Spices and Tears

Life is weird when you’re going through a divorce.  You break down crying over random receipts, anniversary cards you’ve saved make you inexplicably angry, and as you sort through the spices you’ve meticulously put into nice jars and labeled, you think, “fuck you, I’m keeping the fleur de sel we bought on our honeymoon in Paris”.

Spices shouldn’t be one of the hardest parts of this, but somehow they are.  You both love cooking and for years you did it together.  You remember last fall when you decided to divide up the chores—thinking that would relieve some of the stress of you always getting annoyed with each other over when dinner should be made and that you are always so busy writing—you wonder if his comment about there not being enough room in the (admittedly small) kitchen for two cooks meant a hell of lot more than you thought at the time.  Was that when it fell apart?

The lack of answers in the most maddening part.

And now you’re sorting spices and bagging up half of them for him—because damn it, you’re keeping the nice jars you bought and labeled, but you want to be fair and not leave him with bare cupboards—crying because there are so many more good memories than bad.

Your second date, when he made you roast Cornish game hens, cheesy mashed potatoes, and green beans. The first time you made him a pot pie; his favorite meal. The way he was the only one who could cook bell peppers so you actually enjoyed eating them.  The number of Earl Grey desserts you made over the years because it was his favorite tea.  The way he always made the plate look so pretty when he handed you dinner, even right up until the end, when it was clear things were falling apart.

And you sit in your torn-apart dining room—the scent of spices all around you—and sob so hard you can hardly see the keyboard—and wonder how you got it so wrong.

There will be other people to love and probably even ones you will cook with.  Love and great food aren’t over at thirty-three, but what you wouldn’t give for just one more dinner, sitting across the table from him and knowing he still loved you.

You’d eat all the raw green peppers in the world just to have that.

Books and Cookbooks

If you’ve read my books, you know I love including food (and wine!) in my stories.  Yesterday when I ran across a Buzzfeed article about cookbooks and books, I was reminded of my all time favorite cookbook from a book series.

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I LOVED Nancy Drew books when I was growing up and in fact I am slowly putting together a collection of the 1960’s-70’s library (and book club) editions.  They were really popular and I have at least 3/4 of the series (bought for around $5/book at garage sales and antique stores over the years).  I’ve been collecting them for about 15 years now.

The one thing I don’t have is the Nancy Drew Cookbook.  The recipes were TERRIBLE (for that matter, so were a lot of the stories), but I loved it for the cheesy nostalgic value.  How can you beat recipes with names like Coded Steak Rolls, Mystery Corn Pudding, and The Case of the Smothered Pork Chops? I remember checking it out from the library dozens of times as a kid, but for the life of me, I can’t actually remember if I ever made anything from it.

In all the years I’ve been looking, I’ve never found the cookbook.  I could buy it off Amazon for around $20.00, but somehow that seems like cheating.  It’s more fun to peruse garage sales, used book stores, and antique shops for it.  Who knows, maybe someday I’ll figure out the mystery of the missing Nancy Drew Cookbook.

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What about you? Do you have a favorite cookbook from your favorite book or series?