I’m having stylistic questions. For instance, I just started this post with a conversational, self-referential statement. It’s friendly and easy and lots of days I feel like that. The ability to just start talking makes showing up here simple and manageable. And yet, some days I feel like I start to sound a little redundant. Blogging is a form of writing that has developed its own style, and friendly conversation is generally part of it. However, sometimes it makes jotting off an idea quick and dirty, instead of allowing or forcing the space to reflect and refine both my thoughts and my words a bit more.
Lately, I have been discovering more writers who use the web as a place for deep reflection, storytelling, literature even. They inspire me. They also shed light on my own yearning for something…I dunno, more elaborate? More crafted and researched. Thus, I wonder, “What else or how else might I want to write?” and, “Is that writing a natural evolution of this blog space, or is it a new project that will happen somewhere else?”
Another big question that’s been coming up: what is the gap between real life and what gets represented here? This is a topic that many others have broached–recently and eloquently: Joy, Sarah, and Ashley. Related questions include…Am I interested in trying to close that gap? What would it even look like to try to represent “real life?”
As a genre, food blogging and lifestyle blogging tend to be about creating and expressing a life that is beautiful and satisfying. The light is always soft, the rooms are always neat, and everything looks delicious. While we all know that life (our own life, at least) isn’t this way, there is something comforting and inspiring about this kind of beauty. And, let’s face it, unless you’re cracking up on Cakewrecks, hideous, badly-lit pictures of life, food especially, are not that engaging. There’s a certain aesthetic minimum that goes along with blogging; pictures help to draw people in and keep them invested.
And yet, there’s something engaging about chaos and struggle, too. It’s not that I have a macabre fascination with suffering. It’s just that rough times do happen. Emotions get hairy. Sometimes, the kitchen is a mess and it makes me cry. Sometimes, the kitchen being a mess is the least of my problems. I am not interested in miring myself in pain and making more of it. I am interested in expressing a life that leaves space for frustration and hardship to arise with as little judgment as possible.
Does putting artistic pictures of the madness that is my cupboards and the unfortunate consequences of that madness (Rule #3 of Jacqui’s kitchen: everything falls. Watch out.) achieve this? I dunno. It is, at least, a start to considering the question.
Maybe all that’s needed is are minor, nearly imperceptible shifts. I could choose this:
That’s at least a slightly more complete vision of my dining room table and my life. Not lacking in objects I shove aside to photograph cookies or thoughts and things to do that I brush away, at least for a moment, to focus on prettier, more presentable aspects.
At the same time, there’s something terribly sweet and fun about taking cute pictures of my beribboned hazelnut lavender bites and then taking them to friends. There is amusement, affection, and offering. And ribbon, ribbon is important! This is part of life too. I am trying to strike a balance, both in my life and in this space that I share, between striving to create joy and remembering to be patient with what is less than joy, when it arises.
Recipe after the jump…
Hazelnut Lavender Bites
Sumptuous and summery, these cookies are naturally gluten free. They bake to a toasty golden-brown for a crunchy outside with a rich, nutty interior. Notes of lavender complement sweet hazelnuts to create a balance of earthy and floral flavors. These make great easy gifts for friends and a perfect snack with tea.
1 1/4 cups (145 grams) ground hazelnuts (you can buy hazelnut meal at some natural grocery stores or you can grind it yourself in a blender or food processor)
2 tablespoons (18 grams) brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) ground culinary lavender
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons (42 grams) butter, softened
a pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350˚ F (180˚ C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
In a medium bowl, stir together hazelnuts, brown rice flour, and lavender. In another bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar, just until combined. Beat in egg and salt until fully incorporated. Add in dry ingredients. Mix until combined. Scoop by half-tablespoons onto baking sheets. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until deep golden brown.