Thursday, September 27, 2007

LJ-razz, 6.8.06: The dirt on class

I'm having an ace time in class. I was late today because a dust and rain storm rolled through. If you don't know what those are like out here in the desert, you basically go from dry and sunny (not necessarily clear, but sunny) to dust storm to fat drops of rain, very gusty wind, and dark, roiling clouds within 15 minutes. I was about 5 minutes late for class, and it had already started. There was a pile of iodized vs. kosher salt on the front students' table, and Chef was demonstrating how to peel, slice, and serve fruit. I tossed my coat and knife bag on the back table and squeezed into a slot between my teammates. If I weren't so tired, I'd be able to write a wittier entry. We focused on knife techniques, emulsions, and how to use the grill, range, convection oven, steamer, dishwasher, and food processors. At the end of the class, Chef fed us what he'd been working on all through class--a simple baby leaf salad with a nice vinaigrette and spiced pecans, grilled chicken, sauted beans and peppers, and a red pepper-cilantro compound butter.

Notes: It was weird and funny when my red knife bag got some special attention during the break, and then one of the baseball brigade pulled out his big tool kit. One of my classmates decided he needed to trade in his new little knife bag for a tool kit, and I joked with him about buying one of the big red mechanics stations on wheels, wheeling it in on a dolly, and having to pay tuition for it to because it would take up space in class. Chef made an awesome red pepper aioli that I wanted to swim in. I think I got some negative attention when I didn't write down the terms he introduced us to (concassé, burnoise, aioli, melange, and sauté) that he said would be on the quiz and when I turned down a practice turn at piping the compound butter into a rosette to put in the blast chiller. My teammate Sally got insistent, but I told her to let the other students have a turn. I should've just piped the damned rosettes, I guess, but I've had to pipe hundreds of them already. Our fourth teammate who I was worried about because he kept asking about attendance policies was absent today.

After class, I continuted the search for a short honing steel so I don't have to tote my long one to class. I walked to Target during lunch (a half-mile in 110-degree heat may as well be 5 miles, although I guess I'd pass out after 5), and the three steels that have hung on the rack since the first time I went to that Target four years ago were sold sometime within the past week. Standards Kitchen Supply didn't have any yesterday when I went to buy my uniform, and Kitchen Classics, which carries the most eclectic kitchen gadgets alongside the most common ones, only had a diamond one. Sears didn't have one, either. I guess I'll have to go back to The Knife Shop to pick one up. I stopped by the grocery store to buy some stuff to make veggie stock and, yes, some Roma tomatoes, a mango, and a honeydew melon to practice my concasse and my knife skills. I made the stock tonight, as well as a batch of banana chocolate chip cookies (same recipe as last week with a mushier banana, slightly less flour, slightly more sugar, and a bit more salt) for tomorrow's dinner. I'm hoping to have time to figure out and make a caramel penuche to top the cookies off so that they'll be sort of like a banoffee pie; maybe I'll even whip up some whipped cream. And now it's almost 3, I haven't touched the work I brought home, and I'm beat. I'm also excited because Violet asked me to make a chocolate dessert for her going-away party. It's sad times, but I keep thinking about this dessert. It's a good distraction.

Also, the fluorescent light in my kitchen went out, so I had to bring my torchier lamp from my bedroom into the dining room so I could see what I was doing.

More notes: I haven't cut myself on a kitchen knife in a really long time, but the other day, I managed to give myself a paper cut on the butter package. Chef was teaching us how to dice onions and saying we had to be careful with the lateral cuts so we wouldn't cut ourselves; thirty seconds later, he cut himself. Food City is advertising its pulpo cocido imitacion on sale; I wonder if octopus is so popular that someone had to create imitation meat.

I also wish I had time to frost and decorate a cake, just for the hell of it. Maybe I'll do that Saturday if I end up not going to Chris W's for her barbecue and just cooking for Sheka and Heather here at the house.

I'm considering signing up for the college's short certificate.

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