From the Kitchen: A Manifesto for 2023 🍽
Changes are coming to the weekly cooking supplement for paid subscribers.
I ordered two pounds of beets from our local food delivery service and what arrived was one two-pound beet, the size of a human heart. It was a lot to work with, and so it lingered a bit in a fridge drawer until one of those days when I got the prep bug and decided everything had to be dealt with, tout de suite.
I steamed it, then let it cool, cut it up into cubes, and put it in a container to hang out in the fridge until I decided on something exciting to do with it. My husband threw out the idea of beet burgers, but I wasn’t interested. I’ve eaten so many veggie burgers in my life; I’ve made so many veggie burgers—they are something I have to really have a craving for; they have to scratch a deep itch.
Instead of waiting for a more thrilling idea—something, frankly, that I could turn into one of these posts—I just started to eat the beets, steamed, plain, and cold from the fridge. Benny, our dog, tapped me with his paw while I was doing so, showing he was enticed by their earthy smell. The giant beet turned into a snack for me and for Benny for a few days. It was worth more that way, I think, than as a burger. There are so many burger recipes.
It was this beet that inspired me to go back to domestic writing, which I wrote about on Monday, and it was this beet that made me rethink how I approach the From the Kitchen supplement. I had started rethinking during my holiday break, if I’m honest, when I realized that I hadn’t thought about what I really wanted to cook or bake in a while: I was on auto-pilot, making meals and developing recipes, or figuring out which parts of my meals were compelling enough to write down. It’s not an approach that inspires my best work, or my best life.
I’d prefer to change that, to have this weekly missive be about what I’m cooking and eating; whose approaches to cooking and eating are interesting to me through brief interviews; tips from folks like my knife sharpener (we’re due for a visit); tool rundowns and recommendations; organizing ideas; grocery shopping insight from San Juan, New York, and wherever I end up; as well as cookbook coverage. I’m reaching for cookbooks more when I want to make things, even if I’ve done it a bunch of times my own way. Lately I’ve been cooking from Catalan Food by Daniel Olivella and learning a lot. I’m constantly sent cookbooks that deserve attention. I’ll be giving them that.
It’ll be a grab bag of domestic writing and conversation rather than always include recipes—though recipes will, of course, emerge. But that’s what I want them to do: emerge through my natural inclinations, like the recent oven fries and almond-coconut cake. I’m also trying to be more intentional in my kitchen life by being dedicated to using all scraps, and that will necessarily create some redundancy, but the kitchen is redundant, isn’t it?
I wrote in an Instagram caption last week that domestic writing is about how we create “magic out of monotony,” and I want to give that magic its due. This will, I think and hope, be a better use of my approach to cooking than straight-up recipe development—and hopefully more inspiring to you.
For a list of all past recipes available to paid subscribers, see the index.
Magic out of monotony! It’s a beautiful way to express how the kitchen can be a place of wonder.
This article, especially the bit about being intentional in the kitchen and using all scraps, reminded me of Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace. That book changed how I view the items in my kitchen and the role a discarded onion skin or carrot peel can play in the ongoing adventure of my kitchen. Your new direction in writing is super exciting, and I look forward to it.