|Sans le Nom: Cookery, Rhetoric, and Other Forms of Pandering|
"Now I call this sort of thing pandering, and I declare that it is dishonorable."—Plato
"When a name comes, it immediately says more than the name." —Derrida
I just got back from my vacation, and I must say I spent it splendidly. Just so I'll remember the "ingredients" for next summer's vacation, here's a top-ten list of what I think should go into the mix, in no particular order:
Of course, everyone needs a vacation from her vacation, and I have to admit too much relaxation tends to make me forgetful about all the pressing things that need to be done. So back to work it is!
Yes, Tripod, my Web host, experienced a ten-day interruption. But everything's back to normal now, so I can once again grace the blogosphere with my awesome (and humble) presence. So, to once again assuage the impatient masses, I'm rolling out another recipe.
My friends and I, in the National Writing Project, were discussing recipes and the fact that most of them don't contain any wisdom or personality. I remarked that you only get the wisdom and personality if you watch the accompanying video or TV episode. And the more I think about it, the more true it seems. Anyone will tell you that you don't just walk into the kitchen one day, Betty Crocker recipe in hand, and make a delicious pot of chicken and dumplings on the first try unless you've got two things going for you: 1) you know the basics of what you're doing (poaching a chicken, working with different kinds of dough) and 2) your recipe was written by a writer who knows that since she can't be with you in the kitchen, it's going to take more than a list of ingredients and five sentences of instructions to get the chicken and dumplings just right.
So here's a recipe for a breakfast casserole by a fine writer, who woke up one morning and said to herself, "What would be the components of a perfect breakfast? And how could I put them all into a single, easily-transported dish?"
Pommes de Terre Mornay au Gratin (because I made it up, I get to give it a frou-frou name)
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Make the Mornay first. Pour the milk into a pot and warm on medium until hot, but don't allow it to even so much as simmer. Cold milk will create lumps. Hot milk will ensure an un-lumpy sauce. While the milk is heating, melt the butter in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet on medium. Once the butter has melted, add the flour and stir until both are well mixed. You now have a roux. While stirring, allow the roux to cook for 2 minutes. Taste it to make sure the flour is cooked and not raw or floury. The flavor should be neutral. Cook a minute longer, if it tastes raw. Add hot milk to the roux in 1/2 c increments. Stir until thick and then add more milk. Continue this until all the milk is incorporated. Add the salt and pepper. And, a few cubes at a time, add the cheese. Once the cubes melt, add more. Take off the heat and allow to cool. If it forms a skin, just stir it really well.
Top the casserole with the Mornay sauce, spreading it evenly. Cover with foil and put in the oven for one hour.
This will have to do for now, as I'm leaving on vacation tomorrow.
I'm not easily excitable. Okay, okay, I hear the collective "Are you serious?" reverberating throughout the blogosphere. I'm willing to admit that I might be a little excitable.
Okay, a lot excitable.
What I am definitely not is afraid of snakes—in most circumstances. But this wasn't just any circumstance. I just found myself (and you're getting this fresh off the presses—it happened not 20 minutes ago) bumper to bumper to stop sign with a giant, and I mean humongous, rat snake. That is to say, I stepped inside the chicken coop this afternoon to collect eggs, leaned over to grab two out of the nest box, and wondered aloud, "Gee, who left this long rope of pretty black cloth underneath the nest box?" Only to realize, "Holy smokes! That's not a long rope of pretty black cloth!"
Said "cloth" was about my height. Which is another way of saying the snake was at least five feet and three inches. Understandably, I was a bit rattled (ha, ha). And that's the problem with snakes. It's not so much that they're masters of camouflage: This one, juxtapositioned against the dusty earth in a sunny spot, stood out like a sore thumb. It's that they often show up in places where you don't expect them to be, and then you don't realize what you're looking at.
So I ran off to phone the hubs, and, while I was doing that, the pretty cloth slithered away, stuffed fat with three of my eggs (I could see their outlines). After surveying an area within a 100 foot radius of the chicken coop (or, at least, it felt like it in 95 degree weather), I got down on my hands and knees (yes, in dried up old chicken crap) and pounded the head of an old iron mallet into the snake's escape route.
Some day, I'll tell my friends how much grist for the mill their chickens have given me. But for now, I'm going to take a shower.
I teach; cook; write; hike; read; dally; canoe; eat; write; rock 'n roll; eat some more; tumble and fall; dawdle; complain; bento; write; organize; watch movies; ignore e-mail; renovate; write; curse computers; brew my tea dark and bitter; herd cats; live in Arkansas; Plato, Derrida, and rhetoric (yes, those are verbs); remain overly cautious; persuade; imbibe; GTD; and oh, yeah, I write a little.
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2004-2008 by Jennifer Deering. All rights