Six Months… What Goes Through My Mind in Six Months…

I should kick myself in the arse for being so… well, indecisive about continuing this blog.  Not because I don’t enjoy writing, because I do.  And not because I don’t appreciate the generally positive feedback I get from it, because I do.  But maybe because of two people and one idea.

The two people are ghosts from my life and while I try to ignore them or pretend they have little, if anything, to do with my present, they always seem to just pop up and annoy me with their ghostly presence.  They are likely see this post and knowing that – again –  I’m sharing something of myself with them is, well, icky.  But the reason for even establishing this blog was to bust some ghosts and mostly, I’ve done that.  Mostly, I’ve learned to step back and breathe, to take a second or third or tenth look at a problem and then either write about it OR accept the fact that some things in life, baby, you just can’t change.

The idea is different.  The idea was that maybe now I’ve busted those ghosts I can move in another direction.  What that would be, I wasn’t not sure but still….

But there’s more to writing this blog than just exorcising some bad ideas, some bad relationships. I write because I seek inner clarity.  I write as a way to express myself, and find myself, and be myself in a world where sometimes the masks are pretty heavy, stuck in place.  Of course, sometimes I write just pap and crap, and that’s okay!!  I love a good gossip or picture magazine at times.  But sometimes, I need to find words to figure out what the hell I’m feeling, and to get rid of the bad ones, and snuggle up to the good ones.

I’m keep a gratitude jar this year.  The idea is to jot down one small thing every day that’s made you feel grateful or happy or some other positive crap, put the notes in a jar, and at the end of the year, count ’em all up.  Well,  30 days does not make 30 notes but there are some in the jar, and there will be more than 185 by the end of the year (that’s more than 1 every other day, fyi for my arithmetically challenged friends!)

Maybe it’s been the jar, maybe it was getting a letter today from someone I did NOT expect to hear from, maybe it was a lot of PMing with a long-time colleague that just turned into silly fun… but I’m feeling really positive and lucky and peaceful this week.  A feeling which will last if the Seahawks win on Sunday.

Anyway, I’m back. I’ll be here a lot.  I hope to hear from you soon.  And I hope all the monsters under your bed are gone!

@onebigtable – Loving Molly O’Neill

Actually, as I’ve been perusing One Big Table, published by Simon & Schuster, producers of great books AND Carly Simon, I realized that I don’t just love Molly O’Neill, but I also love more than 500 people across the United States who look at food as a source of pleasure and entertainment and renewal, as well as required fuel.

I won this book in a Twitter contest and have been waiting what seems like years for it to arrive – although obviously that’s just my impatient 5-year old inner self talking.  So far, I haven’t cooked anything from it (which is partly because we were at my in-laws from where I picked it up, and partly because, as you may have read, we’re packing and cooking & packing don’t go together well), but I’ve already got about 14 little stickies hanging out with stars & exclamation points to indicate this must be made as soon as the pots are unpacked!

I will be making Chris Burrill’s Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette on Friday, when we go to Sally & Michael’s for dinner. (They eat from their root cellar all winter long and while Strattons Farm produces great pork, chicken & veg, I think by March they are probably getting a little bored with squash and cabbage so we’re bringing salad.)  Plus, I’m very tempted to make some ice cream, any ice cream, before we store the Italian ice cream maker away for the next two years.  Sigh.  There is no room where we are moving for the ‘fun’ appliances so it has to go away for a while….

Gosh, talk about detours… I did not intend to talk about ice cream makers when I started this.  I want to talk about this book.  I read on another wordpress blog that there is a bit of a contretemps about how a couple of the recipes in One Big Table wound up in the book, and I’m really sorry to hear that, and I’m quite sure that any challenges this may raise will be solved because…. the book is amazing!

All those contributors, all those kitchens & gardens, the families & friends who have been part of some many wonderful meals…. It’s making me homesick!  Can that make sense?  It makes me think about dinner with my parents and five siblings, and whatever neighbourhood or school friends who wandered and managed to stick around to have supper with us, when my mother would make “goof”, her peculiar hamburger-noodle-vegetable casserole that became so famous the hometown paper profiled it.  Or, before foodies (re-)discovered organ meat, having tongue or heart or liver and enjoying them because my mother made them taste good.  And then discovering new cooking methods and new ethnic cuisines, never forgetting the hearty Mennonite meals we came from.

What happened to us, our North American culture, that we have broken cooking and eating and food into two separate and definitely not equal camps:  One side tells us that food is fuel and we should stop glamorizing it or advertising it or doing anything with it other than eating a little of it, and making most of what we do it vegetable based (and in the extreme, not even cooked).  The other side waxes poetic about esoteric ingredients and demands authentic preparations, even if they don’t know what that is, and bores easily before moving on to some other craze.

Yucky!  On both your heads!

Cooking is a pleasure – it’s a way to take wonderful ingredients, as many of them locally produced and sourced as I can possibly do, and with the help of a couple of good kitchen implements, turn them into something that’s hot (or cold!) and savoury (or sweeet!) and comforting and delicious and… renewing.  I am not a crafty person – I don’t sew or knit or scrapbook.  I cook.  I turn raw pork into “pork brown betty” and make composed salads at the drop of a hat and will turn a package of pasta, two tins of crushed tomatoes and some shrivelled veg in the bottom of the crisper intoa Sharing the meals, even if just with Jeff, is renewing.  We have some time to talk or laugh or share, we argue a little over who’s turn it is to wash up, and we have renewed our marriage in a tiny but important way.  We have learned over the years that being in the kitchen at exactly the same time, sharing the work load 50-50 is a great way to argue a LOT, so when we are in the kitchen together, one of us definitely takes the helper/small task role, but even so, that’s great fun.