I’ve thought about making this move for about a year. I’ve only occupied the space for 17 months. True, but I entered it hastily, unprepared to know what it is I really wanted; I just wanted an outlet.
Very early on, however, I realized that this blog is much less about eating than it is about making and reflecting, doing and being. It’s about the creation, not so much the consumption. It’s about building and sharing and experimenting and playing and succeeding and failing. It’s my life completely in food. And that means cookbook-reading and flour-throwing and, yes, eating out too I guess.
But I used to feel a little ashamed when prompted to share the title of my blog (that really came out of a twitter handle—damn social media), as I knew it didn’t at all reflect me or the content. And that’s a terrible feeling to have about something you cherish. New visitors must have felt bamboozled once they arrived. I saw a lot of clicks to the old “restaurant adventures” page. There, readers found just seven posts. “The damn girl hasn’t posted about a restaurant since June. So much for the eating ‘out’!”
I don’t wish to write “reviews” in this particular space. I’ll leave that to the ones who do it best — the authors of blogs I love to read. I wish just to share and explore and experiment. I assure you though, if a new dish or taste experience excites me, you’ll hear about it. But it won’t be so structured. And it won’t be a main concern.
So why 729 layers? I’ve thought long and hard about the name change. I’d close my eyes and brainstorm. And worthy titles have come to mind. They came slowly, but they came. None satisfied.
And then, suddenly, I just knew. I didn’t think. I knew. I had taken some time over the holidays — a whole day, really — to devote to one of my favorite things: puff pastry–making. The freezer needed some love. But like most things, and even people, I Love truly and deeply, I Hate — yes, capital “H” Hate — it all the same. The process takes my quirks and weaknesses, violently batters and bruises them to bring them out, and then flashes them on a sign of neon. Stone cold perfectionism and everything else that has unintentionally come out to my readers in this blog are highlighted and exaggerated with every turn of the rolling pin in puff pastry–crafting. Making mistakes or being careless, for me, is not an option 1 pound of European butter later. (ed note: Dear, strangers – I’m fun and happy and upbeat, too!)
And it’s this love/hate tension that keeps us all passionate, because when you hate something, you wish to suffocate it. In this case, that means conquering it. Every time. The savvy bakers among you may know that puff pastry, when made traditionally and correctly, consists of 729 distinct layers of butter (sandwiched by layers of dough). And despite all the turmoil the process causes, there’s little I’d rather do than spend a cold, snowy day (god knows making puff pastry on a hot day is murder) banging and molding and mixing and folding and rolling and squaring and rolling and folding and rolling and folding and rolling and folding. And in the end it heals. It brings me back to the Love, capturing everything I appreciate about baking: The patience it forces me to learn (I’m an irrationally impatient person, too), the source of discipline it provides, the way it satisfies my need to use these two hands to physically craft something. The soft, malleable butter and smooth sheets of dough, which feel like gossamer under my hands, elicit an inexplicable tactile emotion; the connection between baker and ingredient is magnified. And once baked, the transformation in the oven is one of the most visible examples of that intersection of art and science that initially drew me to cooking.
I used to use an onion as a metaphor for life. You know, it’s the layer thing. But that’s a bit overdone…and stinky. Puff pastry is a more luxurious way of getting my point across. Seven hundred twenty-nine layers of me. Seven hundred twenty-nine layers in time. It’s a metaphor for what you’ll find here — my posts, my cooking, my flavors, my life.
It’s not searchable, and it’s not particularly sexy. But it’s me.
My mission here will remain pretty much the same — that is, there will be no real mission. But I hope the content and recipes will be a little more diverse yet never forced. My savory side is just as alive and kicking yet, for whatever reason, I rarely feel compelled to share it. I’m hoping to start posting about complete meals that inspire me from time to time. I hope to stagger my own recipes with those of people I admire and share more of the failures, too.