To honoring the past, shaping a better future, and embracing every opportunity to make new memories today.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
This shirt, for example, is absolutely adorable.
Or this plastic serrated chef's knife (safe for all non-stick surfaces) that would be stylish and functional!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Flash forward to present day. Based on the empirical evidence provided by a glossy photo in a cooking magazine, I had decided that cheesecake was my new best friend and I; ever the cheesecake evader would now claim this territory as my own and embrace the silky deliciousness that is our diary dessert. Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but I think you can see where I’m going here. Five hours, a nap, and a large dinner later, I had lost all enthusiasm for “operation cheesecake” however I had already bought all the ingredients and my helpers were geared to go, so we forged ahead – enthusiasm be dammed!
The first step in a cheesecake is to make the crust. In the recipe I chose, this meant go to the store, buy a bag of Oreos, and smash them up…or something along those lines – I get blurry on the details. Essentially:
The directions did not, however, indicate how I was supposed to soften the cream cheese, and for the novice cheesecake maker that I was – that would have been a really handy set of instructions. I left the cheese out on the oven for twenty minutes or so but then I got impatient and decided to start the filling with slightly hard cream cheese against the better judgment of the recipe (and my helpers). I put the cream cheese into my bowl and tried to beat it until it was soft. Note to self: this is not an expedient way to soften cheese, in fact, it might have been faster if I simply leaned down and cupped my hands against the cheese and let out short gusts of hot air from my diaphragm “huh, huh”. Not only did softening the cheese with my hand mixer take forever, it also didn’t work really effectively and resulted in lots of tiny cheese curds in my filling. Then the recipe instructed me to add one egg at a time. I am unsure if it really matters whether I add one egg at a time or all eggs simultaneously, but the raging success of my earlier recipe modification, I decided to just do what they told me to. After adding each egg, my batter was…well…unappetizing.
But I wasn’t worried – I forged ahead, added my melted chocolate to the batter (note the white filling along the sides of the bowl – I probably should have tried harder to scrape the sides)
and poured the filling into the pan – how beautiful is that (minus the cheese curds)?
Now usually when I shout “who wants a piece of this?” it is followed with an uncomfortable silence and clearing of throats. In this case, however, everyone was excited to sample my cheesecake masterpiece
How was it? It was magical, amazing, earth shattering – it was really damn good! I was won over into the cult of cheesecake consumption and ready to give my soul for another piece. As I finished my chocolaty slice of heaven a single thought entered my mind that really summarized my feelings on this entire cheesecake escapade. Now THAT is a cheesecake worth waiting in line for!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Sometimes great food is intentional; it is a planned and precise process with careful steps and exact measurements. In my experience, however, the best food is stumbled upon by accident. Perhaps it’s the omission of an ingredient either in error or out of necessity, or perhaps it’s the modification of instructions to fit my own tools, kitchen, or lifestyle, or maybe it’s just sheer luck under which I stumble upon some of my greatest culinary successes. Either way I can resolutely declare that for me, it is not intentional. But when it happens….oh when it happens it’s as though the culinary gods have poked their heads down through the clouds of mashed potatoes and whipped cream with their hot chocolate mustaches and smiled down at me for just one second.
Of course, reality always follows these moments of fancy (whipped cream would make terrible clouds!) and I realize that it is a combination of success and failure that help us to become great cooks. Without failure, I would never learn that when a recipe says “sit over night” it damn well means it! Without success, however, I would’ve given up after my hundredth broken yolk and never learned how to properly fry an egg. As with all pastimes, cooking must be rewarding or it will never become a passion and it must be daunting or it will never push you to succeed.
Why cook? I could say that it is because I love the challenge, because everyone needs to eat, or because I am a glutton for punishment. The truth is, however, that yearn for those moments of transcendental consumption, the moments that resolve existential crisis and connect me to the universe, the moments that tell me who I am, where I belong, and whether or not my dish needs more salt.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Okay, perhaps it doesn’t say all of that, but it does communicate a certain priority set that not all who consume food adopt. For me, food is first priority. From the time I get up in the morning until the time I go to bed at night I’m thinking about food, I’m imagining food that I could make or eat, and I’m looking up food on the internet (while I should be working). If I spent even half the time invested in my career as I do in what I eat for dinner, I would probably be a CEO at a Fortune 500 company by now – or at least I’d still be a size ten.
Size doesn't matter, though, because I’m dedicated to my craft and pursue it with the single-mindedness that only a true addict can have. In my lifetime, I have consumed well over ten thousand tacos, but the satisfying crunch of the shell between my teeth and the savory taste of melted cheese on my tongue is a habit I just can't seem to kick. It's so bad that I sometimes catch myself equating the value of things in tacos. "Sure, I could buy that video game, but that's like forty tacos!" Surely this train of thought is a sign that I have a deep-seated addiction and need serious psychological intervention, but I can't bring myself to care enough to change. The fact is, my relationship with food is as complicated as any relationship I could have with a boyfriend and (I suspect) infinitely more gratifying.