Bœuf Blog!

Why, hello there, stranger! It has been my intent to come ’round here every week or so, but alas, it has been nearly a month… Moving has been a great deal of work, we are still paying off the ginormous pet deposit for Mr. Mu, and there was also my cousin’s wedding to attend, and as it turned out – cook for.

But I have miraculously overcome endless hurdles and challenges, and am now left with a mere handful of loose ends.  I might even be more or less caught up by my next paycheck, which will be arriving at about the same time as the kitchen will be nearing completion. In other words, once my home life chills out a bit, my work life will be coming to a boil (or, the boil, as those professional types seem to like saying). So I think it’s a good idea to get back into the swing of typing something or other up weekly again, now that I have the presence of mind to do so, and not let any possible valuable lessons pass me by in the chaos.

A primary theory – in my life, at least, is that if you get it written down (or typed up, as the case may be) whatever it is, has a hundred fold better chance of surviving my drug addled memory than by leaving it to chance alone.

So first, I finally made the legendary recipe of Bœuf Bourguignon – or rather, I ought to say that Julia (my little sis’ name, it is a bit of a coincidence) and I made the recipe, and I don’t know that I could have made it through that maiden voyage alone! It is a very complicated, and extremely time consuming affair, but well worth the effort.

I will make it again this winter (at least once, I’m sure) and will look after the details with a bit more attention at that time… The main comment that I would now like to make, in reference to the movie Julie and Julia, is that both of the times that they show the dish being prepared, the lady of the hour adds the wine in a little splash and exclaims “oop!” like Betty Boop, and the wine makes a little steamy hiss. Well folks, in reality, you sit there with a measuring cup, and yer bottle of wine and go glug, glug, glug, into the pot, until all of that meat, and all of the veggies are swimming in the stuff. 3 cups of wine, is what the recipe calls for, and rightfully so, the reduction sauce that results from all of that work and time and vino, it positively to die for. But I’m just saying, that I didn’t start with a completely full bottle, and so I honestly had to open a second to meet the yield! So you don’t just go splish & “oop!” and get on with your day…Also by this point my entire kitchen was covered in oil and bacon grease, and the label on my insufficient bottle of wine was nearly sliding off, as it had been sitting too close to the stove top while we were frying up the beef, so it also ended up coated in lipids. It was all pretty damn fun tho – so I’ll blog that trip again sometime, when I’m a bit more competent in the matter…

My other comment that I wanted to make this evening, and what truly brought me back to the Press today as well (I kept meaning to blog about the Bœuf, but there was always something missing) is that I finally received my own copy of  The Moosewood Cookbook, from Jacqui. She taped together her old copy, and passed it along to me, which was very kind of her. So I was leafing through it today, looking for a banana bread recipe, and when I finally found it, I was pretty disappointed. She just re-directs you to her Carrot Cake recipe on the opposite page and outlines some adjustments to make between the two – bananas for carrots, lemon zest for orange – as if the two were the same thing, which they quite clearly are not! I actually didn’t find a recipe to my liking in any of three books I looked in, and ended up just making up my own, though I did use Katzen’s idea of adding some black coffee to the banana moosh.

The point I am trying to get around to making is – that The Moosewood was published by Ten Speed Press out of Berkley, one might even surmise that the book may well have made up much of the notoriety that stands behind the actual publishing house today… I don’t really know that though. All I do know is that Ten Speed is who I sent my manuscript to for the Diner Cook Book, and they were kind enough to look it over, and they even wrote me back saying that it was good (mebe they were just being nice…) but that it wasn’t a project that was right for them. Fair enough, but as I looked over Katzen’s work, with her handwritten text and illustrations, I felt quite the pang of jealousy. That she even had time to do all of that, (when I’m lucky to set aside a half-hour to blather on the web once a week!) and that she obviously has a much greater knowledge of food and it’s inner workings than I do… Well, everything has it’s season – and all in all, I am so grateful for Katzen’s book, with out it there may well have never been any Pneumatic Diner at all!

So when I do get around to laying out my book, I think that it will be important to pay proper homage to the Moosewood, but also to be sure to define the two distinctly. & to be sure there is no excessive borrowing of the recipes – since everybody knows it’s Katzen’s soups that got us all through the bitter Reno winters!

And of course, my book will have  killer banana bread recipes – one with butter and eggs and sour cream, and another with oil and flax and tofu, for vegan minded types…

Until then, I’ll just keep cooking and writing along as I go ♫

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