March 30, 2013 § 56 Comments
I went a little insane this last week. I went for a walk with the dog and didn’t need to wear a hat. My face didn’t feel cold at all. I knew intellectually that was possible, but I had actually kind of forgotten what that felt like. And I was like, “SPRING!!!!!”
So then I decided we were going to celebrate both Passover and Easter – Joel’s background is Jewish and mine is Lutheran, so I figured we were allowed. We (ok, really it’s me, but Joel goes along with it so well) are extremely attracted by events, holidays, and meals steeped in symbolism, and both Passover and Easter are ideal for this. In addition to planning big meals for each holiday, I also decided it would be best if we made all of our own matzoh and Easter candy homemade. No problem, right? Ha. I feel like my every spare moment has been in the kitchen, which I don’t really mind. But, then my advisor finally sent me comments back on one of my dissertation drafts, so I was supposed to be editing that too. Oops.
But, so far, it’s all been totally worth it. And as long as the lamb cake I’m currently baking comes out of the mold without its face falling apart, then I feel like we’re ready to rock and roll.
It feels amazing to have my energy coming back because I’ve been pretty exhausted for the last couple months…Which brings me to our very big news. It, as you may have already guessed, has everything to do with an entirely different sort of, shall we say, baking project, with buns in ovens, and all. And I don’t mean the hot cross kind.
That is to say, come late September we’re expecting a new family member to join our little family!(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) We couldn’t be more thrilled. Or terrified, of course. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 25, 2013 § 23 Comments
After I posted about my method for making creamy scrambled eggs, I received several requests asking whether I could write a similar post on making the perfect omelet.
The answer: most certainly! … Well, sort of.
The perfect omelet is a fitful, finnicky, tricky thing. It is said that you can judge the caliber of a chef by his or her plain roast chicken and his or her omelet. So, I knew that if I was to post about how to cook an omelet, I could not do so lightly.
So, I decided to put in a whole bunch of practice first.
On the whole, I’m relatively unpracticed at making omelets. Certainly if you compare with my practice in fried or scrambled eggs. I like eggs in nearly any preparation, but omelets are not at the very top of my list, so I don’t make them as frequently as some other eggy delights. Actually, if I were to order how frequently I made different types of eggs, the list would be something like this:
- Fried eggs
- Baked eggs (most often baked plainly with just a drizzle of cream and maybe some herbs)
- Scrambled eggs (with or without lots of mix-ins)
- Poached eggs – Frittatas – this one’s a tie
- Soft or hard boiled eggs (though, actually, I do absolutely love a soft boiled egg, if someone else prepares it for me)
- Other egg-based things like savory custards, stratas, souffles, etc.
So there you go. And I have now started the most boring conversation ever, listing egg preparation preferences. Or maybe it’s actually one of the most interesting potential conversations ever. Your egg preferences may be like a personality barometer. Maybe it’s an edible Myer’s-Briggs! Do all other INFJs have the same egg preferences as me? Do ENTPs prefer scrambled eggs above all while ISTJs are omelet people? Feel free to discuss. « Read the rest of this entry »
February 17, 2013 § 32 Comments
My dear friends, would you be up for bearing with me for just a moment so I can talk about scrambled eggs?
Plain old scrambled eggs. Not scrambled eggs with crisped asparagus or lacy pieces of prosciutto, not scrambled eggs with cheeses and meats and peppers and mushrooms. Not scrambled eggs with anything, except perhaps a helpful piece of toast. Just scrambled eggs. Soft scrambled eggs.
Scrambled eggs are a staple breakfast of mine, and it has occurred to me – given the many times I have been given not very good scrambled eggs – that this absurdly simple preparation, requiring only a few ingredients and minutes, can be quite tricky to pull off.
I think, like me, for many people the ideal of scrambled eggs is soft and creamy, a smooth pillowy mound of golden eggs with barely a curd to spear into. Eminently scoopable eggs, almost like a savory custard. But more often our eggs turn out dry, in large chunks. It’s disheartening.
I didn’t used to feel this way about scrambled eggs. When I was little, scrambled eggs were my favorite food, after any of the sweets we weren’t allowed to eat, but I liked them cooked until totally hard and dry. Then I’d chop them into tiny pieces with my fork. I was weird.
When I was 6 or 7 I got into a huge argument about this with my grandmother, in fact. She explained to me that the proper way to cook scrambled eggs was to leave them partially uncooked and creamy. I insisted this was a disgusting and terrible idea. We faced off, dug our heels in, and neither of us would give an inch on our stance.
It was time that wore me down (happily). I began to prefer my yolks runny and my scrambled eggs soft, and it became a point of intense experimentation to try to achieve my new vision of scrambled egg perfection. « Read the rest of this entry »
February 1, 2013 § 19 Comments
So, a couple of weeks ago I had this whole plan in my mind wherein I was not going to make or eat any sweets until Valentine’s Day. Not because of any January, ascetic, resolution-y type of reason. I steer clear of food resolutions in general, and cleanses peeve me. They rub me the wrong way, I guess because I feel like they’re a reflection of our national dysfunctional relationship with food. I know they’re not trying to, but to me they send the message, “you can shove whatever you want into your body without paying attention all year long as long as you spend 2 weeks in January consuming nothing but juiced vegetables and wheatgrass,” or whatever. Which you can’t. You should eat cleanly all the time, and it should and can be incredibly enjoyable, and then also leave room for some good clean fun here and there (like nachos, hehe).
Anyhow, pardon the brief tirade, that’s neither here nor there because the real reason that I was going to forego all sweets for any number of weeks was to create a giant buildup to a Valentine’s Day treat to end all Valentine’s Day treats. In spite of my usual relaxed attitude toward the holiday of love, this year, for whatever reason, it struck me as a fun idea to use it as an excuse to make something billowing, and chocolatey, and gooey, and basically hopelessly, ridiculously rich.
And, I suppose I still may, but a couple of things conspired against me in the last few days to send my plans into a tailspin. First, my dear husband told me that he was going to be out of town on Valentine’s and the surrounding days for a consulting project he’s working on. Insert sad face, but that hitch could be overcome by postponing our Valentine’s celebration until he returned. But the second problem is, I lost my taste for chocolate.
I know: What???!!! Right? It’s completely ridiculous. Who goes from being a devotee of chocolate in all its most intense forms, mousse, sorbet, midnight dark bars, dense flourless cakes, to being slightly put off by the very thought of it? Who???? Sadly, me.
January 9, 2013 § 15 Comments
How are we already more than a week into January? Can someone please explain to me how that happened?
Around mid-November through mid-December I was so happy because I’d really found a rhythm, a productive and interesting but soothing rhythm, to my days. I was finally comfortable enough to put 2012 into cruise control and start admiring the scenery.
Then 2013 came barging in and it totally threw off my groove. The toddler-like newness of the year must be contagious because I’m stumbling about a bit trying to regain my stride. I suppose I should respect the newness and not try so hard for broad, efficient striding at all.
Transitions, good or bad, they’re always a little tricky and tiring. Not the least of the reasons for which being that the crack in the earth is open and naughty daemons are wandering around making mischief in our lives and of our immune systems. (Especially our immune systems! Sniff, wheeze, cough. More chicken soup please.)
But, the threshold has been crossed, and once you’re over you can look back, but you can’t go back. Not with any amount of kicking or screaming or clinging to the doorframe. What’s back there has been digested (hopefully well) and given strength to now, and now off we go to the next now and onward! « Read the rest of this entry »
December 12, 2012 § 14 Comments
I have a major breakfast thing people. It’s pretty weird.
I mean, I knew I had a breakfast thing before – I’ve brought it up more than a few times, for example every time I mention breakfast – but I don’t think I knew knew. If you know what I mean. You know?
But now I know. When I commandeered the whole breakfast-making procedure at my best friend in Boston’s house – where I was the guest, mind you – and started turning out frittatas with arugula and over easy eggs with a brown butter vinegar sizzle, that’s when I really knew.
It may be Monday or Thursday, I may have a meeting at 8 am, but still I find myself compulsively fixing breakfast for myself and whomever else I can shake out of bed. Plates of migas, fried eggs with kimchi and orange aioli, potato cakes with smoked salmon, honey-avocado lassis, fresh baked corn bread with homemade ricotta. I may not be able to plan out my lunch, potentially not even dinner, but breakfast is likely to be a minor masterpiece.
I’d say it was a problem, if it weren’t so delicious! « Read the rest of this entry »
November 9, 2012 § 90 Comments
Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t have been a pastry chef.
In general, I like to think of myself as more of a cook. I find some self-satisfaction in my inaccurate – or more appropriately, unprecise – stirring together of a pinch of this and a handful of that until I’ve made a meal of it. I don’t think of myself as precise enough for baking and pastries.
And yet…And yet, at the end of a very long week, a week where – let’s just say hypothetically – the workdays have been 12 hours long and the brain has taken the spirit captive, I find that precision is what I want. The precision is a respite.
Structurelessness can be a tyrant, and precision and strict guidelines can actually offer solace. In those moments, I take comfort in measuring an exact teaspoon and a half or creaming for exactly three minutes.
I also love pastries for their sheer un-utilitarian-ness. Sometimes when there’s a lot to do, the wise decision is to make those calls or do that laundry, to stop avoiding and cross some things off your list. But sometimes the wise decision is instead to do something that delights you, that has nothing to do with the list.
You don’t need sweets in your life, to be sure, but I think sometimes you do need little things that are “just because,” that aren’t necessities for the body, but may be for the soul. Life needs to contain both basics and beauty, both bread and roses, or perhaps both stews and pâte feuilletée. « Read the rest of this entry »