Cow Pie

Don't worry- the title of this post is a joke...sort of. Thursday morning I had signed up for cow milking which commenced at 7:30am- these cows wake up early! It's gotten a little colder, a little darker and a little wetter (yep, I'm in Ireland) each day as winter approaches, which in turn is making it much harder to wake up and leave my cozy cottage in the morning. But I have to admit, once I'm up and walk outside to see the sun coming up over the farm, it's totally worth it. 

Cow milking was actually really fun and a necessary lesson in my farm to table education. The farm milks four cows everyday. The milk is used for several things at the school including Jersey cream, yogurt, buttermilk and, of course, milk (pasteurized and unpasteurized). The actual milking is a fairly quick process. I know you all are hoping for a picture of me actually sitting on a stool milking the cows with my own two hands, Geena Davis style from A League of Their Own. But guess what people?! It's 2014 and they have machines that do that now. I know- I was disappointed too. That is, until the cow peed on me. I mean she really peed on me! I was attaching the machine to the udder, she lifted up her tail and thank the Lord only pee came out. Luckily it did not get in my hair (which would have been catastrophic) and I was wearing a rubber apron so I just had to rinse myself off and change before going into the kitchen. I was quite awake after that! Once the cows are milked, the milk goes into something that separates it into milk and cream, then it's stored in the fridge for use in the kitchens. 

Cow milking was by far the best part of my day. Thursday in the kitchen was somewhat disastrous. Luckily everyone I've talked to agrees with me so I'm not alone in those sentiments. I'll keep the recap short and sweet- I burned my refried beans to the point of no recovery, my fish filleting was quite terrible and I seasoned my fish with far too much thyme. Cr*p! Luckily my homemade tortillas were flawless, apparently. 

Moving onto the demo. Chicken liver pate was a big focus along with white yeast bread, fish pie and almond tartlets. The tartlets were delicious, simple and gluten free- very excited to make those on Friday. I enjoy pate in small doses and appreciate the flavor. After seeing what goes into it, however, it's no surprise to me that it's so rich. I'll give you all one guess as to which ingredient is responsible for this. Surprise, surprise- BUTTER! Friday morning I'll be making both Chicken Liver Pate and Almond Tartlets with raspberries so wish me luck! 

Friday morning I had salad duty...another early wake up call. Every day for lunch we have a freshly picked green salad of various lettuces and flowers from the garden so students are assigned to help out with this. It's a pretty simple duty to have just a bit time consuming. Luckily I had a lighter load in the kitchen that day so I wasn't too worried about getting in early. I started with cooking my chicken livers- being very careful not to burn these.

These are put into a food processor with thyme and garlic before the butter in added. So far so good! I then moved onto my almond pastry crust. Again, being very careful not to burn these (I basically watched them cook). I got to practice my piping skills again when I decorated my tartlet which was great. Luckily everything was super smooth, I was finished on time and I got excellent scores on my dishes. Phew! 

The demo on Friday focused on omelettes, marzipan and bacon curing. Curing is actually very easy and there are so many possible flavors to add. Fun fact- when you kill a pig it is pork and does not become bacon or ham until it's cured. Everyone in the course must make a simple French omelette as part of their exam. Luckily this is something that can easily be practiced at home because, although it looks so simple, there is of course a lot of skill involved. We learned how to make various omelettes as well as several frittatas. On Monday I'll be making a tomato salad, a French omelette and apple fritters. See below for tips from this week!

Tips:

-Bacon is naturally brown, the salt that they use commercially makes the bacon look pink

-When you kill a pig it is pork and does not become bacon or ham until it's cured or brined. When you brine a leg of pork it becomes ham.

-The difference between chutney and relish is that relishes are usually made from pickled vegetables and chutneys are usually made from fruit.

Quote of the day from my man Rory:

'Sometimes you find omelettes that have been manipulated into perfect rectangles and that's fine...somewhere else' ...AGREED