Tuck in. Let's get some things out of the way before we talk biscuits.
I don’t believe in anything anymore, which has freed me up to, all over again, fall in love and believe in everything as new.
This is what I wrote when I tasked myself to think about why I was starting this newsletter. Lest you feel it’s going to be gloomy in here. It’s not! I promise! But it will be honest. This year demands that and, my track record will tell you, it’s really all I’m capable of.
For those of you who might just be getting acquainted with me: Hi. I’m an occasionally gruff (it would seem) but hopefully witty-enough-to-keep-you-reading chef who actually was always aiming to “be” a writer and found her way there through food. I always was a “writer”, mind you. The choice to “be” one was never really on the table. This affliction, seemingly, is just something we seem to either be born with or without. The hordes of us who try to shake this affliction are proof that you can’t outrun what or who you are. Trust me. I tried. But, I was (apparently) born with the obsessive need to fiddle over my feelings through words. In front of people. It could be an illness. Verdict is still out. (Is your finger toggling the "unsubscribe” button yet?)
For those of you already well acquainted with me: Hi. Thanks for joining me over here on this new planet. You likely know well enough that this is the equivalent of me donning leather pants and a fascinator or false eyelashes. It’s kind of nuts that I signed on to do this. I’m not much of a joiner and this is the ultimate JOIN. I’m actually asking YOU to join. Weird! Nothing makes any sense anymore! See what this year has done to us!
In all seriousness, here’s the deal: I have talked a big game, to myself, to the world, in a memoir, ALL about finding yourself through food. Truth is. I stopped caring about that this year. I stopped caring about that a couple of years ago if I’m being honest. Let me double down on that honesty: I kept the trope alive because I saw it as a way to continue to write. That doesn’t mean that I ever wrote anything I didn’t believe or fabricated my feelings. But, they were old feelings. I wanted everything in my life to be about writing. And then it was. And I was happy. Even if it meant I had to write about past lived experiences and old feelings until I was allowed to write about things that I was creating and orchestrating in the moment.
And then the world became a bifurcated timeline in space. We now live in a era where there is a Before and an After. In the Before Times, I was happy to ride on my experiences, talking about my time in kitchens, digging deep to remember what it felt like to be new at cooking so I could share that with readers. But I wasn’t still cooking, not in a meaningful way. I wasn’t still in a kitchen living those experiences. Frankly, I hadn’t been in love or romanced by cooking in a very long time. I was writing about it, sure. But, in some ways, I was bullshitting. Not to dupe anyone out. But to just move forward. As writers, we use what we know. We use our past experiences. And we try our best to do justice to them for our readers. It was my new way of being useful, to share these old feelings. And, as an artist, it gave me space (and a little scratch to pay my bills) to strategize about my next projects.
The After Times look very different for everyone. I think it’s fair to say we all feel a little….. lost? Scared? Disappointed? Sad? Frustrated? Beaten up? Alone? Destitute? Maybe even a little corrupted from the things we’ve seen and heard?
My After Times have looked one way and your After Times have looked another way. On so many levels, we all have had significantly varied experiences through this time. Our troubles and heartache have been different over the last nine (nine!) months, but they have been - I think - very similar in the utter consistency of perpetuation of it all. That is the similarity - the seeming neverendingness of it. And the uncertainty of who we will be when it is all over.
This newsletter, frankly, is a challenge to myself. To fall back in love with something again. To share something that, at one time, was truly my lifeline. I meant what I said in the beginning. I have reached a high point of disillusionment. I barely recognize my own heart anymore. It feels both empty and heavy all at the same time. So. I’m going to do the only thing that has ever worked for me in the past: cook.
Ahem. So! Yes! Anyway. Ok. What *will* this newsletter be exactly? Glad you asked!
I love a bullet point list. I am a chef. My whole life feels better when there is a prep sheet involved.
I am committing to one year in this space. I hope you stick around.
I know a lot about baking. A LOT lot. No sense in sitting here with a thousand notebooks and a brain full of knowledge. It’s yours. Let’s get into it.
Fridays will be food days - you won’t even have to go through lengthy essays about my feelings (those will be on Wednesday! Ha!)
I will post a recipe or a set of recipes with a video tutorial and/or a podcast style interview with a baker I know and love who is an expert on that foodstuff. I want you to meet my pastry chef and baker friends. They are good people. Bakers are actually the best, weirdest humans on this planet. You should know them.
Wednesdays will be essays. This does not mean I’ll always Dear Diary you about my big feelings. I am a nerd and that means that I will totally exploit this opportunity to tell you about my latest obsessions as well. Yesterday I spent three hours reading about the German fascination over David Hasselhoff in the late 80’s and early 90’s that segued into reading about the KGB and eastern Germany. Buckle the fuck up, kids. You’ll likely get a great pfeffernusse recipe out of it.
Basically, I’m here to rebuild some sense of self and community. I hate social media but I do my best. This though. I think I can make this work and enjoy every second.
SO! If you’ve made it this far (lord help us all), THANK YOU. The lineup for December is listed below.
A NOTE! My strategy for this newsletter is this: I will post a free first Wednesday of the month letter to all subscribers, paid and free. This post will include what the upcoming month will look like, including interviews, recipes and general content I’d like to cover. If I were you, I’d hit a monthly subscription and duck in and out of the months you like and don’t like. I wont’ be offended. Money is money and I am not a fan of wasting it. So, for instance: If you don’t care about cast iron biscuits and writings about vulnerability and interviews with Kelly Fields or Jeni Britton Bauer (neither of whom have agreed to shit at this point), skip that month. If you’re super pumped about all the upcoming content for said month, subscribe! I want you all to stay engaged and enjoy every second! But I don’t want you to feel like you’ve wasted a dime! I’m a bargain shopper. You should be, too.
Decembers Lineup for Paid Subscribers:
Friday, December 4th: Cast Iron Biscuits! Video Demo with ME (I bought a goddamned ring light and everything, y’all). Interview with surprise guest because we are still working out our schedule but you’ll be SO pumped about them because they are a Biscuit Queen. Lots of content!
Wednesday, December 9th: The need for new traditions. How do we do another holiday without breaking our hearts? Probably Christmas cookies.
Friday, December 11th: Holiday Cookies/ 3 recipes/ One video with all my best cookie baking tricks/ Interview: Y’all. December is going to be a mystery because I’m building this plane as I fly it. But, look. I know people. Good people. It’ll be nice. Just BELIEVE.
Wednesday, December 16th: Essay and Interview / Vulnerability. Surprise guest. See above for bad plane analogy.
Friday, December 18th: Soup / Taking Care of yourself. Two recipes. One Video of me in my kitchen, showing you how to make soup with what you have on hand. And a discussion about buying foods that help you “wing it” in the kitchen which is, truly, the ultimate “self-care”.
Week of Christmas off.
Wednesday, December 30th: Interview / End of Year Debrief with a fella you’ll want to hear from. As soon as he commits. I promise he will say yes. But y’all. I ain’t about to start this relationship with dangling carrots. Wait. I just did. Fuck. BUT! This will be the final post of the year and it will include my recipe and video for Vegan Greens, Peas and not-vegan Cornbread. For fifteen years I’ve fed upwards of 100 people these exact three things on New Year’s Day in my home. It is my favorite tradition. This year. I will only share it with you.
That’s it kids! I know that was a hefty read so THANK YOU. And I know I’m not for everyone. That’s ok! Part of this is just me being an unedited fool for love. I’m committed here to find some power in that again. I do hope you’ll join me. See you friday! x
Ps. Drop some comments and let’s get to know each other? Tell me what you want to learn! Tell me who you are! Let’s create a space we all want to be in. I want to hear from you, too.