Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Baking Up A Storm!

So this week has been a bit crazy so far, and it's only Tuesday. Right now as I type this it is 105 degrees here. I am currently located right in front of the air conditioner in the living room on the couch with ice water in one hand and a piece of my delicious Quiche Lorraine in the other (pictured to the left). It is made with cheese, bacon, and onions with a cream and pie crust. I already have my next quiche in mind with a bit more spice to make it a bit spicier. But all in all it is great. On the bus today I had to carry this, raspberry muffins, and an apple pie. Let's just say I have become very good at balancing boxes (one of my many hidden talents). Some days I am taking home so many things that I have been running out of carrying cases and have to go buy boxes down the the cafe. Today I tried to put the Raspberry muffins next to the quiche but I wouldn't suggest it. I had one muffin face first in the quiche by the time I got home. Next we have the pumpkin pie that has already been partcially consumed by my roommate and her friends, which was no problem because I have never been a big pumpkin pie fan. Just because I had to, I did taste a little bit to make sure I made it correctly (or didn't forget things like maybe the pumpkin). The pie did turn out great but it is a bit weird to make a pumpkin pie in July. I guess we could consider this Christmas in July Pie. Finally we have the Old Fashioned Apple Pie. It's kinda funny cause if you look at the pie from above the top looks like a little old woman's face all crinkled up. With tons of apples stuffed into this pie, it has been calling my name since coming out of the oven. A little warm apple pie and some vanilla pie and I might just call it a night! Or in the case of the the weather today we might just leave it as cold apple pie. So as you can tell, I have been up to my eyeballs in flour, sugar and eggs but things are turning out great. We found out we have a three day weekend this weekend so that has been speeding up the week even more. The only problem is that I might spend most of that time sleeping but at least I will get to see my kids (my cats and dogs), my hubby, and my parents. Plus I will be relaxed, you don't realize how all the people, traffic, and overall noise gets you wound up! I want a nice quiet room with a couch, a pillow, a cold drink, and a TV. That sounds pretty good right about now!

Camping on the Oregon Coast

So Max, myself, and Lucy (the Lab) went for a camping trip this past weekend at Beverly Beach just outside of Newport. The whole time is was overcast and around 50-60 degrees....just perfect! I actually had to buy a jacket because it got so cold overnight.Granted, I am not thrilled when it comes to tent camping but it is a cheap way to enjoy a weekend on the beach. We took a trip to Lincoln City to hit the factory outlet stores, and my favorite place Depot Bay (pictured at the top) to pick up salt water taffy and look for whales. But no matter what you do at the coast you always have to make sure to stop by the bayfront in Newport to see the sea lions relaxing on the docks.

So we all had a blast, but unfortunately Lucy killed her first mouse.
A mouse that first attacked Max on his leg so Lucy quickly went after it. Lucy was pretty proud while I could help but cringe as Max buried it.
All in all it was a great weekend!! Thanks hubby for the trip!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Tart of a Day

Welcome To Tarts: 101...
Tart day. A day which some would cringe with the thought of having to create such tedious things but I on the other hand giggled like a school girl. Making tarts is not something that I have ever done and only had I seen them in books....thinking that I would never do anything like that! But I was dead wrong. This so far had to be the coolest thing we have yet to make. A fresh fruit tart consists of a shell that is completely baked then a pastry cream is put into the shell then it is topped with fresh (and only fresh) fruit. The color alone was awesome and it is a wonderful pastry to take to a dinner, or just to impress your friends with. The one above that I made has raspberries, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, and lemons along with an apricot glaze on all of the fruit. Now the next one is an almond tart made with almond meal. It is completely baked with the creme d' amande in the middle, which is almost like a stiffer pudding. It has confectioner's sugar on top and smells wonderful. With all of these pastries I find myself simply looking at them, not wanting to take a bite mainly because of all the time and effort that went into them. It is so much easier to ship pieces off to others and see the enjoyment that they get from my hard work. I know that I should be trying them to get how they taste but I just can't make myself do it! They are too beautiful! But on the other hand, not eating most of these will ward off the dreaded "Culinary School 50 (pounds)" that everyone talks about. Alright, enough tart talk. I have a cookie test tomorrow and it's study time!
One last thing....... I wanted to let everyone know that the essay I wrote recently that you can see a few posts down titled "I have a dream" recently won me a $500 scholarship here at school. Thank you to Glenda (Grandma) and Nancy for their letters of recommendation!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hey! Cookie Monster! Try These Cookies!

So things have been a bit crazy as some of you are fully aware of. It seems as though life as officially flipped upside down and my life as a baker is slowly taking shape. I say this not only because I, being the person that loved staying up till 2am now has no problem going to bed at 7am or 8am. Why you may ask? Could it simply be cause I get up at the crack of dawn to go to school? Well, maybe. But it is kinda nice to wake up at a decent time and get everything done throughout the day. Also, this baking thing has started to consume everything I do. I wake up, to go to school and bake. I come home to study about cookies, pies, and the make up of ingredients. Most people can't say that their homework tonight is reading a chapter on cookies!

So speaking of cookies, this week in class.....cookies. And lots of them. These are only a few of the many that I have been baking (not to mention the ones that are yet to bake at school). Now, for your enjoyment, I will actually teach you a bit of what I am learning. The "checkerboard" cookie you see above is called a Brysselkex cookie. I have to admit these aren't my favorite in the taste category but they look awesome. In the first picture above you also see large peanut butter cookies that are partically dipped in chocolate and the sprinkled white cookies with Apricot jelly in the middle are called Linzer cookies (typically seen around the holidays).

Then finally we have one of my new favorites the Strassburger Biscuits. Made by piping out the dough in the forms you see above then hazelnuts and apricot jelly are put in each side. These are a lot like butter cookies. They taste great and are fun to pipe.

So all in all it has been fun so far. In no way would I ever give up this experience for a second. I do miss everyone desperately but please know I am busting my butt one cookie at a time to make you all proud!
So tomorrow, Biscotti and Almond Macaroons then on to tarts.
Cookie Monster, eat your heart out!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mama Mia....It's a Pizza!

So I can now add yet another talent to my resume, hand tossing pizza. This past Friday in class we were given the task of creating our own pizzas, from dough to pie. Now hand tossing has always been something I never thought possible, imagining the dough stuck to the ceiling or heaven forbid tossed onto the head of a fellow co-worker but I was ready and willing for the challenge. If you have ever seen the Visa commercial with the crazy guy tossing the pizza dough around let me tell you right now, that was not me. But I do have to admit that it went very easily and before I knew it I had a thick crust pie with chicken, peperoni, mushrooms and lots of cheese that was beautiful! As the Chef (what we call our teacher in culinary school) quoted Anthony Bourdain from the Travel Channel "If it doesn't have orange grease on it, it won't taste very good" I looked down at my pizza. Damn I am good, orange grease and all. So as I move past the first week of pastry/baking school I can now say that I can toss pizza's. Now that I think about it....it would be a blast to own a pizza shop but I shouldn't get ahead of myself. This is only week one and all.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chocolate, Knitting, and Pizza

So day three in my adventure to become a pastry chef. Yet again we covered the in's and out's of proper sanitation (such as don't stick your fingers up your nose then make a sandwich, don't lick the silverware as a way to clean them, and finally leaving mayonnaise out on the counter for a few days while you think about making that tuna fish sandwich is not the brightest idea). Then in between these fun tidbits of priceless information we were let loose to play in chocolate yet again. I would have to say that day two with chocolate was a bit easier than day one but I still have a ways to go (I might have hit a level 1 today in my chocolate abilities!). Luckily we found out that day four, meaning tomorrow, will be including the art of pizza dough which in turn will be put together into pizzas (what else!) on Friday along with the fruit smoothies that we will be making. In two words..... hell yeah! So I now sit to ponder the inter workings of my professional baking textbooks while learning the baker's math that is really quite cool once you get it down. But the one thing I am missing right now is the energy to knit, seeing how I have been waking up at 5 am and my body is screaming at me to lay down and be a vegetable for an extended period of time. So I have decided to take a knitting class at Abundant Yarn here in town tomorrow to force myself to pick up my needles yet again and get crackin!
**A note to my fellow Stitch n' Bitchers in Redmond... I just wanted to tell you all that I miss you terribly and I hope that you all are doing well. I have seen the comments that some of you have left and I appreciate all of them. Just knowing I have my little cheering group back home (along with my husband and family) keeps me going. I hope to see you all soon at one of the meetings and in the mean time happy knitting!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Look Mom, I Doodled In Class!

No, it's not Max's birthday... but I figured I should get some practice in before that day comes. As day two of pastry school continued we got to final get our hands dirty in the best thing of all, chocolate. Being that none of us have had piping training yet our chef told us to at least do a "happy birthday" then play around with the chocolate to see how it comes out and such. Well, here is the problem. Instead of using a typical piping bag we made them quickly out of parchment paper. My first one's hole was a bit to big and suddenly chocolate was coming out on it's own....on everything! So my second try worked a bit better once I got the making of the cone down but I am not a professional by any standard. So right now I would consider myself a Level 0 (yes that is zero), and it can only go up from there. I just look forward to the doughnuts, breads, and cookies. They should have an exercise class at the school just to work off the pounds from tasting everything. Luckily the large chocolate stains that showed up all over my uniform came out but I can imagine that they are only the first in the many that are yet to come.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The First Day of Baking School

Usually I would try to come up with some medium sized paragraph on the recent event in my life, like attending Culinary School for the first time today but as of this minute there is a problem. I have been up since 5am this morning (no that is not a typo). This coming from a person who didn't know what it was like to wake up in the single digit hours that consisted of a morning and loved what many call "brunch". So all I can say at this moment, in which it is barely evening and I have already been up 14 hours, the first day was great. It's about stinkin' time we get this going cause I can't wait to be knee deep in frosting and chocolate. So in the midst of all of this I was begged by my family and my husband to do the grand reveal and show off my new uniform. This picture is for you guys.