Mid-Semester Slump

I can’t even remember what we made in class last week – it was that uneventful. And this week, we made appetizers. Strike that. We didn’t make, but rather, rushed through appetizers. What a mess.

What I do remember is that I did not learn anything new between last week and this week, except how to turn on the gas grill, which disappoints me.

Chef tasked our team to make these awful snail appetizers with goat cheese in puff pastry, with little direction or help. We waited…and waited…and waited for him to come to our station and provide the recipe he promised. “Chef,” we called out several times. “We’re ready for you – what’s the next step; you said dice…what size? How much cheese? Where does the snail go? How big do you want the circle of puff pastry? Do you want the herbs rough chopped or finely chopped?

Yeah, we could have made it up as we went along or tried to figure it out. But, we’ve gotten in trouble with Chef when we’ve tried to do that in the past. And at my age, I have no patience for being called a kitchen idiot, when I could have done perfectly fine with a recipe and some direction.

Cool Girl has mellowed out a bit since her temper tantrum in class a couple of weeks ago, which has been a nice change of pace. And the other girl in our group – I don’t even know what to call her, her personality is so complex, and not in a good way – she stream rolled over many of us this week as a peanut sauce know-it-all (who didn’t really know it all). This week I’ll call her Steamroller.

The group next to us asked me how they could thin out and rescue their peanut sauce, which can only be described as having the appearance of seized chocolate. I suggested chicken broth or stock, which would thin it out, without diluting the flavor like water might. And then the Steamroller came on through without a warning: “Add corn syrup – it will thin it out and make it sweet. I do it all the time!”

I crinkled my nose and mouth in such a way that said, “You’re crazy,” to Steam roller, and “Don’t do it,” to the group next to us. I repeated the chicken broth suggestion, and if I had been standing on the same side of the prep table as Steamroller, I would have been knocked clear out of the way as she muscled her way closer to the group and took over the conversation.

I shrugged my shoulders as the other group looked at me with confused faces, and continued chopping herbs.

Later Chef came by and told them to use coconut milk – corn syrup was not the answer unless they wanted to make peanut butter balls.

So, this is the drama I experience every week. Sometimes it’s entertaining. Other times it’s downright frustrating. This week though, I didn’t seem to care – I had no reaction either way to what was going on around me.

I think I’ve hit my mid-semester slump. And I think it’s because I’m kind of bored. Like with my baking class last semester, I’m desperate for those secret nuggets of cooking knowledge — the tips and tricks of the trade. And I’m not getting them. I know how to make stock, I know how to make appetizers and bake chickens and pan sear, roast, fry, bake.

I need to practice my knife skills and sauces and plating techniques (ironically, I have a degree in art and have the hardest time making a pretty plate). Hopefully we’ll get to some of that soon.

How do you all stay motivated in class? What have you done to get through the mid-semester slump?

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            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
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            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
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            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
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            Lackawanna College is the premier, private, accredited two-year college serving the people of northeastern Pennsylvania. With a focus on keeping higher education affordable and accessible to our immediate community, Lackawanna draws 80 percent of its student population right from our own region.

            With a main campus situated in downtown Scranton, Lackawanna’s expanding footprint also includes satellite centers in Hawley, Hazleton, New Milford, and Towanda.

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            • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
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            • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
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            Sullivan University is a private institution of higher learning dedicated to providing educational enrichment opportunities for the intellectual, social and professional development of its students. The institution offers career-focused curricula with increasing rigor from the certificate through diploma, associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree levels. Throughout those curricula, the university seeks to promote the development of critical thinking, effective verbal and written communication, computer literacy, and teamwork as well as an appreciation for life-long learning, cultural diversity and the expression of professionalism in all activities. At the graduate level, the university also seeks to promote a culture of research.