Last week at work, I sat in on a short talk by Christian Caryl. He spoke to a room full of graduate students, all eager to learn the secret to writing well. Have a point, he told us. And get to it quickly. Support it with just the most relevant facts and say it all with passion. All of which, he confessed, is much easier said than done. But then he suggested the following: Start with the dek. The dek is the very brief description immediately following the headline. The dek is your entire story summed up in a line or two. Once you have the dek, the story’s arc is set and you can travel the curve from start to finish, filling in the details along the way.
A week before I learned about the dek, I received an email from a very close family friend. She’s been reading the blog and cooking the recipes and she wrote to tell me how much she was enjoying it. This was lovely to hear. But then she asked me how she could help promote the blog, if that was something I was interested in. I’ve been mulling this over ever since. Most successful food blogs culminate in a cookbook and I can tell you (without a moment’s hesitation), that’s not where this blog is headed. So, what then is the point? Do I want more followers? More commenters? More original recipes? More stories about dad?
None of those goals or measures resonated with me. And even after mulling this over for a week or two, I still couldn’t figured out this blog’s dek. I’m taking suggestions. In the meantime, I will leave you with some highfalutin goals and a recipe. (You didn’t think I’d forgo the recipe, did you?) And this is a good one, too: Pork and Tomatillo Posole. It’s fast and easy to cook, flavorful, homey, with plenty of leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch and dinner. Do not skip the garnishes. The radishes make the whole meal.
And now for the goals: I want this blog to help me become a better writer and a better cook. A better steward of recipes and memories. I want to be more open and honest with myself and with you. And every time I write about memories or food, about Matt and our home and our life together, I want to be reminded of how good it is and be grateful. Oh, and I want to eat a lot of good food, too.
Pork and Tomatillo Posole From Comfort Food Fix by Ellie Krieger
12 ounces fresh tomatillos, papery skins removed, rinsed well and dried
1 jalapeno pepper, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 bay leaf
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Two 15-ounce cans white hominy, drained and rinsed
One 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, preferably no-salt-added
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 radishes, diced
1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Preheat the broiler. Place the tomatillos and jalapeno on a baking sheet and broil, 5 to 6 inches from the flame, until the tomatillos collapse and the jalapeno is charred, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a blender or food processor and blend or process until smooth.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook until browned but still slightly pink in the center, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pork, with its juices, to a plate.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, coriander, and bay leaf and cook, stirring, until the spices become fragrant, about 1 minute. Return the pork with its juices to the pot and stir to combine. Add the pureed tomatillos, chicken broth, hominy, tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, skimming off any initial foam, for 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Season with salt. Serve garnished with radishes, avocado, and cilantro.