Friday, April 28, 2017

Pizza and Marriage

Independent Bookstore Day is tomorrow, April 29, 2017. In honor of this day, you will find my husband and I standing in line at one of Seattle’s unique community bookstores called Book Larder to get our copy of Delancey signed by local author Molly Wizenberg. 

We have been reading Delancey aloud to each other at night. It’s a memoir about starting out, about new beginnings. Molly tells the story of her first year of marriage, during which her husband Brandon starts up a New York style pizza restaurant in Seattle without any prior business experience. While Brandon sweats to find a real estate deal, build a wood-burning pizza oven and invent his crust recipe, Molly has one hand in pizza recipes and the other in writing and publishing her first book called A Homemade Life (now New York Times bestseller). Molly writes candidly and humorously about the challenges they faced and the vision and determination her husband had to see his dream to completion. It’s a fun, local read and especially relatable for us as newlyweds.

A couple weeks ago, after spending the afternoon filing our first, joint tax return as a married couple, we decided to celebrate the occasion by going out for pizza. Of course, being in the middle of reading Delancey, there was no contest about where we would go. 

We arrived at Delancey just before 4:30 p.m. and waited outside for the restaurant to open. Before long, who emerged from the doorway but Brandon himself, rolling a large garbage bin behind him with a cheerful, impish smile on his face. We watched him disappear around the corner of the building and then come back a few minutes later with the same bin, filled to the brim with wood burning logs for the pizza oven. My anticipation increased as more smiling patrons gathered around us, waiting and expectant.

We were seated at a table for two. The table was a thick concrete block, but a lit candle warmed it. We ordered one house-made sausage pizza with mozzarella, Gana and prosciutto, and an oven-roasted radicchio salad. When our pizza arrived, the edges were blackened and blistered to perfection just as the book described. Flavors blended harmoniously together. We divided and shared it all, including lemon curd mousse and cookies for dessert.

I remembered the advice we received early on in our relationship, that love and marriage require revising the story between the two of you often. Sometimes, we need to revise our lives daily to meet the other’s needs; or in the grander scheme of life, we revise and recreate our story to grow together year after year.

In the article "Love Tips From the Very First Couple," published in The New York Times earlier this month on April 2nd, Bruce Feiler describes love being an active process, "But love is not a moment in time; it's the passage of time. It's the long-term practice of reinvention, reconciliation and renewal. Love is the act of constantly revising your own love story."

When it came to the first couple ever created, Feiler says, theirs is not the story of Adam, or the story of Eve; it is and forever will be the story of Adam and Eve. He writes, “Theirs is the first joint byline.”

One can see Molly and Brandon revising their story page by page in the book Delancey as they pursue a shared life, and every couple does. Herein lies the great potential, and responsibility, even the key to making a love story last.

That’s Brandon waving hello in front of the pizza oven. And that's me giving a thumbs up!

Inside Book Larder, the walls are lined with nothing but cookbooks and books about food. Delancey being one of them. As our dating involved so much of eating our way through Seattle, I suppose it makes sense we’d find our way into the cookbook store too, hand in hand. The food we’ve bonded over and meals we’ve shared in the past two years are already in the thousands, and counting. Again and again, we agree to spread the table and raise our glasses to the life we’re writing, we’re revising, we’re publishing day by day.

Won't you join us at our table?

Friday, December 23, 2016

Give Us This Day

Today the chickens weren’t the only ones feeling stuck in the coop – they had me for company. I knew it would happen one of these days. The hinges on the wooden door would sling shut behind me, the rope and knot to prevent such incidents would snap, and there I’d be – trapped in with the feathered fowl, looking out at the world through wire holes. 

Meanwhile, the only human to rescue me was far away at the food market buying Christmas dinner groceries (and probably snacking on free samples), so enduring the cold in this pen could have been my fate for the next several hours. Even the chickens seemed perplexed. They cocked their heads at me and flapped their wings as if to question what to make of this uncommon situation.

As panic subsided, I put my genius to work along with the luck of finding a tiny scrap of metal, which I bent into a tool to pry the lock open…freeing myself as well as the birds as we all tumbled out into the freshly fallen snow in our backyard. 

Well, I should rephrase that. Indy turned around as soon as she saw the snow and wanted to stay in the coop. But the longer she watched Winnie fearlessly stamping around and nibbling away at the green grass poking through the snow, Indy couldn't stand being left behind and finally lifted her wings and took a leap out of the coop. 

We love dirt! Cluck, cluck.
Ah yes, another day with the chickens! As they scratched and dug their beaks into the wet, brown soil of the garden beds to forage for worms and other tasty proteins, they clucked gleefully now to be free-ranging. I watched them as large, fluffy snowflakes descended all around us from the heavens, engulfing the world in white.

Two fresh, brown eggs daily. That’s what we’ve counted since fall. And there’s no let up. These birds just keeping giving more.

And so do we. Four months into married life and counting, we discover fresh love daily as the Lord sustains, nourishes, and gives us this day all that we need. It comes down from heaven in the simple things: the daily work we do, the daily meal we share, the sweet sharing of life and dreams and humor, and the tender care received from one another after dental surgery and vicious flu attacks. As he brings in firewood and stirs the flames higher to heat up our home (it being our main source of heat), I pull out the ingredients for our next meal.

This one’s a recipe from the San Francisco quarterly called Remedy (Stories of food, recipes for feeling good) which Robert found and collected the ingredients for, so all I must do is try my hand at it: grate 2 cups of sweet potato, grate fresh ginger, mix in applesauce and add the rest of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl; then drop a spoonful of batter into each waiting muffin cup. 

The raw mess of the baking process - didn't stage this.

Twenty minutes later, here’s the result. Only I forgot to add the sunflower seeds, so here comes the innovation. I spread a layer of cream cheese on top and then sprinkle the seeds on for a final cupcake perfection. Ta da!

Never underestimate the little things - that is what St. Therese of Liseux would say according to her "little way of love." They are the threads that hold us together like a well-sewn, maybe goofy-looking, but always lovable Christmas sweater.

We're turning the page now to 2017 and to my 30th year. To give the year perspective, we've each decided to choose one word to hang on our hearts...a word that we'll plant and watch grow over the next 12 months. My word is GIVE. Give us this day our daily love, give without holding back, give freely and with joy. The hubby has chosen a fierce word, a self-sacrificial kind of word - DENY - the word that hangs at the crux of the Christian life, in the center of the cross...Deny thyself, take up thy cross and follow me...

Here's to life outside of the coop!