Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Own Business!

Just recently I decided to give Pampered Chef a try. Not only do I love their products but I also love to cook and share that with other people. It seems that this will be a good fit for me and something that I can exceed in and meet new people through. I am excited too because I can keep doing this after our baby is born and it will be something that will give me motivation in my days.

This will be fun! I am not sure when my first party is, but I am thinking of hosting my own first party here at my house to get things going. A new idea they shared last night at the monthly meeting is to have a soup swap party! So instead of swapping tons of cookies that we won't want or need in the new year, why not swap recipes and soup quantities with other people! It will put meals in our refrigerators and give us new recipes for meals to come.

It is so exciting to think about! Now I just need to get the word about and get moving!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Friends in Texas!

I just got back from spending 4 wonderful days with my best girlfriend, Christy Hutchins! She and I went to high school and were college roommates our freshmen year! We have so many memories together and it was so much fun to walk down memory lane together and laugh as we recalled all sorts of memories.

The last night I was there she and I went to dinner together at this mexican place called Chuy's. It was so tasty! They have this area in the restaurant where you can sit and have chips, salsa, and cheese dip while you wait for your table, and it's all free! And it was seriously good stuff! I wanted to bottle it and bring some home with me! We split a chimichanga and still couldn't finish our meal because we had had so many chips and cheese dip! :)

It was such a great time. I hadn't seen her in 9 months and I hadn't seen her daughter in over a year so we had fun with little Olivia as she hammed her way through dinner, played with her little kitchen, and said things neither of us could understand. Some of the best times were spent on the couch talking and sharing our hearts about our futures, babies, and our sweet hubbies! We even got to go shopping at Babys R Us and Christy walked me down aisle after aisle and pointed out things that were either a waste of money or were worth the money! I learned a lot and we didn't have to buy anything, just hung out and enjoyed all the baby things.

I am so thankful for friends, especially long term friends who know you inside and out and are always there for you. It is an invaluable blessing from God!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Excited little one!

So I just got back from the doctor's office. It was just one of those normal check ups. I asked him about 25 questions and all of them were just "pregnancy related." So then I thought it was over and I was going to go and he asked me to lie down on the table thingy. He said he was going to try and find the heartbeat! Very fun! He found it and it was going fast! He said it must be all excited about something! The heartbeat was going about 155 beats per minute. Dr. Austin tells me it's a girl. :) But who really knows if that is true anyway. :) It was fun to share with Jake afterward and dream about what it would be like to have a little girl.

This morning Jake and I were talking about going back to Utah on another vacation like we did this past summer. And I reminded him that we'd be bringing along our little baby. And his eyes got really wide and he said, "Oh wow, I've never gotten to take my little family on a vacation before!" He was so excited he started making plans on which state we should visit once the baby gets here. So cute!

Updates, updates

So, I am 13 weeks pregs and having a grand ole time. The only complaint I have are the migraines I am getting more and more often. But I really have had a great pregnancy so far!

I started decorating for Christmas this week! I had christmas music on, yummy candles lit, and I was sippin on spice tea! Hmm, it was delicious fun! The mantle is getting there, the dining room table is closer to being done and we don't have a tree yet. But last year I bought two 3 ft. trees on sale at Wal-Mart and I found them when I was getting stuff out and I decided to put one in our bedroom and the other on our front porch. Very festive and fun! I think we are going to try and cut down our tree this year, where I have no idea.

Next week I get to see my friend, Christy Hutchins! I dont' think I've seen her since March of this year! Which is way too long in my opinion. She and I are going to go baby shopping and just hang out together. I am so excited to see her and her little girl!

There's really not much else going on. I'm not showing yet which is good because I can still wear some of my pants, although some of them are tighter than normal. And our baby right now is the size of a peach! :) There is so much to learn when you're pregnant. I think I have about 6 books on babies and pregnancies right now. All of which are on my night stand! :)

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Oh the joys!

Yesterday I decided to watch a movie in the basement while I made an inventory of things we wanted to give away, clothes, books, etc. So I chose the movie Seabiscuit and sat down to a mountain of clothing and such and proceeded to watch the movie. Then a very weird thing happened, just when the horse and his jockey are about to win this race my eyes start to well up with tears. What's this, I'm thinking. This movie is not that sad and I don't remember ever crying when I watched it before. Then it happened like three other times too! I cried when he won, when he got hurt, when the horse got hurt and then when they won again at the end!

What is the deal?! So yeah, I'm definitely pregnant but who knew my emotions would be like this! I've heard of the expression, "crying at the drop of a hat" but had never experienced it before now. Whoa, strange stuff this pregnancy thing is. :)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Preggo Princess

Jake and I have begun a very exciting new journey. We are parents-to-be! We found out September 24th, the day after Jake's birthday! Jake actually thought I was pregnant before I did. We were sitting on the couch and I was feeling really hot all of a sudden, so we opened up the windows and let the breeze waft in and then I was chilly. So I was hot and then cold. He looked at me and rolled his eyes, "Are you going to be like this for the next 9 months?" I said, "No way, I am not pregnant." So the next morning he wakes me up around 6 a.m. and I roll out of bed thinking to myself that I am not pregnant so that I won't be disappointed when we find out we're not.

We take the test and sit there in the bathroom to watch it change. We see the first line and I look at Jake and say, "Sorry babe, we're nto pregnant." But then I look back and ever so faintly I can see a second line, the one that tells you you're pregnant. :) What?! Is that line really there or am I just wishing it was? Then I tell Jake, "I think we're pregnant."

So we get back in bed and I laugh at Jake because he's saying all sorts of really funny things about being pregnant and such. And then he makes up a game, we play rock, paper, scissors and whoever wins each trimester gets to choose the first, middle, and last name respectively. So we've been playing it and so far Jake is winning, 8-6. :) Today he chose the name Geoff. :)

Oh by the way, I think we're having a girl and Jake thinks we're having a boy. Honestly, I think we're guessing what each of us wants. :) And then Jake says he wants what Lori and Seth have so that they can be best friends. :)

I guess we'll see. We aren't finding out either. It'll be a surprise!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The final days!

So this is my last week in culinary school. The past two weeks we have been learning all there is to learn about wine in France, Spain, US, Chile, New Zealand, and Australia. Last week was France and the first week was a crash course on the rest of them. This week we learn about Italian wine and then on Friday we take our last quiz, enjoy a celebratory lunch, and share a large bottle of champagne! That is our graduation. No ceremony, no caps and gowns, no speaker... but a gourmet lunch and some bubbly! It will be exciting and I can't believe it is almost over.

Jake and I have been talking about what I will do and one idea I had was to start a cupcake shop/dessert catering business. We'll see. Jake's family will be in town this coming Saturday and then we are all heading to Estes Park, CO for the week to vacation. Then my family will be in town for a week. So it's all very exciting. Mark is visiting us this week and we have had such a great time with him. Right now he and Jake are playing a game on our Wii. We just got it Friday night and they have played a ton! It's been perfect though because while they play I have been cleaning our basement. Now I think I will sweep and mop our main floor.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Last week in culinary school!

Tomorrow starts the last week in culinary school. Next week Jake and I are going on a week long road trip and when we get back I will take my final and then start a 3-week course on wine. My days will start around 9 or 9:30 and last until 3 or 4 p.m. After wine, we have a big celebration meal with our chefs and then we are graduates of culinary school. Oh, in order to graduate, we have to have a grade of at least a 70 or higher.

I am excited to graduate. A friend and I were talking of starting a party/catering buisness together. She likes to plan parties and I like to cook. We'll see if that pans out. The other idea I had was to work at a bakery. Baking bread every day has been so much fun the past week that I think it would be neat to do it after I finish school. That or be a personal chef, helping busy moms make meals for their families or do events. Hmm... definitely food for thought, eh?

Bread, bread, bread!

Being in the pastry kitchen has been way more fun than I thought. The first rotation I was on was the snack team which meant that Sarah and I were in charge of making breakfast and one other snack for the school. That was fun because we got to make things like sticky buns, frittatas, fresh fruit tarts, and cherry scones. The scones were awesome! Definitely better than the ones you can get at Starbuck's.

Well after that rotation I started on bread with Jennifer, another fellow classmate in the pastry kitchen. She and I had the best time together. We made some funky breads, some yummy breads, and some fancy breads. We would also make French bread every day. Tall French baguettes that were baked in the wood-fired oven every day. Speaking of the wood-fired oven, that thing was part of my daily workout routine. Not only did we have to maintain a good roaring fire, but we also had to rake out the hot coals when it was time to bake and then we had to "mop" out the oven in order to remove all the ash and little bits that were stuck in the back corners of the oven. Mopping means you take this long pole with a rag attached to the end, dunk it in a bucket of hot water and stick it in the oven and start throwing it around. Those in school who have already been through this rotation kept telling me to move the pole like a helicopter or a hula hoop, round in round in circles. As I am doing this, small coals and ash are flying out of the small oven opening and hitting my arms, which are thankfully covered up and sweating. Once it is done, we have to load the baguettes onto a peal (a long board with a handle on the end used for this purpose), score them by slicing slits along the top of the bread dough, and immediately slide them into the oven. We do this for 8 baguettes, every day.

Oh yeah, on top of the French bread, we also make two other breads. This is where I learned how to make pita bread (very fun to make and watch as they rise up and puff like little balloons). And while I don't normally like pita bread, this was especially good because I had made it and I had learned something new!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hot line and a Red Hot Cast

So I have just one more week in the Hot Line kitchen with Chef Dale and my group. I have really enjoyed getting to know other students who weren't in my first group and I am looking forward to getting to know others as we move into our last rotation: Pastry Kitchen. On friday we will all take our practical and the quiz. Then starting Tuesday, bright and early at 7 a.m. I will be in the Pastry Kitchen, whipping up great delights and sweet nibbles.

In other news, I fractured a tiny bone in my right foot yesterday while trying to catch the 3:45 bus home. I limped onto the bus, thank goodness I actually made it, and counted the bumps in the road as pain shot through my foot. Well, it sounds dramatic but I didn't actually count the bumps. I made it to my car after several minutes of walking only 400 feet. I am in pain, true pain. I can barely put weight on my foot and I have to take my shoe off because my foot is swelling and wearing it makes it worse.

The whole purpose of running to catch the blasted bus was so that I could make it to the post office in time. Truly, I don't think the postal workers are worthy of this fracture but it is what it is. Anyway, I decide I will go to the post office because these packages have been sitting in our living room for weeks. But after the post office I deem myself spent and so I ask my dear husband to go instead. I was making dinner for our neighbors and needed some things so Jake went for me. So sweet!!

Anyway, I go to the doctor today and find out that I have a Jones Fracture and that I will be in a cast for one week. Not too bad for someone who's never had a cast before. And guess what color I chose? Red. They didn't have pink so I went with red. Hopefully I can get some pictures and post them within a few days.

And yes, I will be returning to school tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Time Flies!

I really cannot believe how fast time has flown by. In one week I will take my second practical in the Hot Line Kitchen. I have to do several different cuts on vegetables, fillet a trout, and make two dishes: one cold and one hot. Oh and I have to make a vegetable puree as well. It will be interesting. I have 30 min. for the knife skills part and then 2 hours to fillet my trout, make the puree, and make two dishes. It'll be crazy!

I have really enjoyed the hot line. There have been several moments of frustration with our chef but we have "aired our laundry" and the situations have been resolved. It truly has everything to do with communication.

Several meals have been made "a la minute" which means at the minute. This is exactly what would happen if I worked in a restaurant. When the order comes up, I make it. Basically it has to do with the main part of the dish, like a steak or fillet of fish. It can be intense and it does involve fire which is cool too. I wish I could video one of my days.

Anyway, it's Saturday night and we are headed to a friends house for a bonfire. It should be a lot of fun. Then tomorrow I think we're going to start landscaping our front yard with a neighbor who wants to do the same.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Hot line! The past four weeks I have spent in the Garde Manger, or as we call it the gar-mo. On friday we took the quiz and then started our practical. We had to make fresh pasta in 15 minutes. We had to butcher two chickens in 30 minutes. Then we had 30 minutes to cut veggies into all sorts of shapes. We all finished on time and we all passed, thank goodness.

Today I start the hot line. Chef Dale is my teacher and I have heard the he is very easy to get along with and reasonable. The hot line is where most of the meal is prepared. The main dish. It will be exciting!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Heat of the Kitchen

Today was quite a challenge. Most days have had moments of difficulty but today seemed to be filled with challenges and mishaps. I blame bad math skills on my inability to produce an answer for a formula we are using in our appetizer. Twice I shake my head and receive a slight disapproving look from my chef. Everyone's watching me, the pressure is on, and my grade definitely depends on my ability in all areas of the kitchen. The good news is that this kitchen is the hardest to go through out of the three. Hopefully they are right, and hopefully I can get my math skills together.

I'm learning how to serve properly at a meal as well. Serve the dish in the left hand on the left side of the guest. Pour drinks on the right side of the guest with the label facing the guest so they can gaze upon what beverage we are drinking with our meal. Remove plates on the right with the right hand. I got confused today and served 4 people on the right with the right hand. My chef corrected me on the spot and I felt so stupid as it was in front of several of my fellow classmates. I am glad he corrected me as I would have continued to serve incorrectly the rest of the meal.

Correction stings, no matter what. Taking those corrections and using them as an opportunity to learn is an art that I have not developed quite yet. I believe that I have needed this skill my whole life. It is obvious to some of my classmates just how I am feeling and I wish I wasn't so transparent. I am learning to coach myself through frustrating moments and let some things roll off my back.

Thankfully, I am alive and am grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow in areas I didn't expect.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

After 2 Weeks

I still love culinary school! It is awesome! I am learning so much every day and I forget at times how much more there is to learn about food. This past week I learned how to butcher a chicken, make veal stock, make sausages, and the different types of tart doughs. Yum. I wish there was more time in a day so that I could work on what I am learning in order to perfect my skills as well as remembering everything in my head too. I've been in the garde manger for 2 weeks and in two weeks I"ll take my practical in that kitchen and then move on to either the hot line or the pastry kitchen.

There are some things that I didn't think I would learn in school. Things like communicating well with others, getting along with people who I might not like to get along with, and learning through my mistakes instead of getting tripped up on them. My life has gotten busier and my house has gotten dirtier and more cluttered. But it's all worth it and I won't be the same after I graduate.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Guard of the Kitchen

Today was my first day in the Garde Manger, which translates to "Guard of the Kitchen". We had an hour and a half long lecture on sanitation and food borne illness, yummy, and then we were sent to our respective kitchens and got to work. The chef in the Garde Manger is Chef Peter. He's a no nonsense kind of guy who quickly showed us the ropes and then we got to work. We prepared the first course which was a Roqueforte Tart. Roquefort is a blue cheese and we incorporated it with 4 eggs in the food processor. We combined heavy cream and two egg yolks, strained it, then added it to the cheese and egg mixture. Then we added salt and pepper to taste and let it sit at room temp to allow even cooking later on. Next we cut out rounds from puff pastry and baked them. We baked the cheese custard mixture in little stainless steel cups, kind of like condiment cups only with higher sides. Still with me? I drizzled honey on the plates in sort of a tree design and we placed one pastry round in the center (the honey kept the pastry from moving around on the plate and also gave this savory course a sweet side). Then the custards were inverted onto the pastry and I was in charge of carefully placing roasted red and yellow peppers beautifully on top of the custard. One of my fellow classmates then poured a chive oil around the pastry and this gorgeous Roqueforte tart was served.

I was pretty proud of myself, although I didn't take time to take a picture and I should have. It really was pretty to look at and even better in my mouth. I will definitely try this recipe out at home sometime.

Now that I am home, the day is wearing on me and I am realizing more and more how good I had it before school started, BUT I have also realized how much I would be missing if I were still in bed asleep.

Monday, April 2, 2007

First Day of School

Wow! The first day was such a whirlwind of information, learning new techniques, meeting new people, and eating! We started this morning at 8:45 a.m. in our seats with our chef's uniform on and our ears ready to hear from our teachers. We had 2 three inch thick binders in front of us, 2 bar towels, a water class, water carafes nearby, and a big black briefcase-looking thing. We learned quickly that the big black case was our new set of knives and other kitchen tools that we would need along our journey. Yeah!

We met our Executive Chef and Teaching Chefs as well as some administrative personnel and of course, our fellow classmates. They loaded us up with what to do and what not to do while in the kitchen and in class. Finally, around 11:00 we took a picture for our class ID and then got to work on honing our knife skills. Our teacher instructed us to set up our spot for chopping, dicing, and mincing and then proceeded to show us the proper way to hold a knife and use a knife. Some terms I learned today in the realm of how things are prepared, veggies and such, are: Julienne, mire poix, chiffonade, e mince, concasse, and brunoise. All of these terms are specific to how fruits and veggies are prepared. Wow! And it will all be on our quiz this Friday!

For the next three weeks I am a part of the garde manger, a group of 6 who work the kitchen. The other groups are the hot line and the pastry kitchen. I am still a little fuzzy on what my role is in the garde manger, but I bet I will learn fast!

Check out what we had for lunch today: Prosecco (an Italian sparkling white wine), onion, leak, and persillade soup with creamy goat cheese in the middle, and then the main course was a slice of egg and bacon quiche with a side of spicy arugula salad drenched in vinaigrette, for dessert we had a gianduia or chocolate and hazelnut mousse. :) Who has sparkling white wine with their three course lunch? ME!

To say the least, today was a GREAT first day! I had a smile plastered to my face nearly half the time and couldn't stop myself from using the word, "fun" every time I thought something was. One of my classmates declared that I had a low threshold for fun! A great compliment I think!

Tomorrow starts bright and early, once again, and I cannot wait!

Friday, March 23, 2007

10 Days

That's how many days I have left until Culinary School starts. The first day begins at 8:45 a.m. and I have to ride RTD since it's opening day for The Rockies and parking will cost anywhere up to $45 and RTD is only $3. Big difference. I spent all day yesterday baking and cooking for a neighborhood party we are having tonight. We invited everyone and their dog to come over between 6 and 10 to meet and greet those in the area. There are about 45 homes here and I know about 1 of them. Our pastor challenged us at church several weeks ago to make the effort to meet those around us and "love our neighbors". So that is what we are doing. I made hi hats, brownie cups, creamy white bean dip, corn salsa, and strawberry lemonade. Later today I am going to finish a few things and make another salty snack as well as run to the grocery for ice, semi-sweet chips, wine, and almond flavoring. I'm really looking forward to our party. We had a huge response and about 30 people have responded saying they are coming. Maybe I'll take some pictures of the whole thing and post it afterwards.