Temper Temper

Cover of "Handle with Care: A Novel"

I love it when you guys suggest topics, especially at the end of the week when I’m usually kind of topic-ed out. It’s REALLY good when you tie it to Foodie Fun Friday because that kills two birds with one stone – it’s late in the week and it’s on topic!   So my sister-in-law Joanne sent me the following which is kind of self-explanatory but of course I’ll chime in. First, her note:
Hey Keith,
I started reading a Jodi Picoult book (Handle with Care), and the beginning of a chapter made me think of you and your Foodie Friday blog, and a possible link to business: Here goes:

Tempering: to heat slowly and gradually.

Most of the time when we talk about a temper, we mean a quickness to anger. In cooking, though, tempering is about making something stronger by taking your time. You temper eggs by adding a hot liquid in small increments. The idea is to raise their temperature without causing them to curdle. The result is a stirred custard that can be used as a dessert sauce or incorporated into a complex dessert.

Here’s something interesting: the consistency of the finished product has nothing to do with the type of liquid used to heat it. The more eggs you use, the thicker and richer the final product will be.

Or in other words, it’s the substance you’ve got when you start that determines the outcome.”

This follows with a recipe for Creme Patissiere -(the main character, Charlotte, is a chef).

I really like this analogy. Pastry Cream indeed!  There’s a lesson in there about starting with the best ingredients and things of substance to assure a great product.  There’s another one about moving at appropriate speed.  Most of the time, we measure things in the digital world on “Internet time.” It’s like dog years. Everything is accelerated – it’s driving at 200 MPH – you see everything nicely in the distance but the close stuff is kind of a blur.

In cooking, you can’t rush certain processes and tempering is one of them.  The whole process is counter intuitive – if I add hot liquid to eggs I’ll have scrambled eggs and if you rush, you do! But if you are careful and take your time you have a wonderful thickened substance that makes custards of all kinds possible without gelatin (it’s Bavarian Cream if you add it – boring!).

As we get close to the weekend, maybe a little tempering is needed over the next couple of days for each of us to incorporate so much more than work into our lives.  As with the eggs in liquid, it makes us stronger.  You with me?

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