i'm sorry, i can't, dont hate me

#25 I'm sorry, I can't, don't hate me

Welcome to A Newsletter #25, the number of times I have tried to write this newsletter this week before scrapping the whole thing and starting over. If you’ve found your way over by some miracle but are not yet subscribed, here, let me help you with that:

Can I just say congratulations to anyone writing this week, anyone publishing any sort of creative work or anyone who’s just getting up to do their jobs, whatever they may be. I personally am struggling to feel enthusiastic about eating or cooking food in any shape way or form but also, I have not one single thing to write about. Every word after “can I say” at the start of this paragraph has been an absolute slog. 

Monday, I purchased a cute chicken (3.25 pounds!) to roast for myself, but by the time I walked up the stairs to my apartment, any and all enthusiasm for what should have been dinner had evaporated into a cloud of indifference. I ended up eating a skillet full of wilted broccoli rabe with my hands, standing up, just….straight from the skillet as the raw chicken sat in its taut plastic jacket, unsalted, unroasted (so I froze it). Tuesday I spent most of my day staring at a blank word document, breaking only to eat cottage cheese from the container with a very small spoon. Yesterday, I made a Chemex of coffee in the morning so I could let it sit for three and a half hours before drinking (caffeine is caffeine). Later that day, I had a bowl of dry pasta grated with the last gasps from an old wedge of Parmesan. The whole experience was equal parts surprisingly satisfying and obviously depressing, but you’d better believe I finished the entire bowl. Oh, my standards, how they lower in a coup-filled pandemic! 

Anyway, once again (or, maybe: still) the world feels Bad right now. I had a weirdly optimistic start to the year, feeling a gust of “possibility” in the air, and maybe I went too hard with that because now I have officially run out of steam (it’s January 14th). Now, I’m in the phase where I’ve considered napping during the day just as, like, something to do, despite having many things I could and should be doing (fwiw I hate naps– never once have I woken up grateful to have taken one). As my friend Lee put it, “I feel like this pandemic is a bad movie that runs two hours too long. The Avatar of life experience. The third LOTR that was just a succession of eight different endings.” He could go on.

Now, I’m bracing myself for The Quaranversary™️, a time to feel not only bad about the world, but about all The Things We Did Not Do with All The Time We Had. For me, it’s the books I didn’t write and things I didn’t launch, and great creative tomes that were not produced (because I was napping, probably). If you were my friend and I heard you repeating this self-sabotaging dribble, I’d say to you: BE KIND TO YOURSELF! We are living in traumatic times! Nothing is normal, everything is hard! In fact, my friends DO say this to me, so it’s time I start saying to myself (and to all of you): BE KIND.

This is a long way of letting you know: I don’t have a recipe for dinner this week.

I don’t fake it, which is great if you’re into authenticity but bad if you were really counting on a recipe today. At the very least, it should bring you comfort to know that I will never try to drum up enthusiasm that isn’t there simply “for content.”

But, you know, I thought: What a great time to just hit pause and use this real estate to say THANK YOU. Thank you for being here (the newsletter). Thanks for making the potato soup and for not skimping on the dill (BOY did you make this soup). Thank you for making the goodbye meatballs a part of your weekly dinner rotation, for trying your hand at carbonara even though you’ve been burned by scrambled eggs in the past. Thank you for getting excited about tuna salad-salad, and for listening to me when I say no, you don’t need to soak your beans (you don’t). Thank you for baking the hell out of that sticky apple cake and trusting yourself to flip it without incident. Thank you for reading about a dead chicken. Thank you for subscribing, for cooking, for sharing, for forwarding it to your friends, or for buying them a subscription. Thanks for holding me accountable for delivering a newsletter every week, without which I might just blow off because WRITING IS HARD. 

Now that this lil newsletter is my primary home to publish work, things will start to pick up with more regularity (uh, just not this week lol), so I hope to see even more of you here. The recipes will live on my website (which is nearly ready for its great unveiling), so you can always find them in one place. Soon (next week?) there will be videos again, sometimes for the recipes that appear here. Occasionally, there will still be weeks where it’s just “words” without a formal recipe-recipe, but I think those are valuable, too.

This week wasn’t a total wash, though, because tomorrow, paying subscribers will get that punch-list of kitchen essentials. Great for anyone starting anew or just….starting? I also found the time to become obsessed with cinnamon buns which means soon you’ll have a very good cinnamon bun recipe. They aren’t quite ready yet, but if you know anyone who wants a pan of almost-great cinnamon buns, send them my way (I don’t waste food!). More on those next week.

Wake up early and bring your friend a bagel (scooped) with cream cheese (scallion) and lox (nova) just to cheer them up, in the process, get yourself a bialy (extra toasted) with butter, gravlax (dill), onions and capers, cheer YOURSELF up, everybody wins. Ask your group chats to explain the Armie Hammer discourse and then decide to go back to bed for 84 years because the internet, well, you’re crazy for that one (let’s just say: who among us?). Feel grateful that women like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez exist and are using the internet for good (watch the whole thing, especially if there is anything unclear about last week’s insurrection as it relates to how our government has chosen repeatedly to side with and defend white supremacy). Also feel grateful that while it’s very very cold outside, restaurants in New York are still serving outdoors. Because you want them to be open when this is all over, bundle up and go to dinner and tip 50% (this week I went to Wu’s Wonton King for the first time in a while and wow, what a perfect delight it is every single time. Get the crab, pea shoots and clams in black bean sauce). If you’re ordering in, here’s a great breakdown of what services take what commission from restaurants via Rachel Karten— choose wisely! Speaking of eating foods, if you’re in Brooklyn, there’s still time to order from Kreung, which I have of course already done. Pick up in Bushwick Saturday OR Sunday, 2-7 pm— you want everything, trust me. Buy yourself flowers, it fixes a lot of things (I go to GRDN or any number of beautifully stocked bodegas in my neighborhood). Get heavy into PLANT INSTAGRAM and realize you should be fertilizing even in the winter, start fertilizing, watch all your plants absolutely UNFURL and THRIVE. What is the human equivalent? I would like a gallon of it, thanks.

One more thing! While the cooking and baking classes are all sold out for January, there are a few spots open for the cookbook publishing Q+A which is, historically, a very excellent and fruitful time for anyone looking to answer questions about pitching, selling, making, or writing a cookbook (or just interested generally in the publishing world). More classes for February to be announced here soon. See you next week!

For the month of January, a portion of profits from paid subscriptions will go to Restaurant Workers Community Foundation, an organization assisting members of the restaurant community with a focus on wage fairness, gender equity, racial justice, and mental health. Learn more about them here.
Past supported organizations to put on your radar: The Okra Project / Food Issues Group / La Cocina / Heart of Dinner / ACLU / FAIR FIGHT / Feeding America