mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

zucchini souffle! . . .

souffle 6Have you ever made a souffle? It’s one of those things that people sometimes think is so hard to pull off that it ranks right up there with learning how to dance the tango or something, right? Well, anyway, I’ve been experimenting with making zucchini souffles, using a French Charlotte mold with heart-shaped handles. The bottom is slightly smaller than the top, making it easier for the souffle to rise.

To make it less daunting, I make the souffle in different steps, spaced a couple of hours apart on a leisurely Sunday afternoon. Each step takes little time and allows for the souffle components to reach the right temperature (tepid) before finally folding in the beaten egg whites right before you’re ready to bake it in the oven. Here are a few easy steps if you’d like to try it yourself for a classic and tasty supper.

1. Trim the ends of a medium sized zucchini, wash, dry and hand grate on a box grater (medium hole side.) Melt two tablespoons of unsalted butter, wash and cut up two green onions and saute in the butter. Add the shredded zucchini, toss and add salt, browning a little until golden. Let it rest (cool.)

sauteed grated zucchini, scallions. . .

sauteed grated zucchini, scallions. . .

2. In a clean skillet, melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, add 2-3 tablespoons of flour and mix in quickly. Stir in a cup of whole milk and whisk together until it starts to thicken. Separate 4-6 eggs depending on size (room temperature) and add one yolk at a time to the bechamel sauce. Add one cup of shredded cheddar or gruyere cheese. Let it melt. Whisk together and add the zucchini mixture from step one. Season with Maldon sea salt, and a little nutmeg if desired. Let cool. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

bechamel sauce with cheese and zucchini with some nutmeg. . .

bechamel sauce with cheese and zucchini with some nutmeg. . .

3. Using an old-fashioned hand egg beater (I have two) or a hand mixer,  beat the egg whites until peaks form. Add about a cup’s worth to the zucchini cheese sauce and fold gently, using a paddle motion (down, up, over and back down into the mixture, folding air in all the while.) When blended, add the rest of the beaten egg whites and do the same thing, being very careful to allow air volume to be folded in along with the egg whites.

4. Butter your souffle dish and sprinkle the

buttered charlotte mold and egg whites that will be beaten until stiff. . .

buttered charlotte mold and egg whites that will be beaten until stiff. . .

inside of the mold with parmesan cheese. Gently fill the souffle dish with the soft, souffle mixture. Slide into medium rack of the oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 375 degrees. Turn on the oven light if you want to peek at the souffle without opening the oven door. Bake for at least 30 minutes and up to 45 minutes until top is golden brown and the inside is cooked. Don’t despair if at half an hour, it looks like it’s not going to rise. Wait a few more minutes and it will. When done, the souffle will look gorgeously poufed and the center should look as if it’s cooked even if it is slightly jiggly. Turn off the oven, open the door and let the souffle sit on the rack for a few minutes while the oven temperature drops.

Dress a fresh cress salad with a simple lemon/Japanese vinaigrette. Seat yourselves at the table and place the souffle in the center of the table. Using an elegant silver serving spoon, serve the souffle, pass the salt, coarse pepper and enjoy!

souffle 5

There’s something satisfying about eating a healthful and modestly economical dish for our Sunday night supper. It might take a little practice (the lightness of the sauce matters!~) but the golden appearance and savory taste of this souffle is definitely worth it.

 

 

“Noah” . . .

. . . the next great flood . . .

. . . the next great flood . . .

Having little better to do on a Saturday night, G. and I surfed through Netflix and Amazon.com to see if we could find a movie worth watching. We picked “Noah” with Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connolly, the actors who co-starred in “A Beautiful Mind,” some years back. If they hadn’t been in the movie, probably few people would have decided to view it. Because it was just awful.

I won’t go into all the theatrical aspects of the movie which made it seem sometimes like a “Lord of the Rings” wannabee, replete with animated giant rock robots who fight off the hordes of humanity who want to board the ark before it’s too late.

The reason I’m writing about it in this post, however, is that the message about humans ruining everything is still true: doing themselves in whether it’s due to the introduction of evil in the Garden of Eden, providing temptation through eating the forbidden fruit and making choices that result in defiling Nature’s gifts, killing brethren (Cain and Abel) and conducting wars upon wars (the Middle East, Ukraine, Syria, Al-Queda, Taliban) still goes on and on, everyday. Whether you buy into the religious ringtone around the original sin thing or not, it’s easy to see that we humans perpetrate hardship on each other and that injustice is rampant due to ego, greed and the quest for power and domination. Where will it all end up. . . another flood? If not, what are we to do as we lead our lives on a small scale, trying to get along with those we love and moving on from things that don’t matter any more?

How can we stop the merry-go-round and get off the human centrifuge that spins us around all the time? I’m thinking for myself that it would be helpful not to want anything any more. Not having a bucket list, for example, of exotic places to travel to or museums to see. Or that elusive place to live directly on the ocean with taxes you can’t afford, never mind the purchase price or even a week’s rental fees. Not STRIVING all the time. The energy that goes into striving is a propellant that is hard to defuse. Eastern philosophy says just that: stop wanting and you will be more at peace. Of course, that doesn’t mean we have to live in a treehouse and drink drops of rain off of pine needles at night either.

And what’s a happy medium since we live in America and can’t turn off the news? Stop reading magazines for one–a pet hobby of mine, where emulation and ideas for new things to get are what they are all about. I’ve been going through ones I’ve kept through the years, tearing out a recipe or two and then tying bundles of them up in twine to take out for Tuesday recyling pick-up. What else? For me, it’s to be more effective about living in the present so that the past doesn’t affect me so much anymore. And for things that linger over us that may affect us in the future to stay where they belong–in the future sometime.

In the meantime, we’re trucking along, each of us having survived and recovering gradually from physical injuries this past Spring. My car, which went missing a few months ago, then recovered, then held hostage by the insurance company is almost ready to be repaired. The screw that was holding my tibia and fibula has been removed; and I’m looking forward to taking a trip in September to Puget Sound with my daughter and her family. Looking forward to eating Dungeness Crab is enough for me to strive for these days.

So, until the next flood, wildfire epidemics, tornadoes, tsunamis or attacks on planes somewhere in the world, here’s to living today as best we can, clean up our messes and be nice to the people we care about.

Oh, and to stop making bad movies with money better spent elsewhere.