Back when I started dreaming up a cookbook I would one day write, all I knew is what I didn’t want: I did not want to work every weekday, weekend and evening on it, I did not want to set an insanely close deadline and then have to hastily throw together a book I wasn’t pleased with and above all else I did not want the time I had to devote to this web space to become squeezed, although I understood that there would probably be a harried point right near the end that all three rules could be suspended for a good cause. And indeed, they have been. I hope to deliver my manuscript in August and it’s pretty all-consuming right now — in a good way, because I’m finally starting to see the whole thing coming together. So, if things are a bit slow between now and then, do understand that I cannot wait until late summer when my attentions can be what they were before my son was 4 months old, and instead of doing normal New Mom things like catching up on sleep or rounding up preschool applications (ha!), I decided that at my earliest convenience, I would write a book instead.
On the kind of clear-skied, warm summer evening when people without sleepless, feverish babies to tend to were drinking beers outside and grilling on rooftop decks, we stayed in last night and, for once, did not feel the eensiest bit jealous. We were eating ribs for dinner and we hadn’t even needed to leave our apartment to get them.
I didn’t mean to bury the lede on you all, but that mango slaw was a side dish. I know! What has the smitten kitchen come to? I made, like, a meal, with a side dish and a main course, all while someone yanked on my flip-flops. I barely know what came over me. I do know that my timing was terrible, because I made this last Tuesday. “Wow, Deb, that’s great! Fascinating. Really.” No, Tuesday. In New York City. It was 102 degrees, the hottest day since August 2001 and I decided, at once, that I had to make a very specific dinner that would require me to turn the oven up very high for a sizable amount of time. I think that sleep deprivation has scrambled what’s left of my brain because I’d like to think I wasn’t this dimwitted 10 months ago. (Don’t tell me otherwise.)
So here’s one way to be just a little more welcome at that backyard barbecue slash rooftop grill-out slash pot luck picnic you were heading to this weekend. Maybe you were going to bring your usual — that pie, some buns, a slaw, an addictive potato salad, right? Maybe even some lemonade? And oh, what friends you’ll make if you do. Everyone loves a good slaw, most especially this girl.
What do you do to prepare for a baby? We’ve talked about it endlessly this summer, and I have no doubt you’re out there thinking, “my goodness, has she still not had that baby yet?” Tell me about it. But really, how do you get ready? Do you try to figure out learn how to cook respectable meals in a minimum of time? Do you cook and freeze weeks worth of lasagna and enchiladas to ensure you don’t go hungry when the baby demands all of your attention? Do you use your remaining unscheduled time in the kitchen to bribe labor and delivery nurses?
Do you know what this is? This is It. This is the hamburger bun recipe I’d been obsessing, dreaming and fretting over when I had my Incident back in May, which was namely that I’d spent a ridiculous amount of time and ingredients fighting a no-good recipe with a decidedly average finish. Since then, my frustration has faded somewhat, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that perhaps they weren’t the end of the world, they just weren’t the thing I was looking for: they were more of a limp white bread bun — the kind so easily purchased at a store under any generic brand, it made little sense to eek them out at home — and I wanted something a little more moist and rich. I wanted something better, the kind of thing that you knew you weren’t going to get in any plastic bag.
My friend Alexis smartly concluded this weekend that our new goals in life should be to cultivate as many friends as possible with a) vacation homes, b) access to family vacation homes and c) a strong interest in making elaborate home-cooked meals in their free time. And you know, I think she’s onto something. We spent the holiday weekend back in Highlands, North Carolina, guests of my friend Molly’s parents who were themselves out of town, allowing even more of my friends to pile in. (Remember when having parents out of town meant “kegger!”? Ah, you know you’re in your thirties when it means “mocktails” and “let’s make our own remoulade!”.) It was fantastic.