lasagna with lamb ragu

Ten years ago I still lived in my home state of Michigan. My role at work had changed so I was taking on new duties and responsibilities, and I had a totally opposite schedule than that of my husband. Years after graduating he had embarked on a new career path, which meant that I spent the majority of my evenings at home, working on multi-course dinners to serve when he returned late in the evening, drinking too much, watching a beloved kitty’s steady decline, and battling the depression that had landed me in the hospital a year earlier. I was also battling near-constant pain and fatigue that didn’t yet have a name assigned to it, shuttling between specialists for test after test, feeling utterly scared and alone.

Dinner: February 18, 2010

It was during that time that I came in contact with a community of people online: comic book and music geeks, pop-culture fiends, artists, writers, all gathered in a network of forums. It was largely because of these people and their friendship and support that I took a huge leap of faith, leaving my home state and unsalvageable marriage to move to a city I had never even visited. It was both terrifying and thrilling, and after an initial rough patch I settled into my new life in Boston. My online community of friends grew wider, and many of these friends became “real life” friends, too – there were drink-ups and dinners out, lunch dates, parties and other gatherings, one of which would really change my life.

bread salad a la Zuni Cafe

I walked, everywhere, in every kind of weather. I cooked for me and me alone for the first time since my vegetarian teenage years. I took myself out to eat, too, trying new things at new-to-me restaurants, falling in love with new flavors and techniques, determined to recreate them at home. In the bright, sunny Somerville kitchen I shared with my roommate, I began to really change the way I cooked and ate, and the way I thought about food in general. I lost a bunch of weight without even really trying, and was the healthiest I’d been in years.

do the bird

Before long I’d be making regular trips to New York City. You see, one of those Internet friends had become more than that, and for a year we carried on our courtship long-distance. I’d leave work early on Fridays, rolling suitcase in tow, and hop on a bus to spend most weekends indulging in good food and drink with my sweetie. Our first “real” date began over steak frites at a corner café in Brooklyn. Over time, I’d introduce him to oysters, escargots, and foie gras, and he got me back on pork – as a guy who grew up with family that had raised pigs, he knew how the good stuff should taste, and when we found it in New York, there was no turning back.

Dinner: February 23, 2010

Mike and I fell in love with the city’s Greenmarkets, with Chinatown, with the market at Grand Central Station, with the restaurants and specialty shops that served up all manner of deliciousness at the same time we fell so deeply in love with each other. After one long year of sucking the marrow out of every weekend we spent together, we decided to shorten the distance between us – I’d move to New York, a dream I had had since my first visit years earlier. My first six months there were spent rooming with a friend, her big, fabulous kitchen and back yard a rare treat in the city, and did we ever put them to good use. Toward the end of that six months, Mike and I started looking for a place together, landing in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in a big, airy space with wide plank hardwood floors, tons of great light, and to our delight, a big back yard just perfect for grilling and gardening. And it was while living in that space that we prepared the meals that led me to start this blog not long after we celebrated our first anniversary. Last Night’s Dinner is, more than anything, our story, through food.

the "clean out the cheese drawer" version

So very much has happened in the years since. We left New York and found an amazing home and community of friends here in Providence. We have had incredible opportunities and good fortune come our way over the last year, and I love that so many of you have been part of it. But change has always been hard for me. I had to laugh when I realized that so many of our recent meals – roast chicken, “Garbage Soup”, simple seafood and pasta preparations, and a rich and meaty lasagna – echo dishes I first posted about in the earliest days of the blog. I guess without even planning to do so, I’ve been going back to basics, to my comfort food, to steel myself for what lies ahead, but even I am getting really bored by it.

Dinner: February 28, 2010

It’s not lost on me that much of what is going on right now parallels things that were happening in my life 10 years ago. My role at work has changed. I have taken on new duties and responsibilities, and I soon will have a totally opposite schedule than that of my husband. He is embarking on a terribly exciting and challenging new career path, which means that I will soon spend the majority of my evenings at home, with a beloved kitty whose health is in decline, working on… who knows what. Cooking, I hope. Writing, when the words come. (Not drinking too much, obviously.) Savoring precious time (and hopefully a meal or three) with my husband whenever I can. I have no clue how I’ll feel 10 years from now when I look back at this time in our lives, but right now it feels overwhelming, and more than a little scary.

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