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The usual

I have this funny thing about recipes. When I find one that I like - for, oh, let’s say, lentil soup - I have a hard time trying others in the same genre. I will, of course, but in most cases, I would be just as happy to rest on my laurels and sit there, sipping that same lentil soup, until the end of time. This is not good behavior, I know, for someone who supposedly cares about cooking. I’m supposed to be some sort of happy mad scientist, a real free spirit, some sort of kitchen sprite with a spoon and a stand mixer and a relentless sense of curiosity. Sometimes I am. But most of the time, I’m not. I can’t help it. I’m loyal, and sentimental, and when something clicks with me, I want to keep it around. That goes not only for recipes, but also for beauty products, and men.

But about the recipes: take, for instance, my sister’s Scottish scones. I’ve written about them here before - twice, actually. In the whole wide, nubbly world of scones, they’re my very favorite. They’re the sort of thing that you’d eat, I imagine, before setting out for a brisk, rousing hike in the Scottish Highlands. Solid, tidy things, they have a dense, tight-woven crumb that tears apart into fat, flaky layers. They bear a close resemblance to a biscuit, but more delicate and dainty, with a flavor that’s more flour and less fat. Scones seem to run a spectrum these days: at one end sits the fluffy, muffinesque camp, and at the other, the sturdy, Old World, biscuit-like type. My sister’s rest delectably among the latter, which is just where I want them. Forever.

However, I do have a rather fat collection of cookbooks, not to mention an ever-growing accordion file of recipe clippings, and they demand my attention every now and then. They’re very annoying that way. You wouldn’t believe how pushy they are. They throw themselves at me. They lie next to my bed like flat, lazy dogs. They stretch and yawn all over my lap. And sometimes, like yesterday, they tell me about scone recipes that aren’t my sister’s. The nerve. I swear.

What’s worse is that I listened, and liked it.

This recipe isn’t replacing my sister’s quite yet, but that’s only because I’m very, very stubborn. If my sister’s scones are Scotland, these are Seattle - not only because they were developed nearby, at Macrina Bakery, but also because they’re decidedly New World, made for a city with a Space Needle. These craggy, homespun beauties have a thin, golden crust and a rich, cakey crumb that’s a little like a muffin, but with more moxie. A twist on the classic cream scone, they’re made without eggs or butter, getting their body, richness, and flavor from a generous dose of heavy cream instead. But what sets them apart from the standard cream scone is a pair of electric beaters. This recipe calls for cream that’s been whipped to the smallest of soft peaks, yielding a dough that feels wonderfully light and airy, like a cool, downy pillow. The dough rises and puffs as it bakes, making for an open, tender crumb and, I have to say, a totally bang-up scone.

And if you’re not yet sold, I have three more words for you: currants and fennel seeds. They’re in there too. It’s an unusual pairing, I know, but trust me: the winey, wintry currant has never had such a sweet, fresh-faced companion as the fennel seed. And with all that cream, and that lovely crumb? These scones feel like winter and spring baked together in a convenient, hand-held shape – one that may well become the usual around here.

Cream Scones with Currants and Fennel Seeds
Adapted from Leslie Mackie’s Macrina Bakery and Café Cookbook

I don’t know about you, but when I think of fennel seeds, my mind doesn’t naturally leap to scones – nor, for that matter, to anything remotely of the sweet genre. This recipe, however, has me singing a different tune. Local baker Leslie Mackie is really onto something.

Be sure to use good, fragrant fennel seeds for this – not that bottle of stale ones (ahem) that’s been sitting at the back of the spice drawer for years. I used some wild fennel seeds sent to me last fall by a certain cookiecrumb, and they were delicious.

1 cup dried currants
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 ½ cups heavy cream, plus 1-2 Tbsp. for glazing

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Place the currants in a small bowl, and cover them with warm water. Set them aside to plump for ten minutes; then drain.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the fennel seeds over medium heat for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Pour the seeds into a small dish – if you leave them in the pan, they could burn – and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until thoroughly blended. Add the drained currants and fennel seeds, and stir to incorporate.

Pour 2 ½ cups of the cream into a medium bowl, and beat just until it begins to hold small, soft peaks. It should not be stiff. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold half of the whipped cream into the dry ingredients, and then fold in the second half. When the dry ingredients are absorbed, turn the shaggy dough out onto a floured surface. Coat your hands well with flour, and gently work the dough – pressing and massaging and gathering, but not really kneading – into a rough ball. Do not overwork it: you want it to just come together. Press the dough into a large, thick round, and cut it in half. Form the halves into two smaller rounds, each about 1 inch thick – they need not be pretty, nor particularly even – and cut them into 6 triangles each. Gently transfer the scones onto the prepared baking sheets, and brush their tops with cream.

Bake the scones for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until pale golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: These scones - and all scones, for that matter - freeze beautifully in an airtight container or bag. Allow them to thaw to room temperature before reheating in a low oven.

Yield: 12 scones


Brown bag it

One day a few weeks ago, entirely without prompting, Brandon packed me a lunch for work. Just like that. I opened the fridge, and there it was: a Tupperware containing one of his trademark concoctions, soba noodles with a peanut-citrus sauce, with my name on it.

“Oh yeah,” he said nonchalantly, “I thought you might like some for your lunch tomorrow.”

With no explanation, just like that, he packed my lunch. I may be crazy, but it made me feel a little faint. I guess the conventional way to woo a woman would involve roses, or chocolates in a frilly box, or fancy dinners set to a soundtrack of Marvin Gaye. But personally, I think “make her a brown-bag lunch” should be added to the list, right up there with love poems, candlelight, and bearskin rugs. Oh baby.

It’s not as though he never does nice things for me, because he does plenty. For example, he has single-handedly grown my collection of vintage Pyrex dishes from two pieces to sixteen in the span of only six months. [Our local Goodwill loves him.] He regularly fixes our dinner, keeps me plied with pickles, and helps me eat the sweets that I feel strangely compelled to bake each week. [The waistband of my pants loves him too.] But let me tell you, there’s nothing quite so fine as this new brown-bag-lunch business of his. Not so long ago, I used to stand in front of the fridge at a few minutes to midnight, alone, cursing, trying to cobble or cram together something for lunch the next day. Now I feel so loved. As long as he doesn’t start cutting shapes out of my sandwiches with cookie cutters or sending me off with Fruit Roll-Ups, I am so marrying this man next July.

Anyway, since that soba noodle excitement a few weeks ago, Brandon has shared with me another of his favorite standby lunch items, and today I want to share it with you too. It’s a dead-simple chickpea salad, a little something he started making when he was a teenager in a program called “Jazz for Teens” – he’s a saxophonist – and needed a midday meal that he could tote along to his sessions. Back then, he was deep in what I like to call The Garlic Period – those bygone days when he would mix minced raw garlic with salt and spread it on buttered toast – so the original incarnation of this salad was brimming with the stuff. But in the intervening years, he has tweaked and honed his formula, deciding, even, that with a good olive oil and a grating of good cheese, it didn’t need garlic at all. What he’s been feeding me lately is a lovely, mellow salad that I’d be happy to eat every week from here on out. In fact, I might go so far as to say that it’s the best five-minute, five-ingredient meal I know.

It starts with a can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed and dumped into a bowl. Into the mix goes a squirt of fresh lemon juice, a slip of grassy olive oil, a pinch of salt, and some Parmigiano Reggiano. Stirred together and chilled, it tastes like the sum of its parts – only about 200% percent better. The lemon brightens the légumes, lifting their earthy flavor to something lighter and sweeter, while the olive oil makes them taste richer and more savory, as though they’d been cooked in stock. And the parmesan plays deliciously, as it loves to do, with both the lemon and the oil, binding the whole bowl together with its creamy, resonant charm. All told, it’s tasty enough to make my colleagues chirp jealously, and to make me chase every last chickpea from the container – and then scrape up the nubs and dribbles with a hunk of bread.

It’s such a simple recipe that I’m almost embarrassed to post it here, but because we all need instructions sometimes – especially late at night, when facing a nearly-empty fridge – I will anyway. You might consider eating these chickpeas atop some plump-leafed baby greens, or nestled alongside nearly any vegetable. I’ve also been known to eat them with some sliced radishes and crusty bread on the side, or, um, sometimes, peanut butter and Wasa crackers. Even when I no longer have a job that requires a brown-bag lunch – a week from Thursday, to be precise; whew! – you can bet, come noon, that I’ll still be sitting down to a bowl of this. Maybe with peanut butter and crackers. Some habits die hard, you know.

Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Parmesan

This little salad only has five ingredients, so make sure that they’re all of good quality. There’s no room for second-rate pantry closet cast-offs here, so don’t even think about it, missie. First of all, be sure to use a good brand of chickpeas. I would never have thought about this sort of thing prior to meeting Brandon, Mr. Chana Masala Man, but he’s got me convinced: the best canned chickpeas are produced by Goya, Bush, and Trader Joe’s. Other brands, such as generic supermarket ones, can be mealy, bland, and / or mushy, rather than firm, fat, and earthy-sweet. Also, get out your best olive oil – one you’d want to eat from a spoon, if you’re into that sort of thing. We like to use a dash of this luscious brand, to which we were introduced by the lovely Tea. It really seals the deal.

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tsp. olive oil
A pinch of salt
¼ cup loosely packed shredded Parmigiano Reggiano

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and stir gently to mix. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve immediately, or chill, covered, until serving.

Note: This salad keeps well in the fridge and is, in my humble opinion, best eaten cold.

Yield: 2 servings


My daily bouchon

You guys are to be commended. It takes a very kind, optimistic crowd to greet the homely old celery root with open arms, and by gosh, you did. You’re clearly well schooled in the old saying, “You can’t judge a celery root by its cover.” You’re great.

So after all that good will and pale green soup, you deserve some dessert, don’t you think? I hope you won’t mind if it’s kind of, um, homely. You’re probably used to that by now.

Back in October, I took a weekend trip to Portland, Oregon, for work. I meant to tell you about it then, but I was knee-deep in my book proposal, and it was pretty much all I could do to keep feeding, bathing, and clothing myself, much less write something adequate to such a lovely, lovely city. I fell hard for Portland. It’s my new favorite. Oh, Portland, from your old brick train station to your free light rail, your river, your bridges, and that pair of shoes (cute and comfortable!) that leapt from your storefront into my suitcase, you got me, hook, line, and sinker. And that was before Pearl Bakery, even.

A reader of this site had told me about Pearl Bakery, but I had no idea just how bewitching it would be. Be-witch-ing. I went there three times in three days, friends. I took extra-long lunch breaks. I made it happen. I hoofed across town in high heels. I almost missed my train. I had to have my daily bouchon.

So named – en français – for their faint resemblance to a champagne cork, these little chocolate cakes could have easily kept me in Portland indefinitely, if I hadn’t had that pesky return ticket. Dense and delicate, with a fine, tight crumb, they were unusual in nearly every way – and unusually good. Tinted a deep, reddish brown from plenty of dark chocolate, they sat somewhere between brownie, scone, and day-old chocolate cake, and were studded throughout with semisweet chips. Some could call their texture a tad dry, I guess, but once on the tongue, a mouthful melted almost instantly – at which point, of course, I started pawing for more. This could have been a big problem back in Seattle, as you can imagine, had I not discovered that the recipe for bouchons was waiting on my cookbook shelf.

I’m sure I’m not the first to say it, but thank heavens for David Lebovitz. Within the folds of his Great Book of Chocolate lies the recipe for Pearl Bakery’s funny little beauties, as told to him by pastry chef Lee Posey. And, as with the book’s other recipes – I’ve tried a good handful now – this one works. I made just a few tweaks – substituting regular-size Ghirardelli chips for the mini ones indicated, mainly because I can’t find a worthy brand of the latter, and using a mini popover pan instead of a regular muffin tin – but otherwise, David, wow. Thank you.

With a shape not unlike a pert, stocky mushroom and a deliciously craggly, cracked top, these humble-looking cakelets are chocolate to the core – which is how, I think, we all should strive to be. They’re tailor-made for a chilly afternoon with a girlfriend, or boyfriend, and a good, strong cup of coffee. I can also tell you that they fit quite nicely into a Sunday evening with a couch, a DVD, a bottle of tawny port, my man, and my mother, who was in town for another installment of wedding planning. [Rehearsal dinner site: check. Rehearsal dinner menu: check. Wedding menu: check. Tables, chairs, tents rented: check. Exhausted and cold and tanked on a single glass of port: check!] I am also happy to report, thanks to an ingenious accident on the part of my mother, that bouchons are stunningly good when served with a dusting of fleur de sel. I didn’t think they could get any better, but they did. And then we all had seconds. They’re real keepers, right up there with celery root.

P.S. I hardly know what to say. For the second year in row, I am humbled to be among the winners in Wellfed.net’s 2006 Food Blog Awards. Thank you for thinking of me and my Orangette. Really. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Bouchons au chocolat
Adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Great Book of Chocolate, and Pearl Bakery

David’s method for making these lovelies calls for them to be baked in a standard-size (½-cup capacity) muffin tin. I have made them that way with very good results, but on my most recent go, I chose to try them instead in my new mini popover pan. [Big ups – man, my slang is wicked today – to my very petite cousin Katie and her man Andrew. You guys did very well in the Christmas gift department.] That way, I guessed, their shape would more closely resemble the ones at Pearl Bakery, which are taller and narrower than a typical muffin – more “cork-like,” if you will. As it turned out, I guessed right. So, friends, if you have a mini popover pan, now’s your chance to use it. But if not, no problem: just use a muffin tin.

Also, for the chocolates, be sure choose good ones – these are chocolate cakes, you know, so don’t skimp.

3 ½ ounces bittersweet chocolate, such as Valrhona Guanaja 70%, chopped
3 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate, such as Scharffen Berger 99%, chopped
1 ¾ cups cake flour
1 ½ Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli

Adjust a rack to the middle position, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 12-well muffin pan or mini popover pan with butter or cooking spray.

In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the bittersweet and unsweetened chocolates together, stirring occasionally. When the chocolates are just melted, remove the bowl from the heat and set it aside.

Sift the flour, cocoa, and salt together into a medium bowl. Set it aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or a mixing bowl), beat the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the melted chocolate until well incorporated. Using a rubber spatula or spoon, stir and fold in the dry ingredients in three additions. Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine. The batter will be quite thick.

Divide the batter between the wells of the muffin tin or popover pan. Bake the cakes for 15-18 minutes, or until they still feel quite soft in their centers when pressed lightly with your index finger. Do not overbake them, or they will be dry.

Remove the pan from the oven, and allow to cool on a rack for about 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cakes from the pan and cool completely before eating or storing. (I find that they taste best when they’ve been allowed to rest for a couple of hours. The chocolate flavor needs time to settle and ripen a bit. Oddly enough, they really don’t taste all that great when they’re warm.)

Note: The bouchons are best eaten on the day they’re made, but they’re still very good the next day. Store them at room temperature in an airtight container. I also froze a few and let them defrost at room temperature, and they were quite tasty.

Yield: 12 cakes


A bad case

For many people, the contents of my grocery basket could be kind of scary. The other day at the market, for instance, I felt as though I owed the cashier an apology when I sent a bulb of fennel, three celery roots, some kale, and a bag of endive down her conveyor belt. The poor lady hardly knew what to make of them. She sniffed a little, nudged them onto the scale, and looked at me pleadingly. It was a rough moment for both of us. I don’t know. Sometimes I think I should start an orphanage for unloved vegetables. My fridge is already halfway there, and anyway, I seem to be destined for it. It just makes me so sad to watch celery roots go spongy on the display shelf, and to see kale swept into the trash can. Heck, if Brandon hadn’t come along to distract me, I probably would have become a happier version of Miss Hannigan, an old spinster surrounded by orphan turnips and rutabagas, spending my days in the service of unwanted roots and greens. They need me. And I’m happy to help – you know, minus the spinster part.

I’ve always been a sucker for the underdog. There were a lot of mean girls in my middle school, so I relate to anything scorned, gawky, or with bad skin. Come winter, that includes a significant part of the produce section. If you’ve been hanging around here for any length of time, you know well how I feel about Brussels sprouts, say, and cabbage, and cauliflower and fennel – things funky or stinky or strong-tasting, things often disliked. I love them. Give me your poor, your tired, your lumpy and ugly and stubborn! I will give them a home. (Even if it is in my stomach, which is admittedly sort of dark and wet.) This week, I’m hosting a few celery roots. First, I tucked them into a warm pot on the stove, then I gave them a ride in the blender, and now they’re resting contentedly in the well of a soup spoon. They’re getting lots of love around here.

Contrary to what its name might imply, celery root is not the root of common celery, but rather its cousin. Also called celeriac – a word that would make a great insult, I think – celery root suffers from what my mother might call “a bad case of the uglies.” It’s dirty and gnarly and bumpy, with hairy little roots along its base. Picture a turnip with a terrible skin disease, and you’re pretty close. But underneath all that lies a lovely, lovely surprise – a flavor similar to celery, but a little milder, rounder, nutty. It’s smooth and dense, a bit like a firm potato, and can be eaten both raw and cooked. The French grate it, toss it with a mayonnaise dressing, and call it céleri rémoulade. Lately, in my house, we’ve been calling it soup.

I’ve made this recipe twice in less than five days, and friends, I can tell you, it’s a keeper. Inspired by a recipe in the New York Times, it’s the perfect antidote to all those early-January afflictions – holiday excess, anemia of the wallet, buffet-table burn-out – and on a particularly sleepy Sunday at home, you could sip it from a mug like cocoa. It’s silky, velveteen even, and best of all, it’s simple as can be: just aromatics, celery root, and broth, cooked and zizzed and finished with a bit of milk and a smidgen of olive oil. I’ve been eating it for lunches at work, but it would make a fancy first course for dinner too, or even a full supper in itself, with a hunk of bread and a few slices of cheese. And as my friend Kate so aptly pointed out, it’s totally today’s “it” color – cream-meets-flax, if you will. For an ugly old thing, celery root cleans up awfully well. If you’ve got any unloved specimens, please send them my way. Or, you know, see for yourself.

Purée of Celery Root Soup
Inspired by The New York Times, December 20, 2006

Don’t let the tough looks of celery root fool you: it’s actually quite easy to work with. First, choose a root that’s roughly baseball-size and that feels firm and hard – never spongy – and heavy for its size. To prepare it, plunk it in the sink and attack it with your vegetable peeler. The smoother, non-rooty end is easy to peel with a few quick, decisive strokes, and then the root end can be trimmed with a sharp knife. You may lose more of the bulb than you might expect – these little buggers can be craggy, calling for some serious trimming. But once the celery root is ready, you’re most of the way there. Before you begin, a few other notes:

- This recipe makes a fairly small batch, so consider doubling it. You won’t be sorry.

- The first time I made this, I puréed it in a food processor, and it never really emulsified properly. I have since found that a blender works much, much better. The starchy quality of celery root seems to demand it. So if you’ve got a blender, use it. [But not an immersion blender – like the food processor, it’s better saved for softer, more yielding things.]

- Lastly, the delicate flavor of this soup begs for a clean, mild broth – and preferably one that’s homemade. If you’ve made some good chicken broth lately, by all means, use that. Or, if not, do as I did this past weekend and make a super-quick, super-easy vegetable version. It takes only an hour and change, and it requires almost no attention. Plus, its gentle onion and leek flavors are lovely in the soup.

2 ½ Tbs olive oil, divided
1 small leek, white part only, coarsely chopped
½ medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 lb. peeled, chopped celery root (from about 3 baseball-size bulbs)
3 cups mild chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade (see below)
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
4-5 Tbs skim milk
Chopped chervil, for serving (optional)

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm 2 Tbs olive oil. Add the leek, onion, celery, and garlic, and sauté until softened but not browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the celery root, broth, and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and simmer until the celery root is very tender. It should break apart easily when poked with a fork; on my stove, this takes about 35-45 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat.

Using a blender and working in small batches – when working with hot liquids, never fill the blender more than 1/3 full! - purée the soup until very smooth. Add the remaining ½ Tbs oil and the milk, and stir to incorporate. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary. Reheat gently until just steaming.

Yield: 4 dainty servings


Basic Vegetable Broth

1 ½ Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely sliced
1 small leek, white part only, coarsely sliced
½ stalk celery, coarsely sliced
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely sliced
1 large clove garlic, peeled and smashed
8 cups cold water
1 Turkish bay leaf

In a large saucepan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, leek, celery, carrot, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the water and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the vegetables are very soft, about 1 hour. Strain the broth through a sieve into a clean bowl or heatproof container, pressing down on the vegetables to extract all their juices. Let cool, uncovered. Refrigerate in a sealed container for up to a week, or freeze for longer keeping.

Yield: About 6 cups, give or take a little


Really happy, new

Gooood-ness! You guys are just too much. I’m honored and humbled and totally, totally awed by your kindness. I’m going to try for a book deal every week, if it means you’ll continue to say such lovely things. Thank you, thank you. I just can’t say it enough.

Onward we go, friends, and upward.


Happy, new

Friends, you have been very, very good to me. For the past couple of years, you’ve been stopping by to see me on a regular basis, and you’ve said some pretty nice things about the contents of my kitchen and my dinner plate. Last spring, when Brandon asked me to marry him, you gave a whoop and a cheer that kept me giddy for at least a week, easy. And when, a few months ago, I started posting a little less frequently, you didn’t let slip the slightest complaint: you just kept on coming, and cheering, and saying nice things. I owe you one – that’s for sure. It’s been busy back here, behind the scenes – or the computer screen, as it were. But it’s been the best kind of busyness imaginable, the sort of busyness that brings lots of Champagne and jumping up and down, the sort of busyness that comes with getting a book deal. I promised you some big news for the New Year, and I mean to deliver.

When I started this site, I wanted just two things: a place to write about food, and a few readers to keep me accountable. I hardly even knew what a blog was, people. A friend had to explain it to me, for Pete’s sake. But somewhere along the line, after a year or so, I found that I sort of liked this blogging thing, and you know, I thought, it might be nice, maybe, to sit around and write all the time. So an idea was hatched, and – to make a long story short - many months, one book proposal, one agent, one editor, a lot of “Holy crap!”s, and one contract later, here I am. [It wasn’t quite that easy, of course, but as some say of childbirth, so I say of book proposals: you forget the pain as soon as it’s over.] I couldn’t be happier to announce today that I am writing a cookbook, a narrative cookbook crammed full of new, original recipes and stories. The manuscript is due on December 15, 2007, and will be published by Simon & Schuster. And as of the end of this month, I will be – [small, thrilling gasp of terror] – leaving my job to write it. As it turns out, 2007 will not only be the year that Brandon and I are married, but also be the year that I become a full-time writer. I know I’ve said it before, and about other things, but hooo boy. I mean it.

This announcement would be sorely lacking without an enormous, sung-from-the-rooftops “Thank you!” to a dear friend known to many as the Gluten-Free Girl. Shauna, girlfriend, good lord, I’m so happy to have you in my life. Thank you for everything, and for you.

I also owe a big one to Brandon, the best first reader a writer could ever want. He inspires me, pushes me, and keeps me true, and one night during the long slog of the book proposal, when I burst into big, loud, sloppy tears at the dinner table, he gave me a firm back rub and took me out for a fancy dessert. He knows just what to do.

My lucky stars have been very good to me this year, and so have you, friends. I wouldn’t be writing this post right now – much less an entire book – if you weren’t here to read it. Thank you, thank you, thank you for that. I’m so happy to share it all with you.

Happy New Year, everyone.