I’m part of a cookbook club that meets once a month. We elect a book to cook from, someone volunteers to host, then day-of we each bring a dish (or two) that we’ve never made before. Each meeting is a chance for me to stretch my culinary muscles, and it’s a hands-on way to expose myself to new things. Until cookbook club, I’d never made a semifreddo. I’d never tried to make my own pizza dough from scratch. This little monthly meetup gives me an excuse to get messy in the kitchen, but even more importantly, it gives me permission to fail. The group of women that make up the club are not professional chefs by any means, and none of us claim to know what we’re doing. The very first time we all got together for coffee and decided to give this thing a go, we made it clear to each other that we were just in it to have fun (and to eat). At the beginning of each meeting after we’ve ooh-ed and ahh-ed over our collective spread, we talk about the successes, trials and failures our dishes produced. It’s a chance for us to share anything we’ve learned (for instance, always buy pre-shredded Brussels sprouts, because if you try to shred them by hand, you might lose part of your finger). It’s a judgement-free zone, and failures are as much a part of the conversation as successes are. Successes are great, but failing is when you learn, especially in cooking. And in the end, it’s just food. You can try again.
Can you believe the summer is just about over already? It’s blowing my mind, and while I’m sad to see the sunshine go away, autumn is home to some of my favorite flavors. One of the themes that we keep coming back to is pumpkin. Is it in? Is it out? Are Pumpkin Spice Lattes still a thing, or is everyone sick of them? I’m a pretty firm believer in the power of moderation. I’m Team Pumpkin all the way, but I’m also Team Maple, Apple, Cinnamon, Pecan and Caramel. Down in the Tablespoon Kitchens we’ve been working on some new recipes that everyone can get excited about, regardless of what team you root for. I’m especially excited about the collection of zero-proof cocktails that our friend (and recipe wizard) Meredith has been working on. Somehow she managed to turn pumpkin pie into a drinkable dessert, and made a wine-free sangria that still hits the spot. Fall’s going to be a great season for sipping.
With the curtain closing on summer, I’m starting to feel everything else speeding up. When the days start getting shorter, it feels like there’s less time to get everything done. The same dinners end up on repeat. Homemade lunches become a thing of the past. And cooking for pleasure gets pushed to the back burner. We’re preparing our arsenal for the busy back-to-school season. We’re rounding up recipes that make cooking feel like a joy, not a job, selecting our best ideas for picky eaters and digging up dinners that everyone in the house will eat, kids included. Even though the sun is going down faster and faster each day, we’re going to try and light up your evenings with dinner inspiration. There’s always enough time in the day to try to cook something new. And remember, if you fail, it’s just food. You can try again.