when i’m gone…

It’s been a while.

Over the last month, I’ve found myself starting a post, deleting, starting again, and then just moving onto something else. I feel a bit jumbled inside, and haven’t really been sure how to say what’s on my mind. Some days I’m not even sure I know what’s going on in that cavernous space; it’s such a swirl of activity. Recipes are overflowing, but the words…well, those seem to be in short supply.

And yet I feel a knot in my chest where my heart takes residence; a throbbing in my head with thoughts that need to be set free. The words, though. The words are elusive, a hodge podge of letters not quite connecting to form words, let alone sentences, that make any sense. Much is happening here these days. I’m not sure why I feel so guarded to share it. These pages usually occupy a hallowed space in my world. Life has taught me these last few years, though, that sometimes less is more. More for me, more for my girls.

This is not to say that I’m taking a break. On the contrary, I’m trying to find a way to ease back into being here more often. I feel incredibly thankful to every one of you for sharing in my life, and for letting me into your own by way of my recipes. When I don’t write here, I feel guilty, as if I’m letting you all down. But also as though I’m letting myself down. Feeling so overwhelmed by life is frustrating, and while I’ve etched words of encouragement into my arms, it is not always easy to follow my own advice.

I found Michael’s ipod recently. I listened to it a lot after he died, and then I stopped. I had put it away in a safe place, and forgot where it was exactly. So much for safe places— a metaphor for life. No place is safe, at least not in the place I’ve called home my entire life. Every corner in this city holds a memory that makes me ache for more moments that are no longer possible. And so, away we go soon. Peace and quiet are deep cravings I can no longer ignore. We shall see where this next chapter takes us. As a friend so lovingly summed it up—”leap, and grow wings on the way down”.

eggs in purgatory

Serves 2 to 4

Music Pairing: Journey of the Featherless by Cloud Cult

There are many things I’ll miss about being in this city. On those mornings when I need to get lost in my own thoughts, I wander into Cafe Mogador in the East Village after dropping the girls at school. A creature of habit, I order the Moroccan Eggs, poached in a spicy tomato sauce, served with thick, fluffy, warm pita. A big pot of sweetened mint tea are a must, too.

This recipe is a mash up of that dish, also known as shakshuka, and an Italian recipe called Eggs in Purgatory. Guanciale, pork jowl, is what is usually used by Italians, but nubby chunks of bacon or pancetta are common substitutes. In a pinch, when neither are available, I use proscuittto, which I always have in the fridge. That is the version I’m sharing below. Note: the Israeli dish, shakshuka, doesn’t use any pork, so you can also leave it out all together for a vegetarian friendly meal.

The sauce is meant to have a spicy kick, but you can scale back on the pepper flakes, for a milder version (which I often do, for the kids). If you want to up the spice factor, fresh chopped jalapenos simmered in the sauce will do the trick nicely.

2 tablespoons (30 ml) of olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

1/2 teaspoon hot chili flakes

4 to 5 slices (42 grams) Prosciutto di Parma, roughly chopped

One 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes

Generous pinch of dried basil

Sea salt, to taste

6 eggs

Add the oil to a 10-inch skillet, and heat over medium-low flame until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, chili flakes, and prosciutto. Saute until the onions are lightly golden, and softened, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring a few times to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. It will look like there’s too much oil—don’t worry. It’ll give the sauce some body once you add the tomatoes.

Use your hands to squeeze the tomatoes, crushing them, as you add them to the pan. Pour in any juices from the can, too. Add the basil, and season with the salt. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil, then reduce the flame to a simmer. Let cook for 20 minutes.

At this point, the sauce can transferred to jars, cooled, and then stored in the fridge or freezer.

If using immediately, use a spoon to create six little “pools” in the sauce. This is where your eggs will rest to cook. Crack the eggs, one at a time, into each of the wells you created, letting each egg set for 30 seconds to 1 minute before cracking the next one. You can crack them into a ramekin first, and then slide them into the skillet, if that feels more comfortable.

Gently spoon some of the sauce over the whites of the eggs, being carefully not to cover the yolks. Cover the skillet, and let cook until the whites are set, about 3 minutes. Keep a close eye, to make sure you don’t overcook the yolks if you prefer them a bit runny.

Bring the skillet to the table, and serve family style, with a crusty loaf of country bread.

Comments

  • Anne: It’s good to hear from you. I was getting worried that you might disappear.

  • megan: I hit that place – when what had been comforting reminders of your life instead become repeated sucker punches. Yeah.

  • Sandy: I agree, good to hear from you again. I hope you and your girls have a good year. And I hope you keep in touch, as often as you feel comfortable with. You inspire me and guide me, so thank you.

  • Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.): Jennie, never ever feel you HAVE to write in this space. That said, I am glad you do :) SO great to see you last weekend and have that quiet time to just chat. Honoured to have been able to cook for you too. XO

  • Eileen: Leave if you must! But we’d miss you. What is best for you and your girls!

  • Tracey A.: Good Morning Jennie,
    Another “Aha” moment. Or just another one of those growing pains. Wishing you lots of great, inspiring moments, tender hugs and kisses from the girls and a satisfying recipe and rainbow, thrown in for good measure.
    Love your posts,
    Tracey A.

  • Des: This is what you write when “you don’t have the words”? Wow. I wish my writer’s block manifested itself in all these beautiful ideas and feelings.

    I am sad that even though you lived in Brooklyn for so long, we didn’t get to have a drink. I have never had an Old Fashioned and thought I had time to have one with you :) When I do, I will send you a pic so we can “share it together”!

    You are doing a wonderful job with things and I hope you know that. As rough as this has been for you, I feel your strength through your words. We all falter, we all struggle – but that’s what makes this all worth it sometimes. There is joy that follows and sometimes even precedes all that – and it is in those moments that we find true happiness.

    Cheers to my first Old Fashioned!

  • Liz: I have felt this feeling when I lost my Mom, my everything. So consumed , so lost . I could literally feel my heart breaking in two. I finally understood the meaning of a broken heart. It was as though you lost a huge part of yourself and you didn’t know how to find it. I would go outside in the garden and smell her perfume when logically it was impossible because no one was around. At this moment and others , I understood she was still watching out for me and would always be there , even if it was in my own mind .

  • Linda: I’ve never commented, but first I want to thank you for your post! When I first started reading, I never thought I would would be in your situation, but here I am. My husband/best friend/light of life was diagnosed with a terminal illness last Dec, and given 12-24 months. My daughter is grown, step children as well, so I’m looking at widowhood well before my 60th. I truly do not know how I will survive, but reading your post I know I will!

  • Kim G.: I’m so glad you choose to write here and share your life. But I’m also so in awe of your ability to take a step back to look at your life and make your decisions thoughtfully.

    My older sister died suddently in September of 2012 and then mom, best friend, died after a long illness last July. Those two deaths literally broke my heart. I am now taking one year to make no decisions whatsoever about my life. None. They would be bad decisions. As I am sort of approaching the one year mark, I am starting to itch to make changes, yet I know they are still not right as they scare me too much. Time will heal us all … all of those silly cliches are around for a reason. They are all true.

    Good luck with your move. I hope it goes smoothly. Guard your peace passionately and do whatever feels right for you!

    Know that you are so inspiring.

  • Kathy: Just take care and be gentle with yourself. You have shared so much with us that you’ve already given us quite a gift. You and your girl’s are the priority – we will be out there, wishing you well, hoping that you can find peace and comfort and happily waiting to hear from you, even if only once in a while or well into the future.

    You are such a beautiful writer and so honest – Thank you!

  • dervla: Excited to hear where you’re off to next, Jennie! I hate that feeling of guilt when you don’t keep up with things, but you have to take time for yourself too. Don’t worry! We’re not going anywhere.

  • Beth G from SJ: Jennie, thanks so much for sharing this recipe, looks great. Do what you’ve always done on this blog – follow your instincts on when and what to share…and for your followers, check out Jennie on Instagram if you don’t already…much love and luck on your move!

  • Michele V: I think of you and your family fondly every time I take out your cookbook! I even lent it to my 28 year old son and told him it was a special cookbook, learn from it and take care of it….and return it quickly!
    I love your writing style and your blogposts; of course I would miss reading them but the thought of you and your girls living life and experiencing new things makes me happy.
    I feel blessed to have found your blog and your cookbook!
    Take Care.

  • Veronica Georges: Take loving care of yourself. . .and do whatever is good for you. . holding you in my heart, Veronica

  • Emily: Take all the time you need ~ we will all still be here when you’re ready to return :) xx

  • bridget b.: I love checking in on you via your posts. You have been so open and honest with us. Please take the time that you need for yourself and, as others have said, we will be here when/ if you are ready to return.

  • Rocky Mountain Woman: Be kind to yourself, take breaks when you need them, share what you need to, try and laugh a bit…

  • laning: dear Jennie.. wishing you and the girls all the best..
    nothing matters more than your peace and happiness.. we will be here when you are ready to come back.. good luck !

  • Maria in NJ: find your happy place…to the commenter that said time heals, sorry, it really doesn’t, not when you loved like we have…I have to be honest and selfish and say I hope you don’t disappear, I love reading your profound words…good luck to you and the girls, and I hope the move is smooth sailing…m

  • Pauline: Take care, take your time… we’ll be here.

  • Heidi: Best to you and your girls. Take all the time you need, but know you are missed on this site. You are in our thoughts and prayers!

  • Rose D. Frenchtown, NJ: So glad to see you back! You have been greatly missed in this little corner of our great big universe!!

  • Miranda: I am so glad that you are honoring your deep craving for peace, quiet, and the less that is more for yourself and your girls. I’ll be delighted to see what you write, when you write, but please no guilt. :You give (and have given) so much here. Plus, change takes a lot of energy. It’s time to let yourself be replenished.

  • Rachel: Very happy to see you back writing. Writing when you can, we’ll all still be here :)

  • Helen: I echo the recommendations of being gentle with yourself. Don’t feel guilty, there is nothing helpful there. Write when it’s helpful. Scribble in a journal if that’s less pressure-filled. Take full time off and don’t think about it if that’s what you want to do. You’ve blessed a lot of people with your writing.

  • Lisabeth: Thank you for sharing so much of your lives with all of us. You do what you have to do for yourself, for your children, for Michael. We will be here when and if you are ready to return. Prayers to you all.

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