I splurged (time in the afternoon, and two new cookbooks)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

By 1 p.m. yesterday afternoon, I'd been sitting at my desk for nine hours, more or less—a long stretch of work following a long week of work, following a long month of — well, you get it. I'd not exercised. I'd not dressed for the world.

I pushed back.

My husband was at the pottery studio. The house was still. I had a few hours before I was to meet my friend, the great Kelly Simmons, to celebrate her completion of a novel she has bravely tangled with. There was time, I realized, to do the things that I take comfort doing—laundry, sweeping, food shopping, wine buying, maybe I'd even procure for the house (so stark with winter) a little calla lily color.

I dressed, went out, explored, harvested in small quantities, carried everything home, then went out again and arrived at the designated meeting place—the Valley Forge Flowers barn. I was a few minutes early. That gorgeous, open, airy space was full of light, but hardly any people.

And so I found myself with time. And so I sat with two of the Barn's gorgeous cookbooks on my lap. And so I turned the pages. Mused.

I tend to be an instinctive cook—remembering my mother's ways, guessing at the proportions, settling in with perhaps two dozen known dishes. I do own cookbooks. I consult them sometimes. But mostly, and especially lately, I have locked myself into familiar grooves.

One of these cookbooks — Sunday Suppers: Recipes and Gatherings by Karen Mordechai — was so magically presented that I felt as if, in looking at the photos and the dishes, in touching the soft pages and the quiet typography, I had entered an undamaged world, a place where intelligent conversation and sweet, small touches contained the whole of life. The second — The Newlywed Cookbook by Sarah Copeland — had absolutely the wrong title for a woman soon to celebrate her 30th wedding anniversary, but absolutely the right content: "fresh ideas and modern recipes for cooking with and for each other."

In both books I found recipes I not only believed in, but believed myself capable of. In both books I found the promise of allure. Of moments yet to be made and remembered.

Buying both would have been a major extravagance for one who lives (and increasingly so lives) with measured care. Buying neither would have been a lost opportunity—a vote against magic.

I voted for magic.


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