Cooking School Journal: The Midterm

8/27/04 The Midterm

“We’re waiting with bated breath”, is how Ellen described (several weeks ago) how it felt to wait for the results of my midterm exam.  I’m sorry.  Things have been somewhat chaotic here.

It’s so funny. When you’re in the middle of spring and your kids are in elementary school, you can’t wait for summer to come. Oh the carefree days of summer, when you get to sleep in everyday.

You lounge by the pool before you decide to throw KC and the Sunshine Band into your car stereo and head for the beach. You frolic in the sand until sunset like Gidget, and then head home in time for a warm shower. You throw on a flattering sundress and gather at the patio furniture as your husband grills up a great steak.

Oh Those Summer Nights!

The reality is that your kids are home all day, “BORED”. And although you have to pry them out of bed on a school day, they somehow greet the sun every morning at 6:00 am with an enthusiastic smile in the summer.

The pool is too cold and really stressful because you’re trying to keep all of the kids, especially the two year-old from drowning.

The beach is too far. And it’s really crowded. It’s $10 a day to park at Zuma. We all end up sunburned.

Joe’s been traveling much of the last 6 weeks. But, Baja Fresh grills a good steak. Too bad that it is 4000 calories.

So, anyway. Blah blah blah. Excuses.

Here’s what happened on my midterm.

Our assignment was to show up to our midterm class which was also our wine tasting class, with two hors d’ouevres to be passed and graded. It was a special class scheduled for a Sunday evening. I was traveling to my sister’s the following week, so I opted to take the Sunday make-up class from 9 – 2, then attend our banquet/graduation planning meeting at 3, and then this midterm class at 5. I was happy that there would be wine involved.

The new schedule meant that the oysters just weren’t going to work. The logistics were tough. Keeping the oyster cold, prepped and ready to broil…I don’t know. Actually it probably would have been fine. But, it made me nervous.

I decided to go with the mushroom phyllo cups. They were not a favorite at my tasting, but I loved them. The look and the taste– I knew they had potential. I decided to take them up a notch.

Joe and I spent that Saturday night cooking, tasting and prepping. It was really fun. The iPod was cranking out tunes. The kids were dancing, Joe and I were sipping our wines, all the while sauteeing mushrooms and wrapping dates in bacon.  It was a really fun night.

Morels. Another tastes-better-than-it-looks treat.

Morels. Another tastes-better-than-it-looks treat.

When it was done, I had Button, Cremini, Porcini mushrooms and Morels glazed in a Madeira (not the cooking Madeira, but a beautiful Madeira that Ellen gave me for my birthday) reduction in a Tupperware in the fridge.

What the hell was I going to do with those mushrooms, although delicious on their own, to take it up a notch?

It needed to be good. I bought some Truffle Oil the day before, hoping to be inspired. But, I was still lost.

I decided (well the wine decided) that I should “sleep on it”.