Here’s a recent shot of our happy household, transplanted for an afternoon to ascend Spy Rock. The weather finally seems to have warmed up, and to make up for lost time, spring has welcomed us with several days of summer weather. However, it’s raining now. I am thankful for the rain watering the garden and washing away that green-yellow film of pollen to which my sinuses have once again surrendered. But rainy days can make one introspective.
I flatter myself if I think that this inconsistent blogger still has regular readers, and even more so if those regular readers have stuck around long enough to wonder where all the food/recipe posts have gone of late.
I, too, have wondered why my meals no longer seem interesting enough to write about. Have I hit a dry spot in my recipe creativity? (Not really). Am I quite possibly the laziest photographer in the world? (Yes, but while photographs of food make reading about food more interesting, perhaps one need not shy away from writing just because no photos exist). Have I been occupying my time with things other than blogging? (Yeah, even if it is watching re-runs of old TV episodes). What could it be?
Sometimes overcoming a writer’s block involves reading more. When this month’s Bon Appetit arrived in the mail yesterday, I leafed through the pages as I usually do, dog-earring those with intriguing recipes or articles that I would come back to later. But then, I was surprised to find me…myself…in one of the articles, and I paused to read while I nibbled on what remained of my bacon and mushroom omelet, sandwiched between two fluffy halves of a cheddar biscuit.
“…the biscuits Ginny wants to bake are supposed to be made with buttermilk. She doesn’t have buttermilk, so she pulls out a small container of milk. The milk, though, is a full two weeks past its expiration date. Undeterred, and unwilling to make that trip to the store for an ingredient she lacks, she gives it a deep sniff, deems it viable, and adds it to the dough after a further souring with a tablespoon of vinegar.
Another recipe we are cooking with calls for sorghum syrup, which she also doesn’t have, so she uses maple. The cookies she wants to make require twice the amount of rolled oats she has. They also call for pine nuts, but she has only pecans…”
It’s an excerpt from a piece by Gabrielle Hamilton who takes a road trip to discover who today’s “home cooks” are, and alternately dines with a few different characters just doing their everyday cooking routine.
Ginny resonated with me because she is me. That is how I cook. Most of the time. Unless it’s a really intricate recipe or garnished with something super hi-tech that I don’t want to have imploding on my kitchen counter, I have gotten to the point that I can scan a recipe, amend the cooking technique for what I feel like doing (or have the time to do), using up the smorgasbord of ingredients that have collected in the fridge or the pantry. I generally know when I can replace one type of liquid with another, or swap this cheese for that one. I can even create a delicious dinner after having just uttered the words “there’s nothing to eat in this house.”
Perhaps I feared that sharing my recipes and meals with you as they appeared on our dinner plates one evening would be pointless since I would undoubtedly not make it the same way the next time. Would you feel cheated that I didn’t make it the way I wrote about it? More selfishly, would I feel like a cooking hypocrite, luring you into a false sense of kitchen perfection with each blog post?
Silly me. Reading about my style of cooking, as represented by Ginny but undoubtedly practiced by hundreds of radical homemakers and home cooks throughout the land, made me realize it doesn’t matter what I’m cooking, or how I’m cooking, or even whether it’s different from the last time I made it, and regardless of whether I published something about it or not.
All that matters is that I’m cooking.
And in the blogging world, sometimes all that matters is that I’m writing.
So tonight, friends, I’m going to be fixing this sausage and kale dish. Except, the sausages I picked up from the store today look like hot dogs and advertise themselves as containing both beer and sriracha. We’re out of pasta, so we’ll be having it over rice. And I don’t have parmesan cheese, so we might try mozerella or chevre, or both. And if I remember, I’ll snap a photo for you.
But in case I forget, just know that we will be dining joyfully, making the most of what we have, listening to the rain pelt our roof, maybe while watching old re-runs. What will you be cooking this weekend to nourish your loved ones and yourself? Do tell.