A true literary feast
Not long ago, I woke to my agent trying to get my attention via Twitter.
She tweeted: “HSWLA HSW Literary Agency Attention @KimMoritsugu and @mennogurl... MT @BookMadam Are you an author who likes to cook? I’d like to record you reading your fave recipe.”
There I sat, staring at my computer screen, wondering “Who’s doing what now? And do I have any idea how to send a recording if, indeed, I can make one?”
With two foodies on their client list (me and Kim Moritsugu, who blogs as The Hungry Novelist), my agent wasn’t about to let me sleep through the excitement, as writer after writer sent out Tweets, crying, “Me! Me! I wanna read!”
Having been born into the end of the eight-track era, it took noodling with GarageBand and Podcast on my MacBook, followed by the site Audioboo, before realizing BlackBerry had already made this simple.
After a couple takes, I read into my phone the recipe for my Mennonite grandmother’s rollkuchen.
It’s not so much a recipe as a story that begins:
“When my Mennonite grandmother was still alive, I asked her how to make rollkuchen.
“‘I’ll show you,’ she said, handing me a chipped enamel bowl and a fork, instead of pen and paper.
“‘These first,’ Grandma said, handing me three eggs, fresh from Uncle Bill’s chickens — eggs I’d helped gather when I went visiting earlier that morning.
Grandma was impressed when I could crack them with just one hand, like her.
“‘Some cream and milk,’ Grandma said, giving me a jar of cream so thick I needed a spoon to get it out.
The jar was from Uncle Harry and I’d watched him milk the cows, then pour the milk into the separator in the summer kitchen.
“With a coffee spoon from the silverware drawer, grandma tipped in measures of salt and baking soda. She placed the fork in my hand, took my hand in hers, and together we whisked.”
Authors Iain Reid, Sarah Leavitt, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer (reading in Flemish) joined me on the first podcast.
Kim Moritsugu read Butterscotch Brownies from The Joy of Cooking. And there was more to come from Alison Pick and Kristen den Hartog.
This weekend, coffee in hand, I pulled up a chair to Book Madam’s blog and found a friend.
A grad from my year in the Humber School for Writers program — and fellow nominee for this year’s Danuta Gleed Literary Award — Teri Vlassopolous was reading Aunt Gwen’s Fried Egg Sandwiches from H is for Happy, An Alphabet for Gourmets, by M. F. K. Fisher, published in 1948.
After listing a scant few ingredients that include up to a cup of drippings for six eggs and a dozen slices of toast, Teri reads:
“The drippings are very English, the kind poured off an unidentified succession of beef, mutton, and bacon pans, melted gradually into one dark puddle of thick unappetizing grease, which immediately upon being dabbed into a thick hot iron skillet sends out rendingly appetizing smells. The eggs must be fresh, preferably brown ones, best of all freckled brown ones.”
Each of the readings are a literary feast, and links to each may be found on my blog.
By necessity, though, when we made our own fried-egg sandwiches, we slimmed them down by about a cup of drippings.
Chef's ultimate fried-egg sandwich
4 slices artisan bread
4 fresh eggs
8 slices bacon, cooked, drippings reserved
1 tomato, sliced
4 slices sharp cheddar
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place a pan over med-high heat.
For each sandwich, butter one side of two slices of bread. Spread insides with mayo and place tomato slices on one side, cheese on the other. Season tomato with salt and pepper.
Place bread, buttered side down, in skillet. After 30 seconds, transfer to oven to melt cheese.
Meanwhile, heat two or three teaspoons of bacon drippings in a small pan. Crack in two eggs and fry over-easy, leaving the yolks runny.
Remove pan from oven. Transfer bread to a cutting board. Add eggs, bacon and a few greens. Assemble and slice in half. Serve immediately.
Darcie Hossack is a food writer and author of Mennonites Don’t Dance (Thistledown Press). For past recipes, visit nicefatgurdie.wordpress.com. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.