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My Blog about the Slog...

Jane Barleycorn's: the Process

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

     More than once I have had the experience where I didn’t think I could possibly write or cook or source another menu with any excitement.. (I do feel a certain sacrilege at that confession), but then… well, things change.. somehow the coin flips and there is so much to celebrate in the culinary world it’s hard to know where to start. 

    A pleasant wave washes in— usually  a culmination of many personal and natural events like I imagine you may have, too— perhaps I found good rest; summer has made its definitive debut with an 85 degree day or  my son and I take a cooking class together  learning Italian dumplings; I re-read a cookbook that I thought was magic 5 years ago and find new magic ( like that focaccia isn’t that hard after all); I stumble across the March 1989 Gourmet magazine that has all the great soup recipes— humbly listed in the index like ‘here are some soups’, (not even featured as ‘fabulous soups’); a trip to the local farmers market where I find among other gems, impeccable baby chard and some garlic scapes that will be fun to entertain; chance interactions with people who unknowingly inspire or find myself fortunate enough to eat at a couple interesting restaurants.… and soon I have been saved from the rabbit hole of my own creation and never been more ready to be rally on Jane Barleycorn’s behalf.  I’m learning that’s how it works.


This is my son, Rafe, at the Sur La Table Cincy, 'Gnocchi & Gnudi' cooking class.  We had a great time and both learned about dumplings and some helpful pointers about our chopping skills.

I’ve been thinking about sandwiches, salads, cold soups, fruit, new explorations of vegetables… funky ice creams,  lighter menus.. making more pickles maybe pickled seafood—mussels or shrimp, trialing house-made focaccia , switching up the light to heavy tempo by arranging courses untraditionally, ordering a shellfish every Thursday, alternating mussels, clams if I can get them, or serving crab claws and clarified butter… and duck.. how to incorporate it best back into JBs,  and a brunch here or there... omelettes, coddled eggs.. how could these be done for a brunch?


All of these potentials and so little time, and how to not just let all of the ideas exist as a mumble jumble in the mind.  Eventually there is the ironing out or distilling. .. Ideas transform to actual reality.

 Organizing all the possibilities is the puzzle that is the last step of the cerebral work and then its time to start doing.  And if I spend too long thinking I will run out of time to do!--and that equals a mess.

  It's a rhythm.. Find the energy,  light it afire.. and turn it into physical action.   The key, I find,  is to be open to what is at hand...Let the world speak and don't be anxious and let  fear --the fear that  the energy won't return; that,  possibly, it's gone forever.   The next time I feel the funk coming on, the funk that says, "It's all impossible," then I just have to remember, oh yes, that is part of the process, too.  Welcome that wave so the next one can come in and wash the world afresh.    


This is Saltie Cookbook.. the book comprised of recipes and the raison d'être of a Brooklyn sandwich shop with  a boatload of soul.  They have a nautical, Moby Dick theme running throughout.  In an uncanny way, I can always return to this book to remind me of 'something good,' to inform me of the next best thing I can do or what I need to remember philosophically before I embark on new ideas and projects.  


This is the worn Gourmet with all the good soup recipes.  I love how it looks so ordinary and like one that should be sent to recycle, yet it is full of gold. 

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