This picture was taken in a moment of minor delirium–setting out what would be only 1/4 of Tuesday’s necessary shipping and getting a moment of sunny fresh air. I believe this was day 4 of granola baking, little sleep, and major shipping logistics the likes of which I’ve never had to orchestrate. There was a lot of USPS googling, some Pay Pal live-chatting, a bit of pacing around our living room, and a few ‘get yourself together’ pep talks from Sam. I wanted to write a special breakfast post for you this week but it’s just not going to happen. So I thought I’d write a simple post talking about what we’ve been cooking or doing around Seattle but I can’t even do that because it would look like a whole lot of coffee, take-out and work. I’ve been joking that the house motto this week is “All Granola. All the Time.” In my most exhausted state, I’ve considered answering the phone that way. Let’s just say, it turns out that people still read The Wall Street Journal.
Probably six months ago, a wonderful writer for The Wall Street Journal ordered granola from me online. I followed up with her to see how she liked it, and this began a months-long casual chat about granola and small food businesses in general. She loved the product but wasn’t sure when it would be a good fit in the paper. I moved to Seattle, as you all know. And we revamped the Marge packaging and the website and now have a full line which I’m over the moon about. And that, my friends, was enough to be newsworthy. So I got an email a few weeks ago that the paper needed the granola overnighted for a photo shoot. I started stocking up on oats, nuts, and seeds and taking casual polls amongst friends about how many orders it would result in. Maybe none? Maybe just a few retailers will reach out?
The piece ran this past Saturday and the response has been overwhelming. I don’t know how to describe it to you, really. I try and describe it to my family on the phone and come up with nothing substantive or helpful, just a lot of tired blabbering. Sam has devised an absolutely genius spreadsheet for us to track incoming orders and fulfillments. I’m not sure what I would do without him. He is truly good at all the other things that drive me to curl up in a ball. And my sister Rachael is now helping out once or twice a week, packaging and organizing shipments. This makes me really happy. When I paid her a few days ago I almost cried to finally have an official helper. But then again, that could’ve been that “All Granola. All the Time” exhaustion, too. Let’s just say that it was. So for this week’s post, I just wanted to say hello from ‘Whoa, Baby” land and that I’m thinking of you and can’t wait for things to normalize just a touch and get back into the kitchen and the garden. Until then, have a wonderful rest of the week. See you back here very soon.
Healthy Comfort Food
People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.
Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.
I just finished washing out Oliver's lunchbox and laying it out to dry for the weekend. My favorite time of day is (finally) here: the quiet of the evening when I can actually talk to Sam about our day or sit and reflect on my own thoughts after the inevitable dance party or band practice that precedes the bedtime routine lately. Before becoming pregnant for the second time, I'd have had a glass of wine with the back door propped open right about now -- these days though, I have sparkling water or occasionally take a sip from one of Sam's hard ciders. Except now the back door's closed and we even turned on the heat for the first time yesterday. The racing to water the lawn and clean the grill have been replaced by cozier dinners at home and longer baths in the evening. You blink and it's the first day of fall.
I'd heard from many friends that buying a house wasn't for the faint of heart. But I always shrugged it off, figuring I probably kept better files or was more organized and, really, how hard could it be? Well, I've started (and stopped) writing this post a good fifteen times which may indicate something. BUT! First thing's first: we bought a house! I think! I'm pretty sure! We're still waiting for some tax transcripts to come through and barring any hiccough with that, we'll be moving out of our beloved craftsman in a few weeks and down the block to a great, brick Tudor house that we wanted the second we laid eyes on it. The only problem: it seemed everyone else in Seattle had also laid eyes on it, and wanted it equally as much. I'm not really sure why the homeowner chose us in the end. Our offer actually wasn't the highest, but apparently there were some issues with a few of them. We wrote a letter introducing ourselves and describing why we'd be the best candidates and why we were so drawn to the house; we have a really wonderful broker who pulled out all the stops, and after sifting through 10 offers and spending a number of hours deliberating, they ended up going with ours. We were at a friend's book event at the time when Sam showed me the text from our broker and I kind of just collapsed into his arms. We were both in ecstatic denial (wait, is this real?! Did we just buy a house?) and celebrated by getting chicken salad and potato salad from the neighborhood grocery store and eating it, dazed, on our living room floor. Potato salad never tasted so good.
If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.
Porridge is not the sexiest of breakfasts, it's true. It doesn't have a stylish name like strata or shakshuka, and it doesn't have perfectly domed tops like your favorite fruity muffin. It doesn't crumble into delightful bits like a good scone nor does it fall into buttery shards like a well-made croissant. But when you wake up and it's 17 degrees outside (as it has been, give or take a few, for the last week), there's nothing that satisfies like a bowl of porridge or oatmeal. It's warm and hearty and can be made sweet or savory with any number of toppings. The problem? Over the years, it's gotten a bad rap as gluey or gummy or just downright boring or dutiful -- and it's because not everyone knows the secrets to making a great pot of warm morning cereal. So let's talk porridge (also: my cookbook comes out this month! So let's take a peek inside, shall we?)