In the past couple years since my friend Gilion gave me a vinegar mother I’ve gotten really into making my own yummy vinegars. In this photo taken a few weeks ago I was straining the Riesling vinegar and more plum wine vinegar. Both are super tasty.
Since the start of the year I’ve been full-time writing again. I did this for the better part of three years between 2006 and 2009 and at the end of that I said I’d never write full-time again. Well, times change, I’ve learned a few things, forgotten a bunch more and now I’m at it again.
The main difference between then and now work-wise is that I’m now working primarily on books — two under contract including the Tasty n Sons Cookbook with Sasquatch Books (out fall 2017) and a secret Tin House project (out spring 2017) as well as a novel (out sometime I hope!). In 2006 through 2009 I was mostly working on freelance food writing projects and a book toward the end — the first edition of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland.
What remains the same is that writing full-time is fucking hard and it’s easy to burn out if you work a more normal five day, eight-plus hours a day work week. I know that this may sound spoiled and/or crazy since working full-time for yourself writing books sounds so dreamy but I have really strong work ethic so in living the dream I pushed myself a little too hard going into this full-time writing thing again. In the evenings after work I ended up snapping at people and drinking a little too much too often and in general I was just moodier than I want to be. And exhausted — mentally and physically.
Now that I’ve realized eight-plus hours of writing five days in a row every week isn’t sustainable I’m figuring out how to manage my time a little better and give my brain and body breaks throughout the day. Things that have helped with the transition — I got a standing desk, I’ve been taking some mornings off, I’ve been taking more long walks throughout the day. I’m basically just being nicer to myself and changing my perception of what a proper work week is. Work smarter not harder. So true.
Oh, and food. Cooking has always been a form of therapy for me and when I don’t do it enough I feel off and not myself. I think it’s similar to how folks who work out regularly feel when they don’t work out enough. Here are some tasty treats that I’ve cooked and eaten in the past couple months. I hope you’ve been cooking some tasty things too. If so I’d love to hear about it in the comments if you care to share. Happy year of the fire monkey!
Tested these open-face Monte Cristos for The Tasty Cookbook with anglaise soaked challah, gruyere and spiced maple syrup. Ridiculously good.
Since I’ve been at my writing studio so much lately I’ve been making more soups and stews that I can heat up in my electric hot pot there. Kimchi Chijae is one of my all-time favorites. I like Lauryn Chun’s recipe for it in The Kimchi Cookbook.
Made with my homemade — from Choi’s Kimchi recipe — classic kimchi. So tasty. I put a lot of tiny salted shrimp in it this time.
Sandwiches of course are also great to take to work. I made this one with Edelweiss Market’s spicy paprika loaf and my homemade sour pickles.
I tested The Tasty Cookbook collards at home a couple weeks ago. They’re so yummy and taste like they cooked for hours even though they only took 30 minutes. I’ve borrowed my friend’s pressure cooker for way too long. I need to return it and finally get one of my own. Love them.
I also made this crazy good Mark Bittman pressure cooker black bean soup recently. The best black been soup I’ve ever made in THIRTY minutes from dry bean to rich, inky, spicy soup. If you have a pressure cooker find this recipe and make it. I guarantee you’ll love it.
I started the Toro Bravo cookbook limoncello at the end of January so it has another week before I strain it, add the simple syrup and then freeze it for two weeks before drinking. One of my favorite recipes from the book.
Early January my boyfriend Jimbo and I went to Manzanita for a long weekend and it was lovely as always — especially this simplest of breakfasts. Pomegranate is always such a treat. And The Little Apple is my favorite grocery on the Oregon Coast.
One of my favorite quick eats at home is doctored up boxed mac and cheese. I made this one with kimchi, lots of fish sauce, gochugaru and sesame for me and my best housemate in the world Jennifer. I want some now.
I made a gumbo loaded with okra and shrimp last month and the best part of it was cooking it the next morning with rice, eggs and cheese. I will be doing this for the rest of my life. Highly recommend it.
My brother Andy, sister-in-law Laura and I toasting via Skype with the vanilla porter that Andy and I brewed when I was home in Cincinnati for Christmas this Christmas Eve. They sent me a package with a few bottles of it as they always do. Crazy good. And so cute.
My brother bottling the vanilla porter a few weeks ago. Laura sent me a photo…
More home recipe testing for The Tasty Cookbook — Kyle's Granola with homemade sweet labneh and caramelized apples. I’m not all that into cereals but this one is awesome.
Making the labneh for it. Recipe testing till the break of dawn! Love it.
I’ve been making homemade fruit wines for years but 2015 was the first year I made Concord grape wine and it turns out it’s pretty dang tasty. Not as good as the plum wine but yummy.
My Grandma Amy came up with a very special recipe that she called Wolfe Eggs inspired by a dish in a detective series that she read and loved. She named the dish after Rex Stout’s character Nero Wolfe — the obese gourmand of a detective. Growing up my grandma always made these for holiday breakfasts and we continue to make them. Now they’re going to be in someone near and dear to me’s very exciting secret book project that I can’t tell you about but will one fine day soon. RIP Grandma Amy.
Another tasty soup that I took to my writing studio — Melissa Clark’s Red Lentil Soup with Lemon in the New York Times. I love red lentils — so yummy, pretty and quick to cook.
Pizza night with Jimbo’s nephew Jonah, Jimbo’s sister and her fiancee last weekend. We made six pizzas for five humans so there was plennnnnnty of pizza for breakfast 😉
Eat, drink and be hairy!
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