Fave pasttime

Big snow, frigid temps keep me indoors, warm, cozy, well fed. Lazy. Snoozing. Content. My energy fires are banked and  while I’ve not been up for long, I’m entertaining a nap later.

I woke cocooned, empty. Usually my mind is racing before my eyes are opened. This morning there is very little there, cooking behind my eyelids. I yawn, stretch, shuffle to the kitchen window to see if the birds are frantic at the feeder. They are my snow barometer. Two or three purple finches fuss with a couple titmice, otherwise it is pretty dull out there. The chickadees perch on the naked bushes, their feathers puffed to trap the air warmed by their bodies. It won’t snow today.

Cooking is a form of recreation for me. Yesterday I made beef Stroganoff, a favorite from my repertoire, languished long in my recipe file. I’d shopped for the ingredients, and spent the morning slicing a half dozen sweet onions, paper thin, rings separated, redolent. Then came the frying off, and caramelizing, the sizzling of the sirloin beef strips,  and the button mushrooms chopped in half, not too small, and finally, the magnificent sauce.  How much sour cream will be too much?  And watch out,  not so much marsala as to be soupy. This conglomeration is like a painting. It won’t be rushed, to be made in proper order, tended carefully in my mother’s huge iron skillet, on a low temperature where it simmers until all the many parts are in place, then piled into a pot with a sturdy bottom…not unlike myself…to while away the afternoon, softly steeping its magnificence as I clean up the kitchen and put the tools away.

I crack the bottle of Merlot to rest it. (It sits breathing on the counter where I will later forget to pour it. It will breathe overnight because I will forget to recork it.)

The dish is served and enjoyed. Primo. But I know that it will be gently reheated and this time, sharing the stage with the merlot, it will be at its best even if the merlot is a little tired. The wine won’t be forgotten, for it is sitting right where I sit, square on my place mat. I’ll test a glass around four o’clock this afternoon. You know. Just to be sure. Overnight all those fab ingredients will have married well and welcome the merlot. Four hours to go.

I’m looking forward to dinner!


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