Friday, October 2, 2009

Lucky Thirteen

step one: find a cow
I guess it was just another typical start to any day, save the fact that I was milking a cow with a stranger. Friday morning milk duty with the mysterious Friday morning milk duty man. Our introduction consisted of him walking into the school, me smiling, him walking by me, and me following him to the milk parlor about ten paces back. Any attempt at a cheery ice breaking question like "do the cows like being milked?" or "how much milk can you get from one of 'em?" was returned with a rough grunt (which I can only guess meant either "yes", "no", or "please stop talking"). Morning person or no morning person, he certainly knew his way around a milk parlor.
step two: attach some things to it

Overall, the machines (and the milk man) did most of the work so I stood there, in silence, taking it all in (and coming up with possible tee-shirt slogans for the milk man: "moooove outta my way" or "udderly not into mornings"). After we (he) had successfully separated the milk from the cream, using the electric separator pictured below, I headed back to my cottage to don my chef whites for the day.

step three: milk!

Today I made a loaf of brown soda bread (we eat a lot of bread), a lemon meringue pie, and a roasted red pepper and zucchini salad. Zucchinis tend to get watery if you cook them too far in advance, so try to roast or grill them just before you serve. Also, the skin of a roasted red pepper comes off far more easily when the pepper has cooled. As far as lemon meringue pie goes, whip your egg whites for the meringue until you would feel comfortable holding the bowl upside down over your head. If they fall out onto your head and trickle down your neck, this is the telltale sign that they are not ready.

lemon meringue pie!

Afternoon demo was better than average because our headmistress' humorous brother, Rory O'Connell, was the lecturer. He is an excellent chef and an even better teacher. Former head chef at the Ballymaloe House, and former teammate of Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, the man knows everything about running a successful restaurant. He showed us how to prepare a leg of lamb for roasting, including removing the aitchbone so that the roast is easier to carve later. We also made lamb stock ("the least useful of all the stocks"), mint sauce, gravy, glazed carrots, braised white turnips, and various fruit salad desserts.

Roasted red pepper and zucchini salad

Here are some tips from Rory:

- When washing beets, be gentle! If you damage the skin, they will bleed when you boil them and you will lose some flavor.

- The fresher the egg, the harder it is to peel

- When testing a roast to see if it is cooked, insert a skewer into the thickest part of the meat. Count to five. If, upon removing the skewer and touching it to a soft part of skin (your wrist or cheek), the tip of it is cold, your meat is still raw inside. If it is warm, you are golden. If it burns, you have overdone it.

- Carrots are good for the liver

- Mint, basil, tarragon, and marjoram "bruise" (oxidize) easily. Wait to chop them until just before serving.

- When roasting vegetables, toss with olive oil in a bowl, then lift them onto a roasting pan. If you drizzle oil directly onto the pan with the vegetables, you will use twice as much oil as you need, and the excess will smoke in the pan.

- Ripe mangoes smell like mango, and will hold a soft thumbprint if you gently press them with your thumb.

- The greener the lime, the better the flavor.

- Do not peel a mango all at once and then try to cut it- It will be too slimy to hold. Peel a section, then slice that section. Then peel another section and slice that section and so on.

1 comment:

  1. Binny: Three questions about cows and milk: (1) Do cows get milked at night too, or just in the A. M.?; (2) once the milk and cream are separated by the electric separator, what is the remaining fat content of the milk? (i.e. Is it like skin milk (probably not)? 2% milk?); and (3) Do the cows eat only grass on which they graze or do they get fed supplements for food? Dad (a/k/a "Sketchy Grandpa")