A couple months ago, we went out with friends to a new Austrian restaurant in our neighborhood and over too much Grüner and Very Large Dark Beers, got in an animated discussion about spaetzle, and how it was the perfect food. It manages to be both dumplings and noodles at once, and as good tangled with cheese and herbs and bacon and vegetables and as it is alongside a hearty braise. It is never unwelcome. And then my friend turned to me, I guess presuming I’m a person who knows how to, like, make things and ask me how it was made. And I realized I had no idea. This never happens — not that I am clueless, as I am routinely clueless, especially in the realm of denim — but it’s rare that I haven’t a single inkling as to how a food is made. But homemade spaetzle, I hadn’t even considered before.
March, 2011 Archive
The Sleep Fairy has left our apartment. I’m not sure what we did to her (I hope it wasn’t my cooking), or what we could leave out (teeth? might she be a distant cousin of the Tooth Fairy? cookies and milk? maybe Santa can help with these things?) to lure her to come back but we were sleeping and now we are not sleeping and we miss it terribly. Also, getting to the end of sentences while still remembering what they were about when we started them.
My track record with hamantaschen — those three-cornered filled cookies traditionally limited to Purim, but shouldn’t be, because did I mention that they’re cookies? And you can fill them with whatever you want? — is abysmal. I can’t seem to find a recipe that allows them to be as fragrant, buttery, delicate and delicious as I believe they were meant to be that does not completely fall apart once baked. I suspect my insistence on finding my hamantaschen nirvana in a cream cheese-based dough — cream cheese, although tangy and delicious, seems to just flop down and laze about like a kitten in the sun once it hits the oven — plays a part although, given, my sealing technique also “leaves a lot to be desired”. The first year I attempted a recipe on this site, they puffed and pancaked open in the oven. The second year was no better. The third and fourth year, I didn’t even bother.
Four and a half years ago, I shared a recipe for white batter bread which I like to joke was the original no-knead bread for its lazy approach to assembly. I learned about this particular batter bread when I took a multi-weekend bread baking class (cue sigh over pre-baby levels of free time) and even though it was the least hearty, stretchy, hollow-sounding, craggy-crusted or rustic of the breads we made, it was unforgettable because it reminded me of a cross between a cake and a bread. [Also, it was unbearably delicious when sliced warm and slathered with salted butter. Don’t trust me on this, go find out for yourself.]
On a beach vacation that already feels like it was too long ago, I tucked into the collection of letters between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto and realized I’d inadvertently brought on vacation with me the very best book ever for my current brand of mental unevenness. Apparently, even the great Julia Child went a little insane writing her cookbook. She fretted over if varied and uneven ingredients would keep her recipes from working as she wanted them to in others’ kitchens and even had occasional bouts of frustration with her tiny, ill-equipped kitchens. And Julia is like my superhero! I was no less than 10 pages in when I already felt better about my choices, the work I had left, life itself, the universe at large… or perhaps it was just those no-good piña coladas and that blue-meets-blue horizon working their magic on me. Nevertheless, I thanked Julia.