Well. I wanted to bring you a real winner of a recipe today. I mean, I guess that’s what I always want, but this time, I really thought it was going to work. For a couple of months now, I’ve had my eye on a salad from the beautiful book Moro East, a Libyan-style salad of pasta, Greek yogurt, garlic, cilantro, and warm spices, topped with pine nuts toasted in brown butter. Doesn’t that sound great? I couldn’t get it out of my head. And so one day last week, I made it, and though I wanted, lord knows, to love it, I didn’t. The warm spices were too warm, and the whole thing needed a swift kick of lemon juice. Then I tried this salad, which had the distinct advantage of being very, very pretty, but likewise, it wasn’t worth writing home (or to you) about. Meh.
Other than that, we’ve been eating a lot of artichokes lately, and I did manage to get myself around waaaaay too many (excellent, excellent) brownies at our friend John’s the other night. But I didn’t make them, and I didn’t take a picture, so I could hardly tell you about them today. I’m sorry. Also, I dropped gooey crumbs of them all over John’s kitchen floor when I thought no one else was looking and sneaked an extra sliver, and for that, I am even sorrier. I am hardly worthy of human company sometimes. I should be banished to someplace dark and uncomfortable. With the leftover brownies. Because they were my accomplices, obviously.
So I have no recipe today, and I apologize. But I have been meaning for a while now to write a bit about my book – a little update of sorts – and it seems to me that today is as good a time as any? It’s been a while since I wrote about it, and I didn’t mean to let so much time go by. I tend to feel a little shy about the book, I guess, and even though it is now written and on its way, it still feels fragile somehow, and sort of unreal. But a lot has changed since I last mentioned it here, and I want to tell you about it. Because whether you know it or not, you – your comments and encouragement and belief – are what made me think I could write a book in the first place. I hope you know that.
The first thing to say, I think, is that the book now has a title. It’s called A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table. When I first started to work on it, I intended to write a cookbook, but what came out was more like a memoir, a collection of “food stories” and recipes. I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me, since that’s how I think of this site, but still, it did. In part, it’s a book about my father, who – both in the way he lived and in the way he died – taught me about the importance of cooking and eating together. And it’s a book about my mother, who is, hands down, my favorite person to hole up with in the kitchen. [Sorry, Brandon. She was here before you were.] And it’s about Brandon, of course. And in a way, it’s also about all of you, because you’ve been at my table, or perched on my kitchen counter, or standing with me at the stove, for almost four years now. That’s a long time.
The book is now listed on Amazon.com, which, when I first found it, made my eyes pop out of my head. (It’s not yet available for pre-order, but when it is, I will let you know.) Those of you who like to read fine print may note that the release date is set for March 1, 2009, which, I know, is not what I’d told you before. The book was originally scheduled to be released this fall, but for a number of reasons – including the presidential election and the serious havoc that comes with it – we have decided to move it to March. At first, that felt like a long way away, and I was a little sad. But then I decided that this book feels like a spring baby; it didn’t want to be born in the winter. So it’s alright. But I want to thank you for your patience. I’m learning that a book is a long slog of a project, no matter how you look at it, and I’m so happy that we can pass the time together. Whew.
Last but not least, many of you have written or left comments here to ask about art for the book, about whether or not it will have photographs and whether or not they will be mine. I’ve been working for the past few months on that very issue, and it’s tricky. I love photography as much as the next guy, of course, and I always like to see an image of a dish before I start to make it. But because this book isn’t a straight-up cookbook, I wanted to give some sense of the scenes and people that comprise it, and for that, I decided that illustrations might be better. And so, with fingers tightly crossed, I approached one of my favorite illustrators, Camilla Engman. And, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, she said yes. She was a dream to work with, full of ideas and sweet, quirky ways to interpret my stories into images. And I am honored, tickled, and totally over the moon to see her drawings beside my words. Goodnight.
Thank you for listening, or reading, or whatever it is that we do here. It’s much more fun to share this stuff, it turns out, than to keep it all to myself. And next week, I promise you’ll get a recipe. Promise.