Archive | March, 2012

Yin and Yang: Homemade Crème Fraiche, with Pasta

5 Mar

The middle of nowhere, for a much-needed 12-hour break from winter and work

One of the reasons I got into the event-planning field is because I enjoy atmospheres of riotous cacophony in which unfettered bedlam is threatening to jump out of her metaphysical closet, put me in a headlock, throw me in the trunk of her rusted green Chevy Chevelle and speed off toward Bellevue.

One of the reasons Stephen got into the legal field, is that he craves order, balance and harmony; loves nothing more than stymieing undue displays of behavior that slop outside of the social contract’s definition of suitability. His idea of heaven is working in an environment of rigorously enforced professionalism in which the threat of a partner popping his or her head into his office and demanding that he review important case documents for the next 48 hours, with short breaks for the B.R. and greasy takeout food, lurks under the surface of every hastily scrawled memo.

Our life together has been a joyful bout of seesawing between our extremes, to the benefit of our mutual sanity and quality of life (interrupted by minor skirmishes over my laissez faire approach to huswifery).  A typical episode is usually set off when I unexpectedly and merrily pull the trigger de jour, after which Stephen dutifully extracts the bullet, stitches the wound and quietly makes the necessary phone calls.

The past few weekends have been whirlwinds of aggressive work (for both of us) mashed up with aggressive bouts of relaxation (my doing, mostly).  Recently, the Willcox-Repsher Yin Yang bus of bipolar fun took the form of a mini-work-and-pleasure-road-trip during which we met our friends Brenda and Jerrold, as close to halfway between our houses in the Hudson Valley and Columbus, Ohio as possible.

Stephen and I are still waiting for Pennsylvania Tastykakes to go international

In our search for geographical compromise, Brenda and I happened on the site for Blue Knob resort in Pennsylvania, we exchanged a flurry of Facebook messages, Stephen and Jerrold mapped our respective routes and the four of us gunned it … for the middle of nowhere.

Presented, without comment

A 12-hour break from reality punctuated by trips to antique stores, truck stops (they have the best fries) and live-music joints up in the Allegheny Mountains … just what we needed to snap ourselves back into the game.

Brenda meets a handsome, mysterious stranger

Oh, and bookmarking our little road trip was my experiment with “making” crème fraiche – or really, just letting it make itself. I threw some cream and buttermilk in a super-clean glass, covered it with saran wrap, then threw (for a lighter version) some half and half and buttermilk in another super-clean glass, covered it with saran wrap, left it on the stove next to our fridge for 48 hours, and let nature take its course.

Stephen, of course, bristled at the notion of consuming what is essentially spoiled dairy, but when I assured him that Julia Child and Jacques Pepin frequently made their own crème fraiche, his eyes glazed over and he stopped listening, vaguely reassured, but still doubtful.

(Just for the record, the “good” bacteria and natural enzymes in the buttermilk zap the “bad” bacteria in the cream as it sits, for anywhere from 12 to 48 hours; the colder you keep your house, the longer it will take, ergo our two-day crème fraiche recipe).

When we got home, the batches of crème fraiche – both full and slightly reduced fat – were velvety rich, gorgeously thickened and rich. Just begging to be spooned over fresh berries, piled into muffin recipes … and that night, tossed with hot, salted noodles, butter-sauteed shallots, freshly zested lemon peel, shaved Pecorino, petite peas and a generous dusting of mint.

Click on for recipes ….

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