I’ve been cleaning and it makes me so happy. I know, weird huh? For example, I cleaned my refrigerator last week, and because I wasn’t in a big hurry, I found two burned out light bulbs I didn’t know existed. When they were replaced, my clean refrigerator was like that advertisement where upon opening the refrigerator door, radiant light and a chord from a holy choir pour out.
I’ve also been cooking in my kitchen. In seven years, I’ve never cooked in it much since owning a restaurant kind of interferes with that in numerous ways. I've also had several unhappy experiences in this kitchen and one of the reasons isn’t really the fact that I hate my stove top, (which I do, passionately, it's electric and very slow to react, need I say more?) it’s because I haven’t really “lived” in it. And you have to “live” in a kitchen to be able to cook I found out.
As I said, I’ve had some less than stellar moments cooking in my kitchen. Take Thanksgiving for example. Cooking dinner for my family required no less than 8 trips to the store or Three Crows to get a bit of this and that because I don’t really know what’s in those cupboards. And my oven has it’s own opinions about what 350 means as demonstrated by the fact that once the turkey got done in 3 hours instead of 5. Not knowing your equipment, what’s in your cupboards or having any momentum makes for a cold kitchen as opposed to a warm, lived in one, and that makes all the difference.
By momentum, I mean that there are layers of cooking that build on each other over time. Since we got home from France, I started cooking, as opposed to eating at Three Crows (obviously), making a salad, Brad grilling dinner, eating out at another restaurant or ordering a pizza. After a few weeks of cooking I have built up some momentum. I now have a container of cooked tomatoes and eggplant from Monday's visit to Peterson't Produce. Last night I made some polenta to go with it and tomorrow, I might use it with pasta. Voila’. I also know I need to make more aioli soon as I have only a smudge left, I have a good supply of creme fraiche (yea!) and I have bacon, tomatoes, bread and therefore a BLT whenever I want. Some ingredients in the refrigerator, vague plans, yesterday's trip to the produce stand, a cookbook you bought and finally paged through for ideas, all contribute to momentum.
When we were in France, we had some cooking classes. Nese used fresh foods in simple recipes that were not scientific which I found freeing. I’m including a recipe Nesa gave us that I've fallen in love with, as much for its simplicity and flexibility as the concentrated flavor that comes with roasting fruits.
Take some plums (or any stone fruit) and cut them in half. Remove the stones. Find a glass pan that will hold the fruit in one layer. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with sugar, and then she showed us, the sugar was maybe an eighth of an inch deep. Dot with butter. Lay the fruit, cut side down in one layer over the sugar. Bake in a medium oven (350) until soft and juicy. Yes leave the peeling on, it holds the tender fruit together after it’s baked. Serve with whatever you want. Play! she would say.
My favorite thing to serve it with is creme fraiche and since it’s hard to find and expensive to buy in the states, here’s a recipe for that too, and you will notice, very scientific!
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup yogurt w/ acidophilus cultures
Place the cream buttermilk and yogurt in a sterilized jar or bowl. Stir vigorously to mix. Cover the container with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for four to eight hours, or overnight, until thickened. Refrigerate once the creme fraiche has almost reached the desired consistency. It will continue to thicken as it chills. Use within one week. (But I’ve had it in my refrigerator longer than that and it’s fine.)
Besides cooking and cleaning, I have been looking at buildings and spreadsheets of facts and figures and doing a lot of listening and thinking about the future of Three Crows. There are sparks of inspiration every week and ideas are coming better into focus. I know that’s not an answer to the questions at hand, but I am enjoying the time, noticing what I miss and what I don’t and learning from it. I hope you are doing the same.
I do have a few announcements of upcoming dates. First of all, The Three Crows House band, "Still Standing" is playing at Apple Jack's Orchard on Sunday August 14 from 1-4 PM. If you’ve been missing them like I’ve been missing them, here’s your chance to hear them AND snag an apple donut while you’re at it.
The Delano Heritage Festival is coming on Saturday, September 20th and it’s another date to mark on your calendar. One of the great things about Delano is that there are so many organizations doing so many things it’s hard to keep track of them all. A while back the Historical Society started the Heritage Festival as a way to celebrate Delano’s past, present and future. Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce was celebrating the Fall Harvest and after a couple years they wisely combined the two. The Community market joined in for the last couple years and the Festival keeps growing. This year it will run from 9 AM to 3 PM and includes a Talent Stage, an extended market day, an Appliance Parade, (yes an Appliance Parade) a Granite Nugget hunt and more! You are invited to attend but also to participate. For example if you want a slot at the talent stage, any family rated talent is welcome, Contact Mitch Reume by email to get on the schedule: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Go to the facebook page to get all the details. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Delano-Franklin-Township-Area-Historical-Society-of-Minnesota/137730329626013
Enjoy the day!