Monday, November 7, 2016

Week Six at Leiths


What a rocky week. I cannot even count how many times I cried this week just from exhaustion and frustration. I had no hot water and no heat for FIVE DAYS!! However, this was the first week where I didn’t struggle with any skill at school.

On Monday, I woke up with a sore throat and a headache. I started feeling ill on Sunday even after a fun day of catching up on sleep, watching movies and walking around London with a new acquaintance of mine. I thought it would get better as the day went on, but I was wrong. I met with my buffet group to finalize our menu. I won’t say what we are doing yet, but it is a very interesting assortment of food.  I am very looking forward to preparing the food on November 18.  

We then had a cake demonstration on marzipan, fondant and royal icing. I felt real tight in my chest as I watched the teacher put the marzipan on the cake. I have never worked with any of these ingredients before and it seemed very hard to me. We also are responsible for supplying our own decorations and tools. I can’t even find napisan (laundry detergent) on my own, let alone find cake supplies in a British grocery store.  

We then ended the day with our practical class. I don’t even know how I got through that day. I was irritable from feeling sick and exhausted, and then we had to make three different things. Luckily, I enjoyed making what we made, which was pavlova, steak, scones and matre d’hotel butter. I got full points on my meringue and the whipping cream for my pavlova.  I may have ended up with a 4/5 for my steak because it was a little bit rare and got a 4/5 on my scones.  

Pavlova with Passionfruit and Mango 

I took the day off. I really really did not want to miss this important day, because I knew that the class would be making the marzipan for our cakes, but I felt so terrible when I woke up. I also wound up taking a freezing cold shower and found out twenty minutes afterward that the heat was turned off because the boiler was leaking. Not the greatest start to the day, and I have to admit there are small things here and there that have consistently made me annoyed with my living situation throughout the term.

 I did practice making short-crust pastry for the third time because it has been bothering me.  I have probably wasted about 500 g of flour by now. I didn’t know what to do with the pastry dough so I wound up throwing most of it away. The pastry broke as soon as I put it into the tin. This is always what happens to me. I don’t know how much more I can practice. I’m getting sick of making it by hand, because I definitely have the first part of cutting the butter into the flour with knives down. At the end of my mini practice session, I made biscuits out of the short-crust pastry and gave them to my landlady and flat-mate.  I just know that short-crust pastry will be on the practical assessment as well as jointing or filleting, sweating onions and batoning carrots.

Autumn Crumble and Creme Anglaise 

On Wednesday morning, we had a lecture about food allergies. I have to admit I found it rather dry. I still wasn’t feeling that well, so I started worrying about other things during the lecture. While it was a bit boring, I did think the information was important if I wanted to go into catering or start my own personal chef business. I don’t think of allergies or restrictions very often and need to start considering other diets and needs.  After the session, we took a test on the lecture material that was super easy.

We ended the day making crème anglaise and an autumn crumble. Since I was gone the day before, I did not have to make the lamb that my peers started on Tuesday. I was actually relieved, because the recipe had so many spices. I did have to make the rice that accompanied the lamb.

I dislike like making crème anglaise. Crème anglaise is so difficult even though it has only four ingredients. It is so easy to over cook it. I wound up making two batches but still got a 4/5. I think it’s because I got so fed up with putting it back on the heat and taking it off. The autumn crumble was so refreshing and fruity and my rice was okay. Luckily, I got full credit for the rice. 

Scones -  A little over-cooked 

The teachers also made me make the marzipan layer for my Christmas cake. In the states, nobody really seems to make Christmas cakes. I struggled a lot with the marzipan because it was so dry. It broke in a few places, but others said that theirs did too when they made it the day before. I’m so glad that I got full assistance with that because I think it would be a lot worse trying to shape the cake on my own. However, I’m also still worried about getting decorating materials for the cake. I’ve gotten glares from grocery store employees to “hurry up” when I have spent five minutes just reading the label on medicines because they look so different from what I know. 

By the time I got home, I collapsed and did about 30 minutes of review for the upcoming test.

Steak with Maitre D'Hotel Butter 

I started the day with a review session at 7:00 am because I realized I really needed to memorize the conversions that were required. I went to school and we had a demonstration on fish. I have to say eating mussels in the morning was not my biggest idea of fun, but the hake, za’tar shrimp and tempura were delightful and rich.  

In the afternoon, we made pork marsala with kale and made the sauce for the pizzas scheduled for Friday. I was actually a bit nervous going into the day but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I did have trouble finding the sinew on the pork and wound up taking a bit too much of the meat off. I really just am terrible at trimming or cutting meat and fish. I ended receiving a 4/5 on my pork and a 5/5 on my kale.

Pizza with Nduja Sausage and Basil 

On Friday, I had to move all my stuff in the flat into the bathroom so carpeting could be put down during the day. I have to reveal that I was not happy about this at all. I was also worried about the morning test and this just added to my level of stress. I left at 8:00 am and went and studied at a coffee shop to avoid the carpeting people. 

The test was definitely more difficult than I expected. We had to fill in a meat diagram, remember oven temperatures, answer some short questions and fill in the blanks. I’m not sure how well I did.

We then had a demonstration on ice-cream, which was so fun to eat in the morning, and then we had to make pizza dough and profiteroles. It was such a relaxing and fun cooking session compared to the day before. I got a 5/5 on my pizza and a 4/5 on my profiteroles. Because we make homemade pizza so much at home, I would have been super mad at myself for not getting a five.  I can tell that they are really pushing us to work faster. It was interesting to see how my peers were definitely shattered and all looking forward to the three-day weekend. When I got home, my room was in complete disarray. so I ended the night by getting a drink with my flat-mate in Shepherds Bush.

Warner Bros Studio - Hogwarts 

The Weekend

On Saturday, I went to see Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime in Picadilly Circus and Sunday I went to the Warner Bros Studio in Watford Junction. These were both so fun and I loved both so much. I was impressed with the modern theatrics and special effects in the play. Seeing the Harry Potter studio felt like a dream too me. I could not believe I was actually looking at the real costumes and set, and it was so nice to get out of central London and be with people I did not know.

However, on Saturday, my landlady had told my flat-mate and I would need to move if she could not fix the heater. It’s not easy to move when you have no connections or network. I knew I had to get on it right away because she might tell us to leave anytime. I asked so many people about potential places to live because I am clueless here. I also learned that someone new moved into the apartment without my knowledge and  woke me up super early in the morning.

 When I got home, everybody was in the kitchen including a new renter. I was so shattered. The last thing I wanted to do was introduce myself to another person. I actually was so tired that I stopped this new person from putting a loaf of bread on-top of my tiny basket of pantry items. I am used to having much more space too. I watched in horror as it looked like everything was going to fall off. It wasn’t a big deal and I apologized immediately, but I felt this surge of panic and vulnerability as I saw someone lifting a lot of food out of their bag and onto my food space.

 If anything, food is the one thing where I want to have control. The kitchen needs to be clean and I need to be able to cook. I need to have my own food space too. I’d rather have someone put a ton of clothes in my wardrobe or use my bathroom than not be able to cook. I definitely felt like my personal space was invaded this past week.

I came full circle and thought I had to leave. I found new places, asked for help from friends, and almost registered myself with another flat. I even ate unhealthy foods and packed half of my belongings because I thought I was going to move.
Well, this was my week. and I am worried about next week because they will be adding service times to our food and, oh man, I am slow and may be even slower this week.

My experience here is definitely building more character in me and I can laugh about all my experiences when I get home. I am now sixty-six percent done with the course.
Over and out- 

My new outdoor friend 

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