Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kitchen inspiration

My new books -- two cookbooks, one novel!
The challenge of preparing meals and keeping the kitchen in order while simultaneously taking care of a baby has been far more difficult than I ever imagined. I've been barely getting by for months now. I often manage to prepare healthy paleo meals, but the mess that gets left behind is embarrassing! I don't care for messes. I know they kind of go hand-in-hand with having kids, but messes really harsh my mellow. Physical clutter creates mental clutter, and mental clutter makes it harder for me to tackle the physical clutter. It is a viscous cycle.

I've been going on and on about this (to myself, to Carl, to whomever will listen) for weeks, but I wasn't really sure how to solve the problem. Actually, I'm still not entirely sure how to solve the problem. But I am at least inspired to try. And I owe it all to one of my favorite celebrity cooking experts, Lynne Rossetto Kasper.

Lynne hosts The Splendid Table on American Public Media. I've been a fan for years -- her programs and her ideas are fabulous. Last fall, she released a cookbook called How to Eat Weekends and, along with her co-author Sally Swift, recorded several short podcasts based on the book's content. We decided to listen to a few of them while on a road trip to Washington to visit family. I thought I was listening just to pass the time. Instead, I suddenly found myself inspired, motivated and excited to get back into the kitchen.

Along with teaching me a few new things, the podcasts reminded me of some tried-and-true kitchen principals, principals that had always served me well in the kitchen before -- like the importance of cleaning up as you go, how to choose the right pan and the benefits of mise en place. One episode focused on making the perfect chicken adobo. We love chicken adobo (I paleoized a Cook's Illustrated recipe), but my own version needed some fine tuning. Now I know how to go about it. And my favorite episode? The one where they discussed tables. Round versus square versus oval versus rectangular. We're in the market for a new dining table, and we were mostly looking at square tables. Thanks to Lynne and Sally, I am now thoroughly convinced that a round table is the way to go. I am also thoroughly convinced that with some effort, I'll get my act together. Families have (successfully) juggled children and household tasks since the dawn of time, so there is no logical reason I can't do the same. Maybe I'm just optimistic right now?

Anyway, after we arrived home from our trip I immediately logged on to Amazon and ordered How to Eat Weekends (along with two other books). When it arrived two days later, it felt like Christmas. I haven't had a chance to try any of the recipes yet, but I will -- and soon. Yep, some of the recipes are paleo, and several others will be easy to paleoize. As for my kitchen organization, I've been doing much better. I still have my off days, but I've seen a marked improvement. And this gives me hope for the future!

Who/what is your kitchen inspiration?


  1. Dawn, I hear you on this one! You can go on and on about "the clutter" to me if you need to vent, I'll be a very good listener. I am naturally organized and do things according to plan kind of person. Having a baby around makes me a bit laid back (depending upon the subject, sleep and nap time is very scheduled). So, my current approach to chores is more take it day by day, if I can cook 3-4 meals in a week, that's better than nothing! :)

    Now I get baby's schedule and lessons all straightened up, I need to get myself working out again. So overwhelming! But I'm going to do it!

    Oh, we have a round dining table. It's awesome!

  2. It's amazing the mess that is created when you don't feed your child out of a box from the pantry! I must wash the same knife and chopping board 10 times a day... I've found that I can deal with leaving the mess until little man is down for his nap. That way I don't feel like I've wasted 30 minutes of play and interaction by cleaning. Also, I try to batch cook as much as possible. Thankfully, hubby understands that staying home is hard work, and a lot of it. He will often come home to a sink full of dishes, however, after that primal meal fills his belly he has no qualms about helping clean up!


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