Monday, January 23, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 01/22/17: Morning with David and Olivia, 19th Century Cooking, Baked Talapia. . . *Notes

1. I don't know how Olivia and David could have been any easier. They are accustomed to independence, happy to play on their own with Legos and puzzles, draw and color on blank pieces of paper, read, and ask politely for what they'd like to have -- like after breakfast toast with butter and jam for Olivia or, for David, toast with cinnamon and sugar. I hope they enjoyed their stay with us.  I know the Deke and I appreciated their good manners and how they got along with each other so well.

2. Last night I started, and this morning I finished, a 55 minute documentary on Netflix, Fannie's Last Supper. In it, Chris Kimball and a team of cooks and other support staff work to recreate a 12-course Christmas dinner, described in Fannie Farmer's 1896 cookbook, The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook. They did all they could to recreate the conditions of late 19th century cooking, most notably cooking with a wood-fueled cast iron oven and stove. The documentary is a fascinating look not only at the history of cooking and of Fannie Farmer's biography and all that she contributed to cuisine in the USA, but also at late 19th century Boston's food culture and economy. Preparing and serving this 12-course meal was an arduous and sometimes brutal task, requiring about a year and a half of preparation and testing. Watching this team of cooks rise to the occasion and pull it off made for a superb program.

3. Well, I made a one-course dinner tonight using our gas stove and oven and using what I imagine is a contemporary recipe. I doubt that in the year 2110 a documentary will be made featuring a team of cooks working to recreate it. But --  it was good!   I ventured, I think for the first time, into the realm of baked fish and fixed us tilapia with lemon, garlic, butter, parsley, and oregano served with a side of basmati rice and steamed broccoli. The recipe is here.


*For my own record, I also want to note that the Deke asked me I would make some baked tofu cubes for her daily lunch salad. I drained two blocks of tofu, cubed them, and marinated them in sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, minced ginger, minced garlic, and water for over a half an hour in the refrigerator. Then I baked the cubes. The recipe is here.

**I'd also like to note, for the sake of my memory, that I thoroughly enjoy The Washington Post's podcast Presidential. Lillian Cunningham, of the Post, undertook the immense task, leading up to Election Day 2016, of presenting a one hour feature each week on the career of each president, starting with George Washington and ending the series with a discussion of Donald Trump. She interviews different scholars and other research experts for each episode, people like David McCollough, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Bob Woodward and many others I had never heard of, trying to get at some essence of the character of each president and how he is regarded historically.  (I haven't listened to the Donald Trump episode yet, but I imagine the conversation is built around trying to anticipate what to expect from him -- wouldn't you think?)

Four of the most memorable years of my life occurred from 1977-1981. I married my first wife. I worked as a chaplain's assistant at Whitworth College. I began my college teaching career in the fall of 1977. I traveled for three months in England, Wales, Scotland, and Denmark. I started graduate school.

This afternoon, I listened to the Presidential podcast examining Jimmy Carter. He was presented much as I remembered him: ambitious, headstrong, deeply committed to and guided by his faith, intelligent and intellectual, innovative, and deeply troubled, and certainly defeated, by the events that occurred and actions he took during his term. Listening to this podcast helped me not only relive key moments of our country's history, but brought back many personal memories, mostly happy, of my life at that time, and my gratitude for the great experiences and opportunities I had. The Carter podcast, "Keeping the Faith", is here.

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