What a fun-filled evening! It was Suzanne’s idea, not mine. She suggested, since the last couple of cauliflower-processing family marathons did not really result in happiness all around, that I should do it alone tonight. Perhaps she had nothing but benevolence as her motive, thinking that the multi-tasking exercise would help keep my looming dementia at bay. Perhaps she just wanted to affirm how advanced my decline might be. A test, in other words.
Her cited reason for me “putting away” the cauliflower was almost as transparent as the family’s need for a dough-substitute. She simply stated that everyone else was busy, what with the two oldest tackling the ubiquitous mound of dishes, the youngest shaking her innards to the point of potential harm in an effort to produce butter, and Suzanne boiling down two pots of tomatoes and juicing up celery for God knows what. That left me with free hands.
So, I clear some working room and get to it. Chop some cauliflower, blanch it in the steamer (“for precisely four minutes” — ha!), cool it in a basin of cold water, place it in the blender, transfer it into a cheese-cloth, squeeze out the liquid (“save that for soup stock or as a nice hot drink”), transfer the paste into zip-lock bags, remove the air, seal, label and date, freeze. Repeat. And repeat.
But what happens is that some stages take longer than others, so in the name of efficiency, new batches are started, until eventually all stages end up going simultaneously. There is nothing more to it than moving the body around the stations, using the mind to keep track of those “precise four minutes” and, well, using the mind.
It wasn’t long before the unattended blender started producing unusual whining sounds, and the cold immersion bath was hot, and the “precise four minutes” became anytime really, and the squeezing station was backing up. Then someone said, “Is something burning?”
Putting away food is a peculiar activity, possibly designed by the desperate, or by those who are into the aesthetics of touch and texture. When all was done, the counters (and floor) cleared off, the blender and cheese-cloth cleaned and rinsed, the black charcoal scraped and scrubbed off the previously perfectly functional steamer, I had a reflective opportunity while cradling my hot cup of cauliflower drippings and the five little baggies of dough.
Earlier in the day, I had put the tin on my shed roof. I had also repaired my boat and test-driven it. But tonight, following a similar investment of time as those earlier endeavors, I processed enough cauliflower that we could have five whole pizzas! Makes you wonder why I don’t spend more time in the kitchen …