Since late December, I’ve been thinking that maybe winter isn’t the time to begin a writing project, to begin a writing project about food. Spring and summer are so bursting with promise and inspiration that I wouldn’t really need to think about what I wrote. I could just walk through the farmer’s market and make lists that read like poetry. But now it’s winter in Ann Arbor and the herbs in the garden have finally succumbed to frost (we were lucky this year; I cooked with fresh herbs at Christmas). The big wide view of the Huron Valley from my office window is muted by snow that gets washed away by cold rain, and it’s always, always gray. The market holds a few meager potatoes, apples that already are showing their age and a thin sprinkling of soap, maple syrup and jam.
The truth is, I’ve been feeling in a bit of a rut. All the creative energy that for years went into my style, my dinner table and my writing has, for the past year and some been poured into the small and impossibly wonderful Nick. Who is also impossibly exhausting. So these days choosing earrings and making a new selection from the freezer case at Trader Joe’s amounts to an almost Herculean effort.
On the other hand, I’ve been reading about how constraints give rise to creativity, and thinking about how I should embrace the here and nowness of my culinary landscape and work with what I have. And the tide is beginning to turn and the new year is feeling full of new beginnings. Some of that is because of this writing itself. With the pressure of the blog and my friends on, I’m beginning to think a lot more consciously about my cooking decisions. A lot of it is the rediscovery of my oven. Suddenly I’m roasting tomatoes and turning out tarte tatin and braising pork things. With several seasons of saute and grill behind me, it’s an exciting turn to begin exploring what that box underneath the cook-top is for.
So, despite the chill and damp and endless root vegetables, the winter world begins to hum with possibility. And one abiding tenet of my life is that if I make a list, possibility begins to shape itself into reality. So here’s tonight’s list:
- Cook for my friends more
- Roast some cauliflower
- Learn how to poach eggs
- Experiment with braised cabbage and sausage
- Remember that cooking is the best therapy
- Try mixing some rosemary and olive’s into that famous no-knead bread
- Do not waste opportunities for pleasure
- Get better with winter greens
- Write about these things
- Change my earrings more often