I know, I know…. my blog, which had hardly began, has already been so neglected.  I’m a bad blog-mom, I suppose.  Since school started I have been busy, busy, busy!  I am being schooled two days a week, but am at school, non-stop, for 14 hours a day.  It sounds like a lot, but the days fly by.  I feel like I have just began a class, when it’s already time to clean up.  I could not be more excited to be enrolled in the culinary department, so I think that I will be a very successful student.  So much has already happened at school.  We are already working in full uniform–baggy pants, hat, the works–and are producing foods.  I am using my knives and learning basic knife skills in a technique class and am already baking baguettes in a baking class, and I have been soaking up every minute.  I have been treating these classes like a lifeline, as though I need to know this information to live.  I get up-close and personal in demonstration labs and enjoy smelling, feeling, tasting and touching all these foods and understanding them, and what’s better?  I love it.  The “school experience” has been realized uniquely, and I am getting the best education my money can buy. (ha!)

My fall 2009 coursework:  American Dining Room Service, Russian Dining Room Service, Sanitation and Safety, Professional Baking and Culinary Techniques.  Each of these classes are interesting in different ways, but do seem to blur together after a few weeks.  I developed a ‘theme’ restaurant from A to Z and received rave compliments on it and found a happy place in Professional Baking.  I even managed to inspire my mother-in-law to try some new things in her own kitchen.  Knowledge is finally my power.
Tomorrow, I plan to join our own culinary competition team, which is slated to compete against the likes of prestigious schools like Johnson and Wales, Culinary Institute of America and Le Cordon Bleu–that’s a big deal for our dinky community college.  Competition is exciting and gives me a chance to hone my skills on someone else’s food.  Moreover, I don’t have anything else to do with my time besides school, school, school.  I’m throwing myself into and want to get as much out of this experience as possible.  I’m one lucky girl for many reasons: supportive spouse, lovely home, engaging school life.  Ahh, this is the life.

On a much darker and sadder note, the largest oil spill of American history is taking places a few hundred miles off the coast of our bleach-white shores.  This is going to cost everyone and everything.  We will lose marine life, seafood and birds and our pristine beaches will be ruined.  The basic story:  BP, along with many other companies, have drilled in the gulf for as long as I can remember, but none have cause such catastrophic damage.  On April 20, a pipeline exploded due to a faulty emergency valve (which BP lobbied NOT to update/fix–and won!) and lost 11 men who had been on that particular oil rig.  At least 2 MILLION gallons of crude oil have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and still cannot be contained for another said “two weeks”.  Now, it’s been 14 days and we still don’t know why this rig just exploded out of nowhere and it comes at a pretty convenient time for elections… If you can read this, then you can do the math.  This tragedy has touched the hearts of thousands of people and I saw this yesterday.  We went to the beach yesterday for a reported “Pre-oil-spill beach clean-up” and hundreds showed up to help.  They were filling trash bag after trash bag, removing years of litter.  Locals have an attitude to take action and it’s beautiful to see folks fired up to help someone else beside themselves.  I will continue asking the universe for help and I sure hope it comes.

Today’s super easy recipe is my own special Meatloaf:
Tip: Feel free to adjust these ingredients to your own taste, but this has worked for me quite well.

Ingredients
Ground Beef (93%, 7%-95%, 5% works best.  The less fat, the better) about 1 1/4 lb.
2/3 C. Mirepoix(French term for 2 parts onion, 1 part celery, 1 part carrot)
1/2 C. Panko Bread crumbs (Easily accessible in most grocery markets, and delish!)
1 Egg, beaten before added
A generous squirt of ketchup (between 1/8-1/4 C., to taste)
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp. Dry (not ground) Savory
Salt and Pepper To your Taste (TT)

Procedure
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  It’s best to prepare a meatloaf with fresh (not frozen) meat.  I often use frozen meat, it’s not a travesty, but it’s still better to use fresh.  Anyway, Defrost or pull your meat.  Deposit into a large mixing bowl.  Add the Mirepoix, Panko Breadcrumbs, Egg, Worcestershire Sauce, Ketchup, Savory, Salt and Pepper.  Gently toss your meat amongst the ingredients, trying to not to squish the meat (doing so can change the texture of your finished product).  Make sure that all ingredients become homogenized in the mixture.  To form your loaf, I recommend making one huge ball then placing it in your baking dish and pressing down gently until you reach the size and shape you desire.  Remember, the thinner your meatloaf, the quicker it will cook.  Make sure the loaf is no more than 3 inches high.  Place in preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes.  Check the loaf at this point to determine how ‘done’ it is.  Ground Beef should be cooked to 155 degrees Fahrenheit.  Once you have determined your loaf is done, remove from oven and allow to rest about 10 minutes before cutting into it.

Happy Meatloafin’!

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