on not recognizing my father
Dad and I walk into the ranch house. Mother is in the kitchen creating and solving a hundred petty emergencies. She barely lets me in to give her a hug in greeting. She is an amazing chef, but the kitchen she considers her dictatorship. I am rarely allowed to cook there.
From the table, Dad takes a carafe and hands it to me, "Here, this is cherry juice from the trees in Sauret’s vineyard. There’s another bowl of whole cherries in the fridge. I’m told I can’t eat raw food, so could you make a sauce or glaze to put over the turkey I’m going to roast on the barbeque? Better wait until your mother goes and takes her shower."
I walk to the shelf of cookbooks in the living room and take down Charles Ronhofer’s Epicurean, published 1893.
Lay in a saucepan, half a pound of currant jelly with six cloves, a small stick of cinnamon, two orange peels, one ounce of meat glaze, half a pint of veal blood, one pint of espagnole sauce, one gill of Burgundy, and four ounces of dried and pounded cherries; let all boil together for a few minutes, then add the strained juice of two oranges, mix together well, and serve.
Another way is to have a quarter pound of dried black cherries with their pits; soften them in cold water, and pound them in a mortar with three gills of red wine; pour the preparation into an untinned copper vessel, add a small stick of cinnamon, and two cloves, also a piece of lemon peel; let the liquid boil for two minutes, then thicken it with a teaspoon of fecula diluted with a little cold water; remove it to the side of the fire, cover, and keep it warm without boiling for fifteen minutes, then strain through a sieve and serve.
Although my mother keeps a well-stocked pantry, without even looking I know there is no veal blood in the fridge.
I step out to the porch, where Dad is sitting. It has been misty and humid all day. The land smells a mélange of cloves and cinnamon and sage. Any other summer week in Paso Robles the afternoon should be over 100 degrees now. It is a balmy 70, rare and wonderful. Our old tomcat, whom Mom brought home from the winery at which she works, stomps up and meows for attention. Dad scritches his head between his nicked ears, then the rough fur of his stiff back. That old guy would have every reason to believe he has died and gone to heaven.
The clattering noises cease from the kitchen. "Now’s our chance. Come on, I’ve got to drain the bird."
From the fridge he takes a huge stockpot in which a turkey floats in a brine with onions, garlic cloves, lemon slices and jalapenos. Dad pours off the liquid, then pulls out the carcass. A cut through the spine butterflies the bird. He then finds a hair dryer and sets to drying the exterior. "I’ve got to get done with this before your mother needs it."
I take about
- 2/3 cup of brown sugar, and
- a tablespoon of the cherry juice, and
make a caramel in a heavy saucepan with
- a cinnamon stick and
- a bunch of peppercorns, maybe
- one or two cloves.
- A quart of cherry juice is whisked into the caramel, and it is allowed to simmer.
- Two cups of cherries are pitted, then pureed.
By this time, the sauce seems to have enough cinnamon, so I pull out the stick. I stir the puree into the saucepan and leave it to reduce.
After a couple of hours, this glaze is brushed on the crispening skin of the turkey. The remaining glaze becomes a sauce to serve alongside the turkey. This glaze might also be wonderful over a grilled pork tenderloin.
Recipes from P to T
meanwhile, and later