Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Darina and the instructors -- our lives are in their hands for 12 weeks!
Fugue:             A composition written for three to six voices. Beginning with the exposition, each voice enters at different times, creating counterpoint with one another.

            Today I may need coffee. Is it still jet lag? Is it life change and upheaval? A new routine? The unknown? I just know that between two and five in the afternoon, I am fighting the sleep demons, and so have to move from sitting to standing!

            Today was dress-down day. The class has gone from a rag-tag band of individuals to a motley crew of mostly matched cows to be herded.

Our morning lecture included facts such as:
  • Supermarket prepared lettuce/veggies are washed in chloride solution, of which Darina definitely does not approve.
  • Most supermarket lettuce is grown hydroponically which does not give the same flavor as lettuce grown in the soil.

Darina put together a salad of what is grown on the property: chard, young carrot leaves, beet leaves, spinach, pea shoots radish leaves, Mizuna, bitter cress, rocket, sorrel, bok choy, dandelion greens, nasturtium leaves, watercress, golden marjoram, oregano (which they pronounce: or-e-GAH-no, which throws me every time), mustard and rocket flowers, chickweed, calendula petals, and wild garlic (ramps).

      Tables are set European style. We are each given a napkin ring with our name on it, and one cloth napkin for the week (so chew wisely Obi Wan!). The silent signal that you are finished with your meal is that your fork and knife are placed together on the plate.

            It was tour-the-kitchens-and-procedures day. In our groups of 10, we were herded from one orientation spot to the next. 
Pam explains the "rota" (rotation)
I've already flunked knowing what day it is!
Our first info was on our rotations. Each day we have a chore/duty/assignment that could be setting the dining room for lunch, or showing up at 7:30 to pick herbs and lettuce, or 8am to make stock, or making bread, or serving the afternoon demonstration’s goodies. (Note: I’ve already flunked reading my rotation. I thought I was to show up for making stock and it looks like I’m supposed to be on bread, and I have no idea where/what/who/when).

            We also saw who our teammate would be for the week and which kitchen we would be in. We are in teams of 6 with 1 instructor, one kitchen area, and one partner. Today we practiced knife skills (they teach the index finger control rather than choking up). A few cut fingers christened the time. It still unnerves me that there is NO sanitizer anywhere in the kitchen. It is the two-sink method: soapy water and rinse water, and then you “dry” the dish w/ your bar towel. Also eggs are not refrigerated, but left out at room temperature (in the supermarket as well as in homes). And, I was the only one who showed up with marking pen and instant-read thermometer in my pocket.
Butter foils are saved
and used to sweat vegetables, under the lid.

This is the chilling machine for the raw milk.

            We have to make out a daily work sheet, putting down in 5, 10, and 15 minute increments how we plan to execute our cooking schedule, which is approved ahead of time by our instructor (our instructor’s favorite word is “Brilliant!” and when I walk past her and say “behind,” she responds with “Good woman!”).

Our work stations
            WE made a carrot soup, brown bread (soda bread w/ whole wheat), rhubarb crumble, “lemonade” which is the ubiquitous drink made of simple syrup, juiced citrus, and added water. As nothing is thrown away, the citrus “shells” will be made into candied peel.

            The afternoon lecture/demo (3 hours fighting heavy eyelids) showed us what and how we would be cooking tomorrow: short crust pastry, Gruyere and Dill Tart, French Onion Tart, Mushroom and Thyme (and they pronounce the “th”) tart, Asparagus and Spring Onion tart, a wonderful potato soup with wild garlic pesto, and a cabbage and fennel salad.

Darina talks, teaches, cooks, cajoles, and brings us into her world.

Spectacular wild garlic pesto... THE best!!

And we are to do all of this tomorrow!

            And then it was time to go home. It turned out to be a beautiful day, so Brian and I drove out to see our side of the shore. I’m dying to know how one buys fish at the dock. Fish sounds really good right now.


  1. Fun! Better mind your p's 'n q's! We bought ourselves a great gas bbq and are going to learn new cooking skills right here in our forest. First meal: yum yum steaks! Have fun cookin' with your peers!

  2. Thanks Patti for your enthusiasm and cheerleading! Love seeing that you read the posts. You'll love your barbie.. Yum yum steaks is right! Everything is coal here. Miss our Traeger... but how can you niss anything too much when you're in Ireland???

    hugs, me

  3. Enjoying all the comments, but the lettuce I'm growing aeroponically has tasted much better that the ones grown in soil. Maybe it depends on the soil.

    So fun to keep up with you.
    Love, Bunny