Sunday, 8 January 2012

Back in the Saddle!

I am back! Back on the Island, back in the kitchen, back to my favourite PEI haunts and hideouts. Mama Jo is back in town, Charlottetown!

I have missed the brightly painted houses, the gentle sway and rhythm of the Island and the ocean air. I have definitely made a second home in PEI and it is good to be home again.

I have folded seamlessly back into the flow of school for the second semester. This term is going to full, I will have to be on my toes twice as much and be extra speedy in the kitchen. Before graduation day in April I have to make a special occasion cake, wedding cake, chocolate sculpture, and chocolate box. On top of all my regular duties in the kitchen I also have to complete a skills and technique chart. This includes making specific types of bread, sauces, syrups, cakes, plating techniques, etc. I also have to compile a portfolio that will showcase specific finished desserts and their recipes. As you can see this term will be jam-packed with baking fun!

This past week was excellent. I was once again leader of the Lucy Maud Dinner department. This week on the menu: Lemon Meringue Pie, Frozen Strawberry Mousse, Opera Torte, Chocolate Walnut Torte, and Strawberry Shortcake. My team really had their A game on and by Thursday we had enough desserts to see us through the rest of the week, which meant we had lots of play time! We spent the last half of the week working on our portfolios, skills, and techniques and just having fun.

I tried my hand at baking Vienna rolls but added my own special twist to them. Rather than keeping them plane and classic I folded grated Gouda cheese into the dough, and before popping them into the oven I sprinkled them with more cheese and a dash of sea salt. They came out of the oven fluffy, golden and wrapped in a rich aroma. Once they had cooled I offered them to my class mates and the Chef. Unknown to me Chef had already snatched one while they were cooling and had an afternoon snack at my expense! Sneaky, sneaky. I didn’t mind in the least, it is a huge compliment to have the Chef steal my dessert to satisfy his hunger.

I worked two nights this week in the Lucy Maud Dinning room. The first night was slow and we only sold 5 desserts, but Friday night was bustling! My class mate and I plated 17 desserts and the last customer didn’t leave until 9:45pm, which meant I didn’t get home until 10:30pm. I was at school for 12 hours! It was a long night but it felt good to be busy and I love having the opportunity to plate delicious desserts for paying customers. It makes it all worth it when a customer sends compliments back to the kitchen and is satisfied with their dessert.

Although this week has been a great kick off to the New Year, I have some very sad news to share. Upon my departure from Ontario last week, I was informed that my friend, Elinore, had a stroke while recovering from a broken hip in Charlottetown hospital and she had slipped into a coma. I met Elinore at Charlottetown Community Church and we attended the same Bible Studies, chatted and laughed at church, and she even came to visit me at school one day. She was a vibrant, spunky, sharp and overwhelmingly beautiful 83 year old woman who befriended me without hesitation. An elder at the church had organized a schedule where members of the congregation could take a shift and sit with Elinore at the hospital. I was going to visit her one evening, when ten minutes before I was supposed to leave the pastor called me and told me she had died. I was stunned. It took me the rest of the week to digest what had actually happened. At church this week we dedicated the service to Elinore, sharing stories, memories, prayers and tears. My last memory of her was the Sunday before I left to go home to Ontario for Christmas. She came into church smiling, giggling, radiant. I embraced her, stood back and said, “Elinore, you look especially spunky today.” She replied, her eyes glistening with joy, “I feel spunky, so watch out!” We shared a laugh and later during the service I could feel her presence over me and I knew she was praying for me as I prepared to go home for the holidays. She was a prayer warrior to the core, answering any trouble or blessing with prayer. She invested so much of her energy into relationships with people, building friendships, and being attentive to them and genuinely caring about them. Her beautiful life has led to a beautiful death. I will miss her, but I am so happy that she Home.

This past week has been rich in happiness and rich in sadness but I do not feel weakened. I feel infused, strong, determined, and divinely empowered. I know that this will be a thundering 4 months. I have to be extra prepared, use my time wisely, and not waste a moment of it. I will be up to my eye balls in butter and flour, but I hope to be over my head in adventures, new lessons, and treasures. Mama Jo is back.

                      Lemon Meringue Pie with Almond Spritz cookies and blueberry coulis.

                           Gouda cheese and sea salt Vienna Rolls

                                     Radiant. Spunky. Beautiful. Inspiring. Elinore.

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