Monday, July 1, 2013

The Big Reveal

Link to purchase the OXO Stainless Steel Food Mill
You might wonder why I have a picture of a food mill as my header for this post, and I am proud to announce that I have recently bought this food mill because I am going to be making lots and lots of.........


Yes, my oldest daughter is expecting our first Grandchild in November, and I couldn't be more excited!  I haven't posted about it until now, because I had to let it all sink in first, and make sure that everything was going well before I felt comfortable writing about it.  But she has made it well into her second trimester and we are go, go, go for getting ready for "Baby ?".

That is where the connection with the title of this post comes into play.  Apparently it is very popular now to have more than just a baby shower when you are having a baby.  So we are planning pre-baby party #1 which is called the Baby Reveal Party.  Now, I can just assume that I was the only person on the planet who didn't know about this trend, or I can explain it just in case there are some old timers out there reading my blog and wondering the same thing I was wondering the first time I heard my daughter talking about the "Big Reveal".

At first I was a bit concerned because I was worried that there was something more than just your standard average baby in there and it required some kind of preparation before she could tell us some horrid news, but after letting her laugh at me for a few minutes, she gave me the scoop.

It's actually a Baby Gender Reveal Party and the whole concept is quite beautiful.  This is how it works.  On the day of the gender determining sonogram, the doctor places the results in a sealed envelope and gives the envelope to the trusted friend or family member of the mother's choice and only that person can open it to see if the baby is a boy or a girl.  Then later that evening or within a few days, at the party that was planned by the trusted envelope holder, a big "Reveal" is made by some grand and creative gesture.  Some people stuff helium balloons in a huge box and when its opened either pink or blue balloons spill towards the sky,

 or...the hostess of the party presents a cake that is filled with either pink or blue filling, and when the mother and father cut the cake it's a .........


So needless to say I am sooo.. excited!  We are going to have a cake, but our big reveal is going to be done with cupcakes that Kathleen and Sammy will feed each other to see what color filling will end up on their face. It should be lots of fun.
I promise to include a whole post of nothing but pictures after the party.  And now, back to the whole food mill thing, I am going to be making baby food for the guests at the party to play a game with.  Each guest will be given a baby diaper that has been filled with baby food, and they have to sniff it to guess what kind of baby food is wrapped up inside their diaper.

Just Ewwww
This looks just horrible, but I can't wait!

Whoever guesses correctly will be given a surprise gift. This is actually just an excuse for me to start working on my recipes because I absolutely can't wait to start making and canning homemade organic baby food.
I made homemade baby food for my children, and now with all of my Grandma's Kitchen Super Powers I can make it even better.  I can't wait to go to the Farmers Market and grind up the freshest prettiest most beautiful fruits and veggies.  I eventually might even consider buying a "Baby Bullet".  
Baby Bullet Link
But for now I am going to stick with my food mill and do it the old fashioned way.  I don't know why, but my instincts are telling me there is a reason things taste better when they are made the "old fashioned way".  I am going to hand select, steam and grind everything to perfection, just the way my grandmother did for me, and I did for my kids.....
somethings are just worth passing on.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Truth I Haven't Told Yet

My husband, Cain, and me, Tiffany Theriot, on our wedding day 21 years ago.

 I am really feeling that it is time for me to start getting down to the nitty gritty about what I have learned in culinary school, and post lots and lots of recipes and super secret chef tips, but before I do I feel I have to let a skeleton out of the closet.  

Some of you may have seen the premier of the show The Freshman Class, on Cooking Channel which premiered June 10th, in which I was one of the featured students along with my daughter April. (click here to watch video) The show followed us from orientation all the way through the completion of the first semester of culinary school.  The cameras followed us everywhere.  They would be there when we first woke up walking around with bed hair, and for some classmates, the cameras even watched them as they slept.   The filming lasted for four months and they caught everything and anything that went on.  The production team was the proverbial "fly on the wall".  


So needless to say, all of life's little issues, habits, and changes that we all just take for granted became intensified.  Like a leaky fountain pen in the pocket of a shinny white shirt, my marriage and all of it's dysfunctional glory was no longer my personal secret.  

I had been outed! as a toxic relationship tolerator.

Understand that I had carefully plotted and planned to keep that one little secret well hidden from public view, but that became totally impossible by the afternoon of the first day of filming when my husband started cursing me out..............on camera!  Geeze, what was he thinking?  I reminded him that the cameras were rolling and that he needed to "check himself, before he wrecked himself", but he just said "I don't give a f*#k, and kept on ranting and raving.  

I don't think I have ever been so embarrassed, humiliated or ashamed all at the same time, in my whole life.  I knew it was time to face the music and publicly admit that there was trouble in paradise. So that's exactly what I did for the next four months.  I painfully allowed the camera crew to simply follow me around and see what I saw, hear what I heard, and feel what I felt as I rocked the boat and tried to crawl out of Hades (a.k.a. Hell) by going back to college at 41 years old.............

because DAMMIT!  I just want an education so I can do something with my life besides being his indentured servant!
But the funny thing that happened on my way to culinary school is that I found myself missing my old life before all this started.  I missed the peacefulness of the farm and the leisurely life of a housewife (who's chicks have all left the nest, lol).  Culinary school is not a friendly place.  Many days I would leave home in the morning, my husband yelling and cursing at me as I walked out the door, only to get to school and have a Chef Instructor yelling at me too.  I could handle one or the other, but not both.

I found myself wondering, where is the joy of cooking in any of this?

By the middle of the first semester all the niceties had taken a permanent vacation and all the gloves were off, at home and at school.  I felt like the shit in a shit sandwich.  Even some of my fellow classmates seemed to have left their manners in the parking lot when they came to class, but I often wondered if a couple of them ever had manners to begin with.  That's one of the hazards of being in the service industry, you are surrounded by people from all walks of life, some of which would scare you if you crossed their path in a dark alley. In a  restaurant everyone has to pull together and get the job done, but not at school.  There, it is each man/woman for him/herself, and it is very competitive because everyone is trying to be the teachers pet.  Blech!!!
I felt like a contestant in the culinary school version of the Hunger Games....... COOK OR DIE!!!!!

Something had to give. I felt like I had been blitzkrieg'd by life.  I had dreamed for so long about the day I would have a chance to return to school and pursue a career outside of raising children and being a wife: something just for me.  To have reached that milestone and watch those dreams turning into nightmares instead was very sobering.

Maybe chasing dreams isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

But, being the tenacious survivor that I am, I decided to back track like superman making the earth spin backwards hoping to correct the mistakes of the past in order to improve the future.  For starters, I gave my husband the ultimate ultimatum: support me in pursuing my career and going to school or he can grow old not so gracefully with out me, and .........................cook for himself.  The grow old with out me part didn't phase him, but the thought of having to spend the rest of his life eating his own cooking was too much to bear.  He groveled and begged me to stay and said that he would do/be/become whatever I needed him to be.
So in response I informed him that this is the last chance to attempt to begin Life 2.0 together, and it will require the following without exception:
  • No Yelling (at me)
  • No Cursing (at me)
  • No Demanding that I cook anything (that is a gift I choose to give, not a duty)
  • No Complaining about me going to school or having to do homework or after school activities
  • You must learn to dance, (ball room dancing that is)  
 I didn't actually go back in time, but I did do something that I should have done from the beginning.  I laid down the law, spelling out exactly what I need, so there is no room for misunderstanding.  I don't think it is too much to ask.  Problem one solved, and now I hope after spending a little time together this summer, there might be a ray of hope (after a lot of ball room dancing) so I can start second semester back at school with a new perspective and a lot more room to breathe.  Maybe now the yelling Chef Instructors won't bother me, I won't be having weekly meltdowns in public, and I can make some magic in the kitchen.  Who knows I might even become...................the teachers pet.     

If you haven't seen the show yet click on this link send me a comment and let me know what you think about it -

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

To My Daughter On Her Wedding Day

My daughter, April Theriot
What a privilege it has been to attend culinary school with my daughter, April Theriot.  We have been cooking together since she was born as I held her in my arms while I prepared meals each day.  Soon I was letting her hold the spoon and stir the pot as she rested on my hip, but that was only until she grew tall enough to stand in a chair and help me wash dishes, (getting more water on the floor than in the sink).

Meal times were always a celebration in my kitchen, from breakfast through dinner we enjoyed every meal together, and with each year, April's curiosity and interest in cooking grew.  Soon I realized that I was not only teaching April and her two sisters, Kathleen and Collette how to cook, but I was preparing them to become mothers, wives, and independent women.  So the kitchen became our gathering place where stories were passed on, secrets were told, arguments were defused, and love was shared.  It was our haven.

Eventually, all of my children became accomplished cooks.  They won baking contests, took cooking classes, hosted dinner parties, barbeques, cooked dinner for me, and even cooked Thanksgiving themselves.  As a mother and a Matriarch, I had arrived at my goal.  I had done my job of raising four children that were more than just self-sufficient, they were capable of carrying on the traditions that my family had entrusted me to teach them.

So when April told me she wanted to go to culinary school, I was thrilled beyond words, but when she invited me to join her I thought my heart would explode with excitement.  I had always wanted to take my culinary skills to the next level, but I never dreamed that April would want the same.  So we ventured off into the wild blue yonder of culinary school together, testing our knowledge, skills, and relationship over the course of the first semester, but something was pulling April away.

A couple of weeks before school started, April's boyfriend who is in the Navy had come to Louisiana to propose to her over Christmas.  They had planned to get married as soon as she graduated, but plans soon changed when he found out he was going to be deployed and it might me over a year before they could see each other again.  That's when I was reminded that life turns on a dime, and just when you least expect it.........everything changes.

On May 30th 2013, April flew to Hawaii and eloped!

It was a beautiful ceremony, actually it was perfect, so as much as I would have loved to be there, I have to admit that it was terribly romantic to watch her chasing her dreams and following her heart.  Since her Dad couldn't be there to walk her down the isle, and I wasn't there to help her prepare, I wrote a poem for the minister to read to April and John in our absence.  

To Our Daughter On Her Wedding Day -
You are the daughter we received
The day you were born.
And we just want to thank you
For all the things you've become.
You've grown into such a gracious woman
With whom we are lucky to have shared our life.
You are a loving daughter and
I now you will be a loving wife.
We used to tuck you in bed and kiss you good night,
But as you hold his hand
you begin your new life.
So it is with love that we give you away
with all of our blessings on your wedding day.

Love Mom and Dad

So for now, April is on her honeymoon, and I don't know exactly what the future holds, but sometimes you have to realize that life is like the can't control it, you should always be prepared for it, and you should enjoy each and every day because you never know what the weather will bring tomorrow.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ode de Moon

Here"s to me the moon and my gourmet problems

Today the moon was low and full.  I believe it is called the Harvest Moon.  It almost seemed close enough to reach out and touch, with it's golden glow and spectacular size.  I am normally what you would call a moon watcher, I don't know what all the phases of the moon are, but I am mesmerized by her still on a nightly basis.  And tonight she actually got my husbands attention.  

As we were walking out to the pasture at dusk to gather the horses, my husband reached his arm around me, pulled me in close and said "doesn't the moon look beautiful tonight?"  It was as if he was trying to inspire a tender romantic moment between the two of us as we walked alone down the gravel road, but as I looked across the pasture and saw the most beautiful moon I have ever seen, all I could think of was.............................potatoes. 

Talk about ruining the mood, but for the last week and a half in culinary school, my whole life has revolved around.........potatoes.  There is a whole chapter in my Pro Cooking book devoted to the.........potato.  And there the moon hung in the sky, beautiful, golden, and spotted just like a huge..................potato.  

Within the last three days I have cooked more potatoes, eaten more potatoes, and learned more about potatoes than I ever dreamed I would in my whole life.  Purple ones, red ones, yellow ones, brown ones and even green ones.  I have officially let culinary school take over even my love life.  But I honestly can't complain because when counting life's little blessings, having to eat potatoes swimming in butter and heavy cream for a few days is not exactly what I would consider suffering.  #gourmetproblems

My love life will recover I am sure, but for now I am a potato Goddess, so thank you O'Harvest Moon for giving me my title.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Marriage, Motherhood and Mayhem

Well I thought in this post I would get a little personal and confess what it has been like to completely uproot my 41 to attend culinary school, while
  • trying to maintain my 21 year marriage
  • send all four of my kids to college (at one time)
  • prepare myself for a severe case of empty nest syndrome
  • work two jobs
  • seek the answer to... "What does a 40 something year old woman do for fun now a days"
  • start knocking things off my bucket list, and.......
  • last but not least, try to figure out what in the world am I going to do with my degree after graduation. 
If you have read the previous posts you already know school has been super intense but I finally seem to be settling in and not only enjoying the experience but also eagerly anticipating the prospects of moving forward.  I actually feel like it is even helping me "rediscover myself".  I know that is so cliche, but if you are reading this and you happen to be a woman who has been married for any length of time and raised (or is currently raising) children, then you probably know exactly what I am talking about.

It seems like the biggest challenge isn't at school, it is actually at home.  I get one break everyday, and that is during the car ride between school and home.  (Well, maybe two, if you count locking the door to the bathroom for thirty minutes while I take an extremely hot bath in solitude)  But the second the car pulls into the driveway, my first job as culinary student ends and my second and third job begins.........the job of wife and mother.

Most days my husband meets me in the garage to find out what I am cooking for dinner and when will I have time to go to the barn and help take care of our horses.  Then as I am sitting down at the kitchen table to do some homework, study for a test or write on this blog......... everyone else seems to think it is a great time to sit down with me and talk about what is happening on the latest episode of The Voice or American Idol or ask me for relationship advice or to take them to the store.

I am trying so hard to continue my masquerade as Super Woman, but my grades tell a different story.  Last week I failed two tests, and this week I fell asleep without finishing my homework twice.  I think it's time to give myself a pep talk, or maybe I need to read the Little Engine That Could, or........... I could always just have a melt down.

I think I will just try the pep talk for now.

Maybe I could give up blogging, but I have discovered that having this outlet really helps me.  It's almost like sitting down for coffee with my best friend and letting it all go.  I think I need that.  And week by week my husband is getting used to doing a few more things for himself.  He actually made rice the other day, and I was impressed, shocked and stunned. 

There is hope.

So now I have begun the count down to graduation.  At the end of this month I will be able to say I only have thirteen months left until graduation, and with each passing month my goal feels more and more reachable.  As for the ultimate question, "What am I going to do with my degree?"..... well, I will have to keep pondering that one.

I just hope I can keep this family going until then.  They are my inspiration.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Taste Your Neighbors Mayonaise

Well, the adventures in the kitchen at culinary school have officially begun.  I am over half-way through with the first semester, and some days are exciting, some are uneventful, but there are some that I will never forget.  Such was the day that we learned how to make mayonnaise.

Picture this..... there are twenty or so people whipping raw eggs and oil together, furiously by hand.  Some adding lemon, some adding other seasonings like basil, chipolte, bacon and garlic.  Sounds like fun, right?  Well it was grand entertainment......until I heard our chef instructor announce to the whole class that it was time to go around the room and "Taste Your Neighbor's Mayonnaise!"

Don't get me wrong, I love a nice flavored mayo spread across my bread when I am making the perfect sandwich, but to walk around a room and eat 10+ different spoonfuls of mayonnaise was a whole new level of consumption.  Some of the students thought it would be interesting to make ham flavored mayo and I have to admit that's where I draw the line. 

I think I actually started having a hot flash around the fifth or sixth spoonful of mayo.  My eyes started watering and I didn't think I was going to make it, but I did it.  I graciously tasted all of my neighbor's mayonnaise.  But the true hero of this story is my chef instructor, because he had to taste every single students mayonnaise.......multiple times.  Whew!  There are no words for how much I admire his fortitude and devotion to his job.

I love Chef School, but not so much a fan of mayo at the moment. lol  but I am sure I will recover and find a way to make the perfect mayo.  Below is a video on how to whip up a simple mayo, but I don't recommend eating it by the spoonful, sometimes less really is more. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Food Radio Debut

As promised I said I would post a link to the podcast of the Bite and Booze Radio Show which featured me and my classmate Jared Heine talking about what it is like to be freshman in culinary school.  This was absolutely too much fun for words.  Check it out!

It aired on 03/02/13 so if you have to look it up you will have the date.  I am still completely jealous that the host Jay Ducote gets paid to talk about food.  That is super awesome!  So for him to invite me and Jared to be guests was quite a privilege, and very inspiring for my foodie bucket list.  At first I thought I had knocked one off the list, but I enjoyed it so much I put it back on the list so I can do it again.