Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Before I forget, I've decided what I want for graduation (from any of you that want to get me a graduation present... hint hint!). I'd like a Saint Honoré medal. It would be great if it could go on a necklace so I could wear it during work. Saint Honoré is the patron saint of pastry chefs. I know I'm not catholic, but I'm not a sailor either and I have a St. Christopher's medal.

Anyway, just a thought.
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First, let me apologize for not writing yesterday, I'll make sure to cover Monday and Tuesday in this edition. I was so busy I didn't have time to pee until 1pm and I wound up eating peanut butter and crackers for lunch at school.

Let me get philosophical here for a minute. I listen to NPR. I LOVE NPR. Yesterday on the drive in to work I was listening to an interview with the author of a new book, it's called Lifelong Affair: My Passion for People & Politics, by Bethine C. Church. As I listened to Mrs. Church discuss how she came to be involved in politics, I was reminded of how I came to be a pastry chef student. After much mulling I think it boils down to this one point: I can't imagine my life without cooking. It's like air or water; an absolute necessity to living. I also thought it was interesting how the title of the book initially made you think of a love affair. (or maybe that's just me) There for the entire first week of class, and now occasionally, I would get butterflies and get very anxious before class. I just couldn't wait to get to school. In that same vain, some of my fellow students keep saying, "I can't wait until we graduate." It's not that I don't want to get to working in this industry for real, but I am doing my best to savor every memento of this program. Even though it's only 7 1/2 months, it still feels like a long time, and also just a blink.

Yesterday at work was a bit crazy. Lots of work, lots of drama. Last night I was talking to one of my fellow students about the craziness at work and she made some comment about then HAVING to go to school. I was very adamant. I COULDN'T WAIT TO GO TO SCHOOL. Even when work isn't crazy, I still can't wait to go to school. It's almost like being away from home for a very long time and the anticipation of almost being there being all you can think about. Anyway, unless you were unclear, I'm loving school and I'm enjoying it even though it's difficult.

End of philosophical digression.

On Monday we discussed receiving in our S/S class. Part of it was very straight forward, but there were several points that were new to me. Including, but not limited to, was the use of thermometers. Now, for the past couple of years I've been using this lovely digital thermometer and growing up there was the ubiquitous meat thermometer -which was never used- hiding in the utensil drawer, but there are a TON of different thermometers and probes: bimetallic stemmed (part of my uniform), immersion, surface, penetration and air. Very neat!

We also discussed the types of meat and what we are looking for when we receive them: color, smell, storage and then how to measure them and at what temperature they should be. I know it sounds like a lot to remember, but it wasn't too bad.

In Food Science we discussed making ice cream. In order to get a little info in about spices, we said we were making Pumpkin Pie ice cream. We learned how to calculate the milk fat content needed for ice cream without using a recipe. VERY COOL. It turns out that ice cream needs a fat content of 16-18%, but none of the milk products out there have either of those percentages, so we use Pearson's Square to calculate what number of parts is needed to get the right, overall, percentage. We also discussed spices. I felt a little ahead of the class here because Dad got me a book on spices a couple of Christmases ago and even though I haven't read every word in it, it was filled with great pictures and drawings and wonderful descriptions. We stuck to the sweet spices: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mace, allspice, cardamom and vanilla.

Next we discussed the actual machinery that was needed to make ice cream and how and why it worked. I also learned why I always buy Ben & Jerry's, Hagen Das or Bryers ice creams. The less expensive ice creams have more air added to them, this is called overrun and if you pick up a 1/2 gallon of Bryers and a 1/2 gallon of Blue Bunny you'll be able to tell the difference in weight. Kinda neat!

For skills on Monday we did more buttercream beads. Have I mentioned that I'm not a big fan of beads? That being said, I am getting much better.

  • Beads

  • Our second skill of the day was piping chocolate. I definitely like working with chocolate more than gel. I moved on to writing Happy Anniversary and congratulations, both of which I think I may need to have tattooed on my hand. Yeash. If I put one more T in congraDulations, I swear I'm going to go insane! I DO NOT want to get to my comps and misspell a word... that would definitely be BAD.

  • Piping Chocolate

  • I got the student evaluation form needed for my Golden Gate Restaurant Association scholarship from Garth Monday night. Have I mentioned how great he is? I also lost my student ID and he got me all hooked up with a temporary until I can get another permanent. Sigh, what a relief!

    As I mentioned earlier, Tuesday at work was a bit crazy.

    Yesterday I Fedexed off all the scholarship materials to the GGRA. What a relief to have all that done. Now I just have to mentally prepare for the interview. I think it all boils down to expressing my passion and enthusiasm and reinforcing the fact that I want to continue to live and work here in San Francisco. And really, it's the truth. I didn't think I would ever be able to have the perfect combination between distance to family, city living, work and challenge. This city really is full of wonderful possibilities and lots of great chefs.

    Last night was bad. Well, not really bad, but for some reason I was more tired than usual and I kept nodding off during the S/S lecture. I felt particularly bad because I was in the front row of the class. The lecture seemed to go on forever, but that was mostly due to a slightly different schedule because of the career fair. OK, pastry chefs out there... when going to a career fair, AVOID any sort of restaurant that even smells of chain. Chain restaurants have very carefully regimented dessert menus and recipes and they don't usually even have pastry chefs, just some poor schmo who can follow a recipe.

    We started off the day slicing pears. I'm getting better at the cutting, but I think I need to speak up more and get a bit more critique from Chef Amy. I think she thinks I'm a total nut. She commented on the fact that I was taking pictures of my sliced pears. I just smiled and told her I was taking pictures of EVERYTHING I did. I figure I'll be able to compare the uniformity of the slices from my pears to the slices of apples the other day. I'm also pretty sure the pictures are MUCH clearer.

  • Pears

  • In S/S we discussed storage and FIFO (almost typed Fido there! hee hee) -this is for the rotation of supplies. If I don't remember anything else, I think FIFO and the importance of cleaning the refrigerator before you go home. These are both very important details and are both things you can get fired for NOT doing.

    In Food Science we discussed sorbet. (Which actually worked out really well because one of the plated desserts we had was a strawberry sorbet... yum!) We discussed ice crystal size and how it tastes on your tongue (the larger the crystal the colder and crunchier it is). We also learned about pectin and sugar. Pectin is the cement that holds the cell walls together in plants. It also varies from plant to plant... and fruit to fruit. The discussion of sugar was very interesting. What a process!! Sugar (sucrose) comes from two main sources: sugar cane and sugar beets. To get sugar from cane you: press the cane to extract it's juice (at this point the juice is filled with microorganisms and fiber and all sorts of things you don't want)--> then lime is added (this is the mineral, not the fruit)-->the mixture is clarified-->boiled (which forms crystals)--> and run through a centrifuge. These last two steps are repeated three times. At each stage more and more water is spun off. This waste water is actually molasses. By the time everything is said and done, you've got a 99.9% sucrose product.

    Another source for sugar is corn. (Fun fact for everyone: Nebraska grows more corn than the rest of the world combined. I knew Nebraska had to be noteworthy for SOMETHING!) The nice thing about corn is that it is high in starch and starch is made up of a series of glucose. Unfortunately, glucose is only 0.7x as sweet as sugar, BUT when you add an enzyme you can convert the glucose into fructose and then the byproduct is 2x (I think this number is correct, I'll clarify in class tonight) as sweet as sugar. Very useful!

    Our second skill of the night was chocolate again. I am definitely showing improvement. I told Chef Amy that I wasn't happy with my Hs or Bs, so she showed me, at least, four different ways to write them. If you look at the last picture in the series you'll see the improvement.

  • Piping Chocolate

  • Mom and Aunt Sharon are coming into town on Friday for a day at Kabuki and then dinner at the Careme Room. It turns out that Friday is actually the last day for a group of graduating AOS students, so they should really be in for a treat. Talk about bang for your buck! These guys are getting ready to go to their externships, so they are set in the skills department. I can't wait to see/taste what they make!

    On a side note, I had an epiphany about my wedding cake project. I'm going to take a balloon and blow it up to the size of the top layer of my cake and then decorate it with royal icing filigree, pop the balloon and then place the filigree on top of the cake. I think the end result will be very classy and a nice effect... and definitely different from what other people are doing!

    Well, I'd better get to work. I'll post pictures momentarily and then come back here and post links.

    OK, side note. I just ran spell check and learned that my comments about the word Congratulations were totally wrong... I think I DO need to tatoo that word on my hand.... this is rediculous!
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    Monday, March 29, 2004

    Good morning all!

    Friday was another good day at school. Lots to learn!

    During the first part of the day we piped Happy Birthday in gel. I do have some pictures, but I'll have to load them a bit later. I also missed one question on our daily S/S quiz. I'm telling you, would it be too much to ask for a perfect score at some point? I think I rushed a little, but still! Continually missing one is getting a little annoying. (I know, this sounds like an A student complaining about getting an A- instead of an A+, but really, I've never been in this sort of position before, so it would be nice to get a perfect score.)

  • Piping Gel

  • (Very hard to see... sorry, gel is a pain for SO many reasons!)

    (OK, as I'm writing this, I'm realizing that I'll have to start doing Friday's posts on Saturday... I CAN'T remember a thing!)

    During our food science lecture Chef Amy and our sous chefs for the day made creme Angelse. This is basically eggs, cream and sugar that has been cooked. The purpose of the demonstration was multifaceted: we learned about burning the yolks, tempering and what happens when you over cook the eggs.

    Burning the yolks is not actually a function of adding heat, it is when you add sugar to the egg yolk and don't mix. You get a pretty nasty skin on the outside of the yolk that can't be broken up. This is caused because there is a membrane around the yolk (think about when you separate an egg, once you drop the yolk into a bowl it still holds it's dome shape.) that is semi- permeable (it only lets water escape one way), it this case it only lets water OUT of the yolk. So, when you sprinkle sugar on top of the yolk and you don't beat it up, the sugar sits on top and pulls (there is a more complete explanation for this, but I don't have my notes in front of me, so this will have to do. If you want a more complete description, send me an email!) the water out of the egg, the sugar crystallizes and voila! burned yolks. There is really no way to fix this once it's happened. On the upside, you can prevent it by beating your eggs after you add sugar.

    A custard (creme angelese is a custard) is basically, in it's simplest form, a protein suspended in a sugar and dairy medium. (Examples are: pumpkin pie, lemon curd, creme caramel or flan, creme bruele, bread pudding....) To make a custard you want to scald the milk (you can tell you're there when there is steam rising off the milk and little bubbles all over the surface) and sugar. Make sure you stir. If you don't the proteins on the bottom of the pan will cook first and stick to the bottom of the pan and, more likely than not, burn. You will also get a skin on top (this is another component of milk, but, again, I can't remember the other proteins that make milk... it's whey and something....). Now, you're going to want to add the scalded milk to your yolks slowly, stirring the eggs all the while. This is called tempering and if you don't do it, you will get clotted eggs. Not good. Not only not tasty, but there really is no other option, but to throw them out and start over. After you've tempered the eggs you're going to add them back into the pan and keep cooking. What you are doing is evaporating the water so you get a nice creamy custard. You know you're done because you'll be able to dip a spoon into the mixture and then run your finger along the back of the spoon and the line will stay in the custard. As with many other items, there is holdover cooking (I'm not sure this is the technical term, but, in effect, the pan and the contents of the pan keep cooking even though you've taken them off the heat.), so make sure you always under do the custard. (If this is creme bruele or pumpkin pie, you're going to want the custard to still be a little jiggly in the middle.)

    During this cooking process the proteins have formed a mesh and in the center of each of the squares of mesh is water. As you add heat, the mesh gets tighter and tighter, soooo carrying this concept to it's logical end. If you OVERCOOK eggs, all the water is going to be squeezed out of that mesh and you wind up with very dry eggs and water hanging out around the overdone eggs. Generally, this is just icky!

    For dessert I had crepes and a coconut mouse. The crepes were really cool. The student making them showed me how to turn them (I did two or three) and then she flambeed them with rum. Very cool! VERRRRYYYY IMPRESSIVE! The coconut mouse wasn't great. It was dry and not overly coconut tasting. It was very pretty and the additional coconut sprinkled over the mouse did help with the flavor, but it wasn't great.

    I can't remember what I had for dinner.

    After our dinner break we learned how to peel, core and cut apples. I totally have the peeling down and we used a melon baller to core the apple (stem, bottom, seeds... one circle, two half circles). The trick is in cutting all the slices to the same width. Not easy, but again, with more practice I know it will be.

  • Apples

  • Every Friday Chef Amy makes us say one thing we learned. My one thing was that even though I was terribly intimidated by the shear volume of what we were going to be learning, that if I just take little bites then it will be fine and that the teachers will get you through the material. I hope I can remember this little lesson five months from now.

    Well, that was the first week of school! There sure was a lot to learn!

    After school Ami (not Chef, this is Ami with an I) and her friend Bridget (who is in the morning session, but will be moving to the evening session today) and I went out for beer. After one pitcher I told them that we HAD to go to another bar. We wound up going to several of my favorites: Tunnel Top (Mojitos), Red Room (cosmos), Lush lounge (Raspberry lemonade Martinis). All very yummy!

    Saturday morning we all re-grouped at a coffee shop down the street from my place and we walked to the Ferry Building. As usual, there were a lot of people. This is almost completely off-putting, but the food is so good that it's hard to pass up... at least once a month. Maybe next weekend we'll pop over to Berkeley Bowl and check them out. Anyway, back to the Ferry Building. Bridget had her first kumquat. I'm not too sure she was thrilled about it, but hey, at least it was a new experience. One of the booths was selling fried asparagus. It was good, but not as amazing as Bridget had had back in Seattle. After walking through the main building we stopped at Ciao Bella for gellatto. I had lime and prickly pear. It really was a wild color/ flavor combination. The lime was a nice light green, and the prickly pear was HOT PINK. It just looked like summer and it was a great flavor combination. One of the guys commented on the combination and I told him that we were students at the CCA and that we were all about good flavor combinations. I must have mentioned it to at least 4 vendors that we were students at the CCA and at Ciao Bella it paid off... I got a student discount. It wasn't much ($.70), but hey, I'll take what I can get. The guys were pretty funny. They said that everyone knows how expensive the tuition is at the CCA and that if you tell them a student most people will feel sorry for you and give you some sort of discount. :)

    On Sunday Dad flew home from Viet Nam. Mom, the boys and I all met him. It was the first time in 10+ years that he's had anyone meet him at the airport. He was absolutely delighted. After lunch we got our presents!!! I got some real Vietnamese sweetened condensed milk (yes, it is different than the American version, but I can't tell you how or why!) and two of the little coffee makers. Dad also gave me a cone shaped pillar of sugar. Not sugar cane sugar though, something else. So I'm going to take it into school at some point and see if Hoang (I think he's the only Vietnamese student in our class) or Chef Amy can identify what kind of sugar it is, in the mean time, it looks cool. The cone is wrapped strips of bamboo.

    Well, that was pretty much the extent of my weekend. A quick, big THANK YOU!!!! to Kimberly for giving me short notice house/dog sitting this weekend. I really appreciate the thought AND the MONEY!

    I'll write more tomorrow!

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    Friday, March 26, 2004

    I had the strangest realization this morning. Let me explain. I drove home from class last night and went to my parking garage and they guy who took my car opened my door and said, "Hello my sistah, my aspiring young chef." Now, he always says hello, or good evening, and he always says my sistah... even though he's Chinese and it sounds a little odd coming out of his mouth, but he's always very nice and he always opens my door for me... assuming it's unlocked. It's the my aspiring young chef part that I've been thinking about. When he first said it I felt a little uncomfortable, but now that I think about it, it's not the first time I've heard it.

    Now, I know it's really not a big deal. And I know I should be flattered by this kind of passive support, but it just seems a little odd. I'd like to think it's people's way of passively participating in my experience. Like somehow knowing me and knowing that I'm going back to school and going after a drastically different career makes them apart of the process too. I don't know, maybe I'm just being silly.

    I've been thinking about two projects (way into the future... many of you know I am a real planner!) lately: my chocolate and my sugar sculptures. I haven't even learned the techniques yet (and won't for another 22 weeks!), but I want something amazing and since spontaneous creativity is not really my strong suit, I thought I'd better start thinking about it now.

    For the sugar I'm thinking a reproduction of a Matisse sculpture. If you've seen the lithograph of the blue woman -all curvy, with non-descript hands and feet- with her arms circling her head, that's kind of what I'm thinking of... except in a 3D sculpture. I'm open to other ideas, but I'm kind of leaning in the Matisse or Picasso direction: abstract, roundish, vaguely recognizable, 1-2 color (although I'm not averse to color, I just think that a 1-2 color piece can be more dramatic and you can focus more on the form). Now, something else to think about: If you've never seen pulled sugar, think of any glass sculpture you've seen. Most art galleries have several pieces and they are most easily recognized by their translucent appearance and they usually have many many monofillaments of contrastingly colored glass running through them.

    The chocolate project is much more of a conundrum. I really have no ideas. The best ones I've seen so far (from other classes) were an Eiffel Tower and fish. The fish were particularly great. 3D, scales an all, very cartoony looking (I think it was their puffy lips and googly eyes), but cute and still very real. I'm open to suggestions.

    Another project that is a bit more pressing (only 8 weeks away) is my wedding cake. Cindy, at work, is getting married and we've been comparing ideas for cakes. She sent me a picture of a lovely cake, simple white fondant with a polished nautilus shell as the cake topper and then the cake was dressed with sea shells and pearls. Now, I can make the sea shells using molds and possibly by and sculpting each one (ugh!), but the pearls -particularly a string of pearls- sounds very daunting. I'm pretty sure Mom and Dad have a polished nautilus shell lying around that I can top the cake off with, but I'll have to ask. I've also contemplated re-creating the first wedding cake I made. Even as I was making it, it seemed a bit juvenile, but due to lack of skill it really was the best I could do. Now, that I'll have the skill, I'm tempted to re-create it. Maybe in a white on white variation with fondant fleur de lis. (In case you've never heard of or seen my first wedding cake, it was a three tier, white cake. Green curly cues were my stylized vines, purple and Burgundy flowers and fleur de lis were added and there were gold dragees wherever I could get them in. Anyway, I'm open to other suggestions here too. I'm looking for something that would be unique.

    Anyway, those are projects that I KNOW I'll be working on. Feel free to email me with ideas. I'm thinking about going to the Legion of Honor for some inspiration, but I'm not too sure what kind of late impressionist/ cubist collection they have. I was sooooo spoiled with the Art Institute in Chicago. Oh well!

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    If anyone has any suggestions for where I can host pictures that I can link to for this blog I'd really appreciate it! I'm going a little nuts with the Yahoo! Photos and I really want you all to be able to see the pictures.

    I know Phil mentioned hosting the pictures on soli.org, but I'm not entirely sure the gallery is working like it's supposed to lately, so I'm not 100% convinced that that is the best solution.

    Well, let me know!

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    Last night I think I felt my body actually SINK into my bed. No problems sleeping, I don't think I got past the theme song from Will & Grace before I fell asleep. It was wonderful, but way too short.

    I have many new pictures from last night. We've now been broken down into groups of five and each group has a rotating sous chef (cleaning and retrieving). I was sous chef last night. It actually wasn't all that bad.

    I got a 15 out of 16 on my S/S quiz (remember, these are only for our benefit) and I didn't have to take the math quiz (these are graded, but only comprise 10% of our total grade, also, they are mostly used to boost your grade when you are borderline up to the next best grade, lastly, when you are sous chef of the day, you get your points from doing dishes, not the test) because I was sous chef I didn't have to take it. I think I'm going to send off an email to Chef Amy and ask for the questions anyway... when it comes to math, I need as much practice as possible.

    My new mantra: Practice, Practice, Practice.

    Most groups learned two skills last night, we were fortunate (although we didn't get too much practice at it) to learn three.

    First, beading buttercream. If you thought I was griping about making the buttercream rosettes, YOU HAVE NO IDEA! The beads are a real barrel of fun. I'm sure I'll get them eventually, and they did start looking better towards the end of the session, but yeash! they are not NEARLY as easy as they look.

  • Beading

  • They aren't supposed to look like slugs, and mine TOTALLY look like slugs... with little tails. There are a few examples that look like actual beads, and we learned toward the end to rotate both your supporting hand and your squeezing hand in opposite directions to end to bead, so that took care of the tails. Practice, practice. Toward the end you could see some improvement. OK, let me revise that, toward the end I could see some improvement.

    Chef Amy did her first ever in class demonstration for Food Science today. It was great! She made caramel two ways: the wet method (slower and with lots of different stages: thread, soft ball, hard ball, hard crack...) and the dry method (one stage... caramel!). She also showed us how and why sugar crystallizes when making it and how to clean up the mess when you are done. (BTW, it's just about the easiest cleaning up process out there... boil water in the pan!)

    After dinner (which, by the way was also very good... salmon, over orzo and green beans on the side... one of these days I'm going to have to slow down and taste and not inhale. For dessert I had a puff pastry rectangle with half of a poached pair on it and a caramel drizzle over everything. Simple and classic. I think the oven temp wasn't quite what it should have been for the puff pastry, it was sort of caramelized on the bottom and not all that puffy. The pear, although good, was just sweet. It would have been nice if the poaching liquid had a little more flavor, either from a spice -cinnamon or clove or ginger- or a liquor. The caramel was perfect. Not grainy, good depth of flavor, creamy and a nice accent. Yet again, this proves my Dad's motto is always true: Add more sugar!!! ) I went to pick up bread dough from the dough class for our group's second skill, but it wasn't ready yet, so Chef Holly said that someone would bring it up. Soooo, we got to do something else while we waited! Pipe chocolate.

    Now, about the chocolate, I mentioned yesterday that it was mostly inedible. Well, it's called summer chocolate and is has no cocoa butter in it, so it looks like chocolate and kind of smells like chocolate and it behaves like chocolate, but that's where the similarities end. We used it to pipe Happy Birthday just like the gel from the first day. I learned that you have to have the perfect tip on your parchment cone (not too large, not too small) because the chocolate will cool at the tip and the chocolate will stop flowing. Once I modified my cone to make this adjustment... BOY DID IT flow... oops! I'm more of a fine line kinda' gal. I don't like the big fat Happy Birthday where the loops in the letters run together. Now that I'm writing this I realize there is another difference between the gel and the chocolate. The chocolate keeps moving after it touches the parchment. One more thing to keep in mind when working with it. We didn't get all that much practice with the chocolate. I also didn't think I was really paying quite as much attention as I should have. Live and learn, practice and focus more next time. We'll get our own opportunity to do chocolate piping, so I'm not all that worried about practice.

  • Chocolate

  • When our dough showed up it was in a HUGE plastic tub. There was probably enough to make 20+ loaves of bread and maybe as many as 100 10 oz. baggettes. Chef Amy had us make 1 baggette, 4 rolls, 2 knotted rolls and 1 four strand braid. I really like dough, and, with all modesty, my rolls and braid looked WAY better than anyone else's. (I keep having Chef Amy's words roll through my mind as if on an eternal tape player... "Everyone will be the best at something.") I really liked the process to make the rolls. Take a 2 oz. bit of dough (BTW, never stretch, pull or tear dough... CUT it!). Stretch it out and tuck the ends underneath so you form a tight skin over the top and you get a little ball. Form your hand into a C shape and cup the ball on the table. Now roll your hand around in a circle around the dough. Knots are similar, but different. 2 oz. of dough, roll it into a snake, tie a knot like you do in a balloon, done. The baggette was a bit more difficult and didn't turn out as well. 10 oz. of dough, again stretch it and tuck under until you have a relatively smooth ball. Let it sit off to the side to rest. (The reason we rest the dough is because we want all the proteins strands to be going in the same direction. First, the ball, all the strands are going in a circle. Then, in the next phase the circle is rotated a bit. We do this so that during the rising and baking process the bread with raise evenly and not be all lumpy.) After the dough has rested -wrapped in plastic- you squish it flat into a rectangle. Take the outer third and fold over the middle third, take the closest third and fold over the middle third. Roll it away from you, crimping the seam with your fingers and roll the baggette onto it's seam. Done. Lastly was the braid. I've tried braids before... stink. There is a reason my challa bread winds up in a loaf pan... I CAN'T DO BRAIDS. I could probably do three strands, but I've NEVER been able to do four, let alone with bread! It actually wasn't all that bad. I didn't let the dough rest properly, I wound up with air bubbles and I had to cheat at the end and cut off the ugly bits and tuck the ends under to finish it, but in a home kitchen it would have been lovely!

  • Bread

  • Since I got my bread done before the rest of my group, I took some pictures of some of the other groups. There are 20 people currently in my class and I think we'll wind up with 12 more on Monday, but we'll see. These are only a few of the other students.

  • Class at Work

  • I'd better get back to work. If possible, I'll write more later.
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    Thursday, March 25, 2004

    Last night we learned how to make rosetts.

  • Rosettes

  • I got two sheets done. Chef Amy says that we aren't supposed to say that we suck at anything... we just need more practice. Well, if she hadn't said that I'm sure I'd be telling you that I suck at making rosetts. On the upside, now I know I need PRACTICE! Lots and Lots of Practice!!! It took us a little over an hour to set up, make two sheets of rosetts, and clean up. Who would have thought it would take so much time to do something so simple.

    After we got all cleaned up we got a tour/introduction to the library. I can see that it will be very useful in the future.

    Next was S/S. I got 12/13 on my first quiz. These aren't real grades, they are just so we know what we don't know. Chef wants to make sure we are ready for the national certification when it comes around. Apparently she has a VERY high pass rate, but of course she's been doing this a while and has seen over 15 tests, so I guess it's equally a matter of live and learn ... what to teach.

    We got into more of the eeeewwwww, of S/S. We learned about microorganisms, virus, bacteria, fungi. Ick! Of all the ickiness we learned about most/all can be prevented by three pretty straight forward steps: 1) WASH YOU HANDS, 2) Buy your meat/fish/shellfish from a reputable reseller, 3) Have a clean water supply. (By the way, if you live in California, NEVER drink stream or river water. All running water -not tap water, it's been treated- is contaminated with Giardia- trust me, just take the warning,don't ask questions, you don't want to know how sick you could get!!!) From S/S we moved on to Food Science.

    We learned more about molecules, in particular proteins and carbohydrates.
    - Proteins: Pastry chefs LOVE changing the structure of proteins, it's what we do day in and day out. (Think of eggs. We separate out the yolk from the white. Take the white and beat it and add oxygen molecules to the egg protein. Add a little sugar and voila! you get meringue! VERY COOL!)
    - Carbohydrates: We also love changing the molecular structure of carbohydrates. When you see the word, break it down into it's components: carbon and hydrate (water). If we increase or decrease the amount of water we'll get different effects. (Think caramel. What you are doing when you make caramel, which is basically burned sugar, is you are adding head and breaking the bonds between the carbon and hydrogen atoms, so when you make carbon you are going to see steam released... This is the result of the chemical breakdown. To the extreme, if you keep cooking caramel, until all the water is gone, all you've got left is a ruined pan and a pile of carbon. Also, VERY COOL!)

    Dinner, again was tasty. Salmon fillet over mixed greens salad. YUMMY! BUT, IT'S OFFICIAL, I've had a BAD (not just passable bad, I mean eeeewwwww) Dessert. It was chocolate rosotto and the rice wasn't cooked all the way. Ick. Bad, crunchy texture and frankly, the chocolate was just too strong. Now, I like chocolate, a lot, so that's saying something!

    Chef also did a demo of how to cut fruit. Not too exciting, but since four of us are going to be splitting a case of each type of fruit, it was pretty important to pay attention. Chef showed us how to cut apples, pears, oranges, and strawberry fans. I know we're going to be cutting apples tonight, but I'm not too sure about the other fruit... Eventually.

    Yesterday got out an hour early (yes, I know, I made a mental note that I'd just thrown $24 away!), but it wasn't an entirely bad thing. After sleeping so poorly the night before and having done homework at work work, I thought it would be a good use of that time to read and actually be prepared for tomorrow. I did, I felt great! Unfortunately, I still didn't get to sleep until after 11:30PM. I've increased the volume on my alarm, to get me up, but it would be FAR better if I could actually get to sleep when I want to. So, and I know many of you will probably disapprove, I know the risks, so I don't want to hear them from you, I'm thinking about getting a bottle of Tylanol PM or some such to help me get to sleep. I figure the tylanol will be good for the general state of soreness (surprisingly not NEARLY as bad as I'd anticipated) I've been in for the past couple of days. We'll see. I won't be able to get out to buy anything until the weekend and by then it may be a moot point.

    I'm going to finish my lunch and my work and then get myself off to school. Oh, before I forget, I also took a nice picture of the school, enjoy!

  • California Culinary Academy

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    Wednesday, March 24, 2004

    Last night we learned how to write Happy Birthday in pastry gel. (I'm so tired I had to type that four times to get the spelling right!) Now that may seem like a pretty easy thing to do, it's not. The H and the B have to be the same height. The legs of the p p and y all have to be the same length, and 3/4 the height of the H. This is the same for the B and the thd and y. And, on top of that, they all have to be in a straight line. Plus, you need to keep breathing and maintain a good posture. Pastry chefs are notorious for getting carpal tunnel, so you want to make sure you develop good habits now.

    From writing, we moved on to Safety and Sanitation (heretofore known as S/S). As Chef Amy described it, "When people ask me what I teach, I say Safety and Sanitation. The usually ask me, 'What is that?'. I reply with two things... WASH YOUR HANDS and Eeeeewwwwww." That pretty much sums up the class. We've been working on the hand washing and we started learning about the eww factor last night. I'm not sure why, but this story sounded much more humorous last night.

    From S/S we moved on to Food Science. Now, let me say this right now. I SUCK AT SCIENCE. Chef says that everyone LOVES this part, at this point, I'm just going to have to take her at her word. We got into ionic bonds, covalent bonds and the positive and negative charges of atoms and my eyes started glazing over. Part of me really really wants to understand this as we are learning it. The other part of me says that the test is open note, so as long as I take good notes, I can use them as a reference tool and I don't have to be able to understand ever nuance. Well, I'm torn. I guess I'm actually doing a bit of both, but for now, Food Science, although VERY interesting, is NOT MY FAVORITE. One the UPSIDE (BIG UPSIDE!!!) Chef Amy asked the cake class's chef (I think it's Chef Bob, but I'm not 100% sure) to bring in cakes into our class. We must have seen half a dozen cakes, all variations on tiramisu. There was your traditional tiramisu and a strawberry version (technically not a tiramisu, but an awesome cake none the less) and there were promises of an apricot brandy version for Wednesday night. Well see. So, in the midst of the heavy science, there were occasional bursts of students bringing in their cakes and little impromptu breaks for tasting.

    After Food Science, we got a break and went and picked up our tool kits. I GOT MY CHEF's JACKETS!!! I finally have my name embroidered on my jacket - instead of the not-so-great loaner I'd had previously! As Chef Amy says, "Baking and Pastry is a gear oriented sport." You have no idea the amount of stuff we got. No, not a shopping bag. We got full on roller bags and a smaller over the shoulder kit. We also got a box of gloves. I also got the missing parts of my uniform. So I had a bit more stuff than most. We didn't get into our bags until after dinner.

    Dinner. OK, it would have been nice if someone had taken us down to the kitchen and explained the exact workings of how it works. Yea, yea, I know it may seem like a pretty simple thing, and it would only take a second, but we were all wondering around not knowing what to do. I'm not sure how it happened but I wound up leading everyone down to dinner (LIKE I KNEW what I was doing, yea right!). So after feeling a bit silly, I went up to the Chef by the main door and told him that we were all new and that we had no idea what to do. I guess someone had to do it and I guess I was the most motivated (I started getting hungry around 6:30 and we didn't eat until 7:15!). He told us what to do, we placed our orders and were off. Now, a quick side note. Cyril's Kitchen is where we eat. It's a working student kitchen where the students have 30 seconds to take your order and present you with food. Not JUST food, but good looking and tasting food. I had the chicken, not bad. Moist, good flavors. I'm not so sure how much I liked it over the pasta, but it tasted good and the actual pairing was probably not the student's choice. There were green beans on the side. They were worth dinner. Crisp, not over done in the least. They'd been tossed in butter and something and they were a nice treat for my taste buds. Since we are pastry chefs, we had dinner first, but I saw people wandering around with little bowls of fruit, I think I'm going to have to track those down tonight.

    During dinner one of my classmates and I were discussing the Food Science stuff and the order of the class. Even though we really liked starting off with the writing Happy Birthday and actually getting into some fun stuff, we almost wished that we'd had the Food Science first because by the time we did get to it we were starting to drag. (I don't know about the rest of the students, but by the time we'd hit the Food Science material, I'd been awake and working for 12 hours without much of a break.) We understood the value of starting off with something fun, but it would certainly help with comprehension and retention if we could get it done earlier. After dinner (which was plenty long!) I changed into my real jacket! What a joy! (Have I mentioned that I'm very easily amused???) :)

    Back to the books, we attached food math. Now, this isn't a separate course, it's just kind of grouped together with general skills, but for any of you that know me, I SUCK AT MATH. (Or as Chef Amy says, "We don't say you suck at anything, we just say you need more practice." ) This math wasn't too bad. We were converting ounces to fractions to reduced fractions to decimals. Then we went on to the ever useful: How many teaspoons are in a gallon? Type questions. We were given a couple of cheater hints that worked really well! (The best is this one: Draw a large capital G. Now in the space made between the top and bottom of the G draw four Qs. Now in the center of every Q write 2 Ps and in the hole of every P, write 2 Cs. So, there are four quarts to a gallon, two pints to a quart, two cups to a pint, therefore there are 16 cups to a gallon.) So, for math, it wasn't all that bad. I've always been able to understand fractions and decimals, so the conversion of ounces to fractions to decimals wasn't too bad.

    Lastly we got to go through our kits and make sure we had everything. WOW!!! There were several things I had, but many more that I'd wanted and just didn't get around to actually buying. Chef let us go home a little early, something I don't expect to happen tonight.

    Even though I can't/don't want to afford it, I think I may keep my parking garage and also pay for parking at the Civic Center. It is such a relief to not have to worry about getting to class on time or be able to get home safely. I feel perfectly comfortable getting from my parking to my apartment without any problems, so, even though it is a bit of money, I think it might just be one of those expenses worth keeping. We'll see how it works out.

    After getting home and pulling everything together (uniform, tools, loaner uniforms to return)for tomorrow I sat down to do homework. I must say I did get a little done. It was pushing 11, so I stopped reading my S/S homework and went to bed. So much for that. I couldn't sleep and tossed and turned for who knows how long. Anyway, I did finally get to sleep, but boy was it a rude awakening when that alarm went off at 6... and then again at 6:15. 15 minutes just isn't enough time to get ready!!! I did it, but thank GOD no one cares what I look like. I'm telling you, if I had to impress anyone, it certainly wouldn't be happenin' today!

    Well, we're all caught up. I promise to start taking pictures tonight, I just wanted to check with Chef Amy first and make sure she didn't see any conflicts.

    Oh, before I forget. Some of us were talking about popping down to Ferry Plaza this Saturday. I haven't been down in a couple of weeks and since it's becoming such a foodie landmark everyone's heard of it. I guess we'll all meet up at some central location and walk from there (my place may be the best, but we'll see). I'm also going to have an after school thing at my place not this Friday night, but next Friday night, so that should be a good time.

    Back to work!
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    Tuesday, March 23, 2004

    Below are my essays for a scholarship that I'm applying for: the questions may be some that you've asked your self (about yourself, or about me), so take a read.

    1. Make a brief statement or summary of your plans as they relate to your educational and career objectives and long-term goals.

    I believe that a thorough education is made up of three phases, each building on the prior phase to create a solid career. The three phases are: formal instruction, mentorship and entrepreneurship. Each phase must also be accompanied by repetition and critique in order to succeed.

    Beginning my career at the California Culinary Academy (CCA) will be the beginning of the formal instruction phase. I will be learning from highly respected chef instructors who are willing and eager to share their knowledge. The CCA will also provide me with the repetition and critique necessary to hone my new skills and prepare me to enter the workforce with a solid foundation, ready to enter phase two: mentorship.

    The opportunity to work with a talented and experienced chef will offer me the opportunity to learn from a master (and San Francisco is full of talent). As in phase one, repetition and critique will be expected and appreciated; without them, growth is impossible.

    Growth under a mentor can only be truly tested by ones willingness and ability to strike out alone. This is where phase three begins: entrepreneurship. Starting your own business, heading your own kitchen, seeing your ideas and dreams materialize and the daily implementation of everything you have learned. Currently the concept of my business is just a seedling, but with every new experience and every lesson learned, that seedling will grow until it is fully mature and ready to blossom.

    2. What has inspired you to do what you do? Was it unusual family or personal circumstances, school or work experiences, or your participation in school and community services?

    Follow your passion. Easier said, than done.

    There have been many influences that have inspired me to become a pastry chef, what follows are two.

    Two years ago a friend got married and asked me to make her wedding cake. I was flattered, but a wedding cake must be perfect and is part of a lifelong memory, not the subject for trial and error. After setting down a firm plan, making drawings of the final product and reading everything I could get my hands on, I dove in. I was happier than I could have possibly expected. I don’t think I can ever remember being more tired in my life, but, to that point, I’d never had a sense of joy from creation like I did that day.

    In September of this year I started a new job, and brought in some treats for my co-workers shortly thereafter. Within an hour I’d been asked: “What are you doing working here?” and “Have you ever thought of going to school to be a pastry chef?” These comments struck a chord. In my mind, there really is nothing worse than wasted potential. It’s one of those things easy to spot in others, but difficult to recognize in oneself. Being a pastry chef has always been a passion. The practicality of such a drastic career change always seemed overwhelming, but after much soul searching, I realized that life is too short to be doing something you don’t completely love.

    Today is my first day at the California Culinary Academy and I am filled with so many emotions. I am pursuing something that I am passionate about and I’m ensuring I won’t be wasting my potential. I realize that following your passion isn’t necessarily easy, but it is the most satisfying path in life.
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    Monday, March 22, 2004

    Whew, today was orientation day at school. It was only three hours, but my poor little brain was full. I think my exact quote to one of my classmates was, "My brain hasn't been this full since my admissions interview." For those of you I spoke to after my admissions interview, this should really mean something. For those of you I didn't, it was a two and a half hour deal where Garth Johnson asked me questions and I answered them. I felt like I had diarrhea of the mouth. I just couldn't shut up! (Speaking of Garth, he's been great. I felt more prepared than anyone in class. I even knew that only one elevator- the left one- goes up to the fifth floor.)

    Three people from today were probably the most memorable: Lizzie Francis, David Chomsky and Amy Toder.

    As fate would have it Lizzie Francis and I -and a bunch of other people- were in the same elevator on the way up to orientation. She was so bubbly and full of smiles. It was exactly what I needed as I fumbled my way toward orientation. I can't tell you how nice it was to not have to follow the signs and figure out how to get there by myself. Yes, I know. Any of you that know me, knows this sounds so out of character. I can travel, and navigate, to any city in the nation and figure my way about, but for some reason, I felt so out of sorts and very insecure. It was just a relief. As it turns out, Lizzie is the Director of Fun Stuff (at least that's what I wrote in my notes, I didn't catch her full title, but it had something to do with extra curricular activities, that and she can hook us up with tutors and counselors if we need/want them.)

    The next person was David Chomsky, VP of Academic Affairs. As soon as I heard his name I thought of Noam Chomsky. No relation I'm sure, but at least I got a little internal chuckle out of it. Anyway, this guy is about as candid as you can get and within the first 10 minutes he'd set my mind at ease about the differences between this educational experience and any other educational experience I've ever had. Here are a few things he said:
    - I don't care about grades. As long as you maintain a C, I don't care. I couldn't tell you the difference between B and B+ work. As long as you are learning and asking the how and why questions I don't care if you burn everything you make. (What a relief!)

    - I don't expect you to be competitent (or maybe it was experienced???) enough to do anything upon graduation. This is a very accelerated program, as long as you get an understanding you will be able to learn all the skill with practice.

    - Do you know anyone here? No, good, keep it that way. This is not a competition. You are here to learn. Don't worry about your instructors, they are here to teach. And remember, it wasn't all that long ago that your instructors were students themselves. They too had to learn. (Very reassuring! Not that I ever thought that this sort of knowledge was passed from mother to child through the embryonic fluid, but still, you'd like to think that some people have more of a knack for these things than others.)

    - How many of you hope to be executive chefs some day? Own your own business? Well put it out of your head. It will not be too long before you WILL be an executive chef. And not long after that before you will pull together the financing and contacts to open your own business. It's just a matter of time. Being an executive chef is setting your sights too low. For those of you goal oriented people out there, you'll need to think bigger. Like, I'm going to be the next Mrs. Fields. (OK after this one, I felt a little puny. Can I even dream that big? I thought opening my own business was about as good as it got? I thought that WAS the biggest dream. Guess I'm going to need to keep thinking!)

    Anyway, I'm sure there was more. It was all very encouraging and impressive. He was candid and sincere, and the liberal use of Yiddish words was a nice little mental chuckle after all the seriousness.

    Lastly was our first chef instructor, Chef Amy Toder. First impressions, she's very enthusiastic, knows her stuff, good at explaining even the simplest things and loud. I only mention loud because there are two people in the class that have hearing aids and I'm pretty confident that they aren't going to have any difficulty hearing Chef Amy. She sent us down to get our uniforms (my jackets haven't come in yet, so I've got a loaner- yea). We all put our uniforms on (we weren't sure if the jackets should go left over right, or right over left) and went back to class. Chef Amy was so cute, she looks around the class and says "You all look like chefs!" Well, we all caught that this was a bit of a joke, we LOOK like chefs, but that's about all we've got going for us on the first day of class! :) She showed us how to properly put our hats on- hair up or tucked back into our collars. How to tie our neck kerchiefs- I totally suck at this. You basically tie a man's dress tie, but since I have next to no experience with that, we'll see how well I do tomorrow. She also showed up how to make a parchment pastry tube. Not all that exciting, but hey, you've got to start somewhere.

    Anyway, that is where class ended. I know this is a bit long winded, but that's part of the purpose.

    I realized after class tonight that I don't own anything to put under my chef jacket, so I went out to good old Old Navy and bought a load of white shirts and socks (5 men's, 5 women's, 3 camis, 6 white socks, 6 black socks). I felt like a mean grandma at Christmas! Anyway, I'm all set for school.

    Well, it's 9:40 and I need to get my stuff together for tomorrow and then off to bed. So much for doing dishes and laundry. I guess that will have to wait until the weekend. (Ick, I know. I'm on the border line of being a college frat boy. Great!)

    Talk to you all later!
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    Well, today is the day. First day of school. Thinking back on all those other moment's first days of school (kindergarten/first grade, junior high, high school, college) I don't remember being all that nervous. I've really been out of the loop for such a long time (it's been eight years since college) since I've been in school.

    Since I'm thinking back, let me digress for a moment. I remember, after college, thinking that I enjoyed the whole experience, but that, being a relatively creative person, the process had sucked every creative, self expressed idea right out of my head. Instead of the educational process leading me along the path to critical thinking, as my parents had while I was growing up, it had informed me that "This is the way to think!". I can't say that I totally rolled over and took everything they said as gospel, I was smart enough to fight back at least a bit, but it just wasn't that simple. You weren't given the opportunity to think that there were other options. In retrospect, I was worried about grades, and, honestly, I know that if I'd argued too much, and decided not to fit into the little cookie cutter mold, that I never would have gotten out of that place. I'd be stuck, year after year. ICK!

    Now, saying all that. As I start this new career, I can't help but be worried that I'll loose any sort of creativity that I've fought so hard to get back. (Think of an amoeba. If you but an amoeba into a cookie cutter, it will conform to the mold, BUT, as soon as you take the mold away, it oozes back into it's own freeborn state.) This industry requires a very creative bent and I'm hoping that a school that is built by and for chefs will work to preserve and even develop that creativity. I guess we'll see.

    Digression done.

    As for my new schedule: not bad. Of course it's easy for me to say that now. I slept all day yesterday, so waking up at 6 this morning wasn't really all that much of a trial, but I was able to get up and out of the house and in to work on time. So at least I know it CAN be done.

    I have to say I'm a little worried. I did the money transfer from my retirement to my checking account on Thursday. They said that it would take 1-2 days to get done. I just checked my bank account this morning and I'm still at a puny $200. I'm soooo looking forward to seeing a balance of $14000 in there!!! Not that I can do anything with it, but it'll be nice to see it there! I guess I'm going to be floating a check today. My first installment of $6500 is due today. EEEEEEKKKKKKK! Not exactly an amount you'd like to float. I guess I'll call Schwab and see what the delay might be!

    Well, off to work. I wrote one of my essays for my GGRA on Saturday, but since I slept all day yesterday, I guess I'd better get off my lazy butt and get the other one written.

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    Friday, March 19, 2004

    Today is my last day as a traditional office working stiff.

    I couldn't be happier if the world were coated in gold and studded with diamonds.

    Last night Shane (my VERY connected co-worker and friend) introduced me to Colleen Meharry and her friend Theresa. I've been waiting for this introduction for the longest time and I knew that meeting Colleen would be very good for me professionally, but I really only had a vague idea of what this meeting could mean for my future. Colleen is on the board of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, has worked in the restaurant industry for 30+ years and also owns/runs a restaurant consulting business. THESE ARE TWO OF THE WOMEN to know in this city... and they couldn't have been nicer or happier for me and my new adventure. (OK, I'm really getting a little tired of calling this an adventure: yes, I am starting a new life. yes, it is an adventure. yes, it is filled with uncertainty and new challenges. BUT what SHOULD I call it. I guess I'll have to think about it for a while, there's just GOT to be some better phrase!) That being said, there are times in your life when Thank You just seems totally inadequate, but on the other hand, no soliloquy could take the place of a simple thank you. So, Shane, Thank You! for introducing me to your aunt. Life is full of unexpected introductions, and I'm glad I met you.

    So, to make a long story - and a 3+ hour dinner - short, Colleen strongly encouraged me to turn my application for the GGRA Scholarship, so, since I usually have a total of 3 hours of work during an 8 hour work day, I'll be working on that puppy as soon as I finish here! (By the way, I mentioned my bake sale by mail and my Sponsor a Student plan and Colleen and Theresa just LOVED it! They thought that was so clever and resourceful! So, thanks to a little creative financing and great family and friends, I've got a great story to tell at my scholarship interview!)

    Well, I need to get to work. I'll write more soon.

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    Today is my last day as a traditional office working stiff.

    I couldn't be happier if the world were coated in gold and studded with diamonds.

    Last night Shane (my VERY connected co-worker and friend) introduced me to Colleen Meharry and her friend Theresa. I've been waiting for this introduction for the longest time and I knew that meeting Colleen would be very good for me professionally, but I really only had a vague idea of what this meeting could mean for my future. Colleen is on the board of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, has worked in the restaurant industry for 30+ years and also owns/runs a restaurant consulting business. THESE ARE TWO OF THE WOMEN to know in this city... and they couldn't have been nicer or happier for me and my new adventure. (OK, I'm really getting a little tired of calling this an adventure: yes, I am starting a new life. yes, it is an adventure. yes, it is filled with uncertainty and new challenges. BUT what SHOULD I call it. I guess I'll have to think about it for a while, there's just GOT to be some better phrase!) That being said, there are times in your life when Thank You just seems totally inadiquate, but on the other hand, no silloquy could take the place of a simple thank you. So, Shane, Thank You! for introducing me to your aunt. Life is full of unexpected introductions, and I'm glad I met you.

    So, to make a long story - and a 3+ hour dinner - short, Colleen strongly encouraged me to turn my application for the GGRA Scholarship, so, since I usually have a total of 3 hours of work during an 8 hour work day, I'll be working on that puppy as soon as I finish here! (By the way, I mentioned my bake sale by mail and my Sponsor a Student plan and Colleen and Theresa just LOVED it! They thought that was so clever and resourceful! So, thanks to a little creative financing and great family and friends, I've got a great story to tell at my scholarship interview!)

    Well, I need to get to work. I'll write more soon.

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    Thursday, March 18, 2004

    Photos of recent work can be viewed at:

  • Cakes

  • This link WILL take you away from this site.

    This will take you to the Yahoo! photo website. From there, feel free to navigate around and see everything. Every day I'll post a like to the corresponding day's photos, but you'll always be able to see everything.
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    Good Morning!

    Well today is my first posting. School starts in four days and I'm just an absolute bundle of nerves. Will I be able to do this? What, horror of horrors, if I try and totally SUCK? Is it possible to want something so bad that you can actually make it happen? (yea yea, I know all the fairy tales say this is possible, but I live in the real world and, frankly, life is much more difficult and MUCH more unpredictable!)

    All the uncertainty aside, I'm a little worried about my body and the effects of living like a crazy woman for the next eight months. My schedule is pretty regimented: work- 7 hours, school- 7 hours, sleep- 7 hours, commuting- 1.5 hours, activity transition 1.5 hours Monday-Friday. (My boss is currently looking for a replacement for me, so as soon as he finds a satisfactory replacement and I train that person, I'll be out of a job. YIKES!!! For my sake, I hope he NEVER finds a replacement, but, in all reality, if I can keep working here until the end of April I'll be happy!) My chiropractor gave me some tips on protecting my back, lets hope that I remember them, because with my schedule, there is NO WAY I'll have time to get in to see her while I'm in school.

    Anyway, all that being said, Phil mentioned starting a blog to document this adventure- yea, I know, it seems a little sado-masochistic to add, yet another, activity to my schedule, but I think it will help gel all the chaos into a cohesive experience once the program is complete. My goal is to post daily and detail the activities of the previous day. I'm going to try to avoid and $(*%&#$(*%& language, but frankly, we're all adults here (well, mostly) and if I feel like an expletive will help illustrate my point, then I'm going to use it. So, Mom and Dad, sorry in advance. I'm not sure if it's possible to attach or insert pictures in here, but I'll be taking pictures of my class and of all of my cake, dough, plated desserts, and chocolate/sugar creations as they are made, so if this site doesn't accommodate them, then I'll figure out another way.

    Well, enough for today. I know, nothing too deep or insightful, but hey, I haven't even started yet, so what were you expecting???

    I'd like to thank everyone who participated in my bake sale-by-mail and those who sponsored me for all their support. You helped me not just with your money, but with your words of encouragement belief that I can succeed.

    Thank you!
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