Huge update! And apologies!

Hello all!

I am sorry I took such a long leave of absence. A lot has been going on... in all varieties of good and bad... and I just haven't been able to muster the motivation necessary to post such a long post!

OK, well as I am home sick today (I'm having a weird allergic reaction (maybe?? not sure what it is...) I will have plenty of time to type this up and get everything organized.

So last I left you, I had just returned from Western Mass for the weekend. Such a long time ago... haha. Dad came to visit shortly after that with Lisa and Erica and Carolyn. They came bright and early in the morning, and we wandered around Park Slope looking for something to eat. We ended up at a little cafe pretty far from my house... I think mostly just chosen out of desperation since everyone was starving and we had been walking so far. I never eat out in Park Slope... so I didn't have any good suggestions, haha.

Then we walked along the perimeter of the park and looked at the beautiful statues and fountains at the other end of the park from my apartment. It was nice to see Dad so excited about the various plaques and historical markers. I always learn new things when he comes to visit, haha.

The following Monday was my midterm. Terrifying... Haha, there was a written portion and a practical portion. I have always been a good test taker, so the written portion didn't worry me too much. BUT that practical portion was another story.... I had to make a salad and a vinaigrette and then plate it... it would all be graded on technicality, plating, and taste (and also waste created, organization and cleanliness of your station, etc.). I also had to make a creamy carrot soup and a poached pear with a reduction sauce. All of this including cleanup needed to be complete in 2 hours. I don't know how this all sounds to you... but 2 hours is NOTHING to do all of that, haha. I also had the HARDEST grader in the world critiquing the practical portion. She's very militant and picky, and she also graded my knife skills exam. Anyway, it all worked out fine. I ended up scoring a 98.4 on the written portion and a 92 on the practical.

The day after the midterm was my favorite day so far: Pasta day!!! We made fresh pasta all day long and gorged ourselves with deliciousness! Some photos because I have no words for this rapture, haha:

Chef Alex showing us how to make basic pasta

Sean partaking in the samples

Chef Alex's homemade gnocci

My reaction to the gnocci- unbelievable goodness, I tell you

Fresh spinach bowties in garlic olive oil sautee

Sup and Vanessa working on their pasta

Sean pinching together our ravioli filled with pinenut ricotta and basil pesto

Finally, some photos of previous things I've talked about. My friend Aviva uploaded some photos of things I didn't have pictures of.

The first Friday Night Dinner I worked at. This was the fresh pea soup with frizzled leaks and tofu creme fraiche

The entree from that same meal: Grilled vegetable stack

Dessert: Apricot bachlava cigars with chocolate and pistachios, mint pistachio ice cream, and pomogranate reduction. I said the plating looked like a penis, no?

Hors d'oeuvres class: Raw endive leaves stuffed with cashew cheese

Tempeh bundles

Savory pizzeles with bean spread and sundried tomatoes

Vegetable dumplings with soy ginger sauce

Rolled Foods class: Stuffed grape leaves


Seaweed Streudel

Pate and Terrine class: Black bean, goat cheese, and polenta terrine (hilariously 70's, no?)

Did I mentioned that Aviva and Sup went to the James Beard Awards and met loads of famous people? Including Curtis Stone from Take Home Chef? Haha

I have no pictures of this, but I also quickly need to tell you all about Conversion baking day. This was a class where we discussed how conventional recipes can be translated to health supportive or vegan recipes. So we were broken into pairs and given a "conventional" recipe- tollhouse cookies would be an example of this. We had to make at least 7 batches of our recipe, each time replacing one ingredient with a health supportive ingredient.
Step one was testing the original recipe and making decisions about what should try to be preserved: textures, moisture, sweetness, etc.
Step two was replacing the flour: white flour to whole wheat pastry, spelt, whole wheat, etc.
Step three was dairy: Milk or cream to soymilk, nut milk, coconut milk, etc.
Step four was additives: Cocoa powder for unsweetened dutch-pressed cocoa, chocolate chips to fruit sweetened dairy free chocolate chips, etc.
Step five was sugar: white or brown sugar for maple crystals, sucanat, turbanado, rapadura, date sugar, agave nectar, etc.
Step six was butter: butter for coconut oil, olive oil, etc.
Step seven was eggs: replacing eggs for egg replacer, flax juice, apple sauce, baking powder/soda, etc.

Vanessa and I had oatmeal raisin cookies. I wasn't a bit worried about it, thinking that I had veganized a million recipes in my life. Let me tell you.... replacing sugar.... pain in the butt!!! We made 11 batches of cookies. Haha, and they were far from perfect when we were done. They ranged in size and shape and texture and color about as much as anything ever could, haha. But it was the most informative and interesting day so far. I learned a LOT.

Cake decorating tomorrow! Melinda from school called me up this morning to tell me not to worry about missing cake baking day because she baked a cake for me to use for cake decorating =-) What a sweetie!

I think that's all for now! Much love to you all!