We start with our favorite fizz, Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose, Mom says this is the last bottle until after the recession is over. It feels like a decadent treat these days and we relish every bubble and sip with lots of toasts to chronicle what's good in our lives.
When my bff was visiting from London, she brought over a couple special bottles of fizz as a gift to me, so I might surprise Mom with some bubbling decadence at Christmas despite all our resolutions to tighten the belt buckles and make do with California sparkling wine.
Proscuitto, basil and gruyere palmiers. Buttery, cheesy, flaky goodness and as usual Sue eats so many of the savory hors d'ouevres she barely has an appetite for dinner. Mom has no room to complain, because this is less a repeat than an outright habit. You two kill me. Mom, if you want Sue to eat a bigger dinner, make less hors d'ouevres. Or, just don't care. She's eating, for crying out loud.
Mom has always set a beautiful table, even when making us scrambled eggs and toast before sending us to catch the school bus.
One of her small collection of salt cellars.
A trusim. She loves her wine. Apples fall from trees and only roll so far.
Sunday Suppers at Lucques is Mom's favorite cookbook, she cooks from it often.
I love how she has it coded and dog-eared for herself using dozens of post-its. These are recipes she has already made or is planning on making in the foreseeable future. A deep and enduring love for the post-it note is an inherited trait, apparently. I love how Mom's passion for cooking has evolved over the years. Always a great cook, I remember her gourmet dinner parties in the 1970's, cress salad with Green Goddess dressing, making mac & cheese pre-trend from scratch with hand grated sharp cheddar and crispy thick bacon bits, Yorkshire pudding for Christmas dinner for as long as I can recall. Now that she works her behind off and does most of her major cooking for events and dinner parties, there is always something fancy afoot. A new recipe, a special ingredient, an ethnic perspective she hasn't played with yet. Reflecting Saturday night on her hobby, she said cooking is completely the opposite of practicing the law. And as a corporate bankruptcy attorney in this economic climate, I imagine anything that feels different from her 9-5 is a relief and a joy.
Last Saturday she cooked up Goins' Spicy Pork Stew with Polenta, Root Vegetables, Gremolata.
For some insane reason, she decided it was a little too spicy. In complete disagreement, I argued that if you get rid of the heat you simply are left with pork stew, not that this would be a bad thing. But it certainly wasn't overly spicy, and if anything when cooking this at home I might even bump the heat up a notch or so.
Green salad with frisee, cress, arugula, pear, bleu cheese crumbles and pomegranates picked from Sue's tree Saturday morning. Sue shelled those seeds with her own little hands a few hours after plucking the ripe fruit from her garden.
Mom also collects vintage and antique cookery and cutlery. The above silverware is mongrammed with an E, for Elizabeth supposedly. Elizabeth who? I have no clue.
Tossing the salad.
About this time we pulled out the Petite Syrah, 2004 Marilyn Remark from Monterey. Silky smooth and wonderful with against the spicy flavors of the pork and the richness of the polenta.
Midway through the meal, Mom took a break from eating to construct financiers, a little French almond cookie. Not like a macarons, because financiers also have flour and butter. A tiny bit like a madeleine, but denser and stickier.
She has had these little tin pans around for eons.
And also wanted to use the opportunity to try her hand at baking in silicon. Silicon is great for baking, easy in, easy out, easy cleaning.
Flour, almond meal and sugar.
This vintage measuring cup holds the egg whites. This belonged to Aunty Marge or Aunty Olive. And the Pyrex bowl in the back has been around since I was a child. I have used it myself for hundreds of concoctions.
Adding the egg whites to dry ingredients.
Stirring in the melted butter.
And filling both the tin cookie shells...
and the silicon baking forms.
Naturally, I think the cookies from the tin turned out more charming. Also, more batter went in each tin shape, so the cookies didn't cook quite as thoroughly and were thus less dry, stickier.
But they all made a pretty plate.
And the late October sun set, mirrored in the little lake populated by ducks, geese and other water fowl here and there all busy heading south. I think they travel like most Californians and just follow the 5.