Saturday, July 23, 2011

Culinary therapy

The past few days and weeks, I've been trying to reconnect with the kid. Long-time readers may wonder why I say "reconnect," but the truth is that the effects of the PTSD as well as other life experiences lately have made me realize that I've been disconnected from life in general for a while now. In particular, I've been lost to some of my closest relationships.

One of those relationships, I now realize, was with the kid. To wit, I spent some time the other day trying to remember when something happened this spring. And then I realized it was last spring. Then I caught a picture of her earlier from her birthday two years ago. In it, she was showing off the new earrings I'd had made for her. In my mind, the gift had happened last year. Time has vanished in scary ways.

That said, I've been waking up lately and beginning to reconnect with her and others in my life. As part of this waking up, I took the kid and her best friend since they were three to Water Country USA yesterday. The past two years, we've had adult company on the trip — the first year another friend's mother and last year L. This year, I decided to go solo. Not only am I trying to reconnect with her and other people, but I'm trying to reconnect with myself. It was a brilliant trip — and as always full of horrible food. Afterward, though, we grabbed sushi at our favorite Richmond sushi place. It isn't the best, but it is good enough. And then the kid was treated to dessert at Secco with much of the restaurant singing "Happy Birthday" to her. It was a brilliant moment, thanks to some good friends.

The real therapy began in the morning, however. I finally started cooking again. And by that I mean something other than prepping the simplest pasta dishes. Nope. The girls had a sleepover, and in the morning, we capped things off with homemade buckwheat waffles from my grandmother's 1929 waffle maker. Then, this evening, I had crab from the farmer's market, corn, and beautiful heirloom tomatoes to use. And despite the impending storm outside, I was determined to do crab cakes and corn on the grill.

I winged it on the crab cakes. I took in pieces I'd used from Joy and from Alice Waters, and made my own take on the cakes. Mayo, grain mustard, smoked paprika, lemon, parsley, sauteed carmen peppers and garlic in butter (sauteed in one of my new pans), and panko. A touch of salt. Just enough flavor to round out the crab and let it shine at the same time. Follow this by slow-cooking on foil over a wood-fired grill, add grilled corn and a simple tomato salad. Brilliant summer meal, right?

And it was, except for one thing. I changed the recipe with a tired kid in the house. Half a crab cake in, and she said they didn't taste good. At least she ate the half. Next time, I don't change the recipe if she has tired eyes.