Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rediscovering A Writing Passion

For a while after finishing college I seemed to have lost my creative fuel and motivation when it came to writing.  Since I had so many other things going on, what with trying to figure out how to be an “adult”, I did not put much thought or worry into the fact that I no longer wrote.  I figured it was probably a natural progression of things, and if I had the urge I would just start writing again.  My biggest error was in not acknowledging the amount of creative stimulation I was surrounded by in school, and the fact that my own creative ability needed to be fed regularly. 
I know that some people have the discipline to get up every morning and utilize a scheduled writing time, every day, whether they are in the mood for it or not.  Though this method is not for me, I definitely see the value in it, and it sure beats ignoring your craft for years as I did. While in school I had the constant creative energy of writing workshops and discussions, arguments about politics and life and eternity.  Upon graduation I abruptly found myself without this constant fodder and instead of actively seeking it out I just let writing fade out.   My other problem was that because my main writing outlet had been poetry I never actually tried to branch out into other styles.  If I wasn’t writing poetry then I was just not meant to be writing at the time.  I know, I know stupid. 
It took not having so many distractions for me to notice that I was really lacking without having writing in my life.  When I started this blog I tapped back into that passion and I have not started seeking out more sources.  When I started reading “Will Write for Food” by Dianne Jacob, I got a little giddy.  As far as I can tell this is the only book around at the moment that is strictly about the act of writing about food, and though at times it is a little quote heavy, I find reading it to be pretty darned similar to being in a college writing class.  Not only is it a trove for other food writers, whose names I have been scribbling away on random scraps of paper to be added to this blog, there are also great ideas and writing exercises.  For someone who has been missing the stimulation of the classroom this book is perfect. 
The beauty of all of this, the blog and now reading the book, is that it has a snowball effect, I am now looking into taking a one day food writing workshop with one of my favorite local bloggers Garrett McCord of Vanilla Garlic, and seeing what else is out there.  Hopefully, more books on the subject will start coming out, and there will be more workshop in my area.  Though none of it will compare to the pleasure and privilege of spending large portions of my days on writing and talking about writing as I got to while in college, I am thrilled to have the act of writing back into my life.  For those of you that write, what do you do to keep the wheels constantly moving?
Some books you may enjoy:

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You Do Not Remember (A Quick Food Rant)

As you can rightly assume I have read a lot of food books, some of them have been incredible some of them have been horrible and many have filled the spaces in between.  Though I won’t give a book a bad review on here, I will share with you one of my pet peeves when it comes to food writing, something that comes up in many, many food books good and bad.  The writers declaration at the beginning of the book of their kitchen/food memory at 2 or 3 or 4 years old so eye opening that it was life changing and as a result they are now a cook, restaurateur, food critic etc. 
1.  I don’t think you can have life changing experiences at such an early age, because you have not yet cultivated a life to change
2. I am sure many will disagree with me but I don’t think we are paying that much attention when we are that young to each individual experience.  At that age everything is incredible and brand new.  Your first time making cookie dough does not decide that you will be a cook, though when you become a cook you may look back on that time fondly.
3. It may be a good start to a book but I don’t think you actually remember these things from when you were that young.
This probably bothers me more than it should but as I said, I have read a lot of these books and this theme is annoyingly recurring. 
I have an incredibly good memory, a trait that at times I love and at others I (and my husband) wish I could shut off.  I do have memories from 2 & 3 years old, though they are very quick little snippets, not whole scenes with scents, flavors and thought processes.  I do not have an early food memory that I credit my current love and interest on.  My childhood was surrounded by food: a mother and grandmother that took pleasure in cooking, and a father that took pleasure in eating.  I can’t say that I ever really noticed though, it was just always there and I took it for granted.  There is no doubt that my upbringing has brought me to the point that I am today, and I have lots of great memories of cooking with my mom, and eating with my family.  I won’t be starting a book, or a blog, out with my baby memory that changed my life though. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


When I first moved to California I was unemployed for a little over six months. I had expected that it would take me a little while to find a job, I mean we did decide to move during a slightly precarious time in this countries economy.  I was not prepared though, for how hard this would be on me. Rob found a job rather quickly and needed the car to do it so I ended up on my own with no way to get anywhere. I was already pretty fragile due to my fear from the move and the fact that I did not know anyone here in California, so I had to be extra careful with myself.

Anyone that has been unemployed for an extended amount of time knows how damaging it can be and also how boring. Before my move I had worked two jobs for three years leaving myself with only 1 day off a week. During that time I dreamed of having extended time off and all of the things that I would do with all that time. I can now say that all those imaginings are a crock, I never did any of those things. What I did do was sit on the computer and watch TV a lot. I often felt guilty about my lack of contribution to the household as Rob worked his butt off, yet I could never seem to find the energy to carry my share. I would scramble around the house in the hour or so that Rob was to get home from work trying to do a days worth of chores and cooking so that he wouldn’t think I had spent my day doing what I had actually spent my day doing.

Rob was at as much of a loss as I was, and was doing his best to be as careful with me as I was. Neither one of us could do much about my employment situation, but we could try to fill my time. He brought me home tons of figs, peaches, pomegranates and persimmons from the farm he was working on in the hopes that the foreign to a New Yorker bounty would catch my attention. I won’t be so quaint as to say that cooking healed/saved me, though I think for many it can. I did learn the importance of simple things though. A lot of my unemployment was spent during the hottest months of summer in a pretty hot area of the country, so the foods I was drawn to and the ones that made me happiest included very little cooking and tended to have a cooling effect when eaten.

Some of my favorite healing/cooling unemployment foods:

Fig and lemon jam
Plate of hard boiled eggs with cut up veggies and cheese
Fresh tomato, Mozzarella and Basil sandwiches

I find when times are tough we seek out simple things to latch onto, so that although we may be surrounded by difficulty and our mood and emotions seem out of our control, we still have this little thing to find pleasure in. I am sure I will have many more instances in my life where things will be pretty darned tough, that is the nature of this glorious life, but I do know that eventually I will get out of them and I will usually emerge with a few more recipes and favorite foods. I will also say that knowing that is no consolation while these things are actually happening.

Some foodie books I enjoyed while I was unemployed:

Born Round: the secret history of a full-time eater by Frank Bruni
The Feasting Season by Nancy Coons
Bento Box in the Heartland: the Japanese girlhood in whitebread America by Linda Furiya
The Big Oyster: history on the half shell by Mark Kurlansky

Monday, April 18, 2011

I'm Back!!


Is anyone out there? 

You all had every right to abandon me but I hope you haven't.  My bank statement says that this new computer better mean that I will not be leaving you again anytime soon.  For those of you that didn't hear, a few weeks ago my computer crashed, and though this was not a huge surprise it was still pretty darned inconvenient.  The fact that I went as long as I did without a computer is pretty impressive I think (my husband rolls his eyes at this).

So what did you miss?

My parents first California visit
Our first Spring barbecue
My surprise birthday trip to Santa Cruz
A food tour in San Francisco
My first official wine tasting in CA wine country
A food discussion/panel here in Sacramento

Yeah, it was a busy couple of weeks, is it possible that without a computer I had a little more time on my hands? 

So with that list to start us off, which of those events would you like to hear about first, or at all?  I have also been doing a lot of reading as well so there will be plenty of book talk as well.  I have to admit to you that though I remember to take pictures while I am cooking I rarely remember to when I am out experiencing and so there are very few photos of any of these events.  I know, I know I really need to work on this but in the meantime I am sure I will think of something.

I missed you all and I am so glad I am back.  Be prepared for some proper catching up in the next week or so!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Excuse the delay

You will all have to forgive me for the delay in posting.  My computer has crashed and I am in the process of getting a new one.  I hope you won't forget me, and I promise that once I get my new computer I will have lots of new books stories and foods to share with you.  Just stick with me!