SUMMER 2011. PEACHES. 08.12.11
Dreaded dinner table words: “Did you make this up?” The perplexed expressions and slow chewing say it all. Translation: “This is pretty strange and maybe inedible. Surely you didn’t follow a recipe because if you had, I wouldn’t need to ask the question for which I already know the answer.” Sigh.
The delicious combination of rest and relaxation prompted by a badly-needed vacation often conjure a wave of fresh inspiration and creativity in my kitchen. Mai-tai-and-sunshine-fueled confidence lead me to whip up meals out of thin air. Is this how adequately rested people feel all the time? It doesn’t happen often, to the great relief of my family. Previous bouts of such renewed vigor have yielded dishes such as this one and this one. Oh, and this one, too.
For every winning combination photographed and featured here, there are numerous fallen, burned or just plain bland concoctions that sadly fill the plates of my undeserving boy posse. My creativity is at times trumped by a lack of practical culinary fundamentals, which is why I’m a home cook of the recipe following variety. I like directions, a plan and a distinct formula for near certain success.
These days, I apply fairly heavy scrutiny to my recipe sources. I get piles of magazines, amass more cookbooks each week (that nasty little habit doesn’t seem to be winding down just yet – two more expected from Amazon today!) and scour the web for ideas and inspiration. The adjustments I make are typically modest and I try to let you know what I’ve changed and why. I am careful to give credit where it is due and readily admit many of these dishes are not my original creations. I never promised you originality, love. What I can offer you is experience, ideas and recommendations based on my own victories and disasters. So I guess that makes me a test driver, of sorts. I take the recipes out for a spin, kicking the proverbial tires and testing the bells and whistles. From time to time, I obtain upper extremity burns, endure minor accidents (tip: do not ever put Pyrex on a hot stove top! It can explode and the hot mess is indescribably miserable) and in the most unfortunate cases, head-on collisions resulting in total losses. Thankfully, it’s just dinner.
Before I leave you to a peachy keen week (also check out this yummy peach recipe and this one, too), I want to take a moment to remember Jennifer Perillo, a lovely woman in the food community whom I recently met. Earlier this week Jennie, mother of two young girls, developer of original recipes and writer of In Jennie’s Kitchen, lost her beloved husband suddenly due to heart attack. As a memorial to Mikey, she’s asked the food community to make his favorite peanut butter pie on Friday, August 12. I will be doing so, as well as photographing and sharing it both literally and via Twitter and Facebook. (Update: You can find my tips and photographs of the pie here.) If you care to join in this tribute, see more details on this page. In a touching post, Jennie eloquently reminds us of a sentiment that can’t be stated too often: “…hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.” Beautifully put, Jennie. Our love goes out to you as you face unspeakable grief and begin to define the new normal.