Friday, October 28, 2011

New Learning

There’s a new store in the neighborhood.  I saw it as I was pulling into a show.  I had to work.  Run to get batteries.  Run to get wind screens for the mics.  Take pictures.  Listen to the music and enjoy myself.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I saw the sign.  (Was it a sign from heaven?  I think it was!)  Right there, right next to where I was.  It was calling my name, but I had to ignore it for the moment. 
I have never heard of this place before, but all I needed was the name.  It sounded amazing.  It sounded like a place I had to had to had to go into.
So I went.  Monday night, my friend and I went.  Overwhelming is a word.  Exciting is another one.  Wow.  I wanted to spend my whole entire bank account…not that it would get me far…but still.  I wanted to go broke in that store.  Self-control, Ivy, self-control...breathe...don't buy everything.  One thing at a time.  
One thing we found, though, is that they do cooking classes.  Small, intimate cooking classes!  And I thought I couldn't get any more excited in a public place…
We signed up.  The next night was Winter Soups and Salads.  I think she was pretty excited, and I know I definitely was.  It was difficult to get through work on Tuesday.  I kept looking at the clock.  I have been trying to find soup recipes, researching and reading about soups, as I do about the things I want to learn about.  
Showing up the next night, I was equally nervous and excited.  I had no idea the level of the other participants.  Would I make a fool of myself?  Would my newness show?
Turns out, it was super fun.  Our instructor, Gena Berry was excellent.  She has been a chef and recipe tester for many years.  She made three soups and two salads.  I made a million notes, both written and mental.  I learned a new way to cut corn off the cob.
The Cook’s Warehouse offers classes all the time.  There is also an assistant program there, something I could sign up for to help, to work hands on with chefs.  This could be a good thing!  Learning is part of this cooking, and I will continue to learn.  I am excited to find a new way of learning.
I have to tell you, I never imagined myself in a cooking class.  Certainly not before I started cooking, and not even since.  I suppose I just thought they were beyond my level.  Too expensive.  Too intimidating.  Too much commitment - I do not want to go back to school!
And maybe there is a bit of ego involved.  I have been doing super all on my own.  Everything I have cooked thus far has been on sole determination.  And that feels good.  It feels real because I put my mind to it and got it right.  Or wrong.
But it is time to go farther.  And sometimes to go to the next level, you have to take instruction.  There is always more to learn, when the willingness to listen is present.       

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Birthday Food and Support

What an amazing birthday!  Fun filled with friends, family, and food!

The day before my birthday, I went to dinner with my parents, sister and brother-in-law at a great restaurant in town.  We talked and laughed a lot.

Thanks, Ky! :)
I won a waffle maker from the amazing Free Spirit Eater a week or so ago.  It arrived on my birthday!   I will be waffling a lot in the coming days!  Wednesday, I made blueberry waffles for my roommate and me.  They were delicious!  I cannot wait to get into this!  I found and am excited to try the recipes on there and more! 

On my birthday, my roommate took me out to dinner.  There is a little local restaurant in town that is so cute and fun.  I was so excited to go! 

In addition, I received my dream present from my parents.  A KitchenAid Stand Mixer!  I did tons of research (as I do) on the different models and types.  In my research, I happened upon the KitchenAid refurbished website.  What a find!  My mixer is as good as new, with a warranty, and I was able to ask for the one I wanted while not asking my parents to spend $500!

I heart my mixer!
Muffin mix.
The fact that they actually got this for me shows faith.  This journey has given me a lot of gifts, one being the ability to bond with my mom on a new level.  It is also a true love, something they see and feel in me every day.  As with most parents, they see their children go through phases and trials.  But when something is real, they do all they can to support and encourage.  I see the receiving of this gift as their support and encouragement.  And it means the world to me.

Friday night, I made my first recipe with the mixer.  I made pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  It was incredible!  I have been using a stick blender the whole time I’ve been cooking.  First of all, this is really hard on my neck and shoulder.  It also takes forever.  With this new mixer, it took under a minute!  And there is no pain.  Total bonus!  (and it’s so pretty!)

Today, I made cookies.  Same thing.  So fast.  No pain. 

I feel very fortunate to have the support of my friends and family.  Life is good.

My Brunswick Birthday, year 4

Before this cooking rampage began, I had only really cooked one thing for others.  Brunswick Stew. 

For four years now in October, the Saturday right around my birthday, a friend’s church has a huge BBQ/garage sale/day of hanging in the yard.  I spend the night at her house, we wake up around 5 in the morning, and head over.  Together, with two to five others, we make and can 50 gallons of brunswick stew.  It is one of the most fun days of the year for me.  As exhausting as it may be, it is super fun. 

The Wednesday before the stew making-extravaganza, we go to the church and cut up, separate, and divide up the chicken.  We measure out the broth, just prep in general. 

This year, I felt very comfortable.  I usually wait for direction, asking for direct instructions.  This year, I just kind of ran with it.  I cut the chicken like a pro.  I measured and separated like an old hand.  And when it came time to start at the same time the roosters were rising Saturday morning, I moved through the kitchen in a manner that was like I had been there my whole life. 

It is amazing how a little experience can change a person.  The confidence has seemed to become a standard feeling.  The plus side of this confidence is that I really was able to enjoy the people around me without stressing about doing something wrong.  I was able to focus on the cooking without it being a whole entire focus.  The conversation, joking, and love around me was what I took away more this year than any year before. 

I love my Brunswick Stew Babes.  They make the Saturday near my birthday fun! 

Four years of brunswick lovin'

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cookies and Encouragement. And an Announcement!

Saturday night, Kelly announced she wanted cookies. She then proceeded to get up and pull one of those just-add-water pouches out of the pantry. Shocked that we had such a thing in the house, I asked if I could just make her some cookies.

And how could she say no to that?

I got out a cookbook* to find a recipe for cookies. I have never made cookies before. Not from scratch. Not in this journey. I found a basic recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I then found a recipe for chocolate chip coconut cookies. JACKPOT!

I have become pretty confident in the kitchen. I feel like I can make anything I set my mind to making. However, somewhere in the middle of the process, ol' Mr. Skeptic always shows up to ask if I am sure these will be good. I usually just push him away. I usually cook when she is at work and I am by myself and have a chance to taste before anyone else. I am able to push his evil little sneer out of the kitchen because there is no one sitting there waiting for the oven timer to go off. No one, that is, except the dogs. And they don't get any.
Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies!

But with Kelly there wanting cookies, I felt the pressure. I felt like they had to be good. There was a package of just-add-water waiting in the wings, taunting me, telling me that the cookies it would produce are no-fail.

But I pushed forward. I opted out of believing the lie in my head. I made cookies from scratch. No box, no package. Just a cookbook and me.

Turns out, the cookies were a hit. Oh my god, they were good! I took some to dinner with my parents on Sunday, and to a friend Monday night.

The self-doubt I feel at times is from years of not knowing, and telling myself that I can't. I believe now that I can, and add the knowledge I gain every time I walk into the kitchen. This is my battle against myself. So far, I’m winning the war. It feels good to overcome.

I doubt myself in a lot of things. This adventure through the kitchen has shown me that I can, indeed, overcome many of my fears and belief systems. What's next? What to overcome?

I’m so glad you asked!

I’m going to write a book. In November, I am going to participate in National Novel Writing Month. The goal is 50,000 words in 30 days. I have a plot, a basic outline, and am ready! I have spent most of my life thinking about a book, knowing there is one or ten of them in me, but always too afraid to let them out. It's time to let them out. This challenge is my way of making a beginning. I am not sure if I will succeed in the full 50,000 words, but I do know that I will write until my fingers bleed.

I tell you about this challenge not only so you, my fellow writers, can hop over and see if you are interested in participating with me, but also in hopes of gaining some support. I know this task will be daunting and at times I will feel like I want to give up. I will continue to blog during this process, and hope for your encouragement along the way. I have been overwhelmed by your support of this blog and my cooking, and just know it will be there as I move into a new adventure.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading my words and giving yours back to me. Your support has pulled me through a few recipes, hoping to finish, knowing I can because you will read about it and be there for me. This goes for those of you I know in person as well as the virtual ones.

This blog and the followers has given me more support than I ever dreamed of. I just needed an outlet to write out what I was doing. What I have received is an outpouring of love and support, recipes, and stories that push me harder and farther than I ever imagined. And for that, I am forever grateful.

Check out the NaNoWriMo website. If you decide that you, too, have a book inside of you that is ready to pop out in November, let me know. I'll cheer you on!

*There is no recipe posted in this entry.  I am unsure of recipe copyright laws, so for the recipe, please pull out your copy of Cook's Illustrated The Best Recipe.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...