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« The Pizza Project | Main | How to Cook Indian »

Happy 2012, Long Time No See

Dear Friends,

Hi! How are you? Staying warm, I hope, or cool if you're reading this from the southern half of the globe. Things around here are fine—and so am I, despite what the long silence around here may have led you to believe. I know, I'm sorry—I feel terrible for vanishing without a trace like that. And as delicious as that butter chicken was, well, six months (oops, actually almost seven) is an awfully long time to be staring at it.

The reason for my absence, alas, was not very glamorous or dramatic. There was no prolonged illness, family tragedy or madcap global adventure preventing me from reaching a keyboard. The rather mundane explanation is that I simply went back to school for a while. And it kicked my ass.

It actually happened very suddenly; although I'd been toying with the idea of gaining some kind of supplementary qualification for the German job market, I didn't know what. Then out of the blue in late June an opportunity presented itself, and within a few days of finding out about it I was mired in a 6-month-long course in public relations and press work. In German. Essentially, I went from blithely practicing the present subjunctive in my evening language class to sitting through lectures and writing essays on the intricacies of copyright law and institutional crisis management in said language. Needless to say, it was a challenge. It also kept me very busy, not to mention exhausted. Most significantly for this blog, though, it kept me out of the kitchen. I don't think I've ever cooked so little over so long a period; I mean, it's not like we subsisted on pizza and takeout for half a year, but I hesitate to call most of what I did 'cooking'. It was more like food assembly, designed to extract maximum subsistence value for minimum effort.

Oh, and to add insult to injury, in the middle of all this, our landlord decided to repossess our apartment and we spent a very stressful couple of months dedicating our limited free time to hunting for new dog-friendly digs and then moving. We've got a great new place that we're all settled into now, but that was a chunk of my life I'm not in a hurry to repeat.

In spite of all this, though, it wasn't my intention to let this space go dark. I spent the first couple of months sure that the time, energy and topic for my next post were just around the corner. But as the weeks dragged on, and nothing interesting was finding its way onto our plates, we weren't embarking on any exotic travels and I barely had time to check my email let alone keep up with what was happening elsewhere in the blogosphere, I decided to banish the nagging in my head and make peace with the fact that my focus was required elsewhere. Sometimes we just need a break.

As of now, though, I have finished my course (and passed, more importantly!), and for the first time in quite a while I'm not only feeling the familiar itch to get back in the kitchen, but actually have a little time on my hands to do so. First, though, I wanted to check in and let you know where I've been. And to let you know how much I've missed you. And to promise that I'll be back soon with some food. Okay?

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Reader Comments (32)

It's nice to have your blog highlighted in my reader again.
It is something I struggle with as well, keeping up with life, kids, learning a new language, and the blog. I look forward to what you're cooking next. And welcome back.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAidan

Just last week I went through my reader and sorted out feeds. Seeing yours inactive for so long I thought a second if I should ditch it and decided against it. So happy I kept it! Congrats on the passed course/training and looking forward to delicious things from your kitchen.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHande

Nice to be reading you again! Welcome back.
I'm looking forward to what you'll be cooking for us...

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMagda

Welcome back Melissa and glad you've finished your course - look forward to reading more of your lovely posts soon, take care. xx

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkeiko

What a coincidence, I had lost the link to your blog and found it only today and there you are! I am very impressed that you passed your exam in German, well done. I'm going to add you to my reader so that I don't lose you again.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterToffeeapple

Hello, I've been following your blog but never let any comment. So this is my first message to tell you that I missed you too and was beginning to wonder what'd happened to you... so glad to know that you're back and congratulations for your course :)
Hope to read you soon.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersteve

YAY! I'm so glad you're back and am really looking forward to your upcoming posts!

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuzan

Welcome back! And congrats! Will you now post in German, too?

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLily

Congratulations on passing your course!


January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaz

Welcome back! Looking forward to the food! :)

Excited for what's to come. Welcome back!

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Its nice to see you back! I'm looking forward to some great recipes.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeanna

I'm just glad you are ok. Can't wait for what's to come!

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterInca

I'm glad you're back, I've missed your posts! Totally understandable though - I've had a similar year due to school and that was in my native language! Would be interesting to hear what you cook when you're exhausted/in a hurry, if you'd like to share :o)

Hmm, well we ate a lot of soup and sandwiches, and big salads with tuna or chicken. Most important, I found, was having a rota of dishes I knew exactly how long it would take me to make. One favorite was a couscous salad I make by substituting red wine vinegar for about a quarter of the boiling water, then after it plumps up throwing in whatever veggies I have in the fridge - carrots, red peppers, scallions, celery - along with some feta cheese, dried fruit and/or toasted nuts, garlic, olive oil and whatever spices appeal. It's super quick and different every time, and should a particular combination fall a little flat, a couple squirts of Sriracha never hurt! -m

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSian

Glad that you're back, Melissa :) And congratulations for finishing your course!

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterUlly

So nice to hear from you! We've missed you too. Terribly. But life gets busy every now and then and it's ok (and hey, you passed your course!). And now: back to kitchen! :)

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSini

I was thinking, I've just discovered her and now she doesn't post anymore!
Welcome back and congratulations on passing the exam.

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIrina

It looks like we missed YOU more! ;-)
So welcome back, and congrats!

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

Thanks, all of you, for such sweet words! -m

January 20, 2012 | Registered Commentermelissa

No need to feel guilty about not posting for a while- We all have lives outside of the blogosphere! But it's always great when someone comes back with an update. I am thoroughly impressed with your courage to take a complex class in german. I speak and write French and I don't think I could make it through a French college level class....

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Flying Quiche

Welcome back! Congrats on passing your class. Looking forward to reading your posts again :)

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarley

Welcome back Melissa! And many congratulations on passing your course. Very much looking forward to what's to come (and I think I may try your couscous salad in the meantime! Sounds delicious!).

January 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

yayyyyyy Melissa!
I'm so happy to read from you, you can't imagine!
Your blog has become a part of my own family's pastime, so when I mentioned you haven't written in a long time, my mom hoped you were alright.
Congratulations on passing the course!

Some changes have gone on here too, thought it would be fair to share.
I got engaged to my b/f of 2.5 years in August, and it's going well so far.
Plus... in the kitchen... I'm transitioning to vegan nutrition. That's quite a dramatic step, even though I've never been a very avid meat eater.
I'm looking for ways to alter my favorite recipes into vegan, and find new ones to rely on as staples. Namely the recipe for olive-oil brownies, what can I substitute the eggs with? I don't think vegan egg substitute is available in Israel.

D, what wonderful news – congratulations on your engagement!!!!! And I admire your resolve to go vegan. My mother, who has been to Israel a few times on business, once said she would rather be a vegan there than anywhere else, since there's such an abundance of beautiful fruits and vegetables. As for your baking questions, I'm afraid I'm not the best person to ask, having zero experience with vegan baking myself. I'm sure google can lead you to some eggless recipes; maybe a good strategy would be to find a vegan brownie recipe and substitute olive oil for whatever fat it calls for? Let me know how it works out. xx -m

January 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermalka lev adom

I'm glad you're back and nothing bad happened to you or your family! And congratulations, or course :-)

January 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEva

I have been following you since last January and cooking almost every recipe you post and loving them all. Although i missed having new recipes to try each month i would like you to know i really enjoyed going through the archives and cooking recipes from your older posts as well. You blog is one of the first places I go when I'm looking for ideas. Im so glad your back!

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

I'm so very glad you're back. I've missed your posts. It's good to hear all is well and you've just been busy.

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLindy Leech

So good to hear form you Melissa! You have my total and unconditioned admiration for having completed the class. I have wrestled with German myself for a long time, and although I am quite good at languages, I did find it exhausting: I thought it was going to get easier eventually, but it never did. I never managed to reach that level of proficiency. I'm looking forward to what you come up next and I hope your new qualification leads you to landing the most amazing dream job - with enough free time for cooking and blogging of course :)

January 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaffettiera

Wow, that is quite the challenge. Perhaps one of the very best ways to master a language, though? Congratulations on the new qualification!

I feel like I've lost touch with so many of the blogs I used to love, having changed jobs and moved cities in the last nine months, so it's oddly nice to realize I haven't missed too much around here! Now that I'm settled, I'm looking forward to reading about what's coming around your corner and into this space!

Welcome back, Melissa!

January 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEva

Nice to hear that you came back! Looking forward more work from you. Have a nice time ahead.

January 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergluten free flour

Glad you are back and Happy New Year!

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJuice

Happy to see you back Melissa...I've come to your blog so many times in the last few months, only to see the chicken. I even thought there was a problem with my connection and I wasn't getting updates!
Congratulations on passing your course....look forward to reading about your experiences and delicious recipes again :)

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKanika

Yay! Welcome home!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJuti

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