Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Little Ones

So while I am up here in baking land, I have acquired some friends to help me along in my journey to become a pastry chef. Granted I would have loved to bring one or more of my cats or maybe Lucy the Lab or Keisha the German Shepard (scratch that....I can't even walk Keisha unless I plan on running after her with a broken leash in tow). Anyway, so first it was Poppy that came home with me. She is hilarious and is on the opposite schedule that I am, hamsters being nocturnal and all. So you can imagine my scare while I am sitting watching a movie today after class and I see something moving out of the corner of my eye. Poppy the escape artist. This was her, saying hello and she pranced around happily....outside her cage. So being that life couldn't get anymore exciting I decided that Poppy and I needed another roommate in our humble abode. So being that I already had a cage that Poppy had used only once before upgrading I went down the street to the pet store and came home with our new buddy. Right about now I can picture my mom rolling her eyes at the thought of me having another pet, but they are just too much fun not to mention it is a wonderful feeling knowing that you are giving a pet a home of their very own. But please know, I have hit capacity! Two little ones are just enough to keep me busy at the moment. So I would like to introduce Moo. Yes, the rat has a name of the sound of a cow. Isn't life grand. Moo is a black and white small rat that is about the sweetest thing ever. He is quickly finding his home more than suitable to his liking and has already tested out his wheel. Moo is fitting in just perfect. Another addition to the Bivens' happy little family.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Welcome to Las Vegas!

Today was the last day of our dessert buffet class in which we were given the assignment to create a small display of five different small desserts. Each of the desserts had to be from a certain category of dessert and were served on a display glass along with a printed menu that we created. While having a theme was optional, I decided that I would have the theme Las Vegas (why Vegas you may ask? I don't know....it just kinda happened). Starting Wednesday (since I was presenting on Friday) I hit the ground running in hopes to turn out at the very least 5 edible desserts! I will admit that I learned quite a bit along the way as well as running into a few hiccups but overall it turned out good. Here is a rundown of the menu I created.....

*Sinful Chocolate Chiffon Cake: This very chocolate chiffon cake includes a delicious red colored white chocolate raspberry ganache glaze. These little cakes are shaped to spell out Las Vegas.
*Lucky Lemon Galettes: Little tartlets with a baked lemon custard inside a sweet pastry crust then topped with a fresh lemon slice.
*Cherry Pavlova Slots: Baked, fluffy meringue in casing a cool lemon center. On top of the lemon center, fresh whip cream and orange liquor infused cherries.
*Poker Chip Linzer Cookies: Bright red linzer cookies baked with a mixture of almonds and cashews, sandwiched with a raspberry jam. Topped with royal icing.
*5 Card Stud Diamond and Heart Fresh Fruit Tartlets: Heart and diamond shaped fruit tartlets with a pate sucree crust, filled with whipped cream pastry cream and topped with various black and red fresh fruit (based on seasonality availability as well as an apricot glaze.

So thank goodness it's Friday since I can barely stand up straight let alone think straight. It was worth it in the end, got an A on the project and a new class starts on Monday. Sounds like we are starting viennouserie and laminated doughs. In English.... danish, croissants, and coffee cake to name a few!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tons of Sweets During A Busy Week

French truffles made with chocolate ganoche, coated in dark chocolate then rolled in toasted coconut. Almost too much to bear!

Battenberg cake with an outter covering of marzipan.

Fresh fruit tartlets with mango, kiwi, and blueberries. Filled with pastry cream.
Chocolate Peanut butter tartlets with walnut and almond topping.

Raspberry Linzer tart that is absolutely delicious!

Above, Almond Baklava with flaky layers and lots of honey.

The Nail in the Week

So in the past week things have been a bit crazy, the main reason that I have all these photos that I am just now posting for all to see.
The little kink in the week was that tiny little shiny thing in my tire.
About 15 miles away from home at the mall, I suddenly had a light come on on the dashboard.
Well, that light was telling me that the air pressure was low in a tire, and you can see why.
Thank goodness for my family getting me AAA!
It paid off that night!

The Blueberry Cobbler

Meet the classic blueberry cobbler that is baked in the oven for quite some time.
When its done...you get a beautiful baked crust with a gorgeous color on the side of the cup.

Itty Bitty Blue Cakes

Imagine the tea party in the movie Alice in Wonderland.
These petit fours have raspberry and apricot jam inside along with three layers of thin cake, marzipan and a blue fondant glaze.
Very fun to make, beautiful at any tea party!
A great way to be finishing up our dessert buffet class this week.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Meet Poppy with my iPod!

So recently my iPod died (it was a good iPod and lived a nice long life). So in the event of the death of my iPod I soon picked up a new one! The brand new iPod nano's just came out with video capabilities as well as radio among other things, which is why picked up a blue one and the thing has not left my side since. Poppy (the hamster) has become one of my first victims in the testing of the video cameras so here it is.....

A video directed by Lindsey Bivens titled Meet Poppy!!

(Yes...the video is dorky but inbetween baking, studying and sleeping I gotta do something!)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Little Scare

So today after working my butt off at school to get my apple pie bars, lemon meringue tarts (it's about time!), new york cheesecake bars, and finally my maple walnut tarts all in the midst of being done I left school pretty worn out. So as I trotted along to the bus I checked my phone to see what time it was and to my surprise there was a text from Max to call him soon. Unfortunately he had to take Lucy into the vet today because her scar from having a benign tumor removed had a lump that was oozing (that is all I will say cause I don't want to make anyone sick!). All I could think about the rest of the afternoon was what if? What if the crazy sweetheart of a lab (that was once so tiny, as you see on the first day she arrived and finally became ours) has a tumor again? And what if it's not benign? The thought still puts tears in my eyes. The happiest dog in the world doesn't deserve to have to endure a painful test of strength yet again. And she definitely doesn't want to wear a doggy halo again, since we went through two of them after the last surgery...both ending up in pieces on the back porch with a little help from my in-laws Corgies. Some people think that because a dog is a dog that they just don't hold the same place in our hearts as humans. I am sorry but Lucy is like my child. Possibly the only type of child I will get to experience in this lifetime, and what happens to her....happens to me. Her big eyes and tail, that never seems to relax and take a day off from wagging, is all I need to make my day a happy one. So when I called the veterinarian later this afternoon to find out how things were going I got quite a shock. "Simply a cheat grass that was buried into her skin and got inflamed", "Are you sure?"...I said. "Yep, she is ready to be picked up". Oh thank god was all I could think. The little one is okay. A little groggy from the medication but her tail was wagging happily again. I could burn everything I make in class tomorrow and still be happy. Lucy was okay. And I bet she was happy she didn't have to wear the stupid doggy halo again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Driving Towards The Blue Skies....

Welcome to the view that I have typically on a weekly basis as I drive down the stretch of road for what is about three and a half hours on a good day, heading to beautiful Central Oregon. (Don't worry mom, I was stopped at the time when I took this photo....there is a stop sign you can't see to the side so please just take a breath) Anyway... this past weekend was my first time back in two weeks after being a walking disease the previous weekend and refusing to leave my bed. Once getting through the rainy Government Camp, I was greeted with clear blue sky and the rocky landscape as I worked my way towards Bend. Don't get me wrong, I love Portland because of the amazing color in the gardens of every little house and the ongoing smell of rain every morning I step out of the door. But I am not a city person....I have known that in the past but I am now sure! The city is not for me. I need a wide open area where there isn't a house every foot and you can actually sit in a park and hear the silence echoing through the trees. Having a wonderful neighbor is all well and good but I would prefer to find a place where I can't see my neighbor so far away and the land is measured in acres than in feet. As each week passes with school, I find myself searching for places to do my externship in June of next year and with that I find myself looking at places beyond the big cities that the typical externships are in. I keep looking for those in the remote places where I can look out towards the mountains to watch the sunset or see the wildflowers blooming along the roadside with their brilliant color. Those are the places that fascinate me, where I can see life continuing after this baking school journey has ended. So in the mean time I enjoy the scenic city lights of Portland, and then enjoy the drive with the windows open as I cruise home on each Friday afternoon to see Max and my family... usually with a carload of baked goodies sitting next to me in the passenger seat.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Let's Try Something New

So I decided to try a stitch that I had yet to do before for the first project that I have started since coming to Portland. A very easy woven stitch that is a bit tricky to get the pattern down at first but it something you can do in your sleep after the second or third row. If you do about 300-350 stitch rows and just knit in the pattern back and forth you create an easy, yet interesting looking, scarf! I figured that since the rain is starting to creep into Portland for what I am told the typical fall season, I might want to prepare for keeping warm while standing at the bus stop.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Making of a Sunburst

So today.... the best thing yet! We dove into the very interesting world of artisan bread with Vienna bread shaped like a Sunburst. While I watched the teacher show us the steps to creating this amazing work of art, all I could think that there had to be a catch to making it look so good. Then I started to piece it together and before I knew it I had a bread that I was afraid to eat cause it looked so good. Because of the many different steps I decided that is would be a great time to show you, the viewer, the steps to making some good looking bread. To the left is the first step of the process in which you roll out 10 long pieces of the vienna dough that has fermented and been benched. You then take each of the pieces and start to intertwine them in the middle as you shape a type of sun, leaving one piece out to hold for later. Next, group pieces into threes and begin to braid each group while alternating and underbraiding with and overbraiding. Tuck in the end pieces of each braid. Slightly turn each braided piece to look like a type of sun. With the final piece of dough, roll it up into a spiral and place in the middle of the sun (where you will see an opening). Egg wash the whole thing and get it in the oven. You can add different toppings to the bread such as dill, large salt, or sesame seeds. After letting it bake for awhile you will get to pull a beautiful sight out of the oven. Your freshly baked, artisan bread that looks like a pro made it. So here is it. The beautiful bread that you will wow your friends with. The only problem at the moment is that I have to get the thing home. Ending up the size of a large size sheet pan makes this endeavor a bit tricky. So as we speak my sun is parked at school in the holding box, awaiting its day to arrive home. When that comes I do not know at this moment but I am bound determine to make it happen. At the end of this week I will have completed bread class and will move on to bigger and better things next week. What those things are I have no idea yet but I will fill you in when I do. Right this second, it is time to write a report on Babka (a type of Jewish bread) for a presentation I have to give on Friday. In addition to writing a paper, you have to have a tasting of the bread. This is the tricky part because it has to turn out well enough to feed it to others! But at the same time, no one in my class has tasted Babka before so I might be safe on that account. But I have faith that it will turn out, I even asked the rising dough before I left to please oh please rise for me tonight(essentially, yeast is kinda like a plant....just feed it and water it then watch it grow) so I don't have to do the whole thing over tomorrow. Cross your fingers and think happy thoughts.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Fuzzy Week

So last week went by in a blur. Mainly? Cause I caught the flu.
Our Chef (the teacher) was out sick on Monday and upon return on Tuesday passed on the illness to us. Lucky me!
So I would like to say I could remember the week in detail but with a fever every move I made was more robotic than anything.
Once Saturday came, the fever finally broke and I could actually hold down some food
but I was productive this weekend in watching over 10 episodes of Dead Like Me (I finished the series finally, it was great! I can't believe they cancelled it!) as well as 5 movies, a few episodes of Lost (I am trying to catch up) and finally a groove on my bed
where I laid all weekend in the fetal position.
So below we have a picture run down of last week, full of very fattening food!
Above we have a bread called a Pannetone. It's a traditional Christmas bread that I have to admit, I am not fond of. Before you even start you add many raisins, lemon, orange, nutmeg and almonds into dark rum and let it soak overnight. The outside of the bread looks absolutely ugly and is very tall once baked but some people can't say enough about it.
The classic Croissant. A beautiful thing.

Hot Cross Buns, you are thinking of the song right now aren't you! Yes, they actually have crosses on all of them and are pretty tasty.
Do I even need to explain the picture above? You can never have too many doughnuts, especially with cinnamon and sugar on top.
And finally a picture of what my table usually looks like at school (along with the cinnamon rolls from this week as well). A cooling rack full of bread just waiting for a hungry student. If you happen to leave the classroom with these tasty treats in view you will guarantee that you won't walk far because hungry culinary students will eat them all before you can take your next breath, or drive you nuts asking to have one.
I never see food coming our way from their classes! Some days I would give anything for a tasty burger, just to get away from all the bread.