Archive for January, 2010

Another School Lunch Tray #3

January 14, 2010

Lasagna was on the menu today at school. We actually use that old lasagna recipe that is in the old USDA cook book. We just use the best ingredients we can get. We use real ricotta and mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Ken cooks down the lasagna sauce with tomato paste and lots of herbs, then puts it all together. It is really good. We get frozen haricot verte and flash cook them just before serving so they are bright green tender and flavorful. Our rolls….I used to make them before my hands gave out. These are whole grain light and nutty. Students had a choice of bananas, on the menu, and a bowl of satsumas or apples.

So, does anyone out there have concerns about the big milk producers putting high fructose corn syrup in the chocolate milk these days? I’d rather it had some real fat in it and a little real sugar than HFCS. You can read about this stuff. Look it up.

Here is the salad bar…..after about 150 students plowed through…..lasagna is popular, usually not so much left.


Bringing in the New Year

January 13, 2010

This post is part wrap up of the culinary class at our school brunch just before Christmas, thoughts about the new year and Twelfth Night, and special gifts and great ideas.

the last day of school before the holiday break brings our Christmas Brunch, all students come, the meal and festivities are free. We usually serve ham, cinnamon rolls, a huge array of fresh fruits, hot cocoa, milk, and juices. We usually give out mini candy canes to the elementary, and there is a bunch of card giving from the older grades. Our superintendent usually gives out presents to all staff. In the past we have received fuzzy vests or jackets with the school logo. This year we received stadium blankets for those cold football and soccer games. My students usually spend the morning with the kitchen staff cutting up fruit, icing cinnamon rolls and serving on the line. they seem to really enjoy this kind of holiday “work”. Have you noticed that teenagers tend to not want to be placed in a setting where they have to “serve” their peers? This time of year that changes in a big way for most of my class. but they wouldn’t do this every day.

One of my students in Creative Foods gave me some paperwhite bulbs for Christmas. It is really special to receive gifts from teenagers. That doesn’t happen for me very often. I am too tough! Here are the paperwhites! Thank you so much B.G.

One of our last projects for completing the first semester of Culinary Arts is the demonstration benchmark. Each student picks a recipe, works up a shopping list, and then demonstrates the item in front of peers, talking as they work, giving out the recipe, which the students must write down as though they are going to make the item from what they write down. The students add interesting bits of history or culture or family lore that are pertinent to the recipe. They can make almost anything they want: time and cost are the main factors, and the recipe needs a certain level of complication.

Here is one students yummy ricotta cheese, garlic, parsley and basil dip plus his homemade sweet potato and russet potato chips. He did an excellent job using a mandoline and keeping the oil at the correct temperature.

As Twelfth Night approached I did some writing for friends. I like to think of Twelfth Night, the night the Magi came to find baby Jesus, as a time to reflect on how at any given moment we can decide that the world can change for us, or that the world is changing and that we can be part of a new way of being and living. So I channel these prompts or favors, or fortunes, perhaps they are even instructions……I never know. These are printed on colored paper and wrapped with a bit of ribbon. Each friend can pick one. I believe we pick the right one always. Here are a few of the “instructions”….

Expect clarity 2010

Expect greater understanding of yourself and others this year. Relationships will flourish if you simply spend more time with those you treasure. Your color is sky blue. Hike to a mountain lake and jump in to restore your vision. Take a nap under an azure quilt with faith and make a life long friend. when doubt complains be kind.

If confusion follows you around for long buy a sketchbook and draw your feet every day until they walk off the page.

How to live with faith in 2010

Remember that faith is different than dogma and needs no rules or laws to have effect. Faith is best friends with understanding and vision who are waiting to meet you. Your color is pure silver because silver shimmers in the presence of faith. Wear silver rings. Light candles in silver candlesticks. Take believing in what you see and know to a deeper level. Please do not confuse faith with naivety.

You are The serpent in 2010

You are constantly changing to meet the needs of situations and people. This year your work and play involves constancy with your ideals, love and family. You will find that what please you pleases all. Your color is the deep green of moss. Your sound is the wind rushing through the tall douglas fir. Climb the tree and build your dreaming house there. Wisdom will meet you there.

Oh, lucky one! Courage is coming to meet you in 2010. Perhaps you should take that first aid class. You have already prepared yourself by learning how to pray and committing to staying in one place, growing roots. You will become very comfortable with a certain helpful solitude. Please do not confuse this with loneliness for you are far from that malady. You will be attracted to red spray paint and big felt tip pens. Be sure to wear red socks…….and lipstick!

Ride with joy in 2010

This is the year for you to gather all the gratitude you have been feeling and cash it in for the pay off called joy. Joy shows up when your heart is brimming over. This makes you cousin to songbirds and second graders. This is the year for dancing lessons and yellow pillows, scarves and cars. You are younger than you think. Joy is contagious so share it, especially with those who haven’t caught on about gratitude.

so which one would you pick?

The Christmas Lights

January 4, 2010

Something I have learned about myself over the years is my need to be surrounded by color. Our home is filled with intense colors: A deep natural green in the kitchen to off set our pale beech cabinets, the pumpkin painted hallway where the evening sun splashes through, the deep pinkish blue in the living room with white trim to remind me of the Mediterranean coast, our celery shade of paint in the bedroom that is cool and goes with all the paintings and photos. Our front door is painted Tulsa Twilight, a purple color, with red trim, see below.

Which brings me to the lights on our porch and trailing along the espalier apple trees in front. My crappy photo taking doesn’t do justice to the warm happy feeling I get every time I leave or come home. If I had the time I would probably be one of those folks with the 200,00 lights draped everywhere.

well, obviously I don’t know what I am doing with a camera. Trust me, you’d want to stop by my house too if you saw how cheerful a place it is…..

Holiday Favorite Things

January 4, 2010

what a gift…..2 weeks of holiday time. I found myself keeping the festivities simple. Bruce and I had a special Christmas day with my sister on the river. we walked the woods, and Monk, our dog, had the best time running the beach and splashing in the water. We had a potluck dinner with the crowning dessert a date/walnut pudding that our mom used to make every Christmas. Then, we raced to the ferry to make it to The Berni family Christmas, more dessert, homemade berry pie, pecan tarts, and an apricot almond tart. We stayed overnight and went to breakfast, then a nice drive home with Grandma and our nephew Sam.

My friend Eddie and i had practiced making these apricot tarts with a thin layer of almond filling underneath. We used a German type of puff pastry, really easy. It takes some time for the dough to rest. We tried California and Mediterranean dried apricots, and canned, as no fresh were available. To soften the dried ones we slowly poached them with some water and sugar. I let one batch go too long and almost candied them. They were intensely sweet and not what we wanted, which was a certain amount of sweet and tart combined. This is one of the tarts with apricots canned with pear juice.

We spent many evenings at home, just being together and talking about the past year and changes we might make in 2010. this last year was so difficult, and frightening with my mom passing away. when a parent passes there is a kind of shock even when it might be expected. When I look back now I don’t know how I endured and stayed present with her at that time. I was so fortunate to have my sister and husband with me.

These are Monk and Jojo. Jojo is teaching Monk about sharing the couch, perhaps becoming a bit more friendly.

On New Years Eve we went to a wedding reception for good friends. Our gift was a tiramisu that could serve about 50-60. I’ve made this before in 4 tiers. It is tricky to put together because there is no cake inside, just the mascarpone filling so the doweling that separates layers needs to be large to sit on the bottom. The cake cannot be left out of refrigeration for too long because it will soften. As you can see I am a bit out of practice with the buttercream pearls, but the fondant roses and hearts turned out sweet.

As usual I will be the last to take down the lights outside. I take some down after twelfth night, and then leave something until February……I love the colored lights in the dark, the cheerful feeling I have coming home. We all need to do the little pleasurable things…..even if it isn’t “done”. Life is so short my friends. Take good care of yourselves and family. This is what we have. This is what we are here for.