Or "How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Dijon Mustard."
I'm terrified by how quickly February's disappearing. This past month of non-blogging has been surprisingly busy with three things: 1.) writing my dissertation (and then realising that I need to look up something, and then realising that it's been too long since I last checked the journals for anything new, and discovering that my field has shifted...); 2.) preparing to teach my first course that's all my own (and oh my goodness, I'm supposed to finalise my textbook choice tomorrow); 3.) cooking a lot.
And so I'm going to talk about cooking, because it's been a really pleasant distraction between my angst about whether I need to assign a sourcebook (and whether the textbook I love is too expensive to allow for assigning as sourcebook), and angst about the fact that a historian recently referred to the study of the Neue Frau as "overdone," just as I'm making major findings about the Neue Frau.
But but but! In the midst of that, I've been reveling in French cookery. It started with a fascination with Laura Calder's Food Network show French Food at Home. And then I read Julia Child's My Life in France. And then I started to DVR FFaH. And then I bought Laura Calder's recent cookbook French Style. Since then, I've gone a little crazy in the kitchen. Like, buying-lots-of-fennel crazy. And making-crème-caramel-twice-in-one-week crazy. Basing-entire-meals-around-dijon-mustard crazy. (And I didn't even like mustard before.)
Speaking of crème caramel: it has seriously become an obsession of mine. I used to be a little intimidated by it, because I'm a little scared of anything that needs to keep its shape when you unmould it. But it involves two of my most favourite things to make: caramel and custard. Anything that involves a water bath? I'm there. Also, being encouraged to push caramel to be as dark as possible, but without burning it? Bring it on. In a consequence-free world, I would make caramel sauce every day for the next year.
I made my first crème caramels for Valentine's Day, and because I adapted the recipe a little too much, I ended up overcooking them a little, but they were still pretty:
So, yeah. I've been seriously geeking out in the kitchen lately. Now, I just need to bring this sense of nerdy wonder back into my academic self. Because the angst thing is quickly growing old.