Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fermentation Boogie

Bread class is officially over--I've been dispensing fermented things all over the damned place, and I still will end up with a freezer full of same (as soon as I buy some foil). The guest chef was a great guy, and, since he's a friend of Jefe's we'd heard about each other. The class didn't make much--in the sense that the students didn't really do much mixing, although we did a fair amount of shaping--but a ton of stuff got made. Baguettes all three days; miche (though he used white rather than wheat flour); roasted garlic bread with some rye flour in it; some decorative breads done with baguette dough, as well as pizza and focaccia done with same; croissants (yeah, I know; a buswoman's holiday for me); brioche, in several different forms; and a bread with a lot of potatoes in it. We also talked a lot about sourdoughs and starters and poolish and fermentation and bulk fermentation and proofers and retarders and so on, which was the valuable part. I can learn a lot of this stuff from Jefe, of course, but when do he and I have 21 hours to sit down and talk?

One student in the class was this guy who used to build aircraft or something, and apparently did a lot of home baking. By the middle of the first day, he was Pouty McFrown--he felt like he was in over his head, and, as he said today, all he saw was all the things he'd been doing wrong. I tried to talk with him a couple of times, encourage him in various ways, but he was determined to be stuck in a Not Happy Place. It was kind of strange. I know that I've been around a lot of this stuff for awhile, but he'd apparently been baking before, and, dude, if you are an aircraft engineer, you're probably not an idiot. But he was basically saying that he wasn't going to bake any more. Which, I don't know, seems kind of extreme and wrong to me.

Meanwhile, I was looking forward to being able to write off some of my educational expenses--the tuition I paid for this course, for example, and the interest on my student loan--but, apparently, one cannot claim either of those things if one files one's income tax forms in the "married, filing separately" category. Which blows; I was counting on those deductions. And why? What's the logic behind that restriction, i want to know?

I should be doing some other writing right now. I finished one proposal, but I have to get the other one done--preferably by tomorrow, but I'm not sure that'll happen. We'll see. I have no motivation tonight; what I really want is to sit in front of the TV with a glass of wine and call it a day, and, hey, I may yet decide to do that, despite the folded and clean laundry that's been on the couch since Monday afternoon. They had a little buffet for us at the end of class (pate, cheese, and some of the wads of bread we'd shaped), which means I don't really need dinner. After the buffet, I got to talk to the chef who'd hooked me up with Jefe (I forget what I called him; let's call him Bill). He's a great guy, and definitely one of my supporters; he suggested I ask Jefe for more money. Which I'll figure out how to get up the nerve to do, eventually. I won't get enough to allow me to live on that alone, but even another couple dollars an hour would help some. It would also allow me to stay there longer--as it is, as I've been writing here, I really have to start looking for something else, probably something not in baking, unless I can make a little more money and get a little more time off. Chef Bill noted that you don't make any money in this business unless you work for yourself, but i've detailed the challenges in that scenario--here and in my head--ad nauseam.

Still, a little more money would mean I can keep doing this for a little longer and see what happens. Right now, I'm running close to full speed just to stay even; it would be nice to be in a position where I can (a) continue running close to full speed, but end up ahead, alternated with (b) occasionally stop running quite so much.

Wait; what's that? Is that the wine calling to me? Why, yes, I believe it is. So I'm going to get my writing ready for tomorrow and answer that call.


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