Thursday, May 11, 2006
Hasta la Pasta
Or, we didn't get a whole lotta pasta yesterday, dammit! We did, however, get to make our very own Bearnaise sauce all by our little selves. I'm wondering if there is such a thing as "Bearnaise Shoulder" like tennis elbow? A repetive motion injury caused by having to make Bearnaise sauce and whipping it for enternity, which was I think I was about 38 seconds short of when I made mine. I think I'm going to have to practice whisking with my left hand so I can become ambiwhiskerous and survive making this sauce for the final. I think it turned out okay; it didn't break, which was my biggest fear, and I thought it tasted fine. I was the last one to make mine, because there are 9 of us and only 4 spaces at a whack on the stove, so I was odd woman out today. I was trying to finish mine and people kept trying to take my tools and ingredients away, and I was getting more than a little frustrated with them.
Then, I almost ended my little culinary experiment in terror for good when I came about a gnat's whisker away from telling the jerky chef from the other class to f-off. In the aforementioned time of frustration, and not to mention that my knee was killing me, I was trying to finish the sauce while our chef was trying to gather people up to finish the pasta demo. Someone had so *kindly* cleared my tasting spoons, even after I had repeatedly told people to leave my station alone. Anyway, I had no spoon, I had no way to grab one and keep on with the whisking, so I lifted the whisk, slung a little on my finger and tasted it. At no time did my hand ever touch the whisk or the contents of the bowl. Of course, Jerky Chef sees me as he walks by and makes some snotty comment about did I know what a tasting spoon was and how to use it? That was just about the straw that broke the camel's back today, and I glared at him and physically had to clamp down my lips so I wouldn't open my mouth and tell him to kiss my fat ass in no uncertain terms. I really would have gotten a zero for the day at that point, but I was almost at the point where I didn't really care.
Yes, I know what a tasting spoon is, and I know how to use one, but as our chef always says "just do it," which I take to mean that I should improvise when necessary to get the job done. I've been observing the Jerky Chef as he teaches the other class, because it is a class that I will take next quarter, and I really hope he's not the instructor (and I hoped this BEFORE he ever made his snotty comment). He doesn't give any feedback to his class on how they are doing, especially on their practicals, which I (and they) think is important. If you present something to your instructor that he needs to taste and rate as part of your grade, the very least he could do is tell you if it tastes okay. Not this guy. I heard from one of the folks in his class that when he tasted all her stuff, he didn't say a word, didn't even look at her. She finally had to say "well how was it?" before he even would say it was okay. No feedback on what she did wrong/right/how she could correct anything. Sorry buddy, that's just not my philosophy on teaching...you as the teacher need to help your students understand what they do wrong and what they do right. How the hell else are the students supposed to learn? But, I digress, because I am tired and cranky and my knee still hurts.
On to the pasta...Chef demoed how to make pasta dough, which is incredibly simple of course, which means it will become a complete and total mess when I have to do it, and demonstrated the pasta rolling machine. We're going to have to make fresh egg noodles for one of our soups on the practical, and while it looked easy when he did it, I'm not so sure...wait, this might be an opportunity to buy a new kitchen gadget--a pasta machine!! Hmmm...the little hamster wheels begin to turn.
The best part of the day was when he made Pasta Alla Carbonara. I've had this once or twice before, tried to make it myself, and it wasn't all that and the proverbial bag of chips. Which meant I had high hopes for Chef's version, and I was not disappointed. The sauce was very creamy and not dry as I've had/made before, which made all the difference in the world. Plus, he used proscuitto instead of bacon, so that added a little oomph to it. He constantly reminds us that we need to be observant and get the most usage out of things--for example, like for the Carbonara, he subbed the proscuitto, because it was what he had on hand, rather than open a new package of bacon.
Chef, being of Italian descent, expounded on the Italian (and his) philosophy of pasta, which is one right after my own heart. He says that the pasta is NOT just a carrier for the sauce; rather it has a flavor and taste all its own, and it shouldn't be over powered by the sauce. That's how I feel about it. I don't like overly saucy pasta, because I like the taste of the pasta to come through as well, plus I always drip it all over myself, and I will be wearing a light colored top to boot. When I was younger--heck I still do this--I would just make noodles with a little butter and salt and nothing else. Let your Rotini shine!!!
I went to the doc yesterday for the old BP checkup (which was great, BTW) and to find out what's wrong with my feet, which constantly ache. I know that it is in part because I am on them way more than I used to be, but it seems they hurt more after I sit down for awhile...which was exactly what the doctor asked. I thought it was just my weird body or something, because one would think that your feet wouldn't hurt as much AFTER you were off them.
Anyway, he says I have plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the tendon that connects the heel to the base of the toes. That's about where it hurts...and some of the causes are: being a woman (check), being overweight (check), or if you have a job that requires a lot of walking or standing on hard surfaces (check). Damn, I'm batting a thousand here, aren't I? And guess what the cure is? Rest and staying off the feet...bwhaaahhhhaaaahhaa! So, I'm really seriously, as in have 3/4 of the way made up my mind, considering taking only 1 class next quarter so I have more time to rest the feet and lose some poundage. (At least the doctor's scale agreed with my scale and recorded actual loss of weight this visit...sometimes it says I have gained weight--go figure!)
I had signed up for Regional Cooking and Baking 1 next quarter, and while a part of me says keep the Regional class because it is in the afternoon, the other part says get the damn Baking party started even if it means continuing to get up at 5 am (aaauuughhh!) Baking does interest me more, because I've always seen it as a mystery, but the Regional thing looks fairly simple, and depending on my GPA results from this quarter, I may need to go with the simple!