Friends, you have been very, very good to me. For the past couple of years, you’ve been stopping by to see me on a regular basis, and you’ve said some pretty nice things about the contents of my kitchen and my dinner plate. Last spring, when Brandon asked me to marry him, you gave a whoop and a cheer that kept me giddy for at least a week, easy. And when, a few months ago, I started posting a little less frequently, you didn’t let slip the slightest complaint: you just kept on coming, and cheering, and saying nice things. I owe you one – that’s for sure. It’s been busy back here, behind the scenes – or the computer screen, as it were. But it’s been the best kind of busyness imaginable, the sort of busyness that brings lots of Champagne and jumping up and down, the sort of busyness that comes with getting a book deal. I promised you some big news for the New Year, and I mean to deliver.

When I started this site, I wanted just two things: a place to write about food, and a few readers to keep me accountable. I hardly even knew what a blog was, people. A friend had to explain it to me, for Pete’s sake. But somewhere along the line, after a year or so, I found that I sort of liked this blogging thing, and you know, I thought, it might be nice, maybe, to sit around and write all the time. So an idea was hatched, and – to make a long story short – many months, one book proposal, one agent, one editor, a lot of “Holy crap!”s, and one contract later, here I am. [It wasn’t quite that easy, of course, but as some say of childbirth, so I say of book proposals: you forget the pain as soon as it’s over.] I couldn’t be happier to announce today that I am writing a cookbook, a narrative cookbook crammed full of new, original recipes and stories. The manuscript is due on December 15, 2007, and will be published by Simon & Schuster. And as of the end of this month, I will be – [small, thrilling gasp of terror] – leaving my job to write it. As it turns out, 2007 will not only be the year that Brandon and I are married, but also be the year that I become a full-time writer. I know I’ve said it before, and about other things, but hooo boy. I mean it.

This announcement would be sorely lacking without an enormous, sung-from-the-rooftops “Thank you!” to a dear friend known to many as the Gluten-Free Girl. Shauna, girlfriend, good lord, I’m so happy to have you in my life. Thank you for everything, and for you.

I also owe a big one to Brandon, the best first reader a writer could ever want. He inspires me, pushes me, and keeps me true, and one night during the long slog of the book proposal, when I burst into big, loud, sloppy tears at the dinner table, he gave me a firm back rub and took me out for a fancy dessert. He knows just what to do.

My lucky stars have been very good to me this year, and so have you, friends. I wouldn’t be writing this post right now – much less an entire book – if you weren’t here to read it. Thank you, thank you, thank you for that. I’m so happy to share it all with you.

Happy New Year, everyone.