We are in full blown recovery mode here. At the end of January, my my perfectly healthy 15 year old son casually sauntered into what we considered to be a precautionary MRI scan. It revealed a sizeable brain tumour and just like that life as we knew it stopped in its tracks. 60 hours and several more scans later, William was operated on at Great Ormond Street hospital by an awe inspiring and outstanding team who managed to completely remove the tumour.
It was nothing short of a miracle that William walked out of hospital 5 days later. He returned home to his brothers with a beaming smile and the mammoth task of recovering from 6 hours of brain surgery. He is still slowly healing, re-learning subtle movements and coordination and patiently waiting for his brain to settle into the less pressurised space.
During these unprecedented circumstances during these unprecedented times, my go-to crutch of cooking my way out of a crisis is not working. In a nutshell, I’ve lost my mojo and no amount of cookbook page turning is bringing it back.
Leafing through the cookbook library (housed along an entire wall of the kitchen), is the activity that precedes and thus inspires the cooking-to-make-everything-better session. Maybe it’s the result of this year of covid, or just the trauma of the past couple of months, but even picking up an old favourite or a new member of the book collection doesn’t float my boat or get my creative juices flowing.
Cue my cousin-by-marriage-but-more-like-my-sister Lea Geller, whose distraction tactic during those dark early days home from hospital was to send me an advanced copy of her new book (out NOW). Reading is a pastime that was lost (alongside my concentration and the prospect of ever sleeping soundly again) with the birth of my last son. In fact, I think I have only managed to finish one other book since her last novel…….
Despite my protest, her plan worked. Lea’s new book The Truth and Other Hidden Things instantly drew me in with her quick whit and spot on depictions of characters we can all recognise. Devouring the pages, I felt her by my side making me laugh through these hardest of weeks. But most importantly, delving deep into this novel, set in the Hudson Valley, I was transported back to my University days, my first ever (student) kitchen and my truest early forays into eating and cooking my way.
This brilliantly funny novel (and not one of my treasured cookbooks) was the medicine I needed to whet my baking appetite. The protagonist, Bells, always has some kind of All American baked treat on the go and loves a good coffee cake. As do I. So I made one in her honour and as a tribute of thanks for her character inspiring me back into the kitchen. And last week saw my return to the farmers market on Sunday morning to explore and procure my favourites of the early spring produce. Bells, this is the coffee cake that I think you might have on hand at all times for anyone who drops by for a visit.
So, here’s where you’ll find me, coffee and cake in hand, taking things one day at a time, cooking one meal at a time, one season at a time.