Monday, August 31, 2009

Everything in Its Place

(Felder Rushing - A Study in Pratice & Patience)

C. wasn't kidding. I haven't posted in quite a while, and for good reason. No internet the last week (though I did sit in the parking lot of a chain pizza joint to download emails), and the house has been abuzz with activity.

My friend B. stopped by the third weekend of August and spent the night. We made Moroccan: steamed cod, couscous, and spiced French lentils. Then, proceeded to drink a bottle and half a of wine between the two of us so that a few hours later brownies seemed like a good idea. They were indeed, though I don't recommend making brownies while inebriated. I doused the mix with too much baking soda. B. was gracious as usual, and complimentary about the house, which had been frustrating me. We gave B. "the tour" and his enthusiasm for what we have planned charmed me. It reminded me of my first date with Chris. He gave me a tour of his house, and afterward, I was convinced I would be around to see all his ideas come to fruition.

The next morning we woke up early, said our farewells to B., and immediately began to work on the basement. By early afternoon, we were covered in dust and ready for lunch. Such hard work deserved - no, required - a hearty lunch. We split burgers at Vortex, then headed home for a long afternoon snooze.

Other distractions to date are a couple of articles I have due for Delta Magazine on the newest cook book Simple Fresh Southern from the Lee Bros. and the artist Jere Allen, a pushed back deadline for The Book, and preparations for first foray into volunteering for the Decatur Book Festival. I'm also still hammering out the details for Golden Apple Media.

I'm adding a new feature to The Blog. While I was out grocery shopping I ran into fellow writer, Itabari Njeri, who has a short story coming out in a noir collection edited by Dennis Lehane, as well as her first work of fiction from Akashic Books. Since writers need more support than ever, especially in the South, I'll be including book reviews in future posts, which seem appropriate for a blog from someone whose guestroom is actually The Bookroom. Up first will be Hot House Flower and the 9 Plants of Desire by Margot Berwin. Ms. Berwin's book seems incredibly appropriate to the South considering the relationships many of us have with plants. I'd like focus on books bent towards home or the idea of place, so let me know of anything I shouldn't miss.

(Image Source: NYT)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Head-to-Toe Vegetables

(Home is where the hearth is.)

A friend recently asked me where I get the inspiration for my posts and it's often the pictures I've collected (and failed to properly organize) on my computer. Sometimes they're recent, sometimes they're old. In fact, I'm planning to download all the images off my old computer and will be able to cull from that cache as well next month. I have a particular penchant for photographing other people's homes over the years, and I have amassed a healthy supply of narrative photographs.

(Tilapia with Green Onion Sauce and Basil Mint Pesto Penne Rigate)

This week, though, Chris suggested that I post images from our meals together. I had thought about doing this before, but it seems like a lot of people do it and I wanted to focus on the oft overlooked parts of the home, i.e. the bedroom, closets, gardens, etc. But after dinner tonight, when Chris bit into the tilapia we made together, I knew I had to document what has proven to be the "something" that keeps us in tandem with one another. I won't be able to document everything, but here is a start.

(Pickled Green Onions)

Inspired by the summer surplus of vegetables and fruits that turn before I have a chance to enjoy them, I've gotten into pickling again (remember the lemons.) Pickling adds another dimension to whatever fruit or vegetable you use, and in return, you get a couple of more weeks out of them (assuming you can resist using them before the week is over.) Following a simple recipe for ramps, I pickled the white parts of scallions. Most people throw the white part out and use the green, but with an Asian-style pickle, you can top rice or grilled meat to add a sweet and tangy finish.

(Balsamic Peaches)

The other condiment I made today was balsamic peaches. I simmered three whole peaches until I could slip them out of their skins, then halved them and returned to the pot with 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/2 water, and 1/4 cup sugar, a cinnamon stick, and 1 T black peppercorns. I turned the peaches over once and waited until the liquid reduced by half. They're best consumed within a few days, preferably with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a sprinkling of crushed amaretti cookies.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The More the Mary-er

(Speaking of writers, here I am with Clarissa Romano, one of my favorite dames.)

As I write this, I'm working from bed. There's a lot going on at chez Attebery/Warner. What was to be a day of tiling the bathroom has turned into Chris sleeping by my side mid-afternoon while I eke out an article for Edible and begin a business plan to launch Golden Apple Media this fall. Then there is THE BOOK.

I received a congratulatory email from my editor regarding the reception of my documentary film on Thacker Mountain Radio, which engendered in me fear rather than ecstasy. Always one to under-promise and over-deliver, I'm wondering how I will add another one hundred pages to what I've already written. How can I turn something feverishly academic into a cool read in less than three weeks?

There is hope. I've befriended the lovely Laurel Snyder through our mutual friend Lauren Cerand and I have to say it's a match made in heaven. To be a writer without a community is a suffocating thing. Despite Chris' genuine enthusiasm for my work - of which progress has been minimal - there is an understanding between writers that can not be grasped by those who don't wield the pen for a living. (I'll never forget the conversation I had with one writer who sneered at to the 23 year old version of me, "You don't want to be a writer, do you?") It was too late, the pen had already chosen me. Talking to Laurel the other night reminded me that I'm not the only one trying to make a go of this life.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Florida Redux

Chris and I are back from Florida. We loved spending time with my family but we we happy to see Em and Turner. While Em managed to devour a blanket, everything else was as we left it -- including the bathroom project. We plan to complete the tile this week, but I'll believe it when I see it.