Thursday, March 18, 2010

Masochism: A pastry maker's tool of the trade

Buenas noches, mis amigos del Blog!

Or, in the beautiful language of English, what up homedogs?

Sadly, my blogging track-record of late remains astoundingly paltry. The demands of being the perfect wife cum (oh, there it is again!) genius graduate student and semi-motivated employee have begun to wear themselves upon me. Thus of course draining my motivation to pen lively blog entries.

After eating, sleeping and wedding planning, there remains precious little time for my beloved blogging friends. Out of sight, yet definitely not out of mind. You are loved, e-friends!

I do beg yet a thousand pardons, and kiss thy virtual feet in repentance.

Sadder still is the fact that I have been thinking about things to write about in my blog - a blog that thus far I have only one reader for. (ps. thank you, thank you, thank you! to the incredible and wonderful person who left me a comment! Special wet, sloppy kisses for your feet). I have resisted the urge to write these inklings down, not quite reaching that special level of nerdiness! Praise for me and my stupendous self restraint!

Yesterday while on the train to class, I was reading the newspaper and came across a very interesting article. And then I thought, "Hmm. Wouldn't that make good fodder for my newest blog?" Apparently not, because though I did save the article, when I returned home, there was marinara sauce all over it. As though the cosmos were reminding are one step away from Dungeons and Dragons."

And that was that.

Now that another "oh-god-what-am-I-doing-here" academic term is over and packed away for future braggery, I seem to have copious amounts of time to do things that I used to do, and like, that give me a glimmer of hope in the quest for restoring my pre-academic self. Like, for example, cooking.

I am nowhere near gourmet, and do not spend time boasting about my latest gastronomical feat. I will not, however, mince words (pardon the pun). Though unspoken, this boasting and outright shameless flattery is something required of Dear, Sainted Husband, and generally also required of others who wish to continue breathing.

Second portions are always required, whether he desires them or not. And I do anticipate at least one over-emphasized compliment at the end of each meal.  Something reflecting the grandiosity of my existence and my general sunshiny presence. You know, standard stuff.

I do like to preen, after all.

I do find it surprising though, that something I find so satisfying and calming is rife with stress. Each and every culinary venture ultimately resolves itself in a screaming match wherein, I either become despondent or the kind of diva that puts Madonna to shame.

Yes, I find the trick to a satisfying meal is to choose something astoundingly complex. Fighting inherent. The preparation directions in every recipe book on the planet should be edited to reflect something like the following:

"Prep time: 20 minutes to do the actual work, and 10 minutes to find the right knife.
"Cooking time: 1 hour and 10 minutes to administer First Aid after you burn yourself trying to pass each other in your impossibly small kitchen with bubbling pot in hand.
"Fighting time: 5-10 minutes, depending on the number of times you've prepared the recipe. Allow extra time for making up and kisses, depending on length of marriage/relationship.
"Total time: 2 hours"

It is our experience that fighting is the secret ingredient. It makes everything better. Just like butter, without the cellulite and the tell-tale shiny lips.

Consider last Saturday's Cinnamon Plum Tarte. It just sounds so good, doesn't it?

I found a gourmet cookbook at my local library while pointedly ignoring the prominently featured Can-lit section.

All was going smoothly. The dough was mixed, rolled into a ball and wrapped for chilling. Calm, zen, kissy faced, the picture of a perfect marriage. Just another sickening couple who finish each other's sentences and can stand each other enough to build a meal together.

Fast forward two hours and you have the following scene:

Dough looks more like raw cookies than pastry. Unruffled, I press on. According to the "simple visual instructions" (read: pictures), the dough "rolls out easily and with litte effort, making this a good beginner's pastry dough".

Is that so?

Well. Pardon me, Chef Interrupted, but that, madam, is a bald-faced lie.

Little effort, you say? Sure, if you're like, Ina Garten or Wolfgang (fucking) Puck! (Sorry, Mom).

The short version is this: if my floured counter top was a jailcell and I was a mean (yet lonely, misguided) cellmate, this "beginner's pastry dough" would have been my bitch. A delicious, cinnamon and ginger butter-infused bitch.

After deciding that I was not going to let this go, this thing would be perfect, and would look exactly like the picture, I got MAD. Actually like, flew into a psychotic rage.

Yes, even if it killed me. Every time I bring home a new recipe book, we both secretly wonder or not I wil be buried with it.

I can see the funeral now..."almonds to almonds and yeast to yeast...we commit this body to the oven for 45 minutes at 375 degrees, or until golden bubbly."

Ba - dum - ching!

Poor dear Saint Husband sat quietly by watching his beloved turn into the Hulk. Generally beating the shit (sorry, Mom) out of this poor pastry, making gutteral noises - "ugh, UGH"-ing followed by generally heinous, abusive personal favorite: "take that! How do you like that?"

Recollecting on the general scene of things, I suppose that had I been less sweaty, red-faced, generally pissed off, and swearing like a constipated ex-lax product tester, it could possibly been even a little sexy.

Post-pastry, I called fifty-six of my closest friends to brag about the absolute perfection of this pastry dough. Like I was the first person in the world to ever make a pastry.

Even now, I sit here, puffed up and boastful.

Obvious parallels to the male sexual experience need not be underscored here. They are evident in themselves.

Morley Safer once said that " you can never have enough garlic. With enough garlic, you can eat the New York Times".

Apparently, with enough swear words, you can also eat home made spiced pastry dough.