Thursday, June 25, 2009

CEiMB: Vegetable and Cheese Strata

First of all, let me thank any of you who cooked along with me this week. I was kind of surprised when my turn to pick came up so quickly. I won't be picking for Tuesdays with Dorie until sometime in 2011 or 2012 by my calculation. I spent a bunch of time looking at all the choices and tried to find something different yet tasty.

While putting this together I thought of those old Night of a Thousand Stars TV shows because this seemed like a Recipe of a Thousand Ingredients. A love all of the ingredients in the strata, which is why I picked it, but sheesh, there were a lot of them once it came time to do the prep.

I also thought about my Dad, since I picked this recipe thinking it would be good for Father's Day. This is the 5th Father's Day that has come and gone since my Dad died in 2004, and I can't say I miss him any less than I did on the first one. He was one of those quiet guys who everyone considered "just a NICE guy!" I said at his funeral that he'd give you the shirt off his back and then come back the next day saying he just happened to be in the neighborhood with these three other shirts and thought you might like them. Ridiculously smart despite little formal education, he had life smarts galore, and I sure do miss his insights on people and situations. He was almost never wrong when he sized up someone.

His last days made me understand the importance of food in nourishing the body and the soul - both of the person who eats the food AND the person who makes it. One of the very last things my Dad ate was a grits casserole I made for him. I fed it to him the day I brought it over. It was funny, I got talking to my Mom or someone and he'd tap my finger to let me know I was falling down on the job feeding him. He ate it later that week as well, and I can't tell you how special it is to me that I made something he like and it was the last real food he had. I've found a surprising amount of comfort in that these last 5 years.

Happily time does help you remember the good times, not just the bad ones, and between all the parental June holidays we have in my family (both my parent's were born in June - yes, two Gemini parents - I joke that I didn't have 2 parents growing up, I had 4 - plus their anniversary, plus Father's day) plus the photo project I just did for my Mom's 80th party I have a lot floating around in my memory banks. So although this recipe took a lot of prep time, it gave me a chance to do some sorting of those memories, which was nice. In the end, all you have is your memories of the people you love, whether they are in the great beyond or in the next state. That means you can spend time with them whenever you wish. I find that comforting as well.

As for the recipe itself, it came together pretty well. I think I've finally figured out the problem I've been having with cook times in my oven -- the clock in my kitchen is 10 minutes behind the clock in the living room. Since I usually have a sit in the living room after making something, this might explain my temporal confusion.

I made half the recipe, and thought it wasn't bad. It did need a little something, so I spent the day trying to sort out what it was. I figured I might have missed something in the process of dividing everything by two (I know - sad, isn't it?). Finally, I called on my Southern California Culinary roots and came up with the perfect solution.

Everything, especially eggs, taste better with a dollop of sour cream and some avocado. Heaven!

Thanks again for cooking with me, especially since I've been MIA lately. I hope you enjoyed this recipe, and that if you served it for Father's Day that the Dads at the table enjoyed it too.
For the recipe (I've run out of time to post it -- must dash off to work) click here.


Mary said...

What a wonderful post. Your dad sounds like a special guy. I loved the Strata too. I think it is my turn to pick TWD next winter and I am already plotting out my moves :)...

Sara said...

This was a super delicious fabulous pick! And I bet it was even better with that avocado and sour cream.

Anonymous said...

It was a great recipe. Unfortunately I messed it up a bit but I think I'm the only one who did. Yours looks great. I like the avocado idea. Avocados seem to be a favorite in our house lately.

nick said...

Great pick, we loved it and will be making it again.

"In the end, all you have is your memories of the people you love"

I suppose this a fortunate facet of the human condition, subject to your own interpretation thereof and probably a whole host of cognitive biases, of course. Luckily, I am yet to come face to face with such a devastating loss - even the thought of which is right now making me highly uncomfortable. I feel for you and your loss, and hope that you genuinely take solace in knowing that a piece of him lives on in your memories and perceptions of the time you spent together.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post about your dad and a wonderful Father's Day tribute to his memory. Thanks for participating in the group :)

Leslie said...

What a sweet post, Jenn! I know exactly what you mean about finding comfort in cooking something that your dad was able to eat and enjoy. When my mom was dying, I remember I grilled some mahi mahi and made asparagus and something else, and she actually was able to eat and enjoy it. That made my heart soar, and I still think about that to this day, and it was over 20 years ago.

This was a great pick! I made a single serving, and have been kicking myself since that I didn't make more. Avocado is perfect with something like this, and I love how it looks with those slices of avocado proudly sitting on top.

Amy I. said...

Thanks for hosting this week! I loved reading about the sentimental value of cooking and your family. Great pick!

Pamela said...

What a wonderful post, Jenn. Thanks for this tasty pick and my apologies at not getting my post up on time. I had it set up to post, but I don't know why it didn't. Anyway, we really enjoyed it1