Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mow the lawn

In case you haven't heard, I am trying to get out of grad school this term--this time with a PhD instead of a bachelor's in chocolate--and, yo, I have a lot of work to do before that happens. It has come to my attention that I am always most productive on the hour-long bus ride to and from Berkeley every day. I've joked with my coworkers that I should ditch the idea of coming to lab in the morning and instead just ride the F bus around in a circle all day until my dissertation is magically completed. That might work, except I do have a couple experiments to finish up. Can anyone donate ninety-six thousand dollars to my lab for a bus-mounted quartz crystal microbalance? In return, I will give you a shoutout on my food blog.

Unfortunately, the F bus is also the place where I used to get all of these blog entries written, which is why the quantity of my prose has been declining steadily over the past few months. It's also a question of allocating time. It takes me two or three hours to write an entry, put all the pictures together, organize the recipes, make fun of Jeff... and somehow sitting down and committing two hours to writing about oatmeal with rye whiskey never seems to be a justifiable use of my time when I have pages and pages about the enzymatic deconstruction of cellulose hanging over my head unwritten. Not that I don't prefer deconstructing a pot of cellulosic grains on my stove over moderate heat. So, when I'm tired of working, instead of blogging, I typically sit down and read Final Jeopardy! clues for an hour and a half. Because it's less of time commitment--I could totally stop at any moment and get right back to disserting. In theory.

But I'm getting all these grad-schooly things done one by one, lifting these weights off of my shoulders, dissipating this braincloud little by little. So today seems like a pretty good day to reminisce about some of the better things that I've made in the past few weeks. Here's some pressure-cooked shortribs and horseradish cream, made by Jeff, on top of some homemade egg noodles with beet greens that I threw together. Stained so brilliantly red, it looks like something that would have been perfect for Valentine's Day, but I think it actually ended up on our table a week or two before. Instead, on the big day, we decided to go for mac 'n' cheese with champagne. Living the dream.

And here's a parsnip soup accented by a few toasted walnuts, a drizzle of maple syrup, and some leftover foie gras spread on toast. God I hate parsnips. I have to admit that adding pints of cream and four-day preparations of luxury ingredients to parsnips really does elevate them to "palatable". Maybe someday they will be my second-least-favorite vegetable, after bok choy.

And why don't I tell you about the souffle that Jeff and I made this morning? We were visited by a time-traveler from the future who warned us that Meryl Streep was going to win the Oscar tonight for playing Margaret Thatcher. So we decided that it would be appropriate to make a dish to honor Mme. Streep's greatest role from the past. Plus, making a souffle gave us a chance to get out of the house under a clear blue sky, head to the cheese shop, buy some mouthwash, etc etc. It was all a particularly welcome excursion before moistening rains blow into the Bay Area tomorrow afternoon, where they will hover through my next major deadline on Wednesday. And the souffle wasn't too bad either, spiked with a very piquant gruyere and served with a little arugula salad and some rosé on the side. This is what it must be like to live in France. Except I think PhD programs only take like three years there. And you can wear open-toed shoes into lab and squirt methylene chloride onto the floor instead of using a waste bottle. Ah, France, the city of lights.

One day at a time, one graph at a time, one paragraph at a time, one slide at a time. And in the meantime? One souffle at a time. Moving on.


Recipe roundup...

Parsnip soup from this entry with foie gras au torchon from this entry. See how that works?

Souffle after Julia Child, recipe here, but to get the full effect you should go here to watch her impugn Jacques Pepin's taste in cheese.

Not sure where the pressure-cooked shortribs came from, but the pasta dough was from Michael Ruhlman's Ratio, cut into fettucine tossed with some sauteed shallots and beet greens.

Oatmeal... well, you know where that came from. Two tablespoons of butter, a tablespoon of honey, a shot of whiskey, a pitcher of cream. Good morning starshine.

1 comment:

  1. First of all, I can't believe you don't like bok choy. I don't know if we can be friends anymore. But on the off chance that our friendship survives, will you tell Jeff to make shortribs for me?