I’ve moved into my new place in Plainfield, VT, and feeling pretty good about the move. I’m living alone, in a very cute apartment in an old house. There’s a babbling brook that runs along one side of the house, and I have a porch overlooking it.
Tonight, I made myself a traditional German meal of Spaetzle and Sauerbraten. I had marinated some bits of beef for kebobs last weekend (in vinegar and red wine, with onion and spices), and decided to use them for the “sour roast”. I sweated some onions and scallions, added tomato chunks, parsley with the stems, a bay leaf, garlic, mustard, red wine, cayenne, paprika, and some other spices. Then, I added water and finally the beef, and braised the thing for about an hour.
In the meantime, I decided to make Spaetzle, homemade Swabian (and Southern German) noodles. The dough is made up eggs, flour, water, and salt. It needs to be liquid enough to scrape off of a cutting board into boiling water. I hadn’t made Spaetzle in the U.S. since about two Thanksgivings ago at my father’s house. And I hadn’t made them by hand since about 2007. But I definitely want to get back into practice, and maybe even have a workshop at my school. Intro to Swabian food.
But the main theme tonight was really thinking about Germany, my grandmother, and what she’s taught me about cooking. It occurs to me know that she really knew all the fundamentals I’m learning in culinary school. The eggs I used for the Spaetzle are local from Vermont, and it shows. They are of varying sizes and colors, which makes them even more appealing to me. My grandmother used to get fresh eggs once a week from a local man who had a chicken yard set up (right next to the graveyard, as it happened). She used to praise those eggs to the high heavens. Whenever we would compliment the nice Spaetzle she had made for us, she would always say, “It’s those good eggs!” And so I thought about that when I was making Spaetzle today. And I thought about the ratio between the flour and the eggs, and the color of the egg yolks, all things she had taught me.
As I was making the sauce for my Spaetzle (which I strained from my braising stuff), I thought about how my grandmother used to make a special separate sauce with cream for my aunt. I decided to make mine with cream, since the liquid was pretty sour on its own. I came out nice, and I enjoyed the meal I made for myself.
But something’s missing. I don’t share my meals with anyone. No friends, no partner, no family. I’m so proud of my cooking, and yet I rarely have people over to share. It’s partly because I don’t prepare enough in advance and make things on the fly, and also a little because I fear people might not like what I’m making. So lack of confidence is definitely a factor.
So why don’t I creep out of my shell more? It doesn’t come naturally to me. Which means I have to plan for it. Well, it’s something to work on.