Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Reality bites

My Perfect Monday was followed by a dash-of-cold-water Tuesday. If I believed such things, I'd say it was some sort of cosmic score-evening, but I don't so I guess it's just the way things happen.

I went to the dentist to replace a 14-year-old crown (which had been installed by a dentist in Minnesota during summer hiatus when we were living in Hong Kong. I should feel lucky it lasted that long, since his dental practice didn't, having crumbled  under subsequent insurance fraud investigations. Life is funny.). Although the slightly worn, teen-aged crown looked ok, underneath lurked decrepitude and decay. So adolescent! Major dental work is scheduled, and I can't think of a worse time for this. Damn it all, anyway.

So I did the best thing I could think of, which was get down in the kitchen and cook.  I put on some favorite tunes (garage punk and bluegrass work well here) and turned the volume up high (to 11, for that extra push over the cliff  -  bonus points for the reference) and started mincing beef for Bolognese Sauce.  Or should I call it Blogonese??

The recipe is from Alice Waters, and is in preparation for kids arriving at all hours on Wednesday. Julie should get in around 6 and Will closer to midnight, so hunger will be assuaged, regardless of the time.

Here's a link to her book, The Art of Simple Food. The pages are increasingly food-splotched, which means it's one of my favorites. (Note to self: must do a blog about favorite cookbooks. Think about yours - I want to know!)

It calls for mincing the beef to a 1/8" dice, which to some might be considered tedious, but today had definite therapeutic value.

Below you will see the veggies and herbs, artfully arranged and photo-ready:

Thyme, carrot, bay leaves, celery, sage, onion, garlic
And here are the meat contributions, including minced bacon (which I substituted for pancetta), beef and pork:

Pseudo-pancetta, minced beef, pork

The glass of wine was the first of several, since the Novocaine had worn off and I was no longer in danger of chin dribble. (Novocaine always makes me crack up thinking of Dudley Moore in the goofy coffee shop scene in "10")

Important note: Alice (we're on a first name basis now) says to saute the meat until "a nice chestnut color", which sounds and feels close to burnt to me. Do it anyway!  It brings richness and depth to the sauce.

I tried to capture the color here, but it looks more like corned beef hash. You'll have to trust me on this.

While the veggie, herbs and meat simmered and infused the house with comfort food aromas I sipped more wine and let Bill convince me that it's better to fix the bad tooth than face the alternative.

Bed time came early.

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