City Girl Country Kitchen

hello june, it’s nice to see you

carrot fennel soup, coming to a cookbook near you in 2013.

I should not be here right now. I don’t mean the “being here” as in the bigger philosophical question of life. I mean really, there’s a book, a manuscript due today. So far there have been 93 pages written. Over 100 recipes tested, written and edited, with a lot more to come. 30,074 words have been strung together so far, in a coherent manner I hope, to form a cookbook.

There is still more to be done, but I found myself here this morning, watching and waiting. I woke up and felt thankful for the sun streaming in through the bedroom windows. I went down to the kitchen to start my writing day, and have been too pleasantly distracted by the birds singing in my neighbors’ backyards. I miss my own yard, the one we used to share back at our old place.

I remember when we started our apartment hunt 14 years ago. We saw over 40 places, and when we walked into the one that would become our home, the one to which we would bring our daughters to after they were born, though we had no idea we’d ever have children—well, the moment we walked in there we just knew. It was love at first sight, even with the living room walls painted pink—I’m not kidding. The kitchen had animal heads resting on the cabinets.

Continue reading »

about a boy {day 268}

Yes, I’m counting the days again. Panic set in last week, and I’m back to playing that number game. Soon it will be nine months. I know—it made me gasp for breathe too. It seems inconceivable. I find myself staring at his pictures lately, recalling memories, and they seem to have this blurry haze around them. I look at our wedding photo, and think “gee, that girl looks really happy”.

And yet that girl used to be me.

I used to polish my nails sheer white. Now I choose brooding, dark shades of bing cherry.

Continue reading »

a kiss to build a dream on

Navigating life without my sidekick is lonely. There’s no one who gets my Seinfeld references. I often feel alone in a crowded room. It’s easy to let this get me down, but I work minute-by-minute to temper my sad feelings with the memories of all the good ones.

Making pasta is one of those good memories. I’d never made it until I met Mikey. For a single guy, he had a relatively good collection of kitchen equipment. A blender, an assortment of pots and pans, a demitasse coffee maker, and an Atlas pasta maker. I don’t remember if he had ever attempted making it before we met. In fact, I don’t remember the first time I even made it. I do remember shedding many tears over the years of failed attempts though, mostly from not enough liquid in the dough.

Over my 16 years of making fresh pasta, I’ve learned three key things. First, room temperature eggs make a difference. They blend more easily with the flour. Pasta dough needs to nap, so once it’s kneaded, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest on the counter, at room temperature, for at least 20 minutes, and up to an hour if you have the time. My last trick is using some semolina flour. It helps add elasticity to the dough, making it easier to roll out.

Continue reading »

wake up, it’s spring

It’s been quiet here for a good reason.

51 pages.

17,201 words.

42 of 150 recipes.

They are in my editor’s hands right now at Running Press.

Those pictures above are just a tease of the recipes you can expect to make in your own kitchen next spring. They’re not the photos that will be printed in the book—just some shots I took with my iPhone.

And now, it’s time to get back into the test kitchen.

everyday banana bread

Yesterday was group therapy, which means it was time for a feelings check in. In reality, we should all do these check ins on a daily basis, regardless of suffering a traumatic loss. Understanding how you feel forces you to confront why you feel that way. It sounds simple, but how often do you find yourself juggling so many responsibilities that you ignore the symptoms?

A deep ache is settling in. Today is seven months since Mikey died. Seven months. The reality of what this means scares the hell out me. In so many ways day seven was easier than week seven. And week seven was no doubt easier than month seven. He is not coming back, and even worse is the life I was living just seven months ago seems so foreign. I watch that video of him dancing with Virginia, yet I feel numb, as if it was all a dream.

Continue reading »

and then there was soup…{day 179}

All I wanted to do at 7:51 pm on Wednesday was crawl under the dining room table and curl up in a ball. Yet another dinner alone with the girls. It was a lovely meal, complete with spinach & cheese ravioli with brown butter, creamy, fresh mozzarella, tomato salad, eggplant dip and a crusty baguette.

Can you guess what my kids ate? Yep, bread and butter. The morsel of ravioli Virginia nibbled at didn’t count. The three pieces Isabella forced down her throat meant nothing either. We’d just come off a major tantrum over her not wanting to do homework. She would’ve eaten a slab of cement to gain my approval at that moment.

The scene that played out perfectly sums up my answer to an exercise we did in group therapy this week. We had to write down a parenting challenge and parenting strength on slips of construction paper. I didn’t get to share mine with the group, as it’s pretty big and some people there are talkers.

Continue reading »