It’s been a very busy month and a bit, and I’ve been taking a bit of time away from this blog to recharge the batteries. I don’t want to bore you with wittering on about the psychology of blogging, but six years’ regular blogging top of some fairly exhausting stuff at home left me feeling a bit…drained.
I spent part of this month in Spain (where I very deliberately avoided taking ANY photographs of food, and didn’t take a SINGLE note about what I was eating – it was bliss, I tell you), where my fantastic little brother Ben was marrying the lovely Katie. Here they are, in a photograph rudely stolen from my aunt Kathy. (Sorry, Kath!)
Ben and Katie had asked me to give a reading at the wedding. I chose this section from the introduction of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It’s advice that works admirably for the management of relationships as well as kitchens.
Pay close attention to what you are doing while you work, for precision in small details can make the difference between passable cooking and fine food. If a recipe says, “cover casserole and regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly,” “heat the butter until its foam begins to subside,” or “beat the hot sauce into the egg yolks by driblets,” follow it. You may be slow and clumsy at first, but with practice you will pick up speed and style.
Allow yourself plenty of time. Most dishes can be assembled, or started, or partially cooked in advance. If you are not an old campaigner, do not plan more than one long or complicated recipe for a meal or you will wear yourself out and derive no pleasure from your efforts.
If food is to be baked or broiled, be sure your oven is hot before the dish goes in. Otherwise soufflés will not rise, pie crusts will collapse, and gratinéed dishes will overcook before they brown.
A pot saver is a self-hampering cook. Use all the pans, bowls, and equipment you need, but soak them in water as soon as you are through with them. Clean up after yourself frequently to avoid confusion.
Train yourself to use your hands and fingers; they are wonderful instruments. Train yourself to handle hot foods; this will save time. Keep your knives sharp.
Above all, have a good time.
Congratulations to the pair of you. And for everybody else, normal blogging has now resumed.