I spent this past weekend on a culinary retreat with my best girlfriends from Ithaca! We had a mommy-away weekend generously supported by our husbands, who had to play single-dad for the weekend.
I've never spent much time in the Catskill region, and it was pretty. It's funny because I drove down from the Green Mountains through the Adirondack Mountains into the Catskill Mountains. Really they all look roughly the same. ADK is always the most beautiful, but the most painful to drive through (for those of us who get carsick easily).
Anyway, the bulk of Saturday was spent at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. We took a baking "enthusiast" class, specifically for baking breads at home. Our instructor, Chef Thomas, was wonderfully funny and patient, and I have to say that I learned a lot almost instantly. HYDRATION and Gluten development are key. I had no idea about the hydration part but now it all makes sense. Tension is also important in making a nice looking loaf, which is perfect for me because I have enough tension to spread around, you know?
The class in a nutshell, was F.U.N., and I highly recommend it. We were very impressed with the snacks, the assistant student chefs, and the yummy lunch that was provided. Mostly now we have mad baking skillz.
The rest of the time we just spent time talking and walking around Rhinebeck, NY. There were also two visits to the (famous?) Eveready diner. One for after dessert pie, and one for an amazing breakfast (I was most impressed with the Bananas Foster French Toast!). I regret not getting an egg cream or a malted, but really there was only so much room in my belly.
Upon arriving home I unloaded my bounty of about 12 lbs of different kinds of breads:
Baguettes, rolls, brioche, sourdough rye...
It's a good thing I'm not afraid of carbs.