Oh, my. Thank you, all of you, for being here, and thank you to the many of you who wrote such seriously nice things in response to my last post. If I felt re-energized and newly-inspired before I wrote that post, well, now I have that big, happy swelling in my chest—the one you get when you know something is right. So, thank you.
When I began writing here, it was because I had time on my hands and I wanted a challenge and a creative outlet. I posted almost daily (!) for a long time, and the happiest parts of my days (while Kevin was at work, at least) were those spent working on this site. After law school, I had less spare time, but for several years, this site still hummed along, in sync with the rhythms of our life. On the weekends, we happily cooked and ate meals, and I shared them here, offering a snapshot into the loveliest of our days, through photos and stories, and skipping right past the mundane, whirlwind week days. At other times, life was hard and messy and exhausting, as it sometimes is, and I wasn’t as thrilled to share those times here, so, for long stretches, this space would fall quiet.
Do you ever think that you might have a cooking guardian angel? One who sits on your shoulder, urging you to do this, and not to do that? I’ve got one, and I find it useful for the simple things (Salt your pasta water! Leave that piece of meat be if you’re going for a good sear!), and even more helpful in those times when you’re attempting a new recipe, and you come to a cross-roads. If you’re like me, and you’ve failed to read the recipe in advance, and you’ve neglected to assemble a perfectly-organized mise, such moments are rather urgent.
As in, you’re seven-eighth’s of the way through a recipe when you realize you don’t have one of the ingredients called for. You must locate a substitute or simply forge on without the ingredient—and you have only a few seconds to decide. Or you’ve followed the recipe to a tee, baking a cake for exactly 40 minutes at precisely the called-for temperature, only to find a resulting specimen that’s pale where it should be golden, or—perhaps worse—sunken when it should be domed.
I’m guessing that this post would read differently if I’d written it any other day since we got to Seattle. That’s because every day has been so very different, and almost every single day has involved something—and more often many somethings—that are new to me. Today, though, as the sun shines brightly and the snow-capped mountains prick the horizon, I’m feeling rather smitten. I’m well on my way to getting to know our new city, and—while there have been some tough adjustments, to be sure—I’m really loving it.
A big change has been approaching around here, ever so slowly. When we first learned about it, it felt significant and exciting and a little bit crazy and also right. Over the past weeks, pieces have been falling into place, one by one, and suddenly the final picture has all but come into focus. And, you know what? It still feels significant and exciting and a little bit crazy and also right, and each of those feelings are even more vivid. Friends, the big change is this: we’re moving to Seattle! One week from Monday. So, how’s that for news?
Here are some photos of our first meal of 2013: a decadent breakfast of brioche French toast, (very) crisp peppered bacon, and berries. Needless to say, our year is off to a delicious start. I’ve included a photo of another first—Avery’s first taste of solid food (oatmeal!). I’m so excited for the new year and all that it will hold, from more delicious meals (more of which I hope to share here, even it means more photos-and-recipes-only posts, like this) to dozens more firsts for Avery.
Happy new year to you and yours.
Here in Chicago, we’ve reached that time of year when the leaves on the trees are outnumbered by the leaves that pad the sidewalks, crunching underfoot (or, these days, under the stroller wheels). When dinner is increasingly eaten after the sunsets. When the farmers’ markets are winding down, or preparing to move to their scaled-down, winter locations. And when at least one early morning walk has required a big scarf or even a knit hat.
It’s when a panic sets in. After summer’s seeming endlessness, autumn, my hands-down favorite of all the seasons, is suddenly waning. I do the only sensible thing to combat such panic: I stockpile canned pumpkin and I preheat the oven. Or warm the waffle iron. Or set the soup pot over a flame. Well—you get the picture. This annual panic means that I start cooking and baking with pumpkin, and frequently. Halloween just ups the ante, emanating that candle-burnt-pumpkin-flesh aroma, which sends me straight into the kitchen.
We hosted a brunch on Sunday morning. Or, rather: we hosted a brunch on Sunday! Yes, us—the ones with the little baby girl. The ones who not so long ago were subsisting on food delivered by others, and dining to the charming (not) chirping bird sounds that emanate from Avery’s bouncy chair (that still happens, mind you, and those bird noises shall forever haunt my dreams).
It wasn’t the first time we’ve cooked for others since our family’s ranks swelled from two to three. There was a barbecue when Avery was a week-and-a-half old, which ended with a screaming baby (and also some delicious brownies). And there have been sporadic meals for family and friends, all of which have involved large amounts of help and luck. But this brunch was different. I spent a few days dreaming up a menu, and thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of preparing the spread, from food shopping to cooking to plattering it up. The morning itself was lovely—my in-laws and my mom and my little family all ate in our living room, plates balanced on our knees as we caught up and passed the baby. It was a meal that made me feel like we’re actually getting the hang of this.