Friday, December 31, 2010

Lobster Killer

I was watching Julie and Julia and I totally remembered that I have a blog! I promised myself that I'd write daily once I got a new computer, but then I got wrapped up in the throes of life and completely forgot.

So, I just completed (meaning a week ago) Foundations 3 class, which is my 3rd and final professional cooking techniques class. The class focused mainly on butchery as far as theory goes, not the easiest subject. But it also required that every other day I make 2-3 dishes and present them to the instructor and get a grade for them. I swear that it's the hardest class I have had so far and I was counting on getting a B, simply because I thought it impossible to get an A. I was also told by several other students who had already taken the class that no one gets an A. However, being the perfectionist that I am, I worked as hard as I could manage, falling asleep with my books, and did A! Not to brag but, I am such a stud.

Anyway, in the very last class, we cooked live lobster and crawfish. The boys in the class, having to hold up to their boyish reputation, took all the animals and put them head to head so they could watch them "fight" with each other. Meanwhile, the girls in the class (particularly myself) attempted to make the last few moments of the lobsters' lives as comfortable as possible. I got the personal honor of lifting 3 completely live lobsters and dropping them into a large pot of boiling water. According to the instructor, they die within 10-20 seconds of being in there, however I did note them squirming for quite a bit longer than a minute. It was so sad. I had to hide my tears. The result being, I don't think I can ever eat a lobster again. Although I did manage to break one down, twisting the tail off and pulling out all the meat.

Watching Julie and Julia after completing my classes is so much fun. I actually recognize everything they are doing now. Sweet.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tuna Failures, Gingerbread Houses and Creamy Bacon Spinach Soup...

I got this e-mail from Tonnino Tuna that says, "Congratulations on winning first place!" Which basically means I didn't get the Grand Prize of a trip to NY and a $5000 scholarship award. But I did get....drum roll...a year's supply of tuna. To define that, I get a case (6 bottles) of tuna (yes, it comes in bottles) per month, which is a total of 72 bottles in a year. Yum! It's a disappointment but, after crying for a couple days, I got over it.

The next competition was a gingerbread house competition at a retirement home. Although my gingerbread came out kinda funky (little zombie men - see below), the house turned out okay. It was a sort of pink-Victorian Barbie house, with a Golden Graham's roof top and a red licorice chimney. I came in 4th place, 1 point away from 3rd, simply due to resident votes. The judges LOVED my house and possibly would have given me 2nd or 3rd place if it was just up to them. As a result, however, they raised my prize money from $50 to $120. At least I got most of the money I spent on all that candy and icing...

But let me also clarify, I HAD A LOT OF FUN! I love competing. :)~ I just have to learn it's not all about winning.

And finally... by popular demand....



6 slices bacon
1/4 c. onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14 oz.) cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
6 oz. (6-7 cups) fresh baby spinach
1 1/2 c. non-fat milk
6 tbsp. whole-wheat flour
to taste salt and white pepper


1. In an oven preheated at 350 degrees, cook the bacon on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes until crispy; set aside to cool.

2. Pour a couple teaspoons of bacon fat from the baking sheet into a dutch oven, over medium-high heat, add onions and garlic, a pinch of salt and white pepper, and cook until tender. Reduce heat to low.

3. Crumble bacon and add to pot. Stir in broth.

4. Rinse spinach well and add to soup. Increase heat to medium and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

5. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for about 8-10 minutes or until spinach is wilted and cooked, but not fully broken down.

6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine milk and flour; beat with whisk until very well blended.

7. Stir milk mixture into soup. Simmer on low heat until it thickens, stirring often.
Suggestion: Top with shredded Parmesan cheese. Serve with whole-grain bread.

Serving Size: 2 cups
Number of Servings: 3