Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Once more, with feeling!

We're down to one term left, so tonight a few of my classmates and I are going to meet up in the lab and have a pre-graduation dinner. We're all going to make something and eat in the Studio, where we've served our board dinners and international cuisine luncheons, only tonight we'll be the guests as well as the "staff". This should be fun! I'm thinking of making a jazzed up roast chicken recipe I found in my Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It's served with a mushroom-cream-port sauce, it sounded really good in the book. We still have a pot of chicken stock in the walk-in, we can make some kind of soup from that, Adam will probably be in charge of making dessert, and I'm not sure what everyone else is making, or precisely who all is coming, but it should be a good night anyway. I'll be sure to post about how it goes. It's the end of the term, we need to celebrate with something better than what the cafeteria sends out, this definitely calls for a sense of occasion. I might even wear my little black dress ;-) Hopefully, it cheers me up a little, I've been feeling kind of depressed today. Must be end-of-term blues.

I ran into Housing today to see if I can get a reduced rate on my room and board next term since I'm only going to be around for half of it, and luckily they told me I'll get a refund at the end of the term. Good enough for me. It would be silly to have to pay for a room while I don't live there. I sold back a couple of my textbooks and got some pocket money for them, but I'm keeping my wine book, I don't see that becoming obsolete any time soon. I took two certification tests today from the NRAEF and passed them both, so that should look good on my resume. Now I just have to wait for final grades to be calculated.

Last night I was on the instant messanger with one of my friends when I noticed that "frolick" (as in, prancing and scampering around like woodland animals in a Disney movie) looks and sounds an awful lot like "froelich" (German for happy, as far as I know), I was strangely amused by this, it was one of those weird lightbulb moments. Anyway, that doesn't have anything to do with anything.

I'm so glad I got my projects done on time, and that I did so well. I wasn't too worried about my grade, I figured I did a decent job, but it's a relief to be done. Now I can relax and read, maybe get some writing done, it's nice not having homework.

I was going to head home tonight since we have a long weekend, but the weather report looked a bit chancey, I didn't want to tempt fate when they're calling for 40mph winds with possible flurries. I'll get an early start tomorrow and beat my parents home. I might even have supper ready for them when they get done with work. That would be fun. I got my mom a cookbook and a new knife for Christmas this year, I might get inspired! That reminds me, bring the sharpener with me. I cleaned out my table drawer today, and my locker, it's like pounding nails into my own coffin. Each "last" thing I do is going to make it one step closer to the day I head out on my own. I hope to stay in touch with some of them. I hate goodbyes. "Never say goodbye, because goodbye means leaving and leaving means forgetting."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The end is near...?

Tomorrow is the last day of 6th term. Our final projects are handed in, we've done our last dinner, and some of us have begun clearing out our tables. It's all gone by so fast. After tomorrow, we start going our separate ways as some of the class begins their internships and the rest of us begin training for our CC tests. It's hard to believe we're all about to break apart, possibly never to see each other again. I've known these people for almost 2 years, it'll be strange not to see them every day after we graduate. I just hope I can hold it together for graduation, I can be overly sensitive, and this is going to be the real-world equivalent to the finale of "Mary Tyler Moore".

I wish I could stay, I can't wait to leave. I think it's normal to feel that way though. I feel good about what I've done here with my time, I just know there's so much more out there to learn, that can't be done in the classroom. Maybe my hesitancy comes from the fact that I tried the "real world" already, and got burned. I couldn't stand it if the same thing happened again. I have no love for Ottumwa in particular, but as usual when it's time to move, I'll miss the "idea of home." I can only hope that there are good things in store for me out there.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I haven't posted in the past few weeks, yet it feels like it couldn't possibly be that long since my last post. Time has conspired against me to go by so fast! I've finally gotten some hours at work, after very long dry period, so that contributed to it. It's good to get back to work once in a while, especially when things run smoothly. We even got so ahead of ourselves that we were reallocated to inventory duty! Even that wasn't so bad, though. The times we put our work down for a few minutes to make lunch, stick in a Poison cd, it's the simple things in life that make it worthwhile. Things get kind of crazy, we can get behind, but it all turns out well enough in the end.

Last week my class visited Tassel Ridge Winery just outside of Oskaloosa, that was a really fun field trip. I had a lot of questions about growing wine grapes in Iowa. Tassel Ridge was opened just under three years ago, in March of 2006. Every year that they've been in operation, their production has been steadily growing. While some of their wines boast 100% of their juices come from local grapes, they still rely on some product brought in from California for other wines. We got a brief tutorial of the basic varietals of wine grapes, some of which was a repeat from Fine Dining class and my own "personal research" ;-) I learned that for the first three years of growing grape vines, you're not supposed to let it produce fruit, in order to ensure strong branches and healthy vines. Once it produces fruit, all of the nutrients the plant draws in go to the grapes instead of fortifying the rest of it. By limiting production, it significantly increases quality in the final product. I could go on for much longer about the things I learned at the winery, but I have other things to write about.

Last Friday we held the annual ACF Scholarship Awards Dinner, which I helped serve. I came early to help make sure the kitchen was clean and in good order, then I started setting up the dining room. The awards recipients were all paired up with a chef to prepare a course of the dinner. Some of my classmates helped out in the kitchen, but any time I popped my head in it felt like if I jumped in I would be in the way. The kitchen at Bridge View is large, but we had it filled to its bursting point. I was content just to peek in and watch for a few minutes between dining room inspections. Before the dinner itself there was a cocktail hour, with passed hors d' oeuvres and sparkling wine. That part was fun, meeting and greeting our guests, popping champagne corks, it all had such a sense of occasion to it. When everyone trickled into the dining room and sat down, the dinner began, and I finally got an accurate head count to send back to the kitchen. I'll have to find out if anyone took pictures from the dinner, everything was so beautifully plated that nothing I could say to describe it would do it justice. They varied from simplistic to extravagant, each chef and student assistant fully used this rare opportunity to pull out all the stops.

My instructor, Chef Gordon, gave us all a scare that night when he left abruptly after cocktail hour. We were assured that he was all right and merely "needed rest". When he wasn't in class on Monday, I was getting worried about him, especially when the word was that he was seeing a doctor in Des Moines. Thankfully, he returned to class yesterday, much to our collective relief. He just needs to start taking better care of himself and quit smoking. Turns out it's bad for you ;-)

Today in class, I mentioned that I'd seen an "event" posted on facebook about an "End of the World" party scheduled for Dec 21, 2012, the supposed date of Judgement Day. I said I might go, but I wasn't really serious about it, and likened it to what I predict to be the biggest Star Trek party in history scheduled for April 5, 2063 (First Contact Day: that's supposedly when Earth makes contact with Vulcans for the first time. It's a Trekkie holiday. I'll be there in Montana with the rest of the Trekkies!) when my doom-and-gloom classmate staunchly affirmed that none of us will be around to see that, 50 years after the end of the world. I don't go in for all that Mayan calender stuff. They say that hindsight is 20-20, and you can put a spin on any of these "predictions" to make it match up to what you want it to. It's too easily manipulated. Besides, if we're all going to die in three years, what's the point of finishing this degree? What's the point of anyone planning a future when the universe is going to implode in a few short years? If I thought for one minute that that was true, I'd kill myself. As I said in class today, the best form of getting revenge on people is by outliving them! Now, my belief, when it comes to the whole 2012 theory, is that maybe the Earth may simply change hands to the next civilization. All civilizations die out eventually, and every revolution carries the seeds of its own destruction. It's much more plausible, so I don't think we're facing the end of all creation in my lifetime. Besides, if the world ended and I died with it, I wouldn't have a chance at being sent back, and I don't think I got it quite right yet! When and if the torch must be passed, hopefully we can leave something worthwhile behind.
See you in Montana on First Contact Day, I'll bring the treats!

I finally got my blinis to turn out satisfactorily this week, and I made eggplant caviar and roasted red peppers to top it with, I think Chef Gordon came up with a nice plate presentation for it, and it tastes great! I'll go lighter on the garlic with tomorrow's batch, it's easy to get carried away. I love the sharp, clean smell of garlic! As is usual in the lab, we had an impromptu picnic when Ross made a batch of tasty barbecue pork kabobs. I ate too much in the lab to want anything for actual lunch! With my eating habits, I'm surprised I haven't needed to invest in bigger pants since I began this program!