Friday, September 21, 2007


Henry is doing extremely well, thank you very much. This past weekend he was all effervescent and bubbly, more so than usual. Maybe it's because I fed him bread flour rather than AP flour? Right now Henry is on vacation, in the fridge. After baking some gorgeous little sourdough boules this week, I discovered, to my horror, than my freezer is beginning to overflow with homebaked bread. Yikes! The fledgling needs to return home! Or my friends need to live closer. Or both. Not baking is not an option.

To make matters worse, in baking class this week, we made a brioche-style bread, called Casatiello, that is loaded with butter, and, in my case, bacon, and swiss cheese. It's from Peter Reinhart's book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, which we are using as a text. There was no time to bake it in class after the various proofing stages, so I took it home with me on Wednesday night, thinking to bake the 2 loaves on Thursday afternoon. But, by the time I arrived home, some 50 minutes later, the 2 loaves had risen past the top of their baking containers, so, I said what the heck, turned the oven on as soon as I walked in the door, and popped them in. After 40 minutes, they were done and set out to cool. Recommended cooling time: 1 hour. Cruel. I waited 55 minutes, then sliced one loaf. Oh Lordy! The warm bacon, melted swiss cheese, and buttery texture were to die for! The fledgling will definitely be tasting that one over winter break.

So, the quandary is, to bake bread or not to bake bread (for a little while, perhaps). Maybe it's time to spoil the neighbors, because, as I said above, not baking is not an option.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


It's amazing to me that the human body can appear generally healthy and fit on the outside, while simultaneously being so very delicate on the inside. Over the last few years, I have suffered the losses of more than my fair share of family and friends. This past week I can dangerously close to losing another friend.

One of my culinary classmates had a heart attack during class. We've shared numerous classes over the last few semesters, and, because we're both on the older side of the 'student-body,' we have more in common. After our early morning wine class last Thursday, we both headed off to our next respective classes, so I didn't hear about his attack for several days.

The good news is, that after open-heart surgery the following day, he is recovering. Sad to say, he won't return to finish the semester, but he is optimistic that he can return for the spring semester. I hope so. I miss our camaraderie, and I still don't know how his kitchen remodel turned out!

I guess that no matter how we appear on the outside, we need to take really good care of the inside.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Empty Nest

For the first time in 37 years I am truly on my own. It’s been 4 weeks since the youngest fledgling abandoned the nest and flew off to college in western New York. (Oh, why so far? Was it something I cooked?)

Ah, well. I am slowly adjusting. At least I have some diversions with school beginning once again for fall semester.

Some background: two years ago on New Year’s Eve, while encountering an unexpected fork in the road of life, I made the firm decision to pursue my life-long dream of getting formal credentials in Culinary Arts. Three weeks later, I was sitting in a classroom at Santa Barbara City College, ready to fill in the gaps of my culinary knowledge. The journey had begun.

Now, as I begin my fourth semester, I am learning that wine for breakfast is not such a bad concept; artisanal bread is delicious anytime; I can, indeed, make 350 panna cottas; and my new-found friends/classmates are just as weird as I am. (Alas, it will take me longer than the average young recruit to receive my certificate since I have to keep the roof over my head without the help of dear ol’ mom & dad, so I’m not quitting the “day” job.) While I have only learned a few new things cook-wise since I began, I have added to my knowledge-base regarding cost controls, purchasing, and restaurant operations and made some good friends along the way.

So, for continuing personal challenge and satisfaction, in addition to school, I intend to succumb to the various baking and cooking challenges that the world has to offer. Photographs will come later, since the above-mentioned fledgling absconded with the batteries to my digital camera. A new camera is in the pipeline, and when it arrives, I can document my continuing journey and all of its varied challenges. (To wit, the Milk Chocolate Caramel Tart from Daring Bakers turned out perfectly the first time round, but you’ll have to take my word for it, since it won’t likely be around when the camera finally arrives.)

À bientôt.