Wednesday, October 30, 2013

YOU ONLY HAVE TWO HOURS TO WRITE

Pretend your ass is glued to the desk chair. Decide you need some coffee. Talk yourself out of coffee.

Find a Post-It you wrote a few weeks back that says "I am my varicose veins. I am my thrashed breasts." Crumple it up. Throw it across the room.

Question your writing. Question your outfit. Question your parenting.

Talk yourself back into coffee. And back out. And back in.

Walk towards the kitchen. Glance at the unfolded pile of clean laundry on your bed. Yell out, fuck off.

Stop in front of your bookshelf. Grab a pile of books you haven't read since before you got married, before you had babies.

Enter the kitchen. Put the kettle on for coffee. Fly up into a handstand.

Breathe so deeply that your bones quiver. Breathe so deeply that you cry.

Sing that song from "Rent" about measuring a year in daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.

Float down. Float up. Float down. Do 20 pushups. Wipe drips of sweat into your hairline.

Walk over to the russet potatoes that you need to bake for dinner. Wonder how it is that you're 43 years old and you still don't know how to bake a potato. Stab the potatoes all over with a paring knife because that just seems like the right thing to do. Throw them into a hot oven. Wish them luck.

Try to remember why you left your desk in the first place. Pull down a box of See's Nuts and Chews. Eat a dark chocolate almond caramel beauty. Crave coffee.

Right. Coffee. That's why you're here.

Refill the kettle because the water has boiled away.

Hunch over the kitchen counter and read an entire book of Sharon Olds's poetry.

Refill the kettle because the water has boiled away.

Hoist groan your body up onto the kitchen counter. Re-read the poems about first sex, first love.

Exhale your head down into your hands. Feel a first-sex first-love revisionist tidal wave flood your atmosphere. Ask yourself if it really was that dreamy that beautiful that drenched in shakiness that perfect.

Eat more chocolate.

Refill the kettle because all of the water has boiled away.

Take the potatoes out of the oven. Cut one open. Compliment yourself on accidentally cooking them perfectly. Scoop out their interiors. Whip the steamy mash with butter, creme fraiche, salt, and chives. Fill the emptied skins back up with the herby mixture. Top with white and orange cheddar. Drape with prosciutto. Bake.

Look at your reflection in the kitchen window. Trace a prominent vein from clavicle to pec to bicep to tricep, bumpity bump bumping your way down through moles, wrinkles, sun spots.

Say out loud what you never allow yourself to say in front of your children. I am so fucking old. I am so fucking old. I am so fucking old. I am so fucking old.

Hear your son and daughter arrive home from school as they slam the front door and stomp clomp crash bang up the stairs.

Give up on your cup of coffee and start making a gin and tonic.

Eat the crispy prosciutto off of a potato.

Smile.

Yell out, dinner!
DOUBLE-BAKED POTATOES WITH HERBS, CRÈME FRAÎCHE, CHEDDAR, AND PROSCIUTTO
printable recipe
makes 6

ingredients:
4 russet potatoes
1/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
3 tablespoons salted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped herbs (any combination of parsley, chives, scallions; make sure to save a bit for the garnish)
2 cups grated cheddar (I used a combination of orange and white)
10 paper-thin slices of prosciutto

directions:
Preheat over to 375°F.

Scrub potatoes clean. Dry. Poke them a few times with a paring knife or fork. Place in oven. Bake until cooked through (about an hour). Test doneness by making sure a paring knife slides in easily. Remove from the oven. Cool for a few minutes before handling. Halve lengthwise. Scoop cooked potato into a mixing bowl, being careful not to break the skins. Add crème fraîche, butter, salt and herbs. Either mix by hand or in a standing mixer. Don't mix for more than few seconds because potatoes do funny scary wacko things when whipped too vigorously. Taste. Add more salt if necessary.

Turn oven up to 400°F.

Examine your emptied potato skin bowls. Discard the scrappiest two. Fill the remaining 6 potato skin bowls back up with the creamy buttery herby potato mixture. Top with grated cheddar. Tear the prosciutto slices apart into thin strips and drape several pieces over each potato. The heat makes them shrink up quite a bit so put on more than you think you need.

Bake until they're piping hot, the cheese is melted/browning and the prosciutto is crispy. This only takes about 15 minutes. If you want a bit more color, broil briefly. Garnish with chopped herbs. Eat as soon as possible. Don't eat the skin. Unless you're my daughter. 

36 comments:

  1. Hells yes to the G&T! And these spuds look incredible! xx

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  2. This aging is such a conundrum. How can 18 lead so quickly to 40? I try to remind myself that everyday is a blessing, everyday is a blessing, everyday is a blessing. Because I'm still here drinking my mofo coffee while the kids tear through the house.

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  3. Phyllis, what I love so much about your writing is that it is both incredibly real and often raw with emotion. I find it reassuring that sometimes you question yourself, get sidetracked, yell obscenities at random things in the house, and yet find your ah-ha moments of peace. It is nice to know that I am not the only one out there that often feels exactly what you happen to be writing. I raise my gin & tonic to you. Salute! Again, thank you for letting us into your world.

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  4. ugh... ah yes, send a G&T my way. or a coffee.. I 'll take either. And likely not get my writing done either way.

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  5. 'I am my varicose veins. I am my thrashed breasts.' Yes. I am. And so much more.

    I love the way you work through things - not always to an answer, but to some kind of peace. It's beautiful, and helpful. xo

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    Replies
    1. oh, sarah. thank you so much. and i'm so glad it's helpful.

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  6. I'm hitting 50 next month. I wish I was as old as you.

    Be kind to yourself. I think you are crazy talented and a brilliant writer. Thanks for letting us in.
    Elizabeth

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  7. Dear God I just consumed 5 billion calories waiting for trick or treaters ........ And I am 60! I feel a Kit Kat bar working it's way to artery as I type....
    Bravo on the post!

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  8. thank you. I wish I could look you in the eyes as I say thank you.

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    Replies
    1. awww. i wish you could too! but still means a lot to read it.

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  9. Please tell me it took more than two hours to write this, because it is perfect.

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    Replies
    1. sharon, it took 2 weeks. and 4 rounds of edits from my husband. so glad you liked it!

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  10. Love,love, loved this post! It really drew me in

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  11. perfect. as always. your writing is incredible.

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  12. I love you so much!
    Liz Tree

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  13. Thank you. Thank you for making me laugh out loud. At my desk. At work. On Halloween. Not wearing a costume because it is 'strongly frowned upon'. That was hysterical! Again, thank you. I am going to make me a gin and tonic the second I get home. By the way, I am old. Older than you. I turn 45 in December. Please tell me where my life went without me, when I wasn't watching.

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    Replies
    1. exactly! where oh where did all the time go. it's crazy. so glad you laughed out loud. at your desk. on halloween. you made me smile.

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  14. How I have missed your posts so much! Thank you for this Halloween treat.

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  15. That killed me.
    Making the potatoes tomorrow.
    All best,
    Phyllis

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  16. Bacon makes every day better. Well, bacon and Sharon Olds. Okay, bacon, Sharon Olds, a few handstands, screaming Fuck Off to the laundry, and a gin & tonic after school.

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  17. Bravo! I like your blog. A lot.

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  18. Love this, every part of it. Can't decide if I now want gin or to pull Sharon Olds off the shelf more. (and I can't do a handstand anymore, damnit.)

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  19. Been there. Now at 69 I'm a grandma and believe me, it does get better. Even though you do get so much older!
    Great post.

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  20. this made me laugh...i needed cheering up so thank you...you sound like me, i've been looking for keys for nearly an hour (only to find them under the cat) and having a similar convo with myself...and yes i also stab those MF potatoes lol

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    Replies
    1. under the cat!!! that's amazing. often, i'm looking for my phone and i find it in my hand. or i'm looking for my sunglasses and i find them on my head. so glad you laughed. it helps. so much.

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  21. I first found Sharon Olds at a poetry workshop a couple months ago. I'd never read her, and that day we talked about a couple of her poems and my mind was blown away. Literally. I came home with the feeling my gray matter had been pillaged, laid waste ... but in a good way. Aching under the weight of a million new images. A muscular ache.

    And at the workshop, the woman next to me (a well known Australian poet, in her own right) said - "Oh, I envy you! To have all her poems to read for the first time! " And I loved that. No judgement on how I'm nearly 40 and just now finding this poet. Just joy on my behalf.

    Grow, mamma, grow.
    xx

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    Replies
    1. "Aching under the weight of a million new images." i love that. thank you.

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  22. Another wonderful post. The food looks pretty great too.

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  23. Hi Phyllis,

    I love reading your blog, and am very happy that you’re doing what you do… teaching people to cook with healthy ingredients is so important in fostering a healthy life and more importantly a healthy future. Today I am contacting you because I too am trying to do my part in getting people to eat and live healthier. In 2008 I set on a quest to look for the ideal cooking pot, one that would give me all the nutrients from the food being cooked without adding its own ingredients or contaminants. It was a personal happening that led me to do this and all my research pointed out in one direction -- Pure Clay. After several years of research and travel I set out to make my line of pure clay cooking pots and their made in the USA. I had benefited so much from cooking in these pots that I had to share it with the world.

    We choose to keep our raw material pure because the health benefits are overwhelming this way and greatly surpass that of cookware made from other kinds of manufactured clay like ceramic etc. I have come to read and love your blog greatly and would like you to consider taking part in our Affiliate Program so we can together promote this extremely healthy way of cooking to all your readers. You can find all the information about our cookware at miriamsearthencookware dot com or PureClayCookware dot com and sign up for the affiliate program by clicking on the affiliate tab on top.

    And oh by the way we’re giving out pots to those who sign up early and the list is quickly filling up, I really hope you can be a part of it. We need your help in bringing back to life this beautiful, healthy, extremely eco-friendly method of cooking, it goes so well with your theme of helping people eat healthy, so do consider joining us.

    Good luck with your blog.
    Miriam Kattumuri

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  24. Such a well written post! Well, and yelling out loud is soo helpful. I do sometimes exercise as well ;) It just feels to let go pain and anger, frustration and makes rooms for more nicer feelings ;) Cheers from Germany, Susanne

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  25. Those look and sound divine, however, the See's chocolate nuts and chews sound good, as well. LOL!

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  26. Stop making me cry, lady. Not about the potatoes, no.

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  27. A perfect tear dropped out of my left duct as I finished reading this post, I'm not really sure why, but thank you.

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