the meaning of the need for creativity

At least in the kitchen.

Along with some of the criticisms thrown out at people for overdoing their Pesach preparations, with the tart comments that we confuse dirt with chametz, comes the underlying snideness that we women should just keep everything simple, implying we’re the ones making things difficult. ( See [or don’t] the OU Guide to Passover, pages 20-23, In the Merit of Righteous Women, for a particularly offensive attitude.)

I do remember my mother complaining (although in a very reserved way, compared to how I would do it, for sure!) how we children didn’t appreciate having different things for dinner and it seemed like we would like to have hamburger every night. And when we said, “YES!”, she did not listen to us, and how ironic that is/was, since two of us turned into vegetarians and the other I don’t think would enjoy eating hamburger every night and has entertained going veggie a few times, too…

And then there’s the opposite track of women who make their careers in making us feel underinspired (I wrote about this at least once ‘way back in ’09) and overstressed. I’m not going there. So why the need to look for the new recipes? Why not just go for the old?

Well, it’s exactly because we are doing the chores of the cleaning that we can use the creative force of the new. It’s to make it interesting. I said it in ’09, and Shakespeare said it in the early 1600’s; the play’s the thing.

We need to be more than drones. We need to be more than slaves.

To anything.

Although I do not doubt the creativity of field or factory workers, I am grateful for creative outlets, even if I am imposing them upon others.

For example, while taking a break from my reorganization of the playroom (which is now completely deconstructed, alas), I found a recipe for a coconut crust. EASY–GREAT!


1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
3 tablespoons butter
1. Mix coconut and butter or margarine together. Press mixture into an 8 or 9 inch pie plate.
2. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 15 minutes, or until golden.

Easy enough!

And then I found Herve This’ Chocolate Mousse. No eggs. Amazing!

Genius Recipes says: It took a brilliant, adventurous chemist to discover the simplest way to make chocolate mousse at home. Hervé This, the father of molecular gastronomy, discovered how to make a flawless, creamy chocolate mousse out of just chocolate and water.

This all happens fast as the mixture cools, so chances are you’ll go too far on your first try. Don’t worry — just return it to the pan, melt it, and start over (see step 3). Once you have the rhythm down, you can flavor it as you wish with liqueurs or coffee or spices, sweeten it to your liking, or just keep it dark and intense. In all of these scenarios, a little whipped cream up top is never a bad idea. Adapted from Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor (Columbia University Press, 2008) (less)

Serves 4

  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) water
  • 8 ounces chocolate (we used 70% bittersweet — choose a high quality chocolate you love)
  • ice cubes
  • whipped cream for topping (optional)
  1. Simply pour water into a saucepan (which will be improved from the gastronomic point of view if it is flavored with orange juice, for example, or cassis puree). Then, over medium-low heat, whisk in the chocolate. The result is a homogenous sauce.
  2. Put the saucepan in a bowl partly filled with ice cubes (or pour into another bowl over the ice — it will chill faster), then whisk the chocolate sauce, either manually with a whisk or with an electric mixer (if using an electric mixer, watch closely — it will thicken faster). Whisking creates large air bubbles in the sauce, which steadily thickens. After a while strands of chocolate form inside the loops of the whisk. Pour or spoon immediately into ramekins, small bowls or jars and let set.
  3. Note: Three things can go wrong. Here’s how to fix them. If your chocolate doesn’t contain enough fat, melt the mixture again, add some chocolate, and then whisk it again. If the mousse is not light enough, melt the mixture again, add some water, and whisk it once more. If you whisk it too much, so that it becomes grainy, this means that the foam has turned into an emulsion. In that case simply melt the mixture and whisk it again, adding nothing.
  4. Serve immediately, or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream if desired.

But would it work? It was the perfect thing to give to my houseguest and my two big girls to find out! You think I would have time for that? I found the chocolate–that was enough for me!


Guess what! It works!

Did it take a very long time? Yes!

Did it make a huge mess? Yes!

Was it amazing in the coconut crust?


And that is enough for this year!


6 responses

  1. How lovely that you opened up your kitchen to the two big girls to make the huge mess, the amazing coconut crust, the warmth of the memory. Tell me more about the photo–It is a wonderfully captured moment. Sending this to you with hug, Sharon

    • Thank you so much! I was happy to let the girls work together and then notice how their colors also blended so well. Our houseguest, who has become part of our family, is expecting in the next few months, and so to see her put a hand on our granddaughter was even more poignant.

    • Thank you! Actually, I wouldn’t let them into my kitchen–it’s our back room that doubles as a breakfast area, entrance hall, and laundry room! I didn’t want them to make a mess of my kitchen–I can do that all by myself!

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