Sunday, February 27, 2011

Normal as Blueberry Pie

If there's a better thing than the classic American musical, I may have yet to see it, and I've seen Macchu Picchu, Lake Victoria, Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, and one or two other things. But for a combination of sheer verve, skill, abandon, and riotous desire to make everyone happy, RIGHT NOW, the American musical comedy is it. It has its dark lows too, its broken dreams and bitter underbelly--nothing reaches heights without hitting real bottoms. 

I've spent the better part of my life involved in what may or may not be 'avant-garde' theater. I see any number of quite serious plays, strange in formula and unusual in topic. It's my not-so-well-concealed scrubbed-clean secret that if there's Rogers and Hammerstein playing next door, I'm pushing my way through the caged rabbits or badmitton birdies, the on-set camera wires and the stray architectural models to get there. Give me 'Wonderful Guy,' and I'm good for days. 

I can't dance for anything, and despite a quite decent singing voice I was rarely cast advantageously in school productions (to be honest, I have a long record of specializing in the characters who shout and don't get songs...the boss from Pajama Game all the way through to the mother in Crazy for You). Perhaps my greatest feat was wobbling around on roller skates through the first act of Funny Girl. At least that's the one immortalized in the hallway of my old high school, flapper rig and all. And it was awesome. If anyone offered me part in any musical anywhere, right now, libraries and bakeries could shove it (for a while, anyway). 

As things are, I find other ways to channel my madness, and to glam it up with passion and power (oddly, I've never watched Glee). Mostly, I keep on cooking, for that other kind of pure pleasure that lights up faces when you hand them the chocolate chip cookie. For the rush of hard work as it smells good out of the oven. For the burn of chile heat. And because I'm still kind of Dorie Greenspan's willing slave. 
This week, I did a little Tuesdays with Dorie in the form of some Almond Scones with Dried Cherries, which were perfect in taste, and perhaps just a little loose in texture...I've gotten addicted to stiff scones (that sounds awkward). 
I also did a little French Fridays with Dorie, to the tune of Short Ribs in Red Wine and (no) Port. Yes, despite recent excursions to Lisbon I have no port in the house, and wasn't about to pour out my Ginjinha into the mix. The grocery store was down to one tiny one pound package of short ribs, so I cut the recipe down to approximately one ninth, and made some substitutions. Somehow I got a few wrinkled bulbs of celariac into the vegetable aromatic mixture, but forgot the actual celery that I'd bought for the purpose. The finished dish, in my house, was small and unceremonious, but Matt was a fan. He also suggested that the meat would be great shredded and put into a pita with some yogurt sauce, but as we had so little meat to begin with, we didn't get the chance to go all Greek on its ass. It also made the whole kitchen smell great when it was cooking--the best thing about a braise is the anticipation. And the bones.
I was also very happy with the method, which eschewed a stovetop browning of the meat--always a messy affair, with a few minutes under the broiler before and after the braise. I'm going to see if I can adapt this one to other recipes. 

It was a triumph! A belly laugh! A wild ride! A balaboosta! Applause! 
Excuse me, I have to go watch some more youtube videos of my favorite songs now.


Cher Rockwell said...

Cute post! Way to adjust everything to scale - bravo!

mike509 said...

Wow, you've been busy! Those scones with dried cherries - one of my favorite fruits! Thanks so much for baking along with me - it's so fun to see how everyone turned the scones into something they'd enjoy. Nicely done!

Anonymous said...

1/9th! Now that's kitchen math.

Unknown said...

Nicely done! The scones sound great too!

Kris' Kitchen said...

Enjoyed your post, and yes, my creative energies have gravitated into the kitchen...some day I'll get back to other things, but for now, the kitchen does the job. Good job cooking when you could only do 1/9th!

Joan said...

I'm with you re: the musical and wish I was with you for all the great food you create.

Liana said...

WALLAAA!! Come a mild day, come a warm rain, come a snowdrop A COMIN uP!

ps who noshed all your scones?