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Archive for September, 2009

101 Cookbooks

 Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all. -Harriet Van Horne
I do not have 101 cookbooks (yet).  But I love cookbooks, for so many reasons.  I love the enormous weight of possibility they carry.  I remember the Christmas my parents bought me Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook very vividly.  I spent the entire car ride to my Grandparent’s house thumbing through its glossy pages.  The thing weighs a ton and contains a ridiculous number of recipes–most of which are fairly challenging.  Yet I didn’t feel daunted by the large book.  Instead I felt an exciting sense of possibility pulsing through my veins as I imagined myself, dusty from flour and confectioner’s sugar, bringing to life Martha’s one-bowl chocolate cupcakes, her buttermilk biscuits, zucchini bread, and apple pie.  Cookbooks are not so much about reality as they are the stuff of dreams, of fantasy, of potential. 
Needless to say, I’ve made only about 20 of the book’s hundreds of recipes, but each one I make brings me (and hopefully those who eat it) so much joy.  Someday I will get around to making the more complicated recipes–the danish, the pecan rolls, the croissants.  In the meantime, I continue to buy cookbooks!  As hard as I try to stay away from bookstores (since I love them so much and cannot stop myself from buying books), today I succumbed to the temptation.  Once I entered the Border’s at Columbus Circle, my feet brought me right to the food section.  I do not need another cookbook (I have somewhere around 15) but I believe it was fate that brought me there and I had to oblige.  As I was simply browsing the cookbook section, fully intending to exit without a purchase, I came across Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson. 
And here is where 101 Cookbooks comes in.  You see, the above two paragraphs were simply a lead in to my writing about her book and her website.  My friend Sara introduced me to Heidi only about a month ago by way of Heidi’s website (which is what the title of this post refers to).  To say that it was love at first sight is no exaggeration!  I fell hard and fast for her collection of recipes, her pictures, her descriptions.  She also blogs a bit about her life in San Francisco and her world travels.  To have come across her book today without buying it would have been plainly ridiculous.  It was not an impulse buy I will regret.  Riding the D train back up to the Bronx, I poured over Super Natural Cooking and found myself even more delighted by this woman.  Her recipes use whole grains and are natural in the true sense of the word (not in the way agribusiness abuses it–as in diet soda is natural!!).

I have yet to make any of Heidi’s recipes, I have only lingered over website and book, heady with that sense of possibility.  However, reality will set in as I attempt her Buckwheat Cheese Straws (although they will be whole wheat since Whole Foods did not have Buckwheat!).  Cross your fingers for me and if you are lucky enough to be attending Katie and Tiffany’s housewarming party tomorrow, you just might get to sample them.

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Mira’s Poetry and My Blog

I came across the poet Mira in a book that I received as a gift from Liz, my boss at my second JVC placement (St. Stephen’s).  The book is called Love Poems from God: Tweleve Sacred Voices from the East and West.  I thought the title was kind of funny at first.  Then I started reading the book and I immediately understood.  As the editor of the book (Daniel Ladinsky) writes, to dismiss the possibility that the divine can speak through women and men is to limit God.  

The book contains poems from six Eastern voices and six Western; I think the best are from the Eastern poets such as Rumi, Hafiz, and Mira but they are all wonderful.  It is a quote from Mira’s poem “I Write of that Journey” that I chose for the title of this blog.

don’t forget love;
it will bring all the madness you need 
to unfurl yourself across 
the universe. 

I do not believe she writes here of romantic love.  Of course, I am no literary critic and it is possible I am wrong.  And yet, so often when we hear the word love, our mind pictures romance or weddings or love birds.  However, I do not think Mira necessarily meant to convey that meaning of love here.  No, I read this passage and immediately think of what I am passionate about, what brings me joy and purpose.  I interpret this passage as a gentle reminder that I should not forget those tasks I am here on earth to complete.  At a time when it is easy to feel down in the dumps–when I have sent out that 40th or 50th job application–Mira’s entreaty is a welcome reminder to focus on what I love in life.

Which brings me to this blog.  When something is mentioned to you more than three times, perhaps it is the universe speaking.  Or maybe not.  Either way, I have followed the advice of several people in my life and now this blog exists where once there was nothing.  Here I will document the things that bring me joy, the things I love in life.  Mostly I expect this little creation to contain information about books, recipes, and crafts that I love.  If all else fails, it will help me remember Mira’s words; it will help me bring all the madness I need to unfurl myself across the universe.

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