Friday, April 24, 2009

Know Her Too.

I've been afraid to tell you about Molly Wizenberg because I worried you would leave me for her. Irrational, I hope. Then I thought, maybe if I give you a delicious recipe and then reveal her to you that you would trust me and stick around. I don't have much of a sweet tooth so a desert is not part of my manipulative plan, but I do love cheese. With high hopes, I present this creme spinach on sourdough bread to you with the prayer it will tantalize you into keeping me. (It is a lot tastier than it looks, I promise.)

Molly Wizenberg is a huge source of inspiration for me. She's a phenomenal writer, an imaginative cook and has a tear inducing life story. I feel like my life has paralleled hers in many ways. I look up to her like a little sister even though we have never met. As timid as I am about this introduction, I feel you need to get to know her too. Her blog, Orangette, is fascinating and endlessly popular. Her book, "A Homemade Life" is a perfect read, chock full of fun, sweet and exciting recipes.

But it is her story that made my heart stop. I'd like to share the synopsis of her book:

When Molly Wizenberg's father died of cancer, everyone told her to go easy on herself, to hold off on making any major decisions for a while. But when she tried going back to her apartment in Seattle and returning to graduate school, she knew it wasn't possible to resume life as though nothing had happened. So she went to Paris, a city that held vivid memories of a childhood trip with her father, of early morning walks on the cobbled streets of the Latin Quarter and the taste of her first pain au chocolat. She was supposed to be doing research for her dissertation, but more often, she found herself peering through the windows of chocolate shops, trekking across town to try a new p√Ętisserie, or tasting cheeses at outdoor markets, until one evening when she sat in the Luxembourg Gardens reading cookbooks until it was too dark to see, she realized that her heart was not in her studies but in the kitchen.

In A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, Molly Wizenberg recounts a life with the kitchen at its center. From her mother's pound cake, a staple of summer picnics during her childhood in Oklahoma, to the eggs she cooked for her father during the weeks before his death, food and memories are intimately entwined. You won't be able to decide whether to curl up and sink into the story or to head straight to the market to fill your basket with ingredients for Cider-Glazed Salmon and Pistachio Cake with Honeyed Apricots.
My story isn't quite so glamorous as Molly's but there are some similarities. I took a break from school to care for my father who was also diagnosed with cancer. This was my first time cooking for a loved one, and it was hard. After he passed away, I couldn't bring myself to go back.

I wasn't in Paris, nor do I know much about chocolate (um...I like eating it) but the experience opened a window through which I fell in love and married my dear husband. Now I am learning to enjoy the pleasure of cooking my very best for a loved one again. Making meals that bring delight and writing about them in a sincere, heartfelt capacity has been so enjoyable for me. I am so glad to know there is someone out in the world that feels the same way. I am happy to share her with you. That's what this is all about (sharing). My only hope is, after you meet her, that you'll still come to see me from time to time.

Better-Than-It-Looks Creme Spinach

This recipe is a very fast and an easy way to knock out some spinach, Popeye-style, even though it's not canned spinach. The concept is nothing new but the flavor is surprising and original. Best served poured over a sliced sourdough baguette and toasted at 350 for 10-12 minutes, or until crisp.

1 lb. fresh spinach
4 oz. creme fraiche

2/3 cup milk (whole works best but 2% is ok)
1 tablespoon kosher salt

a few grinds of fresh pepper
3 tablespoons flour

olive oil (as needed) or butter
water (as needed)
1 sourdough baguette
1 clove garlic, crushed
parmesan or mozzarella (as you like it)

In a large pot, bring water to a boil (any amount of water is OK). When boiling, dunk in fresh spinach and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from boiling water and drain, then let rest.

In a large saucepan over medium low heat, heat a generous coating of olive oil (or melt butter). Add creme fraiche and stir until it melts. Pour in milk and whisk together until smooth. Then add flour, salt, pepper and garlic whisking as you go. Add spinach and let rest on low heat. Taste your sauce. If it is too potent, dilute with small amounts of water at a time. Add more salt or pepper (or garlic) to suit your tastes. *You should only be able to detect a hint of olive oil, or maybe none at all.

Slice baguette in half and half the halves. Pour spinach sauce over bread. If you're feeling frisky, grate parmesan or mozarella (or your favorite cheese) lightly over the spinach. Toast until crisp, about 10-12 minutes. Serve.

This recipe would serve 4 people generously (2 slices each) or 8 people modestly (1 slice each).

*Also, this recipe is your recipe too. You can tweak it according to your palate and improvise as you go.

Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

me melodia said...

This looks great.
Nice blog.

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