Rocco officially outgrew some of his newborn clothes last week, an event we marked with photos and exclamations and the reorganization of his top dresser drawer. I am ever comparing the Rocco Today with the Rocco [Insert Age Here], something that’s pretty easy to do when you have an ongoing chronology building in your phone’s photo album, but what can I say? I’m nostalgic. It’s not that I long for those first few emotional, sleep-deprived days; it’s just that I like to remember them. They are part of Rocco’s story; they are part of ours; and, because those first early weeks were so hazy and slow, there’s a lot about them that would be easy to forget or neglect—namely, other things happening in the world outside this one. One that’s especially worth noting, for example: the release of Honey & Jam, a beautiful, seasonal baking book by Hannah Queen.
Looking for a winter lettuce salad recipe? Welcome! And if you’re finding this post not in winter, substitute in some summer greens and enjoy. You can find some of our favorite summer recipes here.
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. I guess this is another way of saying you’re all invited over for dinner. Hope 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. This afternoon, Tim sliced a loaf of marbled einkorn rye so pretty, it took my breath away. Now, he’s 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. They don’t work. You test ideas. They do work. 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. Mostly, 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. 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 traveling, you know that this stressful task before you is 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. Every moment is a gift.
This winter lettuce 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 features 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.
Winter Lettuce Salad with Roasted Peppers and Feta
Earlier this year, I was innocently wandering through the grocery store, filling up my cart, when I spotted a turquoise box with a picture of what looked like a rice pilaf next to a filet of grilled salmon, the words “gluten-free,” “cooks in 10 to 15 minutes” and “organic” staring me in the face. I’d heard of quinoa before, never tried it, and the whole idea intrigued me.