Monday, October 24, 2011

Sometimes, your souffle just won't stand up.

I made mulled cider at 5:30 am today. Senator Jeanne Shaheen is coming to one of my job's offices today for a press conference. One of my part time jobs is for a company I adore, I worked in marketing and inside sales here for a few years before the cooking bug got the best of me. To omit a very long story, I'm back here part time while I get my own culinary affairs in order.

So, Senator Shaheen has always been a decent advocate for local energy production, especially biomass. Debating the legitimacy of biomass in our lives here in the Northeast is not the point of this post, however.

It's fall in the Shire and everyone has a craving for all things Autumn-ish, including the staff here. Wouldn't it be nice if we had some fall-fun waiting for the gang when they get here? And so, while working on the job site I got a call from the office enlisting me to this task ... I did some quick browsing online and found that every recipe I came across was pretty consistent. Recipes for this kind of thing are as consistent as apple pies. Cinnamon, all spice, clove, nutmeg. There it is. To think, I had all of these sitting in my "spice rack" in their whole forms. In fact, spices stay usable longer when stored in their whole forms. That's pretty much the lay of the land for all ingredients.

My friend Kyra and I picking apples last year.

As it turned out, the cider was a big hit. Everyone loved it- at least, several people told me they did- and I felt accomplished and a tiny bit proud. 

I got home around 4-ish and decided to throw something together for our cook book club tonight (Mondays are our thing.). I have a pretty raging ear infection- that whole thing is a long story- that was bothering me most of the day and my mind set upon creating something for the gals was along the lines of, "Oh shit, I have to make something fast. What's fast?? Apple Gallette? That's fast! How do I make that again??" I dug out the recipe and read it too quickly. The crust is easy:

1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter
a pinch of salt
three table spoons of ice water

I at least pulled that off, to some extent. It was fairly rough and my counter space these days is reflective of the fact that we're moving- there's crap everywhere. I had a limited space with which to roll the dough out (and it showed in the final results). The apple portion I got down, but neglected to remember/read the part about the apricot preserves that are supposed to go underneath the apples. Yikes! I assembled the damn thing and read farther down into the instructions. Nope. No preserves. Oh, well. I crossed my fingers and popped the thing in the oven. The apples went like this:

1 1/2 lbs. apples
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest

I pretty much pulled all of this out of some no-man's land in my brain. Once I reread the recipe, it barely looked anything like what's written above. I was too concerned with timing and baking temperature. I had set myself up for unexpected outcomes, which in the cooking world is never a good thing. ESPECIALLY with baking!

A few years ago I got to see a woman speak about Kitchen Witchery. Yeah, witch craft in the kitchen. Yes, it might sound kind of hokey, but her rationale was on the money. Her business is called Cucina Aurora and what a riot ... fun to listen to, engaging, interesting. Really worth checking out.

There is a point to all of this. Stay with me.

Intention was the magic word. Whatever your intention is while you're preparing a meal is what dictates the outcome. The cider I made was awesome because I gave myself the time to think it over. I had all the ingredients I needed; I created a space for myself to make it with success. My mind set said, "I'm going to kick this cider's ass and everyone is going to love it!"

My apple-gallette-turned-mound-of-dough-and-fruit was the complete opposite. I didn't have everything I needed, I was rushed and my mind set was detrimental. My intention wasn't to make something amazing, it was just to make something. Tada! I made something, alright. It's still baking as I speak and though it smells pretty awesome, the looks of it scream otherwise. 

I will be bringing my Franken-pie and I know my foodie friends will laugh along with me. I also know they'll eat it with me and let me know their honest opinion of it. These women keep me on my toes and remind me what my intentions should be ... at the end of the cooking process is a meal. That meal is important for sustenance, but it's also important because [most] meals are shared. They are a celebration of the people around the table. If I was more concerned about celebrating than not showing up empty handed, my results would be different.

Remembering that when in a rush is true magic.

Happy Monday, everyone. May all your souffles rise and inspire awe in those that eat them. xo

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