Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter





All the flowers except these were held in my grandma V's crystal





















Well it's a good thing that I declared my acceptance of imperfection; as my Good Friday dinner wasn't quite perfect.  I went to extensive lengths trussing my leg of lamb roast to make sure it kept a nice, full roast shape.  I cooked it sous vide at 139F for about 19 hours and then seared it in a scorching cast iron skillet.  The flavor was absolutely phenomenal and the texture of the meat was perfect. Because searing with butcher's twine still attached can be dicey and very smoky, I thought I could get away with removing it and my skewer supports.  Assuming the shape was set was a mistake and my lamb roulade quickly un-rouladed into one long strip.  I'm quite sure mumbling under my breath God damn it you motherfucker don't unroll, don't unroll...SHIT! isn't appropriate--well, ever--but especially not on Good Friday.  Luckily no one heard me over the exhaust fan.  In order to maximize surface area, I opted to sever this rather unsightly looking behemoth into three smaller pieces. The motive with this step is to get an attractive brown crust quickly and to keep the middle as close to 139F as possible.  If lamb is on your agenda, I would highly recommend the seasoning I used.  It was essentially a highly flavored pesto.  2 heads of deeply roasted garlic, 1 lemon, 20ish green olives, a ton of parsley, thyme, oregano, mint, dry mustard, olive oil, and a little red wine vinegar (and salt and pepper).  I coated the lamb and let it marinate in its sous vide bag for 24 hours before I cooked it. In my opinion, lamb needs a heavy hand with seasoning and this fit the bill.  I prefer lamb more in the medium range than rare or medium rare, so that's what I was aiming for. 

The organic parsley growers in California love me


a tabbouleh-esque salad inspired by an old Ina Garten recipe



My grandpa shared his excitement to revisit Copenhagen's exquisite cultural gem, Museum Erotica, in a few weeks. In his words, the Hermitage is pretty good, but you wouldn't believe this place! It's incredible.  He'll be disappointed to hear it closed in 2009, but I'll let someone on the ship break the news to him. He didn't ask for ketchup, but did need to remind me that normal people have at least one salt shaker.  I reminded him of the time I bought him a normal salt shaker and he didn't want to use it because he thought my kosher salt tasted better.  Which is too big for a normal salt shaker. I was also confronted with my acceptance of knowing if fine china and crystal is used, a break here or there is inevitable.  As my poor sister broke one of my glasses. 

My mom made this beautiful tablecloth, 52 box pleats! 



Grandma N's pitcher on the left and grandma V's on the left.
Two very different women with very different tastes, but
I think they go together quite well. 























So from using the lord's name in vain (on Good Friday, no less) over an imperfect roulade, to my grandpa telling us about how not everything on a "midget" (little person, I know) is small "they have a statue at the museum, you've gotta see it", to trying to make my sister feel better about breaking a glass, the evening was assuredly imperfect.  The lamb still looked beautiful, I have a family that can laugh when something is funny and few things are off limits, which means we all really know each other.  I understand my grandpa and L as real people, not just as figures, and my life is richer for it.  Though he doesn't plan to go anywhere soon--besides a defunct sex museum in Denmark--there will be a time when he and L are not here; and the memory of laughing uproariously about something vulgar with everyone at the table will seem absolutely perfect.  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Unrealized

 It should come as no surprise that I have a little habit of collecting.  The good news is that it's not a Hoarders: Buried Alive situation.  I keep things pretty organized and actually keep an inventory on my phone.  But that doesn't mean everything gets used often.  A little while ago, I greatly reduced the amount of china and silver I had.  The things that were never used were easy to get rid of.  The harder calls were those that were used here and there and had vivid memories attached to them.  Although it stung a little at the time--once they were out of my hands and their photos deleted from my phone-- quickly faded from memory and I can't say I miss them or have "needed" them since.
I think a lot of people reserve their special items for A Special Occasion. It's almost like an invisible barrier that prevents you from thinking to use your china unless the event is anointed Special.  The problem is that many moments are not deemed Special until they're over. 

Please pretend you don't see the crumbs in the frosting

Roasted beet and mushrooms topped with goat cheese

What prompted my culling of the tabletop herd was the cleaning out of my grandparents' houses.  Both in 2012, I realized how many beautiful things there were that I hadn't ever seen.  Perhaps I had seen them and not noticed, but I know I hadn't ever used them.  I'm lucky that I know or knew all my grandparents.  And they are all special people.  Creativity runs prominently on each side.  As I sifted through the "junk", I couldn't help but feel twinges of longing and disappointment.  I know exactly the feeling that went into purchasing these little things.  Perfect for a Christmas brunch...just the right color for Thanksgiving...M would love this on his birthday...practically made for Easter
I saw the unrealized potential, and I knew that many weren't used because the perfect storm of perfection never came about.  I am an all or nothing personality.  It's caused me a lot of heartache and it's also saved me from many, many wrong paths.  I used to feel disappointed as holidays and moments passed because they weren't my vision of perfection.  There would be a point where I would just throw my hands up and say I'll have to start earlier next year.  Thankfully I learned relatively quickly that perfection usually only appears in the rearview mirror. 

Easter is a holiday I've never gotten right.  The weather in Ohio never cooperates and I don't think there has ever been an Easter in Ohio where I've seen my vision of a brunch al fresco with warm weather, a forsythia hedge in bloom, and happy children frolicking in unstained pastels happy to eat lamb and eggplant.  Therefore, I've never used my Easter china on Easter.  Well, this year I still won't be using it for an Easter brunch.  Rather, a Good Friday dinner.  My brother will probably come wearing gym shorts and my grandpa will probably put ketchup and tablespoons of salt on my perfectly seasoned lamb.  But it will all be atop my Easter china.  
I got this at $88 for 88 pieces! It's a Noritake "mystery" pattern




I cant count on barbie to dutifully wear pastels