I don’t know about you but I generally like to keep my insecurities lurking below the surface of everyday life. Sure, a whif of the cologne a high school boyfried wore (the one I bought for his birthday the week before he dumped me) may dredge back adolecent feelings of insecurities, but usually I avoid activites that bring out these feelings of inadequecy. That is why you probably haven’t seen me sing in public, express myself through drawing or painting, or participating in a conversation about quantum physics.
So when I had to fill in recently for Robert, I found myself feeling quite uncomfortable. We have been in New York City for the last month on a cooking job, cooking for about 50 people for two meals a day. Over the period of a week, all four Krauses got sick. When Robert was out, I was responsible for getting dinner out. Yes, I know my way around the kitchen, but my strength is pastry work. I broke out in a sweat at the thought of getting the meat course out for such a large group. I am no vegetarian (which you might guess if you’ve been to The Burger Stand) but I rarely cook meat at home – I ask Robert to do it. He cooks meat to temperature by looking at it, maybe giving it a poke to confirm, but never using a thermometer. My meat pursuits are often limited to frying bacon, and I am not above burning it.
I got lucky. The duck confit was already in the oven. It is hard to overcook braised meat – brown it up then low and slow in the oven. You would need to almost leave on vacation forgetting the oven is on to ruin it. But then I was informed a dozen extra people were expected. In a flurry of texts with feverish Robert we decided to add chicken to the meat offering – too late for more duck confit (high and fast won’t work). Searing chicken breasts and throwing them in the oven with the duck was sweaty work (Oh, New York in July) but the result was a success. We added white beans for a cassoulet-inspired dish. We didn’t run out food, I didn’t contribute to the food poisoning of anyone, Robert got the day off to recover, and I think I overheard someone was saying that it was delicious. I’m not any closer to singing karaoke, but I might try shortribs at home.
In other New York news, it was a thrill to see our cookbook (The Cook’s Book of Intense Flavors) here in New York at two different stores for sale – The Strand & JB Prince. We have also experienced some delicious food at Blue Hill, Corton, and a street truck selling dynamite lamb gyros. I found my first small patch of grey hairs(!), our daughters have become experts in big city transportation, and I have made new friends. Our kitchen assistants are lovely ladies from Denmark, and I am proud to say I have learned one Danish word – thank you. So “Tak” New York and my Jews for Jesus friends for the summer away. Hello Lawrence – I am looking forward to seeing you.