Friday, January 14, 2011

January Gathering In...with a side of bacon

I found this cookbook while going through my book things and FINALLY putting it all away. Two years ago in December I finished She-Smoke, turned it in to my editor, and had a baby 29 days later. At this time exactly two years ago, I had a two week old baby in my arms, was just starting to walk after a C-section, and had ten days to proofread the entire book.

I was overwhelmed, to say the least. I pushed through it, with lots of help from my folks and Eric. After that the other part of the work began: the promotion and marketing of the book. Besides creating a website and blog, there is a huge amount of work an author does with the publisher, contacting people for blurbs, making a huge list of media contacts, bloggers, and friends to help launch the book, and lining up bookstore events and interviews.

In the flurry of it all, I never got back to my desk mess from the book. My pile of research, files, journals, notes, galleys...everything has remained in an overflowing box on my desk ever since.

It's a small desk. The book mess has been the elephant in the room I've ignored for too long. So this week I decided to tackle it, decide what to keep, what to chuck, and put it away in a labeled box. Some day in the future I'll go through the same box, smile, laugh, and then get rid of most of it, but I pared down what I could for now.

I've been doing a lot of sorting, boxing, throwing out, fixing... a friend recently called it gathering in. January is the perfect month for gathering inward and finding a quiet rythm. I like to let go of things in January, clearing out with the old, the papers and stuff that weigh you down, and making room for new things, new possibilities.

It's much different than spring cleaning. Spring cleaning is full of energy and focused on opening up, letting the sunshine fill all the winter cracks, shaking the stagnant air and dust out! Out! Out!

I think of January as more of a subtle shifting of energy to bring oneself back to oneself.

In terms of cooking, I've made pans and pans of lasagna lately. I love the layers, the blending of different flavors, until they are all bubbling together happily.

I've also baked chicken, simmered stews, and kneaded bready things like pizza. Have I taken a photo, or written down a recipe? Not one. This isn't food for show; it's food for one's family and for one's inards. It's nothing fancy, nothing you don't already do.

Instead, I'll leave you with a few tips from this booklet's Master Menus for Winter Meals page.

"For a taste tempter, season cream of tomato soup with peanut butter. Garnish with bits of cooked bacon and serve with toasted bread sticks."

"Chopped crisp bacon and lemon or onion juice added to spinach enhances it's flavor."

"For a special perfection salad to serve with beef short-ribs, add pineapple cubes to gelatin and cabbage just before molding."

"As a pleasant meat loaf variation, have two or three frankfurters ground with beef and pork for loaf. Or lay bacon slices over the top for added flavor."

What comes around, goes around, eh? The bacon craze is nothing new. Maybe this year will be all about gelatin and peanut butter.

What about you? Have you been gathering in, and if so, how so?