My weekends have always been busy, with laundry and grocery shopping and baking bread and going for long walks around Lake Harriet. But there's a difference between pleasantly productive and a hectic frenzy, and lately Saturday and Sunday have become a frantic rush of trying to check things off an ever-lengthening to-do list.
The culprit behind my frenetic weekends is my blog, which I realized when I went back and reformatted every recipe post as part of the upgrade to the new site. I've consistently posted twice a week for years, but the workload behind each post has increased dramatically:
Exhibit One: Coconut Curry Tofu (February 2013)
The blogging process: Find a recipe for coconut curry tofu in the newspaper. Arrange ingredients on kitchen table and snap a photo. Make coconut curry tofu. Plop finished dish on kitchen table and snap a photo. Write a six-sentence intro involving a brief personal anecdote about tofu. Add photos, hit publish, and go watch an episode of Chopped.
Exhibit Two: Beer Batter Bread (August 2015)
The blogging process: Review several beer batter bread recipes, research best types of beer to use in baking, develop recipe, and test bake a loaf of bread. Adjust recipe and repeat test bake as needed. Artfully stage ingredients on a backdrop in the living room, because the light in the kitchen is terrible. Take at least ten photos from slightly different angles. Rearrange ingredients and take ten more photos. Decide that I liked the first ingredient staging better, rearrange ingredients yet again, and take even more photos.
Prepare the bread, pausing at key moments to haul the batter into the living room to take photos from several angles. While bread is baking, review stash of plates, placemats, and napkins to select appropriate props for staging the finished bread. Arrange the bread in various poses in the living room and take a dozen photos. Bring bread outside and take more photos. Hope that the neighbors don't think I'm strange for standing on a patio chair while photographing a loaf of bread and a beer bottle.
Review the fifty photos I took and pick four. Edit photos. Research the craft beer industry and use this information in the four-paragraph intro that I will spend a week revising and editing. Add edited photos to post. Hit publish. Promote post on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Collapse into bed.
I'm not yet sure what the answer is, but I need to reclaim some weekend serenity. Dialing back on my blog isn't an option--if anything, it needs more of my time. Instead, I'm extracting myself from various volunteer commitments, Mike is picking up more of the housekeeping, and weekend dinners are getting simpler. Last Saturday, instead of embarking on an ambitious culinary dinner project involving hours of preparation, I made charred peppers and boiled some pasta.
But I still took a few dozen photos.
I like to serve these peppers over pasta, but you could also use them as a side dish for grilled steak or chicken. The only trick is to use very ripe, very sweet peppers, either three Italian peppers or two bell peppers.
- 3 sweet Italian peppers, stemmed, halved, and seeded (2 red, orange, or yellow bell peppers can be substituted)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- pasta, for serving (if desired)
Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and tilt to evenly coat, and reduce heat to medium. Using tongs, place peppers cut-side down in the skillet and cook undisturbed for 5 minutes. Turn peppers over and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Continue cooking, evenly on both sides, until peppers are soft and slightly charred.
Remove peppers from skillet and sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve over pasta if desired.