Monday, May 10, 2010

Here are a few more pictures I thought you'd enjoy!
Out for my friend Siobhan's birthday!
See my face next to the chef's head?! This was a picture in a local newspaper from an event I went to at the school. Pretty cool, right?

One of my dishes in Traditional Euro. It was pretty difficult to make the food look pretty, but we tried! This is a braised lamb chop stuffed with bacon, served with sauteed cabbage with pancetta and potatoes cooked with onions and bacon. SO MUCH BACON = so delicious.

This is a picture that was taken of be while cooking for my culinary community competition! I was chopping up pork for the baked stuffed clams.

Out for my friend Jess's birthday!

Plating in Traditional Euro.

You'll always make me feel best even when I'm blue, you'll always smile upon me and I'll smile upon you too.

So today, after a long leave of absense, I'm finally back again.

Being down south, I've had to miss out on two very special occasions in the past two days:
First of all, Sunday was Mother's Day. I believe it was the first Mother's Day I've been away from home, and although Mother's Day is not necessarily a HUGE holiday like Christmas or Easter, I definitely wished I was home. I love and respect my mother so much. She is the perfect role model, an angel, and one of my best friends. She has helped me through so many difficult times this year, and I feel closer to her than ever. I wish I could've been home to celebrate her yesterday. Also, I am extremely lucky to have more than one mother figure in my life. I have two amazing grandmothers, and Peggy and Bonnie, who have been there for me throughout my entire life as mother figures as well. They have been there through everything, my ups and downs, my successes and failures, and more. I could not be more lucky for having all of these women in my life, giving me gallons of motherly love.

Today was my sister's college graduation (or at least one of them). My whole family is in New York City to be there to congratulate her, and I feel terrible that I'm not there. My sister is also a huge role model of mine, and has helped me so much this year as well, giving me amazing advice. We get along better than ever, and I am so thankful to have her in my life. I am so proud of her, she has worked so hard and knows who she is and what she is passionate about. I envy her intelligence and poise. We are so different in our goals and aspirations, but I will take her hardworking and passionate attitude with me through life. She is sure to do amazing things.

Going back to mothers and family for a bit, yes, I was not able to go home for Mother's Day, but I WAS able to visit my amazing grandparents last weekend in Naples with two of my friends. We had been under an extreme amount of stress. I had class every day and had just worked a 38 hour week. We were sick of being in Miami, and VERY homesick. Naples was the absolute PERFECT medicine. Gram & Pa were SO hospitable, taking us for lunch at the pool, letting us relax and do our own thing, then Gram cooked us an amazing steak dinner. We were in desperate need of homecooked food! That Sunday was one of the absolute best days I've had in Florida literally all year. I was happier that day than I had been in a long time, and I think Gram & Pa so much for giving me exactly what I needed.

Now I KNOW many of you (cough, Aunt Diane, cough) want to know about my culinary life, and there is much to tell since I haven't been blogging in quite some time! I finished my dining room class with an A! I brought back my Friendly's skills and am now a pretty amazing fancy shmancy server. I know what fork goes where, different napkin folds, and when to remove the bread and butter plates! I also got to partake in a fantastic wine tasting!:

My chef in dining room class told me that I was one of the nicest people he had ever met. Pretty good compliment, huh? I thank Mom for giving me that nice gene!

My next class, which I just finished, was Traditional European Cuisine. It was nothing but stewing and braising all day, everyday. I made dishes like shepard's pie, braised lamb, braised chicken, etc. One of the dishes in the class was chicken paprikash (or chicken in the pot)! The techniques were not necessarily that exciting, but I learned a LOT. Also, my chef, who I didn't think liked me that much, took me aside at the end of class and told me how much he respected me and was recommending a supposedly very intense culinary business bachelor's program that he apparently "doesn't recommend to most because of how intense and rigorous it is." That was really exiciting to hear. I was glad to finish that class, I got a little tired of hacking up meat and throwing it in a pot to braise, but we got to do some cool things like set a pig's head on fire!

Cool, right?! One of the most exciting things that has happened to me recently, is that I won the Culinary Community Competition! The living and learning community I live in has a competition at the end of the year every year. We get into groups and have two hours to make a 3 course meal based on a mystery basket. We must use every item in the mystery basket and 3 proteins. I was not looking forward to this competition at ALL because I had been so busy and just wanted to relax. Yet, I sucked it up and went. The three proteins were pork, chicken, and clams. The mystery basket had walnuts, canned peaches, yuca, dried figs, sorrano peppers, sweet potatoes, green apples, and more. After much deliberation, my group decided on making a grilled chicken with a veggie rice and mango peach and apple salsa and crispy sweet potato garnish for our main dish. Our dessert was a tropical ice cream sundae, with homemade coconut fig ice cream, pineapple sauce, and a starfish cookie. My work went primarily into the appetizer. I made a baked stuffed clam with pork and a tangy slaw. We wound up winning, and the judges loved my clam! I brought my New England roots down here with me and proudly put them into my food. We received a certificate signed by the dean and two fantastic new knives. I am absolutely obsessed with my new chef's knife, and am pretty proud of myself. The competition really showed me that I have a shot at making it in this crazy industry. Here's a picture of our chicken! (I forgot to snap a picture of the clam, sadly.)

Anyways, now I'm in Stocks, Soups, and Sauces, which is pretty much self explanatory. I started it today, and just cut vegetables all day. My knife cuts should be pretty awesome when I get home for summer, so if you want to see a batonnet or a julienne, let me know! I cannot wait to et home and see everyone, I'm tired of Florida and need some Massachusetts in my life! I'm gonna try to keep this blog going through my deadly drive home and even through summer, since I'll hopefully be working in a restaurant (fingers crossed, eek!). I can't believe this year is almost over, and thanks again for everyone's support through it all. You know who you are.

Looking towards the future, I'm not sure how long I'll stay at JWU. I know I'm going to finish my associate's program there, because I love my culinary classes and want the degree. Yet, I feel like I'm not being challenged at all in my academic classes, and want a stronger college academic experience. In order to be truly successful both professionally and personally, I think a change is needed. I'm not exactly sure what that change will be, but it will probably involve leaving Florida for a different, more challenging business school up north (Cornell, possibly?). I might just try to apply there again, we shall see! I know I will find more satisfaction eventually, I just don't think it is completely there yet. Who really knows what will happen in the future though, right?! In some of my favorite words of William Shakespeare, in his play Hamlet, "If it be now, 'tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all."

Oh, I'm ready.