Friday, May 14, 2010

A Blog & A Beat

On Thursday I finished the nutrition course and celebrated with a hearty helping of deep fat fried coconut shrimp, popcorn shrimp, cheddar biscuits, salad and more glasses of Coke than I can count. Keep reading, and I'll bring you up to date on everything else that's been going on (...And I scream from the top of my lungs what's going on) in this unemployed pastry student's life.

The nutrition class was an eye opening experience. As part of the curriculum (or kricklem as one of my old bosses would say), we had to track everything that we ate and drank for over a week. Considering my infatuation with Bueno, I knew that I eat alot of fattening foods, and I knew that I drink alot of pop (soda, cola or whatever other regional term you may choose to use), but I had no idea exactly how many calories that pop adds up to. I went back and calculated one week's worth of drinking and was shocked to realize that my drinking addiction (Hi, I'm Dustin, and I'm a Coke-aholic) added up to over 4100 calories! In seven days! That's over 16,000 calories a month or almost 200,000 calories per year, and that's just sad. What's even more shocking is that it converts to over 50 pounds of fat in a year's time. I seriously need to change my ways (I'm gonna make a change for once in my life. It's gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference).

For those who may be interested in tracking your own calorie intake, there is a great website that allows you to do just that. And it's free. The link is Go ahead and check it out, but brace yourself. If you're anything like me, you may not like what you find.

Please let me clarify that I don't eat everything in sight. I'm actually quite picky. It's just that my preferences are deep fried foods smothered in honey mustard or gravy [insert shout out to the Brothers Houligan here] or Mexican food swimming in queso. This is one reason that I struggle from time to time at school. Certain chefs take great delight in pushing our taste boundaries. If they make a dish, we basically have no choice but to try it if given the opportunity. Such was the case last week. One of the chefs had made a pesto as part of an alfredo sauce, and the pesto was green, very green, and I balked at the thought of eating it. When I asked what it was, the chef politely told me the ingredients (which I have forgotten), but it was my lunch buddy who bluntly told me to 'just eat it'. I did, and I survived to blog about it, but I couldn't help thinking of my mom (who never inflicted such cruel and unusual punishment) and Weird Al and his parody of Michael Jackson's 'Just Beat It' (How come you're always such a fussy young man? Don't want no Captain Crunch, don't want no Raisin Bran). Perhaps I was spoiled, but I remember numerous times during my childhood when my parents would stop at a drive through to get me a meal before continuing on to their preferred restaurant for dinner. If I didn't like something, I didn't have to eat it. Mom just didn't roll that way.

And speaking of my amazing mom, Sunday was Mother's Day. I believe that my fondness of cakes and cookies is because of her. Until about the time I was in the sixth grade, mom was of the stay at home variety, and some of my fondest memories are of walking in the house after school to find fresh baked cookies, cinnamon rolls or a cake waiting on the kitchen table. Mom had whipped up a snack while my siblings and I were at school. These fresh baked goodies magically appeared more often than not, and they were always 'from scratch'. To my knowledge mom has never purchased manufactured cookie dough (or mac and cheese but that's another topic). To this day she doesn't believe in it. She also doesn't believe in stand mixers, but she will soon see the light (I saw the light, I saw the light, no more in darkness...) when she starts helping me bake cakes in bulk.

Mom always came to our elementary school holiday parties. She would ask what I wanted to take, and my choice was almost always iced coconut sugar cookies. I could put them away (and still can). Mom also made some of our birthday cakes. One of my favorites was a square cake that was decorated to look like a clown. It was classic Wilton, and I remember thinking that it was the coolest. Another one that I thought was great was a fish cake that she made for my brother. It was curved to look like a fish in mid jump, and we happened to be celebrating while at the lake, so it was perfect to me. I'm rambling in an attempt to say that my mom rocks. Always has. Always will. I'm 31, but just today she was arguing with me in an attempt to get me to drop my laundry off at her house so that she could wash, dry and fold it. (Calm down. I told her no.) She's just a giver, and I hope to be like her when it comes to benevolence. And don't think I say this to suck up. Mom isn't online often and may never read this, but it still needed saying. Moving on.

We had another online exam last week to close out the nutrition class. This was the fourth of five certifications up for grabs. It is highly probable that I would have failed the test if not for the chef. The instructor was the same instructor that we had in the food costing course a few months ago, and I've grown to really enjoy his teaching style. He has a great sense of humor and treats us like adults. He seems to genuinely care whether or not we succeed - not only as students in class but also as human beings in general. My only complaint is that he believes in homework, and I don't. Just as you should leave your personal life out of the workplace, I think we should leave our schoolwork out of the home. Chef doesn't agree. As a result of my lack of homework and a couple of late arrivals, my A for the course may or may not happen. I passed the certification test with a 97%, but the grades for the actual class haven't been made available. To be honest the only reason I passed the certification exam was because Chef was compassionate and gave us a review test that was very similar to the real test. We'll see what happens. The same chef is also teaching our current class, and I'm glad.

Yesterday Chef had to be out of the classroom to assist with a cooking segment on television, so we had a substitute. We didn't know of the substitute until we arrived for class. The substitute was none other than the chef that I've ranted about more than once in previous blogs. It was the chef who criticized my pizza cutting abilities and then called our class stingy MFers (only he used the words) when we didn't want to share our homemade pizzas with him (because he had helped himself to so much of it without asking on an earlier pizza day). When I realized who our teacher for the day was, I wrestled with turning and leaving and accepting the lost points. If I had known in advance I would have just skipped for the day, but since I was already out of bed, dressed and across town, I stayed and was surprised by the time class ended. There were no verbal assaults and no real yelling, and that's an improvement. The room is small, and the chef speaks so loudly in general that I found it difficult to concentrate. He may need to have his hearing checked (Shoot, we all may need to after yesterday). I'm trying to be nice and give the guy a second chance, because I think he means well, but I was very ready for class to be over by the time 3:00 rolled around. It's probably just me. I live alone and have grown accustomed to quiet and peace (I've grown accustomed to her face).

Loud people, be they unruly children or obnoxious adults, make me yearn for an exit or medication. The volume of yesterday's class coupled with my opinion going in made me feel like it was a wasted day, so I was happy to see our normal chef return today.

The current class is Human Resources Management & Supervision, and it's playing with my head. On the surface it's an easier course than the last, and studying shouldn't really be necessary, but it's causing more trips down memory lane than I want to take. The textbook has chapters devoted to interviewing, hiring, motivating, coaching, training, etc., and the past comes rushing back. I'm doing breakfast Pepsi runs with Dana, Linda, Jo and Tammy. I'm venting to Becky about trainees. I'm laughing with Miss Dorsey. I'm chunking stress balls over the wall. I'm playing games in the classroom and looking for opportunities to punish students with William Hung. I'm getting up early to bake a casserole for the most amazing team in the world. I'm having a hard time letting go this week (Although we've come to the end of the road, still I can't let go).

I thought I was over it, and most days I think I am, but then I encounter things like this cursed class, and I realize that the wound isn't completely healed. Ten years is a long time, so maybe these random episodes of grief are normal. I'd like to think so. Another thing that has been bothering me this week is that the memories are fading (Colors fade when you're gone). They're not as sharp as they once were. When Chef asked for certain examples of work life, I couldn't remember the details. In an earlier post, I referenced a line from a country song that talks about people drifting away like the leaves in the fall (Strawberry Wine, Seventeen), and apparently the line is also applicable to memories. I'm starting to see some bare spots. The breeze is cooling. Some leaves have already fallen away and those that remain are sadly fading.

Wait! Don't dial 911 on my behalf. I'm not sitting here popping Prozac while typing, and I'm not on the verge of a breakdown. I'm just having myself another night to remember (AKA pity party?), butI know that life goes on (Obladi, Oblada, life goes on), and now that I've vented to you, I'm actually better. On to more exciting news.

The replacement for the airbrush system that I had to return due to my own ignorance and an incorrect order should arrive tomorrow. I'll be spraying (and likely making a mess) in less than 24 hours!

I've got one cake to make this weekend, and it's important one. One of my grandmothers, Nanny, is turning 80, and her party is Saturday. She has always been a fan of sweets and is a big donut fiend (though you would never know by looking), so her cake will be along those lines. I'm trying some new things and hoping they work out. Pictures and a critique will follow.

The last two weekends have been short on orders and long on sleep, and it's been nice, but all of this is about to change. Nanny's cake kicks off about six weeks of cakes, and some weekends have multiple cakes. It could get interesting. From graduations and weddings to birthdays and baby showers, I'm heavily booked, and this is a very good thing!

Our (speaking on behalf of the city of Sand Springs) IHOP construction is moving along nicely. Nearly all of the walls are up, and I've been impressed at the late hours that I've seen people working on it. I don't think they'll make the rumored June grand opening, but it should be soon. I HOPe.

After someone recently suggested I change the name of this blog to something more musical because of the song references, I got to thinking about it. I'm not changing the name, because at some point I will focus more on cakes, but I did want to try to add some actual song videos. It may or may not work, and it may or may not be a permanent thing. I will admit though that I've been struggling with sitting still for the last hour, so the videos may stick around. For health reasons. How many calories does a person burn while bobbing, swaying and busting moves? It's bound to help. One positive thing about the videos is that they aren't automatic. They don't play unless they're clicked on, and even then they're easily stopped if they're not to your liking.

Finally, let me clarify that school is going well. The more I'm around my classmates, the more I enjoy their company and the entertainment they provide. School has become fun. With all of the whining in tonight's post, I can see why you may not have picked up on it. I'm human. We all are, and humans have a tendency to whine from time to time. We need to vent occasionally. What's important is that we not get bogged down in it. The sun really will come out tomorrow (bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there'll be sun). As much as I miss the past, I know that everything happens for a reason, and I'm looking forward to the future - whatever it is. God is good, and the glass is half full. So... If you happen to be experiencing a rough day, it's okay to vent. If you live alone and it's too late to phone a friend, grab a pencil and write about it. Or wake up a friend. Blog. Get it off your chest, but in all of your venting, don't forget to look around and see the beauty in the world. You'll find it if you look close enough. It's there. Macy says so.

Happy grubbing!