Sunday, July 22, 2012

ICLW July 2012: Do You Want Fries With That?

It's been a while since I got my act together and put myself on the ICLW list.  But I'm glad to be back! Thanks for visiting here.  A bit of housekeeping:
  • If you want some background about why I'm on the ALI blogroll, you can read my post for the 2011 Resolve Bust A Myth challenge.  It's not for the faint of heart.
  • You could also start with the Things I'm Afraid To Tell You, which will give you insider information about my laundry habits.  Or you could just salivate over my cupcakes.
  • I'm doing NaBloPoMo this month.  Because I need more acronyms in my life.
  • Even before I had a blog, I wanted to go to BlogHer.  I wanted to meet the amazing writers I found online.  And this year, I'm going!

Which brings me to the meat of today's post.
From an early age, I thought of myself as a writer.  I spent hours in the ditto room during lunch in the fifth grade, with my best friend, inhaling purple ink fumes and co-writing an adolescent romance complete with hand-drawn illustrations which we actually--this is completely laughable now--sent off to a publishing agency.  In the seventh grade I authored a short science fiction story that my teachers swooned over, and which I was sure would sell hundreds of copies.  In eighth grade and in high school, I dominated the literary magazine with my poetry.  I majored in English in college, and even won a poetry award one year.

Like most of my fellow English majors, I tired of people asking me what I was going to do with my major.  How many times did I have to hear "do you want fries with that?"  Why yes, yes, I was preparing myself for a career in the food service industry!  How did you know?

Somewhere along the way, my passion for writing got swallowed up by term papers, and then a thesis, and then my dissertation: the ultimate writing killjoy.

Years passed.

Then, two and a half years ago, I started this blog.  I don't know when I started reading blogs, but something about the genre appealed to me.  Since its birth, it's been quite the wanderer, venturing into pregnancy loss, food porn, yoga, infertility, career uncertainty, parenting, mindfulness, even--though less frequently--politics.  I've often found myself wondering, sometimes aloud, where it's going.  And whether that matters.  Whether my meandering might lose me readership.

Last week, Jjiraffe posted something that rocked my world a little bit.  She suggested that maybe, just maybe, good writing wasn't about finding a niche, but about finding--and using--your voice.

The weird thing is that despite the fact that I write here, I often don't think of myself as a writer.  Which is sort of silly, right?  Every once in a while, someone like Mel waves a magic wand and BAM. I'm a writer ... but then something happens, I lose my glass slipper, and I'm back doing laundry again.

The funny thing is that in my own way, during these past few years, I've made myself a career in the food service industry, just as those jokers predicted long ago.  I feed my readership, one post at a time.  (My new business card says "food for the palate. food for thought." Congratulate me on my cleverness.)  But in the process, I think I've also started to find my voice.  Here's what NaBloPoMo is reminding me: if I just write (*thanks, again jjiraffe), I'm a writer.  The paralysis that comes from some overblown idea of what my writing should be, or consistency of topic, or impressing readers?  I never had that problem when I was in the fifth grade.  Because I wrote.  I was a writer.  And that was enough.

Our CSA has had a particularly successful potato harvest this year.  So like a good food services employee, I'm offering you some fries.  I hope you don't mind; I'll be serving them up with a side of prose.

Perfect Oven Roasted Fries
I don't usually even like fries.  But these?  Damn.

3 russet potatoes (about 24 oz. total), peeled and cut lengthwise into even sized wedges
5 T. vegetable, canola or peanut oil, divided
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 475F.  Place the potato wedges in a large mixing bowl. Cover with hot water; soak for 20 minutes. Put 4 tablespoons of the oil onto a heavy, rimmed baking sheet or a heavy baking pan. Tilt the sheet side to side to evenly coat the pan with oil. Sprinkle the pan evenly with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Drain the potatoes. Spread the wedges out on layers of paper towels or on clean kitchen towels. Pat dry with additional towels. Wipe out the now empty bowl so it is dry. Return the potatoes to the bowl and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Arrange the potato wedges on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 5 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the bottoms of the potatoes are spotty golden brown, 15-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes. Flip each potato wedge keeping them in a single layer. Continue baking until the fries are golden and crisp, 5 -15 minutes. Rotate the pan as needed to ensure even browning, and feel free to flip them again.

When the fries are finished baking, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain some of the grease. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
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  1. I totally aspire to go to BlogHer some day. I would also love to have a conversation with you unencumbered by small children who need to be attended to. I hope both these things will happen. Eventually.

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  3. Great intro to ICLW and so awesome to see you share what you are learning through the experience of NaBloPoMo this month! So glad you decided to join in...

    There must be something about doing NaBloPoMo and having "a-ha" moments related to writing. As I wrote this post last November mid-way through my first endeavor with NaBloPoMo:

    During that month I also realized how true it is that "writing begets writing."

    Both times I've done NaBloPoMo I plotted out the entire month w/ potential topic ideas for each day (just in case). But I continue to be amazed how much of that plan goes by the wayside when I find myself inspired to write about other things. I wrote a post a few days ago that I had planned to schedule for over the weekend and keep bumping it up, as there are other/more important things I feel compelled to share.

    Anyway, I couldn't agree more about it being the voices that bring me back to my favorite bloggers. You, Mel, Lori, Jjraffe and others can write just about anything these days and you have me at the moment you press publish. It's the way you tell your stories that draw me in and move me. So thank you.

    As I shared in my comment on Jjraffe's post that you reference about voice, the best compliment one of my readers ever gave me was to let me know that even though she feels like we don't have a lot in common, she keeps coming back for more because she likes the way I write.

    Anyway, I can't wait to meet you at BlogHer one week from Thursday!!! In a short time you have become a writer/blogger that means a lot to me and I can't wait to hang out and talk with you in person in NYC!

    As for fries... My hubby actually made homemade french fries for a BBQ we had today with my family and followed a very similar recipe to what you posted here only instead baking them, we deep fried. :)

  4. Hi from ICLW. I really enjoyed this post. And your Bust a Myth post is very powerful. Looking forward to reading more of your writing.

  5. Thanks for the shout-outs!

    I'm definitely enjoying reading everyone's very different takes daily: it does seem we are all in a diarist mode. Kathy, thank you for including me in such exalted company. I have really enjoyed your posts too!

  6. Great post and thanks for linking to your Bust a Myth post - so very moving. I've never had luck with baked fries but I have only ever soaked potatoes in cold water - will have to give your recipe a try.

  7. I love your tagline for your business card! I will have to try your baked fries recipe. I have made roasted potatoes many times but never fries.

    I really enjoy reading your writing. It really is all about the voice and you have a great one!

  8. Of course you're a writer! It made me sad to see how your education shriveled your passion for a while. But a writer can't be silenced, and your voice is lovely and unique. Thanks for sharing.

  9. As a linguistics major, I too was asked what in the world I'd do with what I'd learned. If you don't plan on being a Linguistics professor, or working at Google, there isn't much out there for our kind. Then again I became a language teacher so I ended up using a lot of what I learned, and it was fascinating stuff anyway, I never really cared much if I used it, I just loved to learn it!

    You are a wonderful writer and I look forward to all the amazing things you're sure to do with a pen, or keyboard, in hand. ;)

  10. Here from ICLW :) I remember writing stories in school! And at home...I still have a couple boxes full of stories I wrote as a kid. I'm sure they'd be laughable if I read them now! But at the time we truly felt like "real" authors, didn't we? Ah, good times.

  11. Yay ICLW!

    You're right - if you write, you're a writer. If you paint, you're a painter. I think when people worry about readers too much they start to morph into some sort of advertising executive.

    I'm licking my computer screen trying to taste those fries, just fyi.

  12. You are a writer, my friend. Every post that you've written is beautiful and thoughtful. I look forward to reading everything that you write.

    (And I'm unreasonably jealous of jiraffe, since she gets to be your Blogher roomate. But I'm going to be gracious and go read her post anyway. Ha!)


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