Sunday, August 12, 2007

confessions, or "It's a POT show...and this is the nicest pot!"

1. My "I" key has been sticking for days. This is very annoying.

2. I'm really sick of making upside-down cakes. I have been making them every week since March, and I don't like them. They always sell really well at the FB market. Whwn I frst started making them, I tried David Lebovitz's recipe, was unenthused, *did not* try the FH recipe because it was basically the same as DL's recpe, tried a recipe that was in a recent Gourmet, and tried (with most success) the recipe from Chez Panisse Fruit. I've adapted the CP recipe and that is what I have been using since, oh, April, and I've been okay with that until this week. I tasted one this Saturday to make sure it was all right since I had to trek over to the cupcakery before they were finished, and I took one bite and threw the rest out. There's nothing I shouldn't like. Brown sugar caramelly ooze. Pluots and nectarines. The cake part is always disappointing bad, tough enough to endure fruit without getting soggy, kind of bland, the sort of cake that makes people say they don't like cake. And I'm frustrated because I thought I solved this. It makes me wish I were still staging at Oleana, because every single time I told Maura I didn't like something (bread pudding, meringues), she would show me a version of it that would change my mind completely about the item in question. How do I reinvent this cake? It takes a lot of time to make it and I don't want to put the tme into something I don't like. And why don't I like it when it's got everything I should enjoy?

3. I ate pepperoni grease yesterday. The pizzeria across the street sent us over a free pizza, half cheese half pepperoni. And the slice of cheese I picked up had somehow been infected with meat grease, because during the first bite my mouth flooded with that flavor, which I haven't eaten in probably 13 years. I ended up eating about half the piece, because I was hungry, and *minded* the meat flavor, but wasn't really *eating* the meat. Eventually it got to me, so I just pulled off the crust. On the long walk back to my car, I felt the grease all slick on my tongue and that was uncomfortable. I had to endure until I got home. What is pepperoni, anyway?

4. I took one dozen cupcakes from my job and brought them to the Slideluck Potshow. I am allowed to take as many cupcakes as I want, whenever want, but it's kind of mean to do it when it's the last dozen cupcakes and the store is still open and customers want cupcakes. And I could have stickered the box so potluckers could see where the cupcakes that were gone SO fast came form. But I didn't. I also brought lavender walnut shortbread cookies.

5. And I thought for a good ten minutes about stealing the big Le Creuset from the potluck table. That's terribly, horribly wrong and immoral. Yes, those things run about two hundred dollars, and yes, really I want one but I'm not a thief. My friend said he'd take it if I wasn't going to steal it, because he wanted one too. The getaway car was around the corner. t would have been so, so easy especially once they turned off the lights. I always think about stealing things I really want.

6. Did I confess already to having a plot to steal my favorite cookbook out of the Boston Public Library. This plot was hatched in May I guess, and Leah was going to join the BPL, check out the book, and mail it to me. even told her specifically where it was and that it was hard to find, but should be there. She couldn't find it, and the plan never proceeded. At that time, the book was going for about 100 on used book sites. Now it is up to $474.00. Retail cost of $40. I'll never find it. Not even at the Strand.

7. Something odd happened to 2 of the 4 buttercreams I had to make yesterday. I have made a lot of buttercreams and by now I know what they look like when you have whipped your whited with sugar for plenty of time before adding cooked sugar, what it looks like when you add the sugar before the whites have really peaked, how it takes longer or shorter to firm up, and so on. n both of these instances I added a small portion of granulated sugar while shipping whites but they never got to soft peaks. The liquid whirled around in the Hobart bowl looking like skim milk. The first time poured the hot sugar. The next time I just dumped it out. The bad batched settled into white foam on top and yellow white on the bottom. I used a mixture of Eggology whites straight from the jar and some whites cracked in-house for the 4 buttercreams. am kind of glad it happened twice even if it was a waste of product and time, because t makes me feel more like the whites were contaminated (or the bowl was dirty or something) than that I personally fucked it up.

8. I don't enjoy decorative work. Even though my piping skills are now adequate.

9. I'm feeling really sensitive to sugar lately. I'm trying to east less processed sugar and more fruits (!?!?!?!). This is pretty much against my philosophy of living. So I hope this sensitivity goes away soon.

10. This whole week (last Sat. market, Tuesday market, and yesterday's market) I have bought nothing but fruits from the FB market. Yesterday delicious grapes again and some figs from my Sox fan at Knoll Farms.

I manhandled a ton of figs at the Slideluck Potshow, because I wanted to eat one but only if they were really ripe, plus I was afraid they weren't going to be as good as the ones from Knoll. I ate peanut noodles and homemade noodles and a really sexy key lime tart. I met my first food blogger and he was wearing leather suspenders and he loved my shortbread. When I fessed up to having a food blog myself, he said he'd blogroll me. I was also made to try a vegan{no dairy/no fat} broccoli soup. This man came up to me and my friends and sad to me (and only me) "Hi, how are you, I made this soup, no one's eating it, you should try it." So I did. I told him it needed butter and cream (such a pastry chef), and pepper. Then I told him he needed to try my cookie. We had the most San Francisco conversation, the three of us, it was all about sustainability and markets and not at all about art.

About the art, it was really refreshing to see an art show. It made me a little sad for the artist I used to live with who once made me a cowboy drawing on a lightbox and who had a wall full of drawings of cutie pie. I have such a crush on visual artists. It has always depressed me that I'm not talented in that way (not that being a writer isn't thrilling in its attention to detail and long, lonely hours--kind of like being a chef). Photography has been on my mind a lot since the Leica dream. These days I feel like everyone things they're a photographer because they know how to compose a shot and they've got a digital. If they're one step above that, they can play with the color balance or saturation in Photoshop (confession: I first started playing with Photoshop back in 97, 98...back when digital photography was a little amusement on a day when the darkroom was crowded). What was so refreshing about the slide show for me was the little things that get lost in the automatic digital age...the color balance, the precision of focus, proper use of lighting, nightshots or blurred shots that say something and don't just look cool (and if I said "cable release" would you know what I meant?). I was always drawn to photography because it was a visual art I could do, and I put in enough time to be ok.

What I actually never realized until last night was how narrative photography is, or can be. This despite the fact that I have actually had so many narrative photo projects myself. I must have known instinctually (it's a writer's art, just like pastry cheffing is, and foil-fencing), but until I saw on the cement gallery floor with my knees up and watched the slide show, feeling like a kindergardener at nap-time and about that tired, too, it wasn't anything I could have voiced. My favorite photographers are even narrativists (Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Nikki Lee, Mary Ellen Mark (though she is less), and for old time's sake Dorothea and Ansel). It was a nice realization to come to, even though haven't touched my SLR in two years (it's got an undeveloped roll of California pictures in it, of all things). It made me feel more comfortable with something I have grown so distanced from. And it made me feel like my favorite art still has merit, authenticity and fun. Photography isn't dying in the age of digital. The book isn't dying in the age of internet. {But what of darkrooms and publishing houses?}

I'm totally going to make dinner now and work on some writing. I have so much to do before the Alabama trip including somehow go to Oakland to return my library books (I was happy to realize that if I do this I can use the free printers at the Oakland library instead of the expensve ones at SFPL), go to the SFPL to pick up a book I should have read a long time ago but is now impossibly trendy, made Chez Panisse reservations, get a haircut so don't look like a scruffy teenaged boy in a dress (though that would be a new sight for Alabama)...

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