A Weekend of Cooking and Editing

A Weekend of Cooking and Editing

Memorial Day weekend, when many of you were probably attending barbecues (or as we called them when I was growing up, "cook-outs"), riding your bikes, drinking cold beer, or maybe making your first beach visits for this summer, I was working. All weekend.

As I wrote here a few weeks ago, I've had the enormous good luck to turn The City Cook into a book. But at the moment I'm staring into the abyss of deadline hell (the book is being published in November). My publisher is splendid to work with and reasonable with its deadlines. But I'm new at this book business and everything is taking me longer than I think it should. The three-day Memorial Day weekend was a rescue, giving me a long expanse of uninterrupted time. No emails. No phone calls. No other obligations. Just me and a huge stack of hand-edited pages decorated with little yellow post-its containing hundreds of queries from my copyeditor.

Heading into the weekend I knew I needed some compensation for the hours of work that lay ahead. Not for me, but for my patient husband. A long walk in the park on Sunday afternoon would be the perfect break, but I wanted to do more to let him know how much I appreciated his holiday sacrifice. I decide to make three special dinners, each featuring early summer flavors and a few ingredient splurges.

On Friday morning I scanned a few favorite cookbooks and then headed to my neighborhood Greenmarket. Our local farmers are just beginning to bring us the first of summer crops but I found spring onions, spring garlic, fat scallions, hot house grape tomatoes, purple-tinged asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb, and a piece of top round grass fed beef, all from local farmers and producers.

I then went to Whole Foods to fill in most of the rest of my menu, plus some favorite snacks. This was a holiday, after all. Later in the day I'd go to a neighborhood wine store and also make a detour to Fairway for slices of smoked tuna. More on that in a moment.

I spent $127 at Whole Foods, although in full disclosure, it included $10 for a bunch of peonies and $16.40 for a very large piece of Humboldt Fog, a favorite California goat cheese that was on sale. So 21% of the bill was for flowers and cheese. I also bought various items for breakfasts and lunches in the days ahead. Between the wine store, Fairway and the Greenmarket, I spent another $55 for a total of $182 for ingredients that would result in breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, flowers and splurges for two persons for 4 days (plus added breakfasts and lunches).

Here was the holiday weekend dinner menu:





Since it was a holiday weekend we probably could have gotten into nearly any New York restaurant without a reservation. But being desk-bound, it was a relief to stay at home, not to mention getting my Humboldt Fog fix for the year. I also think in terms of value, we ate well -- including tuna steaks, top quality chicken and beef, Greenmarket produce, and smoked fish (and remember that the $182 total grocery bill included breakfasts and lunches for the coming week -- plus flowers and wine).

It's another way to think about home cooking. And the book? It's another step closer to being finished.





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