Sunday, July 19, 2009

Little Acts of Kindness

I pulled over, put on my flashers and grabbed my camera to catch a quick photo of this ducky family.  The little stinkers did not maintain their perfect little trail across the street and by the time I go to them they were already in the grass.  There is something about that little trail of ducklings following their momma that always catches my heart.  I got my photos, returned to my car and as I was putting on my seat belt to leave, when a kind woman stopped to ask if I was o.k.  My heart was touched twice on my way to work that morning!

I spent another lovely day yesterday cooking for dinner guests.  We started with a toasted goat cheese, pear and walnut salad.  The salad was followed by chicken with a lemon caper sauce, mashed celery & potatoes, and steamed broccoli.  For dessert I made Crème Brule with raspberries, and my guests brought what they called “ cherry cake” which is a glorified Clafouti, AND they brought real whipped cream.  Seriously, does life get any better than two desserts?  They don’t drink and rather than flowers or bottle of wine, they brought a more precious gift. vegetables from the garden!  I can’t wait to see what delectable delights I can create with them!


clafoutis |klaˈfoōtē|

noun ( pl. same)

a tart made of fruit, typically cherries, baked in a sweet batter.

ORIGIN French, from dialect clafir ‘to stuff.’

American Oxford Dictionary

Friday, July 17, 2009

I did it, I did it, I really really did it!

In Indianapolis, Indiana, we have a SANE program at each major hospital.  What is a SANE?  SANE is the acronym for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.  There are five adult & adolescent programs and one pediatric program in our city.  Once we had our programs open at each hospital it was readily apparent that we needed money, lots of money, if we were going to send our nurses off to be trained in order to keep enough nurses to staff our programs. The coordinators for the programs, very self servingly began educating their own, and occasionally others for profit, a couple of years after we all opened our doors.  We conduct SANE training courses each semester and have been educating people for over 10 years now.

This work can be very toxic and we all have issues with turn over, and then there are some people who take the class but conveniently do not complete their clinicals.   My, big picture friend Paula, dreamed up a “refresher course”, which we coordinated for the first time in 2008.  This refresher course would re-educate the folks who truly did want to do the work but for some valid reason did not get the clinical work done. We have a slush fund as a result of the few paying customers we have had in the traditional course and we provided breakfast and lunch last year for the refresher course with those funds.  This year we had one paying customer, and did not want to dig into our slush fund.  We decided that we would provide the food ourselves and I decided to extend my Croissant making skills into making enough for 20 people. 

Tuesday evening I was relaxing in my chair “Facebooking” and realized that if I was going to have croissants ready for Thursday I was going to have to get to work immediately. 11:00PM Tuesday night I found myself preparing the dough so it would be ready to pound out Wednesday morning.  But wait, I had a 0800 meeting Wednesday!  If I got up early it would be too soon, the dough would not be proofed and if I waited until I got home from work it would really be too late.  I am very blessed in that I am salaried and have some flexibility, so I left my meeting and raced home for lunch to beat the butter into thin slabs and roll out the dough.  I decided that I did not have enough dough for 20 people, so I made a second batch, which I could roll out later that evening. 

Today I got up at 5 AM and began the final step of   rolling, folding and rolling again.  My favorite step is the rolling ad shaping of the actual croissant into little crescent shaped pillows. The gentle tugging and rolling of the dough makes my heart sing, maybe because arriving at this step in the process means I am nearly done.  They bake for about 15-18 minutes. And the training I got at Cookin with Class from my instructor Pino, gave me not only the skills but also knowledge and confidence to make those lovely flaky, golden treats!

The Class loved them, and to be honest so did I!


(croissant |k(r)wäˈsänt; -ˈsä n |noun

a French crescent-shaped roll made of sweet flaky pastry, often eaten for breakfast.

ORIGIN late 19th cent.: French (see crescent ). The term had occasionally been recorded earlier as a variant of crescent.) ad

Oxford American Dictionary

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pay Back

My friend Susan is the person responsible to turning me on to French Macarons.  A trip or three ago she asked me to go to Laduree and pick up a box of Vanilla and Strawberry ones for her.  I had seen them in the local markets, noticed them in shops, but never been interested enough until I was on a mission for her.  The markets that carried them, had traditional vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, not very brightly colored and were just not that interesting, Laduree, however, was another matter!  With flavors of Pistachio, Cassis, Red Fruits, Lemon, and Raspberry, colored so that one could tell the flavor, they were a veritable jewel box of sweet little cookies.  I had a hard time selecting.  One taste and I was smitten, though Jodi finds them too sweet.  That makes me laugh, this woman who likes both pecan and sugar cream pie, pies that I think are over the top sweet, finds these little jewels too sweet!  In several repeat visits Susan has asked for more.  Sometimes I could oblige and others not, but I have to confess, that I managed a way to indulge myself each trip.  One of the most exciting classes for me in my recent trip to Paris was my macaron class!  In the time honored way of the nurses creed: “see one, do one teach one”, I was ready to teach Susan how to make macarons!  She came over and we baked together.  This is huge for me as I do not ordinarily share my kitchen very well.  But we baked together and had a good time.  The caramel filling, normally a challenge to me, this time, in spite of several aborted beginnings, we got right!  It was fabulous, buttery, just a hint of salt, and perfect between the café shells Pino at Cookin with Class taught me to make!  We made both Cherry and Café with Caramel Buerre Sal.   I think it a rather excellent way to pay back my introduction to Le Macaron!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ma Boulangerie Monday July 6, 2009

As I waited for experiment # 2 to bake this morning the smell was heavenly. I opened the house for it is supposed to be in the low 80s here today.  I could not resist, I had to have one little look to see how they were progressing. They looked lovely, beginning to become a golden brown, puffing right up, which #1 had not done!  These looked like they would be good.

I pull them out of the oven, they are beautiful, and since this is to by my 4th of July holiday (I spent Friday the 3rd in the hospital doing a case) I am going to savor them with some fanfare!  I pull out the cake server, a couple of paper doilies and place them lovingly on the plate I have prepared.  I hear my neighbor’s air conditioner begin to hum, the sound of another neighbors lawn mower and I breathe.  I promised myself I was going to take the time to breathe after my recent sabbatical, Sabbath from my life, as I know it. I was even provided a visual while I was gone, a reminder that I needed to take time to breathe every day.  I like to think I am somewhat balanced, but I felt like I was pirouetting through life rather than living it. So I took today off to take the same time everyone else had off, to breathe.  I breathe them in, they smell fabulous.

No point I not treating myself special so I set up a place setting with a glass of orange juice that I just squeezed on Saturday, Cafe Au Lait, a plate, I even put my jelly in a sweet little dish. And then I sat down and took my first bite.  I taste sweet yeasty bread “Oh, my God, they taste just right!”  I thought as I chewed. They are good.  To be honest I am thinking a little lower temperature for a couple more minutes, but darn these are good!  Yes, my trip to Paris to learn how to make Croissants was a success!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Day after a Rainy 4th of July

Quarter past ten and the testosterone is out in full force.  All around my house is the bang, pop, psst and shriek of fireworks that were not deployed last night, because of the rain.  I am amazed at the amount of money being literally burned in the current struggling economy.  I would think it only my neighborhood, but I hear them near and in the distance.  What is it I wonder with men and fire?  My father always seemed to like it too, burning the fencerow, the trash, and firecrackers long before they were legal.  I do like fireworks, but I like to go see them and then be done, I do not need to light the fuse to enjoy the show.  I shall have to ponder that…

What I do like is to cook.  And practice my post Cooking with Class (Parisian Escapade) skills I have this weekend.  I had some successes and some failures.  The Chicken in cream sauce was o.k. However Jodi refused to eat much of it, and declared it not a “do over”.  The Crème Brulee was as good as I remembered in Paris and my cute little fire gun worked wonderfully!  The croissants we had for breakfast were o.k. but I don’t think my dough ever really proofed.  Today, determined to get it right, I did it again and noticed that the milk had to be heated to 100F not 100C, bit of a difference there.  A couple of hours after I placed it in the fridge to proof today, Jodi called and asked how they were doing.  I opened the fridge door and gasped, saying “I gotta go” The dough had proofed a hole in the plastic wrap!  I just now with the bang, pop and hiss in the background placed the butter on the dough and folded, rolled, folded, rolled and placed it back in new plastic wrap to proof overnight! Another part of my Betty Crockering was to squeeze Oranges for juice and there is still some for morning with this new batch of dough!