Sunday, 16 October 2011

Up to my socks

Wow! What a week. Let's take it one day at a time shall we?

Thanksgiving in PEI. Being away from home for this holiday was a little heart breaking but I soon found a flourish of people folding around me inviting me to turkey dinners so I wasn't alone. On the Saturday before I was invited to a turkey dinner with some young adults from church, it was full of shenanigans and silliness complete with whiskey ice cream to accent the apple tarts I brought. The following Sunday my landlord inviting me to her families house for another turkey feast. I was so excited to get out of Charlottetown and spend some time in the open country. It was so refreshing to walk the grounds of her homestead and breath in the crust of autumn air and feel the crunch of leaves under foot. On Monday I decided to spend Thanksgiving pilgram style; outside! I packed a delicious lunch, a good book, and sauntered my way to the park. The weather was gorgeous! Sunny, breezy, and a comfortable cool. I sat on my favourite park bench, wrapped in my shawl, immersed in my book and savouring every bite of my turkey, summer saugage, lettuce, tomatoe and cheese sandwitch. Never under estimate the power of a good sandwich. On the way home I noticed the gate to the Govenors house was open. After looking for gruff looking guards and savage watch dogs and tip toed in. I soon discovered a sign that read: Pedestrian Traffic Welcome. I thought to myself, "I'm a pedestrian. I'm traffic. I'm welcome!" The gate house was renovated into an information center with maps and historical information so I grabbed a map and took a self guided tour around the grounds. It is a beautiful estate! I felt like I was in a whole other world. The house itself is breath taking and the grounds  inlcuded an ornamental garden, kitchen garden or more commonly known as a vegetable garden, a shrub garden, patch of birch trees, several tall and healthy maple, oaks, and willow trees, not to mention the 3 acre woodland and they even have a rose garden. A rose garden! A garden dedicated to roses! It was the most fantastic way to spend thanksgiving. I felt like Alice in Wonderland, stepping through the looking glass to find myself in the back yard of the Queen of Hearts. I could have spent all day there.

On the way home from the Govenors house I stopped by St. Dunsants Basillica and took the opportunity to take some pictures. There was zero tourist traffic so I had the santuary pretty much to myself, except for the occasional vaccuum. Vaccuums and 30 foot vaulted ceilings do not mix, the acoustics are a nightmare, the vaccuum sounded like a 100 swarms of livid bees. Despite not being able to spend Thanksgiving with my family I thought of them often, picking a favourite memory from multiple thanksgiving and pondering on them. Such memorable moments include: the time I broke my arm, the time I almost rolled my cousins car, and the time we had dinner on the front porch and every time a car past we would raise a glass and shout "Happy Thanksgiving!".

I made 3 cakes in as many hours. Wow! We made sponge, pound, and our choice of a chiffon or angel food cake. All of the cakes except for the pound cake involved beating egg whites until they were meringue. I've never made merignue before so tuesday was very much uncharted territory, slightly nerve racking but each cake turned out more beautiful than the one before it. We had so much time left over that we attacked the kitchen with Mr. Clean enthusiam. You can eat off the kitchen floor it's that clean.

Cake assembly hell. Chef took an hour to show us how to assemble our cakes probably. How to make butter cream icing, how to slice the cake, spread a crumb coat, and soak the layers with simple syrup to add extra flavour and moisture. Today was dedicated to craftsmanship and we started out assuming we had hours of time, which we did, but butter cream takes an unnessacary astronomical amount of time, and then you have to let the crump coat sit in the fridge for a bajillion years and then you have to ice and decorate it, and while all this is going on you are constantly reminded to take your time with your artistic design but to hurry up. With an hour left of class Chef constantly reminded us every 15 minutes that are cakes had to be done soon. The energy in the class broke into panic, will we get our cakes done? What if they don't look good? After the Chef announced the 10 minute mark until cake completion I nearly shouted at him, "I'm not a diamond! I don't work well under pressure, stop yelling at me!" The Chef just laughed and slapped my back and complimented on my cake and combination of flavours. Sigh. In hindsight that little bit of pressure from Chef was prepping us and encouraging us for friday. But at 10:00am all the cakes were done and not a single one was the same. I was amazed at the extend of creativity, they looked professional and Chef was beaming with pride and so were we.

And to top it all off I walked to Bibly study tonight. It was a good hour walk but it was such a beautiful night and I wanted to take in the sunset. Now to get to Bible study I have to walk across the bridge that connects Stratford and Charlottetown which is a 4 lane highway. I felt like a fool walking across the bridge in evening traffic carrying a bag of apple tarts. Plus I was dressed nicely, if I were dressed like a hobo people would understand why I would be walking around, but who walks across the bridge in their favourite sweater and scarf with apple tarts. This is ain't no Grimm fairy tale. I felt selfconcsious and silly. About half way over the bridge I finally said to myself, "I am allowed to walk across the bridge with apple tarts. I am allowed to go for a walk and enjoy the sunset. I am allowed to be me!" It was so refreshing to speak those affirming words to myself and silence words of judgement and belittlement. I saw so many amazing things on my walk; a blue heron, a sea bird stretching his wings sillouetted agains a vanilla sky, a cruise ship lit up like a Christmas tree leaving the harbour, and a glorius sunset. I even enjoyed the smell of the ocean. Plus I was the first one to Bibly study and I walked. That makes me feel pretty darn good. 

Instead of waking up at 5:00am we were able to sleep in until 6:30. Glorious! All morning we discussed the flow of rotations and what was expected of each department. The chefs made it clear in the first five minutes of class that if you are late for class for any reason at all you are not allowed in the kitchen, and you have to come to every class unless you are dead. So in essence play time is over and the real work begins. There are 6 different departments in the pastry arts program. Cafeteria, bread, and lunch for Lucy Maud dinning room are scheduled in the morning from 6:15 to 10:30. Chocolate, functions, and dinner for Lucy Maud dinning room are scheduled for the afternoon from 12:20 to 4:30. We are broken into departments and stay in that department for 2 weeks and then we rotate so we get a well rounded experience in the pastry world. Thursday was a lot of mapping out menus, discussing fine details with the chefs, ordering supplies and prepping recipes. I went to bed early that night.

Armegeddon. All the dessert we made today went straight to everyone but us. I am in the cafeteria department for my first rotation which means that along with my group I have to make 3 different desserts everyday that will be distributed to the cafeteria at lunch time. We also have to prep 3 different desserts for the next day which means we are essentially making 6 desserts everyday. Example: today we made apple crisp, pumpkin cheese cake pie, brittle, caramel sauce, blondies, devils food cake, and sponge tortes. Phew. And it was all accomplished in 4 hours. I am so proud of my group. Cafeteria is going to be a great department to be apart of. The morning was stressful, but it was a good stressful and everyone in class accomplished what they needed to, Chef was on top of the world.

Slept in until 8:30am, mmmm, had laundry done by 11:00am and spend the rest of the day at the park. Praise Jesus!

Apple picking with the church in the rain. Glorious! I came away with twenty pounds of apples for $9.00!!! I'm making a ridiculous amount of apple sauce and apple crisp with that.

So to recap:
A very eventful and joyous week.I was stretched academically and spiritually. I learned so much, and I built relationships. The whole week seemed like a good novel sitting by the fire place. I tingle all over with gratitude. And if and when I have a series of bad days I will know they will pass and there will be a fresh 7 days to be grateful for again.

                                                             Mocha Hazelnut sponge cake

                                                            Charlottetown at sunset

                                                                           Apple picking!

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