Thursday, April 30, 2009

When You're In Need Of Serious Sustenance

Greetings from California! I’m writing this from my parents’ house, where I have spent a very happy week cooking in their large well-appointed kitchen and rehearsing up a storm. Tomorrow is the Big Night on which my dad and I are playing the Beethoven Triple Concerto with world-renowned pianist Menahem Pressler, and it would be an understatement to say that we are REALLY excited!

So with a big concert looming large, why am I blogging on Kitchen Fiddler the night before, about to share a fabulous chicken&rice recipe with you? As you may recall, I wrote a post on this blog two months ago about how I’ve often thrown myself into elaborate baking projects as a pre-concert distraction technique. I guess some things never change! Since it’s not possible or even necessary for me to have my violin in my hands all day long, I have definitely been cooking as a way of relaxing this week, and this has actually has helped me mentally focus for tomorrow’s big concert.

It’s been an amazing couple of days in preparation for this performance. I have a long history of making music with my cellist/conductor dad, and it is really exciting to play new repertoire together. In addition to the Beethoven, we’re also doing the Schumann Piano Quartet on the first half, and I’m so happy to be working once again with Sam Formicola, our wonderful violist. It is thrilling beyond words to play with Mr. Pressler, who is seriously putting us all through our paces. Our long rehearsals have been very intense, and I feel that both my mind and my musical understanding are being stretched in a very concentrated and deep way. My brain hurts at the end of each rehearsal, for I’m trying to absorb absolutely everything and pay attention to every last detail. I am being challenged to play as beautifully as I have ever been capable of playing, and I am unspeakably grateful for an opportunity like this.

We’re working hard. Beethoven demands nothing less, as does Schumann. And when we’re ready for a break, everyone comes to our house to eat. My parents and I would rather invite people to dine at our house instead of going to any of the unmemorable local restaurants, and my mom is an especially gracious and welcoming hostess. She and I make a great team in the kitchen, something we've done for many years together. I’m more of the idea girl while Mom is the queen of beautiful presentation, and we both throw ourselves whole-heartedly into the execution of our vision. Between the two of us, we can really lay out a beautiful table of food, one that is often enhanced by the stunning roses that grow in the front yard.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

At Long Last!

I have a disclaimer to make.

Believe it or not, I am NOT a vegetarian. One certainly could have gotten that impression from reading this blog. With the exception of my Happy Clams recipe from mid-January, I realize that all of the recipes I’ve posted over the past seven months have fallen into either the vegetarian or dessert course categories. Not that I see anything wrong with that, but perhaps it is time for me to branch out a bit in my postings.

I actually love eating meat, something I do frequently whenever I go out for meals, but I just don’t usually cook it myself. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe I’m a little intimidated, always afraid I’m going to misfire and end up with an inedible main course, either from being raw or horribly overdone. For that reason alone, I should work on developing my confidence in this area so that I feel more well-rounded in the kitchen. But I think my reticence also stems from my college years when I had a very limited cash flow and tried to cook as economically as possible, which translated into a diet that focused on grains and beans and lots of vegetables. Even though my purse is a little more flush now than it was fifteen years ago, I still really enjoy cooking and eating that way.

However, I had an uncontrollable craving for red meat last night. Instead of going out for a steak, I decided to be brave and cook one myself. I must admit that I got enormous satisfaction from tapping into my inner carnivore last night in my own kitchen! I also got a lot of pleasure out knowing that I’d be able to switch gears on this blog tonight. Instead of teasing you with tales of decadent chocolate experiences or rhapsodizing about radishes and avocados the way I often do, I am thrilled to have this fabulous skirt steak recipe to share with you tonight. In fact, it is a recipe for Sumac Skirt Steak With Pomegranate-Shallot Sauce, to be exact.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Sensational Spring Salad

It’s officially spring and I have enjoyed wandering around Riverside Park with my camera these past few days. I had grand plans for a variety of seasonal springtime meals that I wanted to share with all of you lovely friends reading this blog. These photos of newly budding trees at sunset were going to be a bonus inclusion in various blog posts, the proverbial icing on the cake.

Aren’t they pretty? I thought you’d enjoy them.

But I have a confession to make. I haven’t been cooking at all lately. I haven’t really been writing either. I am a horribly negligent blogger, and I apologize to all of you who have checked in on my little blog in these past weeks only to find no recent activity. I’m sure you’ve wondered if I will ever put up a new post, and I am sorry that I have been remiss in neglecting Kitchen Fiddler this spring. However, I do have a good excuse.

Lately I have been focusing on the ‘fiddler’ part of my blog’s name much more than usual, for I have been practicing the violin like a madwoman in preparation for a big concert in California. On May 1st I will be performing the Beethoven Triple Concerto with my cellist father and with world-renowned pianist Menahem Pressler. Just writing those words gives me a serious adrenalin rush, for Mr. Pressler has been one of the great musical inspirations throughout my life.