Mother's Day and His Lovely Pancakes
We celebrate Mother's Day later in France than we do in the States. It was this past weekend. It was my first Mother's Day! We had Alpine lake trout on the grill, stuffed with the proliferation of chervil that has to be cut back every week now to keep it from forming flowers and a good dose of dill weed, leftover from one of my herb ateliers with the Dartmouth College students.
Loic made good tasting pancakes with the levain we keep in the mountain kitchen, which seems to be doing well with some coddling every weekend. It still smells clean so we'll keep it going as long as it wants to keep playing house with us, it's been about a month now. It sits in one of the Russian soup pots I bought near that pickle market in St. Petersburg during our early years of marriage, by the stove. Once we get there and I get the fire going, it gets a good stir and a nice feeding and then warms up nice and toasty by the fire. It stays comfortably warm all weekend. When we leave for the week, the house cools down considerably, so it takes a nap for awhile. The kitchen is half underground, having been built into the mountain slope with 2 foot thick stone walls, so once it cools down it stays cool until we come back and pump up the fire again.
We just feed it on arrival (I toss in a sugar cube as a kind of repentance for nearly starving it to death and a couple of tablespoons of flour) and cover it loosely with foil. It gets fed flour again the next two days. Then we see how it looks the next weekend. So far so good, and the nice flavor reminds us both of the bread Loic used to make in Los Angeles when we were newlyweds, albeit much less scientifically recorded and monitored. I suspect that when the weather gets warm we might lose our levain, since it will most likely take on a sour aspect when the yeast population does begin to starve during the week. I'm just happy for the time we'll have with it. I won't worry about how long it's going to last. We like the bread we can buy up there just as much. But I like the kneading, and rising and all that. I like to plop a round loaf on the sheet, clip the top with scissors, and spray it with water every few minutes after it goes into the hot oven. The satisfying thing is that it comes out tasting like real bread each time, the kind we seek out, and the holes don't get too big.
I woke up on the morning of, and waited. I heard the baby making all kinds of conversation that eventually evolved to complaints. No coffee. I turned on my bedside light and broke out the almanac. Pages later, the morning birds started to change their song, baby continued to get into trouble, the sunshine began to creak and make sounds on the roof. I decided that it must be getting well into brunch time and made my way downstairs and he was still working on those lovely pancakes. They tasted very nice.
Here's a little film of our weekend levain.
Labels: Printemps 2010