Guys, I’m almost due. On February 18th, this blog will give birth to numerous identical hardcover books, each named The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove. Published by Gotham/Penguin, it’s my first book, a memoir of the two years I spent eating in, solely, all the while trying to keep a somewhat normal life, a paying, nine-to-five job, a boyfriend, social engagements, etc. It didn’t turn out being so normal in the end, but what I ended up losing (jobs, boyfriends) over those years was miniscule compared to what I gained from learning to appreciate everything about making meals from scratch, on a daily basis. It’s my requiem to an unconventional urban lifestyle, and all the characters and experiences I encountered while not eating out and blogging about it. The book has nothing rehashed from this blog, but let’s just say that it shares the same genes.
What I will be rehashing is another cook-off, and some fundraising for Just Food at the book launch party that’s taking place on February 18th. The (P)Art(y) of Eating In will be hosted by my friends at Brooklyn Based, at The Bell House. They know how to throw a party. We’ve roped in some of my favorite food and creative people to join us, like Finger on the Pulse, who will be deejaying the first half of the party, Father Fingers, a “zombie jazz” quintet from Brooklyn, and there will be food, glorious food, prepared by all of us at the Hapa Kitchen supper club and Michael Cirino & company, from A Razor, A Shiny Knife. (Many of these folks are mentioned throughout the book.) There will be $3 specials on Sixpoint Craft Ales through the night. You can also buy your book here, the first night they hit stores, thanks to WORD bookstore, who will be selling them at a table.
There should be a couple more surprises in store for the night, but here’s a highlight that anyone can participate in: the Crostini Cook-Off. Yep, an amateur cook-off to see whose toasted bread creations are deemed best by judges, and the audience. It’ll be emceed by Matt Timms of Chili Takedown fame, and yours truly, and the judges rounded up for this one are: Louisa Shafia, chef and author of one of my favorite recent cookbooks, Lucid Food: Cooking For An Eco-Conscious Life; Just Food‘s Farmer Outreach Coordinator, Jen Griffith; and my mom, Tina. The other judges will be everyone in attendance with a voting card — you.
Prizes for winners include cookware from The Brooklyn Kitchen, a nifty kitchen scale from Eat Smart Products, and, of course, books. Every contestant will get a copy of The Art of Eating In, as well as free entry to the party. Finally, I will be making the first-place winning crostini the next week, and bringing them to serve at a book reading at WORD bookstore on February 25th, as well as posting the recipe here.
n. pl. cro·sti·ni
1. A piece of thin crisp toast.
2. An hors d’oeuvre made with a crostino and any of various toppings.
But why crostini? Because it’s one of the most portable party snacks, and allows for endless variation. If someone ever asks you to bring snacks to a party, grab a good loaf of bread, and bring along your toppings for it in a container. And I don’t mean just cheese — go for any toppings, with any number of layers and components as you want, so long as it fits on a slice.
Finally, why throw a cook-off in the midst of all this book launch blitz? Because they’ve been such a critical discovery in finding the “art” of eating in for me. From potlucks to supper clubs, theme dinner parties to “parknics,” there are so many ways to make “not eating out” not just mean staying home and cooking alone. So I hope you can make it out on February 18th, and try all our truly homemade food at the party!
And of course, if you’re just up for eating, drinking and dancing, get your tickets to the party! A portion of proceeds will be donated to Just Food and Oxfam Haiti relief efforts.
-Your entry must consist of thin pieces of toasted bread topped with anything edible
-Please plan to make 100 pieces of crostini, and bring it ready to assemble and serve
-Please arrive at the Bell House with your entry by 7pm (you do not need to purchase a ticket)
-You must pre-register by emailing email@example.com, and please write “crostini cook-off” in the subject line. Spaces are limited, so hurry!