Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Today was my first day of pastry arts class. The morning started off at 4:15 AM because at some point in the night Layla got naked and then when she peed, it woke her up. If you know my kids at all, you know that they, like their mommy did for so many years, can't sleep without their blankets. I moved her down to the pack n play in an attempt to get her to go back to sleep, but without her blanket it was a futile effort. She talked and asked for her blanket in between what I assume was dozing off. I tried to go back to sleep on the couch down here since we don't have a baby monitor hooked up all the time in the playroom and I didn't want to go dig for it. I also dozed on and off until my alarm went off at 5:30.

Marc decided last minute to go ahead and take me today since Layla was already awake. That meant rushing around since I was literally about to walk out the door when the decision was made. In all the rush, I forgot my apron. When we were almost to the school, we had a decent sized turn, and I spilled some coffee on the cuff of my brand new chef coat. I tried to breathe, but was about in a panic by the time I made it to the kitchen.

Chef CJ was the only one there when I got in. I introduced myself and told her that I was one of the students who transferred in from the other class. I told her it was my first lab, and I asked her to show my how to tie my neckerchief. She was really nice about it and showed me how to do it correctly. I told her I forgot my apron and she said that this time it wasn't a big deal and loaned me one from the kitchen. She could sense that I was a little anxious, and asked if I was nervous. I told her that I was excited and that I just wanted to make sure I did everything right. She said that was good because it showed that I cared.

We were finishing up a strudel that they had started yesterday. They had made the dough and prepared the filling. Today we made an anglaise sauce, a caramel sauce, and put together and baked the strudel. If you have never made strudel, you have no idea what an undertaking getting the dough prepared for the filling is. You have to be extremely gentle with the dough and begin to flatten and stretch it and eventually you have to get it to cover an entire table without rolling or ripping it. You gently put your hands underneath and let the weight of the dough stretch it out.

They say cooking is one of the most artistic skills because people use all five senses while eating. They don't really talk too much, yet anyways, about the fact that cooking also engages all five senses. You know how you get into bed on a warm day and the sheets feel so nice and cool for the first few seconds? That is what the dough felt like on top of my hands and arms while we were stretching it. You could really smell the dough, as well, and you could see the spots where the dough was thin enough because it was almost transparent.

I also learned today why my attempt at eggnog around Christmas failed miserably. I've tempered eggs before for my black tie mousse cake, but I wasn't sure that the eggs for my eggnog were getting thick enough so I kept stirring it on the heat. Eventually the eggs curdled. Apparently if you let the egg and cream and sugar mixture boil or reach 185 degrees, no matter how slowly you bring it to that temperature, your eggs will curdle. So now I feel like I need to go try to make eggnog again.

It was all around a good day. Chef CJ was helpful, especially when I let her know that today was my first lab and yesterday was my first class ever. She exclaims with a smile, "Oh! Then you really have no idea what the hell is going on then, do you?" I laughed and told her that no, not really. She showed me where things were. It's nice because even when a guy spilled a whole contained of melted butter on the floor, she didn't freak out on him. She just calmly said, "Well, I guess you're on cleanup duty." Then we moved on. I definitely am making a huge effort to make sure I am doing things correctly and taking initiative to help out in any other ways possible. I make sure I am not just standing around and that I am always doing something. This was usually dishes or mopping.

Before I go, I must say, quickly, that washing dishes with that equipment is so easy. I wish it was that way at home! I wouldn't possess a dishwasher, I swear! They have the super high powered hose to get all the gunk off and then the vat of soapy water, the vat of rinse water, and the vat of sanitizer. Even with sticky caramel, it only took 10 seconds to wash the pan. I loved it! I was afraid that I was going to hate that part of the whole experience, but really it isn't so bad after all.

I don't have class again until Friday, so I may not post again until then. If not, have a good rest of your week!


Monica Kaye said...

I love reading about your days! Strudel sounds awesome. I'm hungry!

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