Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

I've decided to give up on the second's already too much to keep up with, and I know most people will forget to check it. It's deleted already.

We're spending New Year's Eve as a typical New Yorker would...far away from the mess of Times Square. We thought we might try it, but after hearing accounts of what it's really like, and me not being one for large crowds and drunks, it's probably the best decision for us. We are going to meet up with a gal from my class and some other people out in Brooklyn to watch fireworks. I've been trying to fight off a cold or sinus infection, not sure which, so a low-key evening sounds nice. We went out a few nights ago, and I had to yell over the noise in the bar, so my throat has been bothering me ever since. Last night I was in bed before 9 pm, and slept for 12 hours straight. I'm such an old woman sometimes.

Here are two desserts made on Friday in class...these are the finished products from my disastrous pâte brisée.

Not my finest work, but at least I can learn from these two...they'll only get better from here.

Luke and I are so excited to be starting a new year in a new city - I feel like this year holds so much promise for us. We hope everyone has a festive evening!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

IKEA! yum

Big doings today. We went to IKEA and invested in turning our perfectly functional apartment into an appealing living space. We've got proper boxes in three colors to store our clutter. We've got lighting fixtures from the 21st century. We've got organizers. Next step is (possibly) some creative but nuanced wall painting and, one day, some art work.

It's fun to play the interior decorator. When I was under my parent's financial umbrella, I was too caught up in deliberately not impressing anybody to care about decor. When I left that umbrella, I was too poor to indulge my wife's desires. But our landlord is looking to sell this place and she's underwriting the dressing up. She's providing the means, Meghann is providing the will. Pictures will be posted when it's done.

I'm growing older. I'm beginning to abandon the more severe philosophies of my youth and, whatever is left, I'm sealing away in concrete. Never to be revisited, never to change. Obviously, I won't ever be able to admit this if confronted. But the truth is that my most fundamental beliefs (God has a personality and loves humanity, he came in and lived a life like mine but crappier, everybody is crippled by pride, money provides temporary bliss, the secret to happiness is not to learn how to get what you want but to learn how to want what you have) are axiomatic. They are not based on bodies of replicable evidence which directly yield specific conclusions. They are based on non-replicable experiences and assumptions about the way things work. These experiences and assumptions cannot be constructively critiqued because nobody understands them like I do.

I'm growing older and I can tell because my beliefs are not changing anymore and I no longer have the passion to earnestly revisit them. It's fun to play the interior decorator because it's more than just pandering to a crowd. It's an easy way to practice taking my aesthetic out of my head and putting it in the world.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Making acquaintances

We went out tonight with friends (acquaintances, really). That's a first for NY. We did dinner (Thai food) and a bar (3 Steps). The bar was predictably loud, which is bad because I have a terrible time distinguishing sounds. But it was also low key. Not too many people there, no smoke, no gross displays of sexuality. Oddly enough, it seems like we're having an easier time making connections in New York than we did in Austin. It took us months in Austin to build the rudimentary ties we have already. I credit three things with our societal good tidings: close proximity to neighbors, free and valuable offerings (pastries) and Meghann being engaged full time in a community of like minded people. Speaking of pastries, Meghann did a wonderful thing today. She bartered away her pastries for a fresh baked baguette. Heavenly.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


I went to Barnes tonight and Trader Joes (the grocer) afterwards. I read a comic book about angels and demons, putting new twists with modern morals on ancient stories. Guilty pleasure - I'm an escapist when I read. Anyways, coming back home from Trader Joes I walked past a restaurant that's popular with the young. There was a group of them lounging outside of the restaurant, leaning against the metal poles that support the makeshift awnings which are all over the sidewalks in New York. I'm a first blush judge and at first blush it was evident that, despite being in the Mecca of the American lifestyle and despite having the funds to enjoy themselves, they were still bored. New York is rife with pleasing stimuli but I think the human psyche instinctively normalizes it's perceptions of great and bland like the cornea adjusting to the light.


Okay, I went ahead and fixed my new'll have all updates and details regarding school, so check that one to see what I'm up to at the FCI. Once in awhile I'll post highlights on here, but if you don't want to read all of the procedural details, etc, just read this blog. Or, you can still check that one out for the pics.


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We completed our second dessert of the program, a banana cream tart. It's quite tasty, but I liked the apple tart better. The middle pic is Cornelia, a gal at my table, working diligently on her own tart. The last pic...decided I'd try making a star instead of a rosette, so I added that to the center.

Ok, so a lot has happened in the past week! I've only been to three days of class (had Christmas break in between those days), and I'm already exhausted. I've been wanting to start a second blog of just my creative desserts and experiences at culinary school, but I have to come up with a new title, since the FCI has apparently just started a blog with the EXACT same name I picked out. That blog may or may not be coming soon - it might just be easiest to post everything on here.

Here's what my day looks like - up at 6 am, get ready, and lug all of my equipment to the subway stop. Short train ride, and then walk a few blocks to the school. I have it much easier than many of the students, who commute in from Brooklyn or Jersey or student housing somewhere off of Manhattan. Once I'm at school, I change into my uniform (pic coming soon). The entire ensemble takes forever to put on. In class at 8 to set up, and lecture/demos promptly begin at 8:30. This week we've been going through sanitation lectures in the morning before break around 10:30, so that we can take our sanitation exam in a week or so. Definitely not pleasant lectures, and makes me not want to eat out much anymore! These lectures will be over soon, and then it will just be work work work. Lunch is at 12:00, for 30 minutes, in which the Level 4 culinary students (as opposed to the pastry students, aka me), cook Family Meal for the entire school. I love this part of my day! Luke is at home eating PB&J or leftovers, while I get some gourmet cooking everyday. I wish I could bring him a doggybag. More work after lunch, to finish up projects or start new ones for the next day, and then we're done at 2:30.

The chef will demo everything first, to make sure we know how to make the dessert, and then we'll go off and attempt it ourselves. We are constantly working on two or three desserts at a time, making a small part of one and then letting it chill or rest or bake as we work on something else. Chef Christopher is our regular chef, but he happens to be on vacation through the new year holidays, so we have Chef Laurie and Chef Tom right now. They are all fabulous and have so many helpful tips for us. It's nice that we get to work with multiple chefs, because it lets us learn new techniques from each one.

So far we've done two types of dough - pate sucree (pat sue-cray) and pate brisee (pat bri-say). The first is a sweet, crumbly dough (used with both the apple and banana tarts), while the second is flaky, like pie crusts. I did a great job with the first dough, but my pate brisee was not as nice. It'll get better with practice, but I'm not used to doing everything by hand...Kitchenaids and food processors have made us lazy. Tomorrow we will bake and fill our pate brisee, so it will be interesting to see what my final product looks like. We also made gingersnaps today, which were delicious, and that is one recipe that I will be hanging onto for a long time.

My knife skills need some work, so I bought 3 lbs of apples at the greenmarket for $1. Nice! My apples may look good on my apple tart, but they took quite awhile to cut, with some helpful reprimanding from Chef Tom. Oh well.

The class is made up a wide range of students, coming from all over the world. Israel, South Korea, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, another Texas gal, the Caribbean, Nigeria via London and Paris (I think), plus a handful of New Yorkers. Most everyone in the class is super friendly, but I wonder if that will change once we get more advanced. I'm curious to see if their competitive sides will come out and how that will change the dynamic of the classroom. Right now I enjoy seeing everyone's creativity come through, even when we're each making the same product.

I'll keep putting pics up - it will be my portfolio of sorts.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! We spent it with some old friends, the Rileys, that we knew in Waco who now live in Long Island. We are so thankful for their hospitality, as it was difficult being away from family over the holiday. Luke is off of work all of this week, through next Tuesday, so he's finally getting to explore the city more. I get a couple days off next week as well, so it will be nice to spend some time with him. I'm such a bum in the evenings lately, since I'm so tired from school.

Oh yes...Luke's recent post mentioned some new neighbors that we have met. They are fabulous! I'm liking how popular we are right now on our floor, since we pawn off desserts as much as we can. Our great neighbors across the hall took a sampling of everything today, which I was so appreciative of. I can't have all of this dessert in my house or I will eat it! We're hoping to meet more people in the building, and giving away plates and plates of tarts and cookies and pies seems to be very helpful in this.

I've bored you enough.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

First Pastry!



My tarte aux pommes, or apple tart. Before and after. I'll blog about what school has been like tomorrow, but I wanted to get these pics up tonight. It tastes amazing!
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I walked into a neighbor's apartment for the first time. Man and wife, Daniel and Beth. They had a kitchen island which was, to my low budget studio mindset, revolutionary. Anyways, it's a good sign of things to come. We were able to barter away a freshly baked apple tart (rated delicious) for a tiny seed of their friendship. We'll plant that seed in baked goods, water it with wine and hopefully it'll bloom beautifully.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Tree





Finally made it up to Rockefeller to get photos of the tree at night. It's so festive and merry! Trying to make a photo (not shown) our Christmas card, and we had them made at Walgreens - but they are so dark, so we're going by today to see if they'll do them over. If not, you'll get a dark photo of us in front of some very dim Christmas lights on an unidentifiable object in the distance. Oh well.
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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Apartment Projects

Luke is so handy! He put together our new shelves from IKEA. What a studmuffin.

Our curtain finally arrived from Urban Outfitters...I love it. And it was so inexpensive, as far as curtains go, so even better.

This weekend we are going back to IKEA to get a couple more shelves to add to our shelving unit; we underestimated how many we would need for our clothes. This unit is so great, and we even have doors that we'll put on it tomorrow to hide our clothes and linens. Plus, IKEA even has these great green and white clothes boxes to match our new curtain. Or maybe these.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007






I've been meaning to put up pics from the two Thanksgiving week weddings. Above are some select shots from Michelle and Nick's wedding. Below are some from Amanda and Jeff's wedding.

More Like Home





We put pictures up in our hallway last night...made the place feel more homey, despite all of the boxes that are still around due to lack of shelving. I've really gotten into aviary decoration. Birds always look so pretty, and I found these prints on etsy. Okay, the birds that swarmed Baylor's campus every year weren't pretty, and neither was the mess they left behind on my car. But I love these prints! The frames are from Ikea.

Also, we took Molly on a 6 mile walk on Sunday after church. We live on the lower part of Manhattan, but we thought she might like Central Park, so we walked up and back. She's not the greatest dog on a leash - she tends to pull a lot, especially when other dogs are around. She's super friendly with other people, but she has to prove herself around other dogs and gets kind of mean. So, Luke had to pick up our 50 lb dog a few times to control her around the other dogs throughout the walk. It's quite funny to see a guy walking down the street with a huge dog in his arms - most people have their purse-sized pets in their arms instead, complete with frou-frou sweater.

Molly does not like horses - quite a few months ago, she was kicked in the face by my sister's horse due to Molly's antagonistic nature. My parents put an electric fence up, and she's more-or-less stayed away since being zapped by it. But she hasn't forgotten her dislike of horses, nor her need to "corral" them. Apparently, Sunday is prime horse-carriage day in Central Park, with a non-stop stream of people riding in these carriages. Horses were EVERYWHERE, and she went crazy. On high alert. We walk past this statue of a horse (mind's plastic). She started attacking its ankles and barking and whining. Actually quite funny.

I had video of this, or thought I did, but it doesn't really show much in way of attacking the fake horse. Oh well.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

This cart advertises for special "coffe". With only one "e", it must be very special.

And this showed up in the mail a couple days ago. I love it! We were going to go without one for seven months, but now we don't have to. It was such a great surprise!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Our New Home

Our boxes came today via UPS!!! It took them two trips to get all 13 boxes up to us - I'm sure they were thankful that our building has an elevator, since we're on the tenth floor.

The rest of the boxes are in the kitchen right now (not pictured). Most everything will stay in boxes until Saturday, when we can make it back to Ikea to get our shelving unit. But one thing was unpacked right away...the computer!

There are a ton of coffeeshops around here, and a Starbucks on (almost) every corner, but we have a new favorite. For less than $3, we can both get a cup.

We woke up Saturday morning with snow covering the ground. It was so exciting! I've always loved snow, and it made the cold more bearable - like there was a purpose for the cold. It didn't stay long, but it was fun while it lasted. I zoomed in on the pic below, and you can actually see all of the points of the snowflakes in my hair and on my coat. How awesome God is for creating the tiniest details!

Our favorite place to get falafel sandwiches in our neighborhood.

Since we have minimal storage space here, I didn't bring any Christmas decorations, which makes me quite sad. I LOVE Christmas time. I was in the need of some Christmas spirit, so I took a short train ride to see the tree at Rockefeller. As soon as I stepped out of the subway station, it started snowing, and Christmas music was playing somewhere. It was exactly what I needed!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Settled, Sort of

We are officially in our new apartment. It's in Manhattan, not too far from the culinary institute where I'll be attending. The apartment is "cozy", but we love it so far. Thankfully we have an elevator, otherwise I don't know how we'd get future furniture up to our apartment. I keep thinking of the Friends episode where Ross gets a new couch, and has a diagram drawn and keeps shouting "Pivot!" as they are moving it upstairs.

The walls are super thin, so we can hear everything that goes on next door. Hopefully the neighbor won't be home much. It also worries me that everyone else nearby can hear my conversations, etc. Guess I better not gossip!

We made a trip out to Ikea today. They offer a free charter bus ride to the Ikea in New Jersey, which was great. Our goal was to get a sofa-bed, but that didn't quite pan out, because the delivery fee just made it not worth the price. We'll look around near the apartment and see what we can find. And I've learned that Luke and I just can't shop at Ikea together - it's always the most stressful experience ever. Too many decisions, and he goes one way with taste, and I also choose the opposite. He's more minimalist, while I tend towards a if-you-can-find-it-at-Anthropologie-I'm-going-to-love-it style.

So we ended up back home with dishes, and that's it. Still no furniture. I'll take a picture of the current status of our apartment and post it tomorrow. We have an air mattress that we packed in our suitcase. That's it. I feel like a squatter in my own home.

Made it to the Andrew Bird concert last night - AMAZING! This guy is absolutely incredible, and I highly recommend that you check him out. He has a band that plays with him, but many of his songs are a one-man act. He has a machine that records what he plays, and then he switches it on to a playback mode, and it repeats whatever he just recorded, while he moves on to a different melody. It all comes together to form beautiful, harmonious sounds. I always enjoy listening to good violinists, as I used to play (not well), and this guy can whistle better than anyone I know.

Molly the dog is coming tomorrow! We pick her up at the airport tomorrow afternoon. I really hope she doesn't freak out on the plane. Poor girl. We've really missed her these past two months.

Keep checking back for pics. I can't find the cable right now.