Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Sauce Loss and More Blove
I'm having a heck of a time finishing some things I've been writing on the German Romantic philosophers of aesthetics (as you might imagine), and I've just gotten all turned around (in a good way) because Jacques Ranciere showed up on my doorstep this weekend with his aesthetic discontents. So I'm going to use today's lunchtime to give a shout out.
I don't know if I've properly linked to Erica before (like with an introduction or explanation of why you need to follow her funnies) but I will do that now. I've been thinking about food (I've got half a dozen or more entries on it, but nothing spectacular -- see "Eats" label at left) , but she writes about it and cooks it better than I. So here is a recent post of hers aptly titled "Food."
I like this post because I have been watching my friend (of almost 13 years!) develop as a writer just in the past few months she's been keeping up her blog. The ending paragraphs of "Food" had me laughing out loud. And when something actually makes me "LOL" it becomes even funnier just because neither Erica nor I would ever use that horrible acronym unless we were simply dying laughing.
My food thought for the day is nowhere near as interesting as sharkskin wasabi graters, but it is a principle that anyone who cooks for themselves, single or family folk, should know about. It is called sauce loss, and is a tragic yet avoidable predicament of multi-pot n' pan cooking, and of everyday living.
We all know intuitively that you try to conserve as much sauce, batter, or whatever other liquidy, pasty substances might be left behind when you scrape or pour from bowl to dish, from dish to plate. The easiest way, and most time-saving and environmentally friendly way, to avoid loss of precious prep minutes to scraping, and loss of precious sauce to sauce loss, is to make single dish meals -- things you can mix and cook and serve with one pan or pot. This might seem desperate or even low class -- but these are hard times America! Conserve your sauce! (Similarly, any reduction in the amount of transfers of the foodstuffs between containers will save sauce. Transfers are your sauce's worst enemy!)
Another way to reduce sauce loss, especially if the use of multiple mixing bowls and pans cannot be avoided, is to use proper scraping technique and proper scraping tools. The technique you must learn in the kitchen, from an experienced sauce conservationist, or by your own saucy trial and error. Supple wrists are beneficial. But the tools -- the tools I can tell you about. Forks and whisks will never do. Plenty of things mix up nicely with forks and whisks, but they also get stuck between the tines, and the fork especially cannot get the sauce out of the bottom of the mixing bowl, a problem that is exacerbated if your bowl is deep and very curved at the bottom. Budding cooks, you must own an assortment of rubber spatulae! (There is also much to be said for the hand-me-down wooden spoon, seasoned and smoothed by decades of storied sauces and butt-whackings, miraculously adapting its rigid form to every household application. But the spatula is key.) These simple, economical devices are your sauce saviors. You do not need the color coded Williams Sonoma spatula set in assorted hardnesses and textures. You just need a couple different sizes that will last. They clean off the forks, the bowls, the beaters, and generally reduce sauce loss by up to 50%, even in the hand of an amateur spatuleer. Plus, they are much more pleasant to lick (not a loss at all) than a fork or a beater.
Finally, all I can tell you kitchen dwellers is to simply be aware of your sauce. Awareness is the first step in reducing catastrophic sauce loss. Too often I have seen recipes go awry because of lack of some saucy ingredient called for in an exact measurement. Too often I have seen bowls strewn in sinks with batter or tomato sauce stuck to the sides and edges. A soaking nightmare, a waste of wash water, and a really big stink if they don't get cleaned right away. Not to mention the the loss of the thirteenth biscuit or the gratuitous serving of spaghetti sauce that could have been had if those ingredients -- those sauces! -- had had watchful stewards.
Note: Sauce loss does not only occur with cooking. It can happen when eating out, with drinks, shampoo, laundry soap...pretty much anything you pour or might transfer to another container. Watch it!
An excerpt from "Food" in case you didn't click on it yet:
"If I was rich, I might not be so negative about the fancier things. If I was rich, I would have a platter of oysters sitting here by the computer to eat at my leisure. I would sear fois gras in the salty tears of the sturgeon who's eggs I would be eating on toast points. I picture myself laughing hysterically during all of this."