There's a scene in the fourth season of Mad Men where Sterling Cooper Draper Price just lost its biggest client and the agency is floundering, so Peggy marches into Don's office and gives him a pep talk. She tells him to change the name of the agency, just like they would if a product wasn't selling. Change the brand. Start fresh.
Earlier this year I wrote about change and the urge I was feeling to reconnect with some books I hadn't visited in a long time. When I look back on the almost four years I've written Cooking After Five, I realize it's made me into a home cook. Though I was full of enthusiasm, I knew far less about cooking when I began and made plenty of mistakes (like over-reducing balsamic vinegar and nearly burning down my kitchen making mozzarella sticks). Cooking After Five also helped me find my voice, which is why I believe I'm ready to move forward with a new project. The time is right, I can feel it.
I've decided to channel my voice into a new forum by turning Eat This Poem, the series I recently started here, into its own blog. For this reason, I hope that for most of you, this is not goodbye. I'm still blogging, cooking and welcoming you to join me in my little corner of the web. I just changed the name, changed the brand. There's a whole world of literature out there dedicated to food, hunger and the idea of nourishing our bodies and minds. It's just waiting to be adapted to our kitchen! I'll read poetry (and a little prose, too) and create recipes inspired by it.
I first went to Pizzeria Mozza for lunch in 2009. It was my birthday, and a group of colleagues decided to make the drive from Century City to Hollywood for the occasion. Since then, Nancy Silverton's pizza has been the standard of comparison for every other restaurant. Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that I pre-ordered the Mozza cookbook as soon as I learned about it, for the sole purpose of having her somewhat-modified-for-home-kitchens pizza recipe.
What is it about this time of year that makes us want to start fresh? It's not the same back to school feeling of September, either. It's not new pencils and homework assignments and blank notebooks, because all of that is routine. Your life begins and ends with the school bell, and while it's a new year, a new grade and a new teacher, it's more of the same. A comfortable routine. Right now, I'm talking about actual change. New ideas. Clearing out the physical and mental clutter. Making lists of tasks that will refresh and inspire us. Achievable, for the most part, so come March we aren't completely disappointed with ourselves.
As for me, I've had an itch lately. At first, I wasn't entirely sure what for. What I did know is I struggle with the decision to read a novel instead of the latest food manifesto. Lose myself in a story, or learn the inner workings of our food system? Both are important, but the latter seems more useful somehow, though that wasn't always the case.
I was one of those teenagers that thought coffee cake actually tasted like coffee, and since I didn't like coffee yet, I presumed I didn't like coffee cake. It was a sad, sad time. One night I was hanging out with two of my friends who had just come back to the store with a red box of Aunt Jemima coffee cake mix. Even then, seeing that coffee didn't make an appearance in the ingredients, I was still skeptical. Then I took a bite, and the brown sugar crumble topping won me over. I made that cake for years, from the box, whenever I craved it. Then I started cooking, learned to bake, and well, I'm sure you can see where this is going.