Week 2 marked the first of many farm visits we will be doing and also the first menu development day. Again, it was a long week but we just did our FoodSafe session with Chef Ian today (it’s Saturday). I had several late nights to research and plan for menu development (more on that below). Focus was on soups and we made over 10 different kinds (!!!). Biggest growth point for me this week was to start to develop my sense of flavouring, going from under seasoned dishes to a really good mushroom soup (as I was told ;). In progress is to keep practicing putting together task lists and keeping on time, one of the thing I catch myself doing is running back and forth to collect ingredients through out the cooking time even though “Collect ingredients” is the first thing on my task list to complete. For next week, I’m going to see if I could manage the collection of ingredient into a more efficient manner.
“So, when will you be cooking for me?” My goal is to be able to get at least one or two dinners cooked at home each week before the end of September, and we’ll have to see after that. We’re still settling into the daily routine of getting the kids and me to school/hubby to work, and then after school pick up and traffic.
Farm visit – Terra Nova farm (Thursday)
Terra Nova is a public space with community garden space and also Community Support Agriculture (CSA). The farm is ran by volunteers and sweat equity from students in an agriculture program, elementary school kids, and us – students at NWCAV 🙂
Chef Ian showing what healthy soil looks like. We didn’t get to visit Chef Ian’s bees today since the weather was temperamental but we did see these neat boxes that houses mason bee eggs that will hatch in the spring. Our team (Team Carrot), sorry about the heads being cut off. We harvested carrots, beets and potatoes for the food bank fundraiser for next Saturday, picked beans, flaxseed, fava beans and buckwheat for drying, and also helped cleaned up a couple plots to prep for winter planting. We were also able to forage in certain plots for ingredients to go into our recipes for menu development.
While at the farm we still cooked but with a butane-powered stove outside in a tent.
Menu Development (Friday)
Earlier in the week, we were given the task to come up with 2 canapes, 1 salad and 1 soup per team for Friday. For me, menu development is the process of putting what we have learned into the start of creating our own recipes. This first menu development also focused on our mise en place and knife cuts. I was flying solo for Friday as my partner for the week is out of town, and I have taken the opportunity to go it alone (this is usually a team project). My plan is to keep it simple, re-use ingredients in two or more recipes and make as good as a plan as I could before Friday morning – this kept me up until 2 am Thursday night as I prepped my task list. We were also allowed to bring in our own ingredients if it was not available at school, but I’ve decided to keep with what was provided, and try my best to use up the stock pile of overcuts I have extra in the fridge.
The majority of the day was high anxiety as I tried my best to keep on track. A couple of things that I would do next time: instead of hand-making the mayo for one of the canapes replace it with sour cream or yogurt (I spent probably 7-8 minutes more on the mayo than what I planned); collecting ingredients at one go (as mentioned on top of the post); take more risk in adding flavours (ideas from the feedback from the chefs which I’m putting into my back pocket to prep for finals ;).
I credit good planning (and fellow stove-mates who helped with some dishwashing) to allowed me to deliver pretty much on time. I’m happy with the execution as you can see from my draft plan.
***must remember to not overdress the salad greens*** I imagined a higher pile of leaves for the salad.
Proudest moment of the day here: I fried the shiitake mushroom garnish, and it was yummy. Also taking the recommendation from Chef Warren, since we didn’t have enough shiitake mushroom to go around, I used a combo of dried chanterelle and shiitake mushrooms along with fresh shiitakes for the soup. I rehydrated the dried mushrooms by boiling in a pot of water, drained and filtered the mushroom water twice and used it in the soup too.
Friday left me feeling quite strung out, but I think I finally am able to catch my breath as I’m typing up this post. 🙂 And Publish!