Remember?


Remember when I used to blog? Yeah, I barely remember either….

I’m watching Julie & Julia, the movie that started this whole blog off in the first place. I figured if Julie Powell could utilize her writing and cooking skills through a blog, that maybe I could try my hand at it too. At first, I wrote a lot about how much I loved Julia Child — her spirit, her television persona, her life. Then, I wrote complete and utter silly nonsense. All the time. I’d write a post almost every day, about the books I’d read, the things I noticed about people.I wrote sarcastic posts about boys who had rejected me. I wrote about my declining mental health. I wrote about writing. About college. The Bachelor. Rabbits. Dancing. Barney…

So when I started writing almost 7 years ago on this very site, I didn’t really expect my life to go this way. I thought I’d be a writer by now. Then I thought maybe I’d be a psychologist. Now I’m in cosmetology school, which I wouldn’t have predicted but definitely won’t complain about. Clearly this path hasn’t exactly been linear. I just…thought I’d have it all figured out by now. I’m 23, after all, and when I was 17, I trusted my future self to take care of everything.

This blog was my everything. I had a solid following, an actual subscriber base that cared about my wellbeing and loved my humor. It used to be called Writer’s Block. “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll run kicking and screaming,” the caption at the top warned. A picture of typewriter keys occupied the banner. The web address? bymyink.wordpress.com. Now? Cappy Writes. A web address that matches the blog’s name. A picture of a packet of letters I bought at an antique shop. No tagline. A lot of sadness. Anger.

I’m not lamenting what used to be, really, so much as finally remembering. Realizing.

Obviously, I haven’t put the time and effort into blogging that I used to. At its peak, blogging was a tool to help me learn about and expand the world that I occupied. It was a way to gain support, to express myself, to hone a craft. It was pure. It meant everything to me. It was how I showed the world who I was, at a time when I thought I knew.

But the past few years haven’t been easy on me. My “mood disorder not otherwise specified” developed into generalized anxiety, a panic disorder, and depression. I was suicidal for a while when I was 18. I went through a surprisingly complicated breakup. I found Hinduism. It helped. New obstacles popped up. I got through them. I went to India. I got E. coli. I came out as bisexual. I graduated college, moved to a new city. I started cosmetology school. And through that all, the anxiety ebbed and flowed, but stayed mostly beneath the surface.

So now? I don’t know. I’m not okay, honestly. Something new is happening inside me, and I can’t understand it. I dealt with some serious depression over the summer, which is unusual for me, as it tends to stay contained within the “fall and winter seasonal affective” bubble. The panic disorder seems to have stayed away, which is one of the only things I find myself grateful for these days. The world doesn’t seem real lately, and neither do I. I’m going through the standard identity crisis that most people in their early 20s seem to experience, sure. But on top of that, some weird depersonalization/dissociation issues are cropping up. Therapy is happening. It’s rough, trying to stay afloat, stay alive, when you’re not even sure what’s going on anymore. I know all of that is vague, and I wish it could make more sense to me too. Just know that I’m dealing with it. I always do. I just don’t always know what to do anymore.

What does this all mean? In terms of this post, this blog, me, my life? I don’t know. All I know is, I got 15 minutes into watching Julie & Julia and I just got this itch to write. I’ve been cooking a lot lately, too. I’ve noticed that the worse I feel mentally, the more I cling to activities and people that used to make me feel calm and human and happy. This blog, more than anything, steadied my life when everything felt like it was going up in flames. So maybe it’s time to jump back in, ya know? To see a little humor in all the bullshit around me. To tell the world what I’m thinking, how I’m feeling. To share my story again with anyone willing to listen (and some who are very unwilling but are forced to because I’m a witch and I’ve hexed them).

So I’ll try, if you’ll help me. Your job is very simple: to show up and to read. I don’t even know how many of you are still out there, how many are new to my blog today, how many of you aren’t spam robots trolling through wordpress………

But yeah. I’ll try. No guarantees I’ll be funny, because half the time I just want to cry. But I’ll be here, writing into the abyss, for as long as you’ll have me.

 

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Frisbee Waffles and Other Things I Can Make


Act 1:

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last week. I know I’m good at doing dishes (and I’m almost constantly doing them, to be honest…the minute they’re clean, I eat again and have to clean them again), dusting (I’ve only dusted under pressure from my mom, never voluntarily, so this is new for everyone involved), and being generally tidy (who knew?). So I’m accidentally turning into an adult who actually functions properly in real life.

I’ve also learned that I make terrible waffles that probably could double as really sturdy frisbees, I’m stingy about heat (I never turn my heater on unless I’m actually shivering), and when I get bored I paint my nails (badly).

But. I can make an excellent salad dressing (balsamic vinegar, olive oil, a touch of honey, squeeze of lime, squirt of sriracha, salt, pepper. You’re welcome), and I’m kind of the best stir-fryer east of…um…probably east of like one block over…I don’t know, really, actually my stir fries aren’t that amazing. But they’re good. They’re not bad. They’re somewhere between mediocre and excellent. (I’m kidding, they’re totally bomb. That’s a synonym for awesome.)

Intermission:

My upstairs neighbors have a dog and it’s howling. I’m pretty sure it’s a Chihuahua or something though, because the howl is rather high pitched.

Act 2:

As you’ve probably gathered, I no longer live in my sorority house. Actually, I’m no longer a member of the sorority at all. I dropped between semesters, and it feels good. I don’t think it was right for me to be in a sorority anymore, not that there was actually anything inherently bad about Greek life or sororities in general or my sorority specifically. I loved my time there, and it really did help me see what I want in life. Unfortunately, in order to go for those goals, I couldn’t dedicate my time to the house. It was tough, but the decision was made after a lot of thought, and there were definitely a few tears shed (of sadness and stress, mostly).

So to those of you who are…were…my sorority sisters and are reading this and weren’t informed by me in person…I’m sorry you’re reading it on my blog. Technology makes everything different, huh? It would’ve been weird to make a huge announcement or something, since to me this changes very little about our relationships as friends. I promise I still love you. And we can still hang out! And cook together. Just please don’t ask for waffles.

xo

Porches Are For Brownie


I’m all for smiling
but that woman is baring her teeth at me.
Why, Giada? Why? They…sparkle…
And Ina, I know that France
with its shops and street corners, berets and baguettes
is enchanting
but why must you tease me like that?
Hey, you. Sandra Lee
What’s in a name? You might as well be called
Sandra Dee, with your spiffy cooking ideas and
adorable cocktails.
Why does your outfit match your kitchen?
And who told you to put moss on that table?
As a “centerpiece”– more like
centipedes are gonna crawl outta that moss.
Paula! I love you, boo!
Needs more butter.
Rachael Ray, with your EVOO, you do realize that
fine dining establishments have
adopted that
on
their
menus
right?
Bobby Flay, I don’t wanna barbecue with you.
And Masaharu Morimoto, you iron chef you,
that’s some scary seafood, bro.
But I watch you all
and love you all
if only to pass beautiful afternoons
on the porch
playing cards with my grandmother
with sizzling steaks and — “I wish you could smell this”
existing quietly in the background.
Porches are for Brownie, my grandmother.
Porches and The Food Network.

 

So concludes part three of my childhood poetry series. Cheers, and all my love to my grandma, Brownie, whose delightful ring of “Cappy, darling!” brightens my day every time I call. xoxox.

The Passion of the Food


The lemon meringue pie I made in celebration of my very first "Freshly Pressed" post.

 

   We eat every day. We have to or we die, but you all are smart enough to know that. We eat to fill, sure, but we also eat to love.
Maybe it’s more appropriate to say we eat while we love.
   Food is the most important art form. Of course music is important, but it’s not essential to the human body. As much as I hate to admit it, neither is literature. But food, food is essential to life. Food varies between cultures, speaking to us of the ancient customs of its creators; sometimes Greek cuisine spills over into Italian, sometimes into Middle Eastern.
   Food is like love. No matter how many times we eat something we don’t like, we’ll never just stop eating. Because somewhere out there, we know something so utterly satisfying is just waiting for us. Once we find it, we want it at every meal until we die. And no matter how many times we say food is just there for nourishment, we know we’re only lying to ourselves. Food is there, just like love, to make us whole.
   We fall in love over food. We take someone out, or stay in with them, light candles, and look at them across a table filled with food. We tell them we love them over that plate of pasta, ask them to marry us after finishing our strawberry shortcake, feed each other the biggest, most beautiful cake we can find at our wedding, and hope to wake up to the smell of bacon and eggs cooking in our kitchen, our kitchen, on a Saturday morning. We crave it when we’re carrying the baby that we created out of love, we feed that baby with food from our bodies, we teach the baby, once it’s not much of a baby anymore, how to cook food. That baby, all grown up, takes its love out to eat and proposes to her after shortcake too.
   Food is love. Food creates love. Food is the never ending cycle of absolute joy and contentment.
   Food is why we live, why we laugh, and how we love.

Scones: The Ultimate Gift of the Gods


I am pretty much obsessed with scones. I make them all the time and therefore eat them all the time and love them long tiiime.

They are flaky. They are pastries. They are warm when you get them right out of the oven. They are surprisingly tasty with cherry preserves. I had some with a chai tea latte this morning. They make me feel cultured.

I don’t know who invented the scone, but they are my hero. Lucky them!
Actually, lucky them they are dead, because if they were alive I would stalk them and make them tell me stories about how they invented the scone and then I would leap on them and make them be my friend forever.
It’d be pretty scary. But it’d be awesome, too.

So for your eating pleasure, I will now post my favorite scone recipe (which I have, inexplicably, memorized).

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Ingredients:
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened but not melted
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp lemon or orange zest

Mix the dry ingredients and zest together in a large bowl.
Cut the butter into small pieces and mix it into the dry ingredients with your hands (my preferred method) or with a fork, until it resembles coarse cornmeal.
Add the cream and mix with fork until just moistened. Don’t overwork the dough.

Remove 1/2 the dough from the bowl and knead on a flat surface just 5 or 6 times. Press flat on surface until it’s a circle about 6 inches in diameter and about 1 inch thick. Cut into 6 wedges. Do the same with the other half of the dough.
If you prefer, you can make them into round biscuit-like shapes. I’ve never done this, but it looks pretty snazzy.
Place on greased cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan and bake 10 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the scones are golden.
Remove to a cooling rack for a few minutes.

Then eat them and love them because they are delicious.

Once again, this recipe is courtesy of Julia Child (or rather, the cookbook Baking with Julia), so bon appetit!

To avoid cramping, eat, then pray for at least 20 minutes, THEN love. – Mo Rocca.

Lentil Chili Soup


I cannot say that this post will make you laugh, but it will (hopefully) make your tummy grumble.

My family has made lentil soup for a while, ever since my sister’s second visit to Spain two years ago. But it wasn’t until I visited Bellingham’s Avenue Bread that I discovered that lentils could also be used in chili.
It doesn’t seem like that novel a concept, to be honest, but I’d never thought of it before. So when I returned home, I looked up about ten recipes on the internet, changed them a bunch and…voila! Lentil chili.

Ingredients: (keep in mind that the veggies don’t need to be chopped perfectly – a rough chop will add to the texture)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium white/yellow onions, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 bell peppers, diced
6 large cloves garlic, minced/chopped/crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
2-3 tbsp chili powder (I find that dark chili powder works really well, but regular is totally fine)
5 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp cornstarch
28 oz can diced tomatoes, squished (use the extra juice, too)
16 oz lentils

1. Heat oil in a large pot. You could totally use a dutch oven too, but I haven’t tried it yet.
2. Add onions and carrots. Cook for 5-10 minutes until soft.
3. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, and bell pepper. Cook 5 more minutes.
4. While that’s cooking, heat vegetable broth in a separate small pot until boiling.
5. Remove one cup vegetable broth into a bowl and mix the corn starch into it with a whisk. This step is important, as it allows the cornstarch to mix with the broth without clumping. Add the mixture, along with the rest of the broth, to the large pot of veggies.
6. Add the tomatoes and lentils.
7. Lower heat and simmer for 40-45 minutes or until lentils are tender. If you need to let them simmer longer (because the rest of dinner isn’t ready, someone isn’t home, whatever) just add a little more vegetable broth or tomato juice so it doesn’t get too thick. This stuff can turn into oatmeal real quick!

In the words of Julia Child (and a whole bunch of French people), Bon Appetit!
Feel free to give feedback – it’s much appreciated.

Why I Owe My Happiness to (The Essence of) Julia Child


1. She was a very tall woman (well over 6 foot), but she wasn’t afraid to marry a short man. I mean, technically you shouldn’t be afraid to marry a short person in the first place, but society sets these standards that the woman is supposed to be small and frail and the man should be bigger and strong. And being 5’10” (bordering on 5’11” ) myself, I find that I worry about dating a guy who is smaller than me. I don’t even think it has to do with my personal preferences – I worry about what other people would say. But reading about Julia, reading her book My Life in France, and watching Julie & Julia has made me respect…no, understand…that love can happen even when your husband/boyfriend/whatever isn’t superman, isn’t the Old Spice man, isn’t Fabio. Because (sap alert!) love is inside and what’s on the outside is just extra. I feel like I should have learned this sooner (like the million times I was told about it in elementary school and in all the sappy movies I’ve ever watched) but it just didn’t make sense until I saw it in real life.

2. She cooked.
Well. She cooked well. With Julia, there was no baked Alaska in a flower pot…she cooked real food. Food that probably made people cry because it was so good. And every time I think about good cooking, I think about her.
She started cooking because her husband was at work and she wanted something to do, something she loved. So Julia fought to go to cooking school and…the rest is history. She worked for years and years and YEARS to write a cookbook of French food for American cooks. She was revolutionary. She was wonderful.

3. Julia Child was a happy woman.
Lots of people are happy. I am happy. Mr. Rogers is happy (I love him too, but I’ll save an explosion of Mr.-Rogers-love for another blog). But Julia Child was happy in a way that makes you want to know her. Sometimes, I feel like I already do. And though she passed when I was like 10, she’s alive because she made so many other people feel good. Good at cooking, good about themselves, good because the food tasted so good. And for that I say, bon appetit!

4. Her best friend was her pen pal.
Its a super long, complicated, and slightly strange story, but my best friend and I have only met once (worry not, we have a real, live, mutual friend – I didn’t meet this person on a dating site or something). We communicated through email, telephone, and letters for two years until June when she finally came to visit me.
And that’s how it was with Julia and her best friend Avis DeVoto (yes, Bernard DeVoto’s wife). They had corresponded for years through letter/telegram/what have you. I like that Julia’s life parallels mine. It makes me feel content, like I’ve just had a lovely, warm bowl of soup.

5. She is the reason I blog.
Well, indirectly, that is. You see, Julia Child wrote a cookbook. Julie Powell wrote a blog about cooking her way through Julia Child’s cookbook. Her blog got so popular that she wrote a book about the experience. Her book became a movie. I watched the movie and simultaneously fell in love with Julia Child and blogging. 
This blog makes me so happy. I finally figured out what I like to write about, and I love that people I don’t know can read my writing and laugh or think or just…be. I love that people enjoy what I write. It gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment. So thank you, I am eternally greatful and indebted to all of you.

P.S. Apparently, she and her husband Paul had a fantastic sex life. I guess you shouldn’t judge someone by the way she looks after all! Cheers!

Classy Cooking


Meryl Streep elegantly portrays Julia Child

There’s always been something so glamorous about cooking. There need not be a stiletto in your closet if you have the capability to feed your lover delicious food. I don’t mean it in the sense of “Woman, make me a sandwich!” I mean that people fall in love around food probably more than anything else. Think of how many dinners we share with people on dates. We get dressed up, cook someone a meal/go to a fancy restaurant, and eat wonderful food with someone we hope to find a connection with.

Except when it all goes horribly wrong. Tonight, I made Julia Child’s nectarine chiffon upside down cake. It took me an hour from start to finish (not including the immense cleanup process) and I was tremendously excited. I took it out of the oven with the intention of letting it cool. I allowed myself to take a tiny bite from the corner…and realized that it tasted of bad vegetable oil. So I went to the cupboard and smelled the bottle. How could I not have noticed that it smelled like fish before I added it to the batter? I felt like Julie Powell in the film Julie & Julia…like I needed to crouch in the corner of the kitchen and have a “meltdown.” All the glamour was gone. Plus I was having cramps.

But tomorrow, the glamour of cooking will be back and I’ll be as happy as ever trying to bake something else. And tonight, I realized the wonder of the hot fudge sundae.