Thursday, September 20, 2012

Putting it out there in the universe...

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful kitchen to work in with Just Call Us. I love the spaciousness, equipment, the ergonomics and the fact that there is a calendar where I know who will be there and when, and whenever there is a scheduling conflict I generally know way ahead of time. Julie and Phil manage the place wonderfully, nothing gets past them, so the kitchen is always taken care of, and any problems are addressed promptly. I also love meeting all the other people who work there and hearing about their products and learning from them.  Many of the amazing opportunities that have come my way are because of Julie and the people in the kitchen.

As always, there are downsides.

The place can get extremely warm, which can be troublesome for my cakes. The shared fridge is a worry too, I always have to wrap my cakes up to avoid smells, and the dampness of a walk in fridge plays havoc with fondant.

So I'm just imagining what my perfect kitchen would be like for fun!

-I would ideally be working there from 8-4 Tuesday-Saturday
-It would be in a convenient location to my house, and for deliveries and collection
-The rent would be affordable (!!)

The kitchen would be equipped with:
-large and medium sized Hobart mixers (50 and 30 qt?)
-speed racks filled with sheet pans
-convection oven
-large area for washing dishes and rack for drying
-stove with a couple of burners
-plenty of storage space for pans and dry goods, cake decorating equipment
-lots of cold storage space for frostings and fillings
-reach in dry fridge for finished cakes
-plenty of bench space, a wooden butchers block would be wonderful for doughs.
-freezer space -reach in dry fridge space for finished cakes
-an air conditioned area for decorating on hot summer days
-nice seating area for consults

Of course this is my dream for the future, my current arrangement is wonderful, I am still in school so I cant plan for anything until after December!  Once that comes along, maybe I should start looking for a partner to share a small space?  Or I'll see how the new space at the Public Market is coming along...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Crack crackers

We're embarking on week 2 of my bread class, and Chef James says we are sure to put on about 8lb.  I can well believe it!  So far we have baked zucchini bread, pumpkin muffins, cranberry scones with a honey orange glaze, beignets, white country bread, and these delicious crackers!

They were much easier to make than I thought, so I'm happy to make these any time I need to provide a little snack.

Cheddar Crackers  james foran
10oz AP flour
1tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dry mustard powder
6oz butter, chilled and cubed
6oz grated cheddar
6 tablespoons cold water

Oven temp 325f convection.

Mix the salt, pepper and mustard into the flour, rub in the butter and then add the cheddar.  Mix the iced water in then form a patty and chill for at least 30 minutes.  Roll out as thin as you can, then cut, either with a cutter or a pizza wheel.  Spray with water, then sprinkle with spices and salt.  I used paprika.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until slightly browned.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A visit to Suzie's Farm

One of the things on my list when I gave up my job was that I wanted to become more connected with my food, and I wanted to tour some farms.  I finally had a chance to do this, thanks to the wonderful San Diego Foodbloggers network.  It was a wonderful morning out at the border in Chula Vista at Suzie's Farm.

Here is the entrance to their planned corn maze, which is also going to have a wedding in the center, how romantic!

The farm was filled with a bounty of incredible produce and beautiful flowers.  Suzies farm offers farm tours for anyone who would like to come, its just $10 and you get to bring a bag and fill it up!  I think they would start to get suspicious if you were to come every week, I think part of their goal as a farm is to educate the public on sustainable farming and the danger of heirloom breeds dying out.

We were all particularly captivated by this heirloom variety of tomatoes, which were actually black!  I was a bit put off by the similarity to deadly nightshade, which is actually a relative of the tomato.  

The tomatoes are ripe when they get a red bottom, I picked a few out of curiosity, and they were delicious tomatoes, tangy and sweet at the same time, I'd love to get these again!
I was also surprised to see an okra plant for the first time, what a pretty flower they have, along with a lovely red stalk. We werent allowed near these, Wholefoods have first dibs on them!

My friend Kristen came along, here she is picking some peppers.  I'm ashamed to admit I cant remember which pepper is which!  I know some were spicy and some werent, and some were 'roulette' peppers as they were sweet peppers which had been planted next to spicy peppers so some had been pollinated by the spicy peppers and some by sweet, you just didnt know what you were going to get!!

We all fell in love with the chickens, who were running around a penned area and generally causing chaos.  There were so many breeds.  Look at all the different colors of eggs they produce!  I love the thought of getting my own hens, but I don't think thats on the agenda for the moment, my poor husband would probably wind up having to help take care of them.
Here is one of the workers loading up some peppers, I guess they must work 7 days there, its a hard life running a farm...
Here is a quick salad I threw together when I got home, mozzarella, persian cucumbers and some of the wonderful tomatoes.