Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Epiphany - and a year of fine cuisine!

Today is Epiphany. My first thought - as it was below freezing around Tampa Bay this morning - is for those hapless Greek Orthodox youths over in Tarpon Springs who will be jumping into the frigid waters to retrieve the cross. More power to them for their traditional celebration - I pray that they make the connection between this day and the continual interest God has in providing refreshment and reinvigoration to each of our lives every day of the year!

But what I really want to talk about is my scaled down "Julie & Julia" initiative. Christmas, as you may recall, was kitchen-themed in our house. We bought each other a compete set of "Emeril" pots and pans, stocked up our gourmet supplies, and generally rounded out the kitchen project.

One of my gifts to Rebekah came with a twist. I presented her with two new cookbooks, along with the promise that I would prepare a new recipe for one of the volumes, each week during 2010.

I'm starting out with "Cooking New American: 200 recipes from the Editors of Fine Cooking". Last night was "Seared sliced pork loin with quick pan sauce." There are seven pan sauces to ch0ose from and I went with the lemon-caper reduction sauce. Yes, you can start drooling now!

The book comes with clear directions and several color photographs for each menu. I followed the directions exactly! The pork loin juices worked in with the butter and olive oil and I set the meat aside to add the stock, lemon juice and capers. I've moved from regular salt to sea salt; I squeezed fresh lemon juice; I prepared organic veggies from the produce aisle; I sipped white wine while cooking (don't all gourmet chefs sip wine while cooking?).

And, I've got to tell you, the results were amazing! I'm a decent cook to begin with, but I had fallen into the pattern of twenty or so dishes I can fix without thinking too hard and the new kitchen simply wouldn't stand for such slouching!

Come to think of it; a brand new year spilling over with possibility and grace won't stand for slouching either. Why coast when you can push the envelope? Why settle for ordinary when we were created to be and do extra-ordinary?

There are several distinct aspects of our lives. Our physical person; our amazing minds; the core spiritual being that defines us; our relationships with other people; our work and our recreation; our response to the physical world; how we chose to engage the opportunity we all have to involve the presence and purposes of the Creator...

All these are in need of people committed to excellence.

As for Week One of the "Recipe Initiative", I'll chalk it up as a success. I prepared mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables, and whole-wheat bread to accompany the seared sliced pork loin with lemon-caper reduction sauce. I learned that - in the sudden heat and rush of a pan sauce - it pays to have a preheated oven and all the ingredients prepared and measured.

I'm already looking forward to next week - DEREK

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