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20 November 2008

is this your first gluten-free Thanksgiving?

chocolate cupcakes with coffee ganache

The other day, the Chef and I were standing in the baking section of the PCC in Issaquah. I was about to teach a holiday baking class, and I needed lots of little bags of gluten-free flours. The Chef held Little Bean -- the two of them had tagged along for the afternoon.

As we talked, I noticed a young woman standing on the other side of the aisle, chewing on the side of her mouth, standing still. She picked up a box of baking powder, studied it, and put it down. And then she picked it back up again, her eyes wide with fear. I glanced over at her cart. Two gluten-free bread mixes, a box of chocolate cake mix, a few vegetables, and some bags of various flours.

I knew it right away. A newbie.

Her face was a scrim of frozen choices. She studied every box, but she didn't look as though she knew what she was seeing. There might have been tears in her eyes.

I leaned toward her, gently. "New to gluten-free?" I asked her.

She laughed, but not with joy. "That obvious?"

I remember my first foray into the grocery store after realizing I had to eat gluten-free. Every box of food required reading. I lingered in every aisle. After three hours, I left with a cart three-quarters filled and more questions. It felt as though every shopping trip would last that long.

I rarely think about it anymore. Within a few months, shopping for food became a joy again, instead of a harrowing thrashing through rocks and cold water. It has been a long time since I have felt afraid.

But I know the look. I gave her a few tips. So did the Chef. We wished her well and walked away.

However, I have been thinking about her ever since.

Next week is Thanksgiving. No other holiday is so focused on food in this country, and such glutenous food at that. Starches, breads, stuffings, and sauces — we believe that it just won't feel like the third Thursday in November unless we're eating gluten.

If this is your first Thanksgiving gluten-free, we'd like to make you feel better. It's much easier than you might fear.

Here are a few hints the Chef and I would like to share.

Focus on the foods you can eat.

Ideally, you would cook the meal yourself. That way, you can be in control of all the cooking surfaces and cross-contamination issues. But you might be feeling overwhelmed. Cooking the meal might feel more daunting than picking food you can eat from the platters on the table. Fair enough.

Next best? Your family understands all this and advocates for you. They want you well. They have figured out how to make every family favorite gluten-free, and good. (Check out my recent round-up of recipes for a gluten-free Thanksgiving to nudge them in that direction.) Or they have decided that feeding you and making you feel included is more important than the traditional dishes you have eaten for 30 years. Maybe you could all bring your absolute favorite food in the world. Wake up from the sleepiness that has brought Aunt Edna's green cabbage jello salad to the table, even though no one eats it. Open your eyes, together, and simply eat well.

If none of these options is available? Find the gluten-free food on the table for which you feel grateful. Scoop up the cranberry compote with orange zest. Pop green olives onto every finger and eat them off, one by one. Compliment your mother on the juicy turkey. Say a little grateful prayer that mashed potatoes don't ever need flour.

Hey, everyone reading. What is the one dish at Thanksgiving that you simply must have, the one that's naturally gluten-free. Make us hungry with your choices.

Read labels.

Perhaps you agree to bring one gluten-free dish to the family feast. You decide you'll make your grandmother's cornbread dressing. Dutifully, you buy everything gluten-free. And cornmeal. That's always gluten-free, right?

You eat only what you know is safe. It's not much. But you feel grateful for that cornbread dressing. Except, just after the meal, you feel bloated and beleaguered with a headache. Soon, you have to lie down on the couch.

What happened? How did you get gluten?

Perhaps you bought Bob's Red Mill cornmeal. The folks at Bob's are so wonderful. How would you live without them and all their little bags of flour? What could be wrong with the cornmeal?

Well, Bob's has two parts of their factories — one where they produce exclusively gluten-free flours and the other one. Corn is gluten-free. However, due to lack of space (I believe), the cornmeal, masa harina, and corn flour are processed in the other factory. The cross-contamination made you sick on Thanksgiving Day.

Remember to remind your family about cross-contamination.

If they are cooking for you, they have to be careful.

Stick the stuffing someplace away from your plate. Use cornstarch or arrowroot powder to make the gravy instead of white enriched flour. Clean off every surface. And make sure they don't use any wooden spoons, wooden rolling pins, or wooden cutting boards.

You could grow sick from the flour left in that cutting board.

Seriously, it's probably easier to make your own dinner.

Go ahead and use mixes. There are some good ones.

In the coming years, you will have cooking and baking gluten-free so fully a part of your body memory that you really won't think about this much. But if this is your first gluten-free Thanksgiving, make it easy on yourself. Use some mixes.

Find a bread mix you like to make the stuffing. I like the Whole Foods sandwich bread. I know that the Chef's mom has bought a few bags of the Bob's Red Mill bread mix for me in Tucson next week, so I can have sandwiches with everyone else.

There are pumpkin pies you can buy online, gluten-free gravy mixes (but please make the gravy from scratch; it's so easy), and scones you can have for Thanksgiving morning with your in-laws. If you just need to fill in the glutenous spaces, and you're feeling overwhelmed, there are solutions.

(For anyone who has been at this for awhile, what mixes would you recommend?)

We're a cook-everything-from-scratch family around here. But on my first Thanksgiving, I used a lot of mixes to help me through. There's nothing wrong with that.

And if you're really feeling deprived, there are fabulous gluten-free cupcakes for the holiday weekend. (see below)

Feel grateful.

I know it's hard, at first. Maybe your family just doesn't get it, and they frown when you turn down the pie. Hold your head up high. You're going to feel better than you ever have before. Within a few weeks, or months, you'll lost most of the cravings for those glutenous treats. You'll raise your hands to the sky and feel energy in your bones, perhaps for the first time.

Your health — both physical and mental — is worth so much more than the dream of a Thanksgiving dinner.

And if we're honest, most of the time it's a disappointment. All those expectations, all those hours of cooking, and then everyone is done eating in 45 minutes. Some of the family repairs to the den to watch football, the rest are sprawled out on the couch in exhaustion. No one wants to eat turkey again for a year.

We can do better. You can lead the way. Eat up. Enjoy your gluten-free dinner. Have a cupcake.

And Happy Thanksgiving. It's really about the giving of thanks, not the pumpkin pie.

Hey, all you readers who have been at this for awhile. If you have any suggestions, I'm sure that all the newbies would be grateful.

Thank you for reading. We would gladly have you all over for Thanksgiving dinner, if we could.

chocolate cupcakes with coffee ganache II


My friend Becky Selengut is incredible. She's a brilliant chef, runs one of our favorite food websites (Seasonal Cornucopia), and is a whiz-bang Scrabble player. Seriously, we're lucky to have her in our lives.

This year, however, Becky faced a real challenge as a chef. She found out she's allergic to garlic. Can you imagine? Well, the reaction was so intense that she sought out the help of a doctor, who put her on an elimination diet, to clean out her body so garlic could come back in. Believe me, Becky's about the last person I would have expected to do this. But for three months, she left over 20 ingredients out of her diet, including gluten, to heal herself.

It wasn't all bad. At least she started writing again because of this. You can read all about it at her new blog, Chef Reinvented. Becky's a hell of a writer. I'm glad to see her back.

The other day, Becky exclaimed to me, "I made the best cupcakes I've ever eaten." What? Where?
"Take the Bob's Red Mill chocolate cake mix, and add applesauce in place of some of the milk. Seriously, I'll never make another cupcake with regular flour again."

That's a recommendation I take seriously. What else could I do but make cupcakes?

The Chef and I had to resist eating three cupcakes each for breakfast this morning, if only to have some left over to take these photographs.

I ate cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery in Manhattan long before I had to go gluten-free. In Seattle, I ate at Cupcake Royale and Macrina, regularly, before April 2005. These cupcakes are better than any of those. Seriously.

Dark as lava, as moist as the ground in Seattle in November, and rich in chocolate goodness, these cupcakes are addictive. Add some coffee ganache frosting, and you're pretty much in heaven.

Who needs to feel deprived this holiday?

1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 package Bob's Red Mill gluten-free chocolate cake mix
2/3 cup applesauce (you can make you own, if you wish)
1/3 cup milk (this works with soy or rice milk too)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (however, we were out, and used apple cider vinegar)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup hot water (110°)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Preparing for baking. Preheat the oven to 350°. Bring all the ingredients to room temperature. Line a muffin tin with muffin liners.

Making the batter. In the bowl of the stand mixer, start beating the butter until it is creamy. Add the cake mix, the applesauce, the milk, the lemon juice, and the eggs. Beat at low speed for 30 seconds, scraping down the sides when necessary. Raise the speed to low-medium and let it run for another moment. Add the hot water and the vanilla extract. Run the mixer for one more minute, scraping down the sides.

Baking the cupcakes. Carefully spoon the cupcake batter into the prepared muffin tins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the cupcakes. (In our oven, the regular-sized cupcakes took 17 minutes, the jumbo ones 20 minutes.) Allow them to cool in the cupcake tin for 10 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack and let them sit for another 20 minutes before eating. (I know. That's hard. But trust me.)

Frosting the cupcakes.

coffee chocolate ganache

1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon strong coffee grounds
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces good dark chocolate

Bring the cream, coffee grounds, and vanilla extract to a boil. Take them off the heat as soon as they boil. Allow them to steep for half an hour. Strain.

Break the chocolate into pieces and put into a bowl. Bring the cream back to a boil. Pour over the chocolate pieces. This will melt the chocolate. Stir until it is smooth.

Lavish the cupcake as fully as you wish with the ganache.

Oh darn, you'll have some ganache left over. You'll have to figure out something to do with that.

Makes 16 cupcakes.

18 November 2008


rainbow chard

Yesterday — that's Monday, for those of you keeping track, the day I normally put up my ingredient post — we were busy. I taught a holiday baking class in the evening, so the morning was filled with spicy ginger cookies, puffy sugar cookies, pumpkin pie, and cinnamon rolls. We started planning and growing excited about our trip to Tucson next week. We tried out a few new recipes. The kitchen needed yet another clean sweep.

Oh, and there is always this cookbook we are writing, with an increasingly closer, terrifying looming deadline of December 31st.


But mostly, we were busy with this.

Yesterday afternoon, Little Bean lay on her papa's chest, with me pumping her legs up and down. We were listening to They Might Be Giants' "Istanbul/Constantinople." All three of us love that song. With all the bouncy boisterousness that song deserves, the Chef and I helped Little Bean to dance. She jumped up and down on her papa's belly, kicked her feet, and swayed her head. Mostly, she grinned, her wide open mouth as big as a watermelon grin. The more we danced her, the more she smiled. About halfway through the song, she joined that gorgeous grin with the rapid-fire increase in babbling she has been doing this week.

Suddenly, she was giggling.

She had her first giggle at seven weeks, in the middle of an EEG. But it was an isolated sound, almost a fake laugh, a burst-out "Ha!" She has given us those numbers of times, but never when we expected it. Yesterday, however, she was clearly in joy, and she let the little squeaky giggles go.

We burst into giggles too. She stopped and stared at us, and started laughing harder.

Somehow, I didn't get the post done, the one I had planned to write about chard.

So I'll leave it to you fine people to fill in the blanks, while I go back to making Little Bean dance.

Chard. Talk amongst yourselves.

13 November 2008

gluten-free sandwich bread

toast from the new gluten-free bread

Sometimes, people ask me, "Why don't you have more recipes for bread on your website?"

It's a funny question. There are so many recipes here. But it's true. I haven't put up a recipe for gluten-free bread in nearly two years.

It's not that I don't like bread. Believe me, before I went gluten-free, I was the bread girl. Rosemary and sea salt on a crusty artisanal loaf got me every time. One look and I was in its grip. I loved well-meaning whole-wheat bread, dark exotic rye, and raisin brioche for French toast. If you live down the street from one of Seattle's best bakeries, you're going to eat bread.

But something strange happened after I stopped eating gluten. I stopped craving bread. I've heard this from many of you too: the gluten cravings abate over time. It's almost as though my body wanted what was bad for me. Grow healthy and the body leans toward better food.

I didn't miss it. No kidding. After awhile, when this site became one of the central forces of my life, I made bread because I felt I had to do it. I was pretty happy with some of it. One of the recipes went into my book as sorghum loaf. At the time, I was proud of that bread.

But so much has happened since. So many dishes cooked, so many cookies and pastries baked, so many lessons from the Chef. And mostly, I got pregnant with Little Bean. Everything changed after she was born. My hair, always baby fine and mostly straight, stretches into incorrigible curls at the first sign of rain now. And after she was born, I started wanting bread again.

Actually, I just wanted toast.

In those first six weeks of the Bean's young life, the Chef and I wanted toast every morning for breakfast. We didn't seem to have the energy to roast potatoes, play with eggs until the yolks were the wonderful jiggly texture we desired, and wait for the bacon to sizzle. We just wanted toast.

We ate a lot of loaves from Whole Foods, made more from mixes from a box, and heated up our frozen slices in the mornings after rising from little sleep. We were burning money on bread.

Little Bean grew up some. She started sleeping through the night. Filled with new energy, the Chef and I had the time to make breakfast again. The eggs returned. (Look at this morning's repast.) But the desire for bread stayed as stubbornly as the Farrah-like fringe in my hair. I started baking again.

I've learned so much about how to live gluten-free in the past three and a half years that making bread felt more natural. Here's some of what I have learned:

-- good gluten-free bread dough? It has the consistency of cake batter. Truly. That's where I fell into problems before, even in the recipe in my book. (I'm not that happy with it now.) I was trying to make loaves like the ones I used to create. So of course they were dry. Think thick cake batter. That's what you want.

-- nearly every gluten-free baked goods book calls for apple cider vinegar in a bread recipe. Dutifully, I put some in mine, since every one else did. But now I know that vinegar retards the growth of yeast. I can't think that it helps, at all. I leave it out now.

-- putting ice cubes in a skillet on the bottom rack of the oven as the bread bakes makes the oven steamy. This helps the rise of the loaf.

-- millet is a gluten-free breadmaker's dream. Without it, all the loaves fall a little flat. With it, there's a wonderful crumb.

-- stiff egg whites, folded into the batter at the last moment, help improve the rise and the lightness of the loaf.

There's more, but I'm just learning. How lovely that I still have so much left to learn.

And that there is bread in the house again.

the latest gluten-free bread

GLUTEN-FREE SANDWICH BREAD, adapted from Carol Fenster's 1000 Gluten-Free Recipes

This bread, adapted from Carol Fenster's millet yeast bread, makes a lovely loaf. It's firm yet filled with air pockets, white without being devoid of nutrition, and addictive. It makes fantastic toast. The scrape and brush of a knife and butter meets bread? I can hear it again.

Now, you should know that, no matter what the recipe, bread making is a fickle business. This loaf you see above, the one I made in a hurry this morning so I would have a photograph for this post? It collapsed. I let the yeast go too long, the egg whites grew too stiff, and the millet flour was gone so I used amaranth instead.

It still tastes fantastic. You can pull it apart with your hands and eat bread again.

Made under the right conditions? This loaf would make such a wonderful loaf for stuffing on Thanksgiving day.

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup milk
2 egg whites
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1 cup millet flour
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon guar gum
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, or butter substitute
2 eggs, at room temperature

Put the milk in a small saucepan. Turn the burn on medium-low heat. When the milk just starts to warm, and feels comfortably warm on the inside of your wrist, take it off the burner. You want it at 110°. Activate the yeast by combining the yeast, sugar, and warm milk. Set aside in a warm place to rise. Give it at least 10 minutes before you start looking at it.

Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until they stiffen. This works best in a stand mixer, if you have one. Be patient. You'll want them done, but they take awhile. (about 15 minutes around here) When they have become stiff enough to hold together, but not so stiff that they form small peaks, turn off the mixer. Gently, transfer the beaten egg whites to a separate bowl.

Mix all the flours together, along with the xanthan and guar gums. Stir them up well. Sift them through a fine-mesh sieve. This makes the combination into one flour. Add the salt to the flour and stir well.

Put the flours into the stand mixer, using the paddle attachment. Slowly, add the yeasty milk, the softened butter, and the eggs. Mix until the dough comes together and has the consistency of thick cake batter.

Turn off the mixer. Working by hand, fold the egg whites into the dough. When they have been incorporated, you are done.

Oil and dust the loaf pan with a light starchy flour (I like sweet rice flour here). I use a loaf pan meant to fit a 1 1/2 pound loaf. Put the dough into the pan. Pat the top of the loaf into evenness. Set aside in a warm place and let the loaf warm for at least 1 1/2 hours. 2 hours is even better.

About half an hour before the dough is done rising, preheat the oven to 375°.

Before you slide in the loaf, brush an egg wash across the top of the loaf. (Whisk 1 egg until it is frothy.)

Put a skillet full of ice cubes on the bottom rack of the oven. Put the bread loaf on the rack above it. Bake for 1 hour, or until the internal temperature reads 205°.

When the loaf is done baking, pull it out of the oven. Be patient. Let it rest for ten minutes in the pan before you attempt to move it.

Run a knife around the edges of the bread. Turn the loaf pan upside down and let the loaf fall onto a cooling rack. Let the bread rest for another little while. And then slice it up.

Makes 1 loaf of bread.

10 November 2008


As much as I love food, and have spent the last few years joyfully exploring, I still find new bites each season.


Before a week ago, I had never eaten fresh quince. Quince paste? Yes. The faintly sweet, wobbly jelly that most people eat with Manchego has been one of my favorite discoveries of the past few years. It tastes delicate and decadent at the same time. Quince paste, for me, calls up the image of adults sitting around talking, hands leaning into the space above the table, the conversation compelling. But underneath the discussion, each one is having a private moment of joy, that first taste of childhood gummy candy made mature.

(Jujubees never tasted this good.)

Quince paste, easy enough to make, seems ornate, something beyond our reach. But of course, in the Middle East and southern Europe (Spain in particular), quince paste is part of normal life. I love that the world has shifted, that we know each other a little better these days.

But quince? The actual fruit? Nope. It seemed too daunting to dare it. Mostly because the fruit really cannot be eaten raw. It must be gently heated, or vigorously roasted, in order to make it edible. When in doubt, grab an apple instead.

Last week, we were at Sosio's, our fruit stand in the Market. Our friend Mark pointed out his favorite fruits of the moment, slipping us figs and pointing to the pears. My eyes landed on the greenish-yellow fruits. "Quince?" I called out to the Chef.

"Why not?"

Most discoveries come from banal moments, after all.

When he put roasted delicata squash before me, I found slices of luminous green. What?

"Why does this squash taste like apple?"

"Because it's quince."

Oh. Oh!

Those roasted slices tasted like crisp apples, with a faint perfume of pears. Here's the strangest part, for me. I only smelled the perfume in my mouth.

I want more.

Now, the question is: what do you do with quinces? I'm sure we'd all like to know.

06 November 2008

gluten-free Thanksgiving, 2008

autumnal squash puree I

Can you smell it?

Whiffs of woodsmoke, unexpectedly. Damp skin — approaching drenched — from steady rainstorms. The first hints of cinnamon in the kitchen.

Nearly all the leaves on the trees have surrendered to the ground. The sky has become a flat scrim of grey. We have lived through Halloween, the time change, and the election. Instead of tricks, confusion, and divisiveness, it's time for gratitude.

The Chef and I are grateful for so many moments of this year of birth and surprise, most of them too small and enormous to write here. Little Bean, in every moment of her life, has given us such wide-grinning joy that I don't know how to write it. As one of our dearest friends said last night about her daughter, only four weeks younger than Little Bean, "Sometimes I love her so much that it positively hurts."

Life has slowed down. I never knew that the greatest gratitude could come on the couch at 6:30 in the morning, the newspaper opened but still unread, little squeaks and giggles the best noise in the world. Whenever Little Bean smiles at us, we drop everything but our thankfulness.

Considering the way her life began, Little Bean's presence in the world is all we need to feel grateful for this year.

We can think of no better way to celebrate that gratitude than with food. The long communal table, heaped high with platters of steaming food, surrounded by people who love each other? Well, we aren't all so lucky to have that moment. That's why, when we are in Tucson with the Chef's parents, a few weeks from now, we'll pause for a moment of gravity, the gratitude for the gravy even more immense.

Now, Thanksgiving actually inspires a lot of anxiety for some of us. Each year, the hits to this site start rising, about now. Every google search seems to be the same: gluten-free Thanksgiving. Gluten-free stuffing. Gluten-free pie. So many seem so eager to replicate the meal from the year before, without growing sick.

I still say the meal could use a bit of mixing up. How about homemade focaccia bread for the stuffing? Or curried red lentil puree for a pre-meal dip? Cranberries with shiso and cucumber? Why not experiment?

But you know what? Every year, even with the Chef in our lives, my family has still eaten essentially the same meal as the year before. There's something comforting in the increasing dark and cold about eating our familiar foods.

And so, in the spirit of celebrating the familiar, I'm offering up some pieces from the past, old tried and true recipes that still work for Thanksgiving:

Gluten-free gravy

Gluten-free herb stuffing

Cranberry chutney

Gluten-free pumpkin pie

Some advice on how to survive this and still feel grateful, gluten-free:

How to have a gluten-free Thanksgiving

How to cook for someone gluten-free

Some lessons we learned after last Thanksgiving

And finally, if you want to throw in some food that is not so familiar, here are some suggestions of what might fill out that table:

broiled figs with brie

frisee salad with a warm bacon vinaigrette

butternut squash soup with smoked paprika

green beans with pancetta

sea scallops dusted with black rice flour

meyer lemon sorbet

In these next frantic weeks of the holidays approaching, I hope we can all pause to find places for which we are grateful. Me? Right now?

I'm grateful for the annoying sound of the Wii remote as the Chef plays Tiger Woods golf behind me. (Last year, I wondered why my father bought a Wii for himself. This year, I'm happy that they bought one for us.) I'm thankful for the tin whistle and Wabash washboard sounds of the Hoosier Hot Shots coming from the stereo in the corner. I feel my feet on the floor, my hair that needs washing, my stomach grumbling contentedly after breakfast. The rain has stopped, after a blast of the Pineapple Express for 24 hours. I can see. Mostly, though, I'm so filled with gratitude, like water rising up the banks of the river, for the little girl cooing on the playmat to my left, her feet constantly kicking, her fingers in her mouth, those eyes alive.

She is here, and so are we.

The meal on Thanksgiving Day is important, but the gratitude is more.

For what are you grateful this year?

autumnal squash puree II

Autumnal squash puree

Inspired by everyone's comments on squash a couple of weeks ago, the Chef and I tried Delicata squash for the first time. After roasting it with a little olive oil, sea salt, and pepper -- so basic -- we sat down to eat. After one bite, we both looked at each other in amazement. "How have we not eaten this before?"

Since then, I have been smitten. We've been eating it nearly every day. Yesterday, we discovered that the combination of Delicata, butternut, and sweet potato is so potent in a puree that we're going to be making this for Thanksgiving in a few weeks.

You might like it too.

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
½ large butternut squash, peeled and cubed, seeds removed
½ Delicata squash, peeled and cubed, seeds removed
1 tablespoon salt

½ cup olive oil
½ large onion, rough chopped
5 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 tablespoon sage, chopped
½ teaspoon rosemary, chopped

¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter

Put about 4 cups cold water and the salt into a large saucepan. Put in the sweet potato, butternut squash, and Delicata squash. (You should have enough water to cover the vegetables.) Bring them to a boil and let them cook until you can put a knife through the sweet potato.

Drain them. Set aside.

While the sweet potato and squashes are cooking, heat up 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet. Add the onions and garlic. Cook on medium to low heat until they are soft. Add the sage and rosemary. Cook for one more minute.

Add the spices to the onions and herbs.

Put the vegetables and the onion mixture into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the butter and remaining olive oil.

Season to taste.

Feeds 4.

03 November 2008


onions galore

Humble. Lovely. A pungency like no other. When I go for a walk around the neighborhood in the evening, I can tell the families that are cooking, from the smell of onions simmering in oil wafting out from the windows.

The way the papery sheath yields slightly tougher skin, and the tender flesh beneath it? Well, it has become such an overused metaphor for human learning or loving or the complexity of a situation that I cannot write it down.

It probably took less time to grow these onions from start to our kitchen table than a snowy day in Iowa in January 2007 until this evening.....

I can't do it. I can't write a post on onions tonight.

You see, I have been refraining. I have been biting my tongue and deleting the words when they fall in a mad dash onto the screen from my fingers. I've been working hard not to turn this food blog political.

But it doesn't feel honest to write a little rhapsody about onions when I can think of little else but the election. For almost two years, I have been reading and following, listening to speeches and dreaming of a future for my daughter with one person as president. Need I say who? Look, I'm a woman with the word yes tattooed on my wrist. It should be pretty obvious that I'm wild about the man who says yes we can.

For weeks -- really, for months -- I have been jittery and twittering, wishing and worrying, talking to everyone I know, and sometimes launching tirades into the air as the Chef and I drive around, Little Bean asleep in the back seat. I have never seen an election like this in my lifetime. Somehow, tonight feels like the night before Christmas.

And not just because it looks like my team might win. (It does feel like a sporting event sometimes, the way these silly things are run.) It's more because there were lines of people waiting ten hours to vote in Atlanta this weekend, because people are talking about issues in broad strokes about how this country could be run, because there's a palpable feeling of being involved these days. We've lived in apathy too long in this country. Something is starting.

Like onions simmering. The very act of putting onions in the pan can lead to something extraordinary.

So I hope that you take the time to vote tomorrow. We can all participate in this together. No matter how you vote, please do.

Perhaps, like us, you'll be cooking tomorrow, to share food with friends through this incredible day. We're making six recipes from our cookbook. Life goes on, no matter what happens. By the time our book comes out, in February 2010, whoever will be elected tomorrow will have been president for a year. Who knows where we will be by then?

I know, without a doubt, that the food we eat on this complex, historical, enormously important day? It will probably start with onions.