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greenbanner

24 October 2008

working on the book

preparing the egg dish

"How about spiced prune chutney?"
He makes that face, the pursed lips and fast shake of the head.
"Why not?" I ask. Sounds good to me. I'd eat that with great cheese.
"Hmmm...No." At least he took a moment to think about it this time.
I love this banter, this back and forth. And besides, I really like discovering foods I have never eaten before.
"Zuni has a great recipe for spiced prunes," I suggest.
He answers this one immediately. "Nope. No copying other recipes and altering them slightly. These are all ours."
I backtrack, to explain. "Oh, I know. I agree. But I thought we could look at it for technique."
The Chef agreed. Every chef is inspired by other chefs. We pore over the cookbooks we trust for little tweaks and reminders. ("Ahh, that's right. We need ice-cold liquid with the ground pork when we make sausages.") But he is adamant, and rightly so: these recipes are ours.
"You're forgetting the fig chutney I served at the restaurant," he said.
"What, you mean the one that fills the fig cookies? That recipe's in the first book."
"No," he reminded me. "The one I make, with rosemary and red wine."
"Oh god, I love that one. You're right. That's the one that should go in the book."
He paused for a moment.
"Besides, I don't like prunes."

Well, that did it.

. . . .

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Little Bean is awake. She's lifting her legs, rising onto her butt, and slamming down her legs, in glee, again. She doesn't cry upon waking anymore, after a full night of sleep. Instead, she plays in her bassinet, moving and rolling, rising and thumping. When I do lean over her to say hello, she smiles so wide her face becomes a smear of smile. So does mine.

The Chef wakes up to feed her, and receives his own smiles. I drift back to sleep for a moment. And then the baby is in bed with us, looking up at the ceiling and smiling wide, as she moves from side
to side. We stare, transfixed.

But it doesn't take more than a minute for the conversation to begin.

"What about tackling that cinnamon rolls recipe today?"
"Ooh, cinnamon rolls," he says, his eyes widening.
"And we have to taste the sausages today."
"I want to see how those pickled apples turned out."
"Aren't the white beans still braising on the back of the stove?"

And the entire time, we are looking at Little Bean, calling out these foods to her. Her eyes go wide. She stops to listen. And then she kicks up her heels and begins moving again.

. . . .

Coffee and the paper. Throw in some reading of the cookbooks on the coffee table.

Little Bean, after we have held her and danced her around the living room (yesterday, her favorite song in the world was "Istanbul, Not Constantinople" by They Might Be Giants), falls asleep in her swing. We look at each other and move to the kitchen.

The Chef is chopping. I am mixing flours. The smells are rising.

. . .

Pike Place Market in the clear autumn sunlight. We stick cream and butter, milk and sugar in the basket beneath Little Bean's stroller. Chanterelles at Sosio's. A bag full of spices at World Spice, after sticking every one of them beneath Little Bean's nose. She always kicks. Talking about what to do next, and what to have for lunch.

It's 2 pm, and the Chef is not at the restaurant.

. . .

Little Bean is in her vibrating chair, looking up at us with wide eyes. She kicks and kicks, little coos emitting from her mouth. It's late in the afternoon, and she's far from fussy now. Both of her parents are with her, cooking and laughing, dancing in front of her from time to time. I pull the fresh vanilla bean from the bag and slowly wave it in front of her nose. She stops, and then starts to smile. The Chef laughs, his hands deep in the marinated pork he will be braising soon. Music wafts through the room.

. . .

We give her a bath together. She stares up at us with adoring eyes. She loves the warmth.

The same ritual, every night. Until this week, it was only me in the room with her. Now, we both speak in hushed voices in the small light of the room. Lotion and diaper, soft fleecy pajamas. White noise machine on. One book from each of us (perhaps Madeline or When the Sky is Like Lace), with the Chef acting each action out in exaggerated motions. He always makes me laugh. Lovely food, and then Goodnight Moon.

She's out.

. . . .

Music going. Simmering happening.

Do you think that sugar cookie dough is ready to roll out?
What kind of peppers are you going to use in the tomatillo chutney?
Let's be sure to get to the farmers' market early tomorrow.
How much molasses did you put in there?

He's cooking, dancing in front of the stove. I'm writing everything down.

. . . .

Hell, we even do the dishes now. For the first time since the baby was born, the kitchen is clean before we snap off the light.

. . . .

We're on the couch, wonderfully fed, by the food, and the day. Four more recipes done. Three, he loves. One, he needs to do again before he likes it at all. What would the fun be in four perfect recipes?

We hold each other as we watch Jon Stewart. I feel the laughter pushing his belly up. My eyes droop at the end of the show. Little Bean will be up in six hours. We really should be in bed.

"What are we going to cook tomorrow?"

We fall asleep talking about food.


p.s. We are keeping a set of photographs on Flickr called Working on the Book. If you want to see more of the process, go here. And kudos to anyone who has figured out what the Chef is playing with in the top photograph.


fried prosciutto

We are, of course, eating well around here. We're doing it all for you. We want our cookbook, and its 100 recipes, to be stellar, every recipe tested, every dish gorgeous. We have to eat it first.

But sometimes, it doesn't have to be complicated. On Monday morning, the Chef made us breakfast. We both felt so indolent. We didn't have to rush to be anywhere. Our muscles had started to relax.

He emerged from the kitchen with roasted potatoes, melted Drunken Goat cheese, eggs over easy, and this little flourish on top.

"What's that?" I asked, excited.

"Fried prosciutto."

It took him all of a few moments. I never would have thought to do it. But it made the meal so much more alive. Monday morning, every morning — it takes only a few moments to make us feel civilized.

FRIED PROSCIUTTO

6 prosciutto slices

Lay the prosciutto slices on top of each other. Roll them into a tube (more pencil than fat marker).

Slice them thin, in a chiffonade.

Into a hot pan add a bit of oil until it is almost smoking. Add the prosciutto. Sautee for 30 seconds or so, until it crisps up.

Serve on top of eggs over easy. This could also garnish potato-leek soup, black beans, or a quinoa-shrimp salad.

39 Comments:

At 12:12 PM, Anonymous La Niña said...

Okay- you sound like you are bubbling over with happiness. This is good. And is Mr. Ahern making gluten-free pasta with lemon and rosemary? Or is it cheese?

We traced each other's steps at Pike Market. I was there on Tuesday morning- went to Sosio's to get a pound of Chanterelles. They made me buy an organic mango by forcing me to eat a slice. Then I went to DeLaurenti for polenta and peccorino... and then to World Spice. The guys there were totally into me making my own homemade catsup. And now I know what "mace" is. (It's not something you spray at would-be rapists.)

Enjoy this synchronistic time together- you so deserve it. Love to Miss Lucy Had A Steamboat...

 
At 1:11 PM, Blogger Lora said...

I am looking forward to the day when I actually get to read your cookbook. I'm a bit of a cookbook whore - it's my favorite kind of book! And for Little Bean - try some Laurie Berkner. Heck, it's actually for you, too...I listen to her even when my son is not around.

 
At 1:12 PM, Blogger rebelgirl7 said...

Shauna,Dan and Lucy,

The gorgeous smells from your kitchen are wafting down south!

What did you think of the dukkah?

Any ideas on how to make yummy gluten free hot cross buns for easter??

 
At 1:13 PM, Blogger Cove Girl said...

Is chef playing with cheese?

 
At 1:18 PM, Anonymous kt said...

well, my life never felt like that. I don't envy, but it does seem warm and nice and strange!
I know you will never regret these times, nor forget them, but the details do start to murk up, and it is nice that you document them, so that when times maybe aren't as nice (and maybe that will never be so) you can remember what it was all about in the first place.
I always love the days my husband works from home because they seem easier. I don't know why. They just do.

 
At 1:47 PM, Blogger milhan said...

Oh my, fried proscuitto sounds so decandent - and for breakfast too!

It sounds like you are having a marvelous time, enjoying the most important things in your lives - family, food & writing!

My kids were singing "Istanbul Not Constantinople" at the dinner table last night. My father is visiting, he lives in Istanbul :)

 
At 3:49 PM, Blogger theater simpleton said...

That post was so evocative, my brain is watering, even more than my mouth.

Sounds pretttttty perfect to me, all this dancing life in and around food and love. Like a perfect fit.

(Now I'm going to add fried prosciutto onto my beans, poached eggs and guac breakfast bowl tomorrow - oh YEAH. hm. Goat cheese too!)
thanks for the inspiration for the weekend!

 
At 4:25 PM, Blogger lupingirl said...

That sounds like a wonderful day!

 
At 4:30 PM, Anonymous beyond said...

thank you for sharing tidbits of your life with us. lovely.
i have no idea what the chef is playing with in that photograph, soft white mozarella-ish cheese?

 
At 4:35 PM, Blogger bleu said...

haloumi cheese yes????

 
At 4:52 PM, Blogger chris said...

I tried to read this, and I enjoyed what I could absorb, but frankly, my brain kept going back to "baby clearly sleeping through the night at under 4 months." How, pray tell, does that happen? I mean, congrats. Seriously, that's a big deal. Maybe you need to write a baby sleep book?

 
At 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When the Sky is Like Lace" was one of my favorite kids' books and it took me my whole life to figure out what it was called because I somehow lost my copy and could only remember a few words and phrases from the book. But I have a copy again, and it will come in handy in March when my baby comes...

 
At 7:13 PM, Anonymous La Niña said...

Huh...it's egg, yes? If you go to the photos on flicker, you kind of gave it away. So, Mama, how will you reveal this?

After hours and hours and hours in the kitchen on a gray day, I have 10 half pints of homemade catsup! Don't worry- you'll get some.
-xo-

 
At 7:53 PM, Anonymous Sho said...

I can't wait for the cookbook! And how I wish you would start a magazine for gluten-free living or something. If anyone can do it, it is the two of you.

~Shoshannah

 
At 12:19 AM, Blogger moll said...

hmm.. it looks like Florette! or Chevre d'Argental. Different names for the same thing: goat brie. that's my guess!

it's been so lovely following your inspiration here. thank you and i always look forward to more.

 
At 1:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a recent GF girl from New Zealand and I love coming on your site for inspiration and even excitement at being GF - on my "down days". Thanks for all the effort you put in!

And now... I can't stop thinking about cinnamon rolls. Please, please, post it up as soon as the recipe is perfect? :D

Teresa

 
At 3:42 AM, Blogger sweetpea said...

Can you convince la nina to post her catsup recipe, or better yet, include it in that great book your working on! You could create a meat-loaf smothered in catsup. Might sound a bit too midwestern but a great winter meal none the less! Parenting suits you both so well.

 
At 9:32 AM, Anonymous Alison said...

I had to laugh when you mentioned Little Bean's vibrating chair...do you remember that Sex and the City episode? :D

 
At 10:35 AM, Blogger Sarah Yost said...

I love the structure of this post. Very nice.

 
At 12:15 PM, Blogger The Giraffe Head Tree said...

I love visiting here. It's a storybook world of happiness and light and love and food and warmth. It's why I come.

 
At 3:09 PM, Anonymous La Niña said...

A shout out to Sweetpea-
My catsup recipe is not set in stone at this point, but it turned out amazing... it will vary depending on your tomatoes. I had a bumper crop of heirloom black plum tomatoes, which are sort of like a Roma, but much juicier. I'm not exactly sure what my tomato amount was, so I'll be approximate.

Homemade Catsup

About a gallon and a half of tomatoes cut up
2 long red sweet peppers, seeded and chopped
4 medium sized onions chopped

6 Tablespoons dark Muscovado sugar (or brown)

1 1/2 teaspoons whole allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons whole mace (shell of nutmeg)
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1 stick of cinnamon, broken into pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 clove garlic, sliced in quarters
1 bay leaf

Cheesecloth for above spices, string to tie into bag

1 cup cider vinegar

salt and cayenne pepper to taste

1. Simmer tomatoes, onion and peppers in huge stock pot. Cook until soft. (uncovered)

Run through a food mill or processor. (I prefer the mill.)

2. Tie up your spices in the cheesecloth. I used dental floss (unflavored!) to tie mine since I didn't have string. (Tip: put the cheesecloth at the bottom of a 1 quart saucepan and load the spices in there, and then tie it up.) Add the 1 cup of cider vinegar to that sauce pan with spices in bag. Bring it to a boil and then take off the heat and let it sit while you keep going.

3. Add the sugar to your tomato mixture and boil quickly, uncovered, stirring often until the quantity is reduced by half. Be patient, this can take time, and watch out for volcanic spurts.

4. When the tomato mixture is reduced by half, strain the vinegar into a measuring cup, and top off cider to make one cup total. Add that to the tomato mixture. Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste. (I put in 1 Tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of cayenne) Simmer 10 more minutes.

You can now can the catsup or ladle it into jars and keep in fridge. If you can it, it will keep indefinitely. But it will last weeks in the fridge.

If you can, it must be in the water bath for 15 minutes.

We ate half a jar immediately on local grass fed beef and local yukon potatoes!

Enjoy!

 
At 3:50 PM, Anonymous Christine said...

I can't wait for the cookbook!

 
At 5:21 PM, Blogger Katie - a.k.a. Mommy said...

The recipe I want to see is gluten free and dairy free (rice milk OK) teething biscuits for my 6 month old.

I agree with Chris about the sleep. I am jealous!

 
At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Kylie said...

Shauna,
The love with which you infuse your writing, cooking, and life has inspired me for years. I'm currently living in New York, and your blog is a warm reminder of home (Seattle). I feel that this post is the most simple and poignant one you've written so far. Thanks for constantly inspiring me to live jubilantly in cooking and life.
-Kylie

 
At 3:37 AM, Blogger sweetpea said...

la nina, you made my week. Thanks so much - Sweetpea (aka cari)

 
At 6:01 AM, Blogger BealcA's Pad said...

I'm like your husband, I don't like prune [plums] period and with good reason. I break out like crazy with the hives.

Bad memories of doing that years ago, then tried to eat a plum, and before I even got the thing eaten I was itching like crazy. Red hives. . . crazy isn't it.

 
At 1:04 PM, OpenID dessertobsessed said...

hi! i just discovered your blog, and i just wanted to let you know that i love it! i love the gorgeous photography and stories!

 
At 4:55 PM, Blogger M said...

Katie (aka Mommy): I am highly lactose intolerant (possibly allergic to milk... dunno yet). Because I love to bake, I have learned all sorts of milk substitutes. Thus, I can suggest how to modify Shauna's gluten-free biscuits. My favorite baking milk substitute is oat milk, with almond and hazelnut milks coming in close seconds (though I imagine baby cannot have nuts yet?). Rice milk seems to go a little sour when cooked. To make buttermilk, take 1 tbsp of vinegar and add enough fake milk to make 1 cup (so for the 3/4 cup Shauna calls for, 2 1/4 tsp vinegar and enough fake milk to make 3/4 cup). Let stand for 10 minutes.

If butter is also a problem but you don't want to resort to shortening, try substituting lard (i know, american's don't usually use it, but it works and is tasty, and doesn't have all the hydrogenated fat of shortening).

Hope that helps!

 
At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any suggestions for healthy Halloween recipes?

 
At 7:03 PM, Blogger Kate said...

Congratulations on home life with your husband and beautiful girl. It sounds like a perfect world.

 
At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Julie Henry said...

Ok - YUM on the fried prosciutto! I love cheese, but fried? I must try that! Is it sort of like the taste you get when the cheese inside a grilled cheese sandwich oozes out of the bread and trickles to the bottom of the pan and sizzles slightly? Because that's the cheese I make sure to scrape off the pan and eat first! You guys give me the warm fuzzies!

 
At 10:51 AM, Anonymous matt wright said...

ahhh, a great post. It is so awesome to see you guys enjoying being parents so much, and introducing little bean to food.. good food, slowly but surely.

Tomatillio chutney is brilliant! I made my first batch a month ago, and it is finally ready to eat. Great stuff.

Amazing looking sausages. What meat grinder did you get? I am looking at getting one.

 
At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

are the recipes you are developing for your book also dairy-free? a significant number of celiacs cannot eat dairy, and many recipes are not the same if you simply omit the dairy or try to use a substitute (unfortunately, there's no good substitute for heavy cream, buttermilk, cheese, etc.). your book will have much broader appeal--and guarantee my purchase of it!--if it includes foods that are both gluten and dairy free.

 
At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

can i be adopted??? please iam housebroken....
i am sure you need a tester....this food looks way
to good..yummy
cant wait for the book to come out hope to get a signed copy...

good luck
irenekegel@hotmail.com

 
At 7:08 PM, Blogger blynnk said...

I so enjoy reading your blog. You lead an inspiring life style! You two seem to have set your priorities just right. I believe that we all should chose that which makes us happy (after all the basics such as food,clothing...) Now, if I could only apply the same to my life...I am working on it!
I have learned so much about my gluten sensitivity from your blog. If I had not stumbled upon your blog, I might not have ever known that I was gluten sensitive. Even the smallest amounts can make my face flush and/or blotchy. -blynnk

 
At 7:48 AM, Blogger Gwenn said...

I just wanted to write and say that I love coming to your blog and reading your musings. Your writing is so vibrant and alive- I feel that I'm right there. I'm just mesmerized by your words! I found your blog while searching for some recipes as my boss has recently found out she has celiac disease. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

 
At 2:41 AM, Blogger Gemma said...

I just wanted to say how happy this post made me and how much it lifted my (slightly dull and overtired) morning, the happiness radiates out of it. I am in the habit of checking your site for new posts on a Thursday but looking today and seeing not one but two new posts has been a joy.

Gemma x

 
At 4:09 PM, Blogger sarah said...

I am so glad you and the chef are writing these books. i guess i will have to wait to get pregnant until you can guide me through...
you are the best!!

 
At 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anime said...

Is the chef playing with the cheese?

This look like a good idea for breakfast.

 

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