Monthly Archives: January 2012
I stumbled upon this project and immediately marked my home state of Maine with the word beans though I suppose I might just as well have chosen Italian sandwich or fat-ass-in-a-glass. There’s a rich cultural heritage up there in northern New England. Anywho, if you’ve got a word and a story, why not make your mark?
Idiot’s Slattern’s Guide to Coping with Centigrade
So this morning I was thumbing through the Good Book, the oracle of all knowledge and wisdom, the fountain of inspiration for Western man. I’m talking, of course, about Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child and those two French broads who don’t really count except as back up. Gladys Knight had her Pips, Diana had Flo and Mary, and the great Julia Child had Simone and Louisette, at least until volume two when Louisette quit the band (“creative differences” one supposes). Of course after that it was just a matter of time before JC went solo and the rest, as they say, is culinary history.
Before we talk temperature, a word about the queen. If you want to learn to cook properly, buy both volumes of her book. They are available in paperback or you can choose from an endless supply of used ones on AbeBooks. The writing is clear, the terms are explained and the content is pleasingly antiquated — folding brains into sauces, making cold beef in aspic, the content of quenelles (you don’t want to know). But above all the voice of Mrs. Child comes through strong and clear, and as you read, you hear her ringing, off-kilter delivery in every sentence, phrase, and mot. Food for the body and the soul. You can also dip into her TV show on YouTube.
Doesn’t that make you feel good? I’ll bet you weren’t making your omelette correctly, were you?
Anyways, as I said, I was grazing in Julia’s fields of gold this morning and ran across her instructions for converting temperatures. Now, I know it’s the computer age and we can all just Google up a conversion chart, but come the rapture, I suspect the web will be among the first things to go down. Of course, you’ll still be wanting to convert the odd temperature, especially if the Germans come out on top (and it appears they may well), and we’re all finally force-marched into the metric system. So here’s how:
Fahrenheit to Centigrade
Subtract 32 — Multiply by 5 — Divide by 9.
350 F: 350 – 32=318. 318 x 5=1590. 1590/9=176.67 (call it 175 C)
Centigrade to Fahrenheit
Multiply by 9 — Divide by 5 — Add 32.
100 C: 100 x 9=900. 900/5= 180. 180+32=212 F (call it 200).
Coincidentally 100 C and 212 F are the temperatures at which water boils. So now you have also learned to boil water! This is the beauty of the Child approach.
Now, you’re on your own when it comes to that British Gas Mark business, though I think it’s based on shillings and crowns. If I ever figure out the difference between centigrade and Celsius, you’ll be the first to know.
I think by now we have all dispensed with the notion that “fat free” foods have any value at all as a weight control vehicle. They don’t taste good, inevitably fail to satisfy, lead to over eating, and when purchased as processed foods contain substances better suited to house cleaning than eating. And you know how I feel about cleaning.
Still, there are times when we want a little something, so we whip up a batch of brownies, or cookies, or a full size jelly roll with whipped cream, chocolate ganache and sour cherry jam, then proceed to consume not one portion, but the lion’s share, if not the entire thing. A la mode. Admit it. It’s the first step to recovery, or so I am told.
This is why there’s a place for the single serving sweet, if only we could find one that satisfies. Imagine: you nuke it up, consume it standing over the sink, throw the dish in dishwasher and are able to immediately back away from the kitchen, smug in your self-control and secure in the knowledge that this will be worked off as soon as you start using that very expensive gym membership you bought last year. (Some say that just having the membership burns the odd calorie, but I have so far been unable to prove that, try as I might.)
Over at Phill’s blog, there’s a recipe for potato, cheese and onion pie that elevates my pedestrian potato gratin to an art form. Don’t be fooled by the straightforward name, it’s a gorgeous, glorious gourmet treat. (For those of you cooking on this side of the pond, 200 degrees C is equal to 392 F, but I think you could safely set your oven to 400.) And if you need a little tech support on making pie crust, I’m happy to provide it.