Monday, September 29, 2008

Lesson 1: Lessons Learned

A big part of the draw to this book for me is the teaching/learning aspects of the book.  Here are my thoughts on what I have learned, or at least what I can take forward as I tackle the next 89 lessons:

In Lesson 1, the instructional pieces were Roasting and Preparing Fruits.  

As mentioned, I have roasted chicken, roasted turkey, and I think in college I roasted some game that one of my roommates brought from home.  My feelings are that the Thanksgiving turkey is so much easier than a chicken, and that roasting, like most things, can always be a learning experience.

After I initially wrote this post, I traveled away for the weekend to a friends summer cabin.  We were in charge of dinner and he ended up buying 2 whole chickens at the market.  I challenged him to cook one and I would cook the other and we would see how it turned out.  I used the same techniques I learned and practiced, and found it was much easier, even with limited supplies, and space in the kitchen and oven. My chicken turned out fantastic and my carving was seeing some improvements.  The eaters/judges wouldn't put one chicken over the other, as they said we were all winners with such good food!

The lessons in Preparing Fruits, the technique for peeling the orange known as peler a vif is something I have never bothered to do...probably like most people making a fruit salad--peel orange, slice orange, throw in salad is the norm.  The little bit of effort to eliminate the membrane, if that is what made the difference for this fruit salad, I am a believer. I will need to perfect the timing however on boiling the peach, dropping it in a cold water bath and peeling.  I will have many opportunities to see again how long is appropriate.

Being a teacher, myself, I realize much more can be learned from the experience that the instructors may not plan for, and that may not be learned anywhere else.  Here are those things that I think I can take forward.

Up first, the bad:

1.  Don’t assume that ingredients you are looking for will be at any of the local places I currently shop.

2.  My carving of a chicken needs some work (I am putting it lightly here).

3.  Communicating ideas in an orderly, coherent way, is a work in progress.

4. Who knows about photos?  I am still trying to figure this one out.

The good:

1.  The substitutions I made for this menu worked well.

   a.  The chicken was great, even if it wasn’t free range, "appellation controlee" french birds.  I would like to find one to eat to compare though.

b.  The peas were a great dish even with frozen peas (did I forget to mention this before?), parsley instead of Chervil, and white onions instead of pearl onions (Lesson 3 has pearl onions, so I better find them soon--someone recommended frozen or canned?).

Things to do:

1.  I need to find the best place to buy meat products.

2.  Practice my knife skills.

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