Culinary School: Done!

IMG_5965 I’m done with culinary school. I’ve taken my last final, deep cleaned the baking and pastry kitchen, gathered all the signatures necessary for my graduation, and worn my school-issued chef pants, jacket, hat and apron for the last time. IMG_2343 IMG_3908 My actual graduation ceremony isn’t until June, but I’ve completed all of my classes so I’m considering my culinary school journey finished, even if I don’t have the expensive piece of paper yet. photo 3 I’ve taken a long, winding road to get to where I am today. Nothing has been easy and half the time I haven’t even known what I’ve wanted to do. I’m still figuring things out, but I have a much clearer picture than I ever have before. photo 4 I was a week away from my 23rd birthday when I started culinary school. My friends and family had always suggested culinary, even when I was studying exercise and sports science. I’d always argued that I’m “not cut-throat enough for culinary school” and kind of brushed it off. photo 3   photo 4 I’ve been baking ever since I can remember. I have vivid memories of a friend and I making cookies in the kitchen, eating most of the dough with a spoon before it even made it to the oven. When my friends and I started our Friday Night Dinners 4 1/2 years ago, I was making dessert 99% of the time. IMG_5503 When I started culinary school a year and a half ago, I didn’t know what to expect. I was thrown into two accelerated classes, getting through a nutrition class and an intro to culinary lecture class in 5 short weeks. There were 15 people in my cohort when I started and I’m the only one from that group finishing the program I enrolled in. IMG_4933 Over the last year and a half I’ve learned a lot, improved both my cooking and baking skills significantly, met some great people, and got to work with and learn from some great Portland chefs (including a James Beard award winner). I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone, redefined a new comfort zone, made boxes out of chocolate and baskets out of bread. Tackled cuisines of the world, costed out recipes, and made plans for a restaurant that was so much work, I’m rethinking every thought I’ve had to open my own place. IMG_3944   IMG_4503 I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents. They were the ones who pushed me to get information and tour the school to see if it was something I was interested in. I’m the luckiest girl in the world to call them my parents. Thanks to Taylor for coming with me on the tour, watching my face light up as I heard all about it and your cheerleading. Thanks to Dustin for giving the best tour possible, answering all of our questions and helping me through the application process. To Mary, Annie and the rest of our crew scattered around the West (best) coast, thanks for your support, sweet words, and encouragement. To anyone I’ve ever made eat one of my random creations — THANK YOU! IMG_5935 I’m so happy to have been able to share this journey with you and I can’t wait to see what happens next. I’ll be posting new recipes more regularly and I’m so excited for everything coming up 🙂 IMG_5754

Baking Bootcamp: Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Bread

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If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that over the past few months I’ve been participating in Joy the Baker’s baking bootcamp partnership with King Arthur Flour. This bread is the fourth and final challenge and oh man, is it a good one!

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For the last 7 weeks, I’ve been taking a breads class at culinary school so making this bread just made total sense. I got to put everything I’ve learned in class to good use and my inner food science nerd is totally excited by fermenting and proofing dough, making me one happy girl 🙂

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This bread couldn’t be easier to make. Oats, honey and whole wheat flour. Could it get any better? I don’t think so.

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School has been stressing me out a little lately (my capstone is kicking my butt, but that’s a story for another post) so having to knead this dough for 10 minutes was the absolute perfect stress-reliever.

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The bread is so, so delicious. You can pair it with butter, jam, basically anything your heart desires. This bread can do no wrong.

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Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Bread:
via Joy the Baker

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (16 oz.) boiling water
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 cup (4 tbsp.) butter
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. active-dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, oats, brown sugar, honey, butter, salt, and cinnamon. Let cool to lukewarm, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add the yeast and flours, stirring to form a rough dough. Knead (1o minutes by hand, 5-7 minutes by mixer) until the dough is smooth and satiny.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour.
  4. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a loaf. Place the loaves in two greased bread pans.
  5. Cover the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow loaves to rise about 60-90 minutes.
  6. Bake the loaves in a preheated 350°F oven for 35-40 minutes, tenting them lightly with aluminum foil after 25 minutes to prevent over-browning.
  7. Turn the loaves out onto a rack to cool. Store at room temperature, well-wrapped, for several days.

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Culinary School: Final Quarter

I’m procrastinating.

I shouldn’t be, but I am. And I’m very good at it.

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This is my last quarter of culinary school and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the quarter that kicks my butt. I’m only taking two classes, which is totally manageable, but one of the classes is my capstone which is a lot of work. We have 10 weeks to come up with a pretty comprehensive business plan for a restaurant we want to own.

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This includes a concept, location, mission statement, business philosophy, menu, recipes, costed recipes, a floor plan, food & beverage purchasing options, hiring processes, job postings and more things than I can even think of off the top of my head.

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On top of that we have a book that goes along with our class and we’re supposed to answer the chapter review questions. I don’t think I’ve answered chapter review questions for a class since high school and I’m not really sure how answering these is going to help me but I’m just going with it.

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At least I have my breads class. There are 16 people in my class which is way too many when we’re making 4-6 breads a day. The good news is my group is pretty much the best group in the class. We get there at 6:30, start the bread-making process (which can take a long time), and walk out the door with bags full of bread at 12:00. {Sidenote: we make a lot of bread…if you’re in the Portland area and ever want some, let me know!}

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Everyday we make what we call a Parisian Daily Bread (because we make it everyday, get it?) 🙂 We also have three or four other breads we make that change each day. I like making bread at home, but because I don’t have all the fancy equipment like a proof box, I don’t do it very often. It’s nice having all the the tools we need at school to make really good bread.

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My dog is obsessed with bread and when I come through the door when I get home she is far more excited to sniff out the bag of bread than greet me. It’s a little heartbreaking. I then have to lock the bread up in a room so she doesn’t eat it all.

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I had plans to share a recipe with you all this week, but the person I made it for has decided he doesn’t want me to share my recipe with anyone so I won’t. But keep your eyes peeled for something fantastic this time next week!

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