Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thanks, Julia, but I got it covered

You know that really suave pan flip thing chefs do? The food all flies in the air and folds back on itself? Julia Child suggests trying this with a pan and some dry beans while standing in the yard. I've never felt brave enough to try it, in kitchen or yard, but this evening I did, out of necessity. I was sauteing some onions and was trying to peel a couple of cloves of garlic before the onions went too far. I didn't have a cooking utensil and the garlic skins were fighting back and I was doing too many things at once (a bad habit) and so only had one hand to use. How many pieces of buttery onion flew from the pan and gobbed onto my stove top? None. HA.

I might just be a ringer, though, since I have been flipping crepe with the same motion for upwards of 25 years. (oh, Lord, please tell me I'm not old enough to say that...) It's a French tradition on Chandleur, or February 2nd, a Catholic celebration of Candlemas. On this day, you hold a gold coin in your non-dominant hand and use the opposite hand to flip the crepe. If it lands perfectly in the pan, you will not want for money in the coming year. It's very important that you hold the gold in your non-pan-holding-hand, otherwise you risk melting the gold or marring the coin. I don't think it's part of the original tradition, but it occurs to me that destroying a gold coin isn't going to help your financial situation either. Of course.

It's a fun tradition, and a tasty one, too. You can serve them with sugar, jam, or Hershey's syrup, but I tend to like mine hot and bare. (That's the start of a terrible line, isn't it? I like my crepes like I like my women...) I recreated the crepe flipping for my now husband on one of our first few dates. When I re-met my husband (we dated briefly in high school but lost touch until after college) we had our first date on February 18th. Chandleur was fresh in my mind and I thought it would be way fun. My mom had to make the batter for me, since she couldn't give me a recipe and I didn't know what it should look like well enough to wing it. Plus, the batter thickens as it sets, so making it much in advance isn't a great plan unless you are prepared to fix it at the last moment. The evening was a success... and I have to say I think I have a habit of attempting to secure his love through food. He once told me he'd marry me if I made homemade bread. Oh, I made it, all right. It was dense as concrete and about as flavorful, but I tried like hell...

Baking isn't my thing. I don't like to measure and I don't like having to use specific ingredients. I like to cook by instinct, using what I have, what looks good and what I whimsically feel like throwing in. This does not make for good bakery items. My mom doesn't use recipes, either, but my sister almost always does. Hence, my sister makes fantastic baked items and I do not.

Come to think of it, my mother once made what in family lore has become known as Bird Killing Bread. It was a loaf so dense and inedible, they put it out for the birds to eat. The way my father tells it, the birds ate it and then were unable to become airborne, instead hopping around forlornly, ballasted by the bread. He's been known to exaggerate.

Dinner tonight was a simple, 15 minute type meal. We had cube steaks dusted with cayenne with a side of tortellini that I threw into a saute with onion, garlic and dandelion greens. My darling husband cleaned the greens while I fed our little girl banana apple pear puree. (Store bought. I try to make her food, but some nights it just doesn't happen. And she doesn't like the bananas I make. She prefers the stuff you buy, which is more like banana pudding.) I like eating dandelion greens... they have a clean, fresh taste, a little bitter but not like some greens, with a fair amount of crunch even after being wilted. Plus, it makes me feel like a kid sitting in the school yard eating grass. I never did this, but I feel like I'm doing it now.

I realize I'm about to sign off without addressing the cliff hanger of my husband's chopped dish, but I've babbled on a bit tonight and will need to save that for a different post. Suffice it to say, it was awesome and I'm totally jealous for not thinking of it myself. But I was really happy to have eaten it and I'll talk about it soon. I should warn you, though, tomorrow is my birthday so I make no promises that it will be my very next post...

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