In Defense of Shortcuts

I can be a pretty big snob when it comes to taking shortcuts in the kitchen.

Or, more accurately, not taking them. My kitchen is stocked with ingredients, with component parts. No supermarket sauces, no store-bought stock, no cheats. (Sriracha, Smoque BBQ sauce and Hellmann’s mayo I exclude from this.) This isn’t thanks to some puritanical, pseudo-scientific health kick. It’s just that I’m a bit of a control freak, and rather thrifty — and meals taste better and cost less when you make them from scratch. I won’t even use the slow cooker, fearing lack of control over the seasoning. For better or worse, this is the true north that has, till now, guided my value system as a cook.

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Then, butter

Nothing can cure the senses but the soul, just as nothing can cure the soul but the senses.

Oscar Wilde said that. Or a character in one of his novels did. It reminds me of me, of the bad habits I’ve been nursing. These days I come home, swearing to do some useful, necessary thing, but instead plunge headfirst into the pursuit of pleasure. I’m a walking appetite. Salt, water, moon, bread, tang, sweat, sweets. It’s extraordinary, the way things taste.

Fun fact? Sasha Grey took her stage name from A Picture of Dorian Grey. An interesting study in appetites, Sasha. And the book. And the name.

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Salmon Rillettes (One Good Thwack)

The sun loses itself behind a scrim of melted butter-clouds.

I move a mason jar filled with wildflowers so they catch the caramelly light. They die so quickly. The hardwood glows amber-gold. The sun burns beauty into our shoulders and thighs. We try to make the most.

I’m embarrassed to find myself these days writing mostly about weather. It can’t be helped. Last week I wrote about not writing, of all things, about the feel of quiet. What I meant then was not that I have nothing to report from that quiet. I meant I’m troubled about what to possibly mean.

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Keeping

It’s been observed that these posts read like love letters, and I suppose they are.

I don’t write as often as I used to. There’s a mood to achieve–quiet, still, sad–and these days are unforgiving of moods, unforgiving of all but hard work and frantic play. But these can so weary the soul and I hope I’m forgiven for fleeing from them from time to time, for holing up in my tiny home and laying in bed and looking out at branches, out at nothing at all, and feeling for that quiet again. I have been at it for a day and it’s nearly here. This is who I am. I’m beginning to remember.

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Heat

I have little patience for complaints about the weather, but I tell you I’m ready to throw in the towel if we don’t get some heat here soon.

Last week I heard someone say this has been the coldest spring since…and I stopped listening, stopped hearing: too demoralizing. But it’s coming. Can you feel it? I mean not the season itself–not the flouncy skirts or the scant underthings or the towering espadrilles, not the day games or the melted lake or the milky blues or balmy weather–but the heat, the devotions it inspires in us.

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Living Alone (or, Egg in a Basket)

Living alone has its advantages.

At dusk on Sundays I turn on a string of lanterned Christmas lights. During the week I work as hard as I’ve ever worked. Twice a day I ride the train, alone but not. Twice a day we’re all pressed together like swaying sardines in suits, and sometimes I look at the others, and sometimes I don’t. And sometimes I think, here we are, little fish, flying through this city in a train on stilts, and then I find it impossible not to laugh.

My thoughts have been running this way often. Here we are. Here I am. When you live alone it’s easier to recognize a life as your own, to locate your life in the noise of other lives.

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No Apologies

Reader, I fear I’ve grown rusty in this business of writing you.

Twenty days. Yikes. To break such a silence begs a certain gravity of prose, doesn’t it, but I find myself in an easier mood this evening. I could tell you what I’ve been doing, that I’ve been going through old pictures. That I started raising fragrant herbs and lusty pink orchids and this vague, green indoor palm that I’m not so sure about. Or that I’ve been painting and lifting, drilling and dusting, watering and washing, been spending entire days on my hands and knees these three silent weeks.

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