Friday, March 16, 2012

Half-way there

I've hit the halfway point of my schooling.   I've learned so much.

How to handle and store foods correctly.
The basic cooking methods and how they can be applied.
How to make the five mother sauces (bechamel, veloute, tomato, brown and hollandaise).
How to make pasta from scratch.
The importance of parboiling.
How a mise en place (meez en plass, meaning 'everything in place') can make or break you.
A good stock is essential for many things.
A sharp knife is much safer than a dull one.
It is possible to use up every pot in the place making one recipe.
How to fabricate a chicken.
How to clean and fillet a fish, both round and flat.
Sweetbreads don't taste like much of anything but the sauce you serve them with.
Cleaning sweetbreads leaves your hands soft.
That I can do a huge amount of cooking in 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Keeping it simple is the best bet, always.
Have onions, celery, carrots and garlic on-hand at all times.
Everything benefits from the addition of salt.
Use butter.
Precise knife cuts require practice.
Relax and enjoy the process.

I'm still finding french fries, of all things, a challenge.  I'm terrified of burning them.

It's now the time where I'm starting to wonder what I'll do with this basic set of knowledge.  The next frightening step for me.  I've never worked on a line and I don't know that my knife skills are up to par for high end prep.  When I'm close to the end of my classes, I'll start looking at what jobs are coming available and what I might be qualified for.  I'm still doing the "Oh my god I'm forty years old!  What am I thinking?" but for the most part, I'm optimistic.

Well, realistically optimistic.  I know that I'm going in with zero experience and I'll need to build up my resume all over again.  I know that it will be very beneficial to me to work at well-known restaurants for free to make contacts and gain experience.

Meanwhile, I'm doing my homework,  putting in my best effort in class and practicing at home.  We're in the middle of how to cook fish right now, so the family has had fish sticks and fish fillet.  Shrimp risotto will be coming up.  And a  whole fish will be coming home one day this week for me to take apart.

Pass the salt.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you're doing a lot of baking with powdered sugar, the particles can get trapped in your pores and cause breakouts.  Be sure to really wash your face when you're done.