The Fork in the Road

 

For the past three years, all of my creative energy and time has focused on hand knit newborn hats, wraps, and cocoons. Late last summer, I added something new - the Luxe Collection of newborn/child halo headbands. Made from the finest mohair art yarn in existence, these headbands are paired with beautiful freshwater pearls, and join the other headbands in the collection - ones made from delicate raw-edged silk sari ribbons, vintage lace, and various glass beads.

Ideas and plans that I had prior to my shop opening the summer before my son’s birth were pushed aside, along with the many new concepts that came up in the meantime. Some of you have no doubt wondered, “Why haven’t there been more updates in the shop?” Well, my dear friends, I have a few new projects in the works about which I’m very excited. 

I’ve worked long hours this past year to add as many items to my shop as I could so that I would be able to let the Daida L’Orange Textures of Handspun line run by itself as I prepared to shift my creative focus to new endeavors. A fork in the road has presented itself and I can no longer stand by and wait to choose which path I will take or risk remaining on the same “safe” path. Therefore, I’ve decided to take my love of cooking, baking, and writing off the back burner, so to speak, and bring them to the forefront.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve collected recipes from a variety of sources – cutouts from magazines, earmarked pages of books in my collection, printed pages from recipes online, and scribbles on random scraps of paper of my very own recipes. They are scattered all about and I’ve decided that it’s time to sit down and write my story – my cookbook.

Recipe development: my notebook, coffee, and Bible...The Flavor BibleYesterday, I came across a blog post from Michael Ruhlman entitled “So You Want to Write a Cookbook”. In response to his post, I agree that there are many cookbooks out there - I own quite a few. The reasons that I buy the cookbooks vary. Since my tastes are quite specific – a far cry from a true epicurean – I manage to make a mere handful of recipes from each cookbook. With only a couple of exceptions, I buy books that contain pretty photographs with well-described and tasty recipes.

As of late, I’ve started to seek out books with more of a personal story that will draw me into the lives of the author of the book – something akin to a novel with recipes included as a bonus - as Molly does in her book , A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, and David does in his book, The Sweet Life in Paris", filled with his encounters and adventures of his move to Paris. I believe that our time in the kitchen becomes much less of a chore if we’re also entertained in the process. The cookbook of today needs to be much more than a simple list of ingredients with directions. The cookbook of today should be able to both entertain and to please our eyes and palates.

Photographs are a must…the more the better. I am more apt to try out a new recipe if I can see an actual photograph of the end product. One photo per recipe is plenty. Oftentimes, though, I see cookbooks with only a handful of photos for the entire book, clustered together somewhere in the middle so that you have to read the tiny print which specifies the corresponding page of the recipe photographed. I want photos. I want you to entice me. I want you, as a cookbook author, to make me want to create that meal to the point that I will, without hesitation, want to jump in my minivan with my 2 ½ -year old son and my 4-year old and 5 ½ -year old daughters, and drive all the way downtown to Whole Foods and navigate the aisles amidst screams and pleas that will ensue as I gather the needed ingredients for that one recipe that begs to be made.

Yes, I'm one of "those people" who will write a cookbook. I am “that person” who is now in the kitchen at all hours of the day and night with the bibleThe Flavor Bible to be more precise – in search of new combinations of ingredients for a new flavor experience. I am that person who will photograph and style every dish I make so that you, the reader, will want to run to the store to get that fresh tarragon, quinoa flour, or amaranth that might or might not be the staples of your everyday cooking. I want you to try something new – at least once a week. I want you to read the story of a stubborn first-generation American gal - raised in a Croatian household with Croatian foods - who married a German-born (now American) guy - who would eat Schwartzwälder Schinken for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert – and their adventures with three very distinct little humans who would eat pasta with Parmesan and Kalamata olives (I’m not sure that I know many children who eat olives of any kind) every day if I let them.

As a mother of three small children, I believe it’s important to teach your children to be comfortable in the kitchen at an early age. I often find myself surprised as I return home from the grocery store and see my Sagey run with eagerness towards me to grab the various items in the grocery bags and put them away - the “black bread” (as the kids call the Pumpernickel bread – which is actually a dark rye bread), Italian Fontal, whole milk Brown Cow yogurts, and Croatian sour cherry jam (which makes me shudder as I run to grab the small glass jar out of his little hands for fear that the jar would shatter into a million tiny pieces). I’m glad that he wants to help. I’m glad that all three children express an interest in the creation of meals. My goal is to find a fun way to share that kitchen, my kitchen, with them.

With the kids on vacation this week, we will be in our kitchen – together. The kids with their little green spring aprons and I with…well, one of my many oft neglected but colorful aprons. As with most children, they will want to bake a cake or a few dozen cookies from one of my many new cookbooks. That is perfectly fine with me as I prefer desserts and baking any day over the “necessary” cooked meals. Desserts should be eaten first.

During these past couple of weeks, I have developed recipes for roasted root vegetable soup, dilled potato and cabbage gratin...

...baked veggie patties with a yogurt dill dipping sauce...

...and chocolate orange almond pancakes.

My fridge is stocked with an assortment of fresh vegetables and herbs for this week’s recipes and the pantry contains every flour, gluten and non-gluten, known to mankind. Now if only I can find a recipe for those canary beans I purchased last Friday. They looked so pretty that I couldn’t resist that they join the rest of the twenty or so containers of dried beans in the pantry.

People have to want to be in the kitchen to experiment with food and I believe that a cookbook should encourage a fun attitude towards being in the kitchen on a daily basis. We all have to eat everyday...why not make it fun? If we take the time to teach our children to love the kitchen, they will be well-equipped with the knowledge of how to adapt to any situation presented and not have to rely on fast food for a quick meal.

So, while the past three years have been dedicated to beautiful one-of-a-kind handspun yarns,

the future holds several new challenges which can no longer be pushed aside. I’m comfortable in the fact that my shop is now well-stocked and I can shift my time to new creative endeavors. I might not list as many products these days, but I will continue to knit every week and list my handmade items as time permits.

I hope that you will join me on this fun and new adventure.