Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Creative Process ...

Well, what a good day it's been.

This morning, I sent a note to friends and family and co-workers and former co-workers and others who have made it into my computer's address book about the new blog, and the traffic's been terrific. Which is lovely. I've had nearly 100 hits today on The Cookie Queen's English. Some of those can be attributed to me as I refreshed the page while trying to figure out some formatting issues, but the note went out to 87 people, so clearly, there's been a whole lot of clickin' goin' on.

For which I am very grateful.

Last night, I told L.A. Dave about the new blog and he asked me which food persons I admire. The first name that sprang to mind was Ina Garten. I adore Ina. She's a real person who makes real food in her real kitchen. She cooks because she loves to cook, but, more importantly, she cooks because she loves the people for whom she's cooking.

That's the key. People ask me what I do to my cookies to make them taste the way they do. My cheeky answer, which I've given only in my head, is "LSD." But the real answer is love. Truly. Yes, I know it's sappy. But it's true. When you prepare something for someone because you love them, or even just like them a lot (because the word "love" seems to make some people uneasy), they can taste it.

Cooking is alchemy, it's more than science. There are intangibles that can make or break a dish. I don't bake when I'm upset because I know I'll screw things up. Butter shouldn't be creamed in vain.

In my Internet wanderings today, I came across a site by a woman who calls herself the Cookie Queen. She sells cookies. She does not post her recipes. Trade secrets. She doesn't want to share her how-tos lest someone copy her methods.

Which made me wonder if I should post my recipes on the other site, and then I realized that my recipes aren't secrets. They're not recipes I've developed. They're widely available. My oatmeal-raisin cookie recipe is the recipe inside the lid of the Quaker Oats box. Not exactly hard to come by.

I was singing earlier, some tunes that I want to lay down the next time I have a play date with Brian (and Bill's microphone). And I was reminded of a show I once saw in which a woman was telling her students that it's entirely possible to sing a song technically, but to really bring a song to life, they have to think about the lyrics they're singing.

I suspect that it's easier for singer/songwriters to connect with their material, but it's certainly not hard to listen to the story of a song and relate to it in some way. "Your Smiling Face" by James Taylor just shuffled up in my iTunes. I can sing the lyrics without thinking about them, the song is so ingrained in my head. But when I think of one specific person whose smile I adore and then sing the song, I sing it differently.

It's nifty. Try it sometime.

I think we've all become too busy. Last night on the news, I heard the statistic that many kids have 20 hours of activities scheduled into their lives every week on top of school and homework. Which means that moms and dads are spending a lot of time taking those kids to and fro on top of their already-hectic schedules of commuting and working and running households.

Throw a few cellphones and Blackberries into the mix and our free time can all but vanish.

Unless we free it up again.

Tonight, I sent Jay a picture of the sunset I was seeing out my office window. It was spectacular. Pink and purple and orange, behind the shadows of the trees. He replied, "WOW. Gorgeous. The sort of sunset that makes you glad you're alive."

And I replied, "Exactly. And it's already gone. Nice metaphor for life. Enjoy it. It's fleeting."

I try to do things with more intention these days. It's hard. But I'm trying to be entirely focused on whomever I'm speaking with on the phone, instead of e-mailiing or IMing in tandem. I try to eat more slowly. I try to be fully engaged in whatever I'm doing in the moment I'm doing it, give my brain a chance to downshift, trying to witness the time as it passes instead of waking up and wondering where another week, another month, another year has gone.


Anonymous egyptchick7 said...

I found this blog by googling "ina garten"...just wanted to tel her I adore her too and bought her book and had it signed by her yesterday in Manhattan. I told her she was wonderful and she told me my name was beautiful. I felt the pressure of the book line so I neglected the chitn chat. Bus she really is wonderful.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Oh, I'm totally jealous! She'll be in Chicago tomorrow (December 7th) for a signing, but I'll be too swamped with work to go!

5:33 PM  

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