Teaser

I’m so tired and busy lately that I just can’t find the energy to blog.  I mean, blogging doesn’t require all that much energy necessarily, but it does require my brain to be “on” and functioning.  I just can’t seem to muster up the brain power to sit down and give you something coherent.

In the meantime, I leave you with this.  It’s fairly easy to make, if you can find the ingredients – not in my neck of the woods.  Luckily my mom was able to bring me some. It’s sticky, and if you don’t work quickly, it gets tough on you.

ball of mystery

Anyone know what it is?  I’ll give you a hint.  This one is filled with a sweetened red bean filling.  So yummy!

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Manual Labor

Seriously…that’s what I feel like I’m doing.  At least compared to what I have been doing.  I was on my feet for 10 hours on Saturday, in the midst of Ike and the threat of losing power.

I’m not saying it’s all bad, but when your day starts at 6 am, you are doing it ALL BY YOURSELF and you don’t get a chance to stop and sit down and eat until 12:30pm and all you really want to do is crawl back in bed, well…that’s not good. 

Georgia, the lady that usually does the cookies and cream pies had the day off on Saturday.  So, instead of the bakery manager taking her place, she tells Darlene, the lady working with me, training me, whatever, to take over that station.  The cookie station has a helper (Daisy), but she doesn’t really speak English, so Linda (the bakery manager) doesn’t feel like she can work well with Daisy and she doesn’t want Linda L (the owner’s sister) to bitch about the work she did.  Linda does alot of the cake decorating, not much of the other stuff. But how smart was it to leave the new girl alone to do everything?

Everything being: 1) 4 fruit pies 2) dozen pecan pies 3) 7 different types of bars – these take up my time because I usually have to cut the cakes in half, fill them, frost them and top them 4) bake a dozen cheesecakes – Linda did help put the sour cream topping on after they came out of the oven, woofreakinghoo 5) decorate 5 cheesecakes – 3 of which were rainbows, which means I had to slice kiwis & strawberries 5) 4 wedding cake rounds 6) 30 sheet cakes – which means three 50lb bags of cake mix

There were 3 cake decorators there Saturday morning (2 plus Linda) and they were out the door by noon.  WTH?  Linda could have let those two do the cakes, especially since Ike was on his way and no one was really worried about cakes, and she could have come help me or something.  Darlene was nice enough to stay for a little while and help me with the cakes – well, man the ovens anyway. I was elbow deep in chocolate cake batter, so it’s not easy going back and forth between the ovens and the batter.  When they were all finally in the oven, I told her she could go.

Then Hubby texts me and says we have no power.  10 minutes later the bakery has no power – I had one sheet cake left in the oven!  But, one minute later, the power’s back.  Whew!  I took that puppy out and ran for the hills.  And had to call the bakery and ask someone to clock me out because I’d forgotten to.  Hahaha. 

As I was driving home, I noticed there were barely any cars on the street.  Half of the traffic lights were out and there were limbs in the road.  Luckily that was the extent of the damage in our area.

I don’t want to leave you with thoughts of sadness, so I’ll leave you with these instead: Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Bars.  They were really good and not too sweet.  I made them specifically for my sweetie.  🙂  No, I didn’t make them Saturday after work.  I’m not totally crazy – no power either, remember?  I made them the week before, after my sweetie mentioned that he was missing my sweets.  True, I’ve been tired and sore and worn out. But, I did want to bake something and I am a sucker for my boys.  I made something simple and easy and guess what, I had everything in my pantry.  I love doing that.  Just grabbing what I have and coming up with a nice treat.

oatmeal chocolate chunk bars

oatmeal chocolate chunk bars

oatmeal chocolate chunk bars

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Bars
Yield: 16
Adapted from Quaker Oats Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
½ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups quick oats
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine flours, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Beat together butter and sugars until creamy.

Add egg & vanilla; beat well.

Add flour mixture; mix well.

Stir in oats & chocolate chunks.

Pour mixture into an ungreased 8×8 metal baking pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Basic Food Prep, Week 4

One of my pet peeves is when people don’t take things seriously…that need to be taken seriously.  I paid good money to be in this class and to learn what the chef has to teach me.  Not to listen to Heather complain that she doesn’t like alot of foods or for Wanda to stick her tongue out behind the chef’s back or to hear her tell him that she’s going to have to drop his class because he gave us a pop quiz. Admittedly, I didn’t really study up on what we were quizzed on – parts of the knife, different alloys used to make knifes & vegetable cuts.  Luckily, he’s giving us a second chance this week. I think it finally dawned on me that yes, I’m in school again, and I actually have to put some effort into what we’re doing. But when I’m in class, I’m paying attention and listening and asking questions, even if I’m half asleep on my feet.  It just really really irks me when people don’t give him respect or take things seriously. 

This past week, along with the pop quiz, we made braised beef, grilled asparagus w/hollandaise sauce & mozzarella sticks.  We made the mozzarella sticks to review the proper breading technique.  The braised beef was to review the method of browning the meat, then cooking it in the oven on a low temperature.  The grilled asparagus showed us how to blanch and shock the asparagus to keep it’s crispness and color.  The hollandaise sauce, well, that didn’t turn out so well. I didn’t watch to see how they made it since I was working on the cheese and beef.  Shanna and Wanda were working on that and Shanna was determined to keep whisking that sauce until it thickened.  Unfortunately it never got to the correct consistency.  I’ve never tasted hollandaise sauce, so I was kind of looking forward to it.  Oh well, we’ll be trying that again soon.  The braised beef probably could have used another 30 minutes to an hour in the oven, but it was still good.  A little on the salty side, but good. 

Our lecture was about the Brigade System aka the kitchen hierarchy – executive chef, chef de cuisine, sous chef, etc.  Apparently it something that the other students are going over in another class as well, but we went ahead and discussed it in this class too. That’s just another thing that shows me how badly this department is in need of that new director that’s coming in.  It doesn’t seem like there’s a set curriculum for each class and it doesn’t seem like the instructors are even talking to each other.

Ok, enough about all that.  🙂  Let me leave you with this image of deliciousness. 

cinnamon bun bread
yummy brown sugar-cinnamony topping

cinnamon bun bread

This Cinnamon Bun Bread recipe came straight from Baking Bites. The only thing missing is the Icing, but it didn’t really need it…well, that and by the time I’d made this Friday night, it was already 10:30 and I had to be at work by 6am (that’s a whole post itself). This is by no means a substitute for the real thing. It has more of a cakey texture than a bread texture, but if you want the flavors of a cinnamon bun/roll, then this definitely works.

Playing a Little Catch Up

Wow, it’s been a crazy, busy week. I’m tired and sore and do not want to look at another cake pan for at least a few days. This new job is waaaay more strenuous than I ever imagined. And this bakery does waaaaay more business than I ever imagined.  Just to give you an idea, here’s what I did my first day:

  • 2 batches of vanilla cream & 1 batch of chocolate
  • 3 pies (they’re frozen, so not a lot of work there)
  • 3 types of bars – think sheet cakes filled and/or frosted & cut into rectangles
  • dozen cheesecakes (they really need to get some new pans – we have to jerry-rig these shut with masking tape!)
  • 80 round cakes & a bunch of sheet cakes, I can’t remember exactly

I was there from 7:45am until about 3:30pm.  We get 20-25 minutes for lunch, but we don’t have to clock out.  We also get free meals, but the menu is somewhat limited – burgers, grilled chicken, salad bar (my main staple), hot dogs, french dip, ham & cheese, turkey & cheese, pork chops, fried pork chops, country fried steak, country fried chicken…you get the idea.  By the time I was done for the day, my feet and back were so sore.  I haven’t felt like this in years.  Even as a waitress I don’t remember feeling like this.  Of course I was about 10 years younger too.

Looks like I’ll be working Tue, Wed, Thu, Sat (I have to be there at 6am on Saturdays!).  That gave me 30 hours this past week.  I told my manager I didn’t want to work full time, but when the holidays roll around, I may not have a choice. Not sure how I’m going to get to Kansas for Thanksgiving this year.  :-\

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On the school front, we got a new instructor. And apparently a new director, who is whipping this CA department into shape.  Which is fine with me, except that instead of 4 hours, the classes next semester will be 5 hours long.  And no ending class early.  But otherwise, I agree with the dress code, knife sets, etc.  Puts everyone on the same level playing field. We’ll also be moving to our new location in October.  The school bought a restaurant for some of the classes to use.  I’m excited.

Chef Paul (my new instructor) was educated at Johnson & Wales and hasn’t taught in a classroom before. He currently works at a game ranch about 20 minutes outside of town.  Miss Carla thought it was such a crazy notion that people killed the game on the ranch, then ate it there.  Such fresh meat.  !!!!! 

We went over the different types of knifes and the different vegetable cuts – it’s a lot of French. Chef Paul gave us a demo on some of the cuts, then we had to practice on potatoes.  It’s not easy making everything even and uniform. 

We also spent about 20-30 minutes at the end of class giving the kitchen a thorough cleaning. Apparently we haven’t been doing a very good job.  We also took the temperature of the refrigerator & freezer at the end of the class.  Chef Paul said it’s good to do as much as possible to show the health inspectors that we’re doing everything we can to insure our food is stored at the proper temperatures.

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Last, but not least…have I been cooking?  Baking???  Anything?  Well, not a whole heckuva lot.  I did make some profiteroles for the first time ever this week.  But, they were a bit of a disaster.  They did not puff up like they were supposed to.  I think my choux was too loose.  So, we had flat discs with ice cream and chocolate ganache. Still tasted good…kinda chewy.

I think I need to get over this general tiredness before I can get back into the swing of things.  I’m also trying to catch up on all the blogs I read.  I tried to blog a few times after work, but I think my mind turns to mush as soon as my body does. Haha.

If you’ve made it through all this, thanks for catching up with me.  If not, I don’t blame you, and well, you aren’t reading this part anyway, so why am I still typing?