Monday, January 30, 2017

The Culinary Bonus

Ah, the joys of having a son in culinary arts. It's not just that he cooks for us—he was doing that before he went to high school—but that we're learning things from him. Most recent example: I have been using the bread maker to make dough for bread and buns for years. But William passed on a little wisdom from culinary arts that changed the way I do it.

He told me that, in his class, the bread, particularly the baguettes, only get one rise. I'd always let the dough rise in the bread maker until it told me it was done, and then again in the oven (ours has a "proof" setting, a controlled room temperature for this very purpose). The texture was fine, but now we pull the dough out of the bread maker 30 to 40 minutes before the timer goes off and just do the proofing in the oven.

The texture is softer, denser, and much more uniform when we do it this way. Bonus!

Not only that, but when I'm teaching William how to make something, like my quick clam chowder (canned clams), I don't have to lead him through it. It's just "Dice the potatoes, boil them from cold, then make a roux, add a couple of cups of water, season it once you've got it smooth, add the clams with the juice, add half-and-half, and put the potatoes back in." He does it, and it's wonderful, maybe better than my own. Happy sigh!

Of course, the real advantage to William taking culinary arts is that he absolutely loves it. Even with all the cleaning and prep that he has to do, he looks forward every day to his class. Even today, when he didn't really need to be at school (it was finals make-up day and he didn't have anything to make up), he wanted to make sure he was in his first block to help prep for the restaurant that the program runs.

Any class that makes a sophomore in high school want to be in school more than out is perfect in my book!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sad Days

I haven't been doing a very good job of keeping up on the pictures this week. A dear friend of ours, someone Karen has worked with and been very close to for nearly ten years, died suddenly of a heart attack, and we have been busy with hospital visits and, ultimately, communicating with his relatives, particularly his sister, about arrangements.

It was very shocking. We were going to be at Michael's house for a dinner party the day his heart attack came. He had been very excited about showing off the things he'd done with his house, including a new kitchen which Karen had designed for him. He had even set the table with his guest china the night before. Michael was only 57 years old.

Usually I try to report the pleasant things that are happening in our lives on this blog, and there are plenty of those. There's a new job for me, the weather's been pretty kind to us (although I hear we're going to get slammed with ice tomorrow night), and we certainly have been eating well with everyone in the house cooking.

Still, I thought is was important to tell the story so that you'd know that our neglect of the site (among other things) was not due to ill health or any household calamity. We've just had a lot on our plates, and our minds. The funeral will be on Wednesday, and life will continue, though poor Karen will have to face Michael's absence each day at work.

It also, as deaths at a young age often do, has given us pause and made us think a bit more about what we're spending our time on, and thinking about what we might do to make better use of time.

Speaking of time, our schedules are about to get a little crazy, as once I'm out of my training period, my shifts will be nearly as unpredictable as Karen's. That should make things, well, interesting. It also means there will have to be another car in our driveway very soon. Oh joy.

But the new job will add some flexibility to our finances, and that can only be a good thing.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

It's Like a Heat Wave

Right now, the temperature outside is 45 degrees. We have come far enough in the winter to refer to this as mid-January, and it's 45 degrees. It's been raining. That's right, raining. I went off to the store in shirtsleeves. No coat. Really.

The storm I wrote about was as big as we were led to believe it would be, but not as bad, because (and this seems so strange to me now), the temperature stayed well below freezing and the foot-and-a-half of snow that fell was light, dry, and easy to shovel. It didn't weigh down the trees or the power lines, and all the preparations we made for a power outage turned out to be unnecessary. But I'm ready for the next one, which is bound to come.

I think. It's definitely been a weird winter so far, even just a few weeks in.

Not that I'm really complaining, at least for my own sake, though i do worry that some of my neighbors with shallow wells may not fare so well in the coming summer if we don't get a better snow pack.

Meanwhile, life goes on pretty much as usual. School, work, the perpetual construction on the house—I'm even learning to install a sink for the basement kitchen—and whatever extracurricular activities we can squeeze in.

And, occasionally, sleep, which is what I'm going to try to get some of right now.