I have to start this post by saying thank you for your comments on the last one. You were all so kind! While we knew it would be fun to share the news about the cookbook, we didn’t know it would be that fun. You doubled our joy! You offered to recipe test! I have long believed that blog readers are the unsung heroes of the Internet, the ones who give without expectation, who often listen without being heard, and I want you all to know that we think it’s really something. You’re really something. Thank you. We hope we can create a book that will truly delight and inspire you and celebrate the beauty of what we have found to be a treasured grain. We hope when you hold copies in your hands next year, you’ll know we made this book for you.
Since we’ve last talked over here, as you might expect, Tim and I have been spending all our spare moments in the kitchen. This weekend, we’ve tested 12 recipes in two days, which is another way of saying you’re all invited over for dinner, provided you don’t mind the complete disaster that is our living room and our dining room and everything else. We did make our bed this morning because we like to look at it, all neat and folded and inviting, to feel like we’re still civilized humans, but of course that only works if our eyes are able to avoid the pile of laundry next to it on the floor. Friday night there were cookies—four test batches before we hit the win—and this afternoon, Tim sliced a loaf of marbled einkorn rye so pretty, it took my breath away. As I type this post, he’s over there now, in front of the stove, watching another experiment bake, and I’m giving thanks again that I get to undertake this project with him.
Writing a cookbook is daunting, I don’t know how else to say it. You come up with ideas, you buy ingredients, you test ideas and they don’t work, you test ideas and they do, you buy more ingredients, you do more tests, you throw your hands up in the air when you think about things like budgets and regular work hours, and you feel like there’s no way you’ll be able to get it all done. People ask you about your new project The Cookbook and you hear yourself saying things like you’re a little overwhelmed and you feel like you’re mind’s still at the stove, and when you come home later, you realize you forgot to say you’re also glad. Just like when you were planning a wedding or looking for a place to rent or house-hunting or taking a trip, you know that this stressful task before you is a blessing. You know it’s working for your good.
I read a poem a few months ago that stopped me in my tracks when I found it, particularly this line:
“Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second,
Then decide what to do with your time.
-Naomi Shihab Nye (from “The Art of Disappearing”)
I like it because it reminds me that in life we are always busying ourselves with something, be it holiday shopping or extra work hours or writing a cookbook. In the midst of our projects, our work feels all-important, so exhausting, like a task that will never end. We’re tired and we’re focused, and when people ask us about our days, our tasks are what pour out. But we could tumble any second, no matter how fast we’re moving, and every moment we’re being given is a gift.
This salad, inspired by one we saw (but never tasted!) on a daily menu from Nashville’s Margot, which is one of our favorite restaurants in the city, filled up a few of our moments this month. We ate it with my brother-in-law on a Sunday afternoon at our table, dishes in the sink and lists on the fridge. It’s made up of seasonal greens (any winter lettuces would work); slippery, oily roasted red peppers; crumbles of tangy feta; and a rosemary garlic vinaigrette. I want to remember it as a way we lived this month, in and amongst a busy schedule, before Christmas came.