Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Meme: The Cook Next Door!

Been tagged by The Baker of She Bakes and She Cooks for this meme started by Nicky of Delicious Days . Here goes...

What is your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?
As a child, I looked forward not so much to Lunar New Year itself, but the weeks that preceded it, the flurry of activity in the kitchen as my granny prepared all manner of treats for the impending festivities. The biggest production of all being her pineapple tarts, which she made in the hundreds to give away to friends and family. One year, when I was about eight or nine, she decided to promote me from pineapple grating to stirring the cauldron of boiling fruit pulp. Largely unsupervised (well, actually, she was standing in a far corner of the kitchen watching me like a hawk), little chest puffed with pride, I stood on a stool next to the stove, engulfed in wafts of cinnamon-scented steam, as I maneuvered the spatula. This became increasingly tricky as the pineapple jam got progressively thicker and stickier. I could barely lift my arms for two days after that.

Who had the most influence on your cooking?
My granny. Like many women of her generation, she believes that the only way is the hard way. For sure, if she can peel, mince, and pound it by hand - from rempah (curry paste) to sambal to salted bean sauces for stir-frying - it'll never come from a shop-bought jar. And at well over 80, she remains just about the most curious cook I know - when the family eats out, you can see her silently speculating how to replicate a particular dish as she's tasting it for the first time, or not so silently as she interrogates the waitress about some elusive taste she can't quite place.

Do you have an old photo as “evidence” of an early exposure to the culinary world and would you like to share it?
I would proffer and take a picture of my chocolate-stained baby pillow, which I clung to right into my pre-adolescence, except my mum tossed it out one day when I was at school. I don't think I ever got over it.

Mageiricophobia - do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?
I am fascinated by le pain au levain naturel, or naturally leavened bread. I have attempted to grow my own le chef, or wild yeast starter, twice. And until I get round to acquiring a climate-controlled proof box, I am very unlikely to attempt it again. The first time, I was tardy about my feeding schedule, thus causing my starter to angrily mutate into a vile sour sludge from malnourishment. The second, I was overzealous with feeding, thus waking up one morning to an overflowing monstrosity worthy of a cameo on Swamp Thing.

What would be your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest letdown?
I love my KitchenAid for taking the elbow grease out of tasks like whipping egg whites and kneading sticky doughs like brioche. Pots and pans wise, I probably couldn't live without my enamelled cast iron Le Creuset dutch oven and my E.Dehillerin stainless steel-lined copper sauteuse. And the white elephant in my kitchen is the handsome, heavy and well-crafted Bron mandolin. Restaurant kitchen workhorse that it may be, the small amount of grating and slicing performed in my galley of a kitchen - easily achieved with, say, a Kyocera ceramic slicer - simply does not justify the Bron's cumbersome presence. Plus it's a real bore to clean.

Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like - and probably no one else!
Spooning Nutella straight out of the jar and into my mouth. The whole jar. And more precisely, Nutella that's been taken out of the fridge 45 minutes earlier so it reaches the perfect consistency - slightly firm round the edges, wonderfully gooey within. Same goes for condensed milk (this I eat fridge cold) and smooth, not chunky, peanut butter (30 minute wait from fridge, this) - neat from the jar, no accompaniment whatsoever needed or wanted.

What are the three eatables or dishes you simply don’t want to live without?
O-toro, or fatty tuna belly; a ripe, swollen, buttery soft Epoisse; Valrhona Manjari chocolate.

Three quickies:
Your favorite ice-cream…
Rocombe's Madagascan Vanilla Organic Ice Cream from Devon, UK. Berthillon's Chocolat Amer from Paris. Il Gelato di San Crispino's Wild Honey gelato from Rome.
You will probably never eat… Reptiles and insects, by which I do not mean to denigrate the many cultures that find them to be delicious and excellent sources of nutritional value...
Your own signature dish…An omelette, made with three eggs and filled with molten gruyere.

And last but not least: Tag three people!
I am tagging Chubby Hubby (which is, technically speaking, 2 sets of responses. S: would love to know your answers too...), McAuliflower at Brownie Points, and Rachael of Fresh Approach Cooking.

8 Comments:

Blogger Rachael said...

Why thank you for the tag, I am excited to play along.

And by the way, your responses have me dizzy with wonderment. Your writing makes me hungry and smile ear to ear. What a terrific meme!

-Rachael

9:16 am, June 29, 2005  
Blogger Chubby Hubby said...

Thanks J. Will surely not be as eloquent as you (me, that is, S will of course probably rise to the occasion) but will do my best. Now to see if I can find any pix of me as a greedy child.

9:59 am, June 29, 2005  
Blogger Chubby Hubby said...

By the way, Joone also tagged you for the Cookbook meme. I can't wait to read your post on that.

10:02 am, June 29, 2005  
Blogger J said...

hi rachael, can't wait to read your post...

hi chubbyhubby, looking forward! thanks for alert...it's a tough one to fill out. first of all, gotta count those books ;p

1:23 pm, June 29, 2005  
Blogger Rachael said...

Im scared of that meme! If I answer anything other than "my mother" for "greatest influence," she will have my neck. She was only my greatest influence by influencing me to learn to cook and learn FAST. LOL

9:14 am, June 30, 2005  
Blogger J said...

uh-oh...very tricksy...same goes for my granny (the having my neck part, i mean). fortunately for me, she was a fabulous teacher in many other regards too...good luck...

9:45 am, June 30, 2005  
Blogger Caracola said...

jajajaja J!! i see i am not the only one who takes nutell astraight from the jar with spoon leh!! and i do the same with condensing milk....scweet and lurve it like nutella! i am a sweet one...what can i do!! take care!! ;-)

4:35 am, July 04, 2005  
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5:53 pm, October 18, 2005  

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