This is my kitchen cupboard, my secret shame. Or not so secret, if you came over for dinner some time. I get a little bit of agita every time I open the cupboard and a bag of dried beans or a bottle of vanilla extract almost comes flying down. Don't get me started on the teetering stack of sardine cans or the saffron packet half askew or the seven spaghetti left in one box that keep sliding out each time I pull out the tea tin (every morning, hey-oh!). My mother will take one look at this photo and will have to sit down and fan herself, I guarantee you.
This is also a little what my head feels like these days. It's bursting at the seams with a million to-do lists, a thousand little worries, a hundred sleepless moments. Our wedding is less than two months away and my manuscript is due in just three months and three days. Impeccable timing, no? My editor keeps telling me that I'm doing it, I'm actually doing it, and doing it well even, but you know what? It's the weirdest thing, I swear, but I don't believe her.
Writing a book, it's something I've wanted my whole life. But it's also something I've been terrified of doing ever since I realized I wanted to do it. (Gah, the eloquence.) Now that I find myself sitting in front of my computer every day, attempting to make my own dream come true, well, it's the hardest work I've ever done. I'm filled with doubt and worry and a lot of other unattractive emotions.
Who ever thought I could write?
People will hate this book.
No, actually, no one will even read it.
And the grand-daddy of them all, the Hooded Fang, my own night terror: I can't do this.
Ah, yes. One is always one's own worst enemy, isn't one?
I had plans this week to tell you about a soup from Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook, my attempt to recreate City Bakery's dark chocolate cookies with white chocolate chunks and my tentative venture into the wild and crazy world of rye sourdough, but then everything went a little haywire. The soup wasn't what I was hoping for, the cookies weren't very good and the sourdough, well, it got gnarly. I made a wonderful pan of roasted potatoes and fennel and chicken last night for dinner, but who needs a recipe for that?
(In case you do: Peel and chunk a bunch of potatoes, slice a bulb of fennel into wedges. Combine together in a roasting pan with olive oil, rosemary and flaky salt. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes, until browned and fragrant and blistery. In the meantime, put two skin-on, deboned chicken breasts in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and the juice of a quarter lemon. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and some chopped rosemary and sage. Let marinate while the potatoes roast. When the potatoes are done, remove pan from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Put the chicken breasts and their marinade in a small roasting pan and put in the oven, at the same temperature, for 20 minutes. Remove, plate, eat.)
Then, while my kitchen was turning on me and churning out food that made me want to go eat French fries for dinner, this little blog here, my little engine that could, was nominated in the Best Cooking Blog category of Saveur's Food Blog Awards, alongside such beauties and kindred spirits as 101 Cookbooks, Smitten Kitchen, Lottie & Doof, Sprouted Kitchen and I Made That!
So that was very, very nice. Heidi suggested that the winner cook dinner for everyone else, which I think is a splendid idea, because I'd very much like a reason to sit around a dinner table with these folks soon. If you'd like to vote for any of us, head on over to Saveur and sign up. (If you're not a resident of the US or Canada, don't worry: Just select either country as the one you live in and your vote will be recorded all the same. Saveur's working on updating the system to include international votes, but it might take some time.) Thank you!
I'm heading out of town tomorrow on a couple of different assignments and will be back late next week, hopefully laden down with lots of good things for you and a slightly clearer head.
But before I go, I have to tell you something. I've said this before but I'll say it again and again and again: Thank you for reading and for being my audience. For a self-doubting writer, I count myself among the luckiest. Because I have all of you here with me and your presence alone is one of the biggest motivators I have, if not the biggest. When the book writing threatens to overwhelm me with fear and loathing, do you know what I do? I take a deep breath and I visualize you, my friends, my silent readers, my loyal commenters. I imagine you reading this book and holding it in your hands and then, funnily enough, my worries slink away and I know I can do it.
In other words, you make me feel brave. Thank you.