Scared

“The West End Partners, the redevelopers of the area along West Main Street, are planning a large market space to be built out over next year or so. It’s supposed to open in early 2014.

The idea is to have a dozen small-scale restaurants as well as coffee, beer and wine. There will be kitchens for smaller-scale projects, like incubators for people whose business models are too large for the cottage food law but too small for traditional commercial kitchens; a gluten-free kitchen and a confectionary kitchen.

The market part will emphasize local artisans, including a butcher shop to be run by a whole-animal butcher who moved West rose from in-house butcher to sous chef at Bouchon. Much of the food for sale will come from the commercial kitchens, and there will be a demo space as well.”

Fuck, I’m scared.  Isn’t this the perfect opportunity for me?  Is this what I’ve been waiting for?  I want to open up a gelateria downtown and here comes a space that seems almost too perfect – kitchen space, in my preferred area – and on my time schedule.  How can I ignore this?

I had placed the gelateria idea on the back burner; I haven’t worked on it in months.  I’m so easily discouraged by other’s critiques and comments – and my own self-doubt…probably my own self-doubt more than anything. In an attempt to combat it,  I’ve read dozens of quotes (and a book or two)  by successful people about how one must silence the critics to move forward, but I find it impossible to silence the voices of doubt in my head.

The first step is to admit the fear – I’M FUCKING SCARED!  Scared! Scared! Scared! Whew,  that’s out of the way.  The second step is to take one tiny tip-toe forward.  I will call the redevelopers on Monday. No procrastination.  What could it hurt?

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Zucchini Bread

After being MIA all last weekend in the Bermuda triangle that makes up my stove, refrigerator and sink, I promised myself that I would stay out of the kitchen this weekend – practice getting a life.

My plans were thwarted when I remembered Wednesday’s CSA basket contained three zucchinis.  What to do, what to do?  I’ve been thinking a lot about quick breads lately (I think about food the way pre-teen girls think about Justin Bieber) – pumpkin spice, cranberry orange and banana nut breads.  As soon as I remembered the squash languishing in my produce drawer, I was overtaken with dreams of baking Zucchini Walnut Bread into cute, mini-loafs.   Okay, maybe just one recipe, but then the rest of the weekend is devoted to socializing and outdoor activities.

But wait, the food swap is next weekend!   I still need to can the Chutney!  Okay, only two recipes – Chutney and Zucchini Bread – and the rest of the weekend for normal pursuits.

zucchini-bread-photo

Good Ol’ Fashioned Zucchini Bread*

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 T. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. clove
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 & 1/4 cups white sugar
1 T. vanilla extract
2.5 – 3 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
1. Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans (or six mini loaf pans). Preheat oven to 325.
2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and spices together in a bowl.
3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan and completely cool.

*adapted from Allrecipes.com

Weekend Procrastination

Oh no, I’ve caught myself playing in the kitchen to avoid my “to do” list again.

Saturday day:  I baked up batch of apricot, walnut, orange phyllo tartlets.  Mmm…smelling like Christmas, they’re difficult to resist.  I had to limit my dinner to a 100-calorie bag of popcorn after a full day of sampling.

TartsSaturday evening,  I cooked up lemon marmalade from Susan Feniger’s Street Food cookbook. In 2011, after visiting her restaurant, II was smitten with her pucker-worthy marmalade that I found hidden under sour cream and Ukrainian dumplings and attempted my own version, which was lacking tartness and needed tweaking (it was my FIRST canning attempt).  I bought her cookbook the other day and realized the marmalade recipe was included so I had to – just had to – try it. Check out that color.

Lemon MarmaladeFinally, this morning,  I couldn’t get my mind off the final roll of phyllo languishing in the freezer – my mind prodding me with “apple strudel, apple strudel”.  One last trip to the store for granny smiths and raisins and the result –  walnut apple strudel tartlets.

Apple Strudel TartletsIt is officially Sunday evening and I can pat myself on the back for successfully avoiding all projects scheduled this weekend.  I can now walk into the office on Monday stressed over my lack of progress and my growing “to do” list.

Culinary Procrastination

“Instead of studying Locke,– I go make an apple pie, or study Joy of Cooking, reading it like a rare novel.”  -Sylvia Plath

Setting the irony of this topic and her suicide aside, I recently finished an article about the poetess, Sylvia Plath, and her fondness of cooking, baking and entertaining.  The article noted that she avoided the dreary task of creating her College lesson plans by determinedly mixing up culinary concoctions in the kitchen.  She sidestepped her unbearable writers block and evaded her baneful writing desk through her constant stirring and frying and mincing.

“For Sylvia Plath, baking was a form of therapy.”  I understand the therapy of culinary avoidance. The day a critical deadline looms is always the precise instance I have to, without a moment’s interruption, test that cookie recipe that’s been lingering in my recipe box for the last five years.  Couldn’t it wait until a more appropriate time?  No, it must be baked – and it must be baked now.  The work, the project, the stress-inducing deadline can wait.  We must withdraw to the kitchen for the genuine “work”.

Tonight, for example, I had four hours of projects that needed finishing.  Procrastinating all week, I knew that I’d have plenty of weekend time for completion. But then…I realized…at about 4:30 this afternoon…that my freezer was harboring the Alaskan halibut a friend had caught months before.  It must be lonely and languishing inside the sub zero after all this time.  I could almost hear it through the stainless steel door – it must be released into the culinary daylight.   So, I placed the frozen block of halibut in water for thawing, hurried to the grocery store (note – Superbowl Sunday is a great time for grocery shopping), wrestled the Cuisinart down from its dusty pantry shelf, preheated the oven and proceeded to create:

Sylvia’s roasted halibut with blood-orange scented yams and salsa verde. My assignments can wait until Monday.

Halibut

My Daily Yoga Practice

8 a.m.            Pack yoga gear for class tonight.

9 a.m.            Set Outlook appointment for 5:30 for yoga.

Noon             Shrug off lunch invites because I have to leave early for yoga.

3 p.m.            Drink extra cup of coffee to have energy for yoga.

5:15 p.m.       Realize I’m exhausted and not feeling motivated to go to yoga.

5:30 p.m.       Notice Outlook alarm blinking for yoga.

5:31 p.m.        Decide to skip yoga class, instead decide to go home, nap and then practice yoga at home.  Decide to go to class tomorrow.  Leave gear at work for tomorrow.

5:45 p.m.       Leave work.

5:46 p.m.       Realize traffic is horrendous.

5:47 p.m.        Decide it would be better to go to yoga and wait for traffic to die down.

5:48 p.m.       Realize I left my yoga gear at work and can’t practice yoga. Sit in Traffic.

6:30 p.m.       Arrive home.

8:00 p.m.       Wake from nap.

8:15 p.m.        Get caught up watching TV.

10 p.m.           Decide it’s too late to practice yoga tonight.

11 p.m.           Go to bed.  Commit to practicing yoga tomorrow.