Sunday, 29 September 2013
6:30 am Alarm goes off. Train to Glory on KUNM (Black gospel music on our local NPR station). I haven't heard Cecilia Webb since I was in graduate school. I wonder WHY I woke up so early on Sunday mornings in graduate school. I mean, seriously, back then, I didn't work. I only went to school. Why did I really need to wake up early on Sundays to work??
6:45 am Get out of bed. Boy, it's freezing in this house! I wonder when we are going to turn the heat on. It's not even October 1st yet, but it's sure cold.
6:46 am Brush teeth, wash face, gather chef's stuffs (chef's coat, knife kit, Green Bay hat, bright green tennies)
7:00 am Sit down to breakfast prepared by my sweet hubby: scrambled eggs and toast with jam. Barely able to choke down breakfast because I'm nervous for my first shift in the student cafe. Why is it that I'm always so nervous to try new things? This doesn't come naturally to me.
7:15 am Help Andrew with the football picks for the week. We won last week(!) so the pressure is off because we've broken even now, but it would sure be sweet to win again! One sure pick every week: Seattle. I read an article before the season started about the Seahawks, Pete Carroll's coaching philosophy and Russell Wilson's approach to football. For the record, I am smitten with Russell, and I even have an app on my phone called "Ask Russell." You gotta love that guy!
7:30 am Head to campus. Drive PAST my office. Think about how different a Monday, or any morning, would be if I worked at a restaurant instead of in an office.
7:50 am Hello folks! I walk into the kitchen to report for my volunteer shift at the student-run cafe, and enthusiastically greet the other students with a "good morning!". No response...
8:01 am I quickly learn that my fellow culinary students are not used to being awake, let alone ready and standing upright, at 8:00 am on a Sunday. My enthusiasm is not that welcomed.
8:05 am I am, of course, petrified. What should I do? I don't know... I find a Midwestern-sympathizer in a Green Bay cap (I am also sporting a Green Bay hat because who really wants to root for the Vikings? I have more loyalty than most to my home state but the Vikings have reached their limits). Anyway, I find someone who can tell me what to do. I start by making an egg base. I cracked four trays of eggs into a China cap, a perforated metal sieve, and as far as I can tell, a racist kitchen term for a strainer. I blame the French (see Chinois).
8:45 am Egg base done. Time to find a new task. I'm assigned the beet curls. Sounds fun, huh? It was totally fun and totally pretty. I've noticed that my classmates do not have a strong affinity for beauty in the kitchen. I've remarked, as one would, several times when things are pretty in the kitchen - biscuits, Duchesse potatoes, apple tarts, etc. - and I never get a response from my classmates. Am I just weird to find beauty in food? I know I'm not. I don't know why people do not respond. I guess I just haven't found "my people" yet.
Anyway, beet curls are beautiful and fun. I used a Japanese manual machine to produce curly strands of yellow and red beets. So pretty!
I had to peel and curl about 15 huge beets so this took a while.
As I'm peeling the yellow beets, I take off my nail on my thumb. The vegetable peeler cuts through the latex glove I'm wearing, and cuts my nail. I doesn't hurt, but I look down at my thumb PRAYING that it won't start bleeding. I don't want to be that girl who requires medical assistance on my first day in the student cafe. Luckily, I only cut the nail and no skin. Thank you, thank you!
9:35 am I decide I really need to take a break. I've finished the yellow beets and the red beets are much bigger. My hand is cramping from operating the vegetable curler. I decide to take a break and go get a drink of water.
9:39 am I walk back to the kitchen. It's empty. WTF? There used to be at least 15 people in there. Everyone has left the kitchen, and they are now sitting in the foyer listening to a lecture from the chef manager of the cafe about how unorganized the cafe is. I glance in the kitchen, notice everyone is attending the "lecture" and wonder what to do with myself. I mean, seriously, I leave for four minutes and everything changes?!?
I'm reminded of the time I took a tennis lesson at another club when I was in high school. I'm not a huge fan of trying new things. It makes me nervous when I don't know what to expect. I like to imagine what my day will be like. When there's a big blank gap, I don't like it. Anyway, I remember my mom drove me way out in the suburbs to this other club. At some point during the lesson, I needed to go to the bathroom. We were playing on an indoor court. When I walked back through the plastic "door" into the court, my group was nowhere to be seen (in front of me). I said, out loud, "Oh great, now where did they go??" The instructor said from behind me, "We're right here," with a tone of distinct judgment. I was mortified. Anyway... I continue my beet curls.
I'm back in the classroom kitchen all alone. I realize that everyone else is being paid to be here this morning. I meet a nice lady who is the only other volunteer. She lives in Pecos and works for a university in their kitchen. She really seems to know what's what. Although my experience in the kitchen is extremely limited, I've been around long enough to know that I definitely want to know the people who seem to know what's what. I chat her up. She seems very friendly. I hope I see her again.
11:15 am I've finally finished the beet curls. Another classmate comes up to tell me I am going to join the team who will be going to the cafe to improve the organization, which the paid students were admonished for earlier by the chef supervisor. I meet two nice girls who have been in the culinary program for a little while. They also seem to know what's what.
I help with the inventory and make sure everything is in order at the cafe. I ask lots of questions so I can learn about what actually goes into working at and running a cafe. It's eye opening.
12:00 pm We head back to the classroom. I really want to head home. It's the last day of the weekend, and I can't help but start thinking about my real Monday morning. I am too timid to actually leave and get roped into helping make granola. No problemo. I'm trying to approach every task at the kitchen as a learning opportunity. So far, all of these learning opportunities have been really fun.
One of the biggest challenges of class is knowing where all of the equipment and ingredients are, and cooking in this kind of setting as a volunteer (relaxed and non-stressful) is really helpful. I jump at the chance to try something new and learn more.
12:25 pm After the granola is in the oven, I finally muster the courage to let our sous-chef know that I need to leave. I head home and drive back past my office.
What if this was a real Monday, and this was my job? Hmmmm....
12:45 pm I arrive home and find Andrew busily sanding the wood for our desk in the backyard. I relate all of the details of the morning. Just one of many things I love about my husband - he's always so enthusiastic about hearing about my adventures in "the kitchen," as I like to call it.
1:25 pm We eat a glorious lunch of yard burgers, potato chips and cornichons. We watch Seattle come back to beat Houston in overtime. Overjoyed!
2:30 pm I shower and realize that if I don't sit down asap I might faint. I crawl into bed and sleep for several hours. I dream of being "in the kitchen," beet curls, stocks, julienned carrots, corned beef and roasted tomatoes. I wish I was still "in the kitchen."
6:15 pm I wake up slightly. I hear muffled sounds of the television from our new tv room. I get out of bed and find Andrew sitting in the tv room in his underwear. He tells me that he had to take his clothes off in the laundry room because they were so covered in sawdust. He waited until I woke up to shower or even get his clothes from the bedroom because he didn't want to wake me up. What a sweetie!
6:17 pm I wish that it really was Monday, and that this was my job.