will be out of town Saturday night.  I love them, but it will be nice to have a little quiet time.  School has been very busy – I didn’t realize I was taking so many credits, but I’m up to 22.  For a quarter, that’s a lot, even if some of them are easy.  My sister’s birthday is Saturday; my parents are going to Toledo to see her and go with my youngest brother to parents’ weekend stuff at Boling Green.  I’m making a more grown-up version of Oatmeal Scotchies for my parents to take up with them.  It’s from ATK, and they usually have good recipes.  Martha is still my go-to for baked goods, but I stumbled on this and wanted to give it a try since it’s her favorite.  You melt the butterscotch chips instead of adding them straight to the dough.  They’re a bar cookie, and there’s also a butterscotch glaze that you pour over them while they’re still warm.  She may not like them as much as she likes the original, but it’s something new to try!

I’m making friends (slowly), but it’s still weird being back here.  There are a lot of things I miss about Maryland – my friends of course, my favorite Chinese restaurant, a good place for Greek food, a high-end liquor store where I can get recommendations, the liberal slant of most of the people.  But, there are also good things about Southern Ohio – the people certainly are friendlier, it feels safer, Donato’s Pizza, it’s more laid-back and comfortable here, and I get to attend culinary school for not a lot of money.  Once I get a job, I’m going to start thinking about moving out of my parents’ house so that I have a space all my own again.  Until then, it’s nice to not be the one who has to worry about paying the bills on time.

Sunday Updates

I decided to take the beer and wine class, and it met for the first time yesterday.  It’s only a 2-day class, so it will meet again next Saturday.  We tasted wines yesterday.  Next Saturday, we’ll drink some champagne, followed by some beers.  We tasted:  Merlot, Port, Ice Wine, Ciante, Pinot Noir, Black Raspberry wine, and Riesling.  I liked the Riesling a lot.  The Merlot was okay – a bit too bold for me.  I did not care for the black raspberry or port.  They were far too sweet.  The ice wine would be good in very small quantities with the right dessert – something fruit-based.  The Ciante was far better than the Pinot Noir.  The Pinot Noir was from California, and it was not very complex.  The Ciante, while not something I would necessarily drink on a regular basis, was very interesting.  It was from Italy, and I could really tell the difference between the two in their complexity.  All in all, it was pretty fun.

I’m looking forward to the beer.  I like beer, but I don’t know that I really understand the difference between the different types.  I know what I like, though!  I like a maltier beer – one with a smaller amount of hops.  I also like my beers a little fruity.  I’ve really been enjoying Magic Hat’s sampler boxes because I can try a bunch of different things and not feel disappointed to have committed an entire 6-pack to something I didn’t end up liking.  However, I learned that the liquor store in Nelsonville lets you mix and match a 6-pack on Mondays.  I will probably make a stop there in the next couple of weeks.  I have to get through the beer I already have in the fridge before then, so it may not be until around Thanksgiving that I actually make a trip there.  I’m a slow drinker.

I’ve had my first round of tests and papers in a lot of my classes.  My comm class (as you may guess) is going really well so far.  I got the highest possible score on our first assignment (30 out of 30).  In nutrition, I got a 103 on our first exam because of the 3 extra-credit points she gave us for bringing in a nutrition label.  My math class is okay, but not great – 17 out of 20 on our first quiz.  We had a test on Thursday, which I’ll probably get back on Tuesday, so we’ll see how that went.  I always make stupid little mistakes in math.  Twice on the quiz, I put 16 oz as the conversion of ounces to cups, instead of the correct number – 8 oz.  It was a really dumb mistake that I would have caught if I were paying more attention.  I’ve never had much patience for checking over math problems after I’ve gotten my answer.  It’s probably something I should learn to be better about, especially if I own a business someday.  I’d hate to order half or twice as much as I need because of a mistake in calculations.

Coming up this week – more rolls, sourdough breads, a sanitation test, and beer and wine on Saturday.  We have to write a paper for the beer and wine class, which I may go ahead and knock out this week while I’m sitting around in the library, just so I don’t forget to do it.  My topic is port wine.  I’m sure someone out there wrote a history of port wine at some point; I just have to find it!

Outside school, I need to find someplace in the area that does fresh turkeys, preferably one that doesn’t use hormones or anything like that.  I was buying my Thanksgiving turkey from Maple Lawn Turkey Farm in Fulton, MD, but that’s not a viable option for me now that I’m a 7 hour drive from there.  I’m making Thanksgiving dinner this year – my dry-brined spatchcocked bird, the biscuit stuffing I’ve been making for the past couple of years, mashed potatoes, and a couple of pies.   I know what you’re thinking – that I’ve gone insane – but Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday of the year.  It’s all about food!  What’s not to love!?  Besides, I’m leaving the gravy to my mom and the green been casserole to my sister, so I’m not doing everything.  Just most of it.

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