16 December, 2008

brisket drama

The brisket.

Remember, the enormous slab of beef that I marinated in the controlled substance and all sorts of peppercorns and juniper and eye of newt and whatever else? I have massaged the beef every day, and I must report a rather eerie development of its substance. It went from a rather flabby, large red piece of meat to, over the course of ten days in its marinade, a much more compact, flatter, dark piece of meat. Interesting. Well, the day of judgment is nearly here. Today I took it out of its marinade, washed it off, place it in a nice watery bath and clapped the lid of the pot on tight, and cooked it low for three hours. Now it's cooled off, and been placed on a plate with another plate and two cans of haricot beans, one can of lentils and one can of peeled plum tomatoes on top. I know it may not seem relevant to specify the contents of these cans, but lately I am taking recipe writing very, very seriously.

Tomorrow, then, my good friend and culinary victim/guest Annie and her family are coming to sample this beef, and to complement the beef/rescue the dinner if the beef is horrible, my mentor Orlando's straw potatoes in goose fat. Plus red cabbage and fennel slaw, and some rocket salad, I think, plus I had better come up with a dessert in case the the beef is... really bad.

In the meantime, let's see, I've been devoted to the Christmas card list, and to putting finishing touches on the Christmas tree decorations. I admit it: now that Avery's old enough to care about the traditions and the stories behind all the ornaments, she has the temerity to ask to hang some of them herself. And as the kind of nasty mother who doesn't really want to share her kitchen with her child, I feel I should at least let her share in the hanging of ornaments. But... secret of secrets... once she's asleep I... rehang them. Isn't that awful. And she lets me, and never seems to mind seeing that this or that angel or silver ball has mysteriously moved place in the night. That is the sort of real-life angel she is.

The tree is just lovely, this year, and having a tree in the kitchen is perfect for me, since I spend all day in there anyway. If you look closely at this photograph, you can see on the far right a figure that hung from my baby mobile that, in her typically generous way my mother let me have, and down low a red bow that I bought for my first married Christmas 19 years ago, and the two pumpkins small and large that my mother in law gave me, and the gift-toting fairy that appeared in Avery's advent calendar this morning.

I also just reread "The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming," by Lemony Snicket, a gift from my best friend Alyssa two Christmases ago. Do not, repeat do NOT attempt to read this book if your child or a houseguest is trying to sleep nearby. "Nearly everything in this world is born screaming, and the latke was no exception, even though the latke wasn't conceived and born in the way you and I were conceived and born, but instead was fashioned from grated potatoes, chopped onion, beaten eggs and dash or two of salt. Once these ingredients were properly mixed, the latke was slepped into a pan full of olive oil heated to a very high temperature, and this is when it began to scream. AAAAHHHHHHH!"

Report on brisket tomorrow evening... unless it's bad and then I might just keep it to myself... especially since Alyssa reported by text to me that she was picking up her brisket in New York at Whole Foods, and when I think of her delectable brisket I just want to lie down and wish I'd never thought of trying some bizarre European version of my own. Involving high explosives, no less. We'll see.

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