Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Week One at Ballymaloe Cookery School

Farmer's Market in Midleton, Co. Cork, Ireland
Roast Chicken for sale at the Midleton Farmer's Market. 
Fruit Stand at Midleton Farmer's Market.
My days are completely consumed, I'm finding time to write sparse, but of course we found time to discover the local Farmer's Market (live whole lobster 10€! smoked mackerel! artisan cheese! the best croissant of our lives!). Even checking my cellphone messages isn't a reality until about 1:00 in the afternoon (yep, Travis sends messages like, Liam puked all over! I'm washing sheets! What do I do?!) which were received 3 hours before. The classroom learning is at the speed of light, even though many of the recipes demonstrated are foods I've created in my own kitchen before (poppadoms, raita, simple steamed rice, pan frying chicken breasts), the teachers still wisely impart little bits of handy kitchen wisdom that I feel glad to have learned. The mental filing cabinet of my mind is so freaking full. So, after nine hours of learning I bustle home to relieve Travis and be a momma for 3 hours before crashing and doing it all over again — leaving little time for blogging or, to be honest, being human. Welcome to the real world, eh? Christian is having fun while Dad is homeschooling him and met a neighborhood boy from Russia. Liam … well, Liam plays a lot of Wii. Travis is at the pub right now probably meeting some really cool locals. And me, well, every moment that I feel negative or discouraged (mostly from not understanding and able to 100% clearly communicate with my Irish/English/Aussie/French/Japanese/and even American colleagues) I become completely present and say to myself: You are in Ireland. In culinary school. This is it. This is the coolest, freaking amazing thing you will ever do. Now smile. And be you. 
The shores of Youghal, Co. Cork, Ireland 
List of Completed Skills & Tips

Sharpen knives — use a 20º angle on the steel and make sure to sharpen both sides of your blade (I've been doing it wrong my whole life!)
Line a flan (or tart) ring with shortcrust pastry
How to poach fruit
Making candied lemon and orange peel — how many lemons and oranges I've been throwing away all these years!?
Boiling Irish potatoes in seawater — yes, actual seawater. 
Chicken and vegetarian Stock
Forage for wild blackberries
Blackberries grow wild on the streets of Ireland. 
Cartouche — a simple parchment paper top over poached fruit or sautéing onions keeps moisture in and prevents burning. 
Make cheese from Jersey milk
How to bone a whole chicken — this one was fun. Yes, I think cutting up a chicken is FUN!
Make and preserve jam
Wine tasting — wines from Adelaide and Chablis region
Irish Soda Bread
How to boil rice — Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil, salt heavily, sprinkle in 2 cups of basmati rice, boil for 3-4 minutes, drain. Pour into a bowl, cover, and place in a 350º oven for 15-20 minutes. Fluff and  drop copious amounts of butter unto hot rice. Serve. 

Some shots of our escapades in Ireland...
Church of St. Mary estimated to have the first foundations built in 600-800AD.
Inside the Church of St. Mary, Youghal, Co. Cork, Ireland. 
Graveyard of Church of St. Mary in Youghal, Co. Cork, Ireland.
'Til next time, friends!