Author: Leah Ferguson

It’s Book Pub Day! New Releases: September 29, 2020

Hi! It’s Pub Day, here again! There are some INTRIGUING new books being released into the world today, everybody. Shall we take a look?   Fiction The Bell in the Lake: A Novel, by Lars Mytting   Just Like You: A Novel, by Nick Hornby 

Grief, and When Our Children Show Us the Way Out

Grief, and When Our Children Show Us the Way Out

As I type this, there is an estate sale company in my mother’s house, sorting through her belongings. The estate manager called me from where she stood in my parents’ dining room this morning to ask me some questions, and when she looked outside, she 

Leah Cooks Slow-Roasted Tomatoes with Coriander by Molly Wizenberg

Leah Cooks Slow-Roasted Tomatoes with Coriander by Molly Wizenberg

I know you have a bunch of tomatoes sitting on your kitchen counter right now, making you feel guilty each time you walk by them as they slowly soften into spotty mush.

Unless, wait: am I the only one who does that?

Tomato Season (it deserves to be capitalized) is my favorite season, right behind my beloved Strawberry Season (also capitalized, because duh). Our dad kept a garden when we were growing up, and every August and early September, we’d find tomato-onion-and-mayo sandwiches on the table for lunch, and often sat down to quick BLTs for dinner. When our countertops would begin to teem with them, Dad would give tomatoes away to neighbors with pride, knowing they’d be just as precious to them. There was nothing my parents looked forward to more in the summers than those sun-warmed tomatoes, freshly picked, sliced open and sprinkled with salt. It rubbed off on us.

I had a garden in our last house, a good-sized one with tomatoes every year that the backyard groundhog and I would fight to get to first. I’ve yet to plant one here, though, so I rely on our farm market and CSA to send them my way. Some weeks, I’ll admit, there are so many we can’t get to them fast enough to use them fresh (sorry, Mom and Dad!). But I started using this trick that Molly Wizenberg describes in her first book, A Homemade Life–a hands-off non-recipe she learned from her own father–that takes even the most forlorn-looking tomatoes on my counter and turns them into ruby-red gold you wouldn’t think about wasting.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of tomatoes you use for this: San Marzano work well, but you can use cut-up beefsteak or grape tomatoes, too (leave these last ones whole if you use them). With very little effort, you’ll end up with sweet-salty pieces of goodness that you’ll use for everything: throw them into omelettes, use a food processor to chop them up and make a pasta sauce or soup, or add them to salads. Or! Turn them into hors d’oeuvres by toasting baguette slices and topping them with a smear of ricotta, drizzle of olive oil, and the tomatoes. Honestly, if your family is like mine, half of them will disappear from the baking sheet before they’ve even had a chance to cool, but it’s good to have options.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes with Coriander

from A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg

Ingredients

  • Roma or other tomatoes (any amount), tough part removed and sliced in half lengthwise
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt (kosher or sea)
  • ground coriander

Directions

Heat oven to 200 degrees F. Use your hand to toss the tomato halves with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil until they’re evenly covered. Spread the tomatoes onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, then coriander (Wizenberg suggests a generous pinch of coriander each for 4-6 tomatoes, but I use more).

Roast in the oven for 4-6 hours until tomatoes have shrunk to about half their size. Let cool on the pan.

Once cool, eat like candy or add as you’d like to eggs, sauces, soups, pasta, or salads.

This is Seven Years Old, but at 6:15 a.m.

This is Seven Years Old, but at 6:15 a.m.

I shared this to my personal Facebook page on a whim the other day, but this is something I want to remember, so here we go, blogged for all posterity (er, or just for my archives): The other morning, I woke Cian up for school, 

It’s Pub Day! New Books to Read! September 22, 2020 Releases

Hi! Tuesday is Publication Day in Book World. It’s the most exciting day for an author: new books are released by their publishers, we get to read them, and all are happy. Because I know many of you like to read as much as I 

We’re Just Gonna Give that Muse a Big Ol’ Push, Basically

We’re Just Gonna Give that Muse a Big Ol’ Push, Basically

I’m sitting at a desk littered with paperwork. I see two planners here (why two?! We’re in a pandemic. WHAT AM I POSSIBLY PLANNING), plus an old grocery list and a messy meal-planning list I’d scratched out on the back of yet another grocery list. There’s the disclosure statement for my mother’s property, the paperwork for her car, photos of my kids and business cards I pulled out of the last purse she used before she became homebound. In the middle of the mess, at my right elbow as I type this, is forty-eight pages of the manuscript I was working on before the summer hit. I loved this story–when I sat down to write it’d fly from my fingers, and now it’s been so long since I stepped away from it I worry I’ve lost the thread. In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about a story idea being a real thing that tries to find its teller: if one person doesn’t pluck the story out of the air and set it to paper, someone else will. That image frightens me, because it’s something I’ve always sort of believed–if I don’t write this, someone else will. If I don’t get this down, it will leave me.

I know what you’re thinking. Writers are weird.

When I get anxious, or when the to-do tasks feel little but massive and many, I get scatter-brained. It’s like the light to my decision-making skills just flips off, and that part of my brain goes dark. I’ve always been this way. It makes me feel young–immature, I mean–and at sea. But I also know that if I just start–just take one bit at a time and get that done, then the dominoes will start to fall. I just have to sidestep the dark part of my brain and keep going despite how large it seems to loom. It’ll flip back on eventually, once I stop letting that dark part get in my way.

I know other people are like this, but nobody ever talks about it: this anxiety-like shutdown. The brain overwhelm. I’d love to know if other people I know are this way, but again, not many acquaintances are wont to walk up to you in the Target parking lot and say, “Hey! Good to see you! Have I ever told you how I shut down when I’m anxious? IT’S SO FUN.” I’ve got a good friend I admire because she just gets s*** done. I can’t explain it what it’s like to know her: there’s never been a to-do list I’ve witnessed her not power through. She’s a planner, and an executor. She’s so consistent. It’s humbling, especially during those days I feel all I’m super good at is staring out the window while I’m trying to figure out how to step around the big brain dark place and get to what I need to do next.

Anxious brains are weird.

Bestselling author Sally Hepworth recently answered a question on Instagram about her writing schedule: she is the breadwinner of her family through her work writing novels, and is currently under pandemic lockdown in Australia with her husband and three school-aged children. Someone asked her how she worked, and she said that she can’t be like that mythical old man in a lake house sitting by himself with his whiskey, waiting for his muse to pay him a visit. She said that she’s a career novelist: she has to write every day, despite inspiration or motivation or creative impulse or any of that, because, well, it’s what she has to do. Bills need to be paid, so deadlines need to be met.

I wonder if she ever stares out the window, too.

I’m going to post this, and then I’m going to read through those forty-eight pages and start typing some new ones. It’s time. I’ve some calls to make later, some emails to return, but for now I’m going to dig into the work.

It just takes a push, you guys: I’ve relocated the thread to my story. Looks like the first domino is about to fall.

Onward, with Jazz Hands

Onward, with Jazz Hands

The kids have told me that my half-jokey-but-really-I-was-seriousness declaration of “Onward, with joy!” as our family motto is basically the un-coolest thing I have ever done in their entire lifetimes, so just imagine their (implied) glee when our friend David texted me the Latin translation 

Any Excuse for Cake, I Tell You: It’s the Anniversary of ALL THE DIFFERENCE

Any Excuse for Cake, I Tell You: It’s the Anniversary of ALL THE DIFFERENCE

Hi! Hi! Hi! It’s the fifth anniversary of the day my debut novel was published (yes this has been a long time no you don’t have to ask me when another one is coming out I AM TRYING). All the Difference had its book birthday on this