Friday, September 28, 2012

Wrights Dairy Farm

Field trips in high school were always something to look forward too.  It meant not having to sit in a desk for 8 hours or turning in homework or even taking a test or quiz.  In college, field trips aren't really field trips, except for the fact that they are still exciting!

The Pastry Club here at JWU traveled the 16.2 miles from our Harborside Campus to the Wrights Dairy Farm in Smithfield, Rhode Island.  The bus ride was nice, and the whole group was in good spirits, the only damper on the day was that it was raining.  Not just like a little drizzle of precipitation, it was a torrential downpour.

Earlier that morning, my roommate Kristina and I were getting ready to head out and meet the group at the bus stop.  She was wearing jeans and a nice shirt because I had told her to look cute as I was going to be taking pictures for this post.  She hates getting her picture taken by the way.  So, when she asked me what shoes she should wear, I was only thinking of her outfit, not of the weather.  Plus tennis shoes wouldn't have looked very nice with her peacoat.  So I recommended that she wear her black flip flops instead.

As soon as we left the dorm, she shot me a glare.  The rain was not to the downpour stage yet, but she still had to step in several unavoidable puddles.  Even though her feet were wet, she was not alone.  I had been thinking of my outfit as well, so I wore my nice, fairly new Sperrys.  My toes were wet almost immediately.

When we arrived, we hurried off the bus and huddled under the overhang on the side of the bakery.  The rain had increased in intensity by then.  We then met our wonderful tour guide, the daughter of the owner of the Wrights farm.  She led us, with our umbrellas in tow, over to the open barn where they keep the dairy cattle.  On the way over, we stepped carefully around a suspiciously smelly pile of "mud" and in several puddles.  Needless to say, we were kicking ourselves over our poor shoe choice.

Inside the airy barn, cows were everywhere!  Imagine that.  The rain was coming in through the opening down the middle of the roof, making the center of the ground a muddy mess.

Some of the cows were pretty shy, backing away when we approached with an outstretched hand.

On the contrary, some of the cows were too friendly.  I was taking a picture of Kristina, and while she was smiling at me, the cow licked her lapel!

I can tell this cow was very excited to be taking a picture with me, she even turned her head!  They were smelly, but it was cool to go see the whole process of how we get our morning milk.

This is where the cows are feed.  They feed on hay that the farm produces in the fields behind the barn.

There were so many cows!

This is where they keep the baby cows, the calves if you will.  Aren't they cute??  Here, this is a closer look.

Each fenced in area held two calves, and the calves shared a pod and a water and food pail.  They are taken away from their mothers within the first 4 days of their lives because otherwise it would be extremely hard to separate them.

Right next to the pods of calves, we traveled into a large building that houses all of the milking equipment.

The cows back into the stalls and their heads are held in place by a little lock on their collar.  They are milked everyday at 3 AM and 3 PM.

This is the bottler machine.  The bottles go down the ramp and get filled with the milk and then a cap is pressed securely on the top, sealing the bottle.  
Next, we traveled into the bakery portion of the farm.  It was like we had died and gone to heaven.  The smell of fresh whipped dream and warm cookies was intoxicating.

Look at the size of these mixers! I want one so bad.  Perhaps someday...

Kristina was excited too.  Maybe a little too excited....

There was everything you could dream of in this tiny kitchen.  These raw almond horns looked delish.

And look at the perfect dome on these cupcakes!


These are just a couple pictures of the section of the bakery where they put the finishing touches on the products before they go out to the selling floor.

And this, this is heaven.  Or its behind the counter of the store front, but who's asking?

Here is a couple employees wrapping the wonderful homemade caramel apples.

This is the infamous chocolate milk from Wrights.  Now normally, I don't really enjoy chocolate milk.  It's something about the whole concept of drinking milk with chocolate in it rather than the taste.  However, I will admit that this chocolate milk is THE best chocolate milk I have ever had.  It was rich but not overbearing, creamy but not thick, a cloud of chocolate in every swig.

And it comes in a half gallon, or this cute personal size.

I also grabbed one of their fresh apple dumplings.  It was amazing!  The crust was flaky yet moist and as soon as you broke the skin, this rich cinnamon apple ooze poured from every hole, soaking the flaky crust in every bite.

The apple itself was tender and moist, housing a sort of cream cheese-almond-cinnamon-sugar filling in its core-less core.  I was in love!

It was gone within 3 minutes.
I also purchased a few items to send back home for my guy to enjoy as well as a couple sweet things for myself. We then traveled down the road a ways to the gift shop and resteraunt.

They had Vera Bradley!!! That automatically makes them a really good store.

This is what a typical meal looks like family style.  

This is the Pastry Club Crew trudging back to the bus after a long day.

This is the way an eclair should be filled, to the brim with homemade cream.

I had a wonderful time at Wright's Dairy Farm and I plan on returning very soon!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The State House at Night

This is the Rhode Island State house,
at night.

Isn't it so pretty???

Here, here's a closer look.

Trust me, it's heavier than it looks.

Last weekend, my roommates and I were bored so we decided to go exploring.  One of my roomies is from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, which is about 15 minutes away from campus.  She goes to Providence all the time so she showed us around.  

We went to Thayer Street first which is the place to be on the weekends.  There are so many people everywhere on that 5 block street.  Theres everything you can think of; fro yo, chinese food, indie thrift stores, food trucks, and hookah bars.  (I've never heard of hookah bars before but a lot of college kids go to them all the time.  It's pretty much like smoking tobacco i's a reliable definition.)

My roommate that's from Pawtucket works in a food truck during the summer called Mijos.  We went there to get some yummy yummy tacos!! At first I was a little apprehensive because, well, it's food out of a truck!  But she ordered for me and I got two tacos pollo, which is tacos with chicken.  Let me tell you, these tacos were amazing!! They came on tortilla rounds that were probably 2 inches in radius and they were topped with fresh pico de gallo and fresh cilantro.  I was in heaven!! And then we got fro yo from FroWorld, and you can make your own dish which of course was delicious!! 

I can't wait to explore the cuisine here a little more.  You can't find food like this in St. Joe.  I wish I would've taken a picture of the truck, but I'll probably go back soon.  Maybe even this weekend!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Leaves are Turning

Classes are well underway for everyone here at JWU In Providence.  I haven't had that much homework so far but I'm certain that will pick up pace in the near future.
The one class that I do have numerous projects in already is Intro to Nutrition.  The course seems pretty rigoruos but I really enjoy listening to lectures that Chef Seyfarth gives.  They may be lengthy but the detail that he went into about the pros and cons of teens using whey protein to get big muscles was incredible.  
Did you know that the body can only process about 35 grams of protein a day?  And most of those drinks have you ingesting double and sometimes triple that amount!  That means that the $70 you spent on that powder to get you ripped, most of it is literally going down the toilet.
I think I'm going to like this class.

Friday, August 31, 2012

On the Way

As I’m sitting in the car on the near ten-hour drive from Greensburg, PA to Warwick, RI, I can’t help but notice how green everything is out here.  Back in St. Joe, you would cut the bottom of your feet just by walking in your yard, that’s how dry the grass was this summer.  In the preparation for my graduation party at the end of June, we called Mosquito Squad to spray our lawn.  They sprayed the trees; apparently even mosquitoes won’t live in our dead yard.  Now I see that all the rain went east. 

Everything’s so different out here.  I can’t wait to get all my belongings unpacked, but a part of me wants to turn around and run back home, back to everything I’ve known for the past 18 years.  Change, whether good or bad, is always hard.  The transition period is by far the worst as it comes with a sense of uncertainty.  Personally, I like to know what to expect and I have no idea what to expect this fall.  Well besides a lot of homework.  I mean it is college, right?

Eventually, I will find my niche in this new world, but I will never forget my roots.  St. Joe isn’t just my hometown, it’s a part of who I am and I have a lot of people to thank for helping me achieve my childhood dreams.  Which brings me to my biggest fear: Letting everyone down.  What if I fail?  I doubt I fail but college is a lot harder than high school so who knows?  I just want to be somebody, I want to make something of myself and but St. Joe on the map.  I’ll just take it one day at a time. 

And eat lots of pastries along the way

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Sometimes life just keeps going and going and you don't get a chance to stop and smell the roses, or update your blog postings.  Not that I'm making excuses.... And don't worry, I'm fine, I just had to work a lot this summer because college just keeps getting more and more expensive, but thats another story.

Today I am in Greensburg, PA visiting my grandparents.  My parents and I departed from St. Joseph, MI yesterday around 4:30 pm and drove the seven hours to Pennsylvania.  I feel like I'm in the transition period between high school and college, being shuffled around until I'm finally dumped at my dorm room with a couple hundred dollars to my name, expected to make something of myself.  But at least I have some Chips Ahoy cookies to keep me sane.

I really don't normally indulge in pre-made baked goods, being the aspiring chef that I am, however there are certain things that just aren't the same homemade.  Crazy, I know, but the Chips Ahoy mini cookies are incredible, especially on long car rides.  And they are a little piece of home.

All of my belongings are currently sitting in the back half of our families Nissan Quest, weighing down the tires a little bit.  I thought that maybe I might have brought too much stuff, but the way I see it is that it's way better to have too much stuff than not enough.  Plus, I bought a lot of storage containers so I can organize and put away everything.  I just hope our room is as big and I'm anticipating.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Macaroons in the Morning

“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.” - Ovid 

Or it can flourish in a oven, baked to perfection.

This recipe is one that has been a long time in the making.  Kinda.  I'll start from the beginning.

A long long time ago, back in a time where macaroons were not yet discovered by my hands and the French had nothing on me, my mom made a purchase that changed all of this.  She bought a can of Almond Paste.  
To my mom, this was the best thing since sliced bread (which isn't that great if you ask me).  She tore off the paper label to see the '2 Recipes Inside This Label' and prodded me to create one of them.  I brought the can into class and was met with an idea from Mrs. Berry about creating something else that day, so we put it off.  
And you know how that goes.  
I just found it today because I had run out of new ideas.  So I returned to the beloved macaroons.  Let me just say this publicly, THANK YOU MRS. K!  This will now be the cookie I run to when unexpected guests come knocking, or I forget that there are only 24 hours in a day.  

Mrs. K's Famous Macaroons
Makes about 18-20 cookies

1 can of Solo Almond Paste
1 egg white (extra large)
1/2 cup sugar
Optional: 10 Maraschino Cherries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a flat cookie sheet with parchment paper.  

Break almond paste into small pieces and place into your mixer with a paddle attachment.  Add sugar and mix well.  Note: There will still be small pieces and don't try to mix them out because you risk over-mixing.  They will dissipate when the egg white is added in.

Roll the dough into balls slightly larger than a quarter.

Bake at 325 degrees until edges are golden brown.

Break apart while their still warm, and 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mini Rainbow Cakes

A lot of my inspiration comes from the wonderful teacher, Mrs. Lauri Berry.  She's has been my teacher for a long time and I wouldn't be the person I am today with her guidance.  She finds these intriguing recipes and shows them to me in the hopes that I will try them.  She found this recipe from a blog dedicated to Jello Shots.  Not exactly school appropriate, but no worries, there's no alcohol in this recipe.

At first, I was astounded that the recipe used box mixes and canned frosting.  This is practically against my religion.  However, I haven't found a vanilla cake recipe that never fails yet, so I tried it with the box mixes and I am so glad I did!  This process is lengthy and requires 110 billion % of your focus.  Follow the instructions to the T and you will end up with adorable cakes.  I put my little spin of these cakes (I couldn't control myself) and added a couple tablespoons of almond to the frosting.  It definitely took these cakes to the next level.  The whole pan, even the scraps, was gone within the hour of pulling it out of the freezer.  I'm certain several people even ate it completely frozen!

(By the way, I took some of these
 pictures using my new Instagram app, 
check me out at mgarstecki23)

This recipe would be perfect for a child's birthday party or a shower.  The servings are small enough to give you a taste, but not overwhelming.  Also, it looks so pretty!  Next I'll try this process with chocolate cake and ombre-colored frosting, yum!

Here's a step-by-step How-to!

Prepare the two cake mixes according to the directions.

Split the batter evenly between 6 bowls.

Dye each batter a different color.
This is your time to shine! Experiment with rainbow, shades of your favorite color, or and color combination that suits your fancy.
Just don't get too crazy.
Like this.

I know, I know.
Please forgive me.

Then bake each layer in a 9 by 13 foil or parchment lined pan, separately.  

Then let cool.
Prepare the frosting however which way you want ( Like almond ) and equally divie it up in between each layer.  
Let it freeze overnight covered by foil.  

Use a biscuit cutter to cut out the cakes.

Isn't that so cool?