Shamleless Plug

I'm embarking on a new part of my life that is happier and going in a direction! It's really refreshing.

I was married May 19th, 2012 to a great guy I met at the C.I.A and we're go excited to embark on a life together. He has as culinary degree to match my baking and pastry degree. It's going to be a Good life.

I hope you enjoy my thoughts on food and cooking. I am but a humble baker, who happens to love cooking and embraces the joy of food.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Jobs

I didn't get the part time baking job. I'm okay with it. I went for a walk today and it took me three passes to finally get the nerve to walk in. I knew I didn't get the job when they didn't call the week they said they would, but this would at least appease my mother so I can take the job I'd rather have, at least for now. Although a small part of me reminded myself how busy they were with their expansion, and possibly didn't get the chance, but even that was a weak excuse.

I have no hard feelings or bitterness though, I feel like I should, but I really don't. But the wife of the owner was nice, and even recognized me, and told me they'd gone with someone with more experience. Understandable. They'd keep me on file, which would be nice. Even if it's for volunteer work it'd be fun.
Anyway, how can I be mad at an Ice Cream store that I've been going to since I've been old enough to eat ice cream? Impossible. Now with their recent food menu in the past year or two makes it even more appealing.


That's about it over here for now. I'm sending out more letters and portfolios this week. I'm trying to send out four at a time, but come to think of it, I ought to do double that at least.
I'm just painfully shy and don't really want to bother anyone. I don't like to be an inconvenience or in the way of anyone. You only get one chance at a first impression, and I don't want mine to be "Great, another person to bother me."

But I know I need to get my name out there, so I'm trying. I just hope some of my work is good enough for these Alumni, who seem to have gone so far, and I know how much work it had to have taken for them to get where they are today. I just hope my work will be good enough one day and I can work as hard as they do.

Before I close this, I found a neat webpage when I was cruising the food news scene on Aol.com (sad, I know, every now and then you find something semi-worthwhile) Smoothie recipes, in a neat little format, too! How appealing. And I promise that is all I will say about said beverage for a few posts.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Fruit Smoothies

Well, it finally happened. I've entered the first circle of hell of healthy eating. In the middle of my walk, I was thinking about how if I want to shape up and be a little healthier, I can't sabatoge my 3-4 mile walks with big meals and snacking. I wanted to eat fruit, but to get 5 servings, I'd be eating it all day, and honestly, it takes commitment and remembering to do so. I thought about the massive oranges in the fridge, and how intensely juicy it was, smoothies, and how easy it would be just to drink pureed fruit, and how healthy it would be.

When I returned home I carefully sliced the over-sized orange, being careful to remove all the white from it, chopped up big red strawberries and sliced a banana (a fruit I severely dislike, but I figured the flavor would be in the background with the other fruit) I was excited, because it turned out to be several cups of fruit.

It blended fairly quickly and nicely with a splash of orange juice, and was a nice hue of light maroon, it looked good, but was a little thick, like cottage cheese.
It tasted pretty good, fruity, and right in the middle of sweet and tart that I like in fruit.

How manageable! A world of options opened up to me. So many combinations and such potential health benefits. I could make a four cup fruit smoothie and drink it all day. What could be more easy than that?
I always think about eating healthy, and such an arduous battle it seems to be. How impossible it feels to get all you need in one day. Even multi-vitamins aren't good for you anymore (according to a newspaper in London)
So to try to feel better about how I eat during the day...well, all the time, I'm trying to do one good thing a day. When weather permits (today it's pouring, sadly) I walk most days of the week for either a minimum of 30 minutes or 2 miles. But usually I manage at least double of both. So drinking 4 out of the 5 servings of fruit I need in a day is probably better than the average person.


I've been keeping up with it, too. No eating A.D.D here. I've been doing it for a few days and it's kinda nice. Very easy. I'm trying to make it less thick by adding more orange juice, but so far I haven't been adding enough. Right now it's just fun to play around.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Cookie Catering

I've been asked via my mother if I could do some baking catering for an upcoming event my mother's friend is doing in early May. Nothing fancy, just some cookies and such. But how many? The number, of course, is very important.
Am I obsessive compulsive or just instinctive on platter presentation? The number of items determines the type and shape of cookie. I have a compulsive need for evenness and balance in things like food and plating. One night when we had burgers, it bothered me a little that my mom's cheeseburger was on the bottom of the burger, while everyone else's was right side up.
I need balance, patterns and continuity for such things. For this particular event, I'm aiming for four items (but five would be good, too), so the pattern and choices are obvious; two round, two bar. Chocolate, nut, fruit based and miscellaneous: brownies, pecan sandies and lemon shortbread.

But I'm not sure about the pecan sandies. The method feels obnoxious and high maintenance. Browning and then chilling the butter into a hardish palpable mass, a food processor, constant chilling of the dough? I love to bake and try new recipes, but to have a cookie that is so needy leaves room for much error, so we'll see if I actually end up using it. I don't like needy cookies. Perhaps I'll swap it for another pecan based cookie.

The rest seem reasonable. My gripping fear for cutting bar cookies is only ever more heart pounding when it is for someone else, so maybe I'll just skip the bar all together and use round cutters to cut the cookies. I'm not sure how all round cookies will look on a plate....my compulsive sense is uneasy. But I'd rather have all round cookies that are perfect than badly cut (but well intentionally cut) bar cookies.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Broccoli

I have a mild obsession with broccoli- as long as it's drenched in an Asian sauce. Something about that garlicky, sweet, soy sauce, or Hosin, or any combination of tangy savoriness is addictive.

We ordered Chinese Takeout from this place in Darien. It's a very nice restaurant, but I think it's too nice for takeout. I have a certain expectation of Chinese Takeout, and to order it from a place that sells expensive sushi seems a little...weird to me.

I wasn't very hungry and not in the mood for anything over $12. So I got Broccoli with ginger-soy sauce. The pleasing palette sweet and savory combination washed over my taste buds. The ginger was in the background, not an over powering flavor, enhancing the other ingredients in the sauce than over-whelming it. I could have sat there with the bitty container of rice poured over the take-out plastic bowl of broccoli and eaten it all night. Or just eaten the broccoli with my fingers.
I can't describe the flavor of broccoli other than I hated its very "stench" at a young age, the smell of over-steamed and over cooked broccoli is enough to send waves of nausea to even the most dedicated broccoli eater (and who wants to eat water logged boiled broccoli?). Now I know better. I currently love it in exclusively Asian dishes, and under very precise conditions; not too over cooked, not too undercooked, and just the right amount of sauce and I'll eat it by the peck.

I think kids would eat vegetables if they were cooked right. I know I would have as a child. It's easy to sneak veggies into kid food, and to make it good. Had I known vegetables were so good in stir-fries, mac and cheese and pressed in sandwiches, I would have been eating them a long time ago, not discovering them in my teens and 20's. But that's the way things are sometimes. I was a close minded, stubborn picky eater, I think I had this coming to me.

But what do we know when we're young anyway? We think the tooth fairy exists and our lives revolve around candy, and how to obtain more of it. We can't be bothered with things such as nutrition when we're set on finding hidden candy and watching cartoons.

Hopefully now we all know better and kids today will grow up knowing better. Fruits and vegetables aren't this thing that we were all suspicious about growing up, but this delicious array of color that just happens to be good for us. It's all about preparation, and as the old Culinary Institute of America slogan went, "Preparation is everything."

Deal Breakers

I'm printing out pages of cover letters, articles and resumes and putting them together like little press releases of my potential career. Everything looks professional and organized. However, as I try to write the names and addresses on the large manila envelopes I start to worry; is my handwriting going to be a deal breaker?
The school has burned professionalism and the need to have perfection on every inch of anything you send to anyone- especially alumni- into my brain and very psyche. I can understand the need for it, however, does handwritten address fall under this spectrum? My handwriting looks childish and even my best efforts can't help that. My poor fine tune motor skills makes everything difficult to have high proficiency in. Will my handwriting be a deal breaker? Will they simply see how it looks and toss it aside?

I hope not. I hope they look past my hand writing and at my written words. I'm a lot smarter than I look or my handwriting might show.

Maybe I just worry too much and am too hard on such things. Are these things really as big a deal as the school makes it? Probably not, but that extra inch of insane professionalism is what might get you hired. That little edge might be just enough, so I obsess.

I like to think the alumni whom I'm writing to still have the CIA professionalism, but are relatively easy going and understanding. All the Alum I've met have been incredibly nice and professional, and have that same mutual, joking eye-rolling of "Yep, they did that when I was there, too." It's nice. It makes me feel like I belong to this big club.

So I hope my hand writing won't be my deal breaker. I hope they look past the outside, and see what is inside.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

This healthy eating thing

So, I've been thinking more and more about this healthy eating thing. Considering my bad genetics of various debilitating diseases like cancer and dementia (factor in this lovely thing called NF, which causes a multitude of things), I really ought to be taking it more seriously (when thinking in length about such things, it's almost enough for me to transfer over to vegan territory. Almost). This weekend I was cooking breakfast with my boyfriend: egg sandwich on a cheddar cheese bagel, and I remembered the fruits in the fridge, namely, massive oranges.

I'm very particular about my fruit. The inner child pickiness stubbornly refuses to let go of some psychological blocks of un-palate pleasing things in my mouth. My fruit can't be too tart, too cold, too soft, too hard or too off colored, depending on what I am eating. Too tart or sweet and my teeth burn with pain, too hard and crunchy and my mouth aches, too mushy and I want to gag. But as my boyfriend put the large orange segments into a bowl, I wondered what it would taste like. But then I thought: "What's a little tooth pain or discomfort now? Eat the fruit! Now!" I scolded myself; Eat it! Eat it now! Segment after segment went into my mouth as I hoped this would pay off later. The orange wasn't too bad. My ideal orange is one of juiciness and full bodied orange flavor. This one fell a little flat on orangeyness.

But it's a start. This healthy eating thing will take work and dedication, but I'm 22, and if I want to live for a long time with minimal health risks, I have to suck it up and eat all this stuff. What's a little gag reflex of a too soft grape if it'll keep me going?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Egg Whites and dieting

Who in their right mind eats only cooked egg whites? Are the nutritionists aware of the nutrient content of it? Egg whites are mostly water and have far less value than the entire egg. One egg has roughly 70 calories, So what's the harm in having one whole egg with a slice of toast?

Cooked egg whites look like gunk on a plate, and probably taste the same. You need the yolk, not only for nutrition and a little flavor, but for color too. We eat with our eyes as much as our mouths and are more likely to be willing to eat foods with color appeal and presenation than anything else: think about a typical school lunch circa decades ago- a ice cream scoop of mashed potatoes, a ladel of something you hope is beef stew-some cuts of meat, mushy veggies stuck in there and over cooked, dull looking frozen peas.

Yum. Now think of the same meal, but piped mashed pototoes in the center of a braised beef stew, with vibrant, tender vegetables, colorfully placed within the rich, brown sauce. Doesn't that sound better? It's all about how the food looks. Egg whites look terrible. Why are nutritionists telling people to just eat egg whites? I'm don't think it's right to tell people that. When you make people eat things like this on a diet, they are most likely to fail.
Why not tell these people: eat one egg, one slice of toast and 100% juice. That sounds much healthier and appealing to me. When people are given a little slack on a diet, they are most likely to succeed. A diet isn't a temporary thing, it is a life style change and to be able to stick with it, you need options, delicious food and a little slack now and then- and not 100 calorie snack packs.

All these limitations just remind people that they are on a diet. It's not healthy. Sooner or later, they'll fail, so whats 70 calories in an egg? Nothing! If you're worried about 70 calories over something as nutritionally sound as a whole egg, theres' something wrong with what we're being told about diets.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Crutons

Leftover bread makes for great crutons. My mother asked me to prep the sausage, egg, bread and cheese dish (that I mentioned below) for a meeting in the morning. I ended up not needing the rest of the cubed white bread. Not wanting to be wasteful, I planned on saving it for breadcrumbs, but we had a lot of those. Then I remembered my sister saying she was going to have the leftover salad from dinner for her lunch tomorrow. So with that in mind, I thought crutons would be a delicious use of leftover bread.

I heated up a little olive oil in a nonstick pan, and got my spices together while I waited: salt, pepper, granulated garlic. Once the oil became shimmery, I sprinkled the pillowy cubes of bread in and let them toast, adding in a pat of butter as an afterthought.

As they slowly toasted, I sprinkled my choice of spice over the sponges of cubes. I tossed and turned them, careful not to burn and not to make the bread fall apart, adding a little more oil here, a little more salt there, until the soft pillows turned into soft, crunchy crutons.

This type of cruton is special. It has a light crunch on the outside, like very gently toasted bread, and a yielding texture on the inside. It's perfect. I'm not very fond of the hard crutons, they are obnoxious- loud and crunchy and are difficult to spear with a fork, making you chase them around like an unruly house pet.
These pan fried crutons, however, are soft, delicate, and delicious. Easily captured by the fork, and doen't get in the way with the gentle bite of the salad.

The aroma of these particular crutons are tempting. There's just enough garlic to be flavorful but not over whelming enough to linger on the palette, just enough oil and butter to get the perfect light crunch without being soggy, and just enough salt and pepper to tie it all together.

I think too many people under appreciate the sheer versitility and lush appeal that is the Maillard Reaction.

Egg Sandwiches, Post 50

Is there any better savory breakfast than a perfectly cooked egg, melted cheese and some breakfast pork product between two pieces of your choice of bread? If there is, I'm not sure I've discovered it.

I didn't really "discover" eggs until my second year at the Culinary Institute of America, because I had PM classes for the majority of my first year, and when I did have AM classes in the beginning, I was still an embarrassingly large picky eater. I don't remember my first egg dish, I just remember wanting to try something new, and either the special scramble or special omelette sounded good that day, and much to my amazement I enjoyed it. Where has this delightful meal been my entire life? The most eggs I'd ever eaten was a twice a year concoction of eggs, cubed white bread, cheese and sausage, mixed together and baked in an enormous dish.

Egg sandwiches though, is what really did it for me. I loved the egg, just slightly gooed in the center, the melted cheese, the crisp saltiness of the bacon (or the sausage) with the bagel. It was delicious. It's not surprising that simple things such as these are the most succulent.
So, two years and several dozen egg sandwiches later, I decided to make one for breakfast today. I had found one of my metal round cutters and thought it would be perfectly easy to just crack the egg directly into the metal cutter on the frying pan....

I was a bit wrong, or impatient. The pan didn't heat up as much as I know I should have. I had used pan spray and worried that it would burn before the egg cooked. After that, I became impatient. The egg simply would not cook fast enough for me. The egg whites were starting to seep slightly under the cutter... while the egg whites slowly were starting to cook. This wasn't going at all like I'd planned! In my haste, I gave up and lifted the cutter from the pan, and the whites spread out slightly onto the pan. Finally, I abandoned the idea of a fried egg and pushed the egg around, combining it as best I could, put a dallop of cheese sauce from Sunday night's dinner and called it done. I'm embarrassed to say I'm terrible at frying eggs.

It wasn't the most satisfying sandwich I'd ever had, but it was something. It needed bacon, a bit more cheese, granulated garlic and a hard roll.