America’s Test Kitchen School Review

I signed up for a trial membership of  The America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School.  I stayed about an hour and tried out two of the lesson plans.  Boy was I disappointed.

...or how to make your cooking look repulsive....

Oh, they have thought of everything.  There was more reading to do than I like.  I have to read stuff all day long and the videos work just fine for me.  Yes, I admit to being lazy. The lessons include:

* IQ Quizzes – These fun quizzes appear at the start of Technique Lessons and In-Depth Course sections and are designed to both gauge your current understanding of the topic and teach you some basics before diving into course material. Detailed feedback is supplied for each response and a summary of your results is supplied at the end.
* Concept Reviews – These are interactive quizzes that test how much information you’ve learned. Do you understand the key concepts that will ensure good results in the kitchen? You’ll receive detailed feedback as you answer each question and a score at the end.
* Core Technique Videos  – These videos, found in Technique Lessons and In-Depth Courses, are focused on a single important core technique and will help build cooking knowledge. You will learn techniques that apply to thousands of recipes, such as how to sauté chicken or how to make risotto, as well as more specialized techniques, such as how to tie a roast or how to blind-bake a pie shell. Watching these videos will prepare you for the recipe tutorials where you’ll be applying many of these core techniques. Most importantly, these videos review key concepts that will increase your understanding of course material.
* Recipe Tutorials – Recipe tutorials are where the cooking happens. After we introduce a recipe to you and list the required tools and ingredients, you’ll watch Bridget cook in an extensive step-by-step video tutorial and hopefully, cook along with her – that is if you’ve got an ipad or laptop and can bring her into your kitchen.
* Discussions – Class discussion is a key part of your learning experience. Clicking the discussions icon in the upper right-hand corner will allow you to start/or contribute to these at any point in a lesson. As a student and peer, your participation is key. You will add valuable insight by participating in discussions, enriching the learning that takes place, and allowing other students to learn from you. We encourage you to participate in class discussions often!


Instructors are available, but that’s extra.

The reason I didn’t stay a member?  I took the tutorial on Eggs.  They had the nerve to say that store bought eggs were just as good as farm fresh eggs.  Excuse me?  I raise farm fresh eggs and nothing could be further from the truth.  They also claim there is no nutritional difference.  Saying it does not make it so, you can see the difference.  I don’t care what they say.  Just crack an egg open.

They are being politically correct and not telling people the truth.  Most store bought eggs come from chickens who are eating GMO’s.  You can’t talk about food and not hit on this subject and pretend it doesn’t exist.  So, I cancelled my free membership, that I had to give a credit card number to get.  It’s so not worth it, when you can get good accurate information for free.

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Preparing For Winter Fun

Thermal underwear is great to have in the cold mountain snow but there is more to preparing for a trip to the mountains to play in the snow than loading up the snowboard, tire chains and filling up the gas tank.

Pier 39 in San Francisco

San Francisco, Pier 39: Fisherman’s Wharf

It’s not uncommon to see people running around Twain Harte in the dead of winter in shorts. I asked one man what he was thinking and he told me he had decided to make a day trip to the mountains and forgot to pack his pants.

Mountain weather can change quickly and temperatures drop like a rock when the sun goes down. So, please don’t forget your pants at home.

I have to laugh at that because I remember one early fall day over ten years ago when our family made a trip to Pier 39 in San Francisco. We wandered around shopping, watching the seals and sampling the local  eateries. When the sun went down, the temperatures took a nose dive and even though I was wearing a sweatshirt and a coat, it was so cold, we shopped for  and purchased jackets – and grabbed a blanket from the car.

I had planned to quote Mark Twain just now: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” But,  according to Snopes, it’s not true. You have to admit, it could be true for most Californian’s. However, since I’m from Michigan — well, let’s just say  San Francisco doesn’t come close in comparison to a cold Michigan winter.

When you know you will be out in the cold weather, be sure to bring along extra socks, wool is great at keeping the moisture away from your feet. The snow in the Sierra Nevada range  tends to be wet and heavy. Warm socks, gloves and hats are essential. As a rule of thumb, bring twice as many as you would normally bring to ensure having a dry set available.

The DOT does a terrific job of keeping the roads clear and over the past several years new signage has been erected. As such, most people make their round trip to Dodge Ridge in safety but there are times when, due to vehicle failure, a motorist can get stranded. It’s always better to be prepared for just such an emergency.

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Visiting Techie Town

Intel Touch Screen Computer

Intel Touch Screen Computer

Over the years we’ve grown quite comfortable using Google’s services. Let’s face it –  they do make it easy. What could be simpler than their Plain Jane website that puts the world at your fingertips? What could be better?

Well, Google really disappointed me for the first time yesterday and I am heartbroken.

We finally made time to take a much needed mini-vacation to the Silicon Valley and a visit to California’s Great America. On our way to check into our room at the Embassy Suites we couldn’t believe our luck. AMD, Yahoo, Oracle, Cisco, Microsoft, and other big techie  businesses just flew past our car window.

Yahoo Front Desk

Yahoo Front Desk

We decided right then that we couldn’t leave the area without visiting a few businesses on Monday, since California’s Great America was closed. I am so grateful to have found the Intel Museum. While it wasn’t Great America, it was educational, fun and interactive, we all enjoyed our visit and it didn’t cost us a dime. The rest of the day, we wouldn’t be so lucky.

Yahoo's Purple Cow

Yahoo's Purple Cow

Our  second stop was Yahoo, since it was closest to our location. It seemed that everywhere we turned we would find another Yahoo office location.

Yahoo Prime Grade A eMAIL Cow

Yahoo's eMAIL Cow

We found the visitor’s entrance easily but sadly, the lobby was empty, there was no one to greet us. Instead we found a sign, instructing vistors to  please sign in. Well darn. We were infomed by an employee who happened by that Yahoo does have a store, where we could purchase  Yahoo products. At another location. Oh well, back in the car. 🙂

Yahoo's Purple Chair

Unfortunately, the clothing was either a size small or  2XL, too small or too big. I purchased a very large shirt to use as nightwear.

Yahoo Purple Fire Hydrant

We were disappointed but left in good spirits. We were on our way to  visit  the Googleplex and couldn’t wait to get there.  The first  impending sign of doom came by way of a fire hydrant  that had been painted Yahoo purple only a block away from Google’s main office. We were perplexed. We drove to the end of Ampitheiter Way, then turned around and headed back to the last entrance to Google.

Google Plex

We found a sign for visitor parking and headed down the walkway. We showed up at lunchtime, there were people everywhere. It was almost like we were invisible, no one said hello, no one even gave us a second glance. We tried door after door, looking for a visitor center. The “No Name Cafe” was busy, the food both looked and smelled delicious. I was hoping beyond hope that the cafeteria was open to the public, but alas I had clung to false hope.

Google has Quality Bugs

Not only was the “No Name Cafe” open to employee’s only. The entire place, including the visitors lobby we finally found tucked back in the corner requiring a badge to enter. I finally located a phone and tried three times to reach a real person, only to be informed that “Google is a closed campus.” If you don’t have an appointment, you don’t get in.

I still can’t believe we drove all that way, only to be turned away by large, cold, uncaring, super-techie’s that are far too busy to say hello and spare a few moments of their time.

Google's 'Got Badge?' sign

When we arrived back home, we checked online again. Surely, Google must have a visitor’s center with a gift shop somewhere? We were right, they have one in New York. That simply doesn’t make any sense to me — none at all. Google has a massive amount of office space. You can’t tell me that in a place that size, they couldn’t manage to squeeze out a few hundred feet to put a face to such a public company.

You know, I don’t think anyone in the Silicon Valley smiles and I find that really sad. It seemed that everywhere we went, people were unhappy, in a hurry and couldn’t be bothered to give a wave or say hello. You would think the people at Great America would all be bright and chipper, after all they get to listen to all that terrific music all day long and meet new people. All I saw was a sea of frowns on their faces.

Grandma had some terrific advice, “When you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.” So, that’s exactly what I did.