On the first day of class, we went over the syllabus and what we should expect for the class for the semester. This day was mostly just housekeeping, as we went over what was acceptable and not for the class, including dress code and how to have our hair for the class (tied back into a pony tail, with a hat on top). We also were assigned our cooking groups for the semester, so I got to meet Madison and Linh, who I learned are super nice and hardworking people, so I am excited to get to work with them this semester.
The second day we did a scavenger hunt where we were given a list of items to find in the kitchen and we were given just a few minutes to find the items and bring them to our table. This was meant to help us get to know the layout of the kitchen.
My “aha!” moment of the week came when we had to hard boil eggs on the second day. We were given 30 minutes and one egg to hard-boil as best we could, using whatever tools we wanted. We had to write down each step exactly as we did it and we were tested to see how well our eggs came out; they needed to have a fully cooked white, and fully cooked yolk, cool to touch, and no green around the yolk. Luckily, Linh told us that she had boiled eggs up in Flagstaff before, so we had someone to help guide us. We ended up boiling the egg for about 17 minutes and it turned out almost perfect, but it did have a thin green ring around the yolk, so we had boiled it probably for just a minute too long. The “aha!” moment for me was that something as simple as boiling an egg needs to be done with care, as does everything in the kitchen. Even the basics are not always so simple.
This week was a little bit more housekeeping, as we learned about our cleaning assignments in the kitchen and about our upcoming event called “Savvy Soups.” For this event, our eight groups will be cooking four soups for 20 guests, and the guests will be comparing our soups against each other. My group was assigned New England Clam Chowder, and another group was assigned the same. The Chef gave us our recipe but told us that even though we will be trying to follow this recipe to a tee, our soup will taste different than the other New England Clam Chowder. I would say that this was my “aha!” moment, because even though we are trying to do the exact same thing, our results will be different, because we are different people or because we are making our roux slightly differently, or otherwise.
We also learned about knife skills, such as how to chop by keeping your blade in contact with the cutting board the entire time, and how to walk through the kitchen with a knife (point it downwards with the blade facing behind you and calling out “knife behind”).
During this week we learned about beef and seafood, particularly salmon and mussels. This was a great week because we learned about the different parts and cuts of a cow, as well as how to cut a whole salmon and how to tell if your fish is fresh. When you buy a whole fish, there should be some slime on the fish, the fish should bounce back when you softly poke it, and the gills should still look pink.
I had a couple “aha!” moments this week because we had such interesting discussions during class. One was the beef problem Americans have: the US is the number one importer, producer, and consumer of beef. The beef industry is also one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Although we cooked beef and ate it during this class, I think it is super important to be cognizant of the impact you are creating on the world and our environment, and to appreciate what you have. I think it is ok to enjoy beef in moderation, but we as a country should not be consuming so much beef and should not be exporting our beef eating habits.