Sunday, April 8, 2012

What Am I? Homemaker.

It is a very contemplative day, being Easter and all. I spent most of the week strangely ill, hoping the near full week I spent without cooking at all would completely heal the last of my wounded hands. When complete recovery finally hit yesterday, I felt aptly renewed, a fresh appreciation for good health. I felt a new determination to be thankful in my everyday life, even as things seem to crash and fall around me with strange and strategic frequency lately.

I feel floundering, unsure (as I've mentioned before) of my place in my world, what to do with myself that is most beneficial to others and also makes me happiest. As I munched this cookie last Sunday after a Chinese lunch with my Parents, I couldn't help but wonder when this statement might possibly come true.


It wasn't until I sat here at the computer, looking over the photos I've liked this week - which weren't many since I barely ate at all - that I realized that I have regularly written things into this space now since April 8th of 2009, three full years of near spontaneous foods that have sprouted, risen and baked off into what I have regarded as my profession. A profession that has yet to pay a single cent, but one that has made me a better baker, a better cook, a full-fledged preserver, and a decent communicator in an online environment that prior to CakeWalk, I could never have imagined.

I'm not sure if it's my age ticking away that makes me wonder about the past with such frequency, the tickle of retrospect that whispers near constantly in my ear if I would have just done one or two little things differently that my whole life would be different. If I had only known that I loved food so much at 20ish years old then maybe today I'd know how to make a Bearnaise sauce, indeed all of the French sauces, off the cuff, and maybe I would know what to actually do when presented with meat, other than to slow cook it or most likely overcook it in a cast iron pan. Maybe my early mornings would be met with vats of dough, shaped and baked in my own steaming deck oven, round lumps of world-flavored bread emerging, goldened from my work visas to Italy, France, and the Middle East.

Yesterday I cast my votes in the supremely fun Saveur Best Food Blog Awards, and I read all of the blog posts in the category for Best Piece of Culinary Writing. They were all wonderful. Distinct voices of people who were grounded in their lives, having come to a point of "where-they-are-ness" that I really have not. While my internal voice seems to shiver, shirk, or shout depending on the variance of foodstuff or music listened to while writing, I do maybe know a few more things about myself since starting a food blog and they are:
  • If I were in a professional kitchen, and if my hands were miraculously healed and I could do it without tearing skin and fingerprints from my digits, I would be perfectly happy being a dishwasher or a line cook. More than inventing and being ever-amicable, I know now that I am most happy serving people, working hard, cleaning thoroughly and with an eagle-eye, and hopefully being well appreciated in the process.
  • If I had endless money, I would buy cheese without ever glancing at the price. I would drink stellar wines, the ones that bring a tear to my eye when the unbelievable scent of it gets even the nearest proximity of my nose. I would finally find an olive oil that knocked my socks off and I would make mayonnaise with it. I would buy a truffle because few things in life could rival it. (And for the record, and since I kinda need a car, I'd get a Fiat Abarth, which my current car crush and is only *slightly* more affordable than the Audi R8.)
  • I never want to write a cookbook, but I want to help you write one if you make food that I love. Call me a ghost, or call me your right hand man, it would make no difference because what little recipe testing I have done confirms that I absolutely love helping someone do something passionately important to them, spinning off ideas and hopefully adding to their inspiration.
  • I would much rather eat simple food at home or at your home, than luscious, well prepared food out. I do love fine dining, but it intimidates me and I'm not sure why. It could be in part because my minuscule appetite can't ever live up to course meals, and I often feel full for days. I also own next to nothing decent to wear - that isn't really a stretch either.
  • If I could really understand only one thing in my kitchen life, it would be the bread. I want to know what makes it really live, how to figure out baking percentages in split seconds and how to judge weather, time and flours accordingly. I want to know how to make it adapt to wherever I am, so I could bake while traveling without much fuss. I want to know why it seems like whenever I feel confident in my bread, my bread changes the rules and makes me feel sophomoric in my bread making once again.
  • I write best on deadlines, and when a specific idea is involved. Not maybe on this personal food blog, but in general anyway.
  • If you ask me to do something for you, I will do it. Sometimes even if I'm not sure at first if I want to.

  • I have a hard time accepting money for things I love to do. Related: I have a hard time charging for things I love to make.
  • If you push me to do something out of my comfort zone, I will do it. (I'm winking at you Deena.)

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My years writing this blog seem like instrumental ones. As I sat uploading the last picture of nopal trimmings that I simmered for a salad tomorrow, my now 5 1/2 year old son sat across the table from me with a candy cane pen and paper writing notes that he cut out and folded in half. The one he walked over to me simply said MOM in big letters across the top, with two stick figures, one big and one little. The little one is missing any trace of hair, but the face was perfectly nuanced with just eyes, nose and smiling mouth is looking upwards, one thin stick arm holding hands with mine.

I blinked back tears actually, looking at it - thinking how obsessed I've been lately with figuring out what I should do with myself but realizing that I am doing a good job of doing what I have been called to do. Making peanuts into peanut butter, taking time to Lego, too many things to count actually, that knit closely together into a pattern of years that somehow feel both gone in an instant and stretching out for forever simultaneously.

first lunch in a week.

Will I garner fame and fortune or just money for groceries and cookbooks as a result of this work of CakeWalk? Not sure. Fortunately, I am in good supply of Artistic reminders that I am where I should be, and I do what I should be doing. I make, I eat, I occasionally mend and repair. I cook, bake, ferment, wash, dry, fold, organize, shovel, hoe, mow, walk, hug, kiss, drive to school. I write.

For the upcoming 4th year of CakeWalk, I'll likely tackle more of the same traditional, real foods I've become so fond of, along with plenty of bakery to be sure. But I'll also try to make a better effort to be reminded that whatever job I'm doing is the right job at the right time. My profession right now isn't really food blogger or writer, it's homemaker. I'm just a homemaker who happens to love making or trying to make it all myself, and sometimes I need to remember that a little help or a shortcut isn't a bad thing.

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  1. I'm glad to have a small role in your journey (and I totally want to reach into that photo of deliciously lacy cheese sandwiches). It's funny how we can assume everyone is so much more together than we are (especially on the internet), and forget the things we have. Enjoying how you spend your days, creating a home and things of beauty in your kitchen, and arriving at self-knowledge are all amazing accomplishments in life. Some people never get there.

  2. enjoyed this list. I too step back and wonder why I spend all this time on blogging, so it's nice to hear your thoughts, and see you figuring things out for yourself, no small feat. Also, re bread--how can water, flour and salt be such a mystery? it is so true.

  3. Rebecca, I LOVE this post. It actually made me shed a tear (or two). How beautiful we just being our best selves, and sometimes not even that:). This post really spoke to me, as I feel much of the same. Although I actually want a new Subaru Outback. :)

  4. I too loved this post, which I sat down to read after setting some beans to soak, feeding the sourdough starter, making some yogurt, and I still can't remember the fourth thing that I know I was doing that day, none a part of my repertoire before finding your blog and meeting you. I'm very grateful for that :)


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