Wednesday, May 02, 2007

In Case You Were Wondering...

Yes, I'm still around, and yes, I'm still doing AND thinking about more than musical geography. But school this term is crazy -- between lecture and lab, I'm in class 27 hours a week, though that's for only 14 credits. Add on top of that the time I spend caring for The Lad, and life's pretty darn hectic. But I thought I'd take the time to give you an update on all things culinary:

24 of those hours and 10 of the credits are spent in two classes: Cooking Theories 3 and Restaurant Lab.

Cooking Theories 3 is the third term of our class on basic cooking techniques -- sort of Chef 101. This term the focus is the bake shop and professional baking, and I've learned quite a few things, the most important of which is that I'm not going to be a baker.

Restaurant Lab, well, is pretty self-explanatory. We run the Renaissance Room, a student restaurant that is open for lunch Monday through Thursday (two days a week per group -- I'm in Group B). We're split into teams, and we're rotated by team through the different stations, including (*shudder*) the front of the house (I don't understand why they don't include Hospitality Management students in the Ren Room and put them up front, but eh... at least I have some knowledge of the front). The first week of term we weren't open. The second week, I was in the bake shop. Then the front. It wasn't until last week that I was finally rotated to the front line, and actually got to do some savory cooking. I didn't realize how much I'd missed it.

This week I'm on the back line. Today I had the priviledge of making the Amuse Bouche, which got rave reviews. Usually we take whatever tasty odds and ends we have available and throw them together for the amuse. One of my classmates recently made some pancetta and bacon, and had taken the pancetta trimmings and smoked them. For today's amuse, I took crostini and topped it with sundried tomato pesto, sliced smoked pancetta, and Manchego cheese, then baked it off. Tomorrow I'm the Potager, and I'm making the Northwest version of slumgullion (or at least the definition of it that my father taught to me) -- a soup based on New England clam chowder but with shrimp (and in this case, bay scallops) added. The clam chowder recipe I'm using calls for salt pork, but given the Western variation of it, I'm going to use bacon (or maybe some more of that smoked pancetta. Mmmm.... smoke....).

One last thing, a request for your prayers and well-wishes. Since I was laid off in July, I've been on Training Unemployment -- due to my status as a displaced worker, they've been paying me a stipend to go to school. That ran out several weeks ago, and things are tight. This past two weeks we've been getting by on about $50 worth of groceries, and last month's rent check bounced. This month's rent and daycare pretty much finishes off TFR's check, so we're back in the hotseat. But due to one of TFR's guests at work, I have an interview with the GM and the Executive chef of one of the best restauranteurs in twon, who is opening a new restaurant in two weeks. Please pray I can get the job, and please pray we manage to keep the wolves at bay.