The end of week 2 at Ballymaloe Cookery School is slowly approaching. I cannot believe how fast time is going by. Last week was so busy, I feel like I blinked and it was over. We learned so much this week and our time in the kitchen was so full on. I’m still on the mend from being shot down with a horrible flu that has been doing the rounds on most of the students. It’s hard to stay focused in the kitchen when your body wants to rest and recharge the batteries. I almost didn’t turn up on Friday morning but with a list of recipes as long as my arm to prepare for lunchtime service, I didn’t want to give up so easily. I knew I would have the weekend to relax and take the time to reflect on the week’s cooking, learning, experimenting and what I learned from mistakes made and the sneaky tips and advice offered here and there.
My homework each night this week has been feeding my Sourdough Starter and flipping my homemade raw milk cheese. I’m so excited about making food like this from such basic and nourishing ingredients. I love the science behind these foods and the knowledge that my teachers and peers have on such things. We had the pleasure of being taught how to make homemade Butter, Yoghurt and Cheese by Eddie O’Neill, an Artisan Dairy Food Specialist from Teagasc. He had a wealth of information to pass on to us after being in the industry for over 30 years. He still never tires of stirring his curds and whey because he knows what magic it will create. Here he is separating the freshly squeezed raw organic Jersey Cow milk.
The Allen’s have a small herd of 3 Jersey cows, 2 of which are pregnant so only one is currently being milked. Raw milk is supplied daily to the Cookery School shop where we can buy it by the bottle for only €1.50. Too good to be true! I have also been eating the Ballymaloe homemade yoghurt by the spoonful every day, I love it. Just how yoghurt should taste. The butter is also so delicious, we get to make it as part of our duty depending on the week. I’ll be on butter duty tomorrow morning! I just love smothering it all over a freshly baked loaf of brown soda bread. Delish!
Demonstrations from Rory O’Connell are becoming my favourite part of the week. He really gets everybody excited about the food he is making. There’s always ooh’s and aah’s when we get to taste test at the end of his demo. He brings a brilliant quirkiness to the kitchen and he can stream off a million ideas for one simple ingredient.
And of course I couldn’t forget the gorgeous hens. Every time I go down to empty the hens buckets in their feeding skip, I have to stop and admire these proud birds. So fancy! They remind me of elegant older ladies who have a certain air of grandness about them.
I am in the middle of mentally preparing myself for week 3. I still have to pinch myself when I realise where and I am and what I am achieving each day. Building new friendships, broadening my way of thinking and looking outside the box. It is time to get a little bit more serious as exams are looming in the distance but still the laughs will be plenty…..till next time!