Anyone with even a passing interest in photography knows you are supposed to shoot in natural light. This means photographs must be taken in the morning in my kitchen -- especially in the winter when daylight hours run short.
But anyone with a passing interest in writing knows to steal away those early morning hours -- even if you ‘aren’t a morning person’ (which, I am not). Better to sit down to white-paper-screen first thing, post coffee. Better to work at it before the will to write leaves you mid-afternoon. Better to do it first thing, in case the will never comes at all.
And so, there goes my food blog, in a sea of contradictory expectations and demands.
I'm about halfway through the first draft of my dissertation. This early morning, late evening, all consuming activity has left very little space for beautifully shot food photographs. Or for leaving the house. Or for contemplating any additional creative acts.
Of course, all this writing and not writing and wanting to be writing and not wanting to be writing means I'm barely cooking. Certainly not anything exciting enough to post on a food blog! Certainly nothing worthy of a recipe!
These are the things that keep me from this space, from posting at all. But they are silly. Poorly lit photographs will be forgiven. And even Michael Pollan, the food whisperer, seems to think cooking is defined as the act of adding any two things together, as long as they're not all crazy refined. As long as you're not taking a frozen pizza out of the freezer and putting it straight into the oven, you're cooking.
I bought a cake mix in December. Lemon cake mix. It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but I was on the road without all the baking powder and other fine details necessary for baking. Where were the poppyseeds in the mix? Would it be delicious?
Well, all the better. The easier for me to mess with the instructions, adding in those must have seeds, some meyer lemon zest + juice to boot. And a little extra sugar to cream that butter proper.
This is me -- cooking, even when I'm not. Refusing to yield to instructions. Believing that baking is no science, but an art.
And so this is the recipe for today: an appeal to let yourself mess with food a bit, even if you're just using some pre-made meals. Add some frozen peas to your jar of sauce. Throw some sesame seeds in pretty much everything. Let yourself cook, even when you don't have the time to, or simply don't want to. Cook, just a little.
I'll also leave you with a few things I'm preoccupied with right now, in the midst of my day in day out writing retreat, on the off chance that they too will spark some joy for you.
- Forcing paperwhites indoors in January. They smell unbelievable. Go get yourself some bulbs people, and presto! They're amazing.
- Marie Kondo. This lady is my guru. She has me purging, organizing and cleaning like I've never done before. And I hate (repeat hate) purging, organizing and especially cleaning. This lady is amazing. Buy the audiobook and listen to it while you purge your closet and bookshelves. You'll laugh out loud at the absurdity and be inspired, all at once.
- Elizabeth Gilbert. I'm losing track of the days of the week because they're all the same. I have to think really hard to sort out that it's not Saturday, but Wednesday. Because no one is really bothering me right now, and every day is the same task: sit down, try to write. Elizabeth Gilbert captures this feeling wonderfully.
- The Insight Timer app. Great motivation to sit down and meditate, and marvel at all the other lovely people around the world doing it too. 21 days straight, and proud of it!
- Montreal bagels. Yes, they are superior. Yes, I am on a bit of a binge. And yes, they contain gluten. I just discovered you can also order them to America. My life just got a little better.
- Yes, we can. I suppose it’s very 2008 of me, but when I need to get pumped, I still listen to this little number. Gets me every time.
- Philip Glass. Never. Gets. Old. 398 times, and still my favorite track.
Enjoy, my friends!