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Ondine Brooks Kuraoka


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Posted By Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

This is a renaissance summer. Or maybe I’m simply entering a renaissance phase of life, more specifically a beginner’s phase. I’m 40 years old and I’m ready to be a beginner again. And again.

My husband John is the primary cook in our family. I sometimes make salads or other veggie mish-mash or pancakes or cereal, but that’s about the extent of my kitchening. We have two sons, Roy, 8, and Leo, almost 6, and they always look up with surprise when I approach the stove.

So today I began my journey into cooking. I will use this space to share how things are going on this journey. I will also be getting into the garden more often, and report any garden musings here. My mother has a natural green thumb and I’ve tried to learn by osmosis from her, but I admit my garden often suffers from neglect.

And I’m determined to conquer my fear of the sewing machine during this beginner’s phase. (Anyone who knows me is gasping with the shock of my mention of sewing.)

So, that’s the plan.

My husband and I are both freelance writers. My writing self is very connected to my tactile self, so I cannot imagine venturing into this renaissance chapter without writing about it… Here we go!

This morning I dipped into my box of dessert recipes and decided to make Peach-Raspberry Clafouti, a Martha Stewart recipe. Why do I have a box of dessert recipes if I don’t cook? Well, the thing is, I adore reading about food and looking at beautiful pictures of food, so I’ve been clipping recipes for years. It borders on an obsession; if I see a delicious-looking recipe, I have to clip it. The list of ingredients, the mixing methodology, the prep process, all of it speaks to me on a primal level.

So now I give myself permission to go forth and create! John is gracious and encouraging about the whole thing, thank goodness.

The thing is, we are going next door to my parents’ house this afternoon for Kaffee Trinken (German coffee hour), and my mom has Celiac. So she can’t eat any gluten, which means no regular flour. I will substitute regular flour for rice flour combined with arrowroot powder. John ran out to get the rice flour and we had some arrowroot powder on hand, by some miracle.

I Googled gluten-free flour subsitute and saw that you get nice results by adding a bit of tapioca flour to the mix. We had some large pearl tapioca on hand so I thought, What the heck? I added a tablespoon or so to the rice flour and amaranth.

Also, we didn’t have peaches and raspberries so I used plums from my parents’ tree and frozen blueberries instead.

I followed the recipe and all went well until I pulled it out of the oven. I discovered that the tapioca pearls were still hard as pearls. Literally. Tooth-breaking hard. So I had to pick out about a hundred of these pearls, which hopefully had all floated to the top. I will have to announce a warning to chew very carefully…

Hopefully it will be as good as it looks though! The plums smelled so good as they were simmering. Oh, and I used Japanese Mirin cooking wine instead of white wine also. We’ll see… I’ll report back!