Monday, August 30, 2010

Now the Time Has Come to Leave You

Well, the day has arrived. My car is packed to the absolute max, my bike is ghetto rigged to the trunk (Cheap rack + 1,439 zip ties courtesy of my father. Thanks Dad.), we have 3 directional tools (Garmin, Mapquest directions and an atlas), a book on CD rented, a snack bag stuffed with food (Read a large bag jammed with homemade granola bars, store-bought granola bars, apples, almonds, bananas, cheese sticks, applesauce, Wheat Thins, pretzels, and PB&J sandwiches. I do not think we will be hungry. Ever.), hotel reservations booked, fresh fuel in the gas tank and an alarm set for 5:45 AM. Tomorrow begins the voyage across Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York to my new home in Vermont. All totaled, the trip takes 24 hours. I am thankful my mom is making the drive with me. Tonight, I'm feeling a range of mixed emotions. I am excited to start a new job that I expect to enjoy, explore a beautiful region and begin to become more independent. However, I am sad to be leaving my family, friends and the Midwest behind. Without a doubt, this will be an adventure...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Maine Trip Part II

Friday morning in Skowhegan began with another early morning jog around along the back country roads. No deer flies this morning so we were able to run father in a much more enjoyable fashion. We stumbled upon Dave out running- he had probably run 14 miles before we had run 2. Back at the house Amanda cracked open some farm-fresh eggs and snagged swiss chard from the garden to create a delightful egg concoction.

Eggs = 1st breakfast

Grapes + watermelon + granola + yogurt + blueberry coffee cake = 2nd Breakfast

In the morning, I attended Jim Lahey's workshop about "No-Knead Bread". His concept, contrary to most bakers, utilizes an extremely limited amount of kneading. The action is not actually really even technically kneading, it's more-or-less stirring the dough quickly until it's cohesive. Jim owns a very successful bakery in New York called Sullivan St. Bakery that showcases his no-knead technique.

Lunch time! More garden fresh greens and tasty grain salads.

Since they didn't serve us any dessert at lunch, we took it upon ourselves to indulge in some more Gifford's Ice Cream.

After our ice cream endeavor, I attend Ciril Hitz's workshop. Chef Ciril Hitz is the department chair of the International Baking & Pastry Institute at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Ciril has competed on the Nation Bread and Pastry Team and represented the USA as a member of the Bread Bakers Guild Team and competed at the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie, Paris, France, where the team took home the Silver Medal. Needless to say, he's quite accomplished. He gave a well-organized and easy-to-listen to presentation. He prepared loads of delicious baked goods for us and gave us the recipes to keep.

Cinnamon buns proofing.

Linzer. Was my first taste of this beautiful stuff.

Fresh fruit tarts.

After the final sessions the conference was over and everyone filled out evaluation sheets for whoopie pies. Then we got our picture taken with the Jeffrey Hamelman poster.

After our long stressful day of eating anything and everything we could, our host mom took us swimming! She took us to Lake George which was the most stunningly clear beautiful lake I have ever seen.

Back at the ranch, I took some random photos while waiting for dinner preparations to commence.

Susan went all out and bought some terrific looking salmon and mussels. I love seafood. I love fresh seafood even more.

Amanda whipped up some quick bruschetta as an appetizer.

Dave set out some of his refreshing home-made tea and wine. The wine wasn't homemade. Just the tea.

Awesome grill for grilling food!

Dave outside around the fire singing a camp song.

Feast table.

Grilled salmon and squash.

Steamy muscles that I had to fight Susan for. That woman loves mussels and ate probably half of this pot.

Dinner by the fire.

After dinner we polished off our 4 quarts of ice cream and hit the hay!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Maine Trip Part I

Before the sun rose last Wednesday, my adviser/boss Dave picked me up and we drove to the airport. We flew off to Manchester, NH where my friend Amanda picked us up from the airport. Our destination was Skowhegan, Maine for the Kneading Conference, but first we needed lunch. Dave's wife recommended us to a local Manchester diner famous for New England cuisine called the Red Arrow Diner.

The walls and pictures stated that lots of famous people have sat at the counter. Adam Sandler and Bill Clinton were two that I remember.

Amanda and I decided to order two entrees and split them. She ordered the buffalo burger with sweet potato fries and I was craving some waffles.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter chip waffles! They were advertised as stacked in a tower, so I was mildly disappointed when mine were plated horizontally.

Dave with his tuna melt.

After re-fueling we began driving north to Maine in Amanda's "Kansas Mafia Honda Civic".

Along the way we pit-stopped at a couple bakeries Dave knew about. The first was Borealis Breads. I had to try their granola bars. I think I may need to work on mine a bit more.

Our next stop was the Standard Baking Co. in Portland. Not surprisingly, Dave knew one of the workers and we got a tour of the bakery. We bought a baguette and some croissants from them and dashed out the door to glimpse a view of the Atlantic ocean.

From the coast we drove inland to reach our final destination of Skowhegan, Maine. After some slight directional confusion we arrived at our host family's home. David and Susan live in a beautiful house "off-the-grid" outside of Skowhegan. When we pulled up, Susan and David were outside tending to their massive garden and beginning the makings of a delicious dinner. Our meal was a tabouli salad with newly plucked green beans and fresh bread.

After our delightful meal, we all crashed into bed. Amanda and I arose bright and early at 6:30 am to take a jog out into the forest trails. Unfortunately, the deer flies were up and active also, so we cut our run short. Mostly because I whined a whole lot. I hate things buzzing around my ears.

Naturally, after burning a few calories we needed to consume more calories. David and Susan's kitchen was extremely well stocked- full of nuts, great coffee, fresh fruit, dried fruit, newly laid eggs and homemade yogurt.

We explored/grazed for a bit in the kitchen and house, then showered and drove into town for the Kneading Conference opening ceremonies.

The conference featured lectures and workshops by bakers, oven builders and grain-growers. Thursday I chose to attend the pastries with whole-grains workshop. Doug Brown and Cate Conway demonstrated baking croissants, danishes and various other pastries with completely whole grain dough.

All the ovens at the conference were mobile wood-fired beauties by La Panyol. While they are lovely, they are also expensive. Ovens range from $5,000-$20,000. I started saving yesterday. I have $3.27 so far. Feel free to contact me if you'd like to make a donation.

Whole-wheat croissant with beets and feta.

Cinnamon bun.

Lunch was catered by a local organization called Fire Fly Farm. So many greens. So many vegetables. So much greatness.

After lunch the festivities continued with a gluten-free workshop. Kelley Hughes of Wildflours Bakery prepared gluten-free bagels. For a gluten-free product they were mighty tasty.

I meandered over to the clay-oven building workshop to watch their progress. It was very interesting to watch and dream about building my own someday.

When the lectures and workshops concluded a corn dance was conducted by the Penobscot Nation. Our host mom, Susan jumped right into the action. I wasn't feeling coordinated that day so I refrained.

Following the corn dance, dinner was served.

Massive amounts of leafy greens.

Lamb skewers, garbanzo bean and lentil salad, green beans and more bread.

Pie. Of the blueberry kind.

After scarfing down all that delicious dinner and pie we scampered over to Gifford's Ice Cream. Because we hadn't eaten enough that day. Because we'd run all of two miles that morning. And because we were in vacationland living the dream. Rather than ordering a measly one scoop ice cream cone, which probably would have been wiser, all four of us bought hand-packed quarts of flavors to our liking.

The Maine Wildberry called my name. Amanda got Maine Deer Tracks, Dave got Moose Tracks and David upped the wow-factor and got a dual packed quart with chocolate and coffee ice cream.
Thus concluded our first full day in Maine. In sugar/cream comas.