How It All Began, and How It’s All Changed

In Making Food, Thinking About Food on November 24, 2014 at 5:35 pm

New name! New concept! In marketing-speak, I guess you’d call it a rebranding. Or a relaunch. Or a repositioning. Whatever you want to call it, it’s truer and better.

The whole thing started years ago when I made a New Year’s Resolution — the only one that ever stuck, incidentally — to try a new food every week. Whether it was eating or drinking something foreign or unfamiliar, working with a new ingredient, or attempting a preparation I’d never tried before, it just had to be new, and it had to be weekly.

And it worked, mostly, for a while. I tried all kinds of new junk. I cooked goat and mutton. I made mayonnaise and Caesar dressing. I baked pitas and English muffins. I called the cops and ate creamed herring. (These two events were entirely unrelated to each other.)

But then I had a kid, and everything changed. I no longer had entire days, empty, free to fill with yeasted bread and elaborate, multi-step preparations. My ability to concentrate on complicated recipes evaporated. Frankly, my ability to remember that I’d put something — anything — on the stove completely disappeared. I can’t even tell you how many times I put water on to boil or shoved something in the oven, walked away to check on The Burger, then jumped in terror an hour later when the smoke detector went off, bolted into the kitchen, and stared at the smoking pan thinking what the hell was I doing in here, anyway?

People, I cannot stress to you enough the importance of batteries in a working fire detector.

Trying to pick out a new food every week — trying to do anything every week — became an unwelcome burden, something I resented rather than enjoyed. Even the few-and-far-between times I did manage to bang out a blog entry after The Burger came on the scene bothered me, since I’d strayed so far from the blog’s original conceit. I’d think: This isn’t new. This isn’t weekly. This is dumb.

But I continued to cook, and eventually The Burger joined me.

Now we make stuff that isn’t necessarily new to me, but is new to her, and exciting and joyful and sometimes terrifying to both of us. (You really haven’t lived until you’ve taught a three-year-old how to toss pizza dough.) We sit on the kitchen floor together. She wears her apron and an enormous, ridiculous, glittery, sequined tutu. Sometimes she eats the finished product, sometimes she doesn’t; she almost always tastes the raw ingredients, down to the flour. We both always get messy. And while sweeping up after our breaded chicken cutlet adventure last week (details coming soon!), I looked down at the dustpan and saw that it was full of breadcrumbs and glitter.

And there it was: the essence of cooking with my daughter. And the blog was reborn. As we say in Wisconsin: Forward.


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