Sometimes, writing a food blog feels like inviting everyone into our kitchen.
We do love our kitchen, and it’s much more spacious than our old one was. In the late morning, if the sun is shining, we crank open the windows next to the stove and let the warm air rush in. (Even if a giant drunken bumblebee comes stumbling in unexpectedly, and we run around the house a little scared, and a little unsure of how to usher him out.) Today, in the Seattle area, everyone probably flung open his or her windows and wanted to burst into song.
(What were you singing this morning? “Don’t Stop Believing” or “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” or “Good Morning Good Morning” from The Sound of Music? Just so long as it wasn’t “Good Ship Lollipop” or “It’s a Small World,” I think we’re okay.)
It has been that long since the warm air felt good along our arms. Or that we had time to really stop and savor the smell of our skin in the sun.
We’ve been awfully busy around here, you see. The plates are stacked up next to the sink, waiting to be washed. Emails languish in the inbox, staring at me witheringly. (Am I the only one who feels that un-answered emails have human feelings, and talk to me in a stern voice like the imperious aunt you avoid at Christmas parties and funerals?) The boxes in one room of the house remain untouched, toppling over each other, in very real danger of never being unpacked.
And we know we’re not the only ones. Spring makes everyone move faster, doesn’t it? We want to clean the house and mop the floors and start exercising again. We make lists and have goals and do everything we can in one day, until we flop onto the bed exhausted, still running the list in our minds of what we didn’t accomplish.
At least I have been, lately. It’s really no way to live.
Today, I turned to Danny in the car, as we drove past blue water pulled away from the shore, yards of wet sand exposed. And I said what I had been thinking, “I can never accomplish in one day what I set out to do that day. Never.” As soon as the words were gone, however, I wish I hadn’t said them. I wish that I had suggested, “Let’s stop the car. Let’s take Bean out there and put her toes in the wet, and look for starfish, and let our hair grow warm in the sun.” We weren’t even in a hurry. But I was talking as though we were.
So before we went to the store, we stopped at the playground, and put her in the baby swing. She looked up at us in amazement, her smile cracked open wide. We pushed her on the swings, sauntered to the slide, and slung our legs over the teeter-totter with her. There was a game of peek-a-boo behind large trees, and some pulling of yellow dandelions on green grass. We didn’t move out of the sun for awhile.
I’m not sure I have another story today, and that one has nothing to do with food.
* * *
A couple of days ago, I read a piece that has stayed with me, and that has been informing these days, in a kind, forgiving way. (So much of what I read on the internet, at times, is not kind and forgiving.) Andrea Scher of Superhero Designs is one of my heroes, the woman who made the necklace in which I was married, and the other one that I wore all through Little Bean’s birth and those terrifying days after. Andrea is a beautiful woman.
In March, she wrote a truly moving piece, called What is Real. And life has whirled and been crammed so full that I just read it this week. She wrote so much of what I have been feeling:
“I have a lot of friends in cyberspace. I know you do too. We love them! They are like us! They are kindred spirits. They are creative, they care about what we care about. We wish they were in our hometown. Sometimes we graduate to phone friendships and these connections deepen even more. Still more rare and wonderful is when we get to meet them in person and confirm, Yes! you are real! and you are even better in real life. These are incredible blessings. “
(The other day, I realized that most of the close friends I have arrived through the internet, including my husband.)
And yet, the internet is not real. We touch each other’s lives and leave indelible impressions. The community on Flickr is one of the most creative and intimate I know, and I keep going back to look at my page of favorites when my hair feels plastered to my forehead with all the running. (And looking at it again, I realize they are all photographs of peace and pause.) But I don’t really know those people.
Andrea said she had gone quiet on her blog because she had been reaching out to her neighbors around her, the people whose footsteps she heard on the landings, whose dogs barked down the street. And life felt more expansive than it had when she spent all day in front of the computer.
That’s what I have been thinking about ever since reading her piece. I don’t really like sitting in front of the computer. I like the typing, the writing, the connections that can occur. I love flitting about on Twitter when I cannot think of what to say next, and finding moving essays like this one. I like when I can move the mouse over the publish button and press down.
But the actual sitting in front of the computer? Not really.
I much prefer the avocado picnic that Little Bean and I shared underneath the cherry tree this afternoon, reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar and then looking for fuzzy caterpillars around the yard. Or the pop, then whizz when I flip the cap off a bottle of root beer. Or the sizzle of the chicken roasting in the oven as I write.
I like the physical. Words really don’t exist.
So I might be a little more quiet around here for awhile. Before we moved, I was posting something every day. Ingredients! Recommendations! Videos! Recipes! Photographs! Now? I want to slow down. Those posts will appear here, in time. That’s why we moved to this island, to listen more, to drive around a curve and lean our bodies into it and watch the bay emerge to the left of the car wheels, not complaining, just being here.
* * *
And the other thing? As spacious as our kitchen is, it’s still not big enough to fit all of you in.
When I made these sour-cream-applesauce muffins this morning, they were just for us.
Some moments are best left private.
Still, if you’d like to have a muffin, here they are, in a slouchy relaxed fashion.
SOUR CREAM APPLESAUCE MUFFINS, inspired by The Joy of Cooking
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup sweet brown rice flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed in
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 400°. Oil a muffin tin. (choose your own size)
The dry ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients together, sifting the flours into the bowl.
The wet ingredients. Combine all the wet ingredients. At the end, add one egg at a time, slowing down to let each one be incorporated into the batter.
Finishing the batter. Stir the liquids into the dry ingredients. Combine them together with long, sure strokes, not rapid-fire movements. Watch, carefully, to make sure all the flour is combined, not pockets of dry goods left standing. But don’t over-mix, either, because that will make the muffins tough and dry. Go slowly. Pay attention.
Baking the muffins. Fill the muffin tins as high as you want. (Too high and they might spill over a bit, but that’s okay. too low and they will be small, but that’s probably fine too.) Slide the tin into the oven and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the muffin comes out clean.
Allow the muffins to cool for 10 minutes. Pull them out of the muffin tin. Eat, preferably with butter and rhubarb jam.
Made 12 muffins in our house.