It was an interesting start to the year

The BBQ we went to on July 9th at Tim and Elizabeth’s turned out to be a surprise party for little old me. ANyone will tell you I am pretty impossible to surprise, and the fact that Rob, Elizabeth and Vanessa were able to pull this off is amazing! It was fantastic to walk through the gate and see all my favorite people! I can never thank everyone enough for coming out – it was a fantastic afternoon/evening.

So great start yes? Well not quite…..

We came home and I was dashing around getting Poppy’s things ready for Children’s Island Day Camp when I slipped on something on a tile floor and managed to narrowly avoid doing a full split by bending my right knee in a way that nature never intended. Now, I am clumsy, I can quite literally fall over nothing so over the years I have developed a pretty high pain tolerance, this however was something different. I managed to get to the couch, I managed to get to bed, and I even managed to get to work the next morning, but believe me walking and not knowing if your knee actually works is a pretty awful experience. I am fortunate to have orthopedics in my building and the saw me right away and into a knee brace I went. After a week in the brace I am still hurting and the knee just doesn’t feel right, so tomorrow I will have an MRI – and I am hoping for “just” a severe pain because I do not have time for an ACL or MCL tear and the surgery they would require!

But the project is still on – I took last week off, and Robert stepped in for kitchen duties which meant curry, pizza, curry, pizza……But I am determined to get back on track….

Finding What I Lost Along The Way

Since this is largely about finding what I lost along the way, it seems only fair to start with a simple French classic – pain perdu.

Walking around Whole Foods yesterday picking up some items I know I will need on this journey (more to follow on that one) I spotted the rack of beautiful, fluffy, golden brioche and I just could not resist. “The LIttle paris Kitchen” has a lovely, simple recipe for this French classic served with a cherry compote. I truly never expected to make the compote, but I always have cherries in the freezer, and really what could be simpler than cherries and powdered sugar? I doubled the batter quantities, but halved the compote. I did this expecting Poppy to try it, and given that she had lots of fun helping me make it I was hopeful of new food breakthrough with her this morning. Alas that was not to be, and she had PB&J.

But back to the pain perdu – I cannot stress how easy this was, and certainly worthwhile for a weekend breakfast. The compote is not as sweet as you would expect, and using brioche results in a lovely, eggy, rich bread.

I get the rest of the day off as a Chef Tim Haigh is cooking dinner tonight, and I am turning my thoughts to the rest of the week and challenges cooking dinner will bring, and working out how to drag Rob into this as my prep cook……He is actually a better chef than he lets on, but generally his talents lie with the jars of Pataks curry sauce, the slow cooker and the grill.¬†19787086_10106467658212992_8935276504327364879_o

Why Am I Doing This?

There are so many memoirs by women having some kind of midlife crisis but between family and work commitments I just don’t have the time, the energy or the money to head off on an adventure to India, Nepal or even Maine. I am not going “to find myself” or find some dishy young lover to fill me with new passions. I have, however just entered my 49th year and the need to do something for myself was pretty overwhelming and to be honest it surprised me.

My husband, Robert and my best friend Vanessa inadvertently gave me this idea with their birthday gifts. They both know how much I love to cook, and to try new things, so from Vanessa came Rachel Koo’s “The Little Paris Kitchen” and from Robert, Eileen Yin-Fei Loo’s “Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking.” My in-laws, John and Leanne became part of the idea when the sent me a Barnes and Noble gift card with which I bought myself Katie Button’s “Curate.” With my last class of wine on my 49th birthday I decided to cook as many recipes as I can from these 3 books (and likely a few others from my collection) over the next year, and write about them here.

I used to cook all the time. When I met Rob 20 years ago I used to prepare elaborate meals for him, all made with super fresh ingredients. I would walk to Pike Place Market on my way home from night shift and pick up veggies, meat and fish. We walked more, ate out less, and were really just healthier. Even for the first couple of years after Poppy was born, I would meal plan and stick to the plan, so in ding this I am hoping to get back to that. I guess I am using the blog to keep me on track, and to hold myself accountable.

“Blah, blah, blah” you may say. Yes, I know this has also been done before, but really I am doing this for me, and in a way for my 7 year old daughter, who I am going to involve in as many of these meals as I can. She may never eat any of them, she is as picky as I was at that age, but if nothing else she will learn to cook, and we will get to spend quality time together.

When we bought our house 2 years ago we had all these great plans to have Sunday lunches with friends every week, and family meals every night in the dining room. ¬†Instead we have fallen into a slump where we just don’t eat dinner as a family. Poppy always gets her dinner (usually chicken, inari of PB&J – like I said she is picky) but Rob and I have started just to pick, and it has really become very unhealthy. If we weren’t just picking, we were eating out, which meant we had so much food waste in our home. The worst thing about the picking, and not sitting down together is that we have become in a way strangers, the three of us moving around in our own orbits, not talking to each other.

Hindsight is of course 20-20, but I can see now that much of this was related to my own mood. I was in a job where I loved my patient population, but didn’t fit into the workplace culture. I was ¬†incredibly depressed and anxious, and self medicating with wine. I changed jobs a few months ago, where I am closer to home, and far less drained at the end of the day. I am working in a team that is supportive, welcoming and really just generally filled with nice people. I am now taking an anti-depressant which once it kicked in made me realize just how miserable I had been. The wine has been a bigger challenge – look, I like a drink, I have never denied this and never would, however I have denied (and ignored) that I was drinking more than was good for me, which of course has had a totally negative impact on my life.

So here we go. Please follow along on this adventure with me……..Who knows maybe I will ring in 50, 50lbs lighter and being able to run a 5k (if I mange that I am rewarding myself with botox)