As it turns out, I’m a sucker for a good meatball. It’s a funny thing because ground meat has rarely done it for me; I’m certain I’m the lone American who doesn’t get in a frenzy over hamburgers or meatloaf. But something happens when you mix otherwise dull ground meats up with softened bread, herbs, seasonings and bits of extra ingredients, oof — I will swat your fork away to get at them first.
October, 2009 Archive
Did you hear? The Eighties are back. Right outside my very front door, people too young to have experienced the decade the first time around are parading down the sidewalks in leggings and high-top sneakers, shoulder padded blazers, thick belts and inadvisable doses of fluorescent clothing, without a stitch of irony. You couldn’t pay me to join them; I aim only make myself live down each fashion disaster once in a lifetime, but in the kitchen? Oh yes, bring it on.
Look, I know what most of you out there: “How on earth is she cooking with a newborn to take care of?” and that, quite possibly, one of two scenarios might be going through your head. One is that I am SuperDeb, a mutant human with cooking, sleep-deprivation-handling and time management superpowers, sweeping around my tiny apartment and even tinier kitchen in my Smitten Kitchen cape, trying to make all the other barely-holding-it-together new mamas look bad. Another scenario would be closer to something that you’d hear about on the evening network news scare report: Maybe Deb is a Bad Mother! Maybe little Jacob is crying and neglected while his mother selfishly pursues her cooking interests! You can practically hear viewers clucking their tongues in dismay for miles.
I have never met a variety of deep-fried dough I didn’t like. Yet, given that most doughy fried items out there are rather mediocre* — say, the chain donut shop steps from my apartment — I don’t find myself indulging this habit as often as I’d like. The exception to this rule is apple cider doughnuts, which I am absolutely weak in the face of. Despite the fact that even the loveliest looking ones at the farm stands tend to disappoint, I eat them anyway. Because it’s fall and crunching through ochre-tinted leaves, wrapping your fingers around a paper cup of mulled cider and eating even lackluster apple cider doughnuts is the right and proper thing to do.
I wore heels to the hospital when I showed up for my induction four weeks ago. Heels. And a sundress. Oh, and my mother and I decided to walk there from the doctor’s office, since it was such a nice day (we only made it ten blocks, but still). Heels. Sundress. A stroll on a lovely September day. I say this not to point out how ridiculous I can be — because really, I believe it points itself out — but to outline this thing I do where I get an absurdly ambitious ideal in my head and spend the rest of my time trying to close the gap between the dream and my reality.
As excited as I am to be — slowly, tentatively — back in the kitchen, I seem to be stuck at the beginning, or at least the beginning of the day. I’m fixated on granola and eggy things, breakfast-y quick breads and this thing I made for the sole purpose of eating with my morning yogurt, and I suspect it has everything to do with us feeling almost constantly like we’ve just woken up. And too early, sigh.
So, I’m cheating. I really wasn’t planning on cooking just yet. You see, I spent a whole lot of the last few weeks of pregnancy honing in on cookbooks that focus on simpler, but uncompromised cooking (and I will absolutely do a post on these, soon), bookmarking the kind of recipes I could imagine assembling with one hand tied behind my back (or you know, holding a squawking newborn) and even banking a decent amount of recipes, such as that date spice loaf and the stuffed eggplant, and a few other things I have even told you about yet. And I don’t need to cook either: Our fridge is filled with homemade matzo ball soup, spaghetti and meatballs, endless bagel fixings, pickles galore, fruit, sandwich bread, lunch meats, milk for cereal and you name it (did I tell you our families were awesome or what?). Do you hear me? There is no reason on earth that I need to be pulling down the pots and pans right now. And yet I did. Because there was something — one tiny thing, perhaps — that I had not anticipated when I mapped these early weeks out in my head.