31 March 2009

Julia's Kitchen Wisdom

Tonight, as a break from my chemistry studies, I am reading
Julia's Kitchen Wisdom by Julia Child. So far it seems like it would be a very useful book for me to keep around. It gives the basics for how to start a soup, how to make a stock, mayonnaise, dressings, how to roast meats, etc. I haven't made it past the dressings yet. These are all of the things I need to memorize. The basics are so important, yet I don't know them. That's the problem with following recipes all of the time. I've come to rely on someone else to tell me what to do, when it's time to do it, etc. That's not right for me in the kitchen, especially if I want to make it out of my own kitchen some day.
I'm not sure yet if I want to pursue a culinary career, but it's an option. All things are possible.
I have so much to learn. I don't even know how to properly handle leeks. I just rinse the outside and chop up the white parts into small pieces. They've never looked dirty to me, but everything I've read states that I need to cut them a certain way to rinse the dirt out from between the layers.
I don't really know how to dice versus chop, or julienne, or chiffonade. I want to go take classes to learn these things. I know that in culinary school they'd teach me the basics, but for now I need to learn what I can at home. Culinary school is a possibility, but not until next spring. I need to be 24 years old before I can start getting grants for school, and no I don't want loans hanging over my head for the rest of my life. I already owe the bf money for my education.
I do worry that if I start working and get stuck in a job that I'll end up being 40 or more before I start thinking about culinary school again. That is just so sad a thought.
I am scared of culinary school. I'm scared of commercial kitchens. I'm scared of the way things operate, the stress, the frustration, the high energy. I like to cook slowly. I do wish I could chop an onion or carrot faster, but it feels like a great labor of love to do things slowly. I also get to listen to audio books or The Splendid Table while I am preparing the mise en place.
I love trying out new and exotic recipes, but only recently have I started making my own stock, and just last week I made my first beef stew from what I had lying around (I had to look up how to do that!).
I suppose I am being too hard on myself for not knowing these things. I've been having to study everything else for the last 3 years, and I only started to really enjoy cooking a year and a half ago.
Given time, energy, and some brain power I think I could do pretty well with cooking. My family is always telling me that they'd love to see me go to culinary school and/or start cooking professionally. They say that chefs make good money, and that I have the passion.
I may have the passion, but the basics and a lack of fear are what I'm missing.
Maybe writing here to you all will help me get them.

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