Everything Changes

Change. It happens all the time. Human beings are kind of obsessed with it. It happens whether we like it or not. We often want it but almost never want anyone to ask us for it. People will use it as an excuse, “I’m sorry it has to be this way, but everything changes…” OR “we broke up because she wanted me to change…” But by it’s very nature, the value and architecture of change cannot be explained, defined or determined.

The funny thing about people who say stupid things like “everything changes” is that they usually don’t. My ex-husband was telling me how much he needed change in his life (as a justification for his actions), but I see him now in exactly the same situation he was trying to run away from. He wanted to travel, he wanted to sell the house (my house), he didn’t want to have any more kids (as if I had asked! Why do men assume that if you are a good mother you want more children? That’s another post.), he said that I had changed. Now I see him with a girl who is jonesing to have babies, who convinced him to by a house, who doesn’t like to go anywhere…but he was right, I have changed.

I listened to JJ telling me “everything changes”, I want to leave Seattle (I doubt he has), I want to go to school (I doubt he is), and then he capped it off with “don’t try to change me”. Hummmm…..He told me that he didn’t want to be “tied down” by certain things, but he remains (as far as I know) in the same place he was a year and a half ago. I wanted to scream at him, shake him and tell him that taking the easy way out will not change anything. Making we may not be easy, but we will be worth it.

I listened to B who sat on the couch with me one day with moist eyes and said, “K. I was always looking for something to change, and it never did. I’m still the same person I was ten years ago. No matter how much my outside world changes I can’t change myself, even when I want to.” I wanted to hold him and kiss him and tell him, “B, no one changes on their own, we change because we let things touch us. You never let anyone in. You never let anyone change you. Let’s combine, let’s be each other’s catalyst, let’s be each other’s flame.”

Cooking is essentially change. Isn’t it? Perhaps we should look at ourselves not as complete entities, not as things, but as ingredients. After all, this is what we are, the ingredients of genetics and environment that make what we think is “me”.

What I really want to say to people like JJ or B is “I love the ingredients that make up you”. Saying “I don’t like it when you….(fill in the blank)” does not mean I don’t like you. It’s more like saying “I don’t want to eat your egg yokes raw, but I know they will add an essential ingredient to something delicious. Let’s cook.”

And when we get into the kitchens of our lives we will make a mess and we might get burned once or twice. When we make something new your chocolate will still be rich, your sugar will still be sweet. Like cooking, just making one meal isn’t going to sustain you for life and a person cannot live on dessert alone. There will be Top Ramen days. We will have to go back into the kitchen again tomorrow and cook again together. Just as you cannot see yourself as a thing, you also cannot see a relationship as a thing. It is not static, it is a collection of ingredients of selves which your are constantly adding to, cooking up, remaking.

This is not an easy thing to cook, but it is well worth the effort:

Dark Chocolate Soufflé (I got this from a site called cooking for Engineers)

4 oz. (115 g) 70% cacao chocolate
1/2 Tbs. (7 g) butter
1 oz. (30 mL) heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
2-3 large egg whites
a dash (1/16 tsp.) cream of tartar
1/6 cup (35 g) sugar

Assemble the ingredients: 1 ounce (30 mL) heavy cream, 4 oz. (115 g) 70% cacao dark chocolate, 1/2 tablespoon (7 g) butter, 2 large eggs (separated into whites and yolks), a dash of cream of tartar, and 1/6 cup (35 g) sugar.

Prepare two 6 ounce (180 mL) soufflé ramekins by applying a layer of cold butter to the interior of the ramekins. Use your fingers to apply an even, thin coat of butter to all parts of the ramekin including the sides. Pour some granulated sugar into the ramekin and shake and roll the ramekin to coat the bottom and sides with sugar. Several sources claim that the butter and sugar help the souffle rise, but this is not actually true. The butter and sugar are really there to add flavor of the crust and aid in the release of the soufflé from the ramekin (if desired).

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

Bring some water to a boil in a pot. Once the water boils, reduce the heat until the water just simmers. Place a small metal bowl over the pot to form a double boiler.

Melt the butter, cream, and chocolate in the double boiler.

Stir to help the melting. Once the chocolate has melted, turn off the heat.

Whisk the two egg yolks into the chocolate.

The resulting mixture may look like the chocolate seized, but don’t worry, it will smooth out once the egg whites are folded in.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until the egg whites reach soft peaks. (The cream of tartar is added to egg whites to increase the acidity slightly. This allows the proteins to bind together a bit more easily making stronger bubbles to form the basis of the egg white foam.) This can be accomplished with a bit of effort with a whisk (took me about 5 minutes) or a hand mixer with a whisk attachment. The term soft peaks means the foam has reached the point where the egg whites stand up when the whisk (or your finger) is lightly dipped into the foam and gently lifted out. The tip of the peak should droop. If the tip stands up straight, then it has reached the stiff peaks stage.

Add the sugar to the egg whites and continue to beat until you reach stiff peaks. Adding the whites a little at a time, fold them into the chocolate mixture.

Without over mixing, fold the remaining egg whites into the batter.

Pour the batter into the two prepared ramekins. Fill them at least 3/4 of the way up. They are now ready to be baked.

The best part of making soufflés is that they can be prepared to this point beforehand and refrigerated for up to three days. On the day you plan to serve the soufflés, take them out of the refrigerator about two hours before you plan to serve them so they can warm up a little. If you don’t take them out of the fridge early, then bake them for an extra minute or two.

Place the ramekins on a baking pan and place the pan in the oven on a rack set in the middle position. Bake the soufflés for 15 minutes at 375°F (190°C). As it bakes, the air bubbles we’ve incorporated into the batter will start to expand, causing the entire souffle to rise. After fifteen minutes, the soufflé will have risen up out of the ramekin (the photo shows an example of a ramekin filled to the 3/4 full level). (Greater lift can be achieved by using three egg whites instead of two).

Serve immediately in the ramekin. (Ramekins will be hot, so use some hand protection to transfer the soufflé.) As the soufflé cools, it will drop and become more dense. An alternate method of service is to remove the soufflé from the ramekin. This easiest accomplished once the soufflé has cooled a bit and a knife has been run along the sides. The soufflé can be inverted and tapped out onto a catching hand and then deposited onto a plate. Reheating the soufflé at this point will allow the air bubbles to expand again and the soufflé will rise back up (although not to its former size).


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