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Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

We have some friends coming into town over the next couple of months, and everybody knows that the coming of company usually sends people into a fit of cleaning. For me, it's more opportunistic than stemming from feelings of inadequacy. My productivity is nothing if not fueled by common sense: "Oh look! It finally makes sense to wipe down the baseboards in the kitchen and deep-clean the fridge."

This weekend we had every intention of scrabbling through our attached shed to find cans of paint and our rollers and a drop cloth. We meant to paint over a stain on the kitchen ceiling, and the puckered scar of some plumbing work in the guest room.

Yes, this weekend was supposed to be about painting. I can't tell you the number of weekends that have been supposed to be about painting. I think that the plumbing work (from whence came both spots) happened over a year ago, and yet here we are: mere days away from a friend's visit and no closer to painting a coat of "Misty Skies" over the guest room wall or "Ceiling White" over a part of the kitchen ceiling that hasn't been white in twelve months. We also intended to fold several baskets of clean laundry that had been lurking around our bedroom with guilt-trippy faces as we pursued a hectic course through the past few weeks, ignoring them and plucking clean clothing from them on an as-needed basis. 

Judge ye not: if you're quick to the draw in painting your house or folding your clean laundry, you can keep it to yourself. We're all happy for you.

Sunday afternoon we came home from a church picnic and tumbled directly into bed for a nap, and that was the end of any intention of painting anything besides my fingernails for the rest of the weekend. Though we procrastinated, I'm sure Chris will arrive in town for his scheduled visit to a clean house, folded and put-away laundry, and (with any luck) some painted-over spots. Though I can't promise the paint will have had time to dry. I might be rinsing a paintbrush as he pulls into our parking lot. I hope he doesn't mind the smell of fresh paint.

Strawberry Vanilla Bean Iced Latte

Happy Wednesday to those who celebrate, by which I mean happy Wednesday to all of us. Life doesn't seem to give one much of a choice about whether to participate in Wednesdays or not, but here we are. In my analog life, I work as a nanny. The child with whom I spend fifty+ hours a week is never happier than when being outside. She is two and a half now - I began work with this particular family when she was only seven weeks old. Wild to think how much time has passed, and what a big person she has become. I've kept her alive and well, and that's really something, considering she still tries to eat handfuls of gravel for no apparent reason.

Life Itself Is The Proper Binge

an old gouache illustration I recently found in my sketchbook

Most people love Julia Child because of her contributions to the American culinary scene. Those of you who know Julia's work probably think of her cookbooks, her cooking show, or Meryl Streep's portrayal of her in Julie & Julia. Those who just know her via pop culture can probably conjure vague images of fluffy brown curls, a pearl necklace, a strange voice, and maybe that one SNL skit.
Yes, this tall, Amazonian woman with the reedy voice dragged Americans from their mid-century frozen dinners into the realm of classical French cooking. Her recipes are delightful, her cookbooks still very much in print, and her show streamable on several platforms. There are even a couple biopics and documentaries, the latest being “Julia” on HBO Max.
But really, her cooking and writing isn’t the reason Julia Child holds a top seat on my list of Women Who Inspire. In fact, I am the insufferable person who stands on the fringe of any casual conversation about Julia Child with a comment ready to hand: “Yes, but did you know Julia and Paul Child were in the Secret Service?”

To Roast A Chicken: Peace Work

The world is in an uproar. My eyes are fixed on Ukraine, as are everybody's right now, and I confess I find it a bit hard to do normal things in the normal way and act like there isn't a horrible thing going on across the world. And yet, we still must eat. We must make for ourselves and those close to us the foods we wish we could make for the poor families standing frozen at the country's borders or the brave fighters under siege in Kiev. In days when we are reminded once again that we live in a broken world much in need of redemption, food helps.

Familiar, almost ritualistic foods are the best sort for comfort in times like these. When I think of comfort food, I think of a roasted chicken. There's just something about the slow, methodical process that calms the nerves. I recently wrote a piece on this subject and submitted it to an online magazine, but it was declined. Honestly, that's okay. Because the piece feels right for today, and I'm content to share it here and hope that you will roast a chicken for yourself, or a neighbor, or a friend who is worried about family back in Europe. The point of this piece is less a recipe and more a pep-talk to assure you that you can (and shall!) roast an entire chicken without any fear or apprehension about the process. I hope that you will enjoy it, and that you will be well.

We can't do a lot, but what little we can, I hope we will do bravely.

Begin with a simple thing, and continue creating pools of light and peace where you stand. It all matters more than you realize.

a beautiful example of Petrykivka folk art, from Ukraine

A List of Cozy Things

Today in Virginia we have snow.

That is not exactly accurate.

Today in Virginia we have cold air and the hope of snow. Projections are changing constantly: will we get ten inches? Four inches? No inches? Last night's snow never really came, at least not like it meant it. The only thing currently snow-covered are our car windshields. We haven't moved the cars because we are off work because of the snow. Which, as we've established before, isn't here yet. But of course I'm not complaining. Andrew, who is from Buffalo, is lifetime-tired of snow and doesn't understand our Southern excitement, nor why we'd close down the entire city before snow which might not happen. But Andrew does love a good day off of work, so he is also uncomplaining. Today's post isn't going to be a recipe, really. I'll link to lots of recipes, things we've been cooking or hope to cook soon, along with other things that have caught my attention since last writing. Let's call this "A List of Cozy Things" and get going!