Monday, July 10, 2006

kitchen adventures

There is a happiness too private, too special, to be shared. Just know that I feel it, that I am in it, and I am so grateful. It is better than I ever dreamed. It is exactly as I dreamed.

Friend Laurel has asked about adventures, and fellow Ohioan Aimee has asked about a cherry pie recipe. Those requests can be combined, as some of my adventures this summer are kitchen adventures. I am a nervous cook, and realized why only recently: I never make the same thing twice. Who knows what’s going to come out of that oven: tomato gratin, venison with cherries, avocado soup (that came from hell, not the oven), whatever was on the cover of the food and wine magazines I read on the porch, turning the corners down, glossing over the prep times.

Baking I return to. Deserts don’t let you down. Except…baking butterscotch oatmeal cookies for the housewarming party the first week in the San Francisco apartment—a recipe done at least six times, but never in an electric oven, too cool, too dark, too shadowy. A borrowed cookie sheet. The dough mixed up in a pot. The cookies came out like fright masks, big, burnt nuclei, spotted with solid chips.

How a recipe turns out seems to be indicative of how I feel when I’m stirring. The shrimp tacos for my three best friends in grad school—perfect. The eggplant for the potluck at my grad school professor’s house—not so much.

I’m still working on a cherry pie recipe. I suspect it should involve cinnamon, but in the meantime, here is a Cherry Crisp. Make this for your true love.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the following in a bowl and pour into a baking dish:

* 2 cups pitted, fresh sour cherries
* 3/4 cup sugar (okay, I used a little more than that)
* 3 tablespoons flour (rye flour gives a nice texture)

Combine the following in a bowl, cutting in the butter until it’s all crumbled, and sprinkle over the cherries:

* 3/4 cup flour
* 1/2 cup oatmeal
* 1/4 cup cold butter (okay, I used more than that)

Measurements are approximate because I don’t use them very well. Bake for 45 minutes, or until it’s golden and bubbly and you can’t stand it anymore. Try in a little bowl with cream, very cold from the fridge. Make sure you are barefoot and have the windows open and share the spoon.