Monday, May 13, 2013

My Smitten Kitchen problem


transference /trans·fer·ence/ (trans-fer´ens) in psychotherapy, the unconscious tendency to assign to others in one's present environment feelings and attitudes associated with significance in one's early life. . .  

I was chopping broccoli for Smitten Kitchen's broccoli slaw on Friday -- the fourth time I've made this great salad -- and decided it was time to write about my Smitten Kitchen problem. Or, I should say, my former Smitten Kitchen problem. This all happened a few months ago and I wasn't sure how to tell the odd story, and I'm still not, but here goes.

I'll start in the middle.

I used to be a semi-regular visitor to Smitten Kitchen, Deb Perelman's recipe blog. I read her posts and skimmed the hundreds and hundreds of loving comments appended to each one.  If you're unfamiliar with Perelman, though I doubt you are, she's a thirtysomething woman who lives in New York City with her husband and pre-schooler son and writes about cooking. Her chummy, confiding persona is that of a charmingly obsessive perfectionist. She's not my soulmate, but she's a real pro, cheerful and consistent in her posting, reliable and often inspired in her recipes, a strong photographer.

Yet I found myself holding back approval from her blog. When her book was published last fall, I bought it right away but again held back. I was even a little sorry when the first recipe I tried, the buttered popcorn cookies, turned out to be so delicious. I was reading her in a mean spirit, looking for faults. This is no way to read a cookbook or anything else.

Was it jealousy?  I wrote a cookbook that did fine and Smitten Kitchen wrote a cookbook that was a huge hit. I pondered this at length, because it seemed like the most obvious explanation. But while I should have been jealous of her sales, which translate into tangible benefits like money and professional opportunities, I didn't feel so much as a twinge of envy. It was something else. I thought and thought and then suddenly it was clear as day and since that moment of clarity I've had no problem with Deb Perelman at all.

I went to all-girls schools from kindergarten through 8th grade, a period I think of as my own private Dark Ages. I was excruciatingly shy and struggled to navigate the intensely social and socially intense culture of an all-girls school. I was constitutionally unable to sit on other girls' laps, talk baby talk, dance gracefully around the maypole (seriously!), excel at field hockey, join in spontaneous renditions of Rainbow Connection, or jump up when Fiona or Mindy walked into the lunchroom and cry out "Sit here! Sit here! I saved you a place!"

That's one of my chief memories of 8th grade: Mindy or Fiona entering the lunchroom and the competing cries of "Sit here!" "No! Sit here." The more one girl begged the harder the other girls would plead. They sounded like seals begging for sardines. I'm sure they thought I resembled a hermit crab, if they noticed me at all.

At the end of the school year there were tears and promises and big group hugs.Yearbooks were serious business, the pages blanketed with sentimental notes signed with nicknames that originated at slumber parties, every "i" dotted with a heart. There were drawings of flowers, drawings of Snoopy, smiley faces.

I tried to throw out my old yearbooks last year, but Mark made me keep them. In preparation for writing this post, I pulled out my 8th grade volume of Works and Days. I was sure I would have nervously solicited signatures from  Lisa Bransten, Lindsay Dunckel, maybe Leslie Howes and a few others. But there is only one signature in the book.
Thank you, Margaret.
Fast-forward to 2013: Smitten Kitchen's most recent post got 261 comments. Mine got 14.

Do I need to connect the dots?

Sure, no problem.

I wasn't envious of Deb Perelman's professional success as reflected in sales, which would have been sensible. I was envious of her popularity among girls. When I read her blog and the hundreds of comments I felt like I was back in 8th grade, standing meekly in the corner watching an outgoing girl get her yearbook signed.

I like to think I've changed completely, yet 33 years later: exact same hairstyle.
Just recognizing what was going on solved the problem instantly. I don't know how that works, but it does. I'm now very fond of Smitten Kitchen.

This is all just to say that our feelings about cookbooks can be far more complicated than whether we love a certain recipe for broccoli slaw. Which we do.

While I was flipping through that old yearbook, walking down bad memory lane, I saw a picture of Mr. Bell, who taught English and P.E.


Mr. Bell was handsome, wasn't he? I didn't think so at the time, but a 13-year-old girl can't see past facial hair. Nor should she. I think Mr. Bell may have something to do with my Michael Ruhlman problem. He has everything to do with why I hate field hockey.

188 comments:

  1. I read both blogs and enjoy them. I checked the Smitten Kitchen book out of the library and really enjoyed it. But I bought your book. In fact, I bought two of them, because I'm giving one to Sarah Kate for Christmas. And yeah, we never really get over eighth grade. Pathetic. But true.

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  2. Eighth grade was a unique misery for me. I bought your book and a copy for a friend. Your book made me laugh out loud more than once...

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  3. I always read both blogs, but I check out yours first. And I never read the comments on Smitten Kitchen, it just seems like pointless groupie-ism (which should be a word, if not an actual condition). I am not eternally thankful my Gr. 8 class didn't have a yearbook, no one wants to revisit that.
    p.s. your hair looks great. Then and now.

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  4. I've been to Smitten Kitchen and I agree with all you say about the quality of the posts and the photography, but I don't read her blog regularly like I do yours. With your posts, it feels like a friend is telling me about her week and I get a sense that any comment I would post would be read and appreciated by you personally. I don't feel that way with blogs that get hundreds of comments. With that many comments, the blogger really can't give each one the attention the commenter may want, I understand that, but I like reading blogs that are a bit more intimate. And yours is!

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  5. Smitten Kitchen exhausts me. Your posts are short, sweet, to the point, and very interesting. They aren't deluged with pictures of every step of food preparation. I like that in a blog. I also like that you've got your backyard homestead happening. I wish I did! Your book - and your blog - are about more than just cooking. I like that too.

    I've never been accused of being shy or self conscious but 8th grade (Jr. High in general) was a disaster for me too. From the time a boy called me a train-wreck to the time my major crush shoved my face in a snow drift, it was bad. There were plenty of good times too but after decades -- literally, nearly 35 years -- those are my most clear memories. Glad it's over!!!

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  6. I hated eighth grade too. I was shy and backwards and newly interested in boys, and facing the brand new horror of a math class I actually had to study for, and Spanish likewise. I honestly believe it may have been the worst year of my life.

    Like a commenter above said, I bought more than one copy of your book, and have never even read Smitten Kitchen's blog, much less her book (although your kind description of her blog makes me think I should check it out.) And I know you weren't musing about popularity only to beg for reassuring comments ;)

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  7. Heartfelt and beautifully written confession! Junior High (Middle School) deserves it's own circle of hell. The fact that we survive it at all is a miracle. I have glanced at Smitten Kitchen and admired the photography but not so much the writing - it gushes a bit more than I like - although the recipes do look good.
    Comment envy is also relative, my last blog post had 1 comment and it was from you! I haven't posted since!

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  8. I look at Smitten Kitchen's pictures, but I read your posts. You are wry and sarcastic and self-effacing, all big pluses in my book! I'd rather live next door to you, if that makes your 8th grade self feel any better, not that you know me! I swear I'm not a crazy person though. :-)

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  9. Epiphanies are wonderful, aren't they? It's helpful to know where those visceral responses come from, even if we can't change them. At least we can recognize them, "oh hello, it's you again!". I never fit in anywhere in that squealing, superficial mass of adolescence. My personality has not changed, but I have come to accept and even appreciate it. You are lovely, accomplished, and interesting, but you probably don't need to be told that. Or maybe you do, maybe we all do. By the way, part of my personality is tenacity, so I am still expecting a cake/moisture report. Sacrifice yourself in the name of science!

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  10. I bought your book for me and have no bought it twice more as gifts. I ADORE it. I was just skimming it again sitting in the yard a few nights ago.

    However, Smittens book gives me a headache... I am not a fan of big complicated recipes. I prefer throwing it all together and having more wine.

    I know -exactly- how you feel. I still get those kinds of silly feelings now and then.

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  11. Gonna join the chorus, Tipsy. I loved the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, not gonna lie. (Didn't buy it, though.) But your book is my go-to. It's pages are spattered and smeared and when I idly flip through the it as I'm making whipped cream, tortillas, etc. I read your prose and I laugh and I feel like I know you, but not in a lurking-amongst-the-garabage-cans-and-bribing-the-goats-not-to-give-me-away way. I've been trying to work up the courage to post on here and beg you to put out another one.
    And no one had a good time in eighth grade. The ones that were smiling just hid their misery much better than you or I ever could.

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  12. Annette Kitts5/13/13, 12:42 PM

    When I read the description of your chicken Arlene and "her" manly swagger pre-decapitation in your book, I howled. I have read and re-read your book I don't know how many times, and got the guts to make my own butter and ricotta cheese. Your honesty about both your successes and failures makes the voice of your blog (and book) refreshing. Please don't change that.

    To quote Mr. Rogers: "You're special just the way you are."

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  13. I don't know why they don't just abolish middle school. It's a horrible time for everyone. I don't feel like we actually learn anything important about social interactions during that time, just get scarred by it. We should start putting kids in medically induced comas from 11-13.

    But seriously, you are my favorite. And half of Deb's comments are just people asking for general cooking instructions barely related to the recipe. :)

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  14. I've only ever commented on a couple of blogs and that's was when I had an answer to a question. If I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed! I too have both blogs on my home screen but for entirely different reasons. Deb's food photography is beautiful. Your writing makes me laugh and think and imagine you as a sort of sister I would have liked to have had. I originally found your blog when looking for cookery book reviews with some depth to them. I now check in to find out what you're all up to.

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  15. I think you have many readers who don't comment. We are smiling and thinking about what we have just read. And what we are now planning to cook. Or, to follow the "only make one thing" concept, planning not to cook. You shared the SK recipe (via link) for the broccoli slaw. It's a great way to eat broccoli and it the link is how I first read her blog. She's got a great gift for photography. You have a great gift for writing. And goat midwifery. Please keep doing what you do.

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  16. I've never read Smitten Kitchen. I'm sure that what's her name is wonderful. But YOU - I got your book from the library, read it cover to cover, actually considered buying it: which is a VERY big deal since we are on the debt free, all cash, budget ever dollar plan (I shamefully admit that I used the money to go out to dinner with girlfriends instead), and have followed you via facebook and your blog ever since!!

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  17. I agree with beckster - I love when you think about something, figure it out, and feel the angst drain away...or at least some of it!

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  18. I have never read smitten kitchen, the book or the blog, but when I first bought your book, I read it from cover to cover in one straight shot. I am ashamed to admit I let my children eat cereal for dinner that night just so I didn't have to stop reading your cookbook. A bit ironic I know, but the next day I made up for it by spending all day making pot stickers and they were perfect!

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  19. I used to read Smitten Kitchen, but most of the recipes were too complicated and nothing my husband would ever eat, and the tone was just too bright, enthusiastic, "look how perfect and hip I am", "look what cool thing I did" kind of vibe. Whereas I have been reading your blog for years, I am always impatient for the next post, I love your cookbook-themed approach, and your investigative-experimental attitude. Your enthusiasm is real, a result of doing what you love and chronicling the successes and failures along the way (as opposed to SK's chirpy "what should I write for the blog today") and you make me want to cook what you cook even though, again, some recipes are complicated and most are nothing my husband would ever eat. I completely get the frustration of wanting to cook exotic and fascinating dishes, but having no one to really appreciate them. As for comment comparison, most of the comments on the typical food blog are brief "Looks yummy!" kind of remarks, whereas the comments on your blog are always thoughtful, because your writing is thought-provoking.

    I wasn't a popular girl either. They seemed like a different species to me. Maybe that's another reason I don't like SK. :) Great post, as usual. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us.

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    1. "As for comment comparison, most of the comments on the typical food blog are brief "Looks yummy!" kind of remarks, whereas the comments on your blog are always thoughtful, because your writing is thought-provoking."

      THIS. Many times I read a post here and want to comment, but wow, your other readers really raise the bar high for comments. And often by the time I've read and thought about your post, someone else has already said what I wanted to, but more articulately, as Sobaka just did.

      I had to stop reading Smitten Kitchen when I realized that if I saw her "dialing back" an ingredient one more time I would throw something at the computer. And also, because I had to scroll through 300+ "looks yummy" comments before getting to someone who'd actually made the damn dish.

      I bought your book and have recommended it enthusiastically all over the place, by the way.

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  20. I think SK offers her skills. You offer up your life. Thanks.

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  21. I love Smitten, but it's you whose passages get read aloud to my hubby. Your honesty and humor are a real gem.

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  22. Echo all the comments above, and I will add:
    1) I, too, had a popular girl named Mindy. In my mind, she has grown up to accomplish nothing.
    2) I saw you at your book signing and now wish I had approached and engaged you in conversation since you looked like you wanted to hide behind a stack of books, but I always assume no one would be interested in speaking with me. What a missed opportunity!
    3) I never get any comments on my blog, but my stats tell a different story. I'll try to comment here more often! I look forward to your posts and I loved your book!

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  23. Thanks to you I now consider broccoli slaw a staple and have made it 4 times in 6 weeks and plan to have it on the menu this weekend. the extra buttermilk IS a problem. i cannot bear to waste anything. so i make buttermilk biscuits.....

    as for 8th grade.....if you think it is bad to be a student in 8th grade..try teaching it! and god bless our middle school teachers:)

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    1. I DID go to Smitten Kitchen and read a couple of entries, and though I'm sure her blog is good for what it is, it isn't as good as yours by a long shot.

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  24. i just recently discovered your blog, but i love your writing. your previous post was so wonderful and funny; thank you for that, and thank you for sharing this, too. my boyfriend linked me to that post because he thought the fettuccine sounded like a good idea, and it turned out to be an excellent one!

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  25. I don't know what I was expecting, but your 8th grade photo knocked my socks off - you were beautiful and still are! I spend my working hours with 8th graders and have for the last 9 years. I also get to participate in exit interviews as our 12th graders graduate and look back on their years at our school which is K-12. I continue to be surprised that most 12th graders remember 8th grade with horror. My surprise is self-centered because I feel like we have a good time in class, not having to take academic life as seriously as the high schoolers. We do lots of cool projects, spend a lot of time outdoors, and go on near weekly field trips. I forget and need to be reminded that the weird mix of high energy and hormone muddled thoughts and behaviors amplify the feeling of the social interactions way beyond any thrill or rush that a project or field trip typically generates. As a teacher I do find it helpful to be reminded (wherever it is that I stumble on these kinds of reflections, which is unpredictable) that sometimes my roles as mediator of social drama or mitigator of social trauma are arguably more helpful than teaching exactly how the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a spreading center. And no matter what I do, the unrequited love, fleeting relationships, unfiltered comments and gangly tangle of arms and legs are never any match for my attempts to soften the emotional blows - clearly.

    I love this post. I also loved the post about building the cob oven with Owen. Go figure.

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    1. What an amazing post, Adah, as amazing as the original post! I am so glad I just stumbled upon this blog!

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  26. Geez, I guess it was some kind of pity party today, eh, Tipsy?

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  27. I've gone back to school at age 45, and have 3 kids. I'm a bit overwhelmed, so I only read 3 blogs regularly - - yours is one of them. I got your book on my Nook, and loved it so much I had to go get a hard copy. Smitten Kitchen? Phtthhh. No way it could do for me what your book and blog do!

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  28. I read many cooking blogs, including Smitten Kitchen.. but yours is the only one I read routinely.. always check it first. Never comment on any... but hey wanted to up your numbers. You aren't just a cooking blogger, you are truly a writer. Your cookbook was the first and only cookbook I literally read cover to cover.

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  29. I just made a new best friend last month because I entered her house and saw your well-used book on her shelf. Thank you for your book and blog, they're both my favorite.

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  30. I never ever comment on blogs. Ever! But you are my favorite food writer and so I must. I think I feel about 101 Cookbooks/Heidi Swanson the way you do about Smitten. So much fawning! Also, if you really want to be part of that club then you'll get comments like this: yum! Sounds great but I am gluten intolerant with a radish allergy. Do you think it will work if I sub raw honey for the sugar and switch the flour for locally harvested sand?

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    1. Ha! It's almost scary to have people to dinner these days....

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  31. I love your posts, when you go for a week without posting, I go into withdrawal! Seriously, if it makes you feel better, yours is the only blog I read... of course, I have three kids, two jobs, and a husband so my blog-time is seriously limited. But that is neither here nor there...

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  32. I never comment on blogs, but I have made a ton of stuff from your blog, gotten lots of meal plans from your blog, follow your links to read even more, look forward to your reviews when you travel, and have your site bookmarked (it's first on my list). I have not cooked much from smitten's blog, don't get inspired even though her writing and photos are nice, and I don't have her site bookmarked and rarely check it. I guess maybe I like your site better? It's certainly more helpful and inspirational to me.

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    1. Wow, Victoria, you said everything I wanted to say. (Better too!)

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    2. Ditto. Came to your blog from the book and now follow it via RSS, but don't comment.

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  33. How funny .. there are only 2 blogs I must read .. yours and Smitten Kitchen!!

    I was trying hard to get rid of credit card debt and started using the library like crazy .. that's where I got your book (I made it, paid off the credit cards!!). I liked it so much I bought a copy and have been leading it to others. I don't cook every day but like to go all out when I do. Loved reading about your chickens and goats.

    I'm 69 (feel about 40!) and drive a cab at night in San Francisco. Sometimes I talk with passengers about recipes, books, movies. I've mentioned your book and blog to many of them and one turned out to be your husband's cousin!! I thought you probably lived way out in Marin, like Fairfax but she said you live in Mill Valley.

    I think you are special, wish we were neighbors. I love it that Owen is such a good buddy and I'm glad you went to India together!

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    1. I wonder which cousin it was. . .

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  34. I bought both books and I read both blogs, though I actually started reading your blog after reading the book. I feel like I relate to this post a lot, because for all my feminist lady-power ways I sometimes get that feeling like I don't want to hop on the popular girl bandwagon. But the bitter teenage feelings I had where I wanted to tear other girls down are (mostly) gone, so I consider that an accomplishment. I think as women we are always comparing ourselves to the people around us, and those middle school feelings have a nasty way of sticking around. I hated middle school so much, and I definitely thought my Catholic school classmates were the most horrible evil spoiled people in the world at the time. Now, if I met them, I'd probably have more sympathy.

    I will say I've also fallen in love with that damn broccoli slaw. That, and the chicken with olives and grapes have stuck around my house.

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  35. Love your blog. Aways look forward to your updates. Love your book. My sister, sisters-in-law, and daughter love your book. My husband hasn't read it but he has eaten a lot of your food. Would ask you to sit at my lunch table any time.

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  36. I read Smitten Kitchen also but I'd much rather sit with you at lunch.

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  37. I read you blog, have done religiously for years. And I never comment, which is rubbish. I like Smitten Kitchen well enough, but I read and take inspiration from your intelligent and witty writing, even when I have no time to cook. Perhaps SK attracts people inclined to write wildly enthusiastic and gushy posts - perhaps the kind that popular girls at school might write in adulthood? Your account of teenage years at an all-girls school sounds painfully familiar.

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  38. 1) I've never read Smitten Kitchen, but will now check it out because you said nice things about her. 2) I always check your blog daily, and get irritated with you when you don't post regularly. (Truth!) You are part of my routing - right after I read "Dear Abby!" 3) I am busy, and spend more time "fantasizing" about cooking than I do actually cooking lately - six year old twins, full time "real" job, full time "volunteer" job (infant mortality reduction/cerebral palsy stuff), beloved husband, and way too many relatives with drama stuff. Somehow, your writing makes me feel like you would "understand" my crazy life, and would be one of my friends I could call and whine to when it all overwhelms me; that is the power of your writing - you make me feel like you are my friend, even though we've never met. 4) I bought your book and read pieces of it to my husband while giggling hysterically; I want to try to make homemade yoghurt, and ricotta cheese, and your bread recipe - just thinking about it helps me both relax, and feel inadequate - lol! 5) I wasn't popular in junior/high school, but my life got better (and so did my social skills) once I hit college, and I am *proud* of myself as a grown-up. I know you are, too. You have an amazing life - fabulous kids, a great husband, awesome sister, goats, chickens, and a passion for not only cooking, but sharing with others. You remind me of Erma Bombeck - can there truly be a higher compliment? Always, Ida Briggs

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  39. I was never part of the popular group in middle school (or high school, for that matter), which I quite resented at the time. As an adult, I have a group of wonderful friends. But...I still find myself feeling like the same adolescent grouch when I'm on the edges of a social situation where others are the life of the party. Being that sparkly, shiny person would wear on me, I think.

    I read Smitten and you, and enjoy both. I never comment over there because it's just too crowded, but vow to make my voice heard more here. I'm grateful you share your time with us.

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  40. I've always liked you best!

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  41. I've been reading your blog for a couple of years now and have never commented. I feel the need to now after reading your latest post. I started reading your blog before I ever saw the Smitten Kitchen one. I tried to keep up with Smitten Kitchen but quickly lost interest, I however can't wait to read your next post. I find Deb Perelman a bit exhausting. Also I purchased your book right away, Deb's book has been in my Amazon cart for six months.

    I say keep up the good work, you are appreciated.

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  42. Love your book, love your blog, hated 8th grade too!

    Lin

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  43. I'm quiet but I had a lot of friends in school (still hated those middle years) so I'm not sure exactly where my feelings about leaving comments come from. I tend not to leave comments on many blogs unless it's a subject I know very, very well. (This subject would be sewing - I have a degree in Textiles and Clothing.) I've left one or two comments on your blog, or at least I started to, but never on Smitten Kitchen although I enjoy reading it. I always feel like someone with 245 comments really won't care what I have to say but someone with 14 might just read mine. I don't care to be part of the group yelling, "Sit here!" Or yelling anything to get attention. My oldest daughter told me about your book and I loved it. The whole way through, I thought now here is someone I could be friends with.

    I'm with Ida - Erma Bombeck it is!

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  44. Ah, Jennifer, don't worry too much about not appealing to the masses! Your readers are an intelligent, discerning crowd, and therefore there are fewer of us, but we love you just as much. I think you're brilliant and your writing is funny, charming, and inspiring.

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  45. It's me, Witloof, I could not use that name for some reason for my comment above.

    By the way, could you please tell us about your Michael Ruhlman problem? And do you know what Regina Schrambling {a wonderfully snarky food writer, check out her blog Gastropoda} calls him?

    Forelock.

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    1. Hi, I wrote just a little about my Michael Ruhlman "problem" further down in the comments. I haven't checked Gastropoda in such a long time -- she went so long between posts I think I forgot about it. Egopedist. She's one of a kind.

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    2. Egopedist is what she calls Bittman. Ruhlman she refers to as Forelock. I don't know why Ruhlman, who is an exceptionally fine food writer, feels he has to drop Fbombs in his blog posts these days, but it's so annoying.

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  46. I have never commented on your blog, but I just want to let you know how much this blog and your book mean to me. Yes, I do read SK. But I don't check it regularly. I am always checking for new posts from you, and am sorely disappointed when there isn't something new. I bought your book because the title spoke to my philosophy about cooking, ie, what is and isn't worth making myself. I read it cover to cover in a day. Then I found your blog, went all the way to the beginning and read every post (that took a while). Your posts have made me laugh, cry, think and reflect. I cook from your book regularly. You are real and inspiring. Thank you!

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  47. Well, like almost everyone else commenting today: I almost never buy books but I've bought 3 copies of yours because I love love love it (I kept one, have given 2 as gifts); I love your blog, your writing style, the stories, all of it -- but just never comment on it (or anyone else's blog), which I see now is apparently a holdover from being one of the shy, quiet girls in 8th grade; and I'm in Mill Valley lots visiting my brother & his family -- and would love to stop by one day to visit with you & the goats, but don't want to seem like a stalker.

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    1. send me an email next time you're in town: tipsybaker@gmail.com

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  48. Forgive me for being too shy to comment often!

    I love your blog.

    You are my go-to source for cake recipes, and also for hilarious and/or disturbing stories about backyard livestock.

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  49. I first heard of you when you were promoting Bread Butter (that's how I refer to it in my head) on NPR. Requested it for Christmas and then spent most of the day ignoring my family and reading it cover to cover. Then started reading your blog and have gone back to read every post.
    I check in on SK, but I have never gone back to read past posts..
    And by the way, homemade marshmallows ARE fairy food.

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  50. I rarely feel clever enough to comment, but I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy all of your posts and I really wanted to thank you for your book recommendations. I just finished "Nothing to Envy" and it was fascinating. Thank you!

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    1. Agree. Also just finished Nothing to Envy and found it an amazing look into North Korea. Always appreciate your book recs. Thanks.

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  51. I love that you admitted you had a problem with that popular girl, Smitten Kitchen, and love your explanation even more! I so get it, having been a painfully shy girl myself. Also, I should have commented long ago on how much I love your book but I was never brave enough :). I have read countless cookbooks and it was by far the most entertaining and relatable one I have ever come across.

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  52. Just another person chiming in to say that I read your blog and SK's but I read yours more often. I know this is snarky but I'll write it anyway: The way she wrote about her kid when he was an infant annoyed the gluten-free, dairy-free, salt-free crackers out of me. Maybe it's the first-time parent thing. However, I love hearing about the adventures with your kids. You keep it loving and honest, not just gooshy and squishy with flickr pics.

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    1. "The way she wrote about her kid when he was an infant annoyed the gluten-free, dairy-free, salt-free crackers out of me."

      I have to say I agree, and I feel bad about it, but not bad enough to fail to be irritated by the "hidden" link in every.single.post to a picture of her child. It was just more fuel to the fire of the fangirl chorus because now in addition to squeeing "looks yummy!" they have to add "what an adorable child!"

      Snark on, Anonymous, snark on. I'm right there with you. Isabel and Owen are infinitely more entertaining.

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  53. do tell about the ruhlman problem. I "love" his stuff, but at some point, I couldn't stand him or his writing or his "rants" anymore. felt like arrogance? curious what your prob is.

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    1. This is something I need to think about a bit more. I respect him, but have some of the same responses you do and often find myself arguing with him in my head. I brought home Twenty from the library (the egg poaching method: great) and felt the opposite of how I feel when I'm cooking from Jamie Oliver. Ruhlman makes me tense, I feel like we're always on the brink of disagreeing. He wrote a response to a customer review on amazon once that made me think two things 1. he's hot tempered 2. he's really sensitive. This made me like him less and more at the same time.

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    2. The May 15th entry was really something, with him flinging around the F bomb and addressing the reader as "you moron." Sounds as if he wrote it after he finished taste testing his Friday Cocktail post.

      I LOVE Michael's books -- his recounting of Brian Polcyn's pursuit of the CMC title was a real page turner, as was his memoir of his own time at the CIA. But his blog is frequently tough to take. I suspect that the person who did the editing for the Chef series is a serious talent who probably deserves equal billing.

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  54. Well, Jennifer, I feel your pain!! My mom was a teacher in the school district where I attended school. Let's just say she was mean(not at home). So, with that said, guess who's cookbook I have, yours. Guess who's cookbook I absolutely love, yours. I have Smitten kitchen's book in my cart for the last year, but haven't bought because I, too, love her blog and maybe that's enough for me or so I keep thinking! Hugs!!!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Clearly your blog is read by lots and lots of "non-commenters". I have been following about a dozen blogs for years and this is the third comment I've ever made. One of the other two was on your blog after you had taken a little hiatus from posting and I was worried about you. I am commenting now just for fun to get your comment numbers up for this post. Your loyal readers are out here! BLOG ON!

    ReplyDelete
  56. Funny for me 8th grade was ok. It's my senior in HS I hated. I will start in the middle too: 2 years ago I was friended on Facebook by grade school classmates and I welcomed it. None of the frieghted memories of some HS girls who really made that year awful for me. In fact of my HS frineds someone FB are friends with some of these awful girls- one in particular whose picture pops up as a possible candidate to friend me- No, thank you. Anyway- I love this blog. I think Jennifer is witty, entertaining, I recognize and empathize with her plight feeding with food phillistines. Keep it up.

    ReplyDelete
  57. OK, you need to know this. I read both blogs, plus others. But YOURS is the one I treasure. I try not to look everyday because I know you haven't posted. Your writing is so true, so real, so beautifully worded, so unpretentious, so honest about family stuff and normalcy that I cannot wait to read it. SK's blog is just fine, and I like some recipes, but I do not care at all about the writing or whether or not there is a post. I told you once, seeing a new post is like Miss Brill's finding an almond in her teacake.So to make me happy??? Write every single day. Please? oh please?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I don't have enough to say! You would soon be bored!

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  58. I hope you are feeling much more popular, now that you realize we all love you much more than Smitten Kitchen. I subcribed to your blog on RSS maybe a year ago because I love the way you describe your life. I like the recipes, and am interested in cooking, but what keeps me coming back (and why I dropped most other food blogs) is that yours alone makes me want to be your friend in real life. I think it is hilarious that your children are horrified by some of your cooking adventures. Honestly, I am too, though I think I have a broader appetite and palate than they do, but the best part is what you say about it and how you say it. I thoroughly enjoy reading about all the recipes even if I never in a million years would make that one. You just keep having fun, cooking whatever you want, and tell us all about it, because your friends are truely interested.

    ReplyDelete
  59. I also read your blog regularly and love it, but have never commented on yours or anyone's blog really. here's just a tiny bit more evidence that you influence and inspire many more people than you realize. keep it up! bc i want to keep reading about your adventures. :)

    ReplyDelete
  60. You know why I love your blog? Because you're real and honest. You don't pretend all your meals come out perfect or that your family loves everything you make. You're genuine and it comes through in your writing. You also impress me that despite being an obviously busy woman, you make time to pursue the things that interest you: raising goats, building an outdoor oven, etc. Being a working mom can be so time-consuming that it's easy to put our personal interests and passions on the back burner. But you inspire me to keep those passions alive and explore new frontiers, even if I'm not successful at everything I try. I also deeply enjoyed your book and hope you write another one. Thanks for giving your readers a glimpse into your life and I hope through these comments you get a feeling for how much your blog and book mean to all of your loyal readers.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Yeah but your cookbook was laugh out loud funny. Hers, not so much.

    ReplyDelete
  62. I am another faithful reader who never comments. I don't even come here for the recipes, I just love to read about you, your life and your family. You are not perfect and you don't pretend to be.

    I was not one of the popular girls during my teens, and at 52, I am still quite a loner and a private person. Its no use trying to change our basic personnality, but it's very natural to feel a twinge of envy when we see the extroverts strutting their stuff and gain immediate attention and adoration from the hordes.

    Just rest assured that we introverts don't comment much, but we do read and appreciate your prose.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Popularity is really fleeting, as is middle and high school, thankfully. I taught high school for some years. I had a daughter who was popular! I never liked high school when I was that age. Eighth grade, in my time, started in high school! What a nightmare! It was as horrible as you describe. I have been reading your blog since I discovered it and bought your book for two of my adult children. In full disclosure, your mother was my first cousin, and Skippy was my mother. I first checked your book out at the library after reading the blog for some time, which I found accidentally. When I got to "Skippy's Apricot Cake," the piece hit me like a ton of bricks. I shed a few tears for my mommy. Yes, that was a good cake, and she was wonderful. Not only do I love your writing, I feel I'm learning about relatives who live at a distance. After reading Skippy's recipe, I knew I had to buy the book for 2 of my cooking children, for the writing, recipes, and for my mother's memory. I know a lot of people don't respond to blogs, but that doesn't mean they aren't enjoying them and relating. I am not much of a responder, but I love humor and good writing! Wryness and self-deprecation don't hurt, either. Refreshing in this day of Facebook and everyone's life looking like a Hollywood story.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Looks like this particular party's on the wane, but I wanted to chime in with other commenters who rarely comment: I love this blog. As a matter of fact, it's the only one I make the time to read, my treat at work. (Loved the book too, and just yesterday made Isabel's chocolate chip cookies for a special occasion--I think this is the best batch yet.) We all thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  65. I have been following your blog since you wrote the make vs. buy article for Slate several years ago. I've been following SK for about the same length of time. And honestly, from the start, I noticed the number of comments discrepancy and wondered why it was so since I thoroughly enjoy both blogs and certainly think your writing and posts are on par with hers-different but not less. My husband and I talk about food a lot, and I know I've mentioned my observation to him as well. Glad you've solved your mystery!

    ReplyDelete
  66. What a great post, Jennifer. Thanks for the reminder about the power of those young days in our lives...then and now.

    ReplyDelete
  67. I read regularly and hardly ever comment. I wanted to echo what the others have said - you are hilarious and I always enjoy your blog posts. I'm ashamed that I haven't bought your book(s) yet but will do so very soon. 8th grade just sucks - that's all there is to it. I wasn't popular or pretty or anything else. Now I'm the life of the party! Still not pretty but I'll take my personality over beauty any day of the week because it won't droop and sag like everything else will! Post on my friend! Post on!!

    ReplyDelete
  68. Finally got around to reading this post, as I'm so behind on my feeds. Love it. Relate to it. Also, like her site/book, but love yours. Your cookbook is the one that's spattered and battered already. Hers, I've barely cracked.

    ReplyDelete
  69. PS: girls in middle school: shudder. Speaking of transference, I chose a K-8 school for my boys, thinking it would help ease middle school trauma. Interesting to find that the compromise is that K -8's have reduced class offerings, as they're not as well funded as middle schools, so depending on the kid, we may have them go to a difference 6 to 8 middle school, because of course, my kids are not me and might not be traumatized by middle school.

    ReplyDelete
  70. I don't have a Blog, nor do I have a cookbook or a tv show. I feel the same way about The Pioneer Woman...but she cooks like me, seems like a nice person, and I consistently say things like "that shirt is cute" while watching her show. I have had something blocking me from liking her when honestly she should be my best friend. I totally know where you are coming from! Thanks for the post. It makes me not feel so weird...

    ReplyDelete
  71. I just want to say that I don't know what the smitten kitchen is. I will look it up. I can't imagine I will like it any better than I like your blog. Although, I obviously don't read on a regular basis. I don't read anything on a regular basis (except People.com) Well, that was embarrassing to admit.

    ReplyDelete
  72. I loved this! I feel exactly the same way but on a totally different stratum of the blogosphere...my food blog is 2 years old (and it sucked in the beginning, honestly) but now my peers have come out with their own blogs just in the past year and have gotten so much more press because of their massive social networks (read: popularity).

    I love SK as well...but some of her recipes have been complete flops for me. Like the everyday chocolate cake...it's what brought me to her site to begin with...but it always comes out so dry! Anyone else have that happen to them??

    Anyway, thanks for the post and the comraderie.

    ReplyDelete
  73. I honestly love reading blogs and looking for recipes and adapting them.. I searched and found yours. I read a few and then this post, which are all great! When I visit the smitten kitchen I skim, but here I read and enjoyed and related. Well done!

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