Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Here's one for those who enjoy a comforting, flavorful bowl of soup, and a challenging puzzle, as well. For years I have scribbled down recipes on stray bits of paper--Post-it notes, the backs of store receipts, scraps of brown paper bags. Those non-descript artifacts would then most often get stuffed in a junk drawer, or buried under stacks of paper on my desk, or simply blown to the Four Winds, fetching up in an obscure corner in the dust under a piece of furniture, or scarfed up by one of the (four-legged) opportunistic omnivores in the family. You wouldn't think that a Post-it note would offer much in the way of culinary interest, but then, you're not a dog. Our junior griff, Lily, has a particular hobby of picking up in her mouth pretty much everything she sees, often just sort of rolling whatever it might be around on her tongue, as if it interests her to see what that feels like. Given how many such items are actually ingested, by both dogs, we're very fortunate that wirehaired pointing griffons are possessed of a robust digestive system.
The loss of some stroke of culinary genius was rarely more than a matter of frustration, unless the vanished formula was a bread inspiration of the moment from one week that I was now obliged to recreate for customers who had by this time read my ecstatic description of, say, the potato-chive levain flats, and who now awaited said loaf with keen anticipation. Life and farmers' market baking being what they are, I usually forgot all about the previous week's new bread sensation until it was time to ramp up baking operations again. Then you can guess how things went. With a dozen bowls of dough needing attention, I was often left to ponder, not very calmly, whether I'd jotted those notes down on an order sheet, a notepad, the back of a deposit slip...? What exciting times those were, the adrenaline flowing, the hair being torn out!
Of course, wouldn't you know it, it was only after we'd decided to take a break from the market baking that I remembered that blank book kitchen diary that sits on the cookbook shelf. I have really no excuse for neglecting it as a repository of bread recipes: I used it every week to record baking expenses and receipts.... Perhaps I had subconsciously deemed it too staid a medium for those fleeting flashes of brilliance that could only find best expression in a tattered corner above the crossword puzzle.
So I'm trying to get back into the habit of using the blank book. It's less intellectually challenging to transcribe a recipe from the notebook than from the random-scrap "system"; although, as you can tell from looking at my handwriting, there's still a certain level of difficulty involved.
It's a bit of a chowder, with the bacon, potatoes, and cream. It's a good use for those ears of corn that have been sitting in the crisper for a few days. They might not shine as corn-on-the-cob, but if they're still a little bit sweet, they'll be just fine for the soup.