We were at the store to pick up a cart's worth of water when I spotted it: a red box of those classic yellow cheese crackers in someone else's load. I haven't had cheese crackers like those in six years…
"As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible." Ann Voskamp My body is tired but my heart is full as we step into this Thanksgiving week, which around here is the week my friend Jackie got married…
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.
It’s been a hot summer. H-O-T hot. It’s been hot here in Chicago, on sweaty bike rides and walks; hot in Raleigh, North Carolina, by the pool and at farmers markets; hot in Ohio; hot in Nashville; hot in St. Louis; hot everywhere I’ve gone. I’ve sweated through clothes and on furniture, felt skin stick to leather seats in my car, walked into buildings for the sole purpose of feeling their air-conditioning, started keeping deodorant in my purse so I can apply it multiple times a day.
You could say I’m experiencing summer this year, really experiencing it, and listen: it’s not always comfortable.
I come from a long line of women who can cook: My great grandma, I’m told, made legendary pasta. My grandma rolled her own cannoli shells. My mom, a woman who loves to say, Oh, it’s so simple (particularly when her only daughter asks for clarification on some new recipe trick), has a vast cooking repertoire that ranges from bakery-worthy apple strudel to hot chicken curry just the way my dad likes it.
And as with a lot of things in life, I feel there are different ways to approach this kind of heritage: Embrace it. Or resent it.
I’ll let you guess which way I tended towards for most of my childhood and only say this: it’s amazing how we can turn blessings into curses, how we can choose to be intimidated by that which can help us grow. You may call it perfectionism; I call it ugly.
It’s like, say, when you have the opportunity to start working from home: This is such an obvious good (especially as it is the thing—the very thing—you have wanted and worked towards for years!), yet you can let yourself see it as a bad (citing all the potential problems/risks, from insurance to pay to the way it feels to step into the Unknown).
That same vice that makes you see the negatives in one situation will make you see the problems in others. But I’ve been thinking. Maybe the parallel works both ways? Maybe by learning to embrace a heritage of good home cooks, for example, you step towards learning to embrace everything else. What do you think?
I’m starting with this meat sauce.
I am one of those obnoxious people who likes asking random questions so I can overanalyze your answers: Would you rather be smart and ugly or beautiful and dumb? If you could go anywhere, where would you go? What’s your favorite book? When did you start liking vegetables? Picture yourself in the desert.
And before any of you kind ones out there leap to reassure me that asking such questions is not obnoxious, not at all, let me just explain that this is only half the problem. The flip side is I don’t really like to answer these questions. I mean, not unless I’ve had plenty of time to really think out my answer and make it exactly what I want it to be or after I’ve really gotten to know you and feel like I can trust that you’ll understand what I mean more than what I say but, even after that point, you should know it’s pretty likely I’ll still change my mind later and, when I do, I will want you to listen to all the reasons why because we have to overanalyze it together!, but meanwhile, go ahead and give me your answer right now so I can unfairly peg and judge you if you don’t mind, thankyouverymuch.
It’s weird. And if you’re thinking I bring this up for a reason today, you already know me better than you should because the truth is, I do want to ask you something, one of those random questions that we could talk about for a half hour if you let me.
So here it is: If you had to choose between beautiful weather + ho-hum food OR ho-hum weather + fantastic food, which would you pick?
If there's one thing I can't stand, it's fakeness. Hate me, ignore me, laugh at me, whatever---as long as you're being honest and you mean it. Just don't, please, if you have any heart, don't put on for me. Don't…