Monday, April 19, 2010

Cremation Cooking

Lilting laughter is the best way to spend a day, in the company of friends who work as hard as they play. Susan, Mark and I had a creative and luscious brunch at a Louisville restaurant called Wild Eggs. Many of the dishes were rather wild, but also delicious – like my Creole omelet with andouille sausage and Creole hollandaise sauce. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that Louisvillians can cook, like New Orleanians, they are proud to display the mark of French influence on their city in the form of the fleur de lis.

We discussed our belief systems, and shared our grief over our New Orleans losses. We also celebrated our great memories of that wonderfully crazy place, expressing hope that we’ll one day see it fully functional again. Susan and Mark have a son still there, so we spent a good deal of our time cooking up a scheme for regular Lucy/Ethel adventures to see our sons and the city we so love. Susan is the original Lucy/Ethel, so it’s only fitting that I share these adventures with her.

Susan took me on a grand tour of her hometown; this is a return to her roots. Louisville is a lovely city with a great variety of neighborhoods, and still much pastureland on the outskirts. There’s a great expanse of the Ohio River running through parts of it. And, as I find is typical of river towns, every kind of ethnic neighborhood and restaurant you can imagine.

Susan’s mother Eve lives just around a couple of corners from Susan. We picked up this magically effervescent lady and began laughing immediately. This light approach to even the deepest conversational subjects continued on through the trip to pick up Susan’s equally magical and talented daughter Katy. After a short tour of Katy’s new home, we headed to the primary destination of this trip, a presentation by the most magical of us all, Maya Angelou.

We laughed, we cried, and we cheered as Ms. Angelou wove a web of her troubles and triumphs around the audience. It is so inspirational to hear and see those who have succeeded against all odds and exceeded their own wildest dreams, especially when they can present their journeys with great humor, as well as great pain.
Susan is also quite a storyteller, and can usually find something funny in everything. At supper, her mother asked how dinner went the night before. This question was in reference to the delicious dinner Susan had served me. Susan admitted to her mother that the chicken had not cooperated in being the perfect broasted bird. Because Susan wasn’t used to her new convection oven, the skin was nicely browned while the breast had stayed relatively raw in places. This prompted Susan to regal us with her “cremation cooking” tale that is one of our favorites Lucy/ Ethel moments.

The four of us, Susan, Mark, Richard and I had gone on a supper cruise on Richard’s boat. The wind started to kick up on the lake, so we decided to head back to the marina and eat supper dockside. Susan and I were both good Girl Scouts, so we concocted a plan to cook beef stew in foil pouches placed on the cockpit deck barbeque grill. I got the coal lit; we placed the pouches on the grill rack, secured the lid, and away we went. We were thrilled with the prospect of dinner dockside as soon as we arrived in port.

When we opened the foil pouches, little remained but chunks of char. We should have factored in the convection factor, but we didn’t. It was like we had tried cooking dinner in a blacksmith’s fire with the bellows going full blast. That convection cooking can be a tricky thing.

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