Archive for ‘About’

November 24, 2010

Scribble in Your Books | My Madeline

Demeter has written in the margins of her old cookbooks around certain festive recipes that our family returns to year after year.  My sister and I adore reading over who was working where, who was visiting, who the cake was made for, who might not be with us at the table for the first time that year.  It is a bittersweet reminder of times gone by and the food we served to loved ones.  I can’t remember what Thanksgiving was like in 1999, but when my mom reads to me that little three sentence snippet, it all floods back.  An auditory Madeline.

I do this in my books now, in the hopes that it will keep a record of little moments that we might otherwise forget.  Today, while on the phone with Demeter, I jotted down her old Betty Crocker pecan pie recipe from 1969.  Cherub wormed her way into my lap, eager to be included.  I handed her the pencil and she wrote her name and drew a happy face on the page facing the recipe.  No doubt this will be something that we keep forever.  Three generations of girls, sharing recipes and writing in the margins.

Happy Thanksgiving, kids.  Sending you all lots of love from Persephone’s Kitchen.

November 22, 2010

Tennis with Escoffier

This past weekend, I picked up a couple pounds of oxtail from Bluescreek Farm Meats.  There were a number of ways I could have prepared them, but I was itching for a challenge.  Every once in a while, I need to stretch myself, culinarily speaking.  And while none of the ingredients were particularly exotic (ok, aside from the oxtail), I used a very old recipe from my copy of the Escoffier Cookbook as a guideline.  I made oxtail soup.  It’s not what you would call a “quick” recipe.  But that wasn’t really the point on Saturday. 

A perfectly imperfect brunoise.

There were several techniques within the recipe that I felt like trying out, not only to say that I had, but to see how well I could manage them.    Do I regularly cook what amounts to a light first course over the course of six hours?   No.   But I wanted to take a shot at making a raft (an egg white mixed with diced white parts of a leek and a small bit of very lean ground beef) to clarify the soup.  And I wanted to practice my brunoise with some carrots.   As it turns out, I’d be fired pretty quickly from any professional kitchen for how slow and inconsistent I am.  But was it better than I had done before?  Yes!  (And heck, I thought they looked pretty.)

Cooking a difficult recipe like this is for me, a lot like playing tennis with Roger Federer.  You should play tennis with someone who’s much better at it than you.  Otherwise, how can you expect to improve your serve?  Cooking this way teaches me new things about myself as a cook.  I like learning.  And I learn a lot when I make a recipe like this.  I will omit how I can’t actually play tennis anymore because of a torn labrum from a backhand, but you get my point.

What it all boils down to for me is that cooking is a pleasurable way to spend time.  The fact that at the end of all of it, you get to eat something that might not be textbook perfect but tastes pretty great?  Well, that’s just the icing on the cake.

Playlist included Heaven Can Wait, by Charlotte Gainsbourg, featuring Beck.

September 1, 2010

Who is this Persephone?

A little background: I’m a housewife.  I love to cook, garden and eat.  My hobby is food.  I think about it.  A lot.  I love seasons and the variety of food each season can produce.  I enjoy reading cookbooks, researching cuisines and coming up with new recipes.  A lot of people wonder how I have so much time to cook.  I don’t actually have a hidden stash of time.  I usually have 30 minutes to an hour to pull dinner together, just like a lot of folks.

I’m a mom (you may have read that Persephone was barren, turns out I wasn’t).  Our three year old likes to cook.  A butter knife and a cutting board with some vegetables that need chopping is a good activity to keep her occupied.  But I will admit to flipping on the TV or letting her play on the computer (that’s located in the kitchen) while I cook dinner, if she’s not interested.

I will further admit that while we love local food, we don’t always, always, always buy everything local.  We’re a fairly normal family.  But we love food, enjoy our time together and think sharing a good meal together is really important.  Does the three year old sometimes not want what we eat?  Yes.  Do we sometimes sub a grilled cheese for the spicy Indian dish?  Yes.  But only sometimes.  We really want our daughter to grow up having experienced a variety of foods.  As a result, already at three, she’s a pretty adventurous eater.  Her favorite night of the week is risotto night, no matter the flavor.

If I had one tip to offer someone new to cooking or who doesn’t like to cook it would be to make sure you do all of your prep before you start cooking.  That means chopping up all your ingredients, measuring all your spices and even cleaning up before you turn on the pan.  I would also like to say having a glass of wine or a cold drink while you cook is a great way to relax and make it fun instead of a chore.  I love to cook, and I think you can, too!

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