Monday, September 27, 2010

Does this make me a morning person?

It is 5:40am, and I have just slid one of the apple pies I was supposed to bake yesterday into the oven.  I was home and could have done it last night, but I was mentally exhausted.  I wasn't particularly physically exhausted, but I was mentally at my end.  So I went to bed and got up early this morning to bake an apple pie. 

Does that make me a morning person or just really stinkin' sleep deprived?

Ah the big questions of life.  One may never know.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things...

I'm hungry and food is on my mind.  I need to bake two apple pies today.  I also have some leftover corn bread, so I plan to make stuffing to go with baked chicken and mashed potatoes later today. 

I think all of those things are a few of my favorite things.

But here are a few more.  Fresh baked bread and rolls.  Even just having yeast dough rising quietly but so full of potential in my kitchen.  The possibilities...oh...the possibilities! 

Cheese.  More possibilities.  Especially if there are blue veins running innocently throughout, holding such promise for bite and to make my mouth sing.

Cake.  So whimsical.  Who doesn't smile when a cake is around?  And if they don't, well, chances are they are in big need of a smile.  So maybe a cupcake or a cake pop would do the trick.  But back to the whimsy.  Fragile, delicate, sweet crumbs held together with fillings and frosting and hidden architecture to take on the appearance of things much sturdier or living or louder.  But most importantly - taking on the appearance of things celebratory.  Celebrating a person's life and living.  What a glorious thing!  All from the humble yet tricky beginnings of a piece of cake.

The smell of onion and celery sauteing together in butter when I make that cornbread stuffing.  It is a smell I remember from the night before Thanksgiving, when my mother would be preparing the stuffing.  I would be at the table, crumbling up the cornbread, and she would be stirring the onion and celery.  The smell takes me back every time, and it makes me smile and cry all at the same time.  I miss her.

The feel of the cornbread in my fingers.  Cooking is such a sensual combination of sight, smell, sound, touch long before we ever get to the taste.  Or well, while we are getting to the taste part.

Julia Child.  Alton Brown.  Jeff Smith (better known as the Frugal Gourmet).  Fanny Farmer.  I love me some good entreperneurial pioneer spirit, and each of these are or were cooking pioneers in their own way.

My Sisterhood.  For almost two years now, we have gotten together about once a month to cook.  We've done croissants, chocolate souffle, duck al 'orange, Julia's boeuf, some of the most amazing breads you could ever want to pull out of your own oven and pop into your mouth, garlic night, pizza night.  I think the only common denominator to all of the events has been wine.  Even on pizza night when we paired beer with the different pizzas, wine was still at the ready.  As of this writing, we are planning to host a tea in the near future that we hope many of our friends will attend so we can all indulge in tea and scone tasting.  And champagne!

Pastry.  Such a combination of chemistry and art.  Much of cooking can be described as such, but it is truer in pastry than anywhere else.  Over-measuring flour.  Over-working dough.  Forgetting one ingredient.  All of these can be detrimental to the outcome, and the product will be completely unforgiving.  Developing delicate layers of dough and butter so that you achieve the maximum expansion in the oven.  Decorating with washes and sugars to entice the pallette and the eye.  These are the things that keep drawing me back to pastry over and over again.

I haven't mentioned "crisp apple streudels" (but I've come close!) or "schnitzel with noodles" (a taste treat I have never tried, but I need to!), but as I think of cooking for others, these are some of my favorite things.

Which brings me to my last point - others.  If nothing else, food is about bringing people together.  Cooking for others is one of my "love languages."  I want people to feel loved when they come to the table.  For if I have failed in that arena, no matter how gorgeous or tasty the culinary offerings may be, it will have all been for naught.  For people matter most.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Better Late than Never?

So if you are reading this, chances are that I've told you about this blog.  But I don't really have plans to tell people I'm doing this...not just yet anyway.  I want to explore what blogging is like first.  For example, I have no idea what I want to write about.  I love to talk with people about food.  I'm also one of those people who gets what it's like to go through really hard times, times that suck.  I'm also a mother of 4 adult "children" and a woman of faith.  My faith in God (and I mean the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit just so we're all clear how I define the name "God") is very important to me; I am a follower, but I don't have it all figured out by any stretch of the imagination.  My guess is that if I keep this up, readers will get a glimpse into my heart, which includes times of strong conviction coupled with doubts, times of joy coupled with grief, times of excitement coupled with doldrums, times of "too many words and not enough time" coupled with "I have nothing to say."  Such is my life.  And that barely scratches the surface of what is on my mind.

Let's start with the name of my blog - Jus' Deb's Dissertations.  I have a tendency to write lengthy, detailed emails at work that I have called Deb Dissertations for years.  I don't set out to intentionally write lengthy, detailed emails.  It just happens, because by the time I've done my best to explain the issues and the actions that are needed, I realize how long the email is and that most people won't read them.  But hey, my dad trained me to "CYA" so...maybe I just have a secret desire to be a lawyer....nah....

Now for the Jus' Deb part.  I don't mean anything deragatory about me, so please don't tell me about my low self-esteem...that "horrible" disease and problem of the last quarter century or so.

Seriously, don't lay it on me.  If you do, we won't be starting a conversation.  It's a boring one, and I have a whole lot more interesting things to talk about.

Instead I mean, it's jus' me. 

Something troubling you or you need to vent?  No sweat; let it out; it's Jus' Deb. 

Want to talk theology?  No sweat; we may need to grab a brew, but let's talk.  It's Jus' Deb. 

Want to get caught up?  Cool.  We probably only need to grab a cuppa tea, but it's all good.  It's Jus' Deb. 

Need prayer or to confess something.  I'm here.  I will do my best to be kind and gracious and not judge.  I know the sin of which I myself am capable.  I'm Jus' Deb.

I hope to learn about this blogging thing and find my voice.  If you hang with me, I hope it's a fun ride that is helpful and beneficial for both of us. 

Yep, my first post is a Deb Dissertation....a DD...sigh...