Our New Kitchen
The Art of the Picnic

Writing. Something. Anything.


Dear readers, much like this little bronze pig on a bridge in Wismar, I have fallen and I can't get up. Though something tells me this pig would characterize his prone position as something far more pleasurable and intentioned than I am able to. In fact, the more I think about it, I'm in more of a Samsa-ian cockroach phase than an indolent pig phase. But you get the picture. Metaphorically speaking, I seem to be somewhat...blocked.

I've decided that instead of belly-aching about it, I'm going to just make pretend that no one is reading and get back to writing. Something. Anything. Because if I keep letting my endless to-do list rear its head while the annoying little voice in my head that tells me I have nothing to say, the days will keep clicking by and I will become so paralyzed that I might never write again.

(I have a penchant for the dramatic, DONTCHA KNOW.)

So. Here is a list of stuff from my brain.

1. I went to London last weekend to see my best friend (we stayed here, it was perfect) and while there, we had a glorious dinner at Barshu, the Sichuanese restaurant in Soho for which Fuchsia Dunlop consults. We had pickled vegetables and bang-bang chicken and fish-fragrant eggplant and ma po tofu and it was so good that we ate until it hurt (literally), and then some. I didn't sleep much that night - do you ever sleep well after gorging yourself? - but it was worth it.

2. Did you know that I am a serial cuticle biter? I have been since I was 13 years old. It drives everyone who knows me absolutely bonkers. Keeping my nails short and manicured helps keep this filthy habit somewhat in check, but it's a little weird to spend so much time in the kitchen with fire engine red (or Yves Klein blue!) nails. I recently discovered Deborah Lippman's Naked, though, and it's the best nude nail color ever for an olive-skinned neurotic home cook like myself. It has a sort-of monochrome, sort-of sixties thing going on with my skin and makes my nails seem really elegant and cared-for, when nothing could be further from the truth. (I like to alternate weeks of keeping my nails neat and tidy and then having them fall apart completely in an anxiety-riddled gnash-fest.)

3. After falling hard for Kate Atkinson's Life After Life last year and then actually screaming out loud (seriously) when I read the news that she was writing a sequel of sorts to it, I got my grubby little hands (see previous point - am currently in the second phase mentioned) on A God in Ruins last weekend. I'm forcing myself to read it in small doses because...wait...I don't actually know why. It's quieter than Life After Life, if you know what I mean, less of a compulsive page-turner, and more of a meditation on life and its compromises. But I've had all sorts of epiphanies while reading it and I'm only a third of the way in, so I guess what I'm trying to say is that I like it, a lot.

4. Joanie's annual birthday picnic is in an hour. I'm bringing wedges of nicely sour German cheesecake with mandarin oranges and squares of really simple apple cake made with a super-thin yeasted dough, both of which are from our most recent round of recipe testing for the book. (For more on the progress of the book, check out my Instagram profile.) I'll report back in case any of you are also total picnicophiles and need some inspiration.

And with that, I leave you. For now. Thanks. xo