A Milestone!

So I feel WORLDS better today than I did yesterday! Amazing what a good night of sleep and lots of fresh vegetables can do for a person, haha. I woke up at 7, cooked myself some oat bran, packed my lunch, and was out the door!

School was really fun today! Stepanie from South Africa baked Omar birthday cupcakes because it was his 21st. Sooooo adorable! They were vegan and gluten free, and she had never attempted vegan anything before. I was shocked and amazed that they were good! I mean, gluten free is hard. Vegan is also difficult. Combine both, especially for your first time... it should've been a disaster! Not to mention she didn't exactly bake simple cupcakes... She produced chocolate lemon chai cupcakes with coconut. Come ON, people. The girl is just hilarious, haha. I love her. We sang him happy birthday and then all stuffed delicious cake into our mouths. It was joyous!

We also had our first of a series of Basic Quality Ingredients lectures... which from what I gather are meant to scare the life out of you so that you can no longer eat anything that you've grown up eating. The 2 hour lecture was packed with muckraker-like information on "whole" foods, "organic" labeling, and what foods are really considered processed. I was thoroughly terrified... and I have many, many, many more to go through during my time here. Haha, the instructor promised that she would build our courage to eat back up by the time we graduate.

The exciting milestone news for today though.... is that we cooked for the first time!!! We broke up into four groups and had to produce 4 poached pears (poached in apple juice) and then make a reduction to go with it, 4 steamed artichokes, carrot and broccoli cruditee (this basically means slightly larger than bite-sized pieces that are blanched and shocked...so still crunchy even though they have been cooked a teeny bit) and simmered tomato and leek and garlic.

Then the instructor walked around tasting each team's products and giving her take on whether they were adequate: "This isn't REALLY cruditee.... it's more like cooked vegetables. You boiled them too long..." or "What happened to THIS plate of simmered vegetables... ::tisk, tisk:: this is more like a salsa!!" BUT the highlight of my day was when she sampled the pears. The pears were MY responsibility for my team. She cut a small piece off... dipped it in our reduction (which we had added cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom pods to)... and said, "Who's is this?" I raised my hand and said, "Ours, Chef." She looked at me and said, "This is PERFECTLY poached. Well done!"

::SIGH:: Now I remember.... I can cook! It was a nice little boost of confidence that I will likely think back upon when, inevitably, I get chastised about other things in the future being limp or raw or oily or whatever... because, after all, these other people can cook too, haha.

Love you all!