Thursday, October 09, 2008

Day Eleven

Class is winding down. Tomorrow is the final day. I am ready for a week off before we dig in and do this all again. But the next class will definitely be less work for me, as I have many things made up ahead of time now and in the freezer. The learning curve was huge on this first class with so many plates to keep spinning, but it can only get easier from here.

Today's breakfast featured leftover carrot bread as the baked item. It has been very popular. I think I will pull out some of last week's coffee cake to thaw tonight and heat it up in the morning to accompany the breakfast tomorrow. Easy.

Lunch was a tasty pot of minestrone soup made with some Italian sausage, spicy herbs, pasta and veggies. I love making minestrone because I can do it differently every time, depending on what leftovers need to get used up, and no one seems to notice--they still think of it as tasty minestrone. I also put together a big platter of grilled cheese sandwiches and thawed some frozen fruit salad. It was a simple lunch again, nothing difficult or fancy, but it went over well. Yesterday's bar cookies were so popular that I knew I could get away with serving them twice in a row, so dessert was simple, too.

The big surprise of the day happened tonight. The schedule called for a big end-of-class barbecue. I was looking forward to putting on a huge feast and had bought a tri-tip roast that I was ready to cook up Santa Maria-style, with all the trimmings. I was nervous about it, though, as I knew that this late in the class I am weary. My stamina is increasing, yes, but still I am tired. I was looking forward to the feast, but dreading the work it would take in preparation and clean-up.

As the day went on, though, the weather worsened. The air never really warmed much from last night's deep cold and the sun that shone so brightly first thing this morning had retreated behind a layer of precipitation-laded cloud and fog which threatened to dump its load at any moment. By mid-afternoon, the wind had picked up, too, and the damp cold was enough that I dreaded just running back and forth between the house and the shop.

It was NOT a good night for a cookout, even with a roaring campfire.

But what were the options? A student's wife had flown into town to join him for his last few days in Montana, so I really wanted to do something special, but sitting outside sounded miserable; sitting at tables in the shop, where we've taken our lunches on the colder days, didn't seem an apt setting for a celebration feast; and moving the party into our small and cramped house had A-W-K-W-A-R-D written all over it.

I went out to the shop to discuss it with Andy.

With input from a student, we decided it would be just as celebratory (and significantly more comfortable than any of our available options) to all go out to dinner together.

So we did.

I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders, and I enjoyed the evening of laughter and conversation tremendously. And, get this, WE were given gifts at dinner tonight, in appreciation of what a wonderful class it has been! We were blown away.

The tri-tip is still in the refrigerator. I will have to cook it up this weekend for just our family--darn.

Tomorrow is the end of this round. It has been a good run and we have had a great experience and all learned a lot, but I am ready.

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