I am writing this having just driven (ok, my husband drove most of it) from Vermont straight through the night to Brooklyn, where we will be spending half of our time in the coming year. The first half of this month has been an adjustment as we figure out what will stay in our Somerville apartment and what we should bring to our new Brooklyn life. Unsurprisingly, the kitchen items are the most contentious. Will I be dehydrating more in New England or the Big Apple? Where should I keep my counter top composter? My canning pot? As I pack and repack and unpack, I am left thinking about how important food is to my life. It is, in part, my vocation – I have been writing primarily about food for the past year and what it means to me, my culture and my ideals. It is also, I have come to realize through the past seven months of charcutepalooza, through our half-move and through my other gardening, cooking and writing projects, one of the main ways that I connect with others. So, quite literally, where I keep my Cuisinart and All-Clad is where my home is.
I was thinking of all this as I strove to plan ahead for this month’s charcuterie challenge a few weeks ago. I kept bringing my cookbook back and forth to Brooklyn, trying to decide when I could find a few days in one place to finish a terrine, let alone a group of friends with whom I could share it. In truth, it was more about the latter than the former. I could Macgyver a terrine in almost any kitchen, but to me it wouldn’t be worth it if it sat in either of my, now mostly bare, refrigerators. If there was one thing charcutepalooza taught me, it is that connecting with others through the food I make is as important as executing the challenges themselves.
Luckily, my husband was asked to play with a few bands at a music festival in Vermont. Many of our Boston-area friends would be there, camping in quarters even tighter than our tiny lots in Somerville, for three days. We would need a lot of food. We would need a terrine.
So, two days before we were to leave (from Boston, my food processor and heart-shaped molds luckily still at apartment #1), inspired by Michael Ruhlman’s scallop and crab terrine recipe, I bought 3/4 pounds of white fish (cod), 3/4 pounds scallops and a half pound crab. In a food processor I combined the fish and scallops with saffron-infused cream and egg whites and then folded that now-creamy mixture together with flaked crab and fresh chives and then poured that into plastic-wrap-lined molds.
I put foil over the molds and then cooked them in a water bath until their temperature reached 130 degrees. Next I cooled and weighted them in the fridge overnight.
The following day I packed them in our ice-filled cooler and made a quick cucumber and dill salsa to serve alongside.
By the time we made it to Vermont, our tent packed alongside boxes of books and shoes that would be heading to Brooklyn the following week, the sunlight was already starting to wane, and it felt as it summer itself was not long behind. But instead of focusing on what was behind me, or what lay ahead, I decided instead to sit still and enjoy where I was at that moment: a perfect summer evening, surrounded by friends with whom I could share food that, in some small way, expressed exactly that.