Restaurant Camp, Day 1

Last week, I went to Restaurant Camp.  It was at Kitchen Kid Manhattan Beach, where I went for “Mangia, Mangia” Camp last year.  I had lots of fun, so I wrote a diary entry for each day.

July 2, 2012

Dear Diary,

Today was my first day at Restaurant Camp.  Wiley from last year was there, along with his adorable sister, Kylie.  I was so glad to know someone.  Then, I met the culinary coaches, Caryn, Leslie, and Melissa.  They were all so nice!  Next, we all sat down and mingled while waiting for our fellow campers.  I sat next to Kylie and across from a girl named Sabrina.  Instantly, Wiley, Kylie, Sabrina, and I clicked.  We were inseparable for Monday, and that didn’t change all week.

Next, we played the Name Game.  We had to think of a food alliteration, and then show the action used to prepare that food.  For example, I was Mashed Potato Meg, and I “mashed” some imaginary potatoes.  Sabrina, next to me, was Sherbet Sabrina, and she scooped and ate sherbet ice cream.  Across from me, Watermelon Wiley was chopping up some watermelon, and a girl named Crystal chose chocolate.  Yum!

After that, we all discussed the difference between fast food, casual restaurants, and fine dining.  We named examples for each of the three categories.  Like Burger King was placed in Fast Food.  Charlie’s in Santa Monica was placed in Casual, and Benihana was put under Fine Dining.  We had a whole lot of fun bringing up some of our favorite restaurants.

Then, we split up into three groups.  Wiley, Kylie, Sabrina, and I were Group 1, and we followed Leslie into the kitchen for the annual kitchen tour.  Because Wiley, Kylie, and I already knew the ins and outs of the kitchen, we talked a lot about “Mangia, Mangia” and aimlessly followed Sabrina and Leslie past the sinks, supplies, main table, spice rack, stove, oven, dishwashing sinks, knives, freezer, fridge, and the pantry.  Finally, it was time to transfer to Caryn for some restaurant designing.

“You are each going to design your own dream restaurant,” Caryn explained eagerly. “Here at my station, we will be figuring out our dream decor.  I have picked our different home, garden, and food magazines.  We are going to make collages in our notebooks.”

We were so excited to design and explore all of our hidden ideas!  Sabrina came up with a brilliant Italian/dessert cafe, and Wiley served multi-cultural wines.  Kylie had a super cool restaurant going on.  I read some of it, but she didn’t share much.  I had sort of the same idea as Sabrina.  I wanted a cafe with a dessert conveyor belt, but I would also have a special menu with savory entrees.  Overall, the collages were such a creative way to get inspiration.

We picked up our notebooks and pens and took them over to Melissa’s Menus.  We looked at menus and wrote our own.  I had lots of sugary desserts, like gelato, brownie, cheesecake, and other sweets.  Wiley decided to serve a dish from each country he imported wine from.  He had Greek wine, Italian wine, French wine, and wines from some other European countries.  Clever, right?  Sabrina decided on lasagna and pizza.  Her cafe sounded really good and very authentic!  On my menu, I had mostly the desserts I mentioned, but on my special savory menu, I had jumbo shrimp, some salads, and lots of other delicacies.  After much hard work, my hand was getting tired.  Finally, Caryn called out,  “Lunchtime!”

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Stir, stir, stir, I thought to myself.   This Presto Pesto Pasta Salad was thick and chunky!  But, then again, it looked delicious!  The cheesy salad was combined with the perfect al dente farfalle and savory pesto to create an amazing comfort food, authentic Italian dish, and a delicious and healthy snack.

Next course was our own individual pizzas.  Mine was kind of layered.  This might sound not so good, but believe me, it was fantastic!  On mine, I put tomato sauce and cheese (of course) and covered it in mushrooms.  Now, I love oregano on my pizza!  So I put on a layer of oregano, then a layer of pepperoni.  Then oregano again.  Then parmesan cheese … AND DON’T FORGET OREGANO!   Then I added the perfect amount of pepper flakes and way too much paprika.  I had to take some — no, most — of it off.

At last, it was lunchtime.  A friend of mine, Ruby, made creamy tirimisu with her group.  It was so sweet and heavenly and perfectly desirable any day!  I even brought some home to my mom, along with leftover Presto Pesto Pasta Salad.

Cute little Stella and her group made a zucchini risotto, and guess what, I made the same recipe last year!

After our notably exceptional lunch, Melissa, Dylan, Ruby, Crystal, Sabrina, Stella, and I played “Guess the Spice.”  We tried a spice like coriander, nutmeg, or even garlic powder.  From smelling and tasting it, our nose and eyes told us what we had to guess it was.  Everyone had a lot of fun proving their sensory skills!

Unfortunately, by then it was time to leave.  I was so sad that the day was over, but there was always tomorrow.   See you then!

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Kitchen Kid Cooking Camp

www.kitchenkid.com

Tel:  (310) 450-3462

Slurpy Summer Surprise!

Fresh At Home

Fresh At Home

One hot summer day, my dad (surprise, surprise) found a smoothie recipe.  He knocked on my bedroom door while I was reading.  “What do you think about making fresh fruit smoothies for breakfast?”  He said, “We could freeze our smoothies into popsicles, and drink the leftovers as a tasty morning snack.”

And I replied, “I’d love to!”  Here is the recipe we used:

 

 

Before It Is Mixed

Before it is Mixed

Fruit Smoothie Popsicles

1 large banana, peeled and sliced

8 ripe strawberries, stems removed and quartered

4 black plums, pitted and halved or quartered

1/2 cup frozen blueberries (from our fruit picking trip!)

1 cup yogurt (fruit flavored yogurt suggested)

1/4 cup fresh pulp-free orange juice

2 teaspoons honey (we used fresh blueberry honey from our fruit picking trip)

Squeeze It, Tabs!

Squeeze It, Tabs!

Shaved/crushed ice

Materials:  Popsicle molds and a blender.

Put everything in the blender except the crushed ice.  Blend until the texture is of your liking, adding ice until you find it the way you like it.  When you are done mixing, pour into popsicle molds, and freeze.

Drink and enjoy your extra smoothie as a morning snack!

Makes 4 popsicles and 2 smoothies.

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Pouring Into the Molds

Pouring Into the Molds

It was a lot of fun to work with such fresh ingredients and make such a sweet, soothing morning refresher.   I cut up the farm-to-table black plums and strawberries, and Tabs cut up the banana all by herself.  Great job!  After adding my self-picked frozen blueberries, we eyeballed yogurt, orange juice, and honey, not to mention lots of crushed ice. And the best part?  Enjoying my “chef’s privileges” as we prepared it:  I ate an exceptionally juicy plum and lots of delicious frozen blueberries!

Family Matters

Family Matters

As I pressed the Start/Stop button on our blender multiple times, I realized it wasn’t what I was doing that was important, but who I was with that brightened my day.  Thanks for a great morning, Tabs and Dad!

That night, Tabs and I shared our delicious popsicles with our friends Luke and Tyler.  We had a great night, and they were both pleased with our creation!

What's the Verdict, Tyler?

What’s the Verdict, Tyler?

Tabs, Luke, and I Had a Blast!
Tabs, Luke, and I Had a Blast!

Berry-Picking! Diary Entry

Blueberry Buckets - Yum!Dear Diary:

Today (June 30), I went with Mom, Dad, and Tabs on a drive through Central California to pick blueberries and have a fun family day.  Here is a little bit of writing I did.

Part I:

“Mmmm.”  I inhaled the sweet smell of fresh blueberries.  We had just started picking.  We came in just the right season, where almost all of the blueberries were ripe and juicy. But every once in a while, Mom and I would find old, shriveled ones.  They made my mom sad, but I just found it a bummer we couldn’t eat them!

Beautiful PALE Blueberries“Ahh, Barb, look at this midnight blue one.  It’s small, tart, and a nice color!” my dad exclaimed.

“Ah, no way!” My mom shouted back, “The blueberries should be light blue, with a pale white sheen.  Those are the best.  And I say, the bigger, the better.”

“White sheen?!  What in the world are you talking about?  The small dark blue ones are the most flavorful and delicate in your mouth!” My dad disagreed, his wide, joking grin gleaming under hard-earned sweat.

“The white sheen so PLAINLY SEEN on the pretty and delicious blueberries!” my mom called back.

My dad made a face under his hat.  We giggled heartily, but it slowly eased as we got back to work.

Girls With a Beautiful ViewYou know, the whole homey experience of picking your own fresh fruit is great and everything, but your morale drops from like 9 blueberries to 1 blueberry.  Out on the boiling border of Santa Barbara, beads of sweat were traveling down my face faster than a stone sinks in water!  Also, the luscious smell, beautiful weather, and the action itself attracted bugs.  LOTS AND LOTS OF BUGS.   So if you are allergic to bees, spiders, flies, moths, and occasionally wasps, it would be best to stay out of the fruit-picking business.  Every time I turned around, bees were swarming.  At every bush I picked from, spider webs were strung across several otherwise perfect blueberries. In all, let me just tell you, the bugs really tried my patience.

In the end, I had a full bucket, ready to be gobbled up.  I’m so glad my family got to share such an inspirational experience.

Part II:

Gorgeous Scenery and a Delightful Taste Too!We made our way toward the sweet-smelling produce stand.  “May we pick raspberries and blackberries, please?” my dad asked.

“Sure thing!” the woman at the front desk said.  “You can also do strawberries.  But may I warn you, those blackberries have got thorns … and I’m not even kidding when I tell you those will hurt.”

“OK, I’ll pick the blackberries, and you three ladies pick raspberries,” Dad reasoned with Mom, Tabs, and I.

“But –” I began to protest.  Then I realized that I’d be better safe than sorry.  “Okay.”

Me and Tabs Walk Through the ArchwayMom, Tabs, and I headed down the beautiful archway tunnel and around the bushes.  “Here’s a nice ripe one!” Mom said as she turned the corner to another row of bushes.  Soon we were snacking and picking like raspberry LUNATICS.  But naturally, as my basket got more full, my energy got lower and lower.  Needless to say, I was tired after my long day in the fields.

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I sat in the back seat of the car with three delicious baskets of raspberries.  I would never ever forget this fun day.  All the jokes our family made together, the strawberries red as roses, and the beautiful, calm sun.  Overall, picking fruit with my family was an experience to remember (especially because there were way less bugs than at the blueberry farm).  I really hope we can do it again!  But don’t let me waste your time.  Go to the website below to find a time to go picking yourself.  So many of those blueberries wouldn’t have been shriveled if you had come!

Ripe Berries By the BasketNOTE:  Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are all still ripe.

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A special thanks to the rest of the family for giving me such a nice day!

Restoration Oaks Ranch

1980 US Highway 101

Gaviota, CA 93117

www.restorationoaksranch.com

Telephone:  (805) 845-4949

Facebook:  Santa Barbara Blueberries

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Summerset Farm

Highway 154 & Edison Street

Santa Ynez Valley, CA 93463

Telephone:  (805) 682-7800

Email:  summersetfarm@gmail.com