...and it's not that I haven't been cooking. I've been doing lots of both. My excuses for the lack of blogging during the past three weeks are very, very good; I'll reveal those shortly. My excuses for not blogging for the two months prior to that are not quite as good, but still pretty compelling.
But mostly I have to say that there are just times when life starts to happen thick and fast, and the things that take the back seat are the things we do for pleasure. Like most food bloggers, I started this blog for my own pleasure. And it has been an amazing source of that -- it's given me treasured relationships and experiences in abundance, more than I ever dreamed of on a snowy Sunday night in early 2005 when I couldn't get to Boston for the weekend, and decided to start a blog instead.
Many of you know that I've had a pretty interesting sabbatical year, which has recently come to an abrupt end. By "interesting" I mean that in the Confucian sense of the saying, also known as something of a curse: "May you live in interesting times." Some of you know that I've had family difficulties, including the illness of my father, who, for a man who doesn't have all that much time left on the planet, is doing remarkably well (thanks for asking -- many of you have contacted me with queries about my disappearance, wondering if there'd been a crisis).
But mostly I just got into that place where life took over, where there were so many things to do and so many things to worry about that I couldn't quite carve out the time to write a post. And at times, I was too busy cooking, using something I know I'm skilled at and can accomplish, to hold my demons at bay, particularly the demons of situations over which we have no control.
To whit -- I've made many good things this summer, often with farm market fruit and vegetables: sautés and braises too numerous to mention, cakes with cream and without, tarts bursting with fruit. And I've made preserves. Something in the realm of 80 jars, if you count the apricot curd as well as the raspberry (almost all gone now), the sour cherry, the red-currant-raspberry, and the apricot. During some of the most difficult moments of the summer, I made jam. I didn't know what else to do, and preserving certainly worked as a way to not have to think about the end of sabbatical, and thereby the future.
If I can somehow see my way clear, I'm going to do another batch of late raspberry, and maybe some plum.
But what I've just taken on may get in the way.
A week ago Friday, the Chancellor of NYC public schools appointed me interim acting Principal of Humanities Preparatory Academy, a truly wonderful small high school in Manhattan. In my one week of work, I've come up several realizations, not the least of which is that I'm in way over my head. I'm on the steepest learning curve of my life, and I'm very conscious that a lot of people's educational experiences and work lives hang in the balance, so I'm dancing as fast as I can here. The good news is that I'm working with one of the most dedicated, smart and caring staff/faculties I've met in many years of public education and they are a) helping me get up to speed and b) cutting me some slack for the moment.
"Bitten Off More Than I Can Chew." What do you think of that as a name for a blog about being a new principal (with a few recipes thrown in here and there to justify the food metaphor)? Just joking -- I'm not about to start a new blog any time soon. And the only promise about this one that I can make is that I'll try, I'll try to make an appearance from time to time. Bear with me, friends. Know that I'm still enjoying the blogs of my fellow bloggers, your comments on this blog and on others, and kind emails from faithful long-time readers.
And I'm still cooking. Frantically. Once again, it's something I can feel competent about while I'm scurrying to catch up with all the things I don't know about my new job. Last weekend, before I began a work-week of 11 and 12-hour days with more work to do when I got home at night, I made veal stew and lentil soup, and we had meals during the week from those. Tomorrow students arrive and start their academic year, and I'm expecting the week to be at least as full as last week -- so I've made oven-fried chicken and angel-hair pasta with summer tomatoes, and a stew of pork in a tomatillo-based chile verde with peppers, squash, corn and shell beans, all from the farmers' market. All of these things can be successfully reheated or transformed quickly into a new dish without much hassle.
Oh, and I made a blueberry loaf and two enormous batches of chocolate chip cookie dough (yes, I'm a complete convert to this recipe, one of the many things I neglected to blog about while I was neglecting everything else about this blog as well), just in case I should need to make friends in a hurry. And I will, I'm sure.
But I know I'll need my own true friends, my blog friends, the community I've found here. So I'm going to go embark on this adventure (gotta go get some sleep before the big day). And I will be back, hopefully sooner rather than later. In the meantime, to paraphrase Virginia Woolf and make a mandate out of her dictum: Love well, think well, sleep well -- and dine well.