Saturday, March 15, 2014

Napa Valley Conference - Day 3

It was another gorgeous day here in the Napa Valley. I truly do feel blessed to have the life that I do, and the opportunity to travel to the places that we do. We've really enjoyed our time here so far...but that being said...the days have been very long and some of the lectures have been a bit dry.

Today was another long day for me in particular. The morning was full of lectures that went well over my head, so I spent a fair bit of time catching up on the news. Michael has been enjoying the conference, but I think the general consensus is that while they are talking about the techniques for bringing this healthy lifestyle to your patients...they aren't necessarily giving you the tools to do it with. So while the information has been great, it's hard to relate it to certain fields.

Today we didn't have any demos as a big group like we have the past two days. Today we actually broke up into smaller groups for either interactive cooking sessions or for some more interactive work shops. Today we attended two very good talks. The first one was "Healthy Family Meals $20 or Less." And it was designed to help you cook a meal for a family of four for no more than $20. The chef who gave the talk was also a pediatrician...but in 2008 she attended the CIA to get her culinary degree.

It was a great change of pace because she had a wonderful sense of humor and really kept us involved. She talked about organizing your pantry and your kitchen in order to cut down on the costs of duplication. Now I have to admit...I've fallen victim to this trap! We've all gone to the store and bought an extra bottle of whatever, only to get home to find that we have one or more already in the pantry. This makes sense to me, it's about knowing what you have on hand...and having a well stocked pantry.

I have a page here on my blog called "Pantry Essentials." You can go to that page and I talk about the things that I have stocked in my pantry. I also have a video on my YouTube page where I talk about the things I find essential in my kitchen. (You can click on the two highlighted links above for those things.) As I said in yesterday's post, I feel that if I came to this conference with little or no cooking/kitchen knowledge...I would be walking away a different person. But to someone who has dabbled in the kitchen, this is all pretty common sense things.

That's not to say that I know everything, because there have been several things where I've gone..."Wow...that is such a great idea!" The best thing about cooking, to me, is that you are constantly evolving. That's the fun of can get into a rut where you cook the same things over and over...or you can expand your horizons and try something different. It's one of the reasons I love to cook seafood, it's something I know very little about...and I am excited to try cooking these different things.

As far as the tidbits that I can share with you from this lecture, she stressed organization. She also talked about how menu planning is a big part of her home life...even though she hates it because she thinks it stifles her creativity as a chef. She was hilarious, I spent a fair bit of time laughing through out this because she injected the right amount of humor into this to make it very relevant and real for us. Cooking can be a very scary thing, and when you see a chef on TV making something think that you could never do that. But just remember...they weren't always amazing chefs, they've burned many things to get to this point.

This afternoon we attended a seminar called "Wine: the Latest Research on the Health Impacts plus a Guided Tasting." This was by far the best one today. :) The first hour was full of wonderful information about the latest studies when it came to alcohol and it's affects on your health. My basic take away from this is that drinking in moderation is good for you. For women, one drink a day...for men...two drinks a day. And they were specific when they said "drink." One drink is either: 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits...5 ounces of wine...or 12 ounces of regular beer. There has been a lot of information as of recent that states that you should drink red wine, but the presenter who is a Doctor of Science (ScD instead of MD) said that further studies show that it doesn't really matter what type of alcohol you drink...but it matters how MUCH of it you drink. So be mindful of that, a good/healthy diet plus alcohol in moderation is good plan. That was my take away. **As I take another sip of wine.** ;-)

For the last hour Robert Bath led us through a guided tasting of six wines. He is one of 214 Master Sommerliers in the world, which is a pretty impressive thing. He was very down to earth and walked us through the tasting by talking about how to drink and enjoy wine. From the sight, smells and tastes all the way to how it lingered on the palate. He did give us a few tips in case we were at a wine party and people asked us what we tasted. For white wines you say, "I get some lovely apple and lemon notes." And for red wines you say, "I get lovely cherry notes." We all laughed because we've all been around people who are like..."I am getting a slight note of bark from a cherry tree on the south side of the Potomac in Washington, D.C." Right?! I'm the type of person who is like, "Oh this tastes good." LOL

We really enjoyed this talk...and not just because it was interactive, lol. But I've always wondered what people mean when they say it's "full bodied" or "dry or sweet." It was wonderful to have someone who knows so much be able to break it down so simply without making you feel dumb for not being able to pick out all these different notes and smells.

We ducked out of the conference early to come back to the hotel and relax for a bit. I passed out for about 1/2 hour before we met Michael's coworkers at Mustards Grille for dinner. I had a wonderful grilled hanger steak with fries and a watercress dip. I'm on food overload here! But it's so wonderful to have all this great food...that I don't have to prepare! HA! :) This truly has been a wonderful few days, and tomorrow is the final day of the conference. We get to have our hands on cooking session tomorrow..."Healthy cooking with Nuts & Legumes" Yay...LOL. We would have loved to attend the grilling one, but by the time we were able to register, those spots were already taken. So I've told Michael that from now on he'll have peanuts and beans for every meal. :)

I have a few pictures that I snapped throughout today...

This is the front of Hogwarts...I mean the Culinary Institute of America :)

The Joy of Cooking! YAY!

What I wouldn't give for this kitchen...and the cameras it had! LOL

*sigh* How I love cookbooks!!!

These was what was in front of us at our Wine session.

This cracked me up.

These were the six bottles of wine that we tasted

Everything is in bloom here right now. This is on the way to our room at our hotel.

It's been another wonderful day, and I honestly can't wait to get into the kitchen tomorrow to do some cooking and hopefully learn some new things! I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!

Until next time...Keep Cooking!

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