More than three years ago while I was round with my second baby and waddling from one coffee shop to the another. Laptop bag on my shoulder and tall non-fat decaf latte in hand, I met and old friend who convinced me to write a little book I’d been thinking about for awhile. The concept was simple — farmers, chefs, recipes and a few props for this place I call home. A few months after that I met up with the amazingly talented Dana Damewood, who agreed to photograph the project.
It’s a seasonal cookbook with stories about the people who grow food and chefs who create masterpieces for our plates and our palates. I’d like to say that writing this book has been about the food for me. I mean, that would make sense. A cookbook is essentially about food, but the food isn’t the centerpiece of the book anymore than it is the centerpiece of our dinner table. Food serves one purpose and that is to sustain us for our families and friends. It is to sustain the conversation and carry it beyond the functional and into the fundamental. A well-made meal helps us slow down and linger with one another. The food and drink bring us to the table, while the stories we share and our time together become the warm glow the keeps us in our chairs.
The dinner table is where my husband, Steve, and I sit and listen to our five-year-old share the tales of his day, often with no way of knowing what is fact or fiction. It’s where our almost 3-year-old says she is not hungry because a lion ate all of her food. It is where my husband and I amid the chatter and even the frustrations of mealtime with young children teach them to be still and listen to one another. When we take the time to cook a meal and share it, we give of our time and ourselves to those we love. The book is about creating an opportunity live in this space together, and to honor the home cooks and chefs, farmers and artisans of Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota, who choose to make these places of sand and structure, forest and prairie and husk and hooves their home. Without them, their trust in me and their contributions, this book would not exist.
People from other places, busier places, more densely populated places call these flyover states, as in there is nothing worth stopping for, so just flyover it. It’s a shame really because people who feel that way are sacrificing sacred spaces, historic neighborhoods and genuinely kind people. The book highlights these culinary and community diamonds, hopefully to encourage those flyover naysayers to touch down for a visit, break some bread and stay awhile. We are known for being friendly around here, and feeding people is kind of our thing.
Now that I’m a little less round, a lot less pregnant, and the mother of two busy kids this book is almost complete. I am thrilled to say I have signed a contract with Agate Publishing out of Chicago. I’m going to share that journey here ScaldedMilk.com where I hope you will also share your journeys with me. Make a sandwich and pour yourself a drink. Let’s be great friends.