Sweetness

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Each year when I celebrate my birthday, one of the things I love most is to conjure in the kitchen for the loved ones who have gathered on my behalf. I know it seems a little backwards, me being the birthday girl, but I want it that way. And princess gets what princess wants. Sometimes, though, I get a little, well…bent out of shape.

4349661563_fe1f315682_bMy poor family. On Saturday morning I burned the bacon (it did have a delicious, candy-like, maple and mustard concoction on it, rendering it a sensitive subject to heat). It was still indescribably tasty. Then I put five cups of whole milk on to simmer for the rice pudding dessert, then promptly got caught up in reading the rest of the recipe in the other room. You can well imagine what happened. I’ll just say that Eco the dog had quite the dairy-licious feast on the floor. After a few exclamatory expletives from me in these situations (gasp!), mom always says quietly, “oh, quit it.” She brings me back around, makes me laugh at myself and causes me, almost always, to see the humor in the situation instead of deeming myself an unequivocal dimwit (which is no easy task, by the way, bringing ol’ Ev down from the ledge). Why does it surprise me when she says, after I’ve spent the majority of the day in the confines of foodland (at no one’s command but my own), “Evie, get out of the kitchen for awhile.”

But I love being in the kitchen. It’s where I feel most at home. (An aside: At any sort of social function, you will find me trying to jockey my way into a role of importance in the kitchen. I need to be of use. I like to avoid small-talk. Enough said.) I just like a close proximity to food and to the few tools I require to transform it. The potential which exists there and the millions of prospective wonders that lie in wait are almost as delicious as what is delivered after the workspace has been rendered a terrible mess….which happened a lot that weekend.

I’d venture that one of the top three most successful culinary endeavors of mine was Saturday’s dessert. I composed the whole shebang on my own, I’m a little too pleased to say. It all began with a bag of arborio rice I had in my freezer at home which I decided to stick in my luggage at the last minute. Pears, red wine and pistachios are something one should always have on hand, so that was a no-brainer. I do have Giada to thank for the easy-as-pie…or pudding…recipe for the pudding. (The only variance was that I used Cointreau instead of rum.) The pudding was chilled (on the back porch, old school style), then dished up and accompanied by citrus and Merlot-poached pears and, for some needed crunch, a very original pistachio and black pepper brittle (which I also created, sans-recipe).

It…was…sumptuous. No one really spoke while we ate. It could have been that we were exhausted from a long day of doing nothing and the rousing snowball fight we’d had beforehand, and it could have been just me, but I like to believe we were just silenced by the sweetly sublime.


6 Comments

  1. Kirsten

    Happy birthday, Evie. The pudding ensamble looks fantastic. I can imagine the reverence and delight that went into the creating and eating of it. There’s probably no better way to weave a blessing into a day than to weave it carefully into the essential sustaining event of a meal.

  2. Profile photo of Curt McLey

    Curt McLey

    @curtmcley

    I love this post, Evie. Oddly enough for a rough and tumble high school jock, I became a culinary dude later in life. By avocation, my dad was a gourmet chef (he wrote a gourmet cookbook), and I always appreciated his Sunday dinners. Mom was also a good cook too, but less gourmet than dad.

    Something clicked about ten years ago. Maybe it had something to do with dad passing, though I’m not consciously aware that that’s the reason, but I began cooking for my family. The more I cooked, the more it became a passion. I’ve learned to dissect a recipe. I really enjoy writing my list of ingredients, heading off to the store, then returning to chopping, stirring, and assembling.

    I see from your description that you are far more advanced in the kitchen than I am. I tend to play by the book (recipe), though in recent years, I’ve grown confident enough to modify and experiment. I often use the allrecipes website and have tried and reviewed nearly 500 recipes in the last several years.

    No one really spoke while we ate. I couldn’t help but think of Babette’s Feast when I read this line. It’s one of the things we cooks live for, the silent, sublime sound of culinary ecstasy. Thanks for post, dear Evie.

  3. Dieta

    Evie, Happy Birthday! I identified with so many things you spoke about. My kitchen is like a meditative place I go to create. I would venture to say even as sublime as an artist’s studio. I carefully (most nights) meal plan, and am constantly trying different things. My husband is a musician, and has been working this week with an artist who is a vegetarian. So I decided to send a different little bite for the guys to nosh on each day. It culminated yesterday in the prettiest roasted garlic and butternut squash bisque you have ever seen. I would never eat that, but it was so satisfying for me to hear how much the musicians enjoyed it.

    The most sacred food experience I have the great blessing to be part of is baking communion bread for our church each Sunday. I put on my CD of Behold the Lamb (nifty artwork on that…) and go someplace else for those few hours of preparation. Divine!

    Thanks for your post-it spoke to me.

  4. evie

    And here I was, frankly wondering whether a pudding post had a pertinent place in this here Rabbit Room! (Well rabbits do love pudding, it’s a proven fact…)

    But on a seriouser note, I have always believed that the kitchen is where I do some of my fullest, most satisfying living-out and actualizing of the gifts God gave me, and I know there are many out there who can understand what that feels like. Maybe we need a new RR tab that reads “edibles.” (wink wink)

  5. Peter B

    Happy Birthday, and thank you for dishing that out for us. As a fellow cooking enthusiast (though with considerably less experience or inborn artistic talent), I can attest to the delight inherent in subordinate creation of the edible kind.

    Your endgame experience reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite authors:

    “That’s what food is for. Mere nutrition is for squirrels.”

    What abundant goodness we have been given, even in this broken world. Thanks be to God.

  6. Debbie

    I loved reading about your birthday dinner. That is something I like to do on my birthday too, cook for the ones I love. I often wonder how Jesus cooked the fish for his diciples by the sea. Did he find pleasure in cooking for them too? The love of cooking is truly a gift. Not all of us have it…. but most people are open to enjoying the fruits of the gift, even if they have never met the one who distributes the talents!

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