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Food Defuses the Funk

November 14, 2010

Something that I go through pretty much any time I finish a large creative project is a period of depression and apathy with what I’m going to call “completion anxiety.” Some creative types experience an inability to let things go. I just sort of say, “Oh. That’s done. What else is there?” And sometimes when there isn’t something else, I start to get a little depressed.

The apathy is the worst part. It’s hugely inconvenient for promoting a newly completed project, and even worse with my fiction, which I just can’t get into the habit of submitting repeatedly to different publishers. Partly it’s just that it no longer weighs heavily on my mind, I suppose. Partly it’s the sting of rejection, which even after a 11 years of submitting writing I can’t seem to stop taking personally. (I keep a drawer full of rejection slips, but I’m not happy about it.) The only thing I’ve ever had published was in the Chesapeake Reader, which apparently doesn’t even exist anymore. I guess I could just make up what made it into the printosphere. No one would know the difference.

This time around things were a little more depressing than usual. Normally I’d at least have shows to look forward to, but the week that we finished mixing the new album, I got a slew of gig cancellations. Four of them, including our CD release.

We don’t book that many shows. It was literally everything I had on our calendar after the first of the year. This means we have a little short acoustic feature set in December and then nothin’.

This made it tough to do anything creative. I let some reviews I volunteered to write for Driftwood Magazine go for two weeks. I subjected the band — and a new bass player we were auditioning — to a highly lackluster practice.

But something finally got me out of this funk, and it turned out to be cooking something. I made dinner for my parents and nieces last night: Coq au Vin; apple, walnut, and spinach salad, and a new experiment, an onion, date, and goat cheese tart. It’s outrageously simple but tastes really really good:

Tart crust:
1.25 cups of flour
5.3 tbsp cold butter
3 tbs ice-cold water

Blend flour and butter in a food processor, then transfer to a bowl and mix water in by hand. Turn out on the counter, sprinkle both sides with four, and roll out until you have a 12-inch circle. This is basic pie crust. Place it in a tart pan if you have one, or just a 9-inch round, and crimp the sides so they come just to the top of the round.

Filling:
8 ounces soft goat cheese
2 medium minced yellow onions
1-1.5 cups  of chopped dried dates
A tbsp or two of milk to make the ingredients easier to mix

For the cheese, I get the kind that’s just called “goat cheese” at whole foods. It’s inexpensive but very good. You can also use chevre. You can get fancy at this stage and caramelize the onions before putting them in the pie, but I wouldn’t bother. It’s going to bake for 45 minutes, and they’ll be as sweet as you like once they’re done. To mix, just get in there with your hands.

Add to the tart crust and then bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

Sauce:
2/3 cup balsamic  vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar

Reduce in a small sauce pan until it coats the back of a spoon and slides off (i.e., thread stage, about the consistency of molasses). Drizzle a little over each slice of pie.

Tonight I made some pumpkin pies from a fresh pumkin and managed to get done a bunch of reviews. I guess in the end you just have to get out there and keep plugging away at things.

Some portion of Midway Fair will be at the Teavolve open mic every Monday through the end of the month. I hope some people will come out and see us and help save Cacie’s open mic. It really is something special.

—Jon

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