Have you ever…
1) Wanted to smell the roses…..but it was raining..?
2) Wanted to lay out in the sun…..but it was raining..?
3) Wanted to go to the ballgame…..but it was raining..?
4) Substitute here any other outdoor thing in which you are interested…..but it was STILL raining.
In my recent analytical style of self-introspection (yes, I realize that “self-introspection” is redundant–I could have said “self-observation” or “self-evaluation”, but I just like the sound of “self-introspection,” so sue me…), I have discovered a possible cure for these blues, and blahs. Did you know that cooking feeds the soul? Did you know that ——- allows us to escape the reality of our poor misbegotten lives? And ——- ?? Did you know that ——- reinforces our memory? Which is a good thing as long as you are aware of this particular idiosyncrasy and welcome it. I mean, you know, repressed memories and all that… Anyway, it’s true. It’s all true.
Ambrosia, Nectar of the….Common Folk??…
I am basically an outdoorsman at heart. I well remember when I was growing up dreaming of adventure in far off lands and exploring the woods and hills of nearby “wild places.” I am still that same person. However, there are still some indoor things that occupy my interest as well. The first of which is food. That’s right, food. And the proper and skilled preparation thereof. I exhibit no hesitancy in saying that I enjoy good food and I enjoy preparing it. I consider myself to be somewhat skilled in the kitchen and willing and able to prepare meals for anyone who risks trespass into my domain. I started cooking when I was about ten years old I guess…through necessity of course. But it is only in the last fifteen years or so that I have started to take it seriously. I study the science and practice the art….
That really is the truth, so what happened a few days ago caused more than just a little consternation on my part. I was preparing a little something for a couple of folks, when I realized that I really could use a dessert of some sort. Well, lets back up a minute…..I started my prep work the evening prior. I prepped a pork loin and set up a mild brine, peeled and prepped three nice apples for applesauce, prepped some potatoes and soaked to wash away some starch, and prepped and lightly blanched some green beans for a quick sauté. Everything went swimmingly. The following day while finishing up the pan sauce for the pork, and toasting some sesame seed for the green beans, the realization hit me. Dessert..! No dessert.!!! Oh, crap….What to do?
Well, as you, gentle reader, have come to know (maybe..???), I am nothing if not nimble. Or as one of my readers was recently want to say, “I forgot.! You are a Thoughtful poster.” (the sarcasm was not lost on me…). I had in my possession a few almost ripe peaches and some French Vanilla ice cream; so I said to myself, I said “Self,” “Problem solved.!” Quickly blanching the peaches and slipping the peels, and pitting them required only moments. I started a light syrup and softened the peaches in the syrup for about four or five minutes. Like I said, they were just a little on the hard side. Setting them aside in the cold box to chill, I started to build a sauce for a topping. Here is where things started to go awry. I planned a caramel-like sauce, only different. I loved the flavors of peaches and bourbon together. I also wanted a clearer sauce, a little more transparent. The only way I could accomplish that was to clarify the butter first, and leave out the cream. So, here are the steps: First, reduce the peach simple syrup some as a base ingredient. I wanted to retain the peach flavor. In a separate pan, I clarified the butter, then added raw sugar. I like raw sugar both for its taste and color. I added a little honey and peach nectar for flavor. I then added the reduced peach simple syrup, and continued cooking/reducing. The color was right.! I had it made.! Well, maybe not…….
The observant among you will realize that my “sauce” mixture was sadly lacking in one base ingredient, the fats and solids that the cream normally adds to a sauce. I knew I would have to be careful with it. I cooked it down slowly, stirring and watching. Never even considering the temperature of the almost pure sugar “sauce,” I added the bourbon and burned off the alcohol. The consistency was good. The taste was almost spectacular.
So, what went wrong? Who among you would like to venture a guess? Who would like to be the first to tell the world how stupid I was? I have given you all the hints you need. Go ahead, serve me up another dish of humble pie!! Answer……later.