tofu fajitas, whole wheat tortillas, pursuing a new book project + the business of leaving

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Lately all I can think about is writing a new book and what that means in age of distraction, abbreviation and constant connection. It’s been a long time since I’ve written long form, since I’ve thought about crafting a narrative, developing characters, finding the in of people. Someone once told me that writing is much like an exorcism — you obsess over the things for which you’re most passionate, and writing allows you to write them out, to give your obsession new shape, color and form. Years ago, when I was playing around with being a “line” writer {think Gary Lutz or my friend + prolific author, Kira Henehan, those who are obsessed with the architect of a sentence versus the development of a story}, someone in my Columbia workshop told me that the family story has been done. Naturally, this statement was followed by an exaggerated sigh, to which I responded in laughter. Every story has been told, but it’s the telling and the voice that make it new. I still believe this. Even now, years later, after so many people have asked if I plan to return to the terrain of my previous book.

To which I’ve responded with a very firm, no. I wrote that obsession out, practically underwent a blood-letting, and now I’ve quietly placed a clean sheet over it, kissed its cheek and allowed the waves to carry it out to the ocean.

However, what I have been obsessed with is what I like to call the business of leaving. Years ago, I wrote a story collection, which turned out to be my thesis for the Columbia MFA program, about a series of characters affected by leaving. I don’t do well with loss, abandonment, leaving, and even though I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been, leaving gnaws. When my best friend of seven years got married and excised all contact it took me a full year to barely recover. When a great love laid my heart out to pasture I was devastated. And when my father called me last week and told me his dearest friend of twenty-five years died of leukemia it took everything in me not to race home and cry alongside him.

The interesting part in all of this is that food always plays a part in every story. From ruined restaurants to beloved recipes, food has always been the center, or the character, in my life. Love, loss and what I ate will be the heart of my new project. It won’t be the sort of thing where I tell as story and dump a recipe at the end, as that’s not how I think. I’m not linear {can’t you tell?} in how I tell a story, so food has to be woven throughout, it must be integral. So this has me exploring new forms. New ways of telling a story in a new age.

Let’s see what unfolds…

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Blue Apron
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 red onion
1 bunch cilantro (2 tbsp, rough chop)
1 ripe avocado
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 package superfirm tofu (you can opt to use chicken, beef, shrimp or other protein alternatives)
1/4 cup sour cream
4 whole wheat tortillas
2 1/4 tsp fajita dry mix

DIRECTIONS
Prepare all your veggie by slicing all veggies {peppers, onion, avocado} into big chunks or strips. Squeeze some lime juice all over the avocado to prevent it from oxidizing {turning brown}.

Heat some olive oil in a large skillet with the heat set to high. Drain the water from the tofu and cut into strips. Transfer the strips to the pipping hot pan and cook until browned on both sides (4-7 minutes/side). While the tofu is cooking, add the peppers and onions along with the fajita seasoning and stir until well-cooked and combined. You want your veggies softened, but still crunchy and the tofu, browned.

In a separate pan, heat the tortillas on both sides until warmed and set aside.

Distribute the mixture to all your tortillas and add the avocado + sour cream + spritz with lime and serve!

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