Friday, November 26, 2010

Pastry school – week 8, baby!

Hello there, friends!

I cannot believe two weeks has gotten away from me! I was busy making bread, learning the secret Danish recipe, and baking croissants and pain au chocolat – I’m like a little French Patisserie over here!

Yesterday, I tested a new muffin recipe with my good friend, David Chow. We made blueberry, raspberry, strawberry explosion muffins topped with cinnamon and sugar (yes, I did say and mean explosion – I kept begging David to let me add more fruits – he relented somewhat easily: I have a great pouting face when I want something - just saying). They were quite delicious, I have to say!

I also had the pleasure of learning all the cuts of beef from a cow carcass this past week – such a fun exercise for a vegetarian, don’t you think? In my fundamentals of cooking class, we focused on plating and presentation, as well as timing and putting multiple dishes together at one time. Stressful? Somewhat. Educational? Very!

I also gave my very first cooking lesson last week! Thank you to my lovelies, Coco and Pamela, for being my first clients. We made mango salsa, quinoa paired with avocado, dried cranberry, toasted almond salad, and crepes for dessert. I had such a great time, and cannot wait for the next lesson! You never know – it could be with YOU!

Well, I’m off to plan a menu to test – feel free to send me messages asking about cooking lessons, catering, being a private chef, and suggestions on things you have always wanted to learn how to make – I have a network of great chefs at my disposal who would be delighted to help me learn a new dish or technique that I can impart upon you!

I wish you a glorious day, filled with all the love you can fit in your hearts and then some!

Love always,


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Homemade pasta, potatoes, danishes, croissants, midterms, and my kitchenaid mixer returns!

Oh my gosh! I just had the best morning! I spent 5 hours baking fresh croissants and danishes with the fabulous David Chow - he taught me a secret croissant recipe and will be teaching me a secret danish recipe that only 6 people in the world know. I have been sworn to secrecy, so the only way to experience it will be to have me bake them for you! I got to work with huge industrial mixers and bake food for the other Art Institute campus - SO MUCH FUN!!!!! I love my life as a pastry chef in training - life is just grand, friends!!

Apart from my amazing morning, this has been quite the eventful week! I had 4 midterms last week (gulp), all of which I did very well on – phew. Will I ever want to move into a new place and write 4 midterms in the same week again? No! But here I am – alive, no cuts, only a few bruises, a little smarter, and smiling – no harm done :)

This week was all about potatoes and starches in class. One of the unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on how you look at it) things about my fundamentals 5-hour-long cooking class every Monday and Tuesday is that I tend to eat my weight in whatever we are making for the day – so Monday, I stuffed myself with potatoes and inadvertently felt as though I myself had become a potato. Nice. Yesterday, I’m not sure I could have shoved any more rice or pasta in my mouth at one time. A very attractive sight, let me tell you. 

Thankfully, next week is all about meat, and as a non-meat eater, it’s safe to say I will finally leave a fundamentals class with an empty stomach! Or maybe I will eat all the accompanying sauces with a straw and keep up with my track record. Who knows? All I know is I’m growing some nice extra padding on the BE-hind – it will keep me warm for my first Canadian winter since 2007 – perfect!

I must make mention of my dearest friend Coco, who innocently called me on Monday night, not knowing that I was carrying a 40 pound backpack, a 20 pound knife kit, a chef’s coat on a hanger, and a 30 pound Kitchen aid mixer in a giant box not fit for carrying, desperately trying to make my way home...on foot. I had to go one block at a time, because my forearms kept giving out from the weight, causing my fingers to undo themselves from their death grip on the bottom of the box! I explained this sight to Coco, who immediately changed her course in her car to get me. Apparently, I looked like some sort of new aged homeless person when she saw me with all my stuff. She immediately burst out laughing at the sight of me. I feel I would have done the same in her position. I was a hot mess!

The important thing is that the Kitchen aid mixer, my beloved and most prized kitchen toy (shh, don’t tell my other kitchen toys), has made it home to me! Check it out!

I leave with a final “Did you Know?” thought, one of the many I’ve learned thus far:

3 things to remember about poached eggs:

1. ALWAYS use cold eggs. Why? Because you want the egg to stick together as much as possible so it doesn't fall apart in the simmering water
2. NEVER cook poached eggs in boiling water - the water should be simmering, which means slightly moving. Why? Because if the water moves around too much, your eggs will break up and be a hot mess!
3. ALWAYS crack your egg into a ramican and then gradually slide it in from the ramican to the water. Why? Because then you don't risk getting egg shell in the water, and it's much easier to boot!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Home Sweet Home....again!

Oh my goodness, friends! Yesterday, was a glorious day! It has been 6 months and 1 day since I last had a place to call “my own” (nothing is really ours, per say – even our bodies are on loan!). Yesterday, November 1st, 2010, in the midst of studying for midterms (more on that another time), I moved into my very first apartment in Vancouver, BC. I finally have a home! Well, for the next year, at least, haha.

April 30th, I moved out of the place I called home in L.A., the same place, oddly enough, that I moved into November 1st of 2008. Hm…

Although I love where my life choices have led me to date (and truly wouldn’t change a single thing), I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling discombobulated over the course of the last 6 months. Leaving my career at lululemon after almost 4 years and completely changing my life as I knew it (no more Tuesday morning breakfasts with Amy and Lauren, or strolls down the street to the Brentwood Farmer’s market, no more cozy apartment, or, or, or – the list is endless) took a toll on me that I didn’t want to admit out loud, much less to myself (I’m one of those proud, I can-do-it-myself and “tough” ladies).

I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling out of sorts and off balance, I like to have a safe haven to go where I can be alone with my thoughts to get grounded again – to re-center myself. Even though I move around a lot (7 cities in 3 countries and 12 different ‘homes’ since 2000), usually, my apartment is my safe haven. It contains the little things that represent me: the vase of roses on the coffee table, the uniform colored candles, the array of cookbooks and other books of interest on the bookshelves, the countless kitchen tools from Williams Sonoma and other magical places tucked neatly away in my kitchen drawers and counters, the cozy cream colored duvet on my bed, the pictures of my family in pretty little frames, the baby blanket I’ve had since I was 2 and still carry around with me – um – what? Ya, I said it).

The little things are what make the big things worth it to me. The little things are what ground me when I’m feeling I am being pulled in too many directions and need to re-focus (yes, even when I’m the conductor, to speak in a musical sense, of those directions).

So after 6 months of living out of suitcases and lululemon bags and not having any place to put my little things (much less put anything away), I am home. I recognize that homes are temporary (clearly), and I won’t get too attached to this one. But for the time being, I just want to say: Welcome back, safe haven. It’s nice to have you again, if only for a year.

Love always,

Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserve; it is life's undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room.  ~Harriet Beecher Stowe