Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Winter Mornings, Subtle Distinctions, Soufflé.


"Delight in diligence / Watch over your mind"
I come to write here for a number of reasons today. The first few are predictable. They have to do with my love of words, my passion for feeding myself and others, my fascination with the science and mystery of food, and the joy in feeling  -even if briefly- connected to like-hearted wanderers in the vast unknown freeways of this virtual world. But a little further down the list, hiding timidly behind other reasons, is an equally important one that I feel I should explore: put simply, it is a need to get my hands back into something I know I have done successfully in the past. I wrote that last sentence and paused to look at it. My mind wanders.

Another writing project has been weighing somewhat heavily on my heart and mind for some time now, it is no secret. My master's thesis has been testing my strength and ability and passion; it's true. But for a moment last night while I lay in bed, in that gentle and brief time between thought and sleep, I wondered if I have let the insecurities and doubts of my academic self penetrate the rest of me. The mind needs attention -as strange as that sounds- not to let one thing bleed into another.

I feel a bit more tentative, a bit more apologetic these days and I don't like it. This morning while I was drinking my coffee and looking out at the muffled, snow covered street, I thought about these fine and delicate separations: between prudent and afraid, pensive and withdrawn, ambitious and self-deprecating. I've decided to to pay more attention to these subtle distinctions, as they almost seem to prevail much more in my life than those stark dichotomies that are easier to notice. They seem just as important, if not more. After all, the difference between luscious whipped cream and butter lies in only a few extra shakes.


The recipe I am attaching to this post is here because it is the breakfast I make myself on such slow and introspective mornings when I have the luxury to spend time in my favorite room in the house and cook and eat and think in the blue light. Also because anyone who has tried to make a good soufflé appreciates the importance of recognizing the fine line between perfectly enough, and too much. The same action that assures the airy height of a soufflé, in excess, can cause it's downfall. The cook needs no special skill or equipment, but only to pay close and loving attention.

Pineapple Soufflé
(for two)

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
100g pineapple juice
50g finely chopped pineapple flesh
4 eggs (separated)
2tsp caster sugar
butter and sugar for ramekins
icing sugar for garnish

Preheat the oven to 175/350 degrees

Prepare two medium ramekins by spreading butter and sprinkling sugar on the insides.

Melt butter over medium heat and add flour and stir for a minute. Do not brown the flour. Add juice and pineapple flesh and stir for a few minutes letting small bubbles form. Remove from heat and add egg yolks, whisking them in one by one. Add sugar and whisk until smooth. Leave off heat to cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile beat egg whites with a dash of caster sugar until stiff peaks form but not more. Over-beating the egg whites will reduce their ability to lift the soufflé.

Fold egg whites into the pineapple mixture in three additions. Make sure to do this in a large enough bowl. The first addition should be mixed thoroughly to lighten the colour and consistency of the batter. The next two additions should be gently folded to leave white streaks, using a spatula. Over-mixing at this stage will be to your detriment. Trust yourself to do it in a few strokes and resist over-doing.      

Fill ramekins almost to the rim, but not quite.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the soufflé has doubled in height and is beginning to gain some colour on the edges.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.   


        

15 comments:

  1. You are the queen of fine lines, my friend. xo, Sarah.

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  2. You remind me of many feelings I had while in graduate school. Sometimes I look back and think I gave so much of myself during that time it weakened me. But it was temporary and I learned a lot. Simply pausing and reflecting is always helpful. And a beautiful pineapple soufflé is sure to make any day feel sunnier.

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    1. Denise:
      It's hard to explain how much comfort your short message brought to my heart. I hope I can calmly look back and reflect on my experience soon, as you do. Lovely to hear from you, as always. -mb

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  3. How much I enjoyed reading this! So much. So much so that I will read it again. Glad you are finding time to whisk, beat and watch attentively - it matters. Rx

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    1. Oh and it matters so much. So much in fact that I think we should all make time. You, of course, know all about making time even it seems there is not a whole lot of it at hand. thanks for stopping by for a read, Rachel. xom.

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  4. I haven't visited your blog in forever. . Love your writing.
    This post summarizes every single feeling I had while working on my Master's thesis last year. Somewhere along the line I just lost focus and writing/researching became an almost hateful task ... but once I was back in the swing of it (with a looming, final, deadline ahead - I must add) I remembered how much I love research and how fulfilling it is to write. I kind of missed it after it was all over. Crazy, yeah? Soon this is over and then you'll look back and think - wow, I really did it. You'll see.

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    1. Oh I know exactly the feeling. Just yesterday, while carrying back a stack of books that came up to my nose I realized how in love I am, still, with reading and writing and learning. I made a mental note to tell you that it reminded me of you comment here... You are so sweet for sharing. I hope I can write the "I really did it" post soon :)

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  5. Every phase of life has its own set of trials and tribulations. Like they say, what doesn't kill you can only make you stronger. But its interesting that you spend so much time trying to unravel what you are feeling at this moment. I can recognize some of those feelings and resonate quite audibly in my head too. It would not be wrong to say that I am going through one such contemplative phases of life right now.
    The souffle is perfection.

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    1. Well, Anita, what can I say? I can't master life, but a souffle... well I could try. I think much good can come of contemplation, so long as I can teach myself not to let it take over my ability to still continue and try and do... I hope your contemplative phase yields all of the positive things it can and does not interfere with all of the magic you make :)

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  6. I found your blog through Emiko Davies' and I just wanted to say that I'm glad I did. I really appreciate this post, especially since, like you, I find myself bogged down by an academic writing project (my dissertation). It's tough and slow going, but you're so right when you say that it's best not to let one self penetrate the rest of us. As I'm sitting here in my office on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I'll try to take your words to heart and, when the door closes behind me, maybe I'll leave my academic, dissertating-self behind for the evening.

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    1. I'm so excited to now have found yours! I find it so heart-warming to know there's another cooker of food and studier of literature out there staring out of a window :) We are... lets's just say not a lot of people can connect Tolstoy and Waffles in under ten thoughts :)

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  7. Your writing is like a hook on the wall, Mina. When the mind wanders, it's often that I find myself here, hanging up my things and sitting down to read. Beautiful.

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    1. Pia you are so sweet. This comment really warmed my heart. Hang up your coat and stay as long as you like.

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