So you may recall that weekend last March when I got to hang out at Juniper Moon Farm and learn how to quilt? What a fortuitous weekend that turned out to be. I met Susan and her dear friend Amy, both of whom I am very happy to count as friends (also, I think Alston has a crush on Amy’s youngest daughter, Oona). And by chance, the weekend of the quilting workshop coincided with the launch of Susan’s Kickstarter campaign for her new online Magazine, By Hand. Another woman at the workshop, Virginia, was going to be the Stitch Editor, and I believe Susan up until that point assumed she’d be taking on the Cook Editor role in addition to her job as Editor in Chief.
Let me step back for a minute here. I’ve never had a good answer to the question “What’s your dream job?” Before and during college, it was something along the lines of “Is professional student an option?” And after college, I moved in with my now husband, Will. Will knew he wanted to work in food and wine, specifically, he wanted to open his own restaurant. So it became my job to find a job that would a) let me stay in Charlottesville, b) make enough money for both of us to live on while he started plugging away at said dream and c) would actually accept this Political Theory/Bioethics major as an employee. I got lucky. After a crappy few months selling advertisements for a local paper, I found a job at LexisNexis. Not a sexy job, not a job that I would ever do if I won the lottery, even like a small lump sum win, but a job that could sustain us. I hopped around the small corporate scene that is Charlottesville (CFA, SNL) and by the time I was pregnant with Marie, knowing I’d be leaving the working world for the foreseeable future, I still didn’t have a good answer to the question. I’d had good jobs, well paying jobs, jobs that satisfied me intellectually, but no job I would ever do if not in exchange for a pretty large chunk of money. Luckily Will’s dreams were playing out quite successfully, and I can say without a doubt that, even if someone handed us $10 million (which you can still totally do, by the way), he would continue to run Revolutionary Soup and The Whiskey Jar. The closest I had was this farm, which up until this year has been losing money (ah, the cost of infrastructure). If asked at a cocktail party, I’d probably have said “Food Writer?”
Back to Susan. After hanging out with Susan maybe three times, she asked me if I’d be interested in being the Cook Editor for By Hand. Wait, seriously? Did I just luck my way into my dream job? As in, a job I’d be willing to do regardless of a paycheck (which works out well, as there is no paycheck at this point)? Of course I said yes. And so Will and I concocted a harvest feast we could put on for the Fall issue but photograph in August. I tested recipes, and took hundreds of pictures of things that seemed so basic, like dicing onions or sautéing bacon, all in the name of creating the level of step by step instructions I would need if the topic were sewing and not cooking. Because that’s the idea of the magazine – that people who make in the general sense of the word often want to learn to make more. The cook would love to knit, the seamstress wants to build her own shelves, the carpenter wants to make dinner from scratch, if only we had the time and the know-how. And while I can’t do anything about time, I can share a little know-how. And that’s what I get to do now, one recipe at a time.
So I guess this is the long winded way of saying you should check out By Hand Magazine. The Spring issue just came out. So now I’m contemplating what I’ll be cooking this summer.