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Killing Time, Killer Rabbit

February 2, 2010

I am procrastinating. In a terrible way. I’m supposed to be writing a post for someone’s food blog, a really gorgeous site with nice photos, delicious recipes, and lovely reflections upon this and that. I was excited by the invitation (still am excited, of course), and perhaps therein lies the paralysing part. Having imposed my own deadline, I switched off my computer and headed to my pantry.

First, I baked a dozen cupcakes for A.’s birthday, filling half the batch with homemade marshmallow cream, the other six with mascarpone and vanilla bean. I built a nice box from cardboard, foil and ribbon, and transported the cakes by streetcar to A.’s house across town. There were four weeks till my deadline, so really what was the rush?

Next, I tried my hand at lemon curd, for no reason other than Meyer lemons were at the market and I couldn’t resist their flowery-smelling slightly oily skin, or the little mesh bags each containing eight lemons. Eight! Perfect to squeeze and mince and boil into curd. Perfect for the scones I’d bake the following morning. Perfect to take to Sunday dinner. Perfect for avoiding my deadline, which was about three and a half weeks away.

And who could resist fooling around with a recipe for salted caramel toffees, so sweet, so cute all wrapped in waxed paper twists? When it didn’t turn out quite right, who could resist testing the recipe a couple other ways? Not I! And after working out the toffee riddle and reaching the right balance of syrup-butter-salt, there was one thing left to do. Line up the pickled asparagus, peaches in heavy vanilla syrup, strawberry rosewater conserve, brown-sugar-chili roasted walnuts and hazelnuts, salt-cured lemons with cardamom and bay leaves, sour cherry preserves and the aforementioned lemon curd. Pretty jars all in a row. And, technically, this counted as research for my food essay, since it’s about using the preserves and conserves and pickles I made all summer now that the dark days of winter have arrived. Cracking open the taste of August, while January hangs like a cloud.

By now, my deadline was a week away, and it  was Sunday afternoon. I’d planned the menu, picked the recipes, written a couple myself. Tinkered with ones  from my favourite books, and made some point-form notes. The essay, I figured, would write itself once the cooking was through, once the table was laid. But first, there was a rabbit to fetch from the butcher shop, and vegetables to mince and reductions to reduce and sauces to sauce and spaetzle batter to prepare. My story is about the risks and rewards of showing off in the kitchen. And so, while the perfectionist in me furrowed her brow and tried to make the meal come together just right, the procrastinator in me fucked around with the bunny lungs and made cute stacks of mushrooms and snapped nice shots of pearl onions, too.

Dinner, in case you are wondering, was delicious, and it turns out I was partly right: the story I’ll be turning in to the food blog couldn’t have happened until dinner happened. There was the smell of the roasted rabbit, the creaminess of the pie we ate for dessert, the taste of the cherries I bottled last summer. And, there was the part where the spaetzle batter failed, and C., recruited to recipe-test, ran to the corner shop on a -20 degree night, only to find himself locked out and my doorbell broken and his pockets cellphone-less, and no small stones in sight to toss at my second-storey window, and so he ran back to the corner to telephone from the pub.

That he didn’t just keep going one block more, to his own toasty warm house, that he stood outside for ages, that he laughed off my dismay at the whole scene (which began with frothing batter in place of firm dumplings, and ended with his very pink cheeks)…I figure this proves my thesis at least partly right. Showing off in the kitchen is risky, but if it all comes together right, there is a net cast by cooking that can snare a lucky belly.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. veena permalink
    February 2, 2010 7:55 pm

    “fucked around with the bunny lungs”!!!

    I love this post for many many reasons, Amanda! (first one is linked to the quote above, second because you used marscapone and vanilla bean in the same sentence, third: such a cute date, fourth… )

    Which food blog is it?

  2. February 3, 2010 6:16 pm

    If only all procrastination stories could end so well!

    Right now I am battling yolk crusted on a spoon dipped into soup for one, in order to not be battling with a few wily writings. I think the shower’s siren call will save me this time, but the next?

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