Sunday, February 12, 2006

finding the groove again

It surprised me how much that finger injury threw me off track. I stopped writing because my finger hurt and because I was annoyed with myself. I stopped cooking because cooking means a lot of hand washing, and I didn't want to deal with having to change the bandage so often. I couldn't even start any needlework projects, since the bandage was too bulky and annoying to be able to do fine work while wearing it.

I quit wearing the bandage a few days ago, and while the finger tip still looks a little odd, it's mostly healed. Now I'm trying to re-learn 10-finger-typing, and break the 2-week habits I've developed of not using my left index finger to do anything.

Today I was back in the kitchen again: column due Wednesday! I'm working on Sacher Torte, and while the first version was definitely OK, the cake was too much like flourless chocolate cake and not enough like torte. Yes, there is such a thing as too much chocolate. Nevertheless, it will be nice to have something completely decadent to eat in the place of DS2's brownie birthday cake.

I spent a lot of time on this recipe, researching different chocolate combinations and apricot jams, deciding which substitutions I would try, and then putting it all together. I made the jam, then the cake, then my ganache, which still delights me: it's like magic the way it transforms from glop to gloss with the application of gentle heat and a little stirring. The cake itself was less delightful, as I screwed up incorporating the "flour" (you don't think I used wheat flour, do you?) and I had a sticky mess for a while. I was afraid it was unsalvageable but I did manage to wrassle a very short cake out of it. Suffice it to say, I learned my lesson with that experience.

Mom views my projects as if they are a spectator sport, but she'll kibbitz from time to time, too. When I was slicing the cake horizontally to make the layers, she nagged: You should've marked the edges with toothpicks. I told her that never works for me, and then we both laughed because she said it never worked for her, either! But she said, That's what they always tell you to do! Yeah, I know, they do, but I'd just as soon eyeball it and get it done. This was a practice cake anyway, and already something of a flop, so it didn't matter if I mangled it in the slicing. Besides, ganache covers a multitude of cake-assembly sins.

I've been doing a lot of fretting over what kind of job I should get in the fall when all the kids are in school all day. I still haven't made any decisions, and won't until I get back from Houston. But today I felt once again that this is my dream job: researching and developing recipes, working in the kitchen, writing up columns to go with the recipes. I love this job.

Even better, I see a path where I can actually earn money from it, if I can just stay out of the hospital for longer than six months at a time. Now I just need to work up the courage to step onto the path and follow it.

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