- Date: Sunday, April 24, 2011 -- 1pm
- Location: East Lansing, MI
- Kitchen: Our House
- Dining Companions: Matty, Emilee, Brian, Sam, Terry, Teri, Helen, Charles, Clara, Kendra, Jubin, Watson, Mary, Corbett, Allison, and Mark W
- Recipe Rating: B
I considered saving this recipe to make as the very final recipe of my project since it is so very, very indulgent. But when Easter rolled around this year and we were not only celebrating Easter, my birthday, and my baptism, but Em and Brian were also in town to celebrate with us, it seemed like the appropriate occasion for a terrine of foie gras! I started by deveining the foie gras, which I did with the assistance of a youtube video, as I had never done it before, nor even seen it done. I wouldn't call myself a deveining expert now, but it went pretty well. I sprinkled the lobes of duck liver with salt and white pepper. I put some Armagnac in the bottom of a small terrine, then put the larger lobe of foie gras in. I sprinkled with some more Armagnac, then put the smaller lobe in. I sprinkled with more Armagnac, covered the surface of the terrine with plastic wrap, then put the lid on the terrine. I put the terrine on a towel in a roasting pan, then filled the roasting pan with hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the terrine. I baked the terrine (Plastic wrap and all! Definitely my first time putting plastic wrap in the oven.) in a very low oven: 120 degrees. When the terrine was done baking I took it out and weighted it. After a while I removed the weight and refrigerated the terrine for a day. To serve, I unmolded the terrine and served it with toasted slices of baguette.
As you can see above, this terrine looked very scary. That large yellow layer was just pure fat. The yellow fat layer is typical for foie gras terrines, but my fat layer seemed thicker than most. We all eyed this dish quite suspiciously. Truth be told, though, it tasted really good. That yellow fat layer was quite scrumptious, and although I am typically not really a liver person, I very much enjoyed this liver. Most people who dared to taste it seemed to like it, but I think its appearance drove a few people away from it! Plus, we had so many other food options that weren't so scary looking. I didn't want to fill up on the foie gras when I had a plate of other food waiting for me that looked like this:
Indeed it was quite a spread. Here's one table of food:
And a table just for the asparagus, which wouldn't fit anywhere else. (Note: if you think those potholders are cute that the asparagus is sitting on, you should visit my friend Mel's online store. She makes incredibly beautiful kitchen things.)
It was a big and tasty meal, and I am glad that this was the occasion for which I made the foie gras terrine. It did seem appropriately celebratory!
The recipe is here.
Only 25 recipes left to go!
This week was our Boot Camp summer retreat. It sounds military, or athletic, but this was a different kind of boot camp: Writing Boot Camp. I'm not sure where this idea came from, but in our group I think it was a colleague named Cheryl who started it. Our Boot Camp group typically meets on Fridays throughout the school year. On a typical Friday anywhere from 4-10 people might show up. We meet in a conference room somewhere on campus, and at the beginning of the day (typically around 8:45am) everyone announces what they hope to accomplish that day. There are several different departments represented in the group: Fisheries and Wildlife, History, Mathematics, etc, so people tend to be working on many different things (e.g. writing grants, writing books, writing papers, writing referee reports, writing talks, writing book reviews, writing manuscript reviews... there is a theme: writing!). Everyone in the group is both a researcher and a teacher, but Boot Camp is a time when we DO NOT work on teaching-related activities. We don't prep lectures, or grade. We work on research.
One of the lovely things about life in academia is its lack of structure. It is very freeing. On the other hand, especially during the semester, it can be difficult to get the research writing done that you would like to, simply because it is hard to carve out the time. Boot Camp, unlike most of academic life, is very structured. We work on a schedule. A typical Boot Camp day is something like:
8:45 - 9: Settle in, chat, eat snacks
9 - 10:45: Work cycle
10:45 - 11: Break -- read email, eat snacks, chat
11 - 12:30: Work cycle
12:30 - 1:15: Lunch
1:15 - 2:45: Work cycle
2:45 - 3: Break - read email, eat snacks, chat
3 - 4:30: Work cycle
4:30 - 5:30: Some continue working, while others leave.
If you have to leave to teach, you leave to teach. But otherwise, you follow the schedule. The work cycles are very focused and very quiet. We don't chat. We don't write social emails or play around on Facebook. We sit and we write. If you have to pee you are allowed to go pee. Maybe it sounds silly, and for those who are outside academia it might sound completely ridiculous. But it is amazing. It is a great work environment. When you reach that point in the day when normally you might say to yourself, "I have done enough of this difficult writing today, I am going to work on ______ instead," you look around the room and see everyone else working hard: Helen working on her book, Georgina writing a grant, Kendra analyzing data for a paper, Mark revising a paper, Cheryl writing a review, Matt writing a paper, etc, and you feel motivated to keep working on whatever mentally challenging work you were doing.
This week was our Boot Camp retreat. We had Boot Camp every day Monday through Friday from 9-5. Not every single person was there all day every day, but there was a nice size crowd the whole week. It was intense. We spent the week locked in a conference room, writing. It was productive for me and I think for many other people as well. And although this week was the official retreat, our Boot Camp is continuing throughout the summer. We have a sign-up sheet, and it seems that at least a couple people will be in that conference room each day throughout the next two months. I am sure I will be spending many days in there myself. It's a particularly great place to go on days when you are feeling unmotivated. There is nothing like a room full of hard-working assistant professors to inspire you to work! In fact, I think I am headed back to Boot Camp on Monday!