About five years ago, my best friend decided to host Christmas Eve dinner at her new house, and I came over to help for what seemed like a lovely afternoon, but turned out to be, well, you know how you don’t always get along perfectly with your closest friends when you’re both stressed out? Daunted and nearly pulled under by the amount of work we’d bitten off, I’m pretty sure there were some snippy words between us, and this Wild Mushroom and Stilton Galette recipe didn’t help. I remember thinking at the time it was one of the most elaborate things I’d ever made, but what I really meant was “pain in the ass.” It has all of these, well, steps, directions you’re not sure are utterly necessary or bettering of the end-product but you follow them because you don’t want to find out the other way that you should have just RTFM-ed. Especially not on Christmas Eve with guests coming over. But, we plundered through and ended up delighted with the results. Everything worked exactly the way it promised, and I’d like to think that this galette added an iota of peace and tranquility to our hellish afternoon. Well, that and Baileys.
October, 2006 Archive
High on my list of things I’ve always wanted to do but finances, scheduling or partner interest always got in the way was going to some small town for a rustic fall weekend, even though it risked cementing my unconditionally yuppie status. I mentioned this to my delightful husband a month ago, in a “maybe we could pull it off this year” kind of way and a day later, he had the whole thing booked. Cue: swoon.
People, I’m getting as predictable as a Cathy cartoon. Take out your calendars, tick 28 days from now, and inevitably, this page will be topped with yet another chocolate-supporting confection. All month long, I look at this dark food of the gods, daily, I submit to a bittersweet bite, yet rarely do I desire to transform it into things. Baking disperses chocolate across flour, eggs, sugars and etceteras. It dulls its mighty intent, and personally, I prefer my chocolate potent.
I have this theory, or shall we call it a personality disposition, that nothing is ever really perfect. While I would argue this pickiness is unfortunate outside the kitchen — “This date would have been even more perfect if I’d ordered the eggplant and not the chicken.” “I love my haircut except this completely unnoticeable thing going on in the back.” — within the confines of the galley walls, I think nit-picking, when done quietly, helps us become better cooks.
At Sunday’s final bread class, I was a little slow-moving after Saturday night’s festivities and the cause of last week’s cupcake extravaganza. We focused on whole-grain breads: semolina, Swiss rye, seeded rye and pumpernickel, and though I was a little, um, dehydrated, I think I did all right, surprising myself by getting all four doughs together before noon. It was at this point that I realized I might just have achieved my goal in this class — which was not, by the way, to effectively knead bread with a margarita headache — but to get comfortable enough with the process that I could dive into recipes confidently and know instinctively what to do if things get off-course (or underslept). I’m almost there, and not a moment too soon, because the instructor dug up a recipe for Russian Black Bread for me with about 20 ingredients and it’s calling to me. No rest for the weary, or at least certifiably insane, I suppose.