So, this blog has been sitting here, all beautiful and empty, for months. Life got in the way (namely, a new position, and moving to a third-floor walk-up). So did fear, and many rounds of “Oh shit! I’m finished cooking and forgot to take pictures…again.” But now I’m ready, probably. Maybe. Being ready is really, truly overrated.
Also, now I have the kitchen of my dreams. Well, sort of – more like the kitchen of my realistic musings about what I’d like in a budget-friendly apartment kitchen. But it sure feels dreamy!
There’s a window box for plants and herbs, a counter covered in a thick, built-in wooden cutting board, with a friendly little fruit medley painted on the white tile backsplash, a dishwasher, lots of cupboards, and a full-sized stove.
For comparison, our last apartment had one tiny counter, a mini-stove, no windows and a single sink, constantly full of dishes. To say we’ve upgraded seems like an understatement.
I suspected that the move would make me want to start cooking more again. To be more adventurous, to learn more, to make more messes. I imagined walking into the new apartment’s kitchen and suddenly feeling baptized by the natural lighting, zapped to life with the determination to keep a perfect, impressive food blog, and (of course) to make everyone envious. Looking at the cherry-picked photos of my dinners and desserts, they’d say “Wow, I wish I had that sort of patience and skill. What an angel, sent from heaven by Julia Child herself! Get that woman a cooking show, stat!”
And then I popped my own ego bubble on purpose, because writing and cooking out of the grandiose hope that people on the internet will fall rapturously in jealous-hate-love with you is the surest way to a) grow to loathe writing and cooking; and b) make yourself feel like an awful failure.
When I started my last food blog – which tapered off when I realized that my full name was attached to it because of Google’s collaboration with Blogger (this is something I will never be comfortable with, as I prefer a little privacy – why, Google? WHY?!) – I promised that I wouldn’t try to be anything but honest, and I wouldn’t blog about food and cooking for any reason other than my own personal sense of fulfillment.
This is always easier said than done. Our worst selves – you know, the self that wants attention, praise, perfection, and validation – always get in the way.
Usually, I try to bend reality to my will, and then I drop my dreams like hot potatoes when they (inevitably) don’t turn out precisely as I had imagined. This is a tried-and-true recipe for misery, so I’ve (reluctantly, like a toddler fighting sleep) come to accept that doing things just for the sake of doing, without airtight expectations, allows a fluffy, effervescent sort of pleasure to bubble up into everyday living. With this blog, I hope to do things I feel woefully inept at, and things that feel stupid, embarrassing, and pointless! And do them often. For my own sanity.
Well, here I am. My reading goal for 2013 is to finish 52 books (one per week), and that is going swimmingly. So, I have been thinking, why not use the same strategy to fill up this dusty blog?
I am officially starting on September 1st, 2013, and my goal is this: I will cook one new recipe per week. For one year. So, 52 new recipes, at least.
“Not very ambitious,” my inner critic says. “Is that even worth writing about? Why not try something lofty, like Julie Powell? At least she had the guts to make aspics. Go big or go home. You are embarrassing me!”
My inner critic is a real jerk. My plan is to stuff her blabbering mouth full of enchanting new dishes until she is floating in buttery bliss, placated into shutting up about how unimpressed she is.
There really aren’t any guidelines I’m following. The recipe of the week might be a side dish, or a dessert, or even just a new technique (I’d really like to learn how to poach an egg, for instance). Or it might be a weekend-long project.
That’s the beauty in accepting that inflexibility is the enemy of “just doing”: you give yourself room for imperfection – lots of room, in fact. And when you give yourself room to fuck up you - accidentally, at the same time – leave some room for grace. And everyone needs a little more of that. Also, butter.
So, meet me back here in a little while. My first recipe will be Buttermilk-Soaked Parmesan Baked Pork Chops.