Process Cooking

by threegirlpileup

We’ve all heard of process art, right? It’s the gold standard for doing art with little ones, with an emphasis on experimentation and experience over product.

I’m all about process art. Recently, though, I had an experience that I realize now was process cooking.

Inspired by the beautiful eggs and milk and cream we had from a local farm, I decided we should make some egg custards. I looked up a recipe in a favorite cookbook. One of the suggestions was a variation with cocoa; being a believer that basically everything is better with chocolate in it, we decided to give it a try.  Maggie was involved in something else at the time, so Anna and I worked on this together.

This was just the kind of cooking Anna likes–egg cracking, measuring, whisking, and even some careful pouring.

They look lovely, don’t they?  We carefully put them in a water bath to cook in the oven, and then impatiently waited for them to be ready to eat.

But here’s the thing.  They were inedible.  And honestly I don’t think it was in the execution; the recipe just didn’t work.  I love egg custards, but the chocolate just didn’t meld well.  The texture was okay, but the flavor was just eggy and weird.

So we scraped the custards into the trash, scrubbed out the custard cups, and went on to something less fancy but more reliable for breakfast.

And while I’m not glad to have wasted my very best cream and cocoa on this project, I do think it’s important to remember that the experience for Anna was mostly pretty wonderful.  You can’t really get around the fact that cooking–by its very nature–is product oriented.  But this little debacle was a good reminder of how important the process is as well.