Zoom lessons

"a chatroom that has gone from almost no one having ever heard of it to being a central instrument in our jobs." Bored Panda


More than just our jobs - our entire lives.


I mentioned that we were returning to the Zoom cooking class experiment - and indeed yesterday we did. Was it fun, joyous even? Yes it was, but at times it was so stressful that I felt quite ill, and had to get David to take over for a moment. Mostly entirely because of stupid things I did with the technology.

We were making gnocchi. The photo here is the end result of my two grandsons' efforts - one which had been layered with tomato sauce and baked in the oven, the other which had been tossed in a sage butter sauce in a frying pan. The type of gnocchi we made were the basic cheese gnocchi using the recipe by Elizabeth David from her Italian Food book. There are a couple of adapted versions online of her recipe but they aren't really right, so I'm reproducing it here, because honestly it's pretty easy and so very delicious - and light. The best I have ever made.


"225g of ricotta; 50g butter; 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan; 2 eggs; 3 tablespoons flour; salt and pepper; nutmeg

Sieve the cream cheese, stir in the softened butter, Parmesan, eggs, and flour. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Form into gnocchi about the size of a cork, roll them in flour. Poach them in gently boiling water for 8-10 minutes. Lift them out and drain them when they rise to the top of trepan. Serve them with butter and grated cheese. Easier to make if the mixture is left to set for several hours, or overnight, in the refrigerator."


It's a typical Elizabeth David recipe in that it is a bit short on information here and there, and also lacking those little things like telling you to boil the water before rolling out the gnocchi. But just to show how stressed I was, I didn't even notice the instruction to sieve the cheese. We just tipped everything in the bowl and mixed it up. And actually I don't think it mattered.


She is vague about the rolling out, and forming process. I also see that in a rather contradictory manner she says to poach them for 8-10 minutes, but take them out when they rise to the top - which is around 1 minute. I knew from other recipes of hers to prepare a dish with butter and cheese and top with more of both before reheating them in the oven. But in this recipe she doesn't really tell you what to do with them when you've taken them out of the boiling water. Other versions I found online, went on at great length about what kind of ricotta you should have, making pretty indentations in the top and so on. Still there is enough there to get the picture.


So much for the cooking part - I can't remember whether I have written about gnocchi before. I probably have, and may will do it again some time. The children enjoyed the process I think and were not too overwhelmed by there being anything difficult about it.


The idea of layering the gnocchi with the tomato sauce was entirely theirs so I was impressed. And I gather the end results were rather rapturously received by all and sundry - except perhaps the 6-year old, who had not participated.


But Zoom. And all my fault. I still don't really know why, but as I got my laptop out for the session some 20 minutes before it was due to start, I decided I could quickly download and install a software update with a security element to it. Guess what - it took far longer than I thought, and so I missed the starting time. Phone calls from the other end - what's happening? Actually it turns out that it was actually a bonus in one home as they were not quite ready either. Anyway eventually the download finished and two text messages later we were able to start.


However, it didn't end there. My two grandsons had to just watch whilst the girls prepared their poached pears for dessert. This had been deemed too difficult for the boys - not really sure why. But they didn't seem to mind. Still they didn't really know what to do for a while.


Then for some reason - I now cannot remember why and I think when we were in the midst of rolling out the dough, I lost the Zoom screen altogether. I just hit the wrong key for some reason - as you do - and it disappeared. I could still hear them but not see them. Eventually I got that tiny speaker view at the edge of my screen but I really couldn't get the main screen back. Fortunately we had to login in again anyway shortly thereafter because our free time was up. So all was well again.


Final problem - the two sessions I had booked ended and we were still going, so I had to book a new one, which I did but forgot to send the invite and so it took more phone calls to get everyone back. Phew.


All of this technical ineptness stressed me out a bit and of course, as always the children tend to talk over each other, and over me, and sometimes the parents in the background chip in. The parents are generally trying to keep out of it altogether, but not surprisingly can't resist dipping in and out. And that's good because I want them to take photos. More from the boys this time.


All a bit chaotic but the end results were worth it - and I don't just mean the food. There was a lot of laughter, and not very much sibling infighting this time. I do recommend it to you grandparents out there, not getting enough time with your grandchildren. They requested that we do this. It did not come from me. You just have to master Zoom - and don't forget to make sure your laptop or iPad is fully charged! That was another thing I didn't check fully beforehand! Oh dear. I'm getting old.






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