September 2009 Archives

On School
By Lydia on September 24, 2009 10:25 AM| | Comments (6)
Three weeks into class and I still feel like a freshly minted schoolgirl. Montages float though my head: Lydia, sharpening pencils; Lydia, drawing complicated graphs at the library; Lydia, falling asleep on a pile of books. Though romanticized, this has been fairly accurate. My grand Plan of going to culinary school has been co-opted thanks to a wait-list and my terminal procrastination (more on that later) and my school-kid reality is one in which knives and pans make no appearances. I am not too sad, really, because it is a great excuse to take exciting courses like Accounting. Fear not, gentle reader, I shall not subject you to the vagaries of double-entry bookkeeping; suffice it to say that the answer to my homework questions is typically "because they said so in the 1500s."

My first aid class, a requirement of the culinary program (known to students as "The Program,") is its own headache, prompted not by ledgers, credits and debits, but by the squarest-necked gym teacher ever to slither from beneath the bleachers. I tend to think his entry into teaching was a result of his desire for a captive audience more than anything. His lectures range widely, but generally fall into categories: insulting jokes (see rape, the holocaust, homeless people, those who die in fiery car crashes, AIDS, religions other than protestant Christianity, public schools, homosexuals,) misogynistic pronouncements, and personal anecdotes regarding his cleverness/ability to freak out squares.

Spanish is really not bad enough to joke about, less 6 teenagers talking about their "sweet tatts" which is only funny because I am old and lame.

To be honest, my greatest culinary achievement of the past few weeks has been packing myself lunches on my busiest days. Oddly, given my disdain for food-pyramid style "balance" in meals, these boxes have always included raw vegetable pieces. Of course, those same vegetables are in the fridge now, as I decided mid-day that my body would be better nourished by pecan schnecken from Wealthy Street Bakery. Conspicuously absent in my lunch today was last nights bizzaro seafood stew, but it lived on anyhow.

This stew was a sort of scraped together dish, part fridge-emptier, part pantry-staple-amalgamation. We had 5 little squids and some shrimp from the Asian market in the freezer, but were a little stir-fried out, so I thought of a sort of Mediterranean-style dish with tomatoes, olive oil and lots of garlic. Ted went out for beer (necessary) and I started cleaning squid.

-a side note. This is another reason my Mark Bittman cookbook is the first one I ever pull from the shelf. Not only does he cover squid, there is a 6 sketch series covering how to clean whole specimens. A very special thanks to my aunt Nan, without whose fabulous birthday prezzies I would still be standing over the sink, wondering what the hell that long, hard plastic-y thing was, and how do you get the beak out anyway?-

Squid cleaned, shrimp de-poop-veined (I know I am just supposed to just say deveined, but there are two, and and I have forgotten which is which enough times. And yes, I had removed half of the "other" veins by the time Ted got home and corrected me. For all y'all who are like me, the icky vein is the one on the top, the other on the underside,) we sauteed some onions and garlic in olive oil, deglazed that with sherry, and threw in a can of tomatoes, a diced potato, and the squid, which we cut into rings. That got stewed for an hour maybe. We added the shrimp to the pot and at the same time put some bread to toast.

I ate mine with a dollop of homemade mayo on top and it was delicious! So why didn't I bring it for lunch????? Well. I got up that morning and while making/drinking coffee I kept smelling something gross and fishy. I figured it was just the trash from last night and didn't think much of it, but the smell was enough to make me rethink bringing fish stew in an uninsulated lunch bag. Waiting in line for treats at the bakery I smelled fish too, but wrote that off as a bizarre sensory anomaly brought on by my imaginary brain tumor. It wasn't until halfway through Spanish class that I realized that the smell was me, a result of spilled squid juice on my sweater. I shoved it into my backpack with a couple of shudders and shivered the rest of the day. My bag still smells like squid. I think its fair to say I am just not going to be popular this year.