This past Saturday, Danny and I had a date. Granted, it only lasted about an hour and a half. It was in the middle of the afternoon. And we went shopping at the farmers’ market. Still. Both kids were hanging out at my brother’s house with my parents, whom they adore. We were free to walk together, holding hands, and buy salmon. Hurrah!
This summer lurched by us. With all this medical stuff, running a business that’s going in a dozen interesting directions at once, writing this site, and marketing a cookbook by talking about it every day for months (and showing photographs of the baked goods and dishes we made again for this purpose), all without school or much childcare? Well, I had nearly reached my limit by the end of August. Calgon, take me away! (Autocorrect keeps wanting to change that to Calvin, take me away, which frankly is much funnier than my intended sentence.)
A week or two can make a big difference.
The cookbook is out. So many of you have been writing, sharing photographs and stories of the dishes you have been making. It has absolutely made our year to hear about your joy in eating lasagna with slow-roasted tomato sauce, coconut layer cake, bagels, St. Louis gooey buttery cake, chicken fried steak, smoky corn fritters, date shake coffee cake, cornbread, pizza, hazelnut banana bread, buckwheat crepes, key lime pie, heirloom tomato soup with goat cheese croutons, green chile breakfast pie, English muffins, yellow cake with chocolate buttercream frosting, buttermilk chess pie, hoagie rolls, whoopie pies, hot and sour soup, sandwich bread, and Texas sheet cake. (And that’s just on Instagram!) We loved creating this book for two years. Marketing a book is hard, hard work, mostly wandering in the desert of sales rankings and pre-order reports, wondering. Now? This book is yours, not just ours. We are blown away by how happy the people who are cooking and baking out of the book seem to be. Some people have made 6 to 8 dishes already and are sharing it all with us! Keep it coming.
(If you did buy American Classics Reinvented, and you have been enjoying it, would you consider writing a review on Amazon? The more voices that sing out about happiness with the book, the more other people who might love the food in it are likely to hear about it. Thanks!)
A week after the book was published, school began again. Lucy started the first grade. First grade! This one is a big leap up. She’s a big kid now, in all-day school. She eats lunch in the cafeteria with the rest of the school. Four recesses! she told us at the end of the first day, joyfully. This kid continues to dance and grin, take life in her stride, and make us laugh every day. Oh, we adore her. And having her in school again — and darling Desmond in daycare three days a week now — means we can actually work, uninterrupted, for hours at a time.
We are new people.
How do we celebrate? We go to the Vashon farmers’ market, where all the faces are familiar. Where we know our farmers by their first names. Where there are not many stalls — maybe 12? — but we linger at each one. Where we buy our salmon from the young man who caught those fish on a boat in the waters of Alaska the week before.
Some people have bars where everyone knows his or her name. We have the Vashon farmers’ market.
It’s fall, really. But the last lingering warmth of summer means heirloom tomatoes so ripe that one too-firm squeeze means a burst of juice and seeds. We made a cashew-leek romesco sauce with these tomatoes and a handful of garlic and red peppers, some sherry vinegar, and a splash of good olive oil. That sauce drizzled on top of shrimp roasted with smoked paprika and a pile of zucchini noodles was so good that both kids ate an entire bowl. This morning we had a frittata with ham, sliced olives, swiss chard, and roasted potatoes and drizzled the romesco on top of it. A few tomatoes from the farmers’ market go a long way.
I wish I had bought some of those beans, though.
I don’t remember eating Asian pears when I grew up in southern California. They’re everywhere here. Crisp and only lightly sweet, juicy without too much running down the chin, smooth and surprising — these have a light pear flavor with the crunch of an apple.
There’s a cider orchard and winery here on Vashon called Nashi Orchards that makes its cider out of the Asian pears they grow. Soon I’ll go visit and share the story about these folks. There are some incredible people on Vashon growing great gardens, roasting coffee, running supper clubs, making cheese, brewing kombucha, baking bread, creating great ice cream, and constantly interacting with food in a way that isn’t trendy but meant to feed people. We’re going to be sharing more of their stories with you here soon. I love this place, this crazy little island where we live.
That was one of our favorite parts of creating American Classics Reinvented: the specific regional dishes that most Americans might know know. Before we started making that book, I’d never heard of Amish potato filling or the Midwestern tater tot hot dish or tuna poke from Hawaii. I love those dishes now.
If we’re lucky, we have a place called home. Good food is part of what makes that place a home.
Soon, we’ll share with you a new idea we have, a way to gather people at your table to make the comfort foods of where you live. We won’t be touring much with this book. Instead, we’d love to see what you make. (However, we could show up for a brief appearance, if you want.)
We’re also going to be offering more baking classes on Vashon and Seattle soon. More bread classes! And in November and December, plenty of holiday baking classes. (Maybe one or two for kids, as well.)
In the meantime, if you’re in Seattle, I’ll be making an appearance at Book Larder at 6:30 on Tuesday evening. I’d love to meet you and hear about the food of the place where you call home. Certainly, I’m also going to have treats from the book in hand. Come on out, if you can.
And we’d love to hear about the dishes you love, the comfort food you associate with family and friends, that might not have made it into our book. We’re in the mood to start re-inventing again. Right now, we’re working on an apple cake from a recipe sent to us by a sweet young woman who reads this site. Her mother, who is no longer here, never shared this family recipe with anyone. But Rachael gave us permission to make it and share it with you. Next week, we’ll offer you some of Marian’s Apple Cake, in time for the Jewish holidays.
If you have a family recipe you’d like us to make gluten-free, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s talk.
In the meantime, I hope that soon you have time for a walk, hand in hand, with the person you love most in this world.
Maybe at the farmers’ market this weekend?