Charity Bradford hit 50 followers on her blog and decided to have a blog fest! The criteria your main character has to bake....now see I read bake and thought cook..so um... my MC is cooking not baking. Sorry about that. But here it is!
Josiah Davis was a wonder to behold in the kitchen. He moved with a ballet dancer’s fluidity and grace as he went from the cutting board to the stove and dropped whatever it was he’d just chopped into a skillet and then pirouetted towards the table to grab a spatula and arabesque back to the stove to stir. The air was at once filled with a frantic sizzle and the scent of sautéing onions.
It was here in his kitchen that his mastery was truly displayed, not in the cramped closet that pretended to be the bbq’s kitchen. There he was relegated to chopping greens with his elbows pressed tightly against his side, his knife movement short sounding like a wood pecker on an oak Ta tat a ta.
Here though he could relax, expand. He’d rolled the greens into a tight tube. And sliced them into thin shreds; the knife made gliding motions over them like a world cup yacht cutting through a swell. . Chiffonade was the culinary term. In the South they were merely rolled greens and the bbq they were just sliced and stewed.
He spun towards the stove, grabbed the handle of the skillet and gave it two quick thrusts, at the last second of each he snapped his wrist causing the sautéing onions to leap up into the air like tribal dancers before falling back into the pan.
Nearly all the recipes dictated the greens be boiled in a pot with ham hock and lots of water until they were the consistency of pond scum and all the life had been sucked out of them and into brackish greenish pot liquor that glisten with oily fat. That was how he had to cook them at the bbq – but he was in his own kitchen.
He glanced at the onions – they were coming along nicely. He moved to the refrigerator, opened the door and took out a small bundle wrapped in stark white butcher paper. He placed it on a cutting board and un-wrapped it, slowly, lovingly until the paper lay like petals around the red and white spiral center that was pancetta.
With the knife he used only for meats he began to cut it into small cubes. He sighed as the scent of the meat engulfed him, the earthy nutmeg, the grassy fennel, the pungent garlic all melded in an aroma that was intoxicating.
He twirled away from the counter, cutting board in hand and dumped its contents into the skillet. The sizzling intensified and now the kitchen had another smell, cooking pork belly. Again he popped the skillet and now more dancers leapt into the air. He was patient, and waited while the fat was rendered from the meat, leaving bits of crunchy pork while the onions were now being bathed in spice infused pork fat.
He turned and grabbed the greens in both hands, spun back to the skillet and dropped them in. He leaned over and grasped a pair of tongs and began to work the greens, picking them up with the tongs and dropping them back into the pan, moving them around so that each individual strand was mixed with the onions and pancetta bits. For a moment he placed the tongs down and grabbed a large wooden pepper mill. Three sharp turns sent a rain of black and white particles onto the bright green strands. Down went the mill and up came the tongs, once more the strands danced in the air before going back into the pan. He cocked his head to the side glancing at them gauging their color. He reached out and let one of the stands fall on his outstretched fingers and brought it up to his mouth. He paused for a moment, blowing softly on the green before opening his mouth and letting it drop on his tongue.
Perfect! The sweet of the sautéed onions, the still slight crispness to the greens, the lingering after taste of salty pork and the sharp bite of the pepper that seemed to linger on the tip of his tongue long after the other flavors had vanished. One more graceful turn, as he took the skillet from the stove and with the tongs carefully plated the greens on a simple white plate.
Tomorrow he’d be back at the bbq, back making the greens in huge pots with hocks that had more fat then meat on them. But tonight he was home. With fluid strides he made his way towards the table with his dinner.