It's felt a bit quiet around here of late. There's been big changes going on deep within me, beyond the busy-ness and faster-than-light forgetfulness of the internet. The web has the kind of pace that, once you step off, makes dropping back into it difficult. I'm not entirely sure I want to keep up. Not sure I even know how to anymore.
Feels as though there are more important things to attend to, and, for the most part, attend to them I have.
I've gone back to work, to bookselling. For years I resisted because I viewed it as a kind of failure. In fact, I felt sure it was absolutely the wrong move when everything was so pointedly heading Onward and Upward. I was actually afraid - genuinely fearful - of going back to work because I thought it would mean that that work was the work that defined me, as it had for years before, but the truth is working without the safety net of a regular income is very hard, much more fear-inducing than I'd ever let on. There are also days, I'm not at all embarassed to say, when the only decent out loud conversation I've had is with the cat.
Which is not to say that puss doesn't have anything decent to contribute, but it was obviously Time. Being surrounded with books and talk about them all day, once or twice a week, makes my heart swell in a way that I can't quite put into words. The upshot is that I can make art and earn a wage. Who'd've thought? Thus far, I'm loving it - no responsibility, just good, old-fashioned bookselling. It suits me well.
Then there was the horror of a summer we had which got me thinking about the garden, about what it's best for us to grow and when, and I think I've come up with a solid plan. Our dry, endless summer will be all about the no-fuss things that grow best without much attention (tomatoes, especially) and the cooler months, when there is rainfall up on the ranges, will be the real working months for us. I planted out some garlic this weekend, chicories and mustards, pak choy, that sort of thing. Much more doable, with the potential for an actual break when the holidays arrive.
But for all my claims of not wanting to talk food much anymore, it's almost unavoidable. I'm seeing it in a new way. With a great deal of help from Lesh I've made significant changes to my diet and lifestyle, and slowly I'm losing some of that weight that accumulated while I sat down to write about food. Lesh is great, guys - she's done so much for me that, like returning to books, I can't quite put it into words. Lesh got me back into the kitchen, but in a significantly different way: I prep and plan meals now to free up my brain to think about other things.
I feel like a dunce saying it, but not cooking on the hop every night? Good god, it's completely life-changing.
Cooking lots of things on one morning a week in preparation is revelatory, and I've a hunch that Deborah Madison's anise beets might just be the most brilliant addition to my cooking in years. You peel a few big beetroots, dice them up into 1cm chunks, toss them in oil and roast them until they are cooked and as golden as something so startlingly red can get. You then crush a clove of garlic with scrunchy salt, peppercorns and a good teaspoon of fennel seeds and pound to a paste. Pour in sherry vinegar and olive oil in a ratio of 1:1 and toss through the hot beetroot. Into the fridge it goes so you can dip into it for salads and breakfasts and who knows what else during the week. You should know that it's particularly nice with cooked quinoa, some chickpeas, chopped roasted almonds and some slices of fresh fennel.
Anyway, that's me. You?