Have you ever been on an amusement ride as it burst into the light of day after having spent a good deal of time inside of a dark tunnel? As we move from the darkness into the light, it can be somewhat uncomfortable. As our eyes squint and strain to adjust to the bright light, it can cause headaches and a sense of weariness…yet the bright light can be equally invigorating and enlightening (no pun intended). It’s a great feeling for some to know that they survived a rough ride and are almost home.
Truth be told, that’s how I’m feeling right now…
Please don’t misunderstand, though – I’ve absolutely loved my adventures at Fox Valley Technical College, and I wouldn’t trade the past 2 years in for anything! It’s true that I’ve faced some enormous challenges physically, financially, and emotionally during my time in school… but I’ve learned and gathered a lifetime of information, acquired skills and cooking competencies that I never imagined I’d be able to grasp the concepts for, met some amazing people, and formed friendships and networking circles that will lead me to wonderful places in my career. My point is that graduation is finally in sight and I’m finally at a place where I can see it clearly. In just 14 short weeks, I will walk across a stage and receive a certificate to memorialize my great achievements in higher education. What an amazing accomplishment that will be for me! I’m not going to stand here and pat myself on the back until I’ve actually crossed the finish line, but what a great feeling it is to be proud our own efforts!
When times are challenging, it’s hard to believe how much we can achieve when we are firing on all cylinders. So many of us beat ourselves up and fail to stop and take an inventory of our accomplishments. What’s worse is that we never congratulate ourselves for the successful moments. Overcoming obstacles is hard work, so when you jump a hurdle, take a bow and pat yourself on the back…you deserve it!
One of my final classes is Advanced Culinary Development. The class is a comfortable blend of knowledge, fun, and downright terror. The final exam is a pass/fail, which means that no matter how well I do on assignments and quizzes all semester, I MUST pass the final exam to pass the class. If that’s not considered pressure, I’m not sure what would be.
The final exam consists of prepping for and cooking a 5 course meal within a 2.5 hour window of time, without the use of recipes or calculators. Of course, we aren’t being asked to prepare easy things like buffalo chicken dip or macaroni and cheese. Oh no siree! The items that my classmates and I will be required to prepare take a major amount of preparation time…dicing vegetables into uniformly sized pieces, filleting a fish, THEN cooking it, butchering a whole chicken to create an “airline breast”, etc.), very little of which we’ll be allowed to prepare for prior to the exam. To make the exam even more stressful (yes, that’s possible), the dishes will be judged by a selection of industry chefs and instructors. Obviously, the next few weeks of classroom time will be spent learning how to make and perfect the dishes we’ll be required to cook for the exam, but I’m not taking any chances. I’ve already prepared Brian to the fact that by the time Halloween rolls around, he may never again want to see another piece of pan smoked chicken, broccoli with hollandaise sauce, or delight his palate and senses to vanilla crème brulee. No worries… Brian’s nickname will hereinafter be known as “Hoover”…
If you’d like to join the culinary fun, why not hop on the crème brulee train with me?! There are many different variations and flavor profiles that you can prepare this dish with, but in my opinion, nothing quite matches the creamy texture and silky smooth vanilla flavor that is found in a traditional crème brulee. Rather than try to improve upon perfection, I think it’s best to show you a tried and true recipe from a great food blogger that I follow. Just click the link and/or photo below to be transported into a dimension known as the world of delectable treats!