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Cause to Celebrate

I’ve tried to write this post a number of times over the past three weeks and failed. I’ve learned that when you get to be a certain age and you tell people you have big news to share, they assume you’re pregnant. You assure them that’s not it. Engaged! Nope, that’s not it either. We’re not getting a puppy and we’re also not buying a house. Or a new car. But I am staying up late at night, pacing a lot, alphabetizing our spice cabinet, and cleaning odd nooks and crannies to try and really acquaint myself with the task at hand: I’m writing a cookbook! I will be working with the wonderful folks at Ten Speed Press on a whole grain breakfast cookbook coming out Fall/Holiday 2013. It will feature Marge granola recipes along with mueslis, warm grain cereals, breakfast bars and cookies, yogurts, seasonal fruit toppings and all sorts of other start-the-day goodness. There will be stories of mornings in San Francisco and here in Seattle, of starting a small business, and moving to a new city. I’ve been so looking forward to toasting with you all here, and can’t wait to share some of this journey with you. It’s going to be one busy summer. To be completely honest, I have had a little bit of trouble beginning the cookbook. I sat down to write a friend the other day and the words to describe how I’ve been feeling finally came to me: I’ve been circling it. I truly feel like it’s been this thing in my life, in our house, and at the table that I’ve just been kind of walking around, keeping my distance, and checking out from afar. Sam and I talk about it as if it’s a living being. A sibling or a child. A pesky one. A sleepless one.

This is odd because I tend to be a go-get-em’ kind of gal. I’ve written large graduate papers, designed and taught composition courses, and started my own business. But for some reason when it comes to delving into the cookbook, I turn to something else. You can’t possibly start developing whole grain recipes unless you have pretty jars to store all those grains in, right? Errand #1! It’s probably a really good time to organize your hard drive, get those finances in order, and really learn the ins and outs of Evernote. Task #16! Maybe it’s time to research a new camera, try that sandwich spot across town, and write a letter to your grandparents. Now that that’s all done and I’ve circled and circled, I’ve run out of errands and tasks.

 

When I was talking to my mom the other day on the phone, expressing concern that maybe I’ve been avoiding this project, she assured me that I’d actually been working away on it. Then Sam told me the same thing. Subconsciously, they said, I was tackling it. All of that organizing and cleaning, all of those errands — that was my way of making space for it all. Clearing the decks, I call it. In a way the project is kind of like when you walk into a dark room and you can see the shape of a figure or an object perfectly but can’t quite make out the details just yet. You probably know that feeling.

It’s a feeling I experienced when I taught freshman writing during my last semester of graduate school. I spent the summer beforehand planning the course I’d teach. I knew the shape of it very well. But on the first day, I doubted myself. All of a sudden I realized that the big picture was clear but the details were far from it. I didn’t look much older than my students, I’d memorized the rules for comma usage at 3 a.m. the night before to make sure I knew exactly what I was talking about, and my left eye started twitching nervously. My cheeks became hot and I wished I’d worn different shoes. That night I had a pep talk with myself: You know more than these kids. You know a lot. The shape and content of this course is well-researched and engaging. But the outline was just the beginning–next came the time to really dig in. The second day I wore more comfortable shoes, pulled my hair back, and walked in more assured. As I did the rest of the semester. And the following year. The details became clearer and clearer with each day.

And now here we are. At a juncture where I know I have so much to share with you. Making perfect granola and yogurt at home, getting acquainted with morning whole grains, how to make awesome breakfast cakes, savory porridge, homemade maple butter, jammy fruit toppings. It’s the way I eat in the morning, and I’m being given the opportunity to share that with you all. In recipes, narrative, and photos. That’s major. So, maybe we can have a drink to that. And then I think it’s time to get down to business.

This cocktail was inspired by a drink I saw over on Design Sponge recently called The Moroccan. It features coriander simple syrup, orange liquor, and dry vermouth. I wanted to add a touch of gin and then balance that out with some Rachel’s Ginger Beer (if you’re in the Seattle area and you haven’t tried RGB, you’re missing out. It’s not at all too sweet and loaded with real ginger. I love it straight on a warm afternoon or in many a cocktail.)

For this drink, the coriander simple syrup lends an earthy citrus flavor; pick up coriander seed in bulk at your local market so as to avoid buying a whole container that will likely sit around for months. They’ll be fresher this way, too. I usually make my simple syrup a little less sweet than most. If you like yours sweeter, add a whole cup of sugar. Save leftover simple syrup in a mason jar in the fridge for future cocktails. And last: thank you for being here, now, on this little ride with me.

The Major

Makes: 2 cocktails

Simple Syrup:
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons coriander seeds

2 ounces dry white vermouth (like Dolin)
1 ounce orange liquor
1 ounce gin
2 ounces ginger beer
1/2 ounce drained coriander simple syrup (above)
few dashes bitters

1. To make the simple syrup, heat the water, sugar and coriander seeds over medium heat in a heavy-bottom saucepan until the mixture just comes to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. The longer the syrup sits, the more  the flavor will develop. Drain the liquid away from seeds and set aside (store what you don’t use in a mason jar for later).

2. To mix the drink, combine the vermouth, orange liquor, gin, simple syrup and bitters over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake well. Pour into cocktail glasses. Pour ginger beer on top of each cocktail as a floater. Garnish with orange slices. Cheers.

  1. Posted June 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Great news. I suspect this will be a very successful adventure. I look forward to getting your new book (autographed I hope!) Keep us posted. Congratulations!

  2. Posted June 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    what great news!! congratulations!! the book is going to be terrific, i just know it!

  3. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Hooray!! So glad I had the opportunity to celebrate this news with you last week. Looking forward to doing the same when you hand in your manuscript and when your book comes out! Wheee!! xo

  4. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Congratulations, Megan! Can’t wait to get a copy of this!

  5. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Congratulations, Megan! I’ve loved your blog for years and have no doubt that I will love your cookbook just as much. I can only vaguely imagine what a huge project it must be, but I’m sure you will do a great job!

  6. Rose D., Frenchtown, NJ
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    That’s fantastic news!!!! Can’t wait for it.

  7. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Also, would like to add that having spend the last almost year working with Ten Speed Press, they are amazing, incredibly talented people!! Yay again!

  8. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I wish I could toast you with this drink in person. I’m THRILLED. THRILLED!!!! Have I mentioned I’m THRILLED FOR YOU!!! Such happy news.

  9. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    So excited for you! A breakfast book at that. BTW…wanted to say that I loved the Marge Granola in my Full Circle CSA here in Fairbanks. I actually don’t get Full Circle in the summer as I like to support my local farmer’s during the season, but I look forward to more Marge Granola in the fall and eventually a cookbook.

  10. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    So excited and proud of you! I cannot WAIT for this cookbook. Whee!

  11. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Dude. DUDE. This is sooooooooooooo exciting. I can’t wait for that book. If anyone knows breakfast, it’s you. I’m sooooo happy for you, friend!!

  12. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Congrats Megan! I cannot wait to read your book!

  13. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Major congratulations, Megan! I simply cannot wait to get my hands on this book when it’s out! :)

  14. Lily
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Congratulations!!

  15. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Congratulations! I’m excited to read the book once it’s out–breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day. Good luck working on the cookbook!

  16. jenny
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    huge congrats! I have loved your blog ever since I discovered it via shutterbean about a year ago, so I’m sure your cookbook will be fantastic. speaking as one who has tackled a book project, I can also add that I’m the kind of writer who doesn’t like to sit down at the keyboard until the story is clear in my head. so all that “nesting” you’ve been doing is actually valuable thinking time, even a sort of writing time. don’t doubt it; embrace it! and enjoy. :)

  17. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Sounds like a delicious project! I look forward to seeing it.

    Have you planted cilantro in your garden yet? You probably know this but be sure to let some of it go to seed–the pods are kind of amazing to cook with when they’re green and then they dry out into the coriander seeds you’re using here. (And I love cilantro root as well, pounded into Thai curry paste!)

  18. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Absolutely thrilled for you girl! I can’t wait to see it!!!! Hugs XO

  19. Posted June 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Congratulations! I’m sure it will be amazing and a challenging and fulfilling experience!

  20. Posted June 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    That is absolutely thrilling! I’ll toast to that!

  21. megang
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Emmy…Thank you! Cilantro is the one thing I’ve failed with this year. It actually never took off and was very delicate and almost grass-like until it bit the dust. I was excited to try the coriander seeds, thinking they’d be so much more flavorful than store-bought seeds, but alas. Maybe next year? Thanks for the tip … have a great week! ~m

  22. Posted June 11, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    I am so so thrilled for you, Megan. I can only imagine how wonderful your book is going to be. And, I don’t think you need to fret about all that circling…you’re just building up to that creative purge :) xo

  23. Posted June 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    A breakfast book – how perfect! I can’t wait to cook my way through it. I’m thrilled for you, Megan. And for all of us, of course! xo.

  24. Posted June 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    I couldn’t be happier for you sweet friend. In whatever way, shape or form in which you need it I am here to help.

  25. Posted June 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Ahhhh, a win/win, if I ever heard one! You might think yourself the lucky one, but we all know it is us.

    BTW, I’m keening to write up a spin on the buttermilk yogurt you posted a while back. It quickly became a staple in our home, and I want to spread the word (with credit where due, most certainly!). Would you mind?

    Now, off to organize those jars, I mean, write :)

    xo,
    M

  26. Posted June 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Congrats! And bet that combo of flavours would make one helluva cookie …

  27. Aunt V
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Congratulations Megan.
    Will your book be out for Christmas and Kwanzaa?

  28. Posted June 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Congratulations. I know that feeling of circling a big task well, but we writers say that half the writing is in the thinking and percolating, so percolate away.

  29. Lisa Waldschmidt
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    I am so proud of you! That is such exciting news. I can’t wait to read it.

  30. Posted June 11, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Hooray! You are just the person to write this book – I’m so looking forward to it!

  31. Posted June 11, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Congratulations on the book! And I can’t say I would mind tipping back one of those beautiful cocktails–especially in a champagne coupe. Or am I the only one who fetishizes champagne coupes? :)

  32. Mary
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Can. Not. Wait. Buying a truckload. Congrats, Megan!

  33. Shila
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    That is so wonderful and exciting and I imagine also a bit stress-inducing. Congratulations! I love to savor your writing and recipes on the blog and cannot wait to sit in a cozy chair and devour your book too.

  34. Posted June 11, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Woot, woot! You know how delighted I am for you.

    And for what it’s worth, I spent 8 months avoiding my book, 4 months writing it. While I don’t recommend THAT ratio, you’re in good company.

    Does this mean I get to come over for breakfast in the nook? Consider me a volunteer taste tester, at your service (hard job but someone’s got to do it…:-).

  35. Posted June 11, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    if you need a test audience, you know where to find me :) Congrats!!!!

  36. Posted June 11, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    As always, so much that I can relate to. But first, congratulations! Ten Speed seems such the perfect fit. And making it about the ritual of morning, and your mornings in the places you’ve lived, makes it feel really extra special. Cannot wait.

  37. megang
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Kimberly-Thanks, lady. You’re up next. I just know it.

  38. megang
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    I’m adding you to my list of testers, Brandi! Thank you :)

  39. megang
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Thanks for this, Tara. It is worth A LOT, actually. Yes to breakfasts in the nook. Sam and I were actually talking about having a breakfast party at the house with many of the recipes, take some photos etc. Probably in the fall … You’re now officially a volunteer taste tester. xox

  40. megang
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Shila-Thank you for your sweet comment about the blog. So glad you’re enjoying it. ~m

  41. megang
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    Oh you’re not the only one, Eileen. We get them for practically nothing at our local Goodwill. They make me really, really happy. ~m

  42. megang
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Thanks, Casey! I’m really looking forward to it, too. Love to chat cookbook-ness with you sometime; I’ll reach out to you b/c I know you’re in the trenches now too. Hope all is well (no Greenbrier this year!) xox, m

  43. megang
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Yes! The plan is that it would be available for Holiday 2013. Thank you, V!

  44. megang
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Molly! Thank you so much for your nice words. Made me smile this afternoon. Of course you can use the recipe on your site! I can’t wait to see what you do with it — reminds me that it’s been far too long since I’ve made it around here. Have a wonderful week, ~m

  45. megang
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Thanks so much, Ashley. I’ll take you up on that :) And maybe we can figure out a way to have you and Gabe over for dinner one of these nights … Hope your week is off to a calmer-than-last-week start. ~m

  46. megang
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Thanks, Jess!!!

  47. Posted June 12, 2012 at 4:37 am

    Congratulations Megan! It will be a great book.

    Your description of how you felt the morning before class reminds me of something that Molly O’Neill said at a writing conference. She was describing getting a big project and how she suddenly felt like a phony–as though she didn’t know why she was qualified for it. Of course she was and of course your book like the class you taught will be awesome–full of Meganess!

  48. Posted June 12, 2012 at 4:53 am

    So fantastic. Congratulations! And it’s not just you, my home is never cleaner than before a deadline.

  49. Dafna
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 5:40 am

    Wow! Congratulations Megan!! How perfect! And I agree with them – you have been working on it. It’s the calm before the storm! Great ideas are brewing… P.s. I think the word “sugar” was omitted from your ingredient list. Xo!

  50. Posted June 12, 2012 at 7:03 am

    What fantastic news! Congrats! I’m sure it must feel a tiny bit overwhelming at the start, but once you get into it … you’ll be *in it.* And it will be awesome. Can’t wait to read + cook from it!

  51. megang
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Dafna! Thank you so, so much! I was really excited to tell you the news — was going to write to you this past weekend. And thank you for the “sugar” correction. Kind of a big omission there :) Hope all is well in jam-land!

  52. Posted June 12, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Oh, Megan. I’m so looking forward to your book. Enjoy the process. I know it will be great. Take care, Denise

  53. megang
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Thanks, Lori. Yes I essentially felt that way all through graduate school: like “you guys have made a grand mistake.” And of course that wasn’t the case but it’s a pretty real feeling. I’ve heard Molly’s classes are fantastic. Thank you for the congratulations! It’s going to be one wild summer. Hope you’re doing well, and staying cool (I hear it’s been HOT!) Have a great week, ~m

  54. Posted June 12, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Congratulations!! That’s so exciting!

  55. Posted June 12, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Congratulations! I’m so excited for you. This will be wonderful, and I cannot wait. I’ve been a reader for quite some times, and I cannot wait until this hits the shelves. Passing on a great hug from DC! =)

  56. Posted June 12, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    M,

    I’m just thrilled to bits for you, and I can’t wait to hold your book in my hands. I think what you’re facing is almost like what happens before a toddler says his first words. He’s listening the whole time, absorbing, paying attention, getting ready to jump in. That’s not wasted time, all that quiet listening. All that circling.

    It’s preparation.

    Take a leap! You’re ready.

    c.

  57. momgordon
    Posted June 13, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Ah, I was waiting for this post. I am so very proud of you! But that, of course, is what moms do. More importantly maybe is that I am inspired by how you thoughtfully craft a life and then share glimpses with us that inform, enrich or just bring a smile. I love you!

  58. susan
    Posted June 13, 2012 at 7:33 am

    I love you are doing this! Let me know if you want a reader at any time!

  59. megang
    Posted June 13, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Susan: Thank you! I will. Maybe you’d like to test a recipe somewhere down the line??

  60. megang
    Posted June 13, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Cheryl- Thank you. I like this analogy very much, and I do think it’s true. I’ve been thinking about it non-stop … now time to put pencil to paper, so to speak. So wonderful seeing you this weekend (and happy birthday!!!)

  61. Posted June 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Congratulations on the cookbook!! How exciting. And your intro cracked me up. Ever since I got married I’ve learned never to say “We have good news!” I said that to my father one time and the way his face lit up with hope was both comical and heart-breaking.

  62. Posted June 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Congratulations! I can’t wait to buy a copy!

  63. Posted June 13, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Congratulations!! I know your cookbook will be a smashing success… Can’t wait to get my copy. :)

  64. megang
    Posted June 13, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Thanks so much, Jen!

  65. megang
    Posted June 13, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Yes, quick lesson to learn, Jen! I now phrase things much differently. Thanks for your sweet comment, ~m

  66. Posted June 13, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Hi Megan,
    I’m VERY excited about your cookbook! :)
    I love reading about your adventures and trying out your delicious recipes and always wait in anticipation for your next post.
    Thanks for giving me something to look forward to!
    Julie :)

  67. Posted June 14, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Congratulations on your upcoming book — it sounds like it will be great!

  68. Posted June 15, 2012 at 4:56 am

    I´m so happy for you Megan! And for us too, since writing about what you love will turn out into a great book no doubt.
    I agree with your mom and sam about making space for this. In your own way. Without even realizing it. Relax and enjoy the process, it is part of the whole thing and you´ll do it in your own style, which is what we all like!

  69. Y
    Posted June 17, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Awesome news! Congratulations!

  70. Posted June 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    I’m catching up on my Google Reader after close to a month away, and I was so thrilled to find this as my first read of the day today. Granted, I’m late, but congratulations anyway! I’m so thrilled for you. Plus, a book is like a baby, but you don’t have to deal with poopy diapers, so I think you’re coming out on top.

  71. Posted June 19, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Congrats!

    P.S. Would it be possible to have full length posts for people who read your blog via a feed reader? I’d appreciate it.

  72. megang
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Thanks so much, Ashley. I’ll look into the reader — good idea, I just don’t know how to do it, but I can look into it. Enjoy your week, ~m

  73. Posted June 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Wow! Yay, I’m really excited… but bummed we have to wait so long to get the book! I’ve been using your ideas and recipes for so long (grains and breakfast are a challenge for me) so thank you thank you. Congrats!

  74. Posted June 22, 2012 at 4:54 am

    Congrats on the book! Sounds so exciting/exhilarating/intimidating! But you are a wonderful writer, I know it’s going to be amazing. Can’t wait to read it, and I can’t wait to make this syrup– it’s just the thing for a summery cocktail!

  75. Posted June 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Congratulations!! This is the best kind of news because we all will eventually benefit when we hold your book in our hands and bring it into our kitchens.

    Cheers!

  76. Posted June 25, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Congratulations! I can’t wait to read your book and try out your beautiful and delicious recipes.

  77. Posted July 6, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Hooray!!! I’ve been catching up on all your news since I’ve been away for 3 weeks and this is the BEST! You’ll be fine, you know breakfast and it’s always nice to get jars :) Yay! I’m super thrilled for you.

  78. Posted August 25, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Congratulation on the cookbook! I love love love breakfast…can’t wait to get hold of your collection of breakfast recipes in a year! I hope the cookbook writing is going well and that you’re enjoying yourself through the process!

  79. Posted February 20, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Just stalking your blog for a recipe roundup. And now I’m all excited and proud of you again. You’re a rockstar!

  80. megang
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Thanks, Kristina!!! You’re the best + I would love to see that face of yours sometime in the not-so-distant future. Hope you’re doing well, my friend. Gearing up for tomato season??

2 Trackbacks

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    [...] Gordon of A Sweet Spoonful suggests that what appears to be avoidance tactics is often a way of letting her subconscious begin to wrap itself around a story. “All of that organizing and cleaning, all of those errands — that was my way of making space [...]

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