It was summer, and it was hot. We were outside, in my backyard, sitting under a tree, and the air was thick but not enough to make us move indoors. I was eating a popscicle. My friend Shanna was back in town from Nashville, and we were talking about the things we always talk about: blogs, writing, taking photos, everyday life, food. I think I said something about how she should write a book, which I feel like I tell her every time I talk to her, because her writing has this honesty to it that you don’t find in many places -- the type of honesty that reveals vulnerability and yet, only makes the writer stronger by recognizing it and makes the reader nod along, thinking “Yes, that’s exactly how I feel sometimes, except I never really knew how to say it.”
And Shanna mentioned casually that she was thinking about writing an ebook, and she talked about it so nonchalantly, like it was just something in the back of her head, an idea swimming around but not quite gaining speed just yet. I knew, right when she said it, that it would happen. Just like over lunch a few years before, when we were talking about jobs and happiness and how, as writers, it’s great to have the option to freelance in order to make time for other passions. And then, she quit her job and started freelancing, and hasn’t looked back since. Or, when we complained about the weather in Chicago, and how we longed for warmth and sunshine, and then Shanna up and moved to Nashville to be with the man she loved. While I’m the girl who just talks about these things, Shanna is the one who does them.
She wrote an ebook. “Written Together: A Story of Beginnings, in the Kitchen and Beyond.” And it’s about all of those things she did -- starting a blog, quitting her job, falling in love, moving to Nashville. Cooking. Eating. Finding truth in big things and small things. I think my favorite part of the book is the way she describes Tim, her now-husband who she met through the blog and whom I’ve only met a few times but, just from the way she writes about him, I feel like I really know him. And I love that. I love that Shanna and I became friends through our blogs, which we started on the exact same day in 2008, and found a connection that made the huge, growing universe of bloggers feel much less lonely than if we hadn’t met each other. And that I got to know Tim through her book, getting a more detailed backstory of a tale of which I only knew on the surface -- bits and pieces here and there through blog posts and lunch dates. I look forward to hanging out with them again soon, and for more stories, and more beginnings, and more blogging and writing, together.
You can buy Shanna's book here, and read more about it here and here.
Fried Sweet Potatoes in Coconut Oil
Shanna's ebook also includes recipes! This one is inspired by her recipe for fried zucchini in coconut oil. I used a sweet potato instead because I had one on the kitchen counter just begging to be eaten. I sliced it into thin rounds, fried them in coconut oil and butter, and ended up with a cross between sweet potato fries and sweet potato chips -- slightly crisp on the outer edges, soft and sweet inside, and gone after just a few minutes out of the pan.
1 sweet potato
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper
Peel and slice sweet potato into thin rounds. Heat coconut oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add sweet potato slices in a single layer in the pan (you may have to do this in two batches), and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cook until browned on one side, then flip over and cook a couple minutes more, until crisp. Remove to plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with remaining batches.