December 14, 2003

A public service announcement from PTMYB:  If you are brokenhearted in any way, for whatever reason; if you find yourself subject to December blues (or June blues, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere); if someone you love died this year and this is your first Christmas without them; if someone you love is going through something painful and your heart is bleeding at the pain they are in; in other words, if you are in even the slightest of emotional dire straits, do not, under any circumstances, watch Punch-Drunk Love.

You may already be one step ahead of me on this.  You may have already decided not to see it due to a loathing of Adam Sandler, or Paul Thomas Anderson.  You may have already seen it, and regretted it.  You may have already seen it and loved it, and since you are made of stronger stuff than I am, you are smart enough to know that it’s just a movie.  In that case, please feel free to skip ahead.  But if you are like me, if you haven’t seen Punch-Drunk Love and you are intrigued by the decent reviews Adam Sandler got for it, then please do watch it, as it is a fascinating movie and the entire cast acquits themselves well.  Just be sure that you are in the best emotional health you have ever been in, because Punch-Drunk Love is a painful movie to watch.  Adam Sandler is a jangle of exposed nerve endings in every single scene, roiling with self-consciousness, sadness and rage.  I haven’t been so exhausted by a movie since we received our Stanley Kubrick box set and had the bright idea to watch The Shining, A Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket on the same day.

If, like me, you did not take my advice and watched Punch-Drunk Love anyway, you will probably need some very specific music to cheer yourself up.  Some of the best-loved albums I own, beautiful music for a Sunday, I had to jettison today, lest I find myself headed back to bed for the rest of the day.  My beloved Magnetic Fields, usually correct for any occasion, I could not listen to them today, for fear that my heart would break all over again.  Flaming Lips, who never fail to put a smile on my face, today made me tear up.  Any beautiful plaintive voice, Neil Young singing “Helpless,” Dawn Upshaw singing “He Was Too Good For Me,” Rufus Wainwright singing “Beauty Mark,” Elisabeth Fraser singing “Aloysius,” Stacey Kent singing anything, no, no, no.  Maybe the solution is noise, I said to myself, and and broke out the KMFDM I usually play at the gym.  Nope.  In the end, embarrassing as it is to admit, the album that did the trick, the one who undid my Punch-Drunk Love damage, was The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death by the Housemartins.  Sometimes what you really need are mean, angry lyrics set to the jauntiest, poppiest music you can find.

Fortunately, we are eating well today.  We started the day with a hot cereal I’ve had my eye on for a while, a Mollie Katzen recipe for a Turkish breakfast called anooshavoor, in which you cook pearl barley in apple juice and top it with dried apricots and yogurt.  If I were living alone, I could easily eat it for three meals a day.  One of my dearest pals, a cook, eater and wine lover extraordinaire, sent me a recipe for a Greek stew called stifado, which I figured would be just the thing for a day filled with snow, rain and wind.  It was a lovely stew indeed, and I know it will be even better when we have the leftovers for dinner tomorrow.  And we have a good news/bad news/good news situation with the rice flour-cardamom shortbreads I baked off this afternoon.  The good news is that these cookies are some of the sexiest things I’ve ever made, buttery and sweet and loaded with cardamom, the official house spice of PTMYB, with a short, crispy, grainy, melting texture that makes my toes curl.  The bad news is that these are fragile beauties, and I can’t figure out how to mail them without their dissolving into the world’s best crumbs.  The other good news is that now Lloyd and I have a nice airtight Rubbermaid tub full of these cookies, and, heck, somebody has to eat them.  (evil grin) Okay, okay.  Anyone who can tell me how to mail these, there’s a fresh batch of them with your name on it.

Posted by Bakerina at 10:47 PM in stuff and nonsense • (1) Comments • (0) Trackbacks
December 13, 2003

Today I went to the farmer’s market and the health food store, as I do every Saturday, to pick up the various things for us to eat over the course of the week, as well as more supplies for this year’s procrastinated holiday bake.  At the farmer’s market I poked around looking for the guys who sell me my broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.  No luck; the season is over, time now to get my broccoli from California and South America, my cabbage from one of the other market guys.  Squash are still to be found, good ones, Hokkaido and Blue Hubbard and cheese pumpkins and my favorite, Delicatas, the sweetest, finest squash ever to hit the inside of a 500-degree roasting pan.  Tubers and root vegetables are still around, and plentiful:  turnips and rutabagas, somehow more delicious when you throw a lot of cream into them; celery root, which I use for making remoulade on Thanksgiving Day, wondering as I lick the plate clean why I don’t make it more often; potatoes in more flavors and hues than seem possible, including a pink-fleshed one labelled helpfully as “new potatoes $1.50”, which brings a deep buttery flavor to the frittata I will make with it; Brussels sprouts still attached to the stalk; carrots, carrots, carrots.  One stand has a bin of fat, muted, mottled carrots with a sign bearing the legend “Vole-Uptuous Carrots (Taste Tested by Voles!) $1.00/lb.” Since I believe in the Italian maxim that states if the bugs won’t eat your produce it’s no good, I buy a nice big bag of vole-uptuous carrots for my favorite beef stew, made with lean stewing meat, carrots, prunes, onions, flour seasoned with salt and mustard powder, and as much Guinness as it takes to cover the whole thing.

Today’s bake is a trial run for the big-deal holiday bake I will do next weekend, although if everything turns out nicely tomorrow, I may just send them out as gifts after all.  The general gift this year (for all but a few people, namely children, who like homemade caramels as much as the next person but tend to want something a little splashier to open up on Christmas) is an assortment of the jams I’ve put up through the year—cherry and almond, strawberry with mint and black pepper, strawberry with tarragon, dried California apricot with hazelnuts and brandy, rhubarb with apples and Gewurztraminer, greengage plum, damson plum—plus some rice flour shortbread from the new Alford/Duguid book; malted milk brownies, which I made last year and have been informed must be included in every Christmas basket for the rest of my life; maybe some cornmeal shortbread, as you can never have too many shortbreads made from too many grains; the aforementioned caramels; something with chocolate in it, because hell, that’s the law; and the money dessert, a pound-cake style fruitcake.  Because I’ve heard all the usual jokes about fruitcake—although, by all means, feel free to send me some new ones if you’ve got them—I have switched to a blond fruitcake made with dried California apricots, raisins, stem ginger in syrup, soft soft sultanas and the best glaceed cherries I have ever tasted, made with care and still containing a taste memory of the original cherry.  I also put in some cashews and bright green Sicilian pistachios, which are so expensive they make my chest hurt when I pay for them, but if you can’t splurge on other people’s presents, then when can you?  I love cutting into the finished cake, which looks like stained glass.  No orange peel, no lemon peel, no citron, no angelica.  Even a little fresh orange peel, to me, tastes invasive in this cake.  Bourbon, on the other hand, does not, so I make sure to soak the fruit in plenty of it.  (grin)

While I am the first to admit that baking gives me something few other things in life do, I don’t want to overromanticize it, give it mythic status.  It is not a religion; it is a craft, and it is work, albeit work of the best kind, absorptive and creative and capable of taking you in interesting directions as long as you are mindful of what you are doing.  While I agree that you can learn things in baking, or cooking, that are helpful to know for life in general (as in “never fight with your ingredients, because your ingredients always win"), I get nervous when I hear too many transcendent, supraworldly, hyperextended-metaphor-senses-of-being attached to food and the preparation of it.  Sometimes it can be a way to get you out of yourself and into the world around you, or into the lives of those who preceded you, the cooks of another generation on whose shoulders you stand.  On the other hand, sometimes it is just cooking, just baking.  Sometimes it is unutterable boredom, or pressure.  Sometimes it keeps you too grounded in your life, your work, your kitchen, which was fine when you walked into it but now just annoys you.  You can feed your child a plate of the chicken and rice you ate as a child, and she smiles happily, and you think, this is the way foodways start. But you can also give that same child that same plate of rice the next week, and she will turn her beautiful nose up at it, and if you take it too personally, if you weigh that plate of rice down with too many signifiers, you find yourself treading on dangerous ground, giving food a power it should never have.  I love the idea of family dishes, and food memory; I love the ones that I got from my family, and I could easily spend weeks listening to other people’s from their families.  But as soon as I hear someone say, “I’m making this so that I can create this food memory in my children,” I sense trouble afoot.  I know a woman who actually does this.  She has written several cookbooks and has a television series and an army of admirers and a bad attitude toward anyone who makes the mistake of crossing her.  She talks a big game about making certain dishes for when she or her husband or kids are in certain emotional states, which strikes me as a little creepy, that she is organized enough about her own family’s emotions to plan food around them.  (To my pal H, with whom I’ve had this conversation before:  no, it’s not Lidia Bastianich.  Lidia is the real deal.  I think Lidia is a crackerjack chef, a tough cookie and a splendid role model.)

In the end, I don’t bake to divine the secrets of the universe, or to create certain emotional states in the people around me.  I do it because it is fun, it is compelling, and it feeds my senses.  It feels good.  It smells good.  It tastes good.  It is alchemy, and it is fun to watch.  I like knowing that when the bubbles in the caramel pot hit a certain size, it is almost time to pour the caramel onto the marble slab.  I like knowing that when your bread dough smells like *this*, it needs more time, and if it smells like *this*, it has overripened and started to overacidify, so what you want to do is get it when it smells like *this*, and knock it down, shape it, get it ready for the oven.  I like making ganache, that dizzying mix of bittersweet chocolate and heavy cream, and pouring it over a cake, knowing exactly how fast I have to pour it to create a smooth, shiny, even, glistening surface.  I like running cherries and sultanas and chopped apricots and bourbon through my fingers, and I love that anyone who comes near me for the rest of the day knows exactly what I’ve been doing.

Posted by Bakerina at 10:05 PM in stuff and nonsense • (2) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

Despite my best efforts, last weekend I found myself slipping into December torpor.  Even in the best of years, December is a tough, harried, wearying month, and this is certainly not the best of years (although my brother’s wedding in October did bring a lot of sweetness to it).  This has been a particularly hard year for my mother, as my grandfather died in October and my grandmother continues to be robbed of herself by Alzheimer’s.  Last Sunday I was overcome by the realization that I was a rotten daughter, that Mom would be having a particularly tough Christmas this year, and that I hadn’t spoken to her since Thanksgiving weekend, when she and my stepdad brought my cousin, visiting from L.A., into the city for a trip to the Metropolitan Museum and dinner.  I called her, got the answering machine, and left a long rambling message about how I hadn’t called in a while, I wanted to make sure she was okay, I’m sorry I’ve been so low-profile, I love you, Mom.  I didn’t hear anything from her for the rest of the day.  I went to bed worrying.  At 3 a.m. I snapped out of a cluttered and exhausting dream with the realization that the reason Mom hasn’t called is because she and my stepdad are in France, on a vacation that they have been planning, and I have known about, for six months. I felt a momentary surge of relief, followed by a bigger, longer-lasting surge of embarrassment.  I’d forgotten about the trip that was one of the only bright spots in my mother’s year.  I *am* a rotten daughter.  Fortunately, my rottenness gave Mom something to tease me about when she called tonight to say that they were home.

Even with the toughness of this particular December, I do have something else to celebrate, and while it may sound frivolous, I am still celebrating.  For the first time in two years, I will be buying the lion’s share of my Christmas presents at Coliseum Books.  Coliseum is an independent bookstore in Manhattan, 100,000 titles strong.  For 27 years it occupied the corner of 57th Street and Broadway.  Much has been made of the ugliness of this space, at least compared to the new Barnes & Noble and Borders superstores.  If Barnes & Noble is a comfortable reading room, Coliseum was a supermarket, all hard surfaces, neon in the windows, no seats except for occasional footstools purloined from the store staff who used them for reaching the high shelves, shelf stock shrinkwrapped to keep it clean in a location where dirt was easily tracked in.  And yet, I loved this space, found it the most browsable bookstore in the city, whiled away hours in there, bought so many books that my co-workers used to joke that I should just sign my paycheck over to Coliseum.  I used to go to cosmetic industry happy hours at Le Bar Bat, leave in a tipsy, ebullient mood, head to the subway, pass Coliseum and think, hmmm, no harm in just taking a peek.  The next morning I would wake up, take my little Pez dispenser of Excedrin, mutter never again, and curl up with my new books.

Of course, there were whisperings of trouble for years about Coliseum’s lease, that once the lease was up, they would never be able to renegotiate their old terms, as the space had become too valuable.  I crossed my fingers that the store’s owner and the building’s owner would be able to renegotiate; then I plugged my fingers into my ears in an attempt to stave off hearing the inevitable.  Coliseum closed on January 25, 2002, and I felt as if my heart had been torn from my chest.  The first time I walked by the building after the store had closed, I wanted to kick all the windows in.

This may seem like an extreme reaction to the closure of a shop, even a well-loved bookshop, and it was, but then, it was an extreme year.  There was, of course, That Event on That Day.  (Everyone has a 9/11 story to tell, and I am no exception, but it is another story for another day.) I was lucky in that everyone I knew or cared about who worked in or near the towers got out and got home safely.  I knew too many people who did not have that luck, and lost someone dear to them.  I remember days, weeks, of walking around the city, feeling grief everywhere, literally breathing it in, as if it were part of the ink-scented air.  While we were trying to make sense of it all, wondering if there was even sense to be had, anthrax was discovered at NBC, literally down the street from us, and suddenly everyone around me was on the phone with their spouses, arguing over whether they should try to get Cipro prescriptions for their kids.  In November 2001 my company moved from our funky little office across the street from Coliseum to our parent company’s office on 49th and Park.  We were promptly greeted by bomb threats, which forced us to evacuate the building twice a day for six weeks.  (The “bomber” was eventually discovered to be a mailroom employee of a tenant that has since vacated the building; he confessed that he had called the bomb threats in so that he could get some additional break time while he was out delivering mail to the company’s other locations.  The NYPD, the FBI and the Secret Service were not amused.) Every day seemed like a fresh assault, another day to question just what was going to happen to us now, and how much more could we absorb?  I felt that there was no quarter for goodness in the world.  I had the darkest thoughts about my fellow man that I had ever believed possible.  Walking into Coliseum in those days was like being greeted by a friend, or the kindest teacher you’d had in high school, who would listen to you rage about your dark thoughts and then say, well, maybe you’re right, but just in case you’re not, why not immerse yourself in someone else’s thoughts for a while, and see if you change your mind?  And I always did, right up until the week before Coliseum closed, when I watched people fill up baskets with books marked down 20%, while I stood in line with my lone copy of Daniel Handler’s The Basic Eight, thinking, is this really the last book I’m going to buy at Coliseum?

George Leibson, the owner of Coliseum, vowed to find another space.  I waited, patiently.  Finally, in January 2003, he announced that a space had been found on 42nd Street, across the street from the New York Public Library and Bryant Park.  He noted that he would do the best he could with the space, but it would still be only 2/3 of the old store space, not counting the space that would be dedicated to the cafe (his investors required that he put in a cafe to remain competitive with the chain bookstores).  More than one person, including friends of mine who should have known better, made snotty comments about how long Coliseum could last when people could just go across the street for free books.  (The pedant in me is honor-bound to point out that the NYPL’s actual lending library is two blocks to the south of the main NYPL building, the one with the lions in front.)

Coliseum reopened on June 17 of this year, and yes, I was there as fast as I could possibly walk.  I am still trying to figure out how George only got 2/3 of the space of the old store, yet managed to make it feel so much bigger.  It feels like a bigger space.  But the old shelves, the old fixtures, the old signage dots the store, which now has friendly wooden floors, the better to stand on and browse.  On that day I walked around, touching everything.  As I was browsing the new paperback fiction aisle, I felt a touch at my elbow and a voice saying, “I thought you might be here.” It was Lloyd.  (Since Coliseum is between my office and his office, we bump into each other there a lot.) I bought a Lidia Bastianich cookbook and Christopher Moore’s novel Lamb:  The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.  All around me were people like me, people who lost a piece of their hearts the day that Coliseum closed, who got that piece back when they heard the news that Coliseum would be back.  “Have people been telling you how thrilled they are that you’re back?” I asked the clerk at the register.  “You have no idea,” he said happily.

Posted by Bakerina at 12:39 AM in please support these fine businesses • (0) Comments
December 11, 2003

Today Julie Powell announced the official closing of the Julie/Julia Project.  For those not familiar with her or her blog, Julie Powell was a bright, frustrated administrative professional working in Lower Manhattan and living in Brooklyn (later Long Island City, Queens) when she decided to embark on an ambitious project, namely preparing each of the 536 recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck.  By day she went to work; at night she came home and prepared blanquette de veau and Jambon Braise Morvandelle and a series of aspics, each more terrifying than the one that preceded it.  Each night’s cooking adventure was recorded in her blog, which attracted a large, fascinated and devoted readership.  Eventually the media (including CBS News and Amanda Hesser of the New York Times) took notice, and today Julie Powell has an agent and a book deal.  Her book is scheduled to be published in the spring of 2005.  It is a writer and cook’s dream writ large, a career born of something originally started as a lark, and in my opinion, it could not happen to a more deserving cook/writer than Julie.  Her blog is—or was—great reading.  Julie is funny, salty, opinionated, bemused by the task she set in motion, yet ultimately glad for it.

When news of Julie Powell’s book deal broke, I received a lot of helpful suggestions to try the same thing.  Hey!  You’re a writer, you know food, why don’t you pick a cookbook and cook your way through it and blog it and shop around for a publishing deal? Because the people who recommend this course of action are generally sweet and kind, I try to be diplomatic when I tell them I’ve heard better ideas.  Assuming that I had the stamina to do something like that, there is something vaguely pathetic about glomming onto a good idea and hoping lightning will strike twice.  This might be fine for network programming executives, but I don’t want to do it, at least not now.  Regardless of my opinion of—I was not impressed, to put it mildly—I will give her credit for having enough moxie to be first out of the gate with the internet-panhandling idea.  I give less credit to people who tried to panhandle their way to divorces, breast implants and sportscars.

Nevertheless, a girl can fantasize, and if enough time passes where it is once again acceptable to cook one’s way across a book and keep a meticulous journal of it, I have my candidate at the ready.

The first edition of Modern Cookery for Private Families by Eliza Acton was published in 1845.  A revised, updated edition was published 10 years later; it is this edition that was published in facsimile by Southover Press in 1993.  It has been acknowledged as one of the finest cookbooks in the English language, and it is easily one of the best cookbooks I own, superior, in my opinion, to the vaunted 20th century kitchen bible, The Joy of Cooking.

Although it was written over 150 years ago, Modern Cookery is still so appropriate, so usable and practical that it would not be untoward to think of it as Timeless Cookery for Private Families instead.  Unlike many of the cookbooks published in the 18th and 19th centuries, Miss Acton’s cookbook was directed at small, middle-class families, rather than to the mistresses of households with a full complement of servants.  As a result, very little scaling up or down needs to be done to these recipes to make them practical for daily use today.  Most of her contemporaries included detailed directions for housekeeping, which, while interesting from a historical perspective, ultimately gives the books a dated feel.  Miss Acton preferred to focus, in her words, on the “elegance and economy” of food, and it shows.  Every page is replete with the consideration, intelligence and energy she brought to her work, and the result is a sublime collection of recipes and instruction.

I reread the soups chapter on the subway home tonight, and I was filled with the desire to make every single soup, even consomme, the time-consuming and meticulous rendering of bones into clear, concentrated meat stock.  I wanted to make milk soups, and beef tea, and mulligatawny, and the extraordinary-sounding Mademoiselle Jenny Lind’s Soup, which was given to Miss Acton by a popular Swedish writer, who in turn obtained it from the great singer’s cook.  It is made from strong veal or beef stock, eggs, cream and sago, a tapioca-like starch.  Miss Acton said that Miss Lind tended to take it before performances, as she found the sago and eggs soothing to the chest and beneficial to the voice.  (This recipe was later “appropriated” by Isabella Beeton, who changed its proportions slightly and rechristened it as “Soupe a la Cantatrice.” About 100 of Miss Acton’s recipes were similarly lifted, revised ever so slightly, and published without attribution in Beeton’s Book of Household Management. Sadly, Mrs. Beeton was neither the first nor the last writer/editor to produce a cookbook in this way.  The 18th and 19th centuries were rife with cookbook plagiarists, and it would be disingenuous to say that such dirty tricks are behind us today.)

It is a dangerous thing for me to quote Miss Acton, because the temptation is strong to quote the entire book (but I will not).  I will give, however, her recipe for something which sounds like a heavenly dish for a cold wet night, an original recipe of hers she calls “The Young Wife’s Pudding”:

Break separately into a cup four perfectly sweet eggs, and with the point of a small three-pronged fork clear them from the specks.  Throw them, as they are done, into a large basin, or a bowl, and beat them up lightly for four or five minutes, then add by degrees two ounces and a half of pounded sugar, with a very small pinch of salt, and whisk the mixture well, holding the fork rather loosely between the thumb and fingers; next, grate in the rind of a quite-fresh lemon, or substitute for it a teaspoon of lemon-brandy, or orange-flower water, which should be thrown in by degrees, and stirred briskly to the eggs.  Add a pint of cold new milk, and pour the pudding into a well buttered dish.  Slice some stale bread, something more than a quarter of an inch thick, and with a very small cake-cutter cut sufficient rounds from it to cover the top of the pudding; butter them thickly with good butter; lay them, with the dry side undermost, upon the pudding, sift sugar thickly on them, and set the dish gently into a Dutch or American oven, which should be placed at the distance of a foot or more from a moderate fire. An hour of very slow baking will be just sufficient to render the pudding firm throughout; but should the fire be fierce, or the oven placed too near it, the receipt will fail.

In a postscript, Miss Acton cautions the reader that while this is an easy and satisfactory pudding, it is easy to ruin if the cook does not watch the temperature of the oven with care.  It is a plain, grand dish, and it shows Miss Acton at her best:  her attention to detail, her no-nonsense but good-humored voice. These qualities are found in abundance throughout the book, evidence of the years she spent testing and retesting, writing and rewriting.  (According to Elizabeth Ray’s introductory notes in the 1993 edition, a review in a popular magazine of the day stated that Miss Acton had spent ten years writing Modern Cookery, and compared her sauces to those of the great French chefs Vatel and Careme.) The chapter on fish preparation, and the introductory chapter on carving techniques, should be used as primary texts in cooking schools.  Not only are they filled with meticulous direction, they are also illustrated—as is the rest of the book—with detailed, breathtakingly beautiful prints, near-perfect combinations of form and function.

It strikes me that I am doing a poor job convincing myself that it would be a bad idea to do this.  But no, I will not steal Julie Powell’s thunder.

Miss Acton wrote another book two years before her death, a smaller but still-brilliant and well-considered tome, The English Bread Book.  Maybe if I start, no, no.  I will be good.  For now.

Posted by Bakerina at 11:45 PM in valentines • (0) Comments
December 10, 2003

Last weekend when I was on my pie-baking adventure, I discovered that the caramel apple pie required heavy cream, and that we were out of it.  I had plans to go to my farmer’s market at Union Square to buy heavy cream from the dairy that has a stand at the market every Saturday.  The snow, and the 22-degree temperature, made me reconsider.  I went to the Greek market down the street, I picked up a quart of heavy cream, and, once again, I reflected on the state of cream in this city, this country.  And once again, I got mad.

With a few noble exceptions, the general state of heavy cream in the U.S. is terrible.  Most of the cream we can buy comes in half-pint containers and is ultra-pasteurized; that is, it is pasteurized at a higher temperature than traditional pasteurization.  This increases the shelf life of the cream.  It also gives it a weird, palate-coating taste.  It tastes cooked, or, in Karen Hess’s words, “boiled to death.” This is less of an issue if you are making caramels, or toffee, or fudge; with confectionery, you are boiling the sugar and cream and flavorings at such high temperatures that your cream is definitely going to cook.  It is more of an issue if you want to make whipped cream, or fruit fool, or custard.  Ultra-pasteurized cream is harder to whip, and again, there’s that taste, which makes itself present through any liqueur, any beautiful maple syrup, any four-fold vanilla.  Once you have tasted properly-pasteurized cream, you will be able to tell the difference.  Ultra-pasteurized cream taste like the half-and-half that comes in little tubs at diners—no surprise, since most half-and-half is sold ultra-pasteurized, too.

By U.S. law, any cream sold as heavy cream must have a minimum fat content of 36%, although the higher the fat content, the better the cream.  When I interned at a restaurant after pastry school, I had access to 40% butterfat heavy cream, which was beautiful to work with and heavenly to taste.  I tried to buy my own, but the only places that sold it were wholesalers, and even in my most high-volume, enthusiastic baking runs, I just couldn’t envision running through a case of heavy cream a week.  So I started buying heavy cream from the farmstand, where I couldn’t confirm the butterfat content but I knew the cream would be pasteurized properly.  It is very nice cream.  On my first trip to Vermont last year I discovered cream from Jersey cows, which is so superior to the cream of Holsteins that I bought pints and pints of it, and schlepped it back to New York via Amtrak, each pint wrapped tightly in newspaper to keep it cold.

The Greek market sells 40% butterfat cream.  I was delighted until I read the fine print.  It’s ultra-pasteurized.  I bought it anyway, and decided that it would make some nice caramels.

Lest you think that I am an effete crank about the whole cream issue, you are right.  But I am not alone.  Rick Stein understands me, and he does not lie when he says that British cream is the best in the world.  I am still tasting the gorgeous clotted cream I had on my first trip to Plymouth in 1989.  I have tasted the clotted cream sold in glass jars in the U.S.  It’s not bad, but it makes me long for the real thing.

Posted by Bakerina at 11:43 PM in stuff and nonsense • (1) Comments • (0) Trackbacks
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