Monday, June 19, 2017

Cooking, Cookbooks, and Writing

I am a firm believer that the Lord works in mysterious ways to make his will known. I’m beginning to believe he wants my writing to turn more toward food writing, just when I have several mysteries in mind to write.

My reading choices make me think this for one thing. I am reading Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes, that Saved My Life. It’s a chronicle of her life the year after Gourmet Magazine, of which she was editor, abruptly went out of publication. When your career is pretty much the source of your identity, as hers was, that’s one of life’s major blows. She dealt with it by cooking. Only Ruth Reichl can get away with prose recipes, but she does and makes them so appealing and generally simple that the reader is drawn in, as though to a novel.

Next on my list is Give a Girl a Knife! by cookbook author and James Beard winner Amy Thielen. It starts with her life in the kitchens of upscale New York restaurants, with dishes I’ve never imagined let alone heard of, and follows her move back to the basic food of her Midwestern roots. I’m looking forward to reading it.

And then there’s the fact that I’ve been cooking more and more lately, sometimes for myself—scallops for supper last night the way I like them, sautéed in butter, nothing fancy—and figs stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in prosciutto for company. I’ve made Welsh Rarebit, fettucine with smoked salmon, guacamole with feta, southwestern tuna with cumin and chilies, beans on toast (an old dish now elevated to trendy status and new to me), lamb chops with garlic, capers and anchovy, from scratch tomato sauces, orzo with spinach and feta, a new cucumber and avocado salad with a tang to it (and the feta I added), stuffed zucchini, a sardine pate,

The list of things I want to cook is as long as that of the dishes I’ve made in recent weeks. So maybe the Lord is telling me something about that memoir I keep talking about writing. Maybe food, along with writing and child-rearing, has been a staple of my life. Witness Judy’s Stew which was designed to be a mix of writing, cooking, and grandmothering—and that was eleven years ago.

I’ve done one memoir cooking, Cooking My Way Through Life With Kids and Books, but that was eight years ago. Perhaps today I would bring more depth and insight to such a project, making it less a chronicle of what happened when and more a memoir that explores, if you’ll pardon a dramatic phrase, the depths of my soul. I have lots of new recipes from those eight years to share.

The idea is rolling around in my mind. I had intended to write about my year out of life, due to deteriorating physical and mental things, but maybe one of the most significant things is that I didn’t cook during that year. And now I’m cooking again—with gusto.

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