cooking with my husband

If you walked into our small kitchen it might look as though the semi-circles we are dancing around each other are coordinated. They’re not. They’re of the moment, born of boiling water and butter that needs fetching and a simmering sauce that needs stirring. There’s groovy, mellow music from the 1970s floating in from the dining room. (The John Denver station on Pandora. I recommend it.) We’ve both put down our phones and the endless to-do list. Instead, we’re focused on slicing tomatoes, frying eggplant, and finding that damn casserole pan. (I know I pulled it out before we started. Where did it go?) There’s heat and steam escaping from the pan, the smell of tart dough lacquered with apple glaze wafting from the oven. The floor needs mopping. We might not get to it before we go to bed. Mostly, we’re laughing.

Danny and I are cooking together.

When I first started writing on this site, when I thought no one was reading, I was cooking every night. That’s where it began, with cooking. Suddenly spry after a lifetime of feeling lousy, I walked into the kitchen every evening with a sense of anticipation. What would happen that night as I stood in front of the stove? My movements were deliberate, conscious. I noticed everything. After a liftetime of living with dimmed windows, I stood bathed in light. I had celiac and I wasn’t eating gluten for the first time in my life.

And I could not believe how much joy existed in my fingertips as I chopped onions and listened for the sizzle as they hit hot oil in a pan.

When I realized people were watching — in clutches of comments from strangers — it changed, a little. I figured out enough html to put a site meter on here. 56 people a day were visiting in the summer of 2005. 56 people! (Of course, when I looked closer, I realized that at 1/3 of them came from ip addresses in the Middle East, searching for “free girl.”) I found other people writing websites with photographs of their food. I thought I was the only one strange enough to tip the camera above my plate. I found a community.

Back then, no one expected to run a business by starting a blog. No one began a blog after investigating WordPress vs. Blogspot or buying a $2500 camera to take composed shots on peeling white picnic tables with sprigs of lavender next to the plate. There was no one watching. We just cooked and took photographs and found our friends.

There are moments that I hate being a food blogger. I don’t think of myself as that. I’m a mama, a wife, a writer, someone playing with a more sophisticated camera after a year of a point and shoot, five years of an old used camera, and the camera on my phone. For me, this space —— this page on a computer screen virtually inspired to look like a page —— is just a place to write. Lately, I’ve loved figuring out ways —- with Danny and our tribe of good people — we can do more to help people and earn enough money at this to do even more. But a blogger? Blah.

It’s when I think of myself as a blogger that things go astray.

When I have looked at too many blogs, or lingered in the pretty world of Pinterest for a few moments, or spent too much time on Twitter, I start to doubt. I start talking to Danny about the photo studio space we should make under the one window in our garage, the props we should buy, the ways we should change. I wonder if I should buy those sturdy striped straws that show up in every third photo. I start thinking about hiring someone to teach me what the heck SEO is so we can increase the number of hits we get each month. I start worrying. I stop writing or dancing or looking for light. I start worrying.

It’s in this moment that Danny, who knows me best, takes me by the hand. He doesn’t say a word. He leads me into the kitchen.

And we cook.

I love having him home now.

We met a year after I started this site. After more than 365 nights of cooking in my kitchen, my movements becoming more deft with every dish, I gave him the keys to the apartment. And then I stepped out of the kitchen. He brought home meals, or played with new ingredients on his days off. Sure, we cooked together sometimes, but I mostly felt like his pupil. I had so much to learn.

For a year, he didn’t work at a restaurant, but we were writing our cookbook and surviving our first year of parenthood. I realize now it took almost two full years to feel like we were any good at this. No one tells you that, do they? That you’ll fumble and falter and feel like everyone else has it more together so you stay silent when you really just want to talk about the lack of sleep and the way this kid breaks your heart open every day. Having a kid breaks you. And you’re stronger for the broken places. So even though Danny was home with me in the kitchen, it’s a bit of a blur now. And we were writing a cookbook, where I felt like I had to prove myself, as a writer. And by the way, who was I to write a cookbook? So I relied on the chef.

And then he returned to a restaurant. And I was at home with a baby healing from major surgery, then a darling toddler who never stopped moving. I cooked. I baked. I never stopped. But I wasn’t cooking much with Danny. There was no longer time for those slow afternoons.

It has only been in the last six months, since he has been home and we’ve been doing all that we do as our full-time job, that I can feel us both relaxing in the kitchen. We’re not going anywhere. This is our home. And the small daily meals we make for Lu and ourselves are most of the time more interesting to me than the dishes we’re creating for cookbooks or other sites. We’re cooking in the moment, making a meal out of what is on the kitchen counters. Sauteed kale and onions with oven-dried tomatoes, with scrambled eggs, roasted fingerling potatoes, and goat cheese from the farmer down the road. Black rice and quinoa, with roasted chicken and butternut squash, topped with sunflower seeds and champagne vinaigrette. Vegetable stock started from the stems of the kale we’re growing in our garden.

These days, we’re really cooking, every day, most of the day. Danny’s whistling, more relaxed than he has ever been. I’m cubing cold butter to make a pie dough and look over at the steam escaping as he stirs and run for the camera. There’s that light. And it’s in the sheet tray full of fried eggplant he lay down on the floor since there is no more counter space.

If I were good at this blog thing, I would have written something entirely different. It would have been less than 500 words. It would have trumpeted easy! delicious! good for your family! I probably would have called it The Best Eggplant Parmesan, gluten-free, for the most hits. I used to do that because so many people told me that was the best way for hungry people to find my website on Google.

But who am I to say that ours is the best? It’s just the one we made on Wednesday afternoon, before the preschool potluck, before I flew away to New York. Once, I would have said it tasted of our connection and the way we were going to miss each other. But honestly? It was just really great tomatoes, gooey cheese, and some damned fine eggplant. Part of it ended up on my jeans when Danny tried to hand it to me as I sat in the car. Lu had just thrown a fit because she was flipping out I was leaving her for 2 days and I was holding back tears. This plate of eggplant parmesan disappeared at the potluck.

If I were good at this blog thing, I would know what I am doing by now. There are hugely successful bloggers who nailed their structure and routine years ago. They figured out how long their posts should be, how many photographs they should include, and all the right words to draw an audience. And they repeat those posts —- sometimes in brilliant words and photos —— again and again and again. Stumbling and writing, I’ve figured out some of that too.

But I still don’t know what I’m doing. Sometimes we post three times a week. Sometimes it’s once every two weeks. I wish that I could just write a little post every day with our photograph of our lunch and a few words. (And then I remember that Canal House Cooks Lunch has that one owned already.) Mostly, we eat a lot of whole grains, fresh vegetables, local meat, and good cheese around here. But there are many, many baked goods recipes on this site because I thought that’s what people wanted.

This is why I love this place. This stumbling. The learning. My fumbling through words. I hope I don’t ever get too good at this.

When I don’t know much, I do know this. Cooking in the kitchen with my husband is one of the most deeply satisfying acts of my life, mostly without words.

So we’ll just keep cooking.

There are hundreds of recipes for eggplant parmesan online, and I’m sure most of them are good. (There’s even a page of links on Google for “Eggplant Parmesan to Induce Labor.” Um, really?) So this isn’t an attempt to create The Best Eggplant Parmesan or The Definitive Eggplant Parmesan.

Instead, this is what we made in our kitchen last week. The tomatoes were ripe, including a few from our own garden. The eggplants we had bought at the farmers’ market had a few squishy thumbprints in them, and they needed to be used now. We happened to have some Parmesan and mozzarella in the refrigerator. But let me tell you, if you have some of those same ingredients in your kitchen right now, and some thick tomato sauce, you might think about having this for dinner tonight. For the first days of fall, after a long lovely summer? This feels just right.

EGGPLANT PARMESAN, GLUTEN-FREE

2 large eggplants
2 cups neutral-tasting oil, such as sunflower
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced thin
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
1 red pepper, top taken off, seeds removed, and sliced thin
1 cup basil leaves, sliced thin
1 quart thick tomato sauce (if your bottled sauce is too thin, let it simmer until it thickens)
12 ounces fresh mozzarella
2 cups grated Parmesan
2 large tomatoes, sliced thin

Preparing the eggplant. Take the tops off the eggplants. Slice the eggplants into 1-inch slices. Scatter salt over the eggplant slices liberally. Let the eggplant slices sit for 1 hour.

Preparing to cook. Heat the oven to 425°.

Frying the eggplant. Set a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, pour in the sunflower oil. When the oil is hot — put a drop of water in the oil and watch it sizzle — lay 4 to 5 of the eggplant slices in the skillet. (Do not overcrowd the pan. You’re going to have to do this in batches anyway.) Fry the eggplant until the bottoms are golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the eggplant slices and brown the other side, about 2 minutes. Remove the eggplant slices from the oil and lay them down on paper-towel-covered plates. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, in batches.

(You can save the sunflower oil in a big jar for the next time you fry something.)

Cooking the vegetables. Set that skillet, drained of the oil, onto medium-high heat. Pour in the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions, garlic, and peppers. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the basil and stir until the scent of the basil releases into the room, about 1 minute.

Heating the tomato sauce. Meanwhile, in another pan, heat up the tomato sauce until it is simmering.

Building the final dish. Ladle enough tomato sauce onto the bottom of a 9x13 casserole pan to cover entirely. Arrange slices of eggplant on top of the sauce. Add a layer of the onion-pepper mixture. Ladle more sauce on top. Make a layer of the mozzarella slices. Add the sliced tomatoes, the last of the sauce, and the parmesan cheese.

Baking the eggplant parmesan. Put the pan onto a baking sheet. (Ideally, you cover the baking sheet with parchment paper too. We had just run out.) Slide it into the oven. Bake until all the cheeses and sauce are bubbling and hot, about 25 minutes. Pull it out of the oven to cool. Serve within a few moments.

Feeds 6.

85 comments on “cooking with my husband

  1. Janae @ Bring-Joy

    Shauna, I love you. You made me cry!

    This post was so real. THIS is why I read I blogs. You hit on something very close to home, which is, it’s starting to drive me nuts that the authentic part of people is starting to fade with the desire to create posts that will be “pinable.” I know I am tempted & often fall for that. But with that desire to get “hits” or pins, something is lost.

    Thank YOU, thank you for being authentic & honest. That is what I want to read. Cooking has a way of melting worries, doesn’t it?

  2. Karista

    I’m up late tonight racing the clock. Trying to finish a darn post for my blog. Feeling worn and a little irritated I’m not a type A. Then I click on your post. I’m tearing as I read it. I realize getting my post out because it’s a week overdue isn’t important. Spending the evening with my daughter, cleaning up the kitchen from dinner and casually chatting about the day is what’s important. Getting everything ready for the arrival of my baby chicks tomorrow and a good night snuggle with the family pup is what’s important. Life is important. Thank you Shauna. I needed this reminder. ~Karista

  3. Jamie @ green beans & grapefruit

    Shauna and Danny, a truly lovely post– one that resonates in pieces with me. Food and cooking is what brings the community together and it’s great. But like you said, there are the pretty pictures and calculated entries that make the thousands upon thousands of food blogs tornado. At times they are inspiring, other times they are bullshit and give me an eye-rolling “How long did that take you/ you’re missing the best part of that dish!” reaction. It took me a long time to decide to start a blog, and at times I feel like I missed the “golden years.” But then, I decide to forget about it, and just keep cooking. After all, I’m still doing what I love anyhow. I hope this makes sense. ps– my post yesterday was more or less the same dish :)

  4. emmycooks

    My husband and I are in the part of our life where we dance around rather than with each other in the kitchen (there are little children involved, and a baby, and something’s always spilled and someone always needs something and dinner’s never ready just on time and…). What a good reminder of how delicious it can be. I look forward to getting back to that.

    I always love your posts. And I love Canal House Cooks Lunch, too. And Karista’s Kitchen–hi, Karista! It seems like there are lots of ways to get it right. :)

  5. Jenn

    Oh how so many people forget that it’s supposed to be about the food! This eggplant parm sounds great — I like that the eggplant slices aren’t floured, its a bit lighter that way — think I will make it this week as I’ve had a penchant for eggplant lately. And this is naturally gluten free — yay! — about the only kind of dishes I’ve been able to think enough to make lately while with the baby girl… she keeps us on our toes :)

    And please please don’t ever think you have to buy those striped straws or serve food in mason jars or have some old wooden picnic table… if we do what everyone else is doing just because it’s “successful”, then we lose that quality that makes us unique, that spark that ever made us interesting in the first place. I think that’s far more important (both professionally and personally) than how much traffic a particular post brings in from pinterest.

  6. MargieAnne

    Please don’t ever change. I have followed your Blog for several years now. First I was attracted by the gluten free title. Then your exuberance captured my imagination. Your love of language, your natural use of words and your love for Danny and Lulu, so freely expressed, bring a delightful dimension to food.

    I’m not one of your regular commenters but I look forward to your posts and cannot wait to open them up when I see a new one.

    You say you struggle with many aspects of your Blog, (for want of a better word), but you are delightfully you and I do love it when the Chef gets involved here too. I did take him to task a while ago over New Zealand lamb. I do apologise for being somewhat terse. My excuse is that I was terribly shocked, not by Danny’s opinion of our lamb which he thought tasted gamey, but of the mis-infornation he repeated. Truth to tell I’m not sure I would enjoy New Zealand lamb as it is presented in the stores in America. Food miles change the flavour.

    I’m so glad you built this website. It’s one of my favourites and if I am ever fortunate to travel in your area I will look out for the places you mention with love.

    Blessings

  7. Kristin

    I came over from Use Real Butter. I am not a celiac and I stayed mainly because of your fabulous writing and the love that you share. Your food is also pretty darn tempting! If you must change anything (and I’d only suggest more posts!!!), please only do it because YOU want to, not because you think it will be a “better” blog.

  8. Diane, A Broad

    Thank you for this. I’ve only just started a blog, and I’m still trying to find my voice. Most often I find myself just talking about the food, the process, why I thought it was worth sharing, but then I read other bloggers that I respect and they have so much more to say, about what a certain recipe might remind them of or why they made it on that day. I’m still fighting the feeling of “you should be writing more like them,” but then I have to remind myself that I have to let it be an organic process, not unlike putting together lunch from what you have in the fridge and pantry. Thank you for the constant inspiration.

    1. kristin

      I know this post is older, but I thought I comment anyways.
      It’s like your reading my mind. Since it has been awhile, have you found your voice and how did you get there?

  9. Nikki

    Authentic and Raw. This is why I read your blog. I am not celiac, I think I came here by way of Use Real Butter as well, but man am I ever grateful that I found this site. In the ever evolving blog world I find myself craving your honesty. Thank you.

  10. Cari

    Just don’t stop writing for us, please! I got sick of my own blog, no one reads it anyway so why was I doing it. Then I got sort of jazzed about my bees and changed the focus which has kept me going at least for the time being. I wished I liked eggplant. It is just one of the very few foods I don’t like along with eggs and beets. This dish looks so good I might just have to give it a whirl. I think my problem is that I always overcook the eggplant and end up with a stringy mess.

  11. Pamela

    I’m so glad to have this website. I look forward to each and every post you write, knowing it might be a while in between posts but getting even more excited for the anticipation. And the long posts — well, I admit I did an awful lot of scanning at first just to get to the recipes. But now, I’m here for the stories, the long posts that I save until last to fully savor. This blog is a wonderful place because it doesn’t conform to the “successful” blog formula. Instead it is its own thing, your own thing, and I just love it for that.

  12. Anna

    This was lovely to read. I also cook and try to write. I’ve always loved and admired the personal and real-ness of the way you share your recipes and your life. My blog is incredibly imperfect and I have only a few readers but I continue because I enjoy practicing photography and writing and sharing food. Your work is definitely and inspiration.

  13. Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough

    I love this post, Shauna. I’m here not because I’m gluten intolerant or celiac but because I love your stories and the way you reflect your real, true self on this blog (which many who write posts with SEO, etc. in mind don’t often do). And this eggplant parmesan? I literally gasped with delight when I saw that photo. Must. Make. Immediately. :)

  14. Meredith

    Shauna– I loved this! You absolutely nailed what has been bothering me about food blogging lately– so much focus on SEO, photography gear, etc. It should really be about the food, but it’s easy to lose track of that.

    P.S. I laughed out loud about the straws!

  15. Sue

    Shauna,
    Your posts are lovely and life affirming, no matter what rate they come at! Thank you for another great one.

  16. jill brock

    I added your site to my rss feed. I look for recipes a lot. I haven’t added those ones where they say “the best dish” ever. Oddly they never are. Food is all about sharing and family and community.

  17. Esther

    Shauna,

    I started reading your blog because I read an article about it in the times some years ago, why did I stay? Because of the writing! Only lately have I started to use it as a source for gluten free baking inspiration ( my husband is off gluten for three month now). So to make a long story short, I think you are doing a brilliant job! No stripey straw required.

    Esther

  18. Emily

    I love *this* voice. It’s the first time I’ve ever commented here, too…sorry for the lurking before. But honestly, this post has just moved your blog up to the top of my “read-first” list now. And your eggplant parmesan looks darned fine too! Thank you.

  19. Ryan

    Really, truly great post. There are thousands of “best recipes” on the internet, but only one that’s yours.

    Also, this: (Of course, when I looked closer, I realized that at 1/3 of them came from ip addresses in the Middle East, searching for “free girl.”) is perfect.

  20. Ashley

    Shauna!! I so very much needed this today. At this very moment actually. Just moments ago I sat scouring food blogs and told Gabe — I need to change my blog. It seems as if everyone else has found their rhythm, their voice, their light and I feel like I’m floundering. And then there’s the fact that I don’t even want to be a “food blogger”. I want to cook, eat, write, take photos and share. I want to build community, inspire and be inspired.
    I’d love to be with you in the kitchen talking about this more — someday, soon I hope.
    Thanks for posting.

  21. Rose

    Thank you for this beautiful post. I don’t know what I am doing with my blog or my two year old. I do know that I have a better chance to figure them out if I keep practicing.

    I admire your journey to feel good. Whenever your next post is ready it will be perfectly timed.

  22. Adina | Gluten Free Travelette

    Thank you for being so real Shauna — I feel like this post is such a warm blanket of comfort in the sometimes cold and harsh world of blogging.

  23. Jessica

    This blog still feels like a little window into your lives together, and that’s why I stay. You share with beautifully written words, and beautiful recipes that make me sigh. I appreciate the blogs I follow that are structured, that I can count on, that are ‘standardized’. But they seldom feel spontaneous, so planned out for those ‘hits’, that something’s lost along the way. So, by long way of saying, thank you for still doing what you do best — being yourselves.

  24. megan

    I love this! I found you through Facebook. It’s still the only social media I have. I don’t know if I’m actually celiac, but I do feel better when I reduce gluten. I also want to be more savvy with vegetables, and I think eggplants are so cute, but never had known anyone who cooked them?! Isn’t that crazy. I’m 31 and maybe had eggplants twice in my life. I bought two the other day at a local stand and I have staring at them in my fridge lol. Not sure what to do, and s burnished and maybe lazy about looking for a recipe. Well thank you! Yours popped up this morning and saved the little eggplants from my ignorance and the possibility of ending up in the trash! Yay :)

  25. Ginny

    Shauna,
    You’ve getting it right because you are being real, sometimes realizing the need to adjust to what works for you, sometimes getting into the groove that others are making. Everyday demands of life pull you one way or another, but you seem to have an unerring inner compass that helps you find your way back to YOU, Shauna.

  26. sara

    i love this so much. doing it “right” gets the best of my too, often resulting in a fury of a list I make for Hugh of all the things we MUST do to make our site better! After the fury, I remember that I started this just as a place to share and write and create…for both of us. Thank you for reminding me that that’s enough…that it’s plenty. Thank you for sharing your space.

  27. Annalise

    Beautiful post! I think it probably hits home for most bloggers. I often get caught up in the chore of it all and forget to have fun, which is why I started blogging in the first place. Thanks for the reminder!

  28. kellypea

    I needed to read this today as I sit in front of my Mac thinking of exactly what you’ve said. My husband isn’t home to join me in the kitchen during the day, but last night, he listened to me say something so similar it’s uncanny. Thanks for writing this. And best to you…

  29. bo roth

    Hey shauna and danny

    I made this, inspired by the photo on facebook, and it was fabulous. Even though I didn’t get the part about simmering your tomato sauce to make it thicker — and so my dish had the runs, so to speak — it was fantastic. Eating the last wonderful bits of it today for lunch. Yum.

  30. Lynn

    Shauna, I have read this blog for years. I am disappointed when I come in here and find you haven’t posted from the last one I read. But that’s a good thing…that waiting for more. It tells me you are off living-your-life just like the rest of us. And then I visit again and there is a new post…hoorah! So like others have said here, don’t change. Stay as real and honest and unique as you are. Whenever possible, push away the comparisons to others. Those “perfect” blogs are predictable.…canned and exactly why I come here. Stay real.

  31. becky@thecleverfig

    Thank you for your lovely words, they give us a glimpse into your heart, your family and your kitchen.
    You have no idea how many times I have felt EXACTLY the same way about blogging. Seriously, what would we do without the people in our lives that can talk us off the “ledge”? It always comes back to being authentic and true to ourselves. Why is that so darned hard to remember?? Take good care.

  32. Suzan McMann

    Shauna — this looks amazing. I love, love , love this post. You are truly authentic — the real deal. Again, thank you for sharing your passion with us. Wish I got here more often. Glad I got here today.

  33. Sallie

    Shauna:
    What are you a mind reader? I am so intimidated by my blog that I can hardly write anything much less post photos. I am always apologizing whenever I tell someone where to find my recipes. I know I can cook, I know I can’t decorate them like others, I know I can’t photograph, but I do know that what I make tastes fantastic and that I should share. You are so wonderful to share with all of us your heart.
    Your love for Danny and Lu gives me the chills.
    Lots of love, Sallie

  34. Jacqui

    You had me hooked with your voice. You clearly love food and cooking and have a way of sharing it so well with everyone. I also resonated with the fact that we both live in the Pacific NW. I think you’re good people, so keep posting your stories and recipes, and I know I’ll keep reading.

  35. Stacy

    This stumbling, as you’ve called it — I think that’s doing it right. I write my blog because I can’t help but write and I love the way food facilitates stories and connections, but sometimes I’m so puzzled by the genre and how my blog is one tiny place in an enormous ocean, and I wonder for whom I am writing anyway. And so I admire what you do and the way you go about it; this kind of honesty is what I think we all should strive for. Thank you, thank you.

  36. Sam

    You remind me of why I gave up blogging and then show me why I really didn’t have to go that far. Great post. I miss those early days.

  37. SMITH BITES

    i’ve sat in your kitchen, sat at your table, watched, and participated in, your ‘kitchen dance’ and it’s magical. your voice, this blog’s voice was what i fell in love with long before we ever met — YOU are the voice that keeps me sane when i want to buy 12,000 striped straws and stay up all hours of the night ‘pinning’ away — it makes me want to scratch my eyes out, the homogenization of most blogs these days. i swear to the gods above, i will quit if you ever move this space in that direction i will jump off the nearest cliff and hang it all up — because i’ll know that the end is near.

    oh … and i love you both to pieces …

  38. Mary

    I read every word you write. I have other blogs I look at but yours is on my Facebook page so I don’t miss a post. Some blogs are slick but yours is so sincere and real that it is on my most visited and even if there is no new posts, I still open it and read the last you wrote. The way you have shared your Celiac story has helped me to take great care of my husband and daughter who have Celiac. Thank you.

  39. Sirena

    the John Denver station on Pandora — love it! Will definitely check it out when I am in that kind of mood. Keep reconnecting with why you love what you do, Shauna, not what you should be doing :-) and enjoy — it comes across on this site, every post!

  40. Linda from Wales, UK

    I’m a coeliac (Brit!), long-time reader of your blog, and I love it — just the way it is. Always have. I’m not interested in perfect looking food on perfect looking posts — most of us just can’t live up to that. As far as baked goods go, I stopped trying to make cake/pastry alternatives years ago, and actually want non-bake recipes. With you I can be sure that you’ve not sneaked in flour as a thickener, or a shop bought mayo which contains gluten. I love your story, and I’ve been there from the first year. Please, just keep going the way you are!

  41. Stephanie

    From all my time reading blogs, I’ve learned to make something from nothing! This eggplant parm is exactly how I’ll make it if I get an eggplant in my CSA this week. And if I don’t, well, I might buy one at the farmer’s market. (Though I’ll probably throw a little something green in there–a layer of collards or a little bit of shredded radish leaves.)
    Our favorite dish right now, one I’ve made about 5 times for my husband who says of eggplant “It doesn’t do anything for me,” is a big dish of roughly-chopped onion, tomatoes, eggplant, garlic and herbs roasted in the oven until I feel like getting it out. Throw a few capers in, and we’re in heaven.
    Thank you for cooking for love.

  42. Ally Sublett

    Shauna,

    I’ve read your site for years. It was your words that tempted me to remove gluten from my diet to see what happened. I have never gone back. From that first weekend I stayed up late reading the entire history of posts on your blog, there has been no gluten in my kitchen. There never will be again. You gave me the words I never knew I was looking for when you taught me about gluten free. Reading your story was like listening to my own head. And you gave me hope that perhaps things could change. Two years later I’m happily married and cook almost all of our food from scratch (darn that msg and dairy!). You gave me not only hope in those “old” words of yours, but you also gave me a permission I didn’t know I needed. You told me to walk away from the recipes and to cook. So I do now. I still use recipes sometimes, but more often than not I am simply throwing things together. I still have hundreds of gluten free baked goods recipes tucked into a notebook, but they come out mainly for the guests I’m inclined to show just how good gluten free can be. And the nephews. My hubs and I eat much the same way you do. Fresh. Grains, greens, meat. I’ve learned from you, and the people this blog has led me to over the years, the simplicity of just making dinner. Thank you. For all the stumbling ways. They, in very real ways, saved me.

  43. Melissa

    One of the things I thought to comment about, regarding the new book, but never had time to come back and say is…

    As your food experience matured, your ideas and interests about food have evolved. The blog evolved. The earlier focus may have been about ‘gluten-free’ and now it’s really more about ‘good food’. The challenge now, is that your web and book branding, are wrapped up in ‘gluten-free’ vs. ‘good food that happens to be gluten-free’. I don’t know how you will choose to evolve your online, and personal, identity but the clue lays in what you really wanted to name your book. To not share how you are eating now, and adding in more baked goods recipes than reflect your own kitchen, will feel a little hollow for me as a reader. I can’t imagine writing with that knowledge — where’s the joy in writing what you think you’re expected to?

    Anyways, the formula for a blog is just that. Recognizing that you don’t have a formula is a good thing.

    BTW, I read the blog long before I discovered I had to eliminate wheat, barley, oat, rye, spelt, kamut, buckwheat, dairy, eggs, sugar and more. I visited for the writing and food ideas. Now I come for those and specific ideas. I am grateful for the ratios to mix my own flour and that muffin recipe but beyond that, I really stick with the current entries even when they don’t have an obvious ‘gluten-free’ theme.

  44. molly

    Please, please, don’t ever “nail” this thing. Slick and glossy has nothing to do with why I come. I reckon I’m not even close to alone.

    The beauty is in the fumbling. And the eggplant. We made pretty much exactly this same parm, last week, with no breadcrumbs, and ate it with delight. Even one child, a major feat. Oh, it is the essence of early fall.

    I owe you a package. Coming, coming…

    happy fall to you, and keep on circling ’round.

    M

  45. Sherri

    Loved this post … keep on “fumbling” — you do it so well –I love to read the “real” more than the slick flowing almost predictable posting … I love that you are upfront about still finding your way and voice after years … gives someone like me hope and inspiration.

    thank you very much …

  46. ibee crazie

    To me, the definition of a good writer is someone who speaks their heart, is sincere, honest, open and can effectively communicate this with words. Girl, you nailed it! You had me tearing up in places because of joy and sadness.

    I love it when my husband is cooking in the kitchen with me. We have so much fun and honest conversations.

    Excellent post. Thank you. Sincerely.

  47. Adrienne

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your blog and I am obsessed with blogs but you were one of my first blogs that I ever followed. I don’t know if it is because you are a local person, or the way you write or how you share your world but your blog is so lovely, accessible and enjoyable to read or just cruise or even check in on quickly when pressed for time at work. I am at work as I write this but I dream of creating at home as my work surrounded by my love and a almost 6 year old boy and you are the inspiration and the hope behind that dream. I have found love this year at the age of 40, now 41 and I will be moving from Seattle to Poulsbo next year and all these things feel so achievable and exciting, I am open to the posibilities, partially because I experience other people’s journeys through their sharing. This is what I have found in your shared experience so thanks to YOU and to that trusty chef by your side and the most amazing Lu for sharing your real self and your real life with whatever lense you have and with as many words as it takes! Thank you.

  48. Suze

    Shauna, I started following you before you married Danny. You are the only food blogger I follow. I’ve bought your books though I’ve made very few of your recipes. The reason I wait breathlessly for a new post to show up in my reader is that I love how you so willingly share your life and passions with us. That’s what makes the food interesting! Please, keep on being who you are — you’re the best Shauna Ahern there is!

  49. Suzanne in Austin, Texas

    Shauna,
    You write a perfect blog, one that keeps me coming back day after day, one that is uniquely you. This blog gave me hope and knowledge that living with celiac disease and gluten intolerance was not the end of the world. I can’t thank you enough for having helped me and my family as we continue on this gluten free journey. You’re THE BEST!

  50. InTolerant Chef

    There are rules to blogging? No one told me! I love how your posts are organic, growing from sharing what is important and happening in your lives. Do what makes you happy, I know that eggplant will make me happy for sure :)

  51. Michael Hopkins Photography

    I have just been diagnosed with Celiac, and I am on a gluten free diet. Its a life changing experience. I have been considered to be a well above level cook somewhere along the line of lower grade chef. I really enjoy cooking, grilling. I am interested in finding gluten products and recipes that I can prepare for myself and family. Do you have a book or websight that offers such information ?

  52. Dana

    Love this post Shauna, and I adore your blog. I was a writer before a blogger, and to me the stories are always more important than the veneer. Your lovely wisdom reminds me not to worry so much about my less than stellar photography and to concentrate on what matters, the content. Yours is a real and authentic voice, and funny too — the striped straws and scattered sprigs of lavender, hilarious! I knew there was a reason I’ve been afraid of Pinterest. Better to stick to blogs like yours. Keep it coming.
    –Dana

  53. Ellen W

    Reading your stories makes me envious that you and your husband share the same love for being in the kitchen and cooking. My husband cares very little for food and aside from grilling and making pancakes, waffles and grilled cheese for our sons does not cook. He’s even mentioned that if he could take a pill instead of eating he would. Your blog was the first gluten free blog I discovered after being diagnosed with celiac almost two years ago and I throughly enjoy your voice and advocacy for the gf community.

  54. Lynn

    Shauna, you and Danny are so much more than a gluten-free cooking blog — or even just a cooking blog! Don’t change a thing. I still come here all the time, even though I don’t have to do the gluten-free thing anymore. Why? Because you cook good food! And I love keeping up on your family. Keep on keepin’ on, girl. I love what you do!

  55. Karen Joy

    I was just thinking about how I hardly ever read g.f. blogs any more.

    Then, I got an e-mail for a cooking/recipe contest for which you are the judge of the g.f. foods. And I thought, “I haven’t visited her blog in a while. I should take a peek.” And, oh, my word! Similar to what others have said, I LOVED THIS.

    I, too, started blogging before I knew that I was supposed to narrow my focus, give my posts catchier titles, and not make them so wordy. I have considered it, but have decided not to change. I question if that’s the right decision — “Should I be happy with the readership I have? Or strive for more??” — and reading this confirms to me that I — and YOU — have made the right decision. You said, “This is why I love this place. This stumbling. The learning. My fumbling through words. I hope I don’t ever get too good at this.” Exactly. Exactly.

  56. Becca @ The Dabblist

    You are just so wonderful, reminding me of why we are all here. And why I read you before all of the other blogs I subscribe to. Your voice, your honesty, your gut-wrenching words move me. Every time. Love and adoration, Shauna!

  57. Kim

    As much of a Pinterest, blog, striped-straw addict as I am, I probably enjoy reading your blog the most. Your writing is pure and honest and from the heart. You really let people in and captivate us. Your stories are interesting and fun. You tell them in such a way that people want to always hear more. And despite the fact that I do still enjoy seeing the “best gluten-free eggplant” or silly props in food photos, your stories are what draw me in. Oh, and the food. That eggplant looks sinful. My newly gluten-free husband will definitely appreciate it!

  58. Patricia

    Please. Don’t ever change. I come back over and over for the stories and the posts like this one even more than I do for the food.

  59. Meryl

    Your blog is a gift…each time I stop in to read something you’ve written, I always come away from it with little pearls of wisdom. Thank you for all that you share!

  60. tracy

    oh how I needed to read this today. It’s a good reminder that being yourself and doing what you love is ENOUGH. I love you even more today. Thank you, friend!

  61. Carmen

    I think I agree with many of your readers when I say that we don’t read your blog for the recipes — well, only the recipes anyway. I read it for your honestly, your touching stories about family and self, about healing, and just about life. And your writing is beautiful. Please don’t ever change — thank you for the authenticity you bring to the blogging world!

  62. Kate @ Eat, Recycle, Repeat

    I really, really needed to hear this. Thanks for reminding me to stay true to myself. Yesterday I took a break from the computer & went into the kitchen to bake coconut pumpkin macaroons from the Urban Poser. The nourishment I got from using clean ingredients based on whole foods & the comfort I found in mixing dough with my hands helped me remember what was most important to me — doing what I love and not worrying so much about what others said I should do.

  63. A Bit of Brooklyn

    Dear Shauna,

    Your blog was the first I ever read, and I started reading years ago… You were and are a great inspiration to me as a writer, and yes, a food blogger as well. I think the dilemma your facing happens with the commercialization of any creative process. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, just the nature of the beast.

    Love the parmesan, could go for some right now!

  64. lil deli

    Thank you for this post, I loved reading it. Your posts help me to slow down for a moment in my day and experience some peace in my imagined version of your kitchen. Keep going, you’re doing great.

  65. Laureen @FoxKitchen

    I haven’t posted anything in weeks because I just haven’t felt like it…my mom has been sick in the hospital. I need to focus on that. It’s the only thing that feels real important at the moment.

    Shauna, Keep being you. Keep being real. I love this post, as I love your blog…I’m not sure what else to say except I want very badly to be in the kitchen making some eggplant parmesan right now…which might be a rather silly thing to feel at 12:20am but I bet you understand…

  66. Cathy from France

    Please don’t change anything! I have discovered your blog about a year ago (but never left a comment before). I enjoy your posts so much that I’ve started reading the very first ones and slowly reading my way up till today. Your writing is incredibly alive and inspiring, just like the person you seem to be. Merci!

  67. Karen

    Like others have been saying, don’t change. If you become obsessed with being like everyone else, your blog will become the equivalent of generic canned tomatoes. As an aside, I totally wouldn’t mind if you did post every day about whatever you made up in the kitchen that day for your family to eat. I’d like to be less tied to recipes. It would be freeing.

  68. Archer

    Shauna — you have such a beautiful heart. Thanks for your honesty. I think other bloggers like myself need to see other bloggers just being themselves and not striving. One of the things I have loved about your blog and your non-photo-studio pictures is that it’s totally you! I love your real life pictures.

  69. Pat Machin

    Thanks for a great post. I found your blog after 2 of my grandsons were diagnosed with celiac — long before I started a blog myself.

    I stayed and read from the beginning over several months and I do look out for your posts.

    I suppose there is room on this world with web for all sorts of posts and I am in awe of some people’s photos. But that’s not me and never going to be me.

    I’m a JOAT and I have no intention of limiting myself to a narrow niche. Life is too short to risk missing out on something new.

    Just keep writing. You are really good at it (though you probably don’t realise it).

  70. Magda

    I love the way you write and the way you think. I’m glad you don’t have it together as you say, because you wouldn’t be you. I don’t need to see any more of those stripped straws. I take blogs like yours any day over those.
    Thank you, Shauna. You’re the best.

  71. JJ

    Somehow things like this come along just when I need them most. We’ve been traveling for 10 weeks, the first 8 or so I wrote constantly, the last few, almost not at all. Today we got to NY and tonight I started reading through your most recent posts, both are helping my soul. Thank you.

  72. Sarah Boyd

    I came across your blog several months ago, in order to find a gluten free gravy recipe so I could share biscuits and gravy with a dear friend who has celiac. I thoroughly enjoyed that your blog was well-written, each post a story in itself opening a window into a bright world of good food and also a piece of your family. Shortly after, I discovered that I have celiac as well and I have read almost every post you’ve ever made and wait in great anticipation for the new ones.

    I want to encourage you. The reason I am drawn to your blog so frequently is because you are NOT as the other blogs and recipe websites out there. Your writing by itself is enough to intrigue me, and your recipes excite me. I am challenged to try new things, to put forth a little more effort and make good food rather than falling back on the easy and processed foods. Even more, I love that you share your growth with us, the readers. I am even encouraged by your struggles and your failures, because I know there is hope for me. I know that it is ok to fail, and that failure is not a reflection on me. Our kitchen is a newly gluten-free zone and we’re still figuring out how to navigate gluten-free brands and gluten-free prices and the upcoming holidays but it doesn’t seem as scary to me after I’ve spent some time on your blog.

    You are my inspiration…not just in cooking but also writing and enjoying life and living in the moment and in starting a family and in so many other things. You constantly bless me and I am ever grateful.

  73. malika g

    Hello! My husband bought me your cookbook when I went gluten free last year. Feeling like eggplant tonight and looking for a gluten free eggplant recipe-I happily came across your blog! I had no idea you blogged!

    It is clear you have many devoted fans, how wonderful! I will be sure to bookmark your page for the future.
    However I was hoping to get some tips on altering the recipe-2 cups of oil is just too much for me. Have you had any cooking eggplant with less oil-like pan sautéing it instead of frying?

  74. Jocelyn

    I’m trying this recipe for dinner tonight — really looking forward to it. days are shortening and temperatures dropping, this is some well needed comfort food. thank you for sharing the recipe.

  75. Katie

    I have always wanted to try eggplant but I’ve been a little leery of it. This dish looks sooo good. I’m really looking forward to trying it!

  76. Christian

    Loved the recipe! The dish was so flavorful! Mine was a little too soupy, though. Any advice? Thanks!

  77. TBTRAVELS

    This was amazing! The flavors were perfect and worked really well over rice pasta. I found it a little too soupy but I didn’t simmer the sauce very long, like you suggested if it was too thin. Will do that next time.

    I also loved your writing and the story. I’ll be back!