End of the day goodness

End of the day goodness
Backyard travel

Saturday, March 29, 2014

To create

My word for this year is create and for some reason it has made me want to pick apart the why.  For me, I usually want to freeze dry a moment, to capture it as perfectly as I can....maybe so I don't forget or to try to understand it or share it so other people can experience it to.  Who knows, I am still trying to figure it out.  

I happened upon a woman who explained why she writes and I thought it was bittersweet, sad and beautiful.  Like a photographer taking pictures of birds in the Amazon before they disappear.  "For me, writing has been a replacement for home, a replica of all that was lost in service to a nomadic lifestyle.  Much of this recouping and reassembly has been about Iran, using my fading memories of people and places as refurbished landscapes for my stories."  Dina Nayeri. 

She goes on to say her replicas will never equal the original but in some ways they are more nourishing.  What could be a better reason to create than to nourish?  It made me realize the grumpy sluggish pitiful funk I get into sometimes happens when I am not feeding the need to create.  It is like not eating all day and getting a headache.  What a productive morning, I normally do not start the day by pondering and actually figuring something out.  It just goes to show copious amounts of coffee and sitting are good for my health.....at least my creative health.

Monday, March 17, 2014

In the spirit of all things green, tales of my corned beef creations.

It is the marvelous month of March.  The month where the days get longer, new green dazzles the landscape and I get this strange inner stirring to cook corned beef and cabbage.  I do not know where this stirring comes from; perhaps growing up Mom always cooked one at this time of year.  All I know is in my mind it sounds so tasty, I spend hours cooking the beast and every year, for 15 years, it turns out basically horrible.  John actually laughs when I announce I am going to cook one. 

I have left no leaf unturned in my pursuit.  The first few years I bought the fool-proof variety from the store.  You know the ones that all you do is add cabbage, potatoe the spice pack and follow the directions.  Apparently these are not completely fool proof.   When I cook these I end up with okay flavor but the texture is completely wretched.  I don’t understand how spongy and tough can coexist.  Part of it could be caused by my inability to ever fully comprehend slicing across the grain.    

After these debacles I actually lived under the delusion that I might be more successful doing one from scratch.  I know, I know, if I couldn’t cook the idiot variety, I don’t know what made me think I could be successful going pro.  And by pro I mean Alton Brown pro.   The short version of the recipe, you make a brine and soak a brisket in it for 10 days in the fridge.  Yes, raw meat in the fridge, soaking in a brine, created by yours truly for 10 days.  The miracle after this one is that John and I are both still alive.

So this year I have a new improved plan.  My aunt gave me a recipe book from America’s Test kitchens.  I have been busy writing down recipes all morning for a grocery list (I am sure I won’t cook half of them, but I am always optimistic when making my list).  Anyway, I came across a speedy recipe for corned beef hand pies.  It calls for deli corned beef.   I am not even supposed to heat it on the skillet, just stick it in the prepared purchased pie dough with other pre-managed ingredients.

I have a really good feeling about this.  I think this could be the year we end up not having to order pizza!  Or, it is the year my family finally makes me sign a contract never to bring corned beef back in the kitchen again.