virtual coffee date

It's been awhile since we caught up. If we were having coffee today, at a little shop or cafe, this is what I'd tell you.

I'd tell you that life has changed so much since Crew was born. He has set up quite the cozy spot in our lives - a spot that is large but full of goodness, and despite the fact that every shirt I own has been smeared with blueberries or oatmeal or every-single-food-of-all-time, I am grateful for it. After he was born, I resigned from the full-time work I was doing as a pediatric and prenatal nutritionist for low-income families in the community. I wanted to take some time to raise Crew and have so appreciated the opportunity to do so.

Although my mind is always spinning with all the things I could do or want to do, I've tried to slow down and focus on this time with him. And I have for the most part. But I couldn't quite sit still long enough to keep my hands out of everything. It can be easy to lose parts of yourself after becoming a mother. Something sort of came along at just the right time, and having something of my own to do - just for a little bit of time each week - was rejuvenating. 

That's how Book Larder came along, the community cookbook shop in Fremont I now work at two days each week. I've adored everything about it since it opened in 2011. The shop is a place where I dream. Books upon books come in with their fetching new book smell, brilliant photography, and writing so delicious that I feel warm and fed and happy from a single paragraph. Cuisines from all over the world pop from pages so vibrant, so beautiful that the place I'm dying to travel to next changes from week to week. The shop has cooking classes, author talks, and dinners with local restaurants going on all the time, and it's all loads of fun. I imagine you could gather how many cookbooks I own now. 

Working in such a creative environment has me constantly inspired, constantly hungry, constantly eager to get into the kitchen. So if we were having coffee today, I'd tell you that I love to cook. I know you already know that, but I mean I really love it. More than ever. The husband and I stay in and cook quite a bit (because well, kid) and we've found ways to make it really fun (often involving copious amounts of wine and/or bourbon). We both know our part these days; it's a dance of sorts in the kitchen with me settling in to chop and mix and him to cook and stir, one that we seem to have been rehearsing for years.

I'd have to mention, too, how much I love spring and all the breath-of-fresh-air foods that come with it. I had the most buttery favas the other day with nothing more to them than a drizzle of fruity olive oil and pillowy shreds of fresh pecorino. And also, a bowl of freshly picked peas, shelled and plump, that burst with a delightful marrying of sweetness and bitter that only a fresh vegetable in its proper season can pull off. 

And I'd also tell you that I'm leaving next week for a getaway to Paris (with a quick stop in London!) to take part in a retreat devoted to photography and food.

I know what you'd say, and I know! I am over the moon about it all. It's a brief sojourn and behind the brilliance of Beth Kirby of Local Milk Retreats and Olaiya Land of Milly's Kitchen (who teaches cooking classes at Book Larder), and I am still pinching myself that it's really happening. It wouldn't have happened without the husband urging me to go when I had every doubt in the world about leaving Crew for even a day. Back on that cold night, months ago, when there were just a couple spots left, he said how important it was for me - for both of us - to continue to explore our creativity, to pursue passions and adventures, to meet new people and breathe new air. He told me it was good for Crew and him to have that time together too. It didn't take much more convincing than that. He is the most decent man I know. 

As its crept closer, I've had my fair share of worries. But when I leave on Monday evening, it will be with elation and utter gratitude. I have much to learn and much to eat while I'm away! I am so looking forward to sharing the experience with you, through my appetite and my lens.

Oh, and one more thing: If we were having coffee today, I'd tell you to cook this for dinner tonight and rock out to this song while you give it a go.