Early fall is a ridiculous time to get cooking block. Inspiration is everywhere as nearly everything that could possibly be in season currently is. The markets are flooded with great stuff; summer tomatoes, eggplant, corn and peppers fight for space on tables with apples, pears, greens and winter squash. But somehow — when I’m not playing SuperMom or Good Football Wife or gushing over tiny fall outfits — I’ve been at an impasse. The summer stuff is waning; the last tomatoes I brought home were… rough, to put it nicely. And given that the butternut squash and collards are the last bits of fresh produce we’ll see until asparagus spears pop up in May 2011, seven very long months from now, I’m sure you understand why I put off cooking with them for as long as possible.
A few people have asked me what I thought of the food on the cruise we took and I admit, I’ve been dodging the question. If there could be a tiny, unfortunate thing at making a craft of getting food to taste the exact way you wish it to in your own kitchen, it would definitely be that the food outside it never tastes as good as it once did — especially food at a week long all-you-can-eat-buffet. Given, understandably, that nobody wants to eat their spaghetti while you espouse on all of the techniques the kitchen could have employed to avoid gumminess, like I said, I mostly shut up.
I know everyone says that this whole early-baby thing “goes by so fast” and “blink and you’ll miss it” and I believed them, I really did. But I hadn’t prepared to take a bite of this cake last week and push it away disinterested because it’s “too fall/wintery for right now”, look at the date on my phone and realize that, holy gingerbread (see how baby-friendly we’re getting here at SK?!), it’s freaking November already. And not early November, but days before Thanksgiving, thus, late November. And forget November, what happened in October? I remember nothing, not one single thing save a vague recollection of an overlarge can of Crisco.
Of all the things I had anticipated about being a new mama — the sleep deprivation, the fact that sometimes babies cry for no reason, whatsoever, that they look ridiculously cute things that are too big on them — at least one of the things that I hadn’t considered was, well, the Itch. The one you get at the end of your nose nearly the second after you start feeding the baby and have not a finger free to scratch it.
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.
Today might have started off as Pie for Breakfast Day but I think we all know that the day after Thanksgiving is all about detox. Away with the heavy cream! Begone, you cheesy gratins! Skedaddle, you deep, gooey casseroles, sticky-sweet yams topped with charred marshmallows and green beans with fried onions. Please, don’t make me eat that butter and drippings-laden gravy again… at least until tomorrow.
Am I glad I spilled out my frying pan angst to you all yesterday or what? This morning (and by “morning” I think we all understand that it was 1 p.m., right?), when faced with the task of an apple pancake recipe I’ve been wanting to make for eons, the thought using that stainless steel pan was enough to make me skip it.