Here’s the fun bio:
If you wanted to set a trap to catch me, you’d put these things in it: Agnes, my cast iron skillet; Cadbury Creme Eggs; my niece and nephews; and books. I consider thrifting an act of creativity. I buy butter when it’s on sale (there are six pounds of it in my freezer right now, because it was finally below $2/lb). My favorite form of stress relief is baking, which generally makes me popular around our department when the end of the semester rolls around. There’s something very satisfying about recipes and the work of your hands, especially when it results in something tasty to eat.
When my mom was diagnosed with cancer in October 2015, I started finding all kinds of vintage cast iron in my local thrift stores. As I attempted to cook her anything she would eat, I became obsessed with cast iron. As a vegetarian, cooking for my carnivorous parents, that was an exercise in faith by both parties. I started writing about food and cancer, the food metaphors of cancer, I got back into the old cookbooks on my mom’s shelves, the recipes in my grandmother’s handwriting, and I found classic cookbooks at my local thrift stores. It was something I could do, something that was real in a world where nothing made sense.
My favorite is Agnes, an 8″ Le Creuset skillet that I found at a thrift store for $7. Her name comes from Jennifer Crusie’s collaborative novel with Bob Mayer, Agnes and the Hitman. This is my favorite fluffy book of all time. The main character’s name is Agnes and well, the pan is a Le Creuset, which almost sounds like Crusie.
Outside of cooking, I write and I teach. My first book, Water and What We Know: Following the Roots of a Northern Life was published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2015 and won the 2016 Minnesota Book Award for memoir/creative nonfiction. I run Paper Crane Writing Services with two friends and I am the founder and editor of Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies. These days, I make the magnificent literary metropolis of Minneapolis my home.
Food is part of literature, from Proust’s madeleines to Narnia’s Turkish Delight. Here’s my attempt to cook my way through the books I’m reading and teaching.