I finished my second semester of culinary school.

I achieved my goal of finishing culinary school this semester. I finished right at eight months pregnant which was a tight fit. I will be honest, this semester was a tough one because I was full-time and the classes were a bit challenging. My final exam was given last Friday in Food Production II. The class was given a mystery basket, a sheet of paper to write a menu, and an hour to finish the meal. These are a few of the mystery ingredients that were in my basket, a large carrot, three eggs, flour, chicken, and fresh spinach. I decided to utilize my ingredients and make a pan fried chicken over a bed of creamed spinach with roasted carrots. I had a few points taken off my practical exam because I did not have a starch on my plate, otherwise, I did a good job!
Here is a recent pic of the baby belly:

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The Great Greek Project

My English Composition I: Culinary class was asked to write an essay about a favorite personal recipe.
Here is mine:
The Great Greek Project
I like creating unique recipes that tell a story within themselves, and these Greek tacos do just that. Just so happens, Greek Food is one of my favorite cuisines to eat. This is not a family recipe that was passed down to me, this is simply just a recipe I have perfected through time and experimentation.
The history of this recipe began while hosting an ethnic food night at my house two years ago. I have always had a deep interest in the cultures and traditions of other countries. The theme for this particular night was Greek food. So I began sifting through pages of my Taste of Home Cookbook, in search of finding the perfect Greek recipe. I came across a recipe for Greek tacos that teased my senses enough to urge me to try it out. Let me just say, it was near perfect but needed an extra zing to it.
I began experimenting with different ingredients until I felt the recipe had reached its full potential. The changes made to the recipe we’re subtle yet significant. For instance, I thought a tangy Greek sauce would pair perfectly with these tacos. My imagination began to spin as the process of what ingredients should be added or edited from the recipe. As a cook, you must be knowledgeable about the flavors of many different foods and how they pair with each other. This is where you could say, the recipe evolved.

1 pound of ground beef
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes.
3 teaspoons of Cavender’s Greek Seasoning
1 cup of Greek Yogurt ( plain)
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1/3 cup of Mayonnaise
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
1/2 cup of minced cucumber
2 cups of whole leaf baby spinach
1 can (10 ounces) ripe olives, minced and drained
1 package (16 oz) of yellow corn tortillas.
1 cup of crumbled feta cheese
1 cup of chopped red onion

The recipe begins by gathering two medium -sized skillets. One of these will be used for the taco meat and the other for frying the taco shells. Begin by browning the hamburger meat over medium heat in skillet until no longer pink; drain. Second, you will stir in the one can of diced tomatoes, minced garlic, and two teaspoons of Greek seasoning. Make sure you bring all these ingredients to a slight boil. Reduce the heat on the stove for 8-10 minutes or until thickened. You can proceed to add the whole leaf baby spinach, as well as the minced black olives to the skillet. Let this cook for 2-3 minutes or until the spinach is wilted, stirring occasionally. You may need to turn the heat on a low simmer to keep the taco meat warm.
You will now need to heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil over medium in a separate skillet. Add your tortillas, gently flipping them with tongs until golden brown on both sides. Spoon about 1/3 cup of your taco meat into shell and set on paper towel above plate to degrease. Follow this procedure for however many tacos you will be preparing.
Meanwhile, gather ingredients for the sauce which are: one cup of Greek yogurt, 1/3 cup of mayonnaise, 1/2 cup of minced cucumber, one teaspoon of Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, and one teaspoon of lemon juice. Add all of these ingredients together in a small mixing bowl, incorporating them evenly with a large spoon or paddle. You may adjust the sauce by adding or editing to your taste. Spoon about one teaspoon of this mixture into your tacos and enjoy!

The second semester of culinary school.

The second semester of culinary school..

The second semester of culinary school.

I will be honest,this semester of culinary school has been a challenging one. The reason being is some of my classes are online. I’m not a particular fan of this idea, nor would I encourage it. However, I have enjoyed my labs because I can freely create wonderful dishes while being critiqued on the flavor, texture, presentation and consistency of the meal. My food production II instructor has been a great resource for gaining knowledge in every aspect of the culinary field. I have learned to think like a professional chef and look for the details in every meal I produce for the consumer. The saying is true, ” I am only as good as the last meal that I served.”
Another factor that plays a role in the chaos this semester is being six months pregnant. Yes, it’s going to be a long couple of months. I feel tired but I know that I’m a step closer to fulfilling my dream. This is a constant reminder that it’s all going to be o.k. There are moments when I want to pull all my hair out and other times I feel completely drained. The funny thing is, I continually feel inspired to succeed and push forward through it all. My divine moment begins now and I’m going to take it.

Here’s a recent pic of the pregnancy bump:

My favorite restaurant

My favorite restaurant.

My favorite restaurant

My favorite restaurant is Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro located in the downtown river market area. There is a unique personality and vibe exemplified throughout the restaurant. A handcrafted, wooden horse draped with purple and gold linen greets you as you walk in through the double doors. An eclectic energy fills the walls of this establishment. Colorful chandeliers hang from the ceiling above you. Pieces of fine art strung at random along the multi-colored walls. There is a comfortable outside seating giving it a relaxed atmosphere. An upscale casual dining experience, at it’s best.
The menu consists of everything from soups, salads, burgers, pasta dishes, and dessert. This place is always crowded with hungry people ready to engross themselves in European/American food. They do not take reservations for groups less than ten people. Parking space is also limited. This being said, it’s an advisable idea to arrive early. Their spinach-artichoke dip is a personal favorite of mine. The server brings it out on a hot plate big enough for two and lays it on the table. Served with a heaping basket of tortilla chips. The artichoke and creamy mayonnaise give it a nice, rich, full-bodied flavor. My only suggestion is to serve the chips warm because it tastes more fresh as opposed to room temperature. Their burgers served alongside crinkle cut french fries is also a secret fancy of mine. A recent choice was the black and bleu burger entree. Dripping in black truffle oil and bleu cheese sauce, your hands might be a little greasy afterwards. A toasted bun holds this monstrosity together, soaking up the juices it so willingly yields. The flavor is earthy and slightly tangy. You may want to ask for a to go box because this is one huge burger.
If your looking for a place to kick back and have a few drinks there is a bar stationed at the front of the house. The dining room is spacious providing a convenient way for guests to be seated quickly. The service is substantial but sometimes it takes awhile before your order is served. The ingredients are made fresh daily taking some time to prepare. In a contest of quality versus speed of service, I choose quality. As a customer, I want to know that my meal looks and tastes the same as my last visit. This creates a security that draws repeated business from many who also enjoy this standard, known as consistency. One of the many factors that keep me coming back to Dizzy’s is the presentation and detail fused into every meal. My eyes share just as much of the meal as my taste buds do. I expect the meal that I ordered to look just as appetizing as it tastes. There is never a time I have left this restaurant feeling hungry because they feed you a substantial amount. Let’s just say, they’re not stingy with their portion size. The prices are not too shabby either. One downfall to this establishment, is the fact that it’s not family friendly. While they may have a kid friendly menu it’s evident this restaurant isn’t set up for high energy children.
Dizzy’s provides a flexible schedule for those who may want to drop in for lunch or dinner. Their serving hours are Tuesday through Saturday. Opening at eleven a.m. and closing at ten p.m. However, they do not provide delivery or pickup service. The staff is always friendly and helpful providing an enjoyable evening for the guest. I know I’m going to be provided excellent service every time I visit. There is an endless array of professionals checking on you to make sure your experience is satisfactory. As the customer, I want to leave feeling it was worth my time and Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro provides that opportunity as soon as I walk through it’s doors.

Chicken Grandma’s Cooking.

My English Composition I: Culinary class was asked to write about the best cook in the family: Here’s mine.

Natalie Porter
Mr. Gregan
English Composition I: Culinary
24 September 2012
Chicken Grandma’s Cooking
Chicken Grandma was and always will be the cook in the family. Lura Bell Schlesier was her given name but her grandchildren called her chicken grandma. She raised chickens, pigs, and three beautiful gardens. You may ask why we called her this? Chicken and dumplings we’re her signature dish. They we’re savory, rich, and creamy. It continues to be the yardstick, I measure all chicken and dumplings to, even today. My sisters and I would always say to each other that we could smell grandma’s cooking a mile away. The lessons she left behind lit the way for a future generation. She was a rare jewel to all who knew her in so many ways. There was always time to care for others before herself. She painted a picture of what true stewardship means.
There was a unique balance she kept in her kitchen for years. Rules we’re laid out and we’re required to be followed. She didn’t believe in wasting good food. So, whatever she prepared as the meal was eaten. Her kitchen was her sanctuary. A place for the cook to explore the ingredients and create a lasting impression on the guest. Her cooking method was creative yet resourceful in using what was available in the pantry. She wasn’t a fan of sharing the kitchen with someone else. Her belief was: ” The kitchen belonged to the cook and it was the right to have privacy”. As the guest, you we’re always served the meal first. The cook didn’t sit down until everyone was given their food. There was a close attention paid to detail and presentation. A prayer was always said before enjoying the meal. Everyone was welcome at her home whether family, friend, or stranger. She believed that true hospitality is selfless.
Grandma gave us opportunities to learn through her cooking. Every meal at her house was to be enjoyed with a heart full of thankfulness. If your hands weren’t laboring in some way, then your plate was an empty vessel. She taught us that only the happiest of cooks prepare the best meals. We learned that fellowship and family are the best accompaniments to any meal. Last of all, anyone that considers himself to be a good cook, must first learn to be a steward.
Routinely, she made a pie every three days. The ingredients we’re simple: pie crust, fruit preserves, butter and sugar. There is no greater splendor in this world than a fresh, hot, apple pie right from the oven. Breakfast was served every morning, regardless if you we’re hungry or not. This meal consisted of farm-fresh eggs, bacon, sausage links, and biscuits with peppered gravy. Grandma was well-known for her homemade giblet gravy. A southern, hearty, dish she served with dressing or sliced turkey. The main ingredient she used was love and you could taste it in every bite.
Dedication and hard work is what she lived by. She maintained three vegetable gardens every year. Half of the produce was sold to local stores for profit. Pigs and chickens we’re the main source of livestock. Everyday she would feed the animals and tend to the garden. She raised all three of her grandchildren after their mother left. Grandma had to carry the weight in the Schlesier household because Grandpa lacked motivation. If there was something to be mended or fixed, she faithfully tackled the task. Her attitude towards life and it’s many gains and losses was something to be admired. Behind every great cook is a legacy waiting to be told through food. My grandma’s spoke a multitude of love, truth and stewardship.

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