And then last November, Kodak Gallery gifted me with a $50 gift certificate to create a book revolving around my Thanksgiving celebration. As someone who cooked Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas dinner, New Year's Eve dinner and New Year's Day dinner - all for different people - not a lot of photos were taken! (And you must know I was most honored to be entrusted with so many people's holiday plans - it was a pleasure to plan and execute the meals. There's no "sigh of the cooking martry" happening here.)
This winter I was able to properly bring together photos and document the holiday season - the people, the food and the sights. I have far too many photos stored away in books and boxes, it has been a sweetness to have this book in my living room and watch family and friends who were part of the celebrations go through them with happy exclamations.
I am in the midst of creating one from our trip to Ireland. I am so traditional - and went with the black background and the small white border - but there were so many design options to choose from - that I am thinking of having one of my more visual friends come and help me jazz-up the next photo book. The prices are reasonable - and I had over 40 photos in my holiday book.
I want to thank Kodak Gallery for their generosity. I would also like to inform them that my children are already starting animated discussions as to who takes ownership of this book - in the future. (In the far future.) Do check them out - there's an array of gifts and they are wonderfully personal. It's not a one-size-fit-all book. It's my memories - and I take care with them.
Last week, I was gifted once again - my mother came to dinner and brought bags of goodies. My mother does not come over unless she has at least three shopping bags filled with food and books. My grandmother was like that and I intend to continue the tradition. Likewise, I cannot leave my mother's house without a truckload of food. My salad days as an actress are over and I certainly look well-fed, but old habits die hard.
And this artichoke gratin won my heart. Today, it's both a memory and a happy anticipation.
As I dwell in my snow-globe world (Day 119), the green of the artichokes lifted my snow-slogged spirits, the richness of the gratin gave me a glow and the fact that my mother did the considerable work of prepping the artichokes brought me back to the days of my youth. When she cooked and I merely ate. There are a few steps - my mother never turned away from prep.
(The artichokes in MN are adults - so she used what she could find.)
4 pounds baby artichokes
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup heavy cream, whipped a bit
3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Prep artichokes. (a tutorial on prepping artichokes can be found here. A video tutorial can be found here.) How people figured out how to take a prickly, thistled vegetable and turn it into a creamy delectable to pleases every nerve-ending in your being is a subject for another post
Cook artichokes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. season well with salt. Add the juice of half a lemon (save a tablespoon of that lemon juice for later.) Add prepped artichokes in simmering water. Simmer for 6-10 minutes (until artichokes are tender.) Drain well.
Garlic Aioli: In a blender or in a tall bowl for an immersion blender, combine eggs yolks, 1 pinch of salt, white pepper, water, remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and minced garlic. Slowly pour in your canola and olive oils while pulsing until mixutre begins to emulsify. (Which will happen quickly.) Continue to pulse (if using an immersion blender - keep the blender low towards the bottom of the bowl.) Pulse for about 1 minute until it is the consistency of mayonnaise or - is mayonnaise - which it is.)
Whip your cream.
Mousseline Sauce: In a large bowl gently fold your aioli into the whipped cream. Then fold in your Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Broil: Arrange drained artichokes in 1-1/2 quart gratin dish (or - you know - something similar). Gently spoon mousseline sauce over all. Broil on high for about 3-4 minutes (until some of the sauce is lightly browned on the top). Serve immediately. One serving is 348 calories with a healthy dose of 80 grams of fat. I didn't bother to figure out the points! When an artichoke gratin falls into my lap, I merely say "thank you!"
As current events unfold, I have discovered what for me - is the wonder of blogging. As I read with great interest what is on the dinner table in Japan, Malaysia, Italy, Canada, Syria, Lebanon, France and all across our country - we are a community that comes together for dinner.
We break bread together and take turns stirring the pot. We share, create, laugh, sigh, sizzle and embrace - each other's lives, each other's meals and cultures with respect. Not a bad blueprint for becoming one world.