Day Five in Decatur

It’s hard to believe my time here is coming to a close. It’s been busy, exhausting, and, most of all, exciting. I feel so lucky to have had so many stars align that led to my being here, and not just taking this course but taking it now, with this instructor, in this city, with these classmates.

I had the nerdiest happy moment of all time this morning. I had nabbed my morning coffee and was walking down the hill to class. I first was laughing (maybe even out loud) that school was delayed two hours here today because of snow. Check out the blizzard that hit us today:

Anyway, I was walking down the hill, happy to be warm, have delicious Starbucks in my hand, and listening to my iPod. A Blonde Redhead song came on, which somehow seemed to be the perfect song at that moment, then one of D’s songs from Lazrus came on. I felt like some kind of iPod commercial, walking down the street bundled up, clearly headphones under my hat and smiling from ear to ear. I guess I just had this weird ah-ha moment when I realized I am designing my life, doing exactly what I want to be doing and I feel very lucky — and not for the first time and not just because of this whole personal cheffing thing.

Today was a speed course through a book I fortunately read ahead of time. Local personal chef Rosemary led us through 100 pages of culinary theory in about three hours — no small feat. Not to mention 75% of the time seemed to be on cuts of meat and every morsel of information that goes with it all (Do YOU know how acids affect gelatinization? I do.)

We then all went back to Cook’s Warehouse where we ate lunch that was prepared last week by our instructor, frozen, thawed and then heated (just like we will do for most of our clients). The meat eaters chose from one of two variations of gumbo and I enjoyed some brown rice (actually meant for the gumbo-eaters) and a big ol’ helping of kale-chickpea-casserole. I didn’t expect the care and consideration that went into the non-restaurant meals I have eaten this week despite my e-mail exchanges with Cathy ahead of time and I’ve been really happy to have something to eat!

After lunch, Rosemary, our guest instructor, taught the class how to make pot roast in the pressure cooker. I’m not the most familiar with pressure cookers (or pot roast) but hearing dry beans can be prepared in minutes vs. soaking them overnight, rice can be made in only a fraction of the 45 minutes it usually takes and it can make many meat dishes I may have to cook that much easier has it on the top of my kitchen wish list.

The gang then split in half for the afternoon. I stayed behind with three other classmates too cook three recipes and package them under Rosemary’s guidance while the other five students went back to class to learn packaging and freezing with Cathy. Tomorrow morning we’ll change places. M and I teamed up and got to work. We had to make some adjustments and took a little longer in order to accommodate little ol’ me!

We all made pasta primavera, then M and I prepped everything, but cooked separately the other two dishes. I replaced the meat with portabella mushrooms in the ginger glazed pork stir-fry and replaced chicken with tofu in my half of our cacciatore dish. I even brought my tofu press from home and everyone got to see how awesome it is.

It was really strange to be cooking in a totally foreign kitchen, but I better get used to it! I guess the good thing will be that I will be bringing my own pots, pans, utensils, etc. into the kitchens I’m cooking in, so I should know where everything is! Hopefully…

I think the veg dishes turned out great and you could only barely tell which one was meat and which was one was tofu in the cacciatore dish — I should have shaped the tofu or something! I was glad I was able to show people what a tofu press is — it is just so much easier and fast than balancing tofu between soup cans or the other ways we’ve all tried to drain it.

By the time we were done cleaning up, I’m pretty sure the activity of the last four days hit us all. After a bit of a vino break with M, I ended up heading out to dinner with T and her son, who had taken a bus four hours (one way) to see his mom for a mere 36 hours — what a good son!

We went to nearby Leon’s, which I’ve been wanting to check out all week because of the fries (‘pub frites’) I heard about, involving about a dozen dips to choose from. We went with massaman curry sauce, goat cheese fondue sauce and smoked tomato ketchup dipping sauce. All were delicious and I all but abandoned my ever-so-healthy arugala salad and warm chickpea salad to devour as many fries as possible.

Tell me if I’m crazy, but Casey totally looks like Henry Thomas from E.T. (and other fame) right?


Henry Thomas:

He totally looks like him right? He said that he’s been hearing lately that he looks like Charlie from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but I think (personally) that my Henry Thomas is more right on.

Crazy that tomorrow is it! We’ll do our class in the morning, then wrap up in the afternoon and head out to the airport. Fingers crossed I have a MUCH more boring flight than I had on Sunday and I get to Orlando to meet up with D and the bear at a decent hour. At least it’s supposed to be — gasp — 60 there!

2 responses to “Day Five in Decatur

  1. I love your nerdiest happy moment of all time this morning!

  2. Kirsten, it sounds like you have had an absolutely awesome week and I’m so happy for you! I’ve loved reading all about it and I hope you will continue to write about your personal chef experiences and recipes. Can’t wait to see you!!!! Safe travels and we’ll be seeing you in a few hours! XOXOXO

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