Of Books and Cooks: 5 Lessons from Year 1

2013 Book Giveaway

In January 2012, I started Paper and Salt. The past year brought a lot of new things: new jobs, new friends, new recipes, new books, new travels. But discussing authors’ favorite recipes here has been the best ‘new’ thing of that New Year, and (to mix up all my holidays at once) I’m thankful.

The past 12 months also brought many lessons about food blogging – new to me, although likely learned by you long ago:

1. Experiment. The best way to develop our own style is to dabble in others’ for a while. If you’re clinging to a sentence or a favorite ingredient, take a moment to let go. See how it feels.

2. Have patience. Taking pictures of food is even more about patience than it is a keen eye or a newfangled camera. You will move things around, making the most trifling of changes (This napkin here? Or here? Or … ?), ad infinitum, until your food gets cold and all the dishes you own are stacked in the sink, discarded after their short-lived modeling careers. And chances are, you’ll pick the first photo you took. Your patience will be what keeps you from throwing your camera across the room.

3. Be inspired. Despite the hours that go into cooking, writing, editing and photographing, the community of food bloggers still make time in the day to be extremely generous, and I’m indebted to many of them. I’ve updated the links section of this blog, if you’re ever in need of some delicious inspiration.

4. Persevere. Posts about baked goods will always, always garner more excitement and stomach rumblings than posts about salad. But never stop writing about salad, if that salad has some poetry in it.

5. Be brave. Writing, just the pure process of it, can be incredibly hard. But harder still is putting that writing out into the world, when you know it’s not perfect. You let it out of of your safe little nest of thought, unchaperoned and a bit underdeveloped, and hope it survives. But sometimes it does one better – sometimes it takes flight.

* * *

So here’s one more new thing to kick off 2013: a giveaway. Or, since we’re really starting this year off with a bang, three of them. Each prize includes two books close to my heart – one of the cooking variety, one just regular type – brought together by a tenuous theme:

bday image new yorkThe New Yorker: Few things make me feel as wistful for Old New York as much as reading The Age of Innocence. Named for the famed Manhattan food shopThe Silver Palate Cookbook isn’t turn-of-the-century old, but it’s become just as much of a classic for food lovers – the book that brought raspberry vinaigrette to kitchens everywhere.

bday image snacker

The Midday Snacker: Frank O’Hara wrote Lunch Poems on his breaks from work, roaming around Manhattan’s streets, and they’re best digested the same way: over a quick sandwich in a diner at noon, or on a midday picnic in the park. Finish your lunch with a bite-size treat from One Girl Cookies, with recipes from their award-winning shop in Brooklyn. The pumpkin whoopie pies might wind up being your entire lunch, if you’re not careful.

bday image adventurer

The Adventurer: As someone with a constant need to analyze, I was reminded by reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle that some things are not meant to be understood, but absorbed. When I first saw Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook, I had the same reaction as reading Murakami for the first time: How did they do that? 

Three ways to enter the giveaway:

1) Comment on this post
2) Like Paper and Salt on Facebook
3) Tweet the link to this post

Apologies to those abroad, but to save myself the postage, only U.S. residents are eligible to win. But you can win multiple prizes, because why not?

The giveaway will end on Friday, January 25. Enjoy!

58 thoughts on “Of Books and Cooks: 5 Lessons from Year 1

  1. Cindy G.

    I do love how you bring books, authors and food together! I always think it’s kind of funny when, after I’ve finished certain books, the only thing I can remember is the description of the food the characters ate. Now, I think I might have to try to make some of those dishes I’ve been reading about!

  2. Your blog has quickly become one of my very favorites—I can’t imagine the about of time that goes in to making each post as information dense, yet utterly readable as I find them to be. Cheers to another year!

  3. Is it only a year, feels like I’ve been following you longer than a year. My blog is also one year old … we should celebrate. Yes I get all the frustrations about shooting food, and your best meal gets cold in the process. I’ve been meaning to send you this link http://www.donmarquis.org/beans.htm in case Don Marquis author of Archie & Mehitabel is not on your radar. Not sure I’d want to eat his favourite meal but then who am I to judge. I write a lot about salads! PS I’ll be in New York 1 Feb for 4 days my kids are taking me there for my big birthday present! How lucky am I?

    1. Congratulations on your own blog birthday, Linda! I love recipes like this – more for their poetry than for the finished product, probably. Thanks for passing it along.

      I hope you have a wonderful trip out here! If you have a chance and are a cookie person (like me), don’t miss Levain Bakery on the Upper West. Barely baked and as big as your fist … mmm

  4. Claudia

    I found your blog last fall and do so enjoy it! A favorite! And how I would like to win that book Lunch Poems!!! Enough I will go sign up on Facebook too. Thanks for two chances for me!

  5. SDS

    I’ve really enjoyed following your posts over the past few months! And I love the combination you’ve created of Lunch Poems & One Girl Cookies.

  6. Janelle Boys-Chen

    I’ve loved this blog ever since I’ve discovered it. I think it’s one of the best food blogs out there. Congrats on a great year, and here’s looking forward to many more.

  7. I’m taking myself out of the running because I have all these books, save “One Girl Cookies”, but I had to chime in and say I love how you mix recipes and literature, you nourish the soul, Nicole!

  8. William Cleek

    I love Paper and Salt and have used two of your recipes for company. Thank you for this interest. I cook a lot and love knowing the history of food items.

  9. EBK Riley

    Love this post and the pairings in your giveaway. I was so excited to see this combination of food and books, two of my most favorite things. Thanks also, for sharing your insights about your first year of blogging. For those of us just starting into that world, your thoughts were very helpful…

  10. Christina

    I love this blog; what a great combination of books! I would especially love to win the Age of Innocence combo or the Lunch Poems.

  11. Hannah M.

    Happy blog-birthday! I stumbled on your writing from somewhere-I can’t think where, now, but I’m glad I did, anyhow, as your posts are always fun and full of interesting bookish things. Thanks for sharing your writing!

  12. baklavamy

    I was so happy to stumble upon your blog via a Facebook friend. I love the pairings of books and cooks, food and authors. Now, off to make some eggnog…

  13. Really love what you do on this blog. I always find the way you couple literary insights with specific dishes quite interesting. What’ll it be today? Thanks for the beautiful work.
    Of course I’d LOVE to be entered into the contest. I liked you on Facebook a long time ago.

  14. In Canada, so I can’t win any prizes, but I just wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed your blog this year. It’s always interesting and inspiring. And appetizing!

  15. Melanie (Meredith) Passovoy

    I finally “liked” you on FB, but I’ll leave a message here too. I am hoping that I win the Murakami book!

  16. Pingback: Reading: “Of Books and Cooks: 5 Lessons from Year 1″ | The Tart Little Piggy

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