The other night, I was chopping onions. I’ve been doing this a lot lately, as I’m in the middle of final tests of all sorts of recipes for my next book that are no possible way seasonal. We may be surrounded by corn and tomatoes and peaches, but we’re eating soup and lamb shanks and pumpkin pie. (Also, tomatoes, corn, and peaches, but in between.) We’re in the final stretch, and maybe because it’s taken me two years to figure out what this book really is (classic second book syndrome, I hear), it’s even more exciting to pull it all together. Last week, the girls were away at camp and Erin McDowell and Jen May spent almost the whole week working their magic here in the kitchen, and I can now officially say that we’re almost done with the photos.
I escape from my desk and the kitchen every so often, but I can’t ever really seem to get my head out of it. There are aspects of writing that are harder for me than others (mostly the alone part), but this moment when I can actually see the end coming, and when I know that I’ll actually get to it–this is the part I love. This is the part of the process when I’m anything but alone. I have a stack of edits from my editor on the desk, and her voice is in my head all the time. I have Jen’s images and Erin’s food and my dear friend Lissa who’s been testing and helping me all summer. I’ve got one friend’s favorite plate and another’s napkin collection and beautiful things generous leant with a wave and a “Go! Put beautiful food on it!” from here, here, and this talented guy, too. My mother offers to mop the floor before the shoot, and Joey–well, I could fill a post with that one. Let’s just say he’s a good one.
That’s where I am. I’m living and breathing only this until September 1, and then life will get a little back to normal, or at least different.
But the onion- the onion! There I am, chopping my regular old supermarket onion, and it’s a strong one. I’ve got 2 onions to chop, and by half way through the 1st, the tears are pouring down my cheeks. And although this is THE produce moment when everything is ripe and wonderful, I was overwhelmed by how thankful I am for cheap supermarket onions. Because there is nothing so perfect for me as the smell of a chopped onion cooking in butter. Nothing. And there are onions in every grocery store in this country, and although some onions are better than others, even the most basic are delicious. It’s the most accessible vegetable I can think of. And even better, it makes us cry, and that in itself is a huge gift.
So I’m crying at the counter, and Sadie comes in, streaky tears down her face. She’d been sitting in the car since we’d come home, finishing her book.
“So sad. SO GOOD. Sometimes it’s just so good to cry.”
What a pair we are. But she’s right, as she is most of the time these days. Tall, and sparkling, and right about everything. It seems the summer makes everything grow, including kids and even books.
Hello from here, and happy mid-summer. I hope the season’s growing all the right things for you.
Margaret B. says
perhaps someone has already asked… but, what book was Sadie reading?
lovely post — glad to hear the new book is coming along —
Thank you, Margaret!
She was reading a book called Shug–it’s here: http://www.amazon.com/Shug-Jenny-Han/dp/1416909435/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406752473&sr=8-1&keywords=shug
Oh Alana! I will never cry over an onion in the same way.
Thank you, as always, for capturing life.
Good luck with finishing up your book.
I, for one, can’t wait to read it!!!
If you wrote it it’s going to be great!
Oh, thank you, Sarah 🙂 It means so much to hear it from you.
Thanks for this post! I am working on a cookbook too this summer. My deadline is Oct. 1, and all I do on the weekends is cook, cook, and all I do when I’m not cooking is think about the book. Your post really captured that intense–even emotional!–feeling, and made me remember how lucky we are to get to be doing what we want to be doing.
I’m glad it resonated with you, Jenna! (Especially these days, I feel like I’m swimming in words, and I’m just happy if they make some sort of sense 🙂 I’m guessing with a deadline so close, you might be able to relate?) And exciting about your book! Hello from this near-deadline kitchen to yours…
Please, tell us Sadie’s book title (and how old she is).
Sadie was reading a book called Shug– here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Shug-Jenny-Han/dp/1416909435/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406752473&sr=8-1&keywords=shug
Sadie is 11, and she said it’s definitely an 11 and up kind of book. The main character is a 12-year-old with an alcoholic mother, so it deals with some intense issues. Sadie said it was a great book, though.
Exactly on-target for my 11-year-old! Thank you 🙂
BTW, has Sadie and your whole family read Wonder by RJ Palaccio? If not, it’s a must.
Oh good! Sadie will be happy to know she made an appearance as a guest book reviewer.
And YES- what a book! We all love Wonder.
If you liked Wonder, may I recommend this one?
Thank you, Susan! I just showed Sadie the link and she ordered it from the library. Thanks for the rec!
I get choked up about onions too. 🙂 Years ago I decided that if there was only one thing I was allowed to choose to flavour or pair with any dish, it’d be onions.
I’m with you, Alexa. As long as we can fry them in butter.
Will not eat them, Sam-I-Am. Not in a box, not with a fox. Not on a train……. nope, no onions for me. Books, however!
My summer is slow right now. Empty nest, and not much business on the website. Which, with the heatwave we’re ass-deep in, is actually kind of nice.
Looking forward to having a copy of your newest labor-of-love all the way over here.
No onions for you, Julie?! How about leeks? Can we do leeks?
Nope. And no chives, either. Cilantro, though…….