Thursday, July 29, 2010

Get Money Quickly and Easily - TIP #1

If you're looking for a way to make money super-duper fast without a lot of work...I haven't figured out how yet. But putting Craigslist to use this week I managed to pull together enough money for groceries and gas.

Last Sunday I had a yardsale that was pretty disappointing. After an hour of set-up and 4 hours in the cold, I ended up with no sales. However, after seeing my ad on Craigslist, 1 person came by while I was cleaning up and asked about my karaoke CD's. I made $10.

I decided to take a picture of the main things I had for sale that someone else might consider valuable and put ads on Craigslist. Within a few hours I had a buyer for my old laptop, a keyboard set and my rollerskates - almost $200.

Looking through my junk in storage I have found that things I haven't used in many, many months and years are commmon things that other people would be able to treasure right now. As hard as it is to have to give up my white roller skates with the shiny red wheels, I have to be honest with myself...I haven't been rollerskating for years.

It just goes to show that one person's junk can be another person's treasure...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Need Money...Don't We All?

The online search teaches me that there are millions and billions of supposed ways to get free grants to support education, or work online from home and make a 6-figure income, and so on. Is it all a scam?

Television teaches us that there are hundreds of people weekly who get free houses and free money by playing games. How is there any poverty at all? Is there some big pile of money in the sky that just requires a treasure map to dig into it?

I'm not looking for an easy way out. But I am looking for the manual on modern-day life that will help me build the solutions to supporting my family and helping them live a happy life. How do I start the business I want to start? How do I gain credit with no credit? Do I even want credit?

I am starting on a journey down a road to find the answers. These are not basic or simple spiritual answers to man and life. They are mechanical, how-to's. I want to put it in layman's terms. I want a support group. I want to know who else in the world has had these problems and what have they done to solve it.

Maybe I'll just end up sitting down and writing a novel about witches and wizards, or perhaps vampires, that gets made into a movie where the merchandising alone makes me richer than the Queen of England. It can happen....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Last Saturday morning I participated in my first cooking competition ever and it was a total blast! As earlier posted, I had three recipes that I wrote and submitted that made me a finalist in the competition. My recipes included Bacon-wrapped Liver Skewers, Fava Bean Spread on Croustini and Poached Pears.

There were three different judges: The Executive Chef of my school, a Chef Instructor of my school and a school alumni. The two chefs who work at my school both have over 25 years of experience in this field and are key opinion leaders for me.

We had an hour and a half to prepare everything and get it plated and ready to eat. If you have never cooked under the clock, let me tell you, it is scary. I felt like I was on iron chef. 20 different chefs in the kitchen all running around trying to cook their food at the same time. What a rush!

Upon arriving that morning at the competition, I walked into the kitchen and the first thing I asked was, "Where's the broiler?" I was immediately told, "There is no broiler in this kitchen, you'll have to use the grill or carry your food into another kitchen to broil it." AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Next, I checked out the ingredients they had available for us. They were supposed to have all the ingredients needed for each of our recipes. The first thing I noted, they had DRY fava beans. If anyone has any experience cooking with beans, you might understand why I freaked out. Dry beans are meant to be soaked in water overnight before they are cooked for several hours so that they become soft enough to eat. How I was supposed to manage that in an hour and 30 minutes, I do not know. Luckily, I had checked things out the day before and I happened to know that there were fresh beans in the refrigerator in another class room. So I had someone go get them.

Next freak pears. How do you make poached pears without pears? Someone made a run down to the store to get them and they arrived with 30 minutes left on the clock. BUT THEY WERE THE WRONG PEARS!!! So I made a gourmet poached pear dish with hard, green pears and you know what? ...they turned out great.

Making the fava bean spread was a riot, using an industry-grade food processor. We become so used to our cute little blender or Cuisine Art-type models. This thing was huge and had a weird lid that was hard to click on. But I managed and it turned out really nice.

The result....

We laid all of our dishes out across two long tables in another room and were told to clean up the kitchen while we were being judged. I washed about 400 dishes and was exhausted and sore and anxious to find out the results.

We were finally called in to hear what the judges had to say and they gave us some good advice about competition dishes and so on. It was specifically noted that they had to raise the bar on the judging due to the magnificence of the dishes created.

There were some amazing things there, too. Someone had made sushi with Spam in it that actually tasted good until someone told me it was Spam in it. There was fried chicken, curry shrimp with pilaf rice, poor boy sandwiches...and we got to taste them all. They were all-in-all very, very good and I had no idea how the judges had come to a decision.

Finally, an administrator came in bearing our certificates and started calling off names of those recognized for participation. I waited and waited to hear my name called and became more and more excited as it wasn't called, realizing they were going to save 3rd, 2nd and 1st place for last. The names were called and finally the last certificate of recognition was held up. The administrator said, "and finally....Jaime Tanno." Awwwwww.... oh, well. I think it was called in order from lowest score to highest, so I'm pretty sure that I ended up being 4th place.

The winners dish was a cute little sandwich and the most amazing dessert of some sort of caramelized egg custard. Nothing spectacular but his display was amazing. He had set up an entire picnic setting, including a little iPod and speak that played the sounds of birds chirping. I guess that won over the judges.

Second place was really, really good fried chicken and an interesting watermelon and feta salad that I didn't really enjoy much.

Third place was good but I'm not sure why. It was a pretty normal sort of chicken and pita with couscous.

Anyway....those are the results. Please join me next time for the pizza competition in the Fall!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Foundations 1 Class

This is a backlogged report on the first cooking class I experienced at the CCA. It included 6 weeks of learning what I suppose are the basics. It's amazing how much you can cram in over a 6-week period.

I learned the following:
Basic Knife Cuts (You would not believe how many different shapes and sizes you can cut something into.)

How to make stock ( a chicken or vegetable broth but old-school with real ingredients and no boillon cubes.)

The 5 mother sauces and how to make them - hollandaise, bechamell, veloute, espangole and tomato sauce

How to make mayonnaise

Basic soups and how to make them - clear, vegetable, cream, specialty, etc.

The 6 different cooking techniques, also known as Les Cuisons - Frying, Grilling, Roasting, Sauteing, Poaching, Braising

We got to make and eat all of the above, which is an interesting experience in school. I remember in 2nd grade we made applesauce and got to eat applesauce all through class. This was a similar experience except we were eating things like poached salmon with hollandaise and fried chicken strips with french fries. I have to admit, I think I gained about 10 pounds during this set of classes. But boy was it yummy.

It's interesting coming out of this class and knowing that now I can pretty much prepare any kind of sauce and cook any kind of meat. I can't imagine learning much more, really. But I have almost a year and a half to I guess we'll see. :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Picnic Contest Finalist!!!!!!

Unfortunately, life gets a little hectic when you're in school. No time to blog....

I just wanted to stop in and say that my recipes got picked for a school contest. Take a looks:

Hannibal's Picnic Feast
by Jaime Tanno, CCA Culinary Student

Foie au Bacon Posé sur Onions Grillés
Chicken liver morsels wrapped in bacon, skewered and broiled until crisp, laid over grilled onions.

Feves à Tartiner en Croûte
A savory fava bean and garlic spread on a French bread croustini, topped with fresh parsley.

Poires Pochées au Sucre Brun
Bosc pears poached in brown syrup with nutmeg and cardamom, sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

A Nice Chianti
Chianti is a refreshing, red wine that is not too sweet and pairs perfectly with this meal.

The Concept

Summer is the time for blockbuster movie hits! This picnic feast is based on one of my favorite movies of all time as well as a combination of some of my favorite food items. The recipes are light and healthy, and leave you feeling refreshed…perfect for an afternoon at the park, the beach or by the lake. It is a well-rounded meal with protein, vegetables, fruits, carbs and sweets.

I have tested the recipes and found that the entire food portion can be purchased for $18.57 and will easily feed 4 people. The beverage pairing not only goes with the general theme, but it is an extremely delicious pairing and rounds off the meal nicely. I found a beautiful bottle of Chianti for only $4.99 at Trader Joe's, so it is also economical and brings the entire picnic to a total of $23.56.

This recipe can be adapted for availability during any season.

The Recipes

Foie au Bacon Posé sur Onions Grillés


1 lb Chicken Liver
8 slices of bacon
4 skewers
1 white onion
½ teaspoon olive oil

1.Soak the skewers in water for at least 20 minutes prior to using them. This prevents them from catching fire or burning under the broiler.

2.Grill the onions in a skillet with the olive oil until they are fully cooked, soft and supple. Set aside to cool.

3.Wash the chicken livers and sort them into 16 bite-sized morsels, approximately ¾” squared.

4.Cut the bacon slices in half.

5.Wrap each chicken liver morsel with ½ a slice of bacon and skewer it so that it remains wrapped. 4 per skewer.

6.Place the skewers under the broiler for approximately 20 minutes, turning them over halfway thru cooking time. The liver should be firm and the bacon crisp and the internal temperature should be a minimum of 145 degrees.

7.Place the skewers on a paper towel to soak up any extra grease.

8.Cool and serve over grilled onions.

Serves 4, 1 skewer per person.

Feves à Tartiner en Croûte


15 oz fava beans*
2 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 oz diced red pepper
1 garlic clove (crushed)
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
1 - 8” French roll or baguette
8 small sprigs fresh parsley

* This recipe can be used with either Mediterranean fava beans or the more traditional broad beans. If the beans are purchased dry, they must be cooked first according to instructions. I used canned Mediterranean beans which worked just as well.

1.Blend all ingredients (except the fresh parsley) in a food processor or blender until fine and creamy.

2.Slice the French roll into ½” slices and cook in a skillet using olive oil until each side is browned and crisp. Allow to cool.

3.Serve the spread on the crouton slices and top with a sprig of fresh parsley.

Serves 4, 2 per person.

Poires Pochées au Sucre Brun


4 Bosc pears
1 quart water
2 cups brown sugar
½ tsp cardamom (to taste)
½ tsp nutmeg
cinnamon (decor)
powdered sugar (décor)

1.Peel the pears, leaving the stem intact.

2.Bring the water to a light simmer, appropriate for poaching, in a deep saucepan.

3.Add brown sugar, cardamom and nutmeg, and stir until dissolved fully.

4.Poach pears in the simmering syrup for approximately 20 minutes. The pears should turn a deep golden brown color.

5.Take them out of the syrup and let them cool for 10 minutes.

6.Sprinkle with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

7.Chill before serving.

Serves 4, 1 each.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Starving" Student/Artist Blues.....

I have a bit of backlogged blogging to do about school. I will get to that. In the meantime, it wouldn't do any good to get further backlogged on things that are fresh in my mind.

I quit my job today. A little over a month ago I found a job at a diner as a cook's helper. It was entry-level and I thought it was going to be absolutely perfect for me to come up to speed in the food and hospitality industry. But apparently I set my sights too low.

This place was a perfect example of every violation of the food code that I just finished learning in my Safety and Sanity class. While assisting in preparing and serving food, I witnessed the following:

Cartons of eggs sitting out of the refridgerator in a hot room for about 4 days. When we finally got around to cracking some of them, they were somewhat solidified. Despite that, they were whipped right into batches of scrambled eggs, and served to an unknowing and sorry clientel.

Cutting boards used to chop raw meat, wiped off (not washed or sanitized) and immediately used to chop fruit for fruit salads. The slice had months of guck from meats and cheeses caked on it and was used to slice tomatoes. Ew.

The chefs regularly used their hands to get food from the fat fryer trays. I was scoffed at for trying to use the tongs, which resulted in numerous small burn incidents.

I saw a lady drop a bucket full of chopped mushrooms on the dirtiest floor I had ever seen, pick them up and put them back into the bucket and then into the fridge. Omg.

So, despite my need for monetary benefit right now, I did not go from making $20 per hour sitting at a desk, to making minimum wage and poisoning people.

Oh well....thank goodness for mom's.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My First Class

My first class at the CCA was the ServSafe, Safety and Sanitation Class, which I later appropriately abreviated to Safety and Sanity. You would not believe the insane and unhealthy habits of present day society when it comes to food preparations. This class makes you double-check everything you eat and how it was prepared.

The first class was sort of an orientation. None of the students knew each other and the atmosphere was a bit stiffled. The instructor, Chef Peter, had us all write down an interesting tidbit about ourselves and hand in the papers to him. He then read them aloud to the class and we had to walk around and talk to each other and find out which tidbit belonged to each student. As I had started school twice, I went through this procedure twice. The first time, I wrote that my favorite food was Kraft Mac and Cheese. The second time, I wrote that I go to karaoke and trivia with my friends every Tuesday night in the Marina. Initially I was pretty uncomfortable as the only white girl in my class of 14 people. However, this process immediately helped us loosen up and become familiar with each other. And I could see from the beginning that all of us were going to get along just fine. ...

Getting Into College

I called up the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and told them I wanted to start school right away. I went in to see an admissions counsellor and after a 3-minute tour (a 3-minute tour, a 3-minute tour) I was completely convinced that this was what I wanted to do. The admissions counsellor insisted on a couple more hours of briefing just to be sure and then he let me submit my application.

Greeting Day was just two weeks later... I remember that early Saturday morning in April 2010, walking into the school's restaurant dining room packed with aspiring culinary students and their families. The age ranges were incredible, from the recent high school grad 17 year olds, to those who may have been even 40-45 years old and wanting to get into a new field. Throughout the briefing from the various chefs and executives at the school, I became extremely excited and confirmed for myself that going back to school was the thing to do.

During the process of being administrated, I found out that the private school I had painstakingly worked so hard to attend and graduate from might not be accredited with the state of California. To the CCA, this made my diploma invalid and they couldn't admit me. However, my admissions counsellor was very passionate about overcoming this obstacle, he had me start attending classes right away despite this and we put together a huge package of all my achievements and submitted it to the school board.

High school for me was a very exciting and challenging experience. I was very much an activist and took charge of ensuring my school had fundraisers, a school yearbook, a school newspaper and fun dances and events. I was the lead in every school musical. I was the senior class president. I was the #1 student in the school with absolute straight A's and ended up the valedictorian. I was a leader in community activism....etc. etc. So to find out at the age of 30 that none of this meant anything to the State of California and I had never officially graduated high school was heartbreaking.

Additionally, to be told this after having attended the school of my dreams for 3 days and gotten to know all 26 of my classmates on a personal level, was further devistation.

I cried.

Then I got over it.

I registered to take my GED exams at the Berkeley Adult School. I got a GED study book from the library and crammed for 1 week. My mother got us a motel room across from the school and I went in at 7am on a Saturday morning and sat until 11am taking exam after exam. The exams were supposed to go until 3pm, but I finished them all early and was allowed to leave.

It's amazing that after 14 years of being out of school, with 1-week of study, I managed to thoroughly ace my GED. I got 99% in writing and English. I felt my appreciation for my hard-earned high school experience return. Obviously my education was good enough and I would now be acknowledged by the State of California.

I re-registered for the CCA and was fully approved and ready to attend the next term in March. ...

Starting Fresh

Well, I decided to finally document some experiences to see if I can clear my head of the thoughts swimming around in it.

At age 30, I moved back home to live with my mom while going through a not-so-traumatic divorce.

When I officially moved out at age 19, my mother finally decided she was rid of me enough that she could move out of Los Angeles, which she had always wanted to do. She has spent the last 10 years in San Francisco, which I adore but have had no familiarity with.

It's not easy to leave everything you're familiar with, and as a young adult I vowed never to do it, but I have to say that it's really not hard to fall in love with this city. I've spend the past several months settling in and getting used to living with my mom again and I'm pretty satisfied.

Moving back with my mom was a bit rocky at first. There's this innate mother-daughter connection that requires her to know where I am at all times. This bond is not so strong with distance between us, but the moment I moved back in the text messages from mother got so crazy we decided to get unlimited texting. She believed I must have been texting a gazillion times a day with other friends, but I know the truth.

Now that we've settled into a routine, all that is required is that I let her know where I'm going and what I'm doing. And if I'm out late at night, I have to tell her when I'm safe in bed (wherever that may be). At first, this was a little odd to the other people (my age) that I would hang out with. But those that have become my close friends are quite used to it and find it somewhat endearing. I've accepted that it's a lot easier than having to pay rent. :)

At 18 years old I had decided what I wanted to do and had determined that I didn't need to go to college and get a degree. I got the "back-up plan" speech, but I can be pretty stuborn-headed and once I decide on doing something, that's the way it goes.

Starting your life over at age 30 is not easy. And for me it wasn't just a new city, new friends, new hang outs and new jobs. I felt like I had just graduated high school and was trying to decide what I really wanted to do with my life. I thought about going back into entertainment and trying to do movies. But as much as I tried to get into it, I really didn't have the same passion for it. And, honestly, when you are "old" and kind of chubby, the competition is a lot more intimidating.

I sat around home for several weeks, doing some temp work in between, and watched hours and hours of TV. At some point, for whatever reason, I became inspired to have my own TV show. I didn't really think I had the makings for reality TV, and I didn't have any great ideas like pretending my kid flew away in a balloon, but I thought I'd make a really good talk show host or journalist. I love travelling. I love researching. I love adventure and challenges. I'm good at writing. I'm good at talking... It just seemed to fit.

Then....I saw a commercial for Le Cordon Bleu! What an interesting idea? I love to cook. I learned a lot about cooking from my parents and I've been doing it since I was a kid. I love watching cooking shows. And I really feel that the food industry needs a serious face-lift. I decided to blend my new-found passion to have my own TV show, with a career as a chef! (Like it hasn't been done before.) ...