Wednesday, March 12, 2014

a letter to my 22-year-old self

Dearest Gabi,

Oh, you beautiful, wonderful, brilliant girl. I wish I could travel back in time and squeeze you and hug you and tell you all about the amazing adventures you're going to have. I know things are very uncertain right now. You're about to graduate from college, but beyond that you have no real plan. Real life seems both light years away and scarily fast-approaching. 

People like to say that your twenties are the best time of your life, and I'm here to tell you (and I think you already know) that they're absolutely wrong. Your thirties are going to be way better than your twenties. Because despite what Taylor Swift says (not that you have any idea what she says--if you're 22, she's in, like, third grade), being twenty-two actually kind of sucks. Especially for someone like you.

You like to have a plan. You like to know what comes next. You like to have both feet on the ground when you decide forge ahead. You've been that way since you were little: brave, but careful. And, unfortunately, it's almost impossible to live that way when you're twenty-two. If you want to get anywhere, you're going to have to take some risks.

You'll worry that your life is on a different track from your parents when they were your age. Your mother may have married your father at twenty-five and given birth to you at twenty-seven, but you're not going to do things that way. It's not that you're opposed to a life like that, it's just that you'll find you have a lot to do before you get there.

You'll try on different careers, moving on from some, but never fully discarding any of them. There are ways in which you'll always be a teacher, an event planner, a caterer, and more. You'll try many different things, but at the end of the day, it will all come down to words and food, and how you can use those two mediums to say what you have to say. It might not be immediately clear just how you'll turn those things into a career, but trust me, you will, and it will amount to more than you ever could have imagined. Stay the course.

There are going to be people who tell you you're not good enough. Not smart enough. Not talented enough. Not beautiful enough. Not thin enough. Let the pain they cause thicken your skin, but don't carry them with you; they don't deserve your attention. You have much more important things to focus on.

There will be men. So many men. So many completely-wrong-but-totally-right-in-the-moment men. There will be much older men. Men who have children. Men who kind of are children. Men with wanderlust. Men with a lust that wanders away from you. Men with no ambition. Men who aspire to run the world. Men you don't actually like very much, but think you should go out with anyway.

Some of them will hurt your heart, but I'm happy to report that none will succeed in breaking it.

And after more than a few runs of this, you'll think that maybe you're done with dating for awhile. Maybe you have better things to do. Of course, it will be at this exact moment that you'll meet the best man you've ever known.

Buddy Holly will be wrong: falling in love won't be easy. It will be scary and messy and complicated, but also exhilarating and beautiful and deeply satisfying. It will force you to be vulnerable in a way you've never been before. You won't complete one another, because you're both already complete, but you will make each other's lives better by being in them. You'll find yourself braiding challah every Friday and texting him photos of the cat. He'll bring you flowers every week and learn how to use Twitter. You'll figure out what it means to share your lives without absorbing one another's identities. And you will be happier than you ever knew possible.

So hang in there, kid. Things get better, I promise. You have adventure, success and love to look forward to. And that's just in the next decade.

All my love,


Thursday, March 6, 2014

things i know (this week, anyway) #30

- Re-reading something you wrote long ago is a wonderful way to invoke deep tenderness for the young person you once were.

- It's totally OK to want (and ask) to be taken care of.

- Here's a quick and easy way to improve your life in no time: identify the assholes, and then immediately stop listening to what they tell you.

- You don't put a bra [or yoga pants] in a dryer!

- Like noodles? Try occasionally swapping them out for shirataki or kelp noodles instead. They're a healthful alternative, and if you cook them well, you'll hardly notice the difference.

- Fresh turmeric root is an incredible natural headache reliever. Puree it into a smoothie or grate it into hot water with ginger and lemon for a tisane. Its anti-inflammatory properties will make you feel better quickly.

- Put a little bit of coconut milk in your tomato soup. Seriously, just do it. You'll thank me.

- Writing is a job, and I don't work for free.

- My CSA box is changing my life. I highly recommend signing up for one today.

- Anytime the internet promises you "this one weird trick..." you should avoid clicking the link.

- Fairytale love is not real, but real, actual love is infinitely more satisfying.

Friday, February 21, 2014

10 reasons you should be blogging

1. It will make you a better writer. Having the knowledge that you're writing for an audience (yes, your mom counts as an audience) in the back of your head tends to result in a better overall composition.

2. That said, it's a great way to get comfortable with making mistakes somewhat publicly. One of the most wonderful things about blogging platforms is that they are living--and edit-able. Unlike glossy magazines, there's a scrappy, thrown-together quality to blogs, and it's totally OK to fix errors after you post. It's also OK to not fix them.

3. Have an idea, product, company or talent? Creating original, engaging blog content is a great way to make what's yours stand out on the internet. Blog about related topics and what's going on in your field, and people will find their way to you.

4. It's a good way to thicken your skin. When my first book came out, I posted an image of the cover on my blog. This prompted someone in Nebraska to write me a lengthy email about how slutty I look in the photo. This stung for a second, but mostly, it made me laugh. Who has time to call harmless food bloggers out about their cleavage?! Well, this woman did, apparently. I hope it made her very happy to put me in my slutty place. But seriously, it was a great reminder that there will always be haters, trolls and general assholes on the internet who will gleefully tear you apart and call you names, no matter what you do. Pay them no mind--they're mean because they're unhappy.

5. It can lead to bigger things. It led me to newspaper syndication, 2 cookbooks and a sitcom inspired by my life. It's also brought me paid speaking engagements, freelance writing, workshops and teaching opportunities.

6. It's amazing for improving creativity flow. I am often asked if I am afraid I'll run out of ideas. For my first couple of years of blogging, the answer was "Yes. Terrified." But five years later, I show no signs of running out of ideas, and I really believe it's because creativity begets more creativity. The more I write, the more ideas I have. It's like exercising a muscle at the gym: the more reps you do, the stronger you become, and hence, the more reps you are able to do.

7. Reading your blog has the potential to help someone feel less alone. Write honest, genuine posts, and your words really will affect their readers. Blogs foster connection, and that helps make the world a better place.

8. It's not the whole point, but you can make passive income blogging. Work with a great ad company to monetize your posts. Get syndicated by a newspaper or bigger online media source. Set up an Amazon store on your blog. It's hard to make a whole living doing this, but you can make a nice chunk of spending cash without doing anything other than setting it up and continuing to blog.

9. It's like an audition for a book. The publishing world is changing these days, and more and more bloggers are getting book deals after publishers discover them online. If you think about it, it makes sense: A blog is essentially a living record of a) your writing skills, b) your thoughts and ideas, and c) your ability to create an audience for yourself. Publishers want to publish books by people who already have an audience, and successful bloggers are just that.

10. Your thoughts are interesting and deserve to be shared. Just trust me on this one. Even if you don't think it's true, I guarantee there's someone out there (likely a lot of people) who is interested in your thoughts. Think of a blogging platform as your path to finding and connecting with them.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

things i know (this week, anyway) #29

- When conflict arises, try to be conscious of both the micro and the macro. The socks you always leave on the bathroom floor might seem like nothing more than forgotten footwear to you; to someone else, they may be further evidence of your general lack of regard for the needs of others. 

-  Make time to do nothing. 

- Current favorite application of pizza doughSteambuns. Fill with crispy tofu, pulled pork, grilled chicken or fresh avocado. Add hot sauce, pickled veg and eat. 

- Obnoxious, elitist reputation though it may have, drinking freshly-juiced fruits and vegetables feels awesome. 

- "Can I pick your brain?" has got to be the worst phrase ever. Both in terms of imagery and the actual ask. 

- If you love to cook, find a partner who loves eating and is happy to wash dishes.

- Want to add uncommon flavor and texture to noodles, salads and stir-fries? Make caramelized garlic chips: Slice cloves of garlic lengthwise, and fry slowly in vegetable or coconut oil over medium heat, just until they turn light brown and crisp. Drain, salt and use as needed.

- If something is no longer working, stop doing it. The rest will follow.

- The fact that Lena Dunham's Vogue photo spread was Photoshopped has nothing to do with the size and shape of her body. Vogue Photoshops photos of people. So do Cosmo, Glamour and Vanity Fair. Your little cellulite-hunt did more harm than good, Jezebel

- The key to success: work your ass off and be a mensch to everyone.

Friday, January 10, 2014

young & hungry (or, my crazy news)

You may have seen a few posts in my Facebook and Twitter feeds about theridiculous, crazy, wild news of a TV show inspired by BrokeAss Gourmet and my adventures in and out of the kitchen. I've had a few requests for an explanation of, um, how the hell that happened, so I thought I'd share one in the same place this whole thing started: my blog. 

In early 2011, I got an email from an agent at Creative Artists Agency. He loved BrokeAss Gourmet, and wanted to know if I had ever considered doing something with it in the scripted TV realm. Say, a sitcom?
Uh, no. I hadn't considered doing that before.
But he truly thought there was something there. Eventually, he found a few production companies interested in meeting with me. Still in disbelief that anyone would actually think that a show inspired by my life would be something people would want to watch, I flew to LA. My first book, The BrokeAss Gourmet Cookbook, had just come out, so I stuffed a few copies of it into my falling-apartTarget purse, swiped on some red lipstick, and hoped to be taken at least a little bit seriously.
Lo and behold, The Tannenbaum Company, creators of CBS' mega-hit, Two and a Half Men, loved me. They wanted to get started right away. My agent assured me that this was very, very good. I could not believe it. 
My disbelief continued, as the Tannenbaum Company brought me back down to Los Angeles to interview writers. In case you've never interviewed someone who is up for the job of writing the TV version of your life, allow me to tell you: it's very surreal. You might even find yourself laughing out loud during the process because you can't believe it's happening.
But then, if you're lucky, the process will lead you to meet a writer whom you just know is the one. When the meeting ends, you won't want him to go. He is Dave Holden. And he was the one for my show. Which, of course, I still couldn't believe was starting to take shape.
Dave came to San Francisco to absorb a little bit of BrokeAss Gourmet at the source. He met my family, a few of my friends, and of course, Evan. Then he set to work, writing the pilot script.
The pilot went through several iterations. Dave workshopped it with The Tannenbaum Company for weeks until they had something they were truly happy with. The story of a feisty young food blogger named Gabi, who lives in the Mission district in San Francisco and applies for a job as a personal chef to a Zuckerberg-type character. She is klutzy and blunt, but full of heart and aspiration. Dave called the show Young & Hungry.
Then, we pitched to the networks. I made Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies and distributed more copies of my book to network executives. Then, we waited.
At first, we didn't hear much, so I banished the possibility of this actually manifesting to the tiny attic in my brain, where unlikely dreams are stored. 
But then, something crazy happened. 
While visiting friends in Tulsa, I got a call from my agent. "It looks like we've got an offer from ABC Family!" he told me.
I happen to love ABC Family. Pretty Little Liars is my sorry-not-sorry guilty pleasure. They were interested in my show?! 
And they were. So much so, that they greenlit a pilot
Then, they cast it.
Emily Osment, of Hannah Montana fame, as Gabi Diamond, our protagonist
Jonathan Sadowski, of $#*! My Dad Says, as Josh Kaminski, Gabi's tech entrepreneur boss; Rex Lee of Entourage, as Josh's publicist/assistant
Annie Potts of GCB, Designing Women, and, of course, Ghostbusters, as Donna Kaminski, Josh's overbearing mother
The Americans' Aimee Carrero as Gabi's best friend and roommate, Sofia Rodriguez
Australian newcomer, Mallory Jansen, as Caroline, Josh's high society girlfriend
The inimitable Kym Whitley, of Curb Your Enthusiasm plays Yolanda, Josh's housekeeper
And finally, Top Chef winner and owner of Los Angeles' inkMichael Voltaggio, as himself. 
So Evan and I flew to Los Angeles to watch the taping of the show, and you guys, it was good.
I realize I'm biased, but it was the kind of show I'd want to watch, even if it weren't directly connected to me. The characters are lovable, but real. You want to hang out with them. More specifically, you want to share a meal and a few drinks with them. 
And then, this Monday, the unimaginable happened: ABC Family picked up the show. It's going to series. Production starts this spring, and the show will premiere later in 2014. 
I can't begin to express how blown away I am. It feels like yesterday that the concept of this maybe being a faint possibility was just introduced to me. But here we are.
I'll keep you posted on my involvement, as we get closer to the premiere. But for now, I'm going to celebrate with a few cocktails and an incredible meal.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

things i know (this week, anyway) #28

- Frozen grapes are proof that fruit is a perfect dessert.

- If something you wrote goes viral on the internet, resist the urge to read the comments. There are a lot of unhappy people commenting on the interwebs.

- I don't think Miley Cyrus needs any more open letters.

- Facebook, your friend suggestions indicate that you have bad boundaries (or, at least, that you think that I do).

- A hot bath makes just about everything at least marginally better.

- If you're not going to use butter, use olive or coconut oil. Step away from the margarine, for crying out loud.

- The gluten issue is a complicated one. Modern wheat has very little to do with the ancient grain it started out as.

- Telling a woman to "calm down" is the single most effective way to ensure that the opposite effect occurs.

- Some of the best sarcasm pushes the boundary right up to the line between funny-nice and funny-mean.

- Good design will get you far. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

a little tour of my new cookbook

The advance copy of my new book, Pizza Dough: 100 Delicious, Unexpected Recipes, came in the mail today. I am so unbelievably proud of it, and excited for you to see it. Frankie Frankeny took the photos (with food styling by Fanny Pan). Leslie Jonath did the creative direction and Lisa McGuinness edited. It'll be in stores next month, but in the meantime, I thought I'd give you a little tour.

So first of all, everything in the book is based on my favorite kitchen product: pizza dough. You can make it yourself (the book offers several recipes, including a gluten-free option), or, you can cheat a little, and pick it up at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's or your local grocery store, usually for about $2/pound. All you have to do is bring it to room temperature when you bring it home and you're ready to roll (pun intended, obviously).

Once you have your dough, then you can really get cooking. You'll be amazed by what you can get this innocent-looking ball to do.

Just look at these yummy tartlets. Once you find out how easy they are, you'll seriously freak out. 

Upgrade your dinner, bigtime, with these easy, beautiful rosemary-garlic dinner rolls. They turn soup and salad into a five-star dining experience! They're so buttery already that they don't even need butter for spreading, but I still put it on because...butter.

Focaccia is a snap, and so pretty.

There's pizza, of course. 

Don't worry. I didn't forget deep dish.

Assemble these easy cinnamon rolls at night, then bake in the morning for the easiest, most impressive brunch ever.

Fry up mouthwatering, puffy sopapillas. Glorious honey drizzle not optional.

Don't let guests leave without dessert. These elegant lemon curd doughnuts will leave them raving about your culinary prowess for days to come.

Check back soon for information about launch parties, book signings and demonstrations. Meanwhile, here's where to order (click on the store of your choice).

Thanks for reading. 

                                                     Love, Gabi