Friday, December 1, was World Aids Day. This weblog was unavailable then.
View From the Heart, Alwin Hawkins excellent weblog, turns a year old today. Alwin does a wonderful job of mixing links with anecdotes and stories from his life, and I’m happy to see him reach this milestone. Today he tells us it’s all been worthwhile.
It’s been all about food. The last two weeks, that is. It all started with Thanksgiving, which my girlfriend and I spent at the home of some mutual friends. The very same friends that introduced the two of us and became responsible for my current euphoric state. My friends were cooking all the traditional Thanksgiving foods, and then some. I was in charge of dessert and wine. I made three cheesecakes: pumpkin, of course, along with chocolate caramel pecan and apple caramel sundae. I made them all from scratch, including the caramel, but stopped short (this time) of making the cream cheese. Wine was a few bottles of the very tasty Beaujolais Nouveau and some white port from Mount Pleasant Winery in Missouri. It was a fantabulous night.
Then I had to cook for a lot of people. The theater group I do most of my work with has an opening night reception for each play it puts on. Usually it’s finger food things, fruits and cheeses and the like. I was doing the reception this time, and the play seemed to call for more. It’s called Dearly Departed, and it’s a comedic look at a southern “white trash” family dealing with the loss of their patriarch. Finger foods were right out — I had to do a full southern style pot luck. So I cooked for about a hundred people, using every pot and pan I had (some of them three times). Fried Chicken, macaroni and cheese, okra, hush puppies, banana pudding, fruit salad, deviled eggs, punch, cookies, peanut brittle. I used my two volumes of the White Trash Cookbooks (despite the titles, they are really very good, very informative books — highly recommended) heavily in choosing just the right recipes. The reception was Friday, and it went very well. But Saturday I faced a trashed kitchen.
I cleaned as best I could, for Sunday was another day of cooking. What was envisioned as a post-Thankgiving Thanksgiving meal, it was scaled down to include just me, my girlfriend, and my excellent friend Kim. Longtime readers and people who know me might recognize the oddity in that, but it was really very nice. My kitchen was still half-trashed, but I forged ahead and baked a ham (and then glazed it), made cornbread stuffing, mixed vegetables, baked sweet potatoes, and the most wonderful Cornish game hens I’ve ever had. I followed a recipe for the Chinese delicacy Tea Smoked Duck, adapted for Cornish hens. Though a bit involved, the cooking was very easy. A rubbed marinade, steaming in the wok, and smoking in the wok. Instead of wood chips, the smoking agent is black tea (I used Lapsang Souchong), uncooked rice, peppercorns, brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, and anise. Someone once told me that this dish was best left for the restaurants, as the smoke would stench up the house for many days afterward. But I lined the wok with foil and wrapped the overhang around the lid, sealing in all the smoke. And that did the trick. And the taste was out of this world.
So now my kitchen’s a disaster again. Luckily, I can live off leftovers for a few days, because it’ll take a few days before I can really shine the place. I’ve got auditions tonight and tomorrow for the next play I’m directing, Christopher Durang’s wickedly funny Baby With the Bathwater, opening next February 2.
Well, it hasn’t been all about the food. In other news of the weekend, the events set in motion on Day Zero have led to my kindred spirit becoming my kindred housemate.