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September 30, 2012

Kuroge Wagyu, squash, yogurt, smoked paprika taffy

Well, hello there.  

My goodness ... it's been a long time, hasn't it?  I've missed you all more than words can say, but since the last twelve months have been all about me writing words for other people, let me see if I even remember how to write words for myself.  What I thought might be a few months on hiatus from this project turned out to be a year, almost to the day.  Wow.  I did not expect that at all.

A few days after I posted my Hiatus post, I had the great good fortune to go to Chicago and have Chef Dave Beran's Tour of Thailand menu at Next.  Twice, in fact.  The food was so inspiring and flavorful and wondrous and jaw-dropping (permanently lodged in the Top Five Meals of My Life, no joke) that I was more motivated than ever to get back to this blog sooner than I'd planned.

Then, life got in the way.

Let me see if I can explain without boring you to tears.

First, I no longer work as a consultant, which means I no longer work from home.  Late last fall, there was a perfect storm of federal budget shenanigans around my two biggest clients, which happened right around the time a third client offered me a full-time job in-house.  It's an organization I knew well and a cause I am rather passionate about, so it was wonderful timing and a great place to hang my hat and have an impact on an issue that's important to me.

Now, I commute downtown to an office five days a week.  I don't have the time to cook during the week or on weekends like I used to.  And, for many months, I needed my nights and weekends to write this:


When the book was done, I had every intention of getting... WAIT.  Let me stop myself here.  You guys, I wrote a book.  Do you know how long I've wanted to do this?  Since first or second grade, if memory serves correctly.  It was a LOT of fun, and Mike was such a blast to work with.  I'm really proud of the book.  Really and truly.  

While I was working on the book, and a few months after, I was also using my nights and weekends to write other things for other people and do some product development work for some gluten-free food companies.  Mama's gotta pay the bills, you know.  There was also an unexpected amount of weddings and funerals and other curve balls that life throws at you from time to time.

Then, in early March, I had surgery.  It was a minor procedure that ended up having long-lasting recovery issues.  I won't get into detail (because talking about medical issues on food blogs is gross), but suffice to say it was a deep-tissue melanoma-related procedure on my head that caused me to have neuropathy and pain across my head, face, neck, and shoulders for, now, almost six months.  I'm almost completely back to normal.  But, that set me back way longer than it should have or that I ever wanted it to.  

I've also had some celiac-related things going on ... but, again, no one wants to hear about that.  Or, more accurately, I kind of don't want to talk about it.  It's particularly frustrating in that the symptoms I've been experiencing were all joint-related and neurological.  So, things like holding a knife properly became a challenge.  Standing for long periods of time was painful, as was sitting.  I have been a bit of a wreck.

When the Derecho came through the DC area in June, I was without power for six days and lost everything in my refrigerator and freezer.  All my everyday food.  Everything I'd prepped for the blog, knowing I wanted to get back to it soon.  Everything.  Many, many, MANY dollars worth of food gone.

So, as you can see, I haven't been able to really cook the way I know how and the way I love.  And, you know what?  It took a real emotional toll on me.  More than I knew, really.  Cooking calms me.  Chopping vegetables keeps me sane.  Spending two or three days on one recipe from the Alinea cookbook is a challenge and a thrill, and something I have missed so much.  I'm a better, happier person when I cook.  I know that.  

So, why am I back now?  Well, for one, I finally have a better handle on my time than I did before.  I am feeling healthy again, and able to be in the kitchen for long stretches of time.  And, because my chef friend, Carlos, told me I had to.  In late August on a rainy night at the beach, over our second or third glass of wine that night, he let me have it.  Told me I need to get back to cooking and writing here.  Said he was angry every time I posted something on Facebook that wasn't an update from this blog.  Said I needed to get back to working on this project.

He's right.

So, here I am.

I can't promise I'll be back at the same pace I was last year.  I'm still working in an office full-time.  I'm still working on other projects in the evenings and weekends.  But, I'm back to making this a priority in my life, because I need it.  Bad.

So, on Saturday morning, knife in hand, I started with this: 


And this evening, sat around the table with my neighbor friends, and we ate this: 


It looks nothing like the photo of this dish in the book.  I'm okay with that.

It tasted really damn good ... and if you have the book I strongly recommend you make the pumpkin-seed-paprika taffy.  Melt it on a steak.  Or a pork chop.  It is outstanding.

I didn't take any photos while cooking because I just wanted to focus on getting back into the feel of this book.  Gotta get my kitchen sea legs.  Almost there.

It's good to be back.

See you in a few weeks.  :)


Resources:  Everything from Whole Foods or HMart.

Music to Cook By:  Colin Hay; Going Somewhere.  Without fail, "Beautiful World" makes me smile big and wide.  And, "Waiting for My Real Life to Begin" makes me wish I knew how to play guitar.  This album is the perfect sunny Sunday afternoon kitchen soundtrack.

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YOU'RE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, I'm so so happy!

We've missed you, ya know.

Carol, it is so nice to see you blogging again. Sounds like you had a pile-up of a year. Happens to us all, I suppose. I'm sorry it took you away from all of us (selfishly) but really glad you've resurfaced and are feeling good again. I've missed your writing. My wife asked me just the other day if I thought you were done. Now I can show her you're not. Welcome back.

So happy to read your voice again, CB. I also had to take a hiatus from cooking/blogging that eerily coincided very closely with your sabbatical. I wish work was pulling me into BWI regularly so we could have a drink and talk about it. But for now, Annapolis is not demanding my presence. I welcome you back. I hope your return to blogland is as satisfying as mine has been the past few weeks. It's a wonderful thing to walk among the living. - Finch

Welcome back, Carol! I sure have missed this blog, and I am thankful your health (mental and physical) is back on track.

Wow, there is a pulse. If I hadn't seen the release of your book with Mike, I would have thought that some shellfish had held a pillow over your face while you were sleeping. Good to have you back.

I am so glad you are back, well, and making yourself and this project part of your life again...
I don't have this on a "feed" and haven't checked in to see if you were cooking again in weeks, but just felt it was worth a try tonight...AND HERE YOU ARE!

Hooray, and welcome back! Very much missed your posts.

People who don't have to deal with this "my body can't process wheat and I have a REALLY bad reaction" shit just do not understand how it really can suck. I had a low moment and I had some Cheetoes last week. Supposedly gluten-free, but wheat cross-contamination or something else in there I am allergic too... my hands hurt so bad it took me a half hour to chop peppers today. (and mine is an allergy only... that I know. Went off wheat and will not go back to find out if it's actually celiac)

Sympathies on the office. Again... the wheat-eating crowd doesn't realize how that also plays in... you end up having to cook and then prep your lunch in the morning. I swear, I do twice the amount of dishes I used to do.

And it sounds odd and gross.... but I *highly* recommend looking into 24-hour cured homemade yogurt.... (aka SCD yogurt). Easy to do, and the best damn probiotic I have had to date.

Welcome back, Carol! We're looking forward to hearing from you again!

Great to have you back! Will you be doing things differently? Not that I would want that :-) Happy cooking!

I am so glad you're back. I'm sorry you had such a horrible year.

Yay, you're back! It's been one of those years, right? Extreme things happening. So happy you're back here and hopefully things will be stabilizing a bit from now on.

Oh hurrah! Welcome back, you have been so very, very missed. :)

Lovely to see you're back. Of course, you're wrong; we're all interested in how you are. We just understand that it's personal. But be well, be happy, and keep cookin'.

We've missed you.

Oh, man, I check the blog every weekday, as part of my morning rotation, and last week I thought, "It's been a year; I hope she's okay." So glad you're back, even if the journey here wasn't the one you would have chosen!

Missed your writing; glad you are back!

Welcome back.

I'm thrilled you're back! What a year you've had. Lots of good wishes to you on all fronts.

Welcome back! You were definitely missed. I was so excited to see this post that I just had come leave my very first comment to tell you how excited I am to see you back :)

Glad to have you back, Carol.

I can't even tell you how good it was to see your update. I read greedily and was sad when the piece ended. Welcome back to feeling good and cooking more and welcome back to us. I for one, missed you a lot.

A warm hug, Carol! How very good to have you back! We need you as much as you need your kitchen. This is a happy day indeed.

You're back! Can't tell you how stoked I was to see the update in my rss feed! Can't wait to hear more :)

Welcome back! You've been missed!

Yippee, you're back!! Really missed your blog, your sense of humor especially.

I haven't even read the post yet. I just saw it in my Reader, flipped out, and rushed over to say YES! I'm thrilled you are back.

I am SO SO SO FREAKING GLAD that you're back!!! You have no idea how many times I checked back to this blog this past year. I don't care if you're just writing about your laundry. I've just missed "your voice" each month.

Soooo glad you're back!

Like everyone else I'm ecstatic you're back! Congratulations on surviving and accomplishing so much in what clearly was a trying year. The only thing missing from your post was a few choice swear words but I'll look forward to that in future posts.

Woohoo, you're baaaaaaack!!! This has brightened my day!

So happy to have you back here! I've missed your long form voice even as your tweets have made me smile.

Carol, this is such great news that your back! You should take it as a compliment that I have been manually checking back here every so often for a YEAR now (I couldn't believe it when I realized). There was no feed reader reminding me to come here! And I only missed your post by two days, that's how much I have missed you and how often I have checked back. :) (But also I'm not mad it took you so long.)

Hooray! Welcome back. Congrats on the writing a book! How can I order it and get it signed by you? Glad the rough year is over!! Aloha, Kris

Sigh. It's great to have you back. I read 30ish food blogs, but yours has a special place in the roster, and I've really felt a void since you stopped posting. (So, it seems, have you.) Welcome back; can't wait to see what's on deck. And as for the whole blog-with-full-time-job thing, I feel ya. Hang in there.

So glad you are back! I love this blog and have missed it. I keep checking it every few days and now you're here. Thank you!

YAY! Let me add to the celebratory comments redundantly: I'm so glad you're back! sorry it was such a rough road back, but really happy to see you post!

Yay!! Your return has caused me to de-lurk for my first blog ever, but I am so happy that you are well and back enough to rejoin us :) And, yeah, that daily commuting thing kinda puts a crimp in life, doesn't it??

Sigh...I just read your return back to the blogging world while drinking McCallan 18 year. Fitting no? I missed your witty, intelligent, and insightful writing this past year. So happy to have you back in the cooking blog world.

Welcome back! I missed reading your posts!

I'm glad your back to blogging. I know it sucks that you can't cook as much as you use to because of your health problems and your work schedule but blogging may help you relieve some stress. I'm happy for you that you wrote a book and it's published. It's great to dream and then actually accomplish that dream. Don't push yourself to hard in the kitchen. Just try the best you can. We love your recipes and hearing about what's going on in your life both good and bad.

It's great to have you back Carol, and I'm glad you're doing better these days! I really missed reading your posts and hoped you were doing well. Congrats on the book!!

Checked in almost every day hoping to see a new post, and it made me very happy to come here today and read something new. Congratulations, and thank you.


Yay! Yay! Yay! Hooray! Back flips and loud cheering erupts from the crowd! Carol (my secret girlfriend) is back! If you can't tell (knock, knock, knock, HELLO Blymire), we've missed you! Congrats on the book. Now get back to work entertaining ME!

So glad you are back and feeling better. I really enjoy following your kitchen journeys. I just ordered the book - looking forward to reading it!

So nice to have you back!

hurray!!!! carol, you bring joy into so many people's lives with your writing. that is a gift. remember that!

I've never posted before, but I have this book and I am so happy you are back! I love each of your posts... it makes the recipes less daunting to how someone else has done it. Thanks so much!

It's absolutely awful how much you've gone through the past year, but I'm incredibly glad that you've made it through and you're in better spirits now!

Huzzah! Huzzah!

Thank you and welcome back. I'll take whatever you can muster to get up here...missed your writing so much on nights like tonight.

Great to read you again. Sounds like a tough year, I'm glad you're doing better.

Carol--I can't tell you how many times in this past year that I almost deleted my bookmark to your blog, thinking "She's busy, and won't get back to this." I haven't commented before, but I have read all your posts. Somehow, I just couldn't delete the bookmark. I had to believe that you'd be back. So glad that you are. Best wishes to a continued recovery.

Welcome back, Carol. I've been checking in from time to time, wondering when you'd feel right about returning. And was so happy to cruise by today and see you have come home. Happy cooking to you!

Welcome back Carol! I've kept your blog link in hopes you would be back. Take your time getting your kitchen cooking legs, we'll be here.

SooOOOOOoooooOoooo nice to have you back. The internet seemed meaningless without you. That tour of thailand menu was beautiful. Have you heard anything about the e-book that's supposed to come out. They had a spring release date of this year that kept getting pushed back. I saw some photos for the childhood menu (which would be after the thai one), but no more news about the Thai one. Heard anything through the grapevine?

Yay! So glad you're back. You've been greatly missed! :)

Wait!... you've been back almost three weeks and I'm just now noticing it in my blog feed???
Happy dance, happy dance, happy dance!

Welcome back, and BIG congratulations on the book!

So glad that you are back. I've really missed your writing and blog. It's good to know that you are healthy and getting back to your normal self.


Ooo, I'm another one who just wondered where you were and posed the question on ask.com - and this post came up. Funny...ok, I'm a month late but still.

To echo basically everyone else; SO GLAD YOU'RE BACK! I spend all my time cooking "practical" food for myself, my husband, and my two babes so I live vicariously through your blog!

Thank goodness you're back! I was almost ready to give up and delete you from my bookmarks for fear that Alinea at Home was done for. It was also bitterly disappointing to click in hopes of a new post and see none. I actually never cook, but have followed you since French Laundry, and it's all ever so inspiring to watch you do it. Welcome back!

I discovered your blog sometime after your hiatus began, but have enjoyed catching up. I've gained some inspiration to try things at home that I might not have thought otherwise possible. Glad you are back and posting again!

Glad you're back! I only lurk, but I am so happy to see words in your feed!

Welcome back!
You can't imagine how much I've missed this blog. I literally jumped in my seat when I saw the update.
Glad you made it through the rough year and you're getting back into your groove. Thank you for being back.

Delighted to discover YOU and happy to hear a return to good health is in progress!

YAY!!!!!!!!! Welcome back! :)

Oh my God!! I was eating lunch at my desk and thought I would check on the off-chance you would be back. I couldn't believe it when I saw the date on that post! I've been reading since the French Laundry. Caught that mid-way, back-tracked to read the whole thing and have been following ever since.

I'm so sorry for what sounds like quite a lot of curve balls, but yet selfishly happy that I get to read you again!

It's so weird to miss someone you've never met, but I missed you! Glad you're back!

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