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Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Cooking Life: Let It Be Peeps, Charleston, and Vietnamese


With all this talk of Peeps I can't help but take this little jaunt down Memory Lane with some VIP Peeps. 

It involves the sticky business of marshmallows, Market Street Books and Maps, Charleston, and Vietnam. It's not easy to combine these ingredients successfully, so allow me to explain as best I can. 

I wrote the "Let it Be Peeps" Poem commemorating Peeps in 2007 for a contest at  Market Street Books and Maps in Southern Village. 

First  I must say that the title of the poem was a tribute to Trevor Dolan who was obsessed with the Beatles song, Let it Be. A few weeks before the Peeps Festival at MSB & M C'est si Bon! had taken a road trip to take part in the Children's Village at the Charleston Food and Wine Festival with Trevor and Chandler Knott, another intern, and Renee Burger (my assistant at the time) In addition to inviting folks to make a Summer Roll of their very own in the Children's Village we met Nathalie Dupree and Tyler Florence - getting a glimpse of the Food World on the Adult Side of the festival. 

Now it was no secret that Renee did not share the same affection for that Beatles' song  - and so it was a real moment, I guess you could say,  when as we walked into a restaurant on Isle of Palms for breakfast, Let It Be was playing loud and clear.


 Chandler Knott, Renee Ramage Burger, and Trevor Dolan


 Vietnamese Summer Roll Ingredients



Chandler Knott and Trevor Dolan Getting Ready To Roll


Dorette Snover, Chandler Knott, and Trevor Dolan

But leap a few weeks forward from Charleston and we're back to Market Street Books and Maps on Peep Day ~ in addition to the Poem Contest there was a Cooking Contest where folks brought in their most audacious and delicious Peeps Dishes. Along with Marilyn, the manger of Weaver Street Market in Southern Village, Sheila Neal of Neal's Deli in Carrboro and Sheri Castle, author of The New Southern Garden Cookbook, we dipped out forks into the various dishes to judge and taste.  



Umm, Peeps Barbecue


Sheri Castle, Sheila Neil, and Dorette Snover

After all that there also was a demo on making homemade marshmallows with assistant Cary Simpson  who worked  with Trevor occasionally at the shop and also with him as an intern at C'est si Bon! in those years.  



 Gently Lifting Out the Marshmallow..


Cary Simpson is an excellent Assistant!

Let It Be Peeps – Dedicated to the Crew at C’est si Bon!


The First Peeps Ever Served
Were Roasted with Sage
Stuffed Into Swans
In the Medieval Age

Since then, Peeps have a following
Their path is Legion
Specialties of Peeps
Depend on their Region

Organic peeps - far as the eye can see
Slow Peeps with Depth
From Terre Madre, Italy

Wolfgang Puck Peeps from the Province of Chinois
Charlie Trotter serves Roasted Quail Peeps - with Toasted Quinoa
.
Peeps studded with Pepper
Awashed with Chipotle
Then quickly Poached
And Stuffed in a Chayote

Tahini’ed and Gyroed,
Stuffed in a Peepsa
Flanked by Ricotta
From the Milk of a Sheepsa. 

Low Fat, low Carb
Peeps Smoked over Wood.
Why don’t Farmers Raise Peeps?
They certainly Should.

Meatball Peeps,
All Piled in a Heap
Goodness said the Peep-Chef
How can I Sleep?

Dried Peeps and Aged Ones,
Fresh never Frozen
Artisanal Peeps, Local Ones
Baked by the Dozen

Peep Latte’s and Latke’s
Lamb Peeps of Miss Bo
Flaxen Seed Peeps
Make it easy to Go

Peep Butter
Peep Fudge
Peep Artichoke Salad
Peeps however served,
Are, well ~ they are Valid.

Tenderloin Peeps that never are raw
Peeps pulled from the ground are easy to gnaw.

Sushi Peeps, if you can listen,
Would much rather Be Food 
Than Sea Food
That glistens.

Onioned and livered Peeps drive you to drink
Peep Sammies with tomatoes, eaten over the sink.

Multivitamin Peeps
with Gingko Bilboa
Polynesian Peeps
From the Island of Koa

Peeps on my Fish
Peeps on My Toast
Peeps of Falafel
From the Red Sea Coast.

Poi Peeps and Goil Peeps
Grilled up for the Crowd
Stuffed Burrito’s with Peeps
Are Exceedingly Loud.

Peepy Paneer
Very Spicy and Fried
Pared Parsnip Peeps Appeal
Never Has Died

High Fiber Peeps,
Tough to Chew
Peep Roast
And Pineapple Pepperoni Peepsa
Brunswick Peeps
Make quite the Stewpsa

Vegetarian Peeps
Made of Tofurky
Blazing Peeps Ride the Range
Eating Leathered Peep Jerky

Homemade Peeps
Pink, Yellow and Green
Peeps of Huge Portions
With a Caramel Sheen

Roquefort Peeps,
Blue and Quite Salty
Genetically Modified Peeps
With Ears that are Faulty

Said the She-Chef
Peeps are my business
While she pushed back her toque
To lock in Peeps’ juices, she never did poke.

Only One Thing is Better
Than Peeps of All Kinds
Is Peeps who Persist
And Have Open Minds.

homemade marshmallows from the c’est si bon! kitchen

cocoa cinnamon, coconut/mango, almond apricot, pepper/lime,
orange/anise, saffron/ginger

3 packages unflavored gelatin
½ cup water, or orange or lime juice or other flavored liquid

2 cups raw organic sugar
2/3 cup honey  
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
flavorings - we’ve used anise seeds, candied ginger, saffron, cocoa, crushed red pepper, and cinnamon

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract or other extract (almond is great)
toppings - dried mango, coconut, apricot

butter
confectioners' sugar, for dusting

combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.

meanwhile, combine the sugar, honey, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees f on a candy thermometer. remove from the heat.

with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. add the vanilla or other flavorings and mix thoroughly.

butter an 8 by 12-inch glass pan. dust liberally with confectioner’s sugar as you might a cake pan with flour. using a well-buttered spatula pour or scrape the marshmallow batter in the pan and smooth the top of the mixture with buttered hands. sprinkle on any remaining chopped toppings. allow to dry uncovered at room temperature overnight.

remove the marshmallows from the pan and cut into squares using a buttered scissors. coat each piece in confectioners' sugar.

store in a covered container at room temperature. 



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Writing Life: The Shadows of Past Manuscripts



Sometimes I hear them at night, as they softly fog around, and float over me. 

They, the early lines that came in the dark. Back in the Ulysses era of my writing 
life, they skirted around like a siren, called me from my stove, then. 

I am too late. That must have been the last. But wait. Is that another hoot? 
Before they drift ~ I hurry. 

The curtain in the style of Laura Ashley has hung at the bedroom window for twenty some 
years. Since the day my friend, Peg, gave it to me. Like a bouquet thrown out at a wedding it
billows its sweetness across the gray moonlight lawn, the magnolia, and the Arkansas black
apple tree. 

I drape the curtain over the nail stuck in the window frame. The window is stuck, refuses to budge, intrude on the owl. Please. But finally the bathroom window pushes up. 

Was I not reverent enough for the bird to stay? 

My phone moves from 2:33 to 2:34. 

Oh, owl in the thickest of trees. Where do you live in the forest? 
Won't you stay for tea, and talk to me?



William Morris - His first Cabbage and Vine Tapestry from 1879.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Writing Life: Getting Ready to Write..

Does this happen to you? Getting ready to write is a lengthy process in and of itself. I approach the time with  both joy and trepidation. Almost as if Richard Parker one of the stars of Life of Pi, in case you didn't see the film, is in my boat. Within a minute of opening up the document of my NIP (novel in progress) I switch over to Blogger to write a post about this curiosity of "getting ready to write not writing." Here are a few ways and  whys of writing today.

1. Not enough time to write again today. There's only an hour till my hair appointment which I sorely need to look good at the upcoming Break Out Novel Intensive in Hood River Oregon. At least when my scenes don't hold hold together I can smile and dazzle them with my hair.

2. Good Lord, I have to test recipes for macaroons and croissants and puff pastry to be sure they are correct for a one to one pastry class next week. Pastry is not something I do every day. Bake or eat.

3. Decide if we will have our next class due to low enrollment.

4. Turn right at Seawell School Road to go back home and send the postcard file from the mainframe to Staples to get more postcards printed and take them around town. I'll stop at the last one and grab a cuppa and write a scene.  Perfect perfect plan.

5. While at home sending the postcard file, I will quickly send out another enticing newsletter to boost enrollment. I didn't quite hit the nail on the head with the last one a few days ago. 12 people untethered themselves from receiving it.

6. Decide that what I really need in order to increase the verisimilitude in the NIP is to make a food film and submit it to a food film festival. Excellent, this is really exciting.

7. Start a meet up group to have people over to discuss. to cook and watch a food film. 1 person signs up.

8. Make flight reservations to Portland.

9. On my way to Staples for postcards ~ stop by Whole Foods and get refills on my B-complex vitamins and COQ-10 - so I can have the mental capacity and stamina to remember all the details I want to put in my scenes. Discuss my supplement choices with the nice health saleslady. Fill out an application to work at Whole Foods.

10. With only 15 minutes left to write, I begin. Damn. I can't read my pages scrawled with handwritten notes and arrows.

11. Just one more thing. it will only take a minute. Complete the income spreadsheet to work on taxes.

12. Realize it's crazy to make a food film of my own. I have no experience. Also crazy to form a group to cook and watch films. It's a time waster.

13. Join a meet up group working on a film. Volunteer to be on the production crew. Now, that is exactly right.

14. 10 minutes left.

15. Down to work. Look at the the time! Going great guns. Words are flowing like the mighty Ganges River.

16. Cancel hair appointment. Really getting somewhere now.

17. Never going to stop.

18. Come visit me at.....(no way, no how!)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Merging the Cooking and Writing Life: Avant Garde Food Films, Part Trois


And now for Part Trois of Avant Garde Food Films. 

(Bonjour, but before we delve into the post, I am looking for a few folks with either video cameras, experience, and the desire to be in our own avant garde film, a.k.a. exciting if not slightly disorganized, project. I am interested, okay, craving to learn how to make a short video. And you know what they say, the only way to learn is to do. Ta da! Not just a recording of dining and cooking action, but making an actual and artful kitchen tale. Maaaaybe, enter it in the upcoming Charleston Food Film Festival in May. But it could just be a fun project. Promo for C'est si Bon! Or? Let me know if you're interested to join in. We'll be having a Salon to discuss.) 

But on another note, a Spanish flamenco note, consider the great Documentary Feature Length Film, “Cooking in Progress”  directed by Gereon Wetzel who studied archeology at Heidelberg University and filmed El Bulli’s “Cooking in Progress” in 2011. The film spins around the process of the menu and the El Bulli Team as they create the next year’s 35 courses all served in a 3 hour window, a dinner service at El Bulli.

I love El Bulli’s trailer, “We Must Function Like Clockwork” for it is a great view into this element of precision so paramount to El Bulli. Precision is loaded with drama and tension; but isn’t that why we watch? To see mistakes being made? Adria’s El Bulli Foundation has just begun breaking ground on the new physical structure that will house his new “operation.” I am not sure if it can or should be called a restaurant? Of course even when it was operating, there were not MANY restaurants like El Bulli. Though there are many protégé. But that my hungry friends, along with Adria’s plan to have cooks wear sensors designed to follow every step of a dish's creation and "analyse the process of serendipity to see if it can be replicatedis a topic for another time.

But since we’re talking El Bulli, it would be a crime (and thus maybe a future Bulli film?) if we didn’t mention Bob Noto, an Italian photographer who has dined more than 90 times at El Bulli and is considered one of the world’s consummate photographers of avant garde food.

Here is a Bob film, Grand Chef di Spagna. 

And another Bob film; Cracco, Sapori in Movimento, is a very pretty photo montage of avant garde food; a promo trailer for Bob’s book of the same name.

But let’s put promo trailers and Adrian cuisine, carefully, on the back burner and enter the entree course of Food Film Festivals. 

Next Time. 

Remember, let me know if you want to be a part of the film project.  

And also if you're interested: our Mediterranean Spring Class on March 22 - along with the delectable menu on the website we'll be rolling grape leaves. This is your chance - and the last adult-chefs class till the fall. 




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