Friday, August 12, 2005


I got to play handball last night for the first time in at least two weeks. S (the one who's writing about embodied knowledge) and I teamed up against The Cheater--a pain-in-the-ass who really does cheat, by getting the score wrong, by making bullshit calls, by not getting out of the way and letting you make your shot--and his buddy, who is often embarrassed by Cheater's antics and who is one of those graceful natural athletes. We didn't start out well at all--S hasn't played in a couple of weeks either, seeing as how he was "camping" (not exactly roughing it, he said; his friend called it "sushi camping"). Next thing you know, we're losing, 16-3. Since the game only goes to 21, this was not good. However! S made some key plays, we got a couple of little couple-point runs going, next thing you know, it's a lot closer. We tied up at 20. And then we won. Oh, yes, readers, it was satisfying. We lost the second game, but we galloped away with the third game. Truly satisfying.

I was asking someone from the other morning section about how that group is doing, and got an interesting response from her. She's the oldest in the group, and a career changer, so she's trying to suck in as much knowledge as possible, but she also realizes that this is the first time she's doing a lot of this stuff. Apparently a number of the younger people in the other morning groups spend endless time trying to perfect their product--make it look like the work of someone who has the 20+ years of experience that the chef has. I'm glad that we as a group don't seem to be falling prey to that--I suspect age has something to do with it.

Class today included Even! More! Evil! Not only meringue, in the form of macarons, but CHOCOLATE macarons. My partner and I have improved in the piping department, so they even looked good. (Oh how I wish I could take pictures of them . . .) We also made little apple nougat tartlets, which were eh, and finished up Puff Pastry Mania! I had a flash regarding my leftover puff pastry that worked out well, too. You may remember monkey bread--leftover puff pastry dough chopped up into bits with lots of cinnamon sugar (or cut into strips and turned into palmier, but I didn't have enough flat stuff with which to make palmier). It's quite tasty, as you might imagine, but big fat loaves of monkey bread are kind of a commitment--you'd better have a lot of people to eat it, or you're going to end up eating more sugar and butter than you probably want. Or throwing it out, which is just bad.

Anyway, instead of making a big fat loaf of it, I greased some muffin tins and just put a little layer of monkey bread dough on the bottom, and ohmygod do they look good. Little golden sugary buttery rounds, just begging for some sauteed ginger peaches and maybe a little ice cream or whipped cream. They're still a little on the large side; I'd probably make them in a smaller pan, or not go up the sides at all next time. But still--they're pretty spectactular-looking, and they supposedly freeze well, so I think I have instant dessert. (It's always nice to have something stashed away for those impromptu dinners.)

So we're done with petit fours, which is fine with me. I do well enough at them, given my capabilities for dealing with small fussy things, but a lot of it is a pain in the butt. In particular, the doughs are a pain to work with--moreso than croissant or puff pastry dough, for example. I like them, and, of course, I'll have to have them at my bakery. I think they fall into two categories: simple, time-tested recipes (macarons, madelines, pate a choux, financiers, tuile) that are beautiful and tasty when executed properly, and small fussy things like the miniature fruit tarts that require a lot of time per item.

Next week we start on wedding cakes and cake decoration--gum paste flowers, here I come!--so I think it's even more of the small fussy things. Luckily, all of the needlepoint and embroidery I've done are good training for the progress-in-small-steps idea that I suspect will be valuable in this section of the program.


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