We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
David Orr from "Earth in Mind"

Jan 28, 2007

What is it About Cooking in the Winter?

I'm at it again. I've been cooking and baking all week. I can't seem to stay out of the kitchen. We've had stews and curries and tons of veggies. Each meal is becoming a narrative, a story that I tell myself as I cook. Some are just reconstructions of the day in others I am cooking in an eighteenth century farm house as the blizzards rage outside. The cutting and measuring has become the crafting of sentences; the braising or sauteing character development. When the meal is finally on the table it is the tale that I had been creating.

This literary turn of thought sent me to the library to find books about food. Not cook books but narratives. There are lots. I picked up "Dirty Sugar Cookies" by Ayun Halliday and "Julie and Julia" by Julie Powell. They were both satisfying and motivating. I think I might write a piece on one single meal and its creation. But the author who I really need to pick up is MK Fisher, the grand dame of food writing. She was more of an eater than a cook but her writing pulls you to the seat next to her and hands you a plate.

Bread has been coming out of our kitchen fast, but not, it seems, fast enough for those of us who are eating it. I've given up on the original french bread recipie that I have been using. It has begun to taste like plain white bread. Instead we've had a Potato Whole Wheat bread that was so good that we finished the two loaves in as many days never even bothering to make sandwiches. Alder was a big fan of gnawing on the heel of that one.

Yesterday I tried a Pugliese. I liked what making a starter first did for the flavor. It gave it a strong wine taste to the bread. However, the amount of rising time as well as the various methods for each step were tiresome (I started at 3pm and finished at 11pm). The theory behind all the care put into the rising was to enhance the size of the holes in the bread. Wonderful, but honestly when I put effort into my bread I want it to be for the flavor or for it's height. As it was the bread never even reached three inches, its not supposed to.

1 comment:

ajf said...

I heard an enticing report on WKCR about no-knead bread a quick peasant bread which sounds really good (especially since I'm struggling to bake with no gluten and not having much luck with my coconut, amaranth, tapioca and chickpea flours).

NY Times No-Knead Bread

and here's something more about it at Apartment Therapy