Kitchen Medicine, Summer Kitchen, and Porch Medicine

My book, Kitchen Medicine: How I Fed My Daughter out of Failure to Thrive, is nearly 2 months old now.

In these two months, I’ve learned a lot about publishing and selling books. I’ve learned how the kernel of intention I had when I set out to write Kitchen Medicine was true and right, and the clarity I have about that has been enough to keep me steady through the things I’ve learned about book marketing that mean selling it is going to be harder than I’d thought. How publishers market to bookstores (or don’t), what kinds of discounts they give to make it financially viable for bookstores to sell books, how the supply chain affects online ordering for some digital booksellers — all of this was a surprise to me. We’re always learning. Continue Reading…

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Something About Nine-Year-Olds

When I was nine and a member of Mrs. Chase’s fourth grade class, the Scholastic book catalogs came home from school with me several times a year. They sold everything from chapter books and sticker books to scented erasers and crossword puzzles, and I wanted ALL OF IT. I pored over them for hours, circling and starring items and eventually presenting my parents with my wish list, organized by catalog. Though they were not wealthy, you wouldn’t know it from the way they indulged my bottomless desire to own more books. Though they sometimes limited the stickers and Hello Kitty pencils, I usually got to order whatever I wanted from the book section. At age nine, they bought me a book called ALL ABOUT ME.

ALL ABOUT ME was a fill-in-the-blank book, full of questions to answer. “What is your favorite color?” “Who are your best friends?” I deliberated, chewing my pencil. The most memorable question, though, the one I answered definitively and without a moment’s hesitation was “What will you be when you grow up?”

Carefully, I printed the answer: “An author.” Continue Reading…

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We’re All Picky Eaters

I am seeing a trend in many of the reviews I’ve begun to receive for my forthcoming book, Kitchen Medicine: How I Fed My Daughter out of Failure to Thrive. I’m not completely surprised by it — after all, I included this theme in some of the synopses I wrote both in my book proposal and in the promotional writing I provided for my publisher — but it has been fascinating to see how insidiously we have absorbed this concept. Mostly written by parents who are reading my book via Advanced Reader Copies (aka ARCs), I am seeing these two words come up again and again:

Picky Eater

Continue Reading…

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Something Louder

I’ve had an intensely difficult month.

To protect the privacy of my family, I have to be vague, for which I hope you will forgive me. I’ve always been very open about the heartache of my daughter Sammi’s first eight years: the confusion and the instinct I had to push through it, the fear I had about her breathing and eating, the confidence I somehow found inside me to urge all of us forward to a real resolution to her challenges. As much as was age-appropriate, I have always asked Sammi what she felt comfortable sharing through this blog and through other writing. She wants the world to gain something from her journey, as do I.

But this last month, the heartache and the excruciating journey have belonged to my parents, and it has been dramatic, painful, and frightening on a physical level for them and on an emotional and spiritual level for all of us. It kept me away from home for most of the month, away from my husband and daughters and a million miles outside my comfort zone. It did not and cannot end well, but that is all I can say about it without betraying their privacy. Continue Reading…

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Back to Blueberries

I’m thinking a lot about blueberries these days.

I’m thinking about the ways that they have served as an emblem of my path to loving food — deeply, fully, and with gratitude — over the course of my daughter Sammi’s life. From the postpartum afternoon when my mother-in-law first came to my house with a bag of farmers market berries and showed me how they were more than the sour little fruits that ruined my muffins to the morning nine months later when I nibbled a blueberry in half and placed it tentatively in front of my 9 month old daughter, blueberries were a beacon I didn’t even recognized until I’d followed them out of the darkness and into the brightest, warmest sunshine.

Sometimes, that’s all it takes, right? Someone introduces us to something we never really considered before, and like in the corniest of cartoons, a door opens or a path becomes illuminated or a mysterious staircase appears and here we are, in a whole universe of things that were outside our peripheral vision the whole time. From blueberries, I was led to cooking greens. From cooking greens, I discovered the wide ranges of the brassica family from cabbage to broccoli (ok, I knew about broccoli before, but not how to really make it shine) to brussels sprouts. From brassicas, I moved on to the family of hard winter squashes, finding my way through all of them to learn that I loved kabocha but not delicata. Over the years I would come to embrace varieties of garlic and basil, oregano and heirloom tomato, purslane and foraged sage. From the dull vegetarian of frozen faux meats and pasta to the lover of frittata, stir-fry, and dozens of soups, I transformed myself as an eater and a cook.

All because of blueberries.

All because of Sammi, who took that first half-blueberry and pinched it between her fingers, watching the juice run over her thumb. Sammi, who stuffed it into her baby lips and smiled. Sammi, who would eat nothing else with enthusiasm for many years but would always, always eat blueberries. Sammi, whose blueberry addiction drove us to the farmers market week after week, unwittingly drew me forward into the world of food that comes right up out of the ground and into our lives without packaging or fanfare: audacious raspberries, plump and velvety peaches, dark plums with their tart skins and sweet juicy insides, blood-red cherries with pits I delight in spitting off my front porch. How did I live without them before? How grateful I am that I have them now!

Over the years of the strange medically-restricted diets Sammi had to follow, the blueberries led us safely past danger, along with all the other gifts they’d brought. Learning to cook with fruits and vegetables was only a matter of not interfering, it turns out, with what they naturally have to offer: texture, color, sweetness, acidity, musk, and flavor. By the time it was all over, I’d discovered that the same was true for children; my job was to try to guide along the aspects of their selves that came most naturally: light, darkness, sweetness, acidity, and flavor. Is it any wonder that I’m awed by both plants and children?

Imagine my delight when the publishers of my forthcoming book, Kitchen Medicine, sent me a series of options for the cover. First on their list was the one I chose. It could not be any other way.

 

If you want to stay updated on all things Kitchen Medicine, please sign up for my newsletter. Each time I share one, I’ll include a recipe. This month, in honor of this lovely new cover, I’ll share the blueberry muffin recipe I mention in the introduction to my book. It’s precious to me, and the best way to honor that is to share it. Stay tuned in the next week for that if you subscribe!

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