September 19, 2008

Edible Weekend Magic

After a stressful week at work, nothing calms my spirits more than spending some time in the kitchen. Come Friday afternoon, I'm tired of thinking, speaking and analyzing. I'm ready, instead, for magic. Real magic. Edible magic.

Such magic works like this: throw plants & minerals & potions together in one big bowl, blend them together with possessed hands & wrists, and toss this chemistry into the oven to complete the nearly-final step of this alchemical process. Of course, the final-final step is to take the baked-broiled-braised-roasted food into our bodies. Chew. Swallow. Digest. Live.

Nothing comes closer to magic than this. (Well, some would argue that Richard Simmons is more magical, but I'll save a discussion on his brand of magic for a later post.) Cooking is one of the only (Western) arts that allows us to become the thing we have created--literally. Unlike other art forms that are designed and manufactured to stand the test of time, we accept food's pregnable fate. Its destruction is inevitable. We add colors and decorations and fancy names to our food to ensure this destructibility.

However, I'm not so sure "destruction" is the right word to use when describing the act of eating. Sure, the act of eating involves the breaking down of matter into smaller and smaller pieces until, finally, we can no longer see certain parts of the original whole. Our bodies are gifted with minerals and vitamins and emotional comfort, none of which we can see with the naked eye. These chemical processes, charted to some extent by Science, depend on our collective suspension of disbelief. This scientific stuff happens inside of us, we think, but the fact that it does happen is also part miracle.

No, the act of eating is not a destructive act, but a magical one: one thing collapsing so that another thing can live. This is magic, a magic we perform on a daily basis--no microscopes or awkward scientists needed!

Here are my magical-alchemical-superradical plans for this weekend:

1. Lavender extract: While I won't get the chance to actually use this extract for a good two months, I will begin the infusion process this afternoon. The recipe is simple: 2 tablespoons of lavender buds + 1 cup of vodka. (I'm sure I'll find other "culinary" uses for the remaining vodka. Is "drunk" considered a culinary use?)

2. Fig Upside-Down Cake: Brown sugar, molasses, figs, ginger, cloves, butter... How could this recipe do me wrong, baby?

3. Lemon Quick Bread: One of the loaves will be reserved for a coworker of mine who's expecting his first baby in less than a month. I thought that the soft & spongy texture of the bread + the sharp wails of citrus would work well to represent everything that is baby.

4. More French Toast: I can't get enough of this ginger-cinnamon-maple-milky-moussey goodness! I feel like I've devoted an entire loaf of bread to my French Toast endeavors this week. I tried throwing blueberries onto the skillet the other day while the toast was browning, and the berries magically melted into soft pearls of creamy sweetness. Pour them over the top of your toast, and you've got yourself one helluva breakfast (or lunch, or dinner). Yum.

5. Pear & Thyme Tart: If time permits...

What do you hope to find on your plate this weekend?


Anonymous said...

Hello Jada!

All of these weekend dishes sound scrumptious! Which ones did you end up making? I hope when you come for Thanksgiving you'll bring an armload of good recipes. But I don't think you can make the turkey. That's a job for a man. Just kidding.

What about COFFEE? Now that I'm on the caffeine express wagon, I need to know what I can make with those delicious beans!


cormac norwich said...

I've noticed your culinary creations are mostly desserts. Any chance of sharing a kick-ass recipe involving two tons of chocolate? Stress is hitting me as well, and nothing beats a trip to Cocoaville.

Jada Ach said...

Emily--I made the fig cake and the lemon bread. I added some blueberries to the lemon bread for a little extra tartness! I've got just the thing to cure your caffeine fix. I plan on doing a few things with coffee in some upcoming posts. I'm glad you finally jumped on the coffee trail!

We'll have to bake away when I come in November!

Jada Ach said...

Dan--you'll love my next post. It will involve chocolate AND beer.