12 February 2009

Reading and Cooking

The two weeks without Pro Football between championship weekend and the Super Bowl, along with the sport's absence for the next 7 months has helped me disconnect from the television. Outside the televised twice-weekly Mich. St. hoops game and the occasional great matchup like last night's Duke v. UNC contest, I've pretty much quit it (but baseball is almost here!)

The time spent away from the tube has been rather fruitful. I've polished off 4 books, including Adam Gopnik's terrific ode to New York City life w/ a family (a tome I started TWO Christmases ago - yeah, I can be a painfully slow reader when distracted) as well as his first, Paris to the Moon. I then dipped into one of the 4 volumes I bought The Mrs. this past holiday season, none of which she has touched yet. She is still attempting to read all the Harry Potter books from the library then re-watch all the films. I selected The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, a memoir of one woman's path from corporate life to Le Cordon Blue in Paris. I relate to her life's trajectory, save for the part about being female, moving to Paris, and enrolling in cooking school. It's a quick, fun read for at-home cooks and/or anyone who has ever had the audacity to dream of something radically different from their current situation. Lastly, I turned the last page of the 33 1/3 series book chronicling the making of "Gentlemen" by The Afghan Whigs, my favorite band of all time. That is the album I credit with changing my life's course. I was 17 years old when that sordid, gut-wrenching break up album was released and I was forever impacted by their sound, emotion and direct connection to Sub Pop/indie rock (despite "Gentlemen" being their major label debut). Music, from that moment on, became my life's passion.

Inspired in part by Kathleen Flinn's journey, I set out to make the most obvious of all French-ish dishes (well, bowls actually) - French Onion Soup. I love the soup yet never attempted it at home. This has been a thorn in the side of The Mrs. who purchased for me a set of cool onion soup crocks (quite dusty) for me years ago along with a wedge of good Gruyere (long since trashed).

It was a rare moment, a lazy Sunday morning, that I had the kitchen, in reality most of the house, to myself. I had Andrew Bird's lovely new record playing on the laptop as I chopped onion, measured out flour, dry sherry and the rest of the ingredients. I had my full mise en place working. It was magical not to rush or find spices or be opening cans of broth only seconds before they were needed. While the onions were sweating, I had a peach/raspberry/apple sauce for the girls going on the stove then into the Cuisinart.
I felt legitimate. I cannot even explain what I mean by that. Simply put, 'twas a great morning.

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