Happy New Year!
There’s snow on the ground, coffee on the counter, and salad for breakfast. Yep, normal stuff. Sure I get some looks and eye rolls from my better half, but for whatever reason, even on frosty mornings, I like a good salad to start the day. I’m not sure where I got turned around. Salad for breakfast. Pancakes for dinner. Or for how long.
More often than not, breakfast happens in the quiet crook of mid-morning. Coffee lingers, the writing begins and I thinking ahead to lunch. Luke is usually at school and David’s at work, and I’m left alone at the kitchen table. Dishes in the sink, cluttered countertops, sauce splattered stove. I reserve the more rigorous cooking for later, opting instead for dinner leftovers or chopped vegetables to arrange into a salad.
Some days I write as I crunch away. Most often, I read a paragraph or a page from whatever book I’m currently into then take a few minutes to do nothing. Staring out the window without any thoughts or intentions of what’s next does wonders for one’s writing. Those idle minutes help charge the mind and trick it in some way to relax and find the meandering path to an empty page.
I drift into a daydream. Forgetting to add dressing to the salad, I read the next chapter in Day of Honey, Annia Ciezadlo’s beautifully rich memoir about food, love, and war in the Middle-East. “Afterward, whenever anyone asked me what Baghdad was like, I would tell them about the topiary,” Ciezadlo writes at the beginning of chapter six.
I’ve never been to Iraq, and like the author, I’ve built a series of mental images of the country from news footage and film clips that consist mostly of palm trees, bombed out buildings, tanks, and stretches of sand. I wouldn’t have expected to find topiary either and this is the sort of detail and unraveling of ideas and history and truth that Ciezadlo excels at. Her prose happens to be lush as well, sentence after sentence, nimble and satiating.
That’s where I’m at this morning anyway. Lost in a wealthy Baghdad neighborhood (circa 2003) with neatly trimmed green Joan Miro-like and a naked spinach salad off to my side.
What do you eat for breakfast when you’re alone?
makes ¼ cup of dressing
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 small garlic clove, minced
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in an empty pint-size jar with a lid (or place them all in a bowl and whisk). Cover tightly and shake until the dressing is silky smooth.
p.s. A bit of news:
The Art & Lemons January newsletter is out with a recipe for homemade vanilla extract and 5 creative ideas to kick off the new year. (If you’re not already a subscriber, you can sign up in the box at the top of this page). One of the creative ideas is to start a 365 phone-ograph project and to track your photo a day with Collect (a free app that sends you daily reminders and helps you organize your photos in a monthly calendar).
For those of you in New England, I’m starting the new year off with another photo workshop series that will take place in Amherst, Massachusetts at the Winter Farmers Market. Details in the shop.
Last thing, I recently made my vegan sweet potato chili with spicy pepita oil and cornbread croutons on Mass Appeal, our local 22 News cooking segment. You can check out the recipes and watch the tv clip here.