Saturday, March 12, 2011

Marble Snob

So I have been called a cake snob for years by friends.  I've also been accused of raising cake snobs.  That is all part of the cake scraps story that I will tell someday.

But for today, I am here to confess that I am now a marble snob.  It's true.

My parents had a marble slab that my father bought for my mother years ago to assist with peanut brittle making.  Someday I will blog about making my mother's peanut brittle.  But while the marble slab was beautiful, my mother was used to pouring up the piping hot peanut brittle on her very well buttered counter top so she never fully adopted the marble slab idea.  And let's face it.  It is HEAVY, and my little ol' mama couldn't lift the thing.  And somehow, I ended up with it.  My brother and sister should both probably sue me for it, because it wasn't specifically called out in the will that I should inherit it, but so far mum's the word.

However I haven't used the marble slab but maybe once or twice.  Because let's face it.  It is HEAVY.  And my house had so many other things in it, and when I would make pastry I was usually in such a hurry, I didn't bother to locate it and bring it out.  (You can say it.  I may be somewhat like my mother.) 

But now that my house has been significantly decluttered due to the various remodeling activities, the marble slab is in an accessible, although not prominent, location.  Nice, huh?

But there is more to the story.  I am sure that I will mention Helen Fletcher a few times, or a few hundred times in the blog if I keep this up for any length of time.  Her cookbook, written 25 years ago called The New Pastry Cookbook, changed my life.  It's the only cookbook that I can say that about, but this one did.  I had the privelege of seeing her when the book first came out, so I have a signed copy.  And then I got to see her again just last week at The Kitchen Conservatory where she was making brioche, croissants and puff pastry.  And she was using a marble rolling pin.

Now I've seen marble rolling pins before and thought about them but never splurged on one.  But after seeing Helen use the one at class and praising it's superiority for rich doughs, and since I knew where my marble slab was, I busted the budget and bought one.

And oh my.  Wow.  I am one spoiled brat now.  I am having the family over tomorrow for dinner, and I'm all inspired to make pastry, so I'm making croissants, and some white chocolate pithiviers, and I just finished rolling out the croissant dough and I'm half way through the puff pastry dough, but the difference is really there between rolling on the counter with a wooden rolling pin and on the marble slab with a marble rolling pin.  I am not worn out.  The marble surfaces glide over the dough and it retains the cold temperature needed better.  I can honestly say that if given a choice, I will never go back.

Now having said that, I'm not dealing with devastation from an 8.9 earthquake or tsunami.  Or even the after math of a hurricane or a tornado, so I have the luxury today to be a marble snob.  That may not last.  This life is totally unpredictable, and I'm truly not in control.  But for today when I live in the relative lap of luxury as compared to 80% of the world's population, I am making pastry.  And I'm doing it on a marble slab with a marble rolling pin.

My name is Deb.  And I am a marble snob.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I am confident

This is the first post in a series of blogs that will form a complete thought.  No rush to finish, and hopefully it will make sense when it's all said and done.  And I have other blog ideas that I will intersperse (had to check for the spelling on that one!) here and there such as "cake scraps" and "aspic" but more on those later.

This one is on the phrase, "I am confident."  It's an intriguing idea really.  It's an emphatic statement.  There is no question mark implied at the end.  It's a statement - a statement of identity to be exact, as in confidence is a state of being strong enough that one can claim an identity as confident.  Crazy.  Outrageous as a matter of fact.  How bold!  How audacious!  And yet it can also be said quietly.  In fact it holds more meaning, it holds more purpose, it holds more weight when it is said quietly.

Or when it is said through great pain.

Or when it is said despite fear.

Or when it is said after a catastrophe.  When despair is the logic response.

So does it apply to me?  Most of the time I am conscious of being nervous.  Like now, for example.  This weekend we go live with a project at work that I've been working on for over a year, and in some circles it has come to be known as "that thing Deb is working on."  And by some circles I mean senior executives.  I feel like we have tested this well and are prepared, but I'm still nervous. 

And that's just one example of being nervous.  I can name many others.  Like all of the beautiful work that has recently been done on my house.  I LOVE the results, but I'm nervous that it won't last, that it will all go away without warning.  I'm nervous about auditioning to sing with a choir.  I'm nervous to even show people this blog.

I am well acquainted with nerves.  We go way back.  I was one of those kids with a "nervous stomach" as they called it back then.  I wasn't given any drugs for it back then; back then we were tough and just lived with it!  (Insert Tim Allen "arrgh!" grunt here!)

But am I well acquainted with confidence? 

If confidence means moving ahead in spite of the nerves, then I may be able to say, "I am confident." 

If confidence means taking the medicine despite the pain, then I may be able to say, "I am confident."

If confidence means going forward with the project regardless of the fear, then I may be able to say, "I am confident."

If confidence means keeping on keeping on even though everything is a disaster around me, then I may be able to say, "I am confident."

If confidence means doing the right thing by my kids because it's the right thing even when I didn't feel like doing the right then, then I may be able to say, "I am confident."

If confidence means going to the house to see about my father's deceased body despite the hospice worker's freak out over the phone, then I may be able to say, "I am confident."  (Maybe I'll tell that story sometime...)

If confident means clicking the "Publish Post' button below, then I may be able to say, "I am confident."

Or I could be trying to convince myself.  Or deciding to "be" confident even when I don't feel it.

Or maybe, just maybe, I am confident.  Question mark????