Sunday, March 25, 2012

Classic but never Old.

We just celebrated by husband’s grandmother’s 90th birthday.  This milestone has got me thinking about growing old and age in general.  This Grandma, by the way, is one of the most lucid, vibrant and independent people I know of any age ( I am knocking on wood, spitting in every direction and throwing salt over both shoulders, since I can’t remember which one wards off bad luck.  I figure more superstition has got to be better than less, where my loved ones are concerned).
So, back to contemplating aging.  When I was about 15, I perceived my 35 year old aunt and uncle as ancient, at the sunset of their days.  What can life possibly offer after the age of 30 was unclear to me.  Now I look at our grandma and I don’t see her as old, just older than me, even though our age difference is more than half century.  Her age is not haughtily unreachable or unreal to me anymore.  I look at her lifetime with wonder; just think how the world has changed for her generation – from horse and buggy to the digital reality we live in today.  I am excited to see what my lifetime will bring.  Will I see a man on Mars?  Will I experience virtual reality?  Will my daughter ever clean her closet?
Some things get better with age: wine, cheese, bread starters… as I grow older I don’t feel the weight of age, instead, I become like an old collector of cherished memories, experiences, joys and sorrows.  I build my collection recognizing that they make me who I am, that without them I am just a blank canvas.  I treat my precious collection like little treasures, wrapped up in lace and stored in wooden chest.  Sometimes I take them out and revisit them, lovingly going over every detail in my head.  For every wrinkle around my eyes and for every gray hair I will get, there will be years of life, joys of family and friends, pride for my children and more memories to store in the treasure chest.
My husband’s grandmother is not old, she is classic and classy.  There is something very timeless about how lady-like she is, with her lipstick, a new hairdo and attention to fashion.  She is classy in her dancing and cooking.   She is constantly reminding me that we should always be reinventing ourselves, learning, improving….  To celebrate all things classic but never old, I am remaking an old favorite 2 ways – Deviled eggs.. 

Smoked Salmon Deviled eggs.
10 Extra-large or jumbo eggs
½ lbs of smoked salmon finely chopped
1 tbs capers finely chopped
1 tbs fresh dill finely chopped
1 tbs Japanese mayo ( you can use regular, but I like the Japanese kind, pure umami)
2 tbs sour cream
2 tbs crem fresh
¼ tbs of sweet smoked paprika
Fresh ground pepper
Salt to taste

Harissa Deviled eggs.
10 extra-large or Jumbo eggs
5 strips of bacon
1 tbs harrisa paste (start with ½ tbs if you not sure about the heat level)
1 cup mayo
1 tbs of lime juice
½ tsp chopped fresh parsley
½ tsp chopped fresh mint

Start by making hard boiled eggs.  If you think you know how to do it perfectly, great, skip ahead, but honestly it is not as easy as it sounds.  It is difficult to time eggs perfectly, so the yolks are fully cooked and the whites do not get rubbery.  I also hate when the yolk becomes gray on the outside.  So here is my trusted method. 

In a shallow pot cover the eggs with hot water ( this will help the water come up to a boil quicker, making for more even cooking).  Bring to a boil.  Turn the heat to the lowest setting and cover the pan.  The water should not be bubbling; very gentle simmer is what you are looking for.  Cook for exactly 7 minutes.  Rinse under cold water and peel right away, using the cold water to rinse as you peeling. 

Let the eggs cool.  Split them in half lengthwise, gently tease out the yolks and set the white “shells” aside.

To make the Smoked Salmon deviled eggs.  Combine all the ingredients and the yolks in the bowl and mash with a fork until you get a smooth mixture.  You can also use the food processor; it makes for a mousse like texture.  Do not salt the mixture right away, try it first.  Add salt as needed.  Spoon or pipe the mixture back into the white’s half-shells.  Garnish with smoked paprika.

To make the Harissa Devil Eggs.  Cook the bacon to very crispy.  I use my husband’s method for this, little mess, quick and easy.  Place 3 or 4 paper towels on a plate (paper if you got it).  Spread the bacon on the paper towels.  Cover with 3 more paper towels.  Microwave on high for 2 minutes.  After 2 minutes, check if the bacon is crispy, if not, cook at 30 second intervals until it is.  Nice crispy bacon, zero mess.  Husbands are good for something.
Crumble the bacon until fine.  Combine all the ingredients and the yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork.  For this one, I don’t like to use the food processor as the bacon loses its crunch.  Spoon or pipe the mixture into the white’s half-shells.  Garnish with chopped parsley and mint.

Next time you go through your photos of years past and start feeling old, just think of yourself as classic instead!

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