I got Junie into bed on time tonight, the first night in a week, and to celebrate, I’m sitting at the table, listening to the birds outside, thrilling at the fact that it’s 8:24 pm and I haven’t yet flipped on a single light switch. And because it feels like time is on my side (yes it is, la la la, though probably just for tonight), I wanted to pop in the door and say a small something. Hello.
I don’t feel very interested in writing about food. It has felt jarring and incongruous to write about food and cooking these past months, like I’d be doing that old Wizard of Oz number, pulling levers and pushing buttons, yelling Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! even though everyone can see what’s going on back here. But I am of course still cooking, because I like to cook. And I can tell you that I’m about to make another loaf of Nigel Slater’s Banana Bread with Muscovado and Chocolate, my second in the past month. I can also tell you that I got a copy of Melissa Clark’s new showstopper Dinner, and I’ve Post-It-flagged approximately 50% of the recipes. I’ve made the Harissa Chicken with Leeks, Potatoes, and Yogurt twice now, and I might make it a third time before I tear myself away to make something else. It’s perfect. I will write about it, if you really want me to, but what I really think you should do is order the entire cookbook. I bought a copy for my partner yesterday, and it is her FIRST cookbook, and if ever there were a cookbook to give someone as their VERY FIRST cookbook, Dinner is worthy. It is also worthy, I should note, of being one’s 1000th cookbook. Melissa Clark is a living legend.
Also notable: I finally got around to making my friend Jess Fechtor’s Buttermilk Biscuits, from her book Stir, and I will now be making them forever. June was so excited about Jess’s biscuits that when they came out of the oven, she leaned in close to the cooling rack, hoping for a sniff, and burned her chin on the rim of the sheet pan. It was sad, but she recovered sufficiently to eat two biscuits. I served them alongside our friend Kathy Gunst’s Roasted Fall-Vegetable Soup, from her book Soup Swap, and I will now be making that forever, too.
But it doesn’t feel entirely right to write about food, as I said, even though I just spent a couple of paragraphs on it. What I would rather do is share with you some things that I’ve been reading. I’ve been reading a lot in recent months, maybe because I’m also in a period of learning a lot, or maybe I’m learning a lot because I’m reading, I don’t know. I’ve been accumulating a list of stories and articles that I didn’t want to lose track of. You’ll see that there are clear themes, notably sexuality and marriage. ‘Tis the season!
- “‘Snack tray’ quickly became a cheerful, wordless conversation about who we wanted to be in the world and how we wanted that world to be,” or, Gabrielle Hamilton on celery toasts, Smirnoff, and Doritos.
- A little piece from A Cup of Jo about what some chefs and food writers (and me) eat for lunch.
- A resonant essay from Alys Fowler: “I began to understand that there is no such thing as coming out: it is a daily negotiation.”
- A chilling piece about anxiety, depression, and loneliness among gay men. Not a fun read – nor should it be – but a crucial one.
- Another not-fun read, but a hopeful one, this time about divorce and a constellation of feelings and realizations for which I struggle to find words. One of you sent me this article, and I’m totally kicking myself for losing track of your name, Kind and Thoughtful Reader! Thank you.
- This post is now three months old, but what Tim has to say is perennially great.
- The same goes for Patti Smith, who shines even in failure. Pa-tti! Pa-tti! Pa-tti!
- This smart and important zine about mental health and wellbeing, from food writer Ruby Tandoh and her partner.
- My best friend and Spilled Milk co-host Matthew Amster-Burton published his first novel in January, and it’s called Our Secret Better Lives. It’s set on a college campus in the mid-nineties, and it has a whip-smart female protagonist, and it’s crammed full of references to ’90s bands and albums. I’ve read it three times, and as another early reader commented, the entire book is like a really good pop song. I love it.
- Another Cup of Jo post, this time an essay from writer Ashley Ford about body image and relationships, and it is SO GREAT.
- Superhuman (and cookbook author!) Chrissy Teigen wrote about having postpartum depression, and everyone who is a new mother, loves a new mother, or even remotely knows a new mother should read it.
- The poem “My Heart,” by Frank O’Hara. Oh oh oh oh OH
- And last but not least, the “Ask a Grown-Up” episode from This American Life.
Thank you, always, for stopping in. This space makes me feel more like me, even when I’m away from it.
Friday! It’s rainy here in Seattle, as it often is in June. I don’t mind, but I also wouldn’t mind being in a car on the road between Rome and who knows where in Italy, as I was on this day three years ago, when I went over for Luisa’s wedding.* Let’s go there for a minute. Maybe to a beach on the Adriatic. Ah. Earlier this week, I drove to Spokane and back, which is absolutely nothing like a beach in Italy but is still beautiful in its way, and because I was driving alone, I listened to Girl Talk “All Day” very, very loud and did a lot of “dancing,” by which I mean flapping my elbows wildly while…Read more
It is 12:26 pm on June 23. I’m sitting at my desk in the window, which, if you were considering it, is a bad place to put a desk. What a person needs behind a desk is something sturdy, galvanizing, like a wall. Otherwise you’ll wind up spending your time as I am today: watching the world’s most subtle breeze blow through the branches of the neighbors’ tulip magnolia, wishing I were eating a cheeseburger. I’m slowly emerging from New Book Insanity. I am so relieved, so glad to have this book behind me and out in the world, and also so, so, so tired. Elated! Tired! Dead! (But hey, Spokane: I’m going to be in your town tomorrow night,…Read more
Hello from a plane somewhere between Minneapolis and San Francisco! I’ve been trying to write this post for a couple of days now, on trains and planes and more trains and planes, but then I wind up staring out the window or admiring the spectacularly bedazzled manicure job on the woman next to me or reading an entire Us Weekly over someone’s shoulder before passing out and suddenly coming to three hours later in a new city. Today, I will persevere! I will only read half of an Us Weekly over someone’s shoulder. I’m eight days into nearly two consecutive weeks on the road for Delancey. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to be on book tour, even now that I’ve been…Read more
I’m typing this post from my cousin’s kitchen table in Oakland, California, where June and I are visiting for a family baby shower and have stayed long enough to eat four slices of red velvet cake, get stuck twice in rush hour traffic on I-80, and sniff every single rose in Rockridge while out walking the neighborhood at 6:49 in the morning, killing time before the rest of the family wakes up. We fly home tomorrow, and then, on Tuesday, I leap into that heady, unnerving thing called Publication Day, otherwise known The Day Your Copy of Delancey Will Finally Ship, If You Pre-Ordered It, or, The Day You Can Find It In Your Local Bookstore, If You Didn’t. Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah!…Read more
In the time since you and I last spoke, I’ve been to New Jersey and back for my sister-in-law’s wedding and, in the name of research, have eaten a lot of New Jersey bagels and New Jersey pizza. It was hard. And while I continue to dig my way out of the giant to-do list that accumulated in my absence, I wanted to quickly remind you: tonight, a crew of musicians is performing original music inspired by my first book A Homemade Life. 8 pm! The Royal Room! 5000 Rainier Avenue South! Seattle! Come on out! The whole concept is one of the weirdest, best things I’ve ever heard of, and I can’t wait. I baked four Winning Hearts and…Read more
My publisher tells me that finished copies of Delancey, hot off the presses, are due to arrive in their offices early next week. (!) I have a lot of feelings about this, both of the excited and terrified varieties, because it means that the book will finally be done, donedoneDONE, but also that it’s too late to change anything about it, make it better, or otherwise obsess over it. It means that it’s no longer mine, in a sense. But on the upside, it soon will be yours! It also means that you should grab a pencil and get out your calendar, because I’m taking this show on the road. I’ll be traveling around, doing readings and signings – regrettably, not karaoke’ing…Read more
It is with pleasure, great relief, and even greater trepidation that I can FINALLY say that Delancey, my second book, will be published in three months and one day. Right! Three months and one day sounds like an eternity. An age. But we’re closer than we were a month ago! Look at it that way. That’s the way I look at it in my better moments, the ones when I’m not staring at the clock. In the meantime, I get to present to you the book trailer, or video, or whatever you call it, for Delancey. My publisher and the video team did a beautiful job! Granted, I am not exactly what one would call at ease in front of…Read more
I’ve started this post four different times now, on five different days. I’m already tired of it, and I still haven’t figured out how to start. Does that ever happen to you? Do you do what I do and take a “break” to raid the walk-in at Delancey for chocolate chip cookie dough? Do you tell yourself, What harm could it really do if I listened to Freedom ’90 again? Do you ever wonder if you’ve missed your chance to be a dancer in a Janet Jackson video? Shall we start this thing already? First, I want to tell you that I was elated by your response to Delancey. Totally elated. Ecstatic. Even slightly stoned. I’m still coming down from it. Thank you so very, very…Read more
Maybe you will remember a day, more than two years ago now, when I announced that I was writing a new book, and that, if all went according to plan, it would be out in the spring of 2013? And then maybe you will also remember that nothing went according to plan, in ways that were hard and good-but-hard and then great and really, really great, and here we are, with no book, in July of 2013. Maybe you will join me, then, in heaving a giant sigh of relief – more than that: a great wind, a hurricane-force gust – that Delancey is not only done, donedonedone, but that it now has a cover. A cover! This thing is ON. I will tell you…Read more
My manuscript is due on June 1. Hello from the Cave – or, as I first typed, “Hell from the Cave,” which has a nice slasher-movie ring to it. Hi. For those keeping track, no, you are not crazy: the book was supposed to be due in March. I had to ask for an extension, unfortunately, because of the small human under my shirt who makes me very tired, and because there’s been a difficult health situation in my family. 2012 came in roaring, and though I wish it would settle down and start acting its age, I doubt it’s going to. I am, however, going to FINISH THIS BOOK. If I can stay awake long enough. Each night, when…Read more
I am supposed to be writing a manuscript, not baking rye crumble bars. No more rye crumble bars no more rye crumble bars no more rye crumble bars no more rye crumble bars no more rye crumble bars. When I found out that I was pregnant, I asked my publisher to extend my deadline, which was supposed to be March 1. I wasn’t sure how ill I would feel, but I’d heard plenty of pregnant lady horror stories, and I thought it was best to plan for the worst. Happily, I wasn’t very ill, but I was very unproductive. I was very, very tired. One morning, when the alarm was going off and I showed no signs of movement, Brandon…Read more
I am writing to you, once again, from my friend Ben’s dining room. When I was here last August, writing my brains out, I had a hunch that a return visit might be helpful before my manuscript deadline. Turns out, that was correct. In Ohio, there are no Brandons to distract me, no Delanceys to worry about, no Jacks or Alices to bark suddenly at absolutely nothing and, boom, scare the organs out of my body. In Ohio, there is just a Ben and his nearly empty house, and a twin bed under the eaves with my name on it, next to a window onto which the previous tenant’s child stuck two butterfly decals. My first day in town turned out…Read more
About three weeks ago, I printed out all the drafts I’ve written so far for my next book, and then I spent three weeks avoiding reading them. I finally got up the courage on Sunday night. I poured myself a beer, sat down at the dining room table, and read through all of it. Afterward, I wanted to stab myself in the eye. But that didn’t seem like it would make the manuscript any better, so I went to bed. I woke up at five the next morning. While I lay there in the dark, thinking about the injustice of being awake at such an hour on my day off, I remembered how rough and horrible my drafts were, and…Read more
I am writing to you today from my friend Ben’s dining room. If you’ve been around for a while, you might remember that he used to live in Seattle, where he was like a Kramer to us, but he moved away for a job. Now he’s in Ohio, and for a week, so am I. I needed to get some work done on Book 2, and I missed my friend, so I rolled the two into one and called it a writing retreat. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but turns out, it’s like summer camp – only there are no counselors to keep us down, and instead of doing archery and riding horses and gathering around the campfire…Read more
I had a recipe post all ready to go for today, and then I woke up this morning and realized that there was something more pressing to say. That book proposal that I was working on a couple of months ago, it did its job. Because of it, I get to write a second book(!!). I’m so excited about it that my eye started twitching uncontrollably this morning, and several hours later, it’s still at it. I can hardly see straight. When a Paul Simon song came on the radio over lunch, my eye actually twitched in time to the music. This is how excitement feels: like my face is falling apart. Yes, the official announcement came today, in Publishers…Read more
In the days since we last spoke, I’ve flown to Oklahoma and back. I’ve introduced my mother to 24. I’ve made Cafe Lago meatballs with my mother, braised a pan of endive and serrano ham with my mother, and put away a couple of Negronis, also with my mother. I’ve baked a coffee cake using a tin of baking powder from my mother’s cabinet that, you know, it turns out, expired in 2006. I’ve thrown away a coffee cake. I’ve filed and paid our 2010 income taxes! I’ve had a toothache! I’ve sent off my book proposal! I’m using a lot of exclamation points! And because of this second-to-last item, because you’ve been such cheerful, cheering, much-needed companions in Book…Read more
Greetings from Book Proposal Land. I lied. That isn’t really what Book Proposal Land looks like. Not in the winter, anyway. (Only in the summer, from a ferry.) It’s quiet here. The nightlife isn’t much to write home about. Socks and slippers, mostly. There’s not a lot of sensible eating here in Book Proposal Land. Almost no vegetables. Just pancakes and coffee. Cereal. Girl Talk. Some John Mellencamp, when I have a sweet tooth. But last night, my friend Sam called, and then there was yellow curry and rice. And a cocktail with Aperol, white wine, and grapefruit juice. Okay, two cocktails with Aperol, white wine, and grapefruit juice. I’m going back in. See you in a few.Read more
Well. The good news is that I’m making headway in my book proposal. I was working on it at a cafe on Saturday afternoon, and I could actually see it taking shape, right there in front of me. I love that feeling. I was absolutely elated. I lost all sense of time. I was in it up to my eyebrows. And I must have looked it, too, because as I was packing up to leave, the girl sitting next to me commented politely that I must have gotten some very good work done, because I was staring at my computer so intensely. And I decided that from now on, I should work only in the privacy of my home, so…Read more
November was nice, but what happened to it? Hi. Our visit to the East Coast was good and long and involved a lot of sleeping and pizza research, the common themes of our days off since Delancey came along. I wrote a story about stuffing for this fine newspaper – you know that it’s not just for Thanksgiving, right? You can eat stuffing whenever you want – and now I’m working on a story for this fine magazine. But lately, my head is very full of Possible Future Book. I want you to know that I thought long and hard before I typed that last sentence. Because now it means that I can’t chicken out. The idea of writing another…Read more
I don’t know how this could be possible, but according to the calendar, it’s been a year since my book first came out, a whole entire year that went by in what I could swear was only 45 minutes. And today, though I do sort of want that year back, I’m happy to report that the paperback edition has just been released. It’s leaner, it’s meaner: it’s the same book, but cheaper! I dare you to say that three times fast. Over the past year, or 45 minutes, however you look at it, many of you have written to me to say that you’ve read the book, or that you’ve cooked or baked from it, and I cannot thank you…Read more
Hi, friends. I had the best intentions. I did. I was going to tell you about another cookie today, and a really good one too. But a visitor has been staying with us lately, and he won’t let me into the kitchen. He’s big and burly, 90,000 words tall. His name is Man U. Script, and he’s a bruiser. He’s bossy and demanding, and he makes me sit at my desk for hours and hours and hours. But the good news is that, at long last, he’s leaving on Thursday. He’s getting into a FedEx box and going to New York to hang out with my editor. I can hardly believe it. I don’t know whether to open a bottle…Read more