Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hello cyber space,

Well it is about that time again, to start blogging. My last blog was now over a year ago. Not much has happened for me to write and I doubt, if any, there are those on the edge of your seat waiting for this update into my life. But nonetheless, here it is.

Last year, February 2010, I moved to Panama City Beach, Florida for about 8 months. I found a job that I sorta liked and made some money. I was working at a high volume restaurant on the beach and was in charge of the salad and dessert station. For you of those who care, the station is called garde manger. Anyway, I worked and did the same thing everyday for about 8 months. There wasn’t a lot of room to grow and develop my skills in pastry, which is what I really want to do. So I was thinking about leaving. Then the oil spill happened. The decision was sort of made for me. Our business and everyone’s business on the beach suffered. We were still busy, doing about 5 hundred on the weekends, but nothing close to what they were accustomed to from the previous years. I figured once we entered the winter season of October, we wouldn’t be as busy and I would be the first one let go - so I would not make my 40 hours I needed.

It was during this time that my best friend since forever was debating about moving to Asheville North Carolina. I decided it was time for another move myself. I mean I had been at the beach for a good 6 months now. (If you haven’t figured out, I like to move around and experience new adventures. I believe I am too young to settle down in just one place - there is still so much to see and do.) So my friend and I decided to move to Asheville at the end of September and live with her sister who was finishing her teaching degree. We would be one big happy family! Very exciting.

Roll around to september and I moved up to Asheville. We were able to rent this amazing house on a mountain. It was four bedrooms (one room was the study but was converted to a bedroom) and three and a half bathrooms. Our house was amazing with this stunning view of the surrounding mountains and downtown Asheville! Then it was time to go in search for a job - no such luck. Asheville was entering the winter season too, so most restaurants were entering winter hours and not hiring until April. So I had to wait. Meanwhile I decided to investigate other venues - catering, teaching, nanny anything that was a job and not retail! I struck luck!

Mid december I was officially offered a job as an adjunct teacher at the local community college. This college has a really great reputation for it’s culinary program. I wanted to be apart of that. For me, my college taught me a lot of what I know today. My chef instructor there guided me and taught me things she knew. I want to do that for someone. I thought I had enough experience and schooling that I could teach beginners something of my knowledge - and the school thought so too!

First day of school was January 10th; it was a great first day! We had no school! Asheville and the greater part of the southeast got a freak snow storm and everything was closed for like three days. It was crazy! So my monday and tuesday classes were cancelled. Oh well, next week. But that didn’t work out so well either. Monday the 17th was Martin Luther King Jr Day, so no classes. BUT that tuesday, the 18th, was my first day of teaching!

Monday class is my baking 101. It is a lecture for 50 minutes, then a lab for about 4 hours. I oversee it all. I talk, I teach, I grade, I walk around and observe. I do everything! My tuesday class is my equipment class. This is a two hours course and I teach the students about equipment identification. I have to relearn all the correct names for items. This should be interesting!

My first day, well it went ok. It wasn’t the best, we had a few problems. My internet did not work so I was not able to go over some key points on the syllabus. My lesson plan I had planned out last night did not go so smoothly. Oh well it happens. I pulled it off and taught what I could. We got the basics out of the way - I was joining two classes together, since we missed last week and I had to cover that one with this week’s. When I found out the internet did not work, I know I turned beet red. I could feel it in my cheeks. Oh the joys of teaching. But I got through the first day! Almost smoothly.

I think I am going to really like teaching. I am patient and I like people knowing what they are doing. It is important and a safety point! Look at me, I sound like a teacher! I just hope that the students don’t find me too boring and give me a good review! I think I could do this - as long as I get a part time job so I can expand my learning as well. I don’t ever want to stop learning - my grandmother, Ginna, taught me that.

The cool thing about teaching - I am still learning. I learning how to be a better teacher - planning in advance and becoming a better speaker. I think I could get adapt to this part time adjunct thing. Maybe I have found a place to stay for more than 8 months! wish me luck!

Chef Samford

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It has been a little over a week since I left my family in Seattle, Washington. I said good-bye and thank you’s to Beth, Cindy, Elliott and Ruby. I had a blast getting to explore their amazing city and getting to know that family a little more. All too soon it was back into the car to travel the 3 hours to Portland, Oregon to spend the night with my friend Amanda. Staying with her would cut my driving by three hours to my next stop: San Francisco, California.

Staying the night with Amanda is always fun. I cooked dinner for her, her roommate and some of her friends. I made chicken and dumplings, trying to bring some south fare to her in the west. It was yummy. For dessert, some of Amanda’s friends came over. Two of the three were from Colorado College – what a shocker! Everywhere you go, you meet people from Colorado College and they usually know Amanda. It is kind of funny. Anyways, for dessert I made a chocolate flourless cake and we all washed it down with red wine. The rest of the night was spent talking and getting to know new friends.

Sunday, I left to make the drive to San Francisco, about 91/2 hours. It was an easy drive and I did not encounter any traffic until I hit the sprawling outskirts of San Francisco. I sat in a stop-n-go traffic pattern for about an hour and a half. It was alright. I decided that this is just California. I could not get mad and I could do nothing about it. So I sat and listened to music with my windows down and just tried to enjoy the little peeks of the San Francisco Bay. I eventually made it to my destination: Will and Kathryn Rose, after a small battle with parking. Parking is a horrible experience. There are signs posted that tell you when you are allowed to park. There is street cleaning on various days, the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month, or school parking, so you have to move your car before 8am, then another side with street cleaning on Thursdays, the list could go on and on, but you get the idea. It is hard to find parking, but doable, but you have to have patience. I assumed the mantra of “this is California. You can do nothing to help this, this is their way of life.”

I finally found a parking spot and got to my destination. Will and Kathryn have a great apartment, it is long and narrow and I found quite spacious. Walking through the door, all the rooms are on your right hand side. The first door is the living room and where I would sleep for the next two nights. Then their bedroom, bathroom and straight down the hall is their kitchen! The apartment is filled with items that make you feel like you are at home. Pictures of friends, family and their wedding (they married last august) are littered around the house, along with other various pieces. There are plants in the living room and light colors that just made me feel happy. It is just easy going, as are the occupants of the house. I guess it is true, the home mimics the heart. My favorite part of any house/apartment is the kitchen. I think it tells a lot about a person. Their kitchen was amazing! They have everything you would need, plus a thousand bowls. And I LOVE bowls. I would be in heaven. (I would cook them dinner tomorrow.) When I arrived we all hung out while Will made us sandwiches on fresh bread from the near-by bakery, prosciutto and cheese. It was then melted, sliced tomato gingerly put on and devoured fast by everyone. It was yummy. Then we packed up and left for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.

This festival is held every year in Golden Gate Park. And it is so cool! This is a three day event put on entirely free for the people. How cool is that?!? People from all over come to this music extravaganza. We parked and walked into the park, following the masses. We pushed our way through the crowds to make it to a stage. Among the crowds, we pushed, we shoved, we followed until finally there was an opening and we sat down. Will pulled out some beers and we cheered while listening to the music in the warm sunshine. It was just lovely. After the beer and the musicians had finished the set, we packed up and got on our way. We went to another stage, where some of Kathryn’s friends were sitting and waiting for the next performance. We found our way through the crowds of color, both in clothes and blankets covering the green grass. We found her friends and took a seat on the ground. We cracked opened another beer and enjoyed the surroundings. The music was great. This woman with wild red hair was singing as the sun went down. The sun was blinding the fans, but it did not stop them from hootin and hollerin and swaying to the music. It was a beautiful picture, her hair blowing in the wind with the sun setting behind her. All you saw was this head, with the sun setting it lit the ends of her wild hair, showing bites of red hair blowing from the light breeze. It was a pretty cool picture. After her performance we all packed up and left for one more show. By now it was beginning to get dark and a little chilly, but the mood was still festive. We charged ahead amidst the crowds, falling into the dance of movement. For the last concert we hung out in the back, by the smell of fair food – enticing! There was no way we were going to make it to the front, the crows was too large! However, this did not deter us, we danced and sang and carried on, like everyone else.

The coolest thing I saw was the crowds. This concert is huge and growing every year. There are hundreds of thousands that partake in this bluegrass festival – people come from far and wide to hear the sounds. People find spots among trees to sit. When music is not playing people converge to talk and do whatever, but when music is playing, the crowd get to their feet and begin to sway. There is head bobbing and swaying, the crowd moves as one. It is beautiful to observe. When it is a popular song, there is more movement and perhaps a collection of various movements, it is hard to explain. Anyways, it was a cool sight! And an amazing festival!

After the festival, it was dark outside and we were hungry. The lines for food were too long. So we went to the Mission area to get some yummy Vietnamese food. Parking is tricky in the Mission area, even for a Sunday. We went to eat at The Sunflower. It was a little place with about 12 tables. It was very busy, but we only had to wait for about 10 minutes. Kathryn got pho, Will and I got vermicelli noodles with meat. I am slowly trying to learn about other Asian cuisines, not just Korean (since I am Korean). I am trying to learn their flavors. This dish was great! I am a definite fan of noodles and meat! After we were full and could not move as well, I paid the bill and we walked to the car. It was time for bed. After all they had work in the morning.

San Francisco is pretty cool. Monday I hung around their neighborhood, Noe Valley. Around the corner there are restaurants of numerous cuisines and neighborhood grocery stores with the freshest looking fruits and vegetables laid out on the sidewalk – like the markets in Paris. There is the neighborhood butcher and the dry cleaners, all within walking distance. Each section of the city has everything you need, it is a possibility to never have to leave your section of town, unless you work elsewhere (like Will and Kathryn). But their area is pretty cool, complete with a park and playing area (tennis and basketball court) close by. I really loved their neighborhood, just minus all the hills!

Tuesday was my day to explore San Francisco and act like a tourist. I went to the farmer’s market at the Ferry building, taking the muni into the city. San Francisco has like 4 different ways to travel the city, old school trolleys, muni, buses and/or bart – all different ways to travel to, from and within the city. The muni took me from the Rose’s to the Ferry station. Then I walked just a few blocks to the Ferry building. Farmers come three times a week to sell their produce and other items. I perused the vendors and brought a few items. Then I went into the actual building where the Mecca continued – wines, olive oils, bread, pastries, meat, fruits, chocolate and the list goes on. I walked the lines and looked. I got some food and went to sit on the ground by the railing to watch ferry boats and take in the scene around me. It was awesome. I sat half in the shade, with my face getting little kisses from the sun.

It was about noon when I decided I should wonder to Pier 33 for the Alcatraz tour. I took an old school trolley, from Milan, to the pier! I was able to change my ticket from the 2:20 tour to the 12:35 tour. While in line I thought I saw an old friend, Lee, from Birmingham Alabama. I shook it off, thinking he was at home. However, once off the boat and on Alcatraz, I called his name out….and what do you know, it was Lee! It was crazy. He was touring California with some friends. I decided to tour with them. It was a great four hours with them. We walked up to the cell house and got our audio guided tour. It was a great record of how Alcatraz worked and what it was like to live on ‘The Rock’. Lee and I caught up and walked. I suggest everyone do Alcatraz. It is pretty cool.

After the tour we boarded the boat back to the mainland and said good-bye. They went for beers along the pier while I got the old trolley (Birmingham) back to the station to take the muni back to the Rose’s. I got my car and drove to see another high school friend, Rayna, who I was staying with for the next two nights. She is living in the Mission area, the new up and coming place, lots of artists hang out here. Parking is even worse here! I decided to bite the bullet and just pay for two days of parking in a parking garage. It was worth the $32. My car was secure and I did not have to worry about someone breaking into or slashing my tires or anything bad. A crisis I am sure was diverted.

That night we went out for drinks. We were going to meet a friend from college (go orangemen!) Kristi. I had not seen her for years, since graduation in 2006. It was great to catch up with her. We had a bottle of wine and a couple of tapas and then moved on to another restaurant. Rayne left us, so Kristi and I caught up on our lives during dinner. We split a meatball appetizer and a spicy Italian sausage pizza – the crust was crusty and blistered! YUM! It was about 10pm when we said good-bye and I went back to Rayna’s. This road trip has been awesome! Being able to meet up with old friends and catch up has been just as amazing as seeing all these places I have never been. I suggest everyone do this! Road Trip.

My last day in San Fran was spent with old friends looking at new things. For lunch I went to the civic building downtown to meet Erin, an old family friend. She works as a lawyer downtown and had an hour to spare to eat lunch with me. We meet at the farmer’s market, getting tamales for lunch. I had never had them before but they were great! We sat among the crowd and ate tamales in the sun, with the smell of ripe produce surrounding us. It was cool. I know I am using these types of words too much, but there is no other way to describe it. So I am sorry. Anyways, after an hour of catching up, she went back to work while I caught the bart back to the Mission area and meet another old friend, Charlotte, at the famous bakery, Tartine. For years, Charlotte has told me about this bakery, raving about the pastries and all the items. Finally I am in San Fran and able to go and with a little luck, Charlotte was coming to visit her son and daughter-in-law at the same time. We would be able to go to Tartine together and I would be able to experience the wonderfulness that is Tartine. The chocolate éclair….very good. I think the reputation is still in tact! After satisfying our sweet tooth, we walked a few blocks to shopping. I actually went shopping with her and even bought a new purse! It is a cool purse, black and sleek! Plus you can never have too many black purses and in this case I now have one I LOVE. Around 4:30pm I left Charlotte to go back to Rayna’s and spend the rest of the day with her. Rayna, one of her roommates and I went for dinner at a new restaurant, a German eatery. The beer was great! The food was good. The company great! We closed out the night at a local bar listening to live music. Could it get much better? I don’t know. It was a great last night in San Francisco.

On Thursday I got into the car early to go to Palo Alto. An old family friend, Sarah and her husband Greg and new addition Palmer, are living here. Greg is an assistant soccer coach for Stanford. Luckily I was able to make the stop from San Fran to Los Angeles to see Sarah and meet Palmer! I got to her apartment by about 9:30am and we went for breakfast at a near-by restaurant. We spent about an hour catching up and just chatting like all girls do. It was awesome to spend the time with her.

Sadly after only an hour or so of visiting with Sarah and baby Palmer, it was back on the road to see my cousins in Los Angeles, Will and Cally. I am so excited to be spending time with them. I am looking forward to lounging in Will’s house and making him a TON of food! I got into some traffic while coming in on the ten, but it wasn’t too bad. It was about 4pm when I began to get into traffic, trying to get to the 405. I was in traffic for about an hour and a half – BOO, but I got to Will’s. He was in traffic too, but he beat me home! I was starving when I arrived so he took me to get some food at a nearby Greek restaurant – I really wanted gyros. We came back to his house to eat and just hang out. I helped him hang his clothes ( and then we just hung out. Don Dante sells premium garments that are original artworks displayed in a unique way for the fashion world. These garments are hand-drawn graphics that are inspired by culture, fashion and art. Check out the site!

The next few days have been bliss – time to just relax and not have to do the sight seeing stuff. I went to the grocery store and came back to make food. I made dinner for lots of people –chicken stuffed with spinach and goat cheese, mashed potatoes and glaze carrots. For dessert: graham cracker crust, caramel and blueberry ice cream pie; and chocolate mousse with almond tuiles. It was great. I made stuffed portabellas for Cally. Saturday night we all went to see my cousin Heidi sing at the Hotel Café. It was great to see her and hear her sing! We went out in West Hollywood for a birthday party, afterwards and then went for tacos – kogi (like Korean bar-b-q) short ribs with a cabbage slaw piled onto homemade tacos. They were great! It might have something to do with we were hungry, or had been drinking or they were just really good! Regardless, I would eat them again.

Sunday was spent watching the tv and taking a nap. Football and baseball dominated the screen, not just one screen, but TWO tv screens. For dinner I made chocolate chip cookies, roasted chicken with an herb compound butter, more mashed potatoes and garlic bread. Luckily there was enough food because we had a surprise visit – our cousin Greg and his wife, Kate, came by for a few hours. They were on their way back to Australia and had a layover from New York, so they came over for dinner. It was great to see them. We all ate dinner, a family affair, and hung out.

Monday was an easy day. I finally figured out how and when I was coming home. I lost my traveling buddy, Ebeth. She has decided to stay here in Los Angeles and figure out what to do. So that means I must travel the long way back by myself. After figuring out my plan Ebeth and I went grocery shopping. I was making dinner for a lot of people. One those people would be Jim, Ebeth’s boyfriend. I would finally be able to meet him, after three years of them dating! I went over to Jim’s by about 5 to make dinner (chicken and dumplings) and hang out. Ebeth made Jim’s favorite, pumpkin pie for dessert. We also had a light salad, some green dressed with lemon and olive oil and a sprinkling of goat cheese. It was a great dinner.

We had another surprise; Danielle came by after her class. Danielle is an old friend. I have known her since kindergarten and we have not seen each other for about 5 years. It was great to catch up with her! Ebeth, Danielle and I chatted for a couple of hours, but had to leave, Jim and his roommates needed to go to sleep – they have to work tomorrow. Around 11pm, we all hugged good-bye and got on our way. My trip to Los Angeles has been great, being able to see so many people! I got back to Will’s to hang out for a bit and begin to pack up. Tuesday, I leave for Arizona. It will be about another week and a half on the road until I get home. Stay tuned, hopefully I will write once more before I get home for the final sum up!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

It is hard to think it has been a week since I have last written and that I have spent a week in this beautiful city called Seattle, Washington! The last time I left you, I was wrapping up my stay in Portland, Oregon with a high school friend, Amanda. The morning was spent having a leisurely breakfast and then a lesson in felting. It was really fun. Felting is not hard to do, but very time consuming. Ebeth and I helped Amanda make earrings. Amanda is showcasing her artwork in a crafts show in Birmingham, Alabama. If you want learn about it, research it yourself. It is too long to explain on this particular blog. So between felting and getting ourselves packed and ready to go, we said good-bye to our friend Amanda and got on the road by early afternoon.

We left the state that requires someone to pump your gas for you for a state that allows you to pump your own gas! In the fair state of Oregon, it is required to allow the attendant to pump your gas for you. You are not allowed. If you do, you will get yelled at. So lesson of this story, don’t pump your own gas in the state of Oregon. By about 6 pm we were at the house of Beth and Cindy. We settled in and got some grub. Ebeth and I shared a room down in the basement. It is very cozy. Two twin beds, in a dark room, with one window and slightly cold – which equals perfect sleeping conditions. Laura was very happy.

The next day and a half was spent on a whirlwind tour of Seattle. In the morning, we got some breakfast while the kids were leaving for school. Ebeth and I were ready to go with Cindy on the bus downtown, to explore the city by 9:30am. Cindy showed us where Pike Place Market was and pointed out a few places to check out. Reluctantly she had to leave for work, leaving Ebeth and I free to explore the city’s charm. We spent about an hour in the market. I got a brief overview of where I would come back to and explore. The market was so cool! We saw so much stuff. We made one stop at one of the many fishmongers. Here a boy named Scott worked, a friend of friends from Colorado College. We got to try a few items and I even got to hold a frozen fish! It was pretty cool. We moved on and walked through Pioneer Square (the oldest part of Seattle) to get to the ferries! We took a ferry to Bainbridge. It was about a 30 minute ferry ride with amazing breath-taking views of mountains (mount Rainer). We got off the ferry and took a stroll through town. I was in dire need of caffeine, so we stopped at a darling bakery, Black Bird Bakery, for coffee and something sweet. Once I was caffeine up, we walked around a bit and then had to sprint to make the ferry departing for Seattle. It was a close call, but we made it. Our ferry mission was complete. Next mission: to find bimbo’s bitchin’ burrito kitchen. We walked, got a bus and found the spot, only to be dismayed. The whole block was bulldozed over, leaving nothing standing. Our lunch spot was nonexistent. So a little hungry, we began to walk back down to the main street. We stopped at an Asian eatery to satisfy Ebeth’s need for food. It was getting late and we had to make a stop at the grocery store, I was making dinner for the family. We decided to call it a day and catch a bus back up to Ballard (the in city neighborhood Beth and Cindy live in). Tonight’s meal: turkey chili.
1 pound ground turkey
2 celery
2 carrots
1can beans
1 large can whole tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
Salt and pepper
Red wine
Olive oil
Garnish: sour cream, fritos, green onion, cheese
In a large pot, brown turkey in a bit of olive oil. Add vegetables and sauté for about 5 minutes. Stir about 1/3 c. of red wine or other type of liquid to the pot. This gets all the bits up from the bottom of your pan. Add beans and tomato sauce. Add whole tomatoes, but squeeze the tomatoes in your hand. Season with salt and pepper and cook on low, if you have the time, the longer your cook this the better it will taste. If you are short on time, you can crank the heat up to meld the flavors.

Saturday was a great, sunny day. Ebeth and I went to Elliott’s soccer game. Imagine six little boys running around on the field all trying to kick the soccer ball and then every once in awhile, a goalie would appear in the middle of the game, when he should be guarding the goal. The boys just want to kick the ball and score! Some boys showed a real passion for the game, some fancy foot work and control over the ball. It was impressive. After the game, Elliot’s team won (but they aren’t supposed to keep score), we all left. Ebeth went to hike in a near-by park and I hung out with everyone. By about 5pm, I drove Ebeth to the airport. She was catching a plane to see her boyfriend of three years in Los Angeles. I refer to him as ‘the boy’, but his real name is Jim and I will soon be able to finally meet him. I went back to eat some dinner and hang out with the family – a very relaxing day!

This past week has been just delightful. I have had numerous times to explore Pike’s Place Market and loved every minute of it. I have cooked a few dinners for the family and just hung out. Thursday, I went out to Redmond (a suburb of Seattle) to see some horse friends, Dick and Martha. I got to ride Martha’s gaited horse, five gaited, it WAS SO COOL! I have not ridden a gaited horse since my last horse show in July 2002. That is over 7 years! I would be sore the next day, and I was. When I got on the horse, I forgot how to breathe while riding. On my first pass, my stir-ups were too long; I was kind of a mess. But I got my stir-ups shortened and I was ready to go! I trotted, slow gait and racked the horse, both ways. I forgot what it feels like to be on something so powerful. It was such a wonderful rush. I remember why I love riding and why I don’t ride anymore – it is a riding bug, once you begin it, it is hard to stop. If you decide to stop, stop cold turkey or you will always be inching back into the saddle to show! I have to stop cold turkey, again. Damn. It was a great day, not just riding, but catching up with old friends.

For you who have not had the chance to explore Pike’s Place Market, I strongly suggest you go as soon as possible. This was one of my highlights of my whole trip! And it did not fail me. There are stalls crowding this stretch of prized real estate. The market over looks Elliot Bay and houses so many craftsmen, not just in pottery or painting, but food. This is a public farmer’s market opened year round and it is just amazing. Food stalls sell the usual fruit: apples, plums, oranges, blood oranges, tomatoes; and other items such as green beans, snow peas, celeriac, freshly foraged mushrooms and the list goes on. There are a few stalls of fishmongers. They continually shout and ask people if they need help to find something, more specifically to buy their fish. It is such a people watching place as well. AMAZING, if I have not mentioned it yet. I wish I could go into more detail, but I think you will have to come visit yourself. There is something for everyone in this haven of living.

Life in the Armitage/Larison house is pretty normal, as normal as it can be with two little kids. Do you know how much kids eat? The kitchen is cleaned up from one meal and destroyed in half a second, because you are eating again. Who knew? I guess parents of children. Beth and Cindy welcomed a new member to their family, about a month ago. His name is Buddy, a dog from Georgia. Beth’s sister, Alice, had ‘adopted’ this dog and was taking care of him. When Beth and Cindy decided to care for the dog, her brother Paul and girlfriend Sherri packed up the dog and brought him to his new home. Buddy is already a fixture in this household. Ruby, the youngest, absolutely adores the dog, hugging and kissing on him at all times. In the morning and night, especially bedtime for the children, Buddy seems to be possessed. He runs suicides among the chaos of getting ready for school and getting ready for bedtime. He likes to chew on his chew toys, but not as much as on your hands or Achilles’ tendon. In the morning, you can lie awake (though I have not) and hear the running of little feet, courtesy of Ruby and Elliott and right behind those beautiful little thumps comes a much greater sound of Buddy’s dragging paws. It is sounds like those that I will miss – honestly.

My time in Seattle has been amazing, but I must continue on my long journey home. Tomorrow I leave for Portland and once again visit the wonderful Amanda in her new hometown. She has made a request of chicken and dumplings. And maybe a dessert will be thrown in. Stay tuned for continuous driving road trip of the United States…

Here is a recipe of chicken soup I made the last night in Seattle. It was a big dinner. For dessert Ruby and I made pain au chocolate – her favorite pastry. We made some pastry filled with butterscotch chips for Elliott, he does not like chocolate! Weird! Hope you enjoy this fall weather soup!!
1 store brought chicken, cut into bit size pieces
2 carrots, small diced
1 celery, small diced
1 onion,small diced
1 can beans, lightly drained
2 big containers of chicken stock
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
White wine
Green beans (optional)
In a large pot, sauté all the vegetables in one tablespoon of olive oil, adding salt and pepper, about 5 minutes on medium high. Add white wine or some kind of liquid, about ¼ c., and stir to get all the bits up from the bottom. Add beans, green beans and chicken pieces. Add stock. Stir and cook for 20 minutes uncovered at a medium heat. Taste and season if you need. Serve with cheese toast or crackers.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The State Wide Tour

So my traveling has once again begun. A long time friend, Ebeth, and I are taking to the road and traveling. The ultimate destination: Seattle, Washington, by way of the northern states from Birmingham, Alabama. Once we arrive to the ultimate destination, we will return back to Alabama via the southern states. This is going to be one hell of a trip, lasting about a month, give or take a few days. Who is ready?? I am.

Ebeth arrived in Birmingham September 11th. The following morning we were set to leave. First, a huge breakfast for mom, my brother and sister-in-law, my step father and step sister, we feasted upon biscuits, homemade sausage gravy, and lightly scrambled eggs with herbs. It was great to see everyone and enjoy a meal before we left, but it pushed our departure time up by hours. After a few pictures, mom just had to take them, Ebeth and I were all loaded in my red audi and pulled out of the driveway. Our adventure had begun! Officially.

First stop, Jonesboro Arkansas. My cousins, Johnna and Travis, have a house on a lovely spread of land. They have horses and two children who are cute as pie. We stayed two nights in Arkansas. Johnna was a lovely guide. There isn’t much to Arkansas (sorry if this offends those who live there). Arkansas is lovely. It is covered with farm land. We were told that Arkansas produces massive amounts of rice and even ships it to Japan. Pretty cool. We ate Vietnamese food and saw the small town of Jonesboro. Ebeth and I, in the past showed horses, she showed hunter jumpers and I showed Saddlebreds. When we were at the farm, Johnna let us ride a quarter horse, a first for me. It was completely different, a totally different experience for me. You reined the horse, meaning you would use one hand to guide the horse and to hole the reins. He was very sensitive to the word “whoa”. When you said it, he did it. I mean complete stop, no fussing. It was great. It was really cool to experience it. Then it was up to the house to make an old fashioned dinner – chicken and dumplings. It was so good.
1 – store brought chicken, picked clean, no skin, bite sized
2 carrots, small dice
2 celery sticks, small dice
1 onion, small dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 c. chicken stock
½ c. butter plus 2 T.
½ c. flour
1 T. olive oil
Cornstarch for thickening
1 can of biscuits, cut into fourths
Salt and pepper
In a large pot, heat 2 T. butter and oil. Sauté onions and garlic for 2 minutes. Add carrots and celery. Once all vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes, melt butter completely and stir flour in. this is called making a roux – a thickening agent for soups. Cook while continuing to stir for 2 to 3 minutes. You want to cook the flour out, the raw taste. With a whisk, slowly add the chicken stock while whisking the mixture. Let the mixture come to a boil. If the mixture is not thick enough (should coat the back of a wooden spoon, when you run your finger across the back, the liquid should stay in place, not going into the clean space), combine cornstarch with liquid from the pot. Then whisk in slowly. (remember to let the new addition come to a boil, before adding more cornstarch). Once the liquid is thick enough, add the chicken and the biscuit fourths. Do not stir this mixture until the dumplings are cooked. You can shake the pan and push the dumplings down into the liquid, BUT BE CAREFUL! This should cook another 10 to 15 minutes. Then ladle into bowls and enjoy!

The following day we left to stay a few nights in Chicago, Illinois with a high school friend. We were going through St. Louis to see THE Arch or the Gateway Arch. We parked at the waterfront, got out quickly, snapped a few pictures and were on our way again. It was a great stop and well worth it. Then another couple of hours in the car and we were in Chicago. Here we meet up with some high school friends, Amy and Katie. We got a deep dish pizza, as only Chicago can provide and some red wine. It was a great night, spent catching up and eating and drinking! Who doesn’t love that kind of night? The next day we spend exploring the city, seeing the bean, the Chicago museum and the Sears tower, now called the Willis tower (stupid renaming!) The night was spent dining on another meal I created: chicken scallopini, macaroni and cheese, broccoli and for dessert, homemade brownies with vanilla ice cream. And of course, red wine! After dinner, we went to a neighborhood bar and drank whiskey and answered trivia questions. It was a great night!

After two nights in Chicago, we left to travel to South Dakota. Now I will be honest, I have no expectations of this state. I didn’t even know where it was, except for in the Midwest somewhere. It took us longer than expected to get to Sioux Falls from Chicago, but we got there. We were staying with my mother’s little sister from her sorority days at Florida State, Charlene. Go Pi Phi! We ate dinner and just hung out, catching up. I had not seen her and her daughter, Jordan, since I was five. We decided to stay another night, so the next day we toured Sioux Falls – seeing the falls and visiting the places of work where out hostesses worked. It was pretty cool. Then we went to have a true English beer at a true English pub. It was great! For dinner we went to a Japanese restaurant. On this leg of the trip I did not cook, except for Ebeth and me – scrambled eggs and black beans, sooo good!

We stayed in South Dakota for a few days, but we moved from Sioux Falls to visit a corn palace, the Badlands, Wall drug and Mount Rushmore. The corn palace was a side of a building that was covered in corn to make a mural. Inside of this building was a gym that was holding a polka dance. It wasn’t too cool inside, except for the murals up on the stage. The Badlands was so cool! We went hiking on this awesome trail – climbing a wooden ladder and crawling on rocks to this beautiful view! The Badlands is this mountainous area that just erupted on the prairie grasslands of South Dakota. From afar, you just see big mountains, but when you get up close you can see the colors and the texture of the mountains forming. To me, the Badlands look like lots of drip castles put together to make this badass formation of rocks on the setting of The Little House on the Prairie. From here went around the loop that took us to the Badlands to Wall drug. This is a shopping mall that got known for offering ice water for free for travelers. The place grew to develop into a tourist attraction – offering more than just water – ice cream, food, souvenirs, even a place to get hitched (married, but also a place for you to tie up your horse). We stopped for a second, to get Ebeth an ice cream and then got on our way. Our last stop in South Dakota was Mount Rushmore. It was about an hour away and it was I guess worth the trip. It was cool to see the four presidents on this monumental slab of rock. I think some things you just have to see because you have to see them, this is one of them. It was then back into the car and off to a sleeping destination somewhere in Wyoming.

We woke up the next morning early to go to Yellowstone National park. It was a long day. We drove to old faithful – Ebeth and I watched the geyser go off around 2:53. After the explosion, she went to hike and I went to find food and read in the sun. It was a perfect day for the both of us. Then by 6pm, we were back in the car and off to find another place to sleep somewhere in Idaho.

From Idaho we only did one sight seeing thing – the Craters of the Moon. This is located in Idaho and it is pretty cool, like the Badlands. Idaho is pretty flat and grassy and filled with lots of haystacks, like the other states we have visited. The land to the left and right of us were covered with corn fields and bales of hay, for just about every state, except in Alabama. It was great. Anyways, this particular site is lava that has cooled and made these amazing craters and people believed it is a replica of the moon – hence the name. Driving through Idaho, we passed so many volcanoes, not necessarily dormant. These volcanoes, a long time ago, once flowed lava and made formations. Lava tunnels were made to carry the lava thousands of feet away from the active sight. The tunnels would cool leaving behind large openings through the underground. It was so cool. We walked in a tunnel, Indian Tunnel. We walked on lava and climbed over lava rocks. We climbed out of the tunnel and saw what seemed miles of lava fields. It looked so weird, but so cool. I can’t even really describe it. You just need to go experience it for yourself. GO.

We left Craters of the Moon and left for Portland Oregon. Here we meet up with a childhood friend, Amanda. She just moved out to Portland about a month ago to practice being a doula, like a midwife but you cannot do medical things during the birth. Ebeth and I spent a few days here just spending time with Amanda, catching up on our lives and seeing the city of Portland and the beach of the Oregon coast. I made dinner for Amanda, Ebeth and one of Amanda’s best friends from college, Romana. I believe, Amanda and Romana lived together in college and once again, they are living together. I had heard a lot about her and it was great to finally meet her. We have had a blast hanging out here and seeing Portland. But cooking has been the best part. Ebeth and I have been living off of fast food it seems, so cooking was a treat for me as well. I made mushroom risotto (chanterelles Romana had picked), a variety of mushrooms, pork tenderloin with salsa verde, spinach with breadcrumbs and cheese and asparagus with shallots for Ebeth. For dessert Amanda made shortcake with blackberries Romana had picked and hand whipped cream. It was a yummy dinner! And of course red wine. Our time in Portland has been a joy to spend with old friends and new friends. Ebeth and I are leaving tomorrow to head to Seattle, Washington to stay with some cousins, Beth, Cindy, Elliot and Ruby. It is going to be great to settle for a week or so. Stay tuned and I will write about Seattle, maybe. If you know anything to do or see or eat in California, Arizona, New Mexico or Texas, let me know! That is how we are heading home.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

So much has happened since the last time I have written. The last time I wrote I was about to go for demonstration at a local B and B. 3 chefs from Johnston and Wales from the Denver campus were coming up to show off some of their skills. I showed up for dinner the night before to meet the chefs. It was a long night with good food and wine of course. I got to talk with the chefs and learn a little more about them.
The next day I woke up early and went to Leroux Creek Inn, where this demonstration was going to take place. We were thrown into it. We started prep work and cooking. Around 10am people began to show up and the demonstration began. One of the chefs, the vegetable chef, did not show up. We had no idea where he was or what had happened to him. The other chefs asked me to step in and take his place. I said ok. However, instead of cooking and telling about the ratatouille, I talked about what I was doing in the North Fork Valley. I told them about my back round and what I had learned while working on the farm. It was a lot of fun. The day ended in success. Everyone loved the food, a lot of wine was sold and the chefs were happy.

The next couple of weeks, life on the farm continued as usual. Waking up and doing work on the farm. The vineyard was finally done. We had tied and cut and now the vineyard looks terrific! The peaches and apples were coming along. Life was really good.

At the end of August our family welcomed a new addition, my new niece, Stella Virginia Samford. She was born on the 22nd of august in the afternoon. Before I left to go home to see my niece, I had the privilege to help celebrate a 21st birthday, Emily’s. It was so much fun. Emily, Wink, Max and I took the afternoon off. We all got off the farm to run errands, pick up yummy chocolates and try a lot of alcohol.
We began with lunch at a brewery in Palisades. We had beer. First we tried the four different beers and then settled on one with our meal. It was nice not having to cook and enjoying the afternoon with a cold beer. After lunch we walked a few hundred feet to a distillery, Peach Distillery. Here, if you can’t figure it out with the name, is an alcohol place. We tried some vodka, bourbon and other stuff. I only tried the bourbon – very good.
After purchasing a few bottles, we all piled into the car and headed for another stop. This time it would be a winery, Debeque Canyon. We tried some wines and talked to the owner, they are close friends to Wink and Max.
After being all alcoholed up, we piled into the car again and drove a little farther to get a few items we need. We then left by 5pm to go back to Paonia for a private tasting at a nanobrewery. It was fantastic. Another friend staying on the farm meet us there, with his cat, Bobby. It was near 7 when we left and went to get food at the local pizzeria. The day was just perfect! I hope Emily had a wonderful 21st birthday.
A few days later she left to go home for college at Colorado State. A few days after she left I left to go home to see my niece, Stella Virginia. I would like to take the time to tell you all that she is wonderful! She is beautiful and she already has everyone doing everything for her. The first grandchild for the parents and the first niece/nephew for the siblings!

I was back on the farm for 3 more weeks. This time we began to pick peaches. That means, we were picking by sunrise and then packing them during the day. Picking peaches has to be done by touch, but without bruising them. It is a way of feel when you hold the fresh peach in the palm of your hand. At the end of the day, I think I understood it. We picked and picked and picked some more. Peaches in the morning are hard because of the cold night’s Colorado air. This is why you pick early in the morning. You have to stop picking when the peaches give just a slightest bit. We would be picking by 6:15 and stopping by about 10isham.
A week or so after we started picking peaches we were allowed to pick apples!!! Apples can be harvest any time, all day long. During this time I am also harvesting the green beans, tomatoes and the other things on the farm. This is a wonderful time to be on the farm!

My last really big deal on the farm was actually not on the farm. A local culinary school in Boulder came up for a 10 days to learn about Farm to Table. I was able to tag along and see some of the things they saw – farms and such. To celebrate their last day in the North Fork and what they had learned in the Farm to Table program, they had a big dinner. The day before the event, we were able to see a lamb being slaughtered. It was very interesting and educational. I won’t go into detail, because it might gross people out, but the slaughter was very interesting. It gives you an appreciation for food. We then went to begin prep for the dinner. I went to help out – 10am to 6pm. It was fun being with students.
These students had only been in session for a couple of months. Some knew about cooking before hand, others were just a tad slower. I had fun getting to know the students and what they wanted to do. I would be with them all day tomorrow as well.
The following day began with prep in the kitchen for a few hours. We then packed up and went to the farm, Zephros Farm. We set-up our work space in the middle of the farm. My plan was to help when needed. I didn’t want to jump in. This was their dinner. I hung out and talked with Yvon, who was cooking the lamb, drinking wine and doing what was needed when I saw something. The bread we were serving for dinner did not work out so well in transport, so we had to do some damage control – I worked on that.
The night was good. It flew by. The students did a wonderful job – a real camaraderie with them. I stayed and helped clean-up. After all clean-up is part of the job. All the food was gone, we got nothing. So after loading up the cars with the students and with our equipment, I went back with the students to eat and hang-out with them. This is how I spend my last night in the North Fork.
The next morning I spend packing fruit, cleaning my house, packing and packing my car. I said good-bye and was gone from the North Fork Valley by about 4pm. I was on my way home, with a quick stop in Colorado Springs to see my friend Amanda and a stop in Denver to see friends Cory McEwen and her boy and pick up my step-sister Amy.
My adventure out west was amazing, a wonderful time spent digging in the dirt and learning about growing. My short amount of time in the North Fork was well spent, learning as much as I could and taking part in everything I could. I hope everyone digs in the dirt and get their nails dirty – it’s a good feeling. Thank you to all those in the North Fork, it was a pleasure in getting to know you and hopefully our paths will cross again.
Since I have been home a ton has happened. I have gotten to know my niece, Stella, just a bit more. She is still beautiful and she still has everyone doing everything she needs. She has grown and is developing rapidly. I love her.

At the end of September my sister, Suzanne, got married at The Ford Plantation in Richmond Hill Georgia. It was a beautiful wedding. Tons of friends, tons of family, lots of drink, lots of food and a wonderful celebration of life, through the joining of two people and two families. The fun filled weekend was very busy with lots of activities. I made the groom’s cake for the wedding – a reese’s cake, peanut butter cake, peanut butter mousse and chocolate icing. It was good, I was told. I didn’t get a piece. The night of the wedding I spent on the dance floor, dancing my heart out! It was so much fun.

It was then time to go home to recharge and regroup. My next adventure was off to Europe for the two week intensive program.

I arrived in Paris on a Sunday afternoon. I took a long walk through the Paris streets and looked. I went to find Le Cordon Bleu and it was still the same as before. I then decided to walk back to where I used to live when I went to school. My neighborhood was not far away. I remembered the way, like the back of my hand. I found some of my old bakeries open!!! SCORE. I was able to get some food. I hadn’t eaten yet, so I was really happy.

After a few hours, I finally got back to my hotel and relaxed. There was a welcoming dinner at 7:30 in the hotel. It was like any other large group meeting for the first time, a little awkward. I walked in and there were a lot of other men and women. WOW. I thought I hope I am not the youngest (later I would find out I am the youngest). People were soon quite and we all introduced ourselves to one another. We toasted with champagne.

We were led across the way and had dinner. It was hotel food, not so great. But we got to meet a few people and had a good time with all that. I called it an early night – I had not slept for about 36 hours. So I excused myself and went to bed.

The next morning we had breakfast and I led a group of people to Le Cordon Bleu. The program had officially begun. We had our classes at Le Cordon Bleu on the first floor demonstration room, oh the memories. We had many lecturers and some of the lectures were interesting, while others were not.

One of the lecturers was Herve This. This is the guy who is the king of molecular gastronomy. It was amazing to hear him speak. He didn’t have long, but we all soaked it up, whatever he had to say. Another night we would have dinner with him and his wife, a dinner on molecular gastronomy.

The week continued with meals all over the city. We had a medieval dinner at Gregoire-Ferrandi school. They pulled out all the stops for us. It was a great meal and the service was impeccable.

One day we had class at the Sorbonne. That was neat to be there. We then had a lunch with terroir products – food from specific regions, known for that particular food or wine.

Another day, well I should day at one in the morning, we went to Rungis Market, the largest market in Europe. It was amazing! We got to see everything. We took a bus to get to the market. You have to sign in, not just anyone is allowed to come in here. We took a walk through the seafood pavilion. It was huge! There was fish everywhere, any type of fish you could imagine. There were lobsters, crab, swordfish, tile fish, flat fish, round fish, mussels, and so much more. It was incredible to see this in progress. We then went to the meat sector. There were huge halves of beef hanging, quarters of beef hanging, pig…it was incredible to see the amount of animal in the pavilion. We saw the packaged meat products, mostly game birds, since it is the season. Everything was all neat and pretty. There were a few animals that were still fully dressed (they had their heads, fur and so on still in tact). That was a sight to see. We went to visit the offal section. This is the heart, lungs, liver…the insides that people use to make the delicacies. It was pretty cool. We got to see how they take apart a cow’s head, to get to the brain, the check meat and how they use the skin. It was all very impressive. Our next stop was the cheese/dairy section, then the vegetable section. The vegetables had everything you could imagine! Mushrooms of all kinds, fruits, vegetables some of which I had never seen…they had I think 8 of these pavilions for vegetables. There is a picture of Frank Stitt in his cookbook with just bags of haricot verts, well what I saw in just one warehouse would put that to shame…I know they work on different levels, but it was just jaw dropping to see the quantity they house. Our tour ended around 9, this included breakfast at some point. The early morning hours were well spent. The rest of the day I and a few others spent sleeping!

The last week of the program we left for Reims. We had an amazing dinner at the hotel restaurant, a two star called L’Assiette Champenoise. It was spectacular. This might have been for two reasons, first we hadn’t had a real decent meal since we got there and second, the service and atmosphere was impeccable. It was a real treat.

The next week was spent having lecturers at the local university, lunch at one place (with the same plating and decorations for the plate, with ok food) and dinners at different places! The dinners were just amazing – the food ok, the champagne and wine amazing and the ambiance incredible! Our first dinner was at the champagne house of Veuve Clicquot. To make you jealous I’ll just tell you what we drank: 1998 Veuve Clicquot le Grande Dame, Veuve Clicquot Vintage Rose 2002, Veuve Clicquot Rare Vintage 1998 and for dessert Veuve Clicquot Demi-sec carafe.

The next dinner was a the champagne house of G. H. Mumm. We began with a G.H. Mumm Cuvee R. Lalou 1998, Dom Perignon Oenotheque 1995, Krug 1995 and finally a G. H. Mumm Rose.

The next dinner was the Les Crayeres, another two star restaurant in Reims. This restaurant the restaurant we had our first meal, L’Assiette Champenoise, are fighting to be the best. We began with a vin Jaune 1999 Chateau d’Arlay, Beaune du Chateau ler Cru 2005 Bouchard Pere and Fils, Chateau Cheval Blanc 1998, and finally a Chateau d’Yquem 1998.

Our last meal to write about was with Mr. Krug himself. We dined at his house, after a private tour of the caves. We had a Krug Grande Cuvee, Krug 1996, Krug 1989 and with dessert a Krug Rose.

The last week was really something to write home about. It was all amazing. The whole course has been wonderful. I learned a few things I didn’t know and met a lot of really nice people. There was a blend of nationalities which made the program that much better. Everyone brought something different to the table. We were all from different back rounds: chefs, doctors, photographers, and many more. It was great to meet such a diversity of people. Hopefully I will see them again next year, when we get our diplomas!

Right now I am in Germany with cousin Andi, one of mom’s cousins. It has been great to just hang out. My plans are not in stone quite yet, but they are coming around. I’ll be back state side in a couple of weeks, definitely in time for the holidays…until then, I’ll try to make another update….take care everyone


Friday, August 08, 2008

Let me try to make you all jealous of me. Our vegetables and some fruits have been finally coming in. We are eating so much stuff such as: fresh pulled from the earth carrots, fresh picked green beans, shucked fava beans, hand picked tomatoes, freshly made organic pesto, summer zucchini, currents, little tiny red raspberries, and freshly harvested fingerling and purple potatoes. We are currently waiting on squash, cantaloupes and watermelons to grown and get ripe. It won’t be too long. Our main crop of peaches and apples are on their way, just a few more weeks on the peaches and maybe another month or so on the apples. It is getting exciting. I am finally to reap the benefits from all that hard work earlier in the spring/summer.

We have been staying busy since I last wrote, not a big surprise. We are still pruning the grapes in both vineyards, pinot gris and noir. I think that job is never ending. It just won’t go away.

Right now our main thing is thinning the peaches. You through each peach tree, there are 1000, by hand and pick off peaches. This gives other peaches room to grow and ripen in time for harvest. A peach tree has so many peaches, so someone has to go through and take off half the fruit. We do the same thing with apples, but the apples are not in bad shape. Our peaches right now are not growing in size or changing color, so we are thinning once again, hoping this will help. I’ve been told that once the peaches take off in size, they will get bigger in two weeks, growing from a small fist to a softball shape. I can’t wait to witness the changing!

Besides work, there have been guests come and go. Anno, Wink’s daughter, left us at the end of July to go back to Argentina. She is missed. I was so happy I was able to meet one of my best friend’s friends from college.

My parents came out, my mom and Mac. They were here in the end of July for a few days. It was great for them to come out and see what I do everyday, where I live and what I grow. I think they were impressed! We cooked meals and just had fun. They went around to the small towns and looked around. I live in a really cool place.

When they left, another couple came, friends of the farm. They provided Wink and Max with some pinot noir. They were driving to Denver and decided to make stop here, to finally meet Wink and Max and have a look at their grapes. They were a very knowledgeable couple. It was fun to meet more farmers and have a night of talking under the stars.

Our lasts guests were Jacob’s family (a boy from Colorado College who is living on the farm and going to classes in Paonia). It was his uncle and his two nephews. It was crazy busy with lots of people and lots of noise. They were here for a few days.

There was about a week of non stop cooking. But I loved every minute of it. We used our produce and other farmers and made wonderful meals every night. I am trying to come up with different recipes for potatoes, since we have so many…so any ideas, shoot them this way.
We are about to have another week filled with people staying on the farm. So I think my days will be mostly spent in the kitchen working then on the farm itself. But this why I am here. I have a great menu planned for everyone. It is going to be crazy week. Next week I am going to go help with a chef’s demonstration – four chefs, one from here who I have worked with before and three chefs from Denver’s Johnston and Wales. I can’t wait! Hopefully I will make some contacts!

I have decided to stay on the farm until September 16th. I leave for home for good on the 17th. I am going to my sister’s wedding at the end of September in Georgia and then home for a bit. In mind October I am leaving for France for two weeks and then Germany for a week. In France I am attending a two week intensive program at Le Cordon Bleu and at the University of Reims. The program is divided up into three sections – all about food, wine, technology, science, economics and legal matters. It is going to be great. I will hopefully be receiving a diploma from the university. I have to pass a test and I will have 6 months to write a thesis, at least 30 pages long. Again, I am open to suggestions. I am thinking my thesis will be on the evolution of southern food. The programs name is Hautes Etudes du Gout. When I graduate I will have the diploma Diplôme Universitaire du Goût, de la Gastronomie et des Arts de la Table). Pretty cool huh?!!!

After France I am going to Germany for a week to stay with a cousin. I have never been and I wanted to see her when I was Paris last time, but it never worked out. This time it is. I’ll be hanging out with her at her house in St. Leon and then to Berlin for a few days to do the tourist thing and see her perform!

I’ll be home for the holidays and then off the Africa again to work in the children’s village with my aunt. I can’t wait to see the children and see how much they have changed. I think every year should start off that way.

As for now, I still love Colorado and the farm. It will be so sad to leave in a 6 weeks, but I know I have so much still to do. Until I leave, I am living it up and trying to learn as much as possible. Stay tuned for more adventures from around the world…

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

these are just a few pictures of my life. the place where i live, the mountains i look at everyday, the scenary of the farm - grapes growing and such.

the last picture is of tree graphing. it's great. i even got to do some graphing and i didn't kill them. fantastic! it's alive!!!