Identity Crisis

March 5, 2012

I got an email the other day from a lovely woman named K., a reader of this blog. I don’t believe she’s ever commented, but she reads, and she took time to contact me personally.

The jist of the email was this: K. said she really enjoyed my blog and wanted to nominate me for The Homies 2012 awards, but she wasn’t sure what category to nominate me for, and what did I think?

My first thought, of course, was that I was really honored that she’d thought of me.  I mean, there’s some serious, jaw-droppingly amazing company hanging out in those nominations.

My second thought was, how the heck do I answer her?

My answer was completely dorkstore and clumsy, but it went something like this:

Dear K.,

Thank you for writing and for reading! I’m so glad to finally meet you. I’m also really flattered that you thought of me. In all honesty, I don’t know what category I fall into. I’m kind of all over the place these days. I started this blog as a cooking/family blog, but I’ve found myself veering quite a bit into memoir. I don’t know where I fit, truly. Nor do I know where I’m going. I’m trying to listen to my heart, but I have no idea where it is going to lead me. But thank you so much for your kind words.


Okay, I’m pretty sure that K. thinks I’m a nutjob asshole now.

Jeez, lady, insecure much?  A little lost in your own skin, there?

But truly, I didn’t know any other way to respond to her very kind email, because let’s face it, I am all over the place.

When it comes to blogging about food, I’m weird. I just think that it’s so much better if there’s a story lurking in there somewhere. Alas, this is problematic. Because sometimes there isn’t really a story. Sometimes it’s just a damn salad, you know?

I cook things all the time, take pictures, and then never post about it because, well, just posting a recipe without some background, or a connection, bores the bejeezus out of me. Some people pull it off with aplomb, though, with words peppery enough to hold my interest, and I read those blogs with enthusiasm, and usually the photos are amazing, and I think, “So that’s what a real food blog looks like.”

And then some food blogs have very simple photos, some even taken with ancient instamatic cameras, but are written with deft precision and detail, and I think, “So that’s what a real food blog looks like.”

And then some food blogs are very specific and genre-oriented, catering to people who love desserts, or French food, or vegetarian fare, and I think, “How smart. How focused. So that’s what a real food blog looks like.”

This blog, frankly, is none of those things. Yes, sometimes the stars align and I can write a little ditty that has storyline, memory, recipe and photograph (although the photo is always somewhat shitty). Still, posts like that are a victory, in my opinion.

A rare victory.

Because there are other times when I am uninspired, or sad, or overwhelmed–and at times like that I don’t give a rip about food. I don’t want to eat anything but a bowl of buttered rice, and let’s face it, nobody wants to read about that. That’s when I turn to memoir, to writing prompts that jog my memory, to a method that feeds me in other ways, that makes me feel something in times when I’m not sure I’m a feeling creature anymore.

And I’m not ashamed of those posts–well, maybe a little–but you readers are generous enough to wade through all the muddle and confusion, and reach out hands, and for that I am incredibly lucky and grateful.

Also, sometimes I just rant. Or post pictures of Barbies who are up to no good.

And by now, you are all probably thinking, Dana, get to the stinking point, yo? Your arse be boring us.

Sadly, I do not have a point.

It’s just that a really, really nice email from a reader sent me into some kind of nervous episode, which is, in itself, so typical of me that it’s scary. Nervous Nellie, that’s me.

I’m having an identity crisis.

Maybe I just need to go out and buy a red Mini-Cooper. Or start wearing black dresses and pearls like Audrey Hepburn. Maybe I should adopt an English accent, or start smoking French cigarettes?

Am I a person who loves to cook and write? Or am I a writer who likes to cook? Am I a photographer who loves food and decides to write about it (ha! so not a photographer). Am I a mother of small children who turns to the past to clear her head? Am I someone who lives in the past to block out the chaos of the present?

I don’t know. I’ve never known. I’m actually not sure that knowing would help me at all.

But I do know this: thank you for sticking with me, Dear Readers, in this schizophrenic space. You mean the world.

Oh, and also? I do know one other thing. That nervous thing? I’ve always had it. Just ask my Kindergarten teacher.


{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

Abby March 5, 2012 at 7:06 am

I also have no idea where I fit in, as evidenced by the vast difference between my last two posts and probably the next two posts. Fitting into a tidy little box is boring, no?

You’re the Kitchen Witch and you’re awesome. That’s all you need to know.


TKW March 5, 2012 at 10:48 am


Maybe I’m just fitting into a litter box? :) Thank you.


Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon March 5, 2012 at 7:09 am

Holy hell, you said the words that have been swirling around my head for the last few months about my own site. I guess the only right answer for either of us is to let it be whatever it wants to be in that particular moment.


Mary Lee March 5, 2012 at 7:26 am

When you’re truly one of a kind, there IS no category to define you.

Visiting your blog is like opening a gift. I have no idea what will be inside, except that it will be thoughtful, extremely well-written, and interesting. Sometimes I see another unique layer of you. Other times, I almost gasp because inside–warm, beating, and vulnerable–you have placed your heart.

You’re a writer. Plain and simple.


TKW March 5, 2012 at 10:49 am

Mary Lee,

You are totally my honorary Mama.


Kelly March 5, 2012 at 7:32 am

I don’t know about genres or the right way to do anything. What I know is that I often clear out my reader of blogs and posts that I know will be interesting, but forgettable. Your blog is one I never clear out, meaning I often read many of your posts at a time … and it’s always interesting and heart felt and funny (unless it’s sad) and achingly good. Is there a genre for that?


TKW March 5, 2012 at 10:50 am

Okay, Kelly, you just made me sorta cry and then remember how much I love your chicken posts, and how sometimes you just gotta say “fuckit.”


Tiffany March 5, 2012 at 8:07 am

I’ll read every day even if you don’t fit in anywhere. xoxo


Jennifer March 5, 2012 at 8:09 am

I’m going to say you are a write. Plain and simple. Whether you cook or don’t cook or take photos or don’t take photos you will always come back to the fact that you write, and you do it beautifully.


Naptimewriting March 5, 2012 at 8:17 am

One half of me totally gets this and shares your angst.

The other half says, “sometimes it’s just a blog.”

You don’t need a category. Just be. And write what moves you. Blogs are about sharing. You share with us food and memories and rants, all of which just means you’re a friend.

Do you really need a label for that?


TKW March 5, 2012 at 10:51 am


Girl, why you always be so wise?


Katybeth March 5, 2012 at 8:40 am

The first words that came to my mind were story teller.

Once you label something it loses a little imagination doesn’t it? I know it has to be done but couldn’t the categories just be numbers or something…that you draw out of a hat?


Rhonda March 5, 2012 at 8:45 am

Hello from another Kitchen Witch. It’s your blog do whatever the hell you feel like. If people don’t like it they can go read someone else’s or write their own. You are a very entertaining writer and I read your blog often although I don’t comment much…more of a lurker. It’s funny that you K teacher noted you were nervous some things don’t change, mine report cards always said “doesn’t meet potential”, aw yup, that still hasn’t changed.


TKW March 5, 2012 at 10:52 am

Hi Rhonda,

There are quite a few Witchies out there–nice to meet you. And thanks for the laugh about “not meeting potential”…gah, teachers can be such tossers.


Carol March 5, 2012 at 8:49 am

Fitting into a category isn’t really important, I think. In fact, it can be restrictive and boring. All you have to be is you, whatever that might be at the moment.


Cathy March 5, 2012 at 9:14 am

Love you Dana! I am all over the place too. It keeps life interesting, no?


Biz March 5, 2012 at 9:29 am

I love your blog because it is so ecclectic. You are an incredible writer, so I consider you a writer first before a food blog. That being said, I always love your recipes. Even if your Dad is a Chicago Cubs fan. :D Hugs!


TKW March 7, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Daddy-o forgives you for not being a Cubs fan. I think we should make up over Chi-dogs someday.


Annie March 5, 2012 at 9:41 am

Dude, you are overcomplicating this. Your blog is a lot of things, and that is perfectly fine. No need to fit into some special category. In fact, I prefer those that have more than a single focus. Those that box themselves in end up stretching to keep finding things to post about, and why bother posting if you’re doing it in a forced manner. I love you and your blog, and it’s non-conformity :)


TKW March 5, 2012 at 10:54 am


“…Dude, you are overcomplicating this…” This made me laugh so hard I almost peed myself. You nailed me. And your blog rocks.


Barbara March 5, 2012 at 9:46 am

You got all S’s…you can’t do any better than that.
(Do report cards look like this now? I must drag out one of mine and frighten the hell out of you.)
Don’t over think this whole nomination category thing…nothing wrong with you.
(Perhaps there’s a nutjob asshole category? I’d fit in that one too.)


TKW March 5, 2012 at 10:55 am


MUST campaign for nutjob asshole category!


Cathy March 5, 2012 at 9:47 am

Love you Dana! I am all over the place too. It keeps life interesting, no? Hugs and well-deserved compliment.


Tracy March 5, 2012 at 10:04 am

I find it interesting how back in our day there wasn’t much room to assess withdrawn behavior–like if you weren’t causing noisy mischief, everything was fine, here have another “S” and hmmm, you are pretty quiet, I’ll just make a note of that here on the side. Now that’s all better.

My report card from that age had some more specific stuff on it…so there were things I could (and did!) get “needs improvement” on…like “initiates play with others.” Think I also got dinged for not sharing. Oops.

All this to say, I hear you on all of this post. I can drive myself crazy about this stuff-what is my blog’s point of view? But I think you hit the nail on the head when you said sometimes it’s just a damn salad. Write about it if you want. I kind of want buttered rice now.


TKW March 5, 2012 at 10:57 am


Funny…I didn’t really think about that, but you make such a good point about the report cards of that time…

And then I wonder why Mama saved them all? What does that say?


Jenna March 5, 2012 at 11:20 am

You’re always a delight to read, whether it’s recipes or memoirs or rants about a disastrous vacation or Christmas shopping debacle. You’re not schizophrenic–you’re a real human person (with all the complexities and layers that come with humanity)! And my favorite blogs are not the specialized ones, but the ones written by real people living out their real lives. You!


philosophotarian March 5, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I think that part of why this is one of my favorite blogs (oh, hi, I’m just a friendly lurker, don’t mind me) is precisely the “lack” of point/focus. My theory is that there are two kinds of people in this world. There are pencils, whose behinds follow their in fronts in a straight and linear fashion. Pencils always have points that are singular and visible. Then there are amoebas whose in fronts (plural) can follow their behinds (plural) and who have no point at all. Still, pencils, when sharp, grow smaller. Amoebas, however, though decidedly not pointy, multiply. So there.


TKW March 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm


Quit lurking! Your wit is awesome.


TKW March 5, 2012 at 8:14 pm

And also, what if I am not an Amoeba, but a mere Paramecium? That is sadness, eh?


philophotarian March 6, 2012 at 7:35 am

aha! I thought of that once. However, possibly the very best thing about coming up with your own system of classification based on two otherwise totally related things is that you get to make all the rules. There are no paramecia in this system. Just amoebas and pencils. Maybe you’re an amoeba with one or two in fronts that are bigger than the others?
If there is sadness, it is that I ever came up with this schema in the first place: what the hell was I thinking/overthinking/worried about that I needed to assure myself that it is okay to not be a pencil??


TKW March 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm

As long as you are a Dixon-Ticonderoga pencil, you will be super. Most reliable, awesome pencils of all time.

Phoo-d March 5, 2012 at 12:55 pm

You are a writer through and through. No matter what the content, subject, or style it is always interesting. Your writing makes me laugh, cry, cringe, and generally love the big hearted person behind all of it. Who needs a category when you have crazy talent?


TKW March 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm


Eh, I just crazy. xoxo


Arnebya March 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I agree with the other commenters: no label needed. I know that’s kind of a simplistic statement because (at least for me) it’s normal to want to be categorized. Whenever people ask what kind of blog I have I can’t answer. I write what moves me, much like I get when I come here — you might be moved by food or moved by a memory or moved by a recent event. That’s why I keep coming back. I don’t expect one particular thing each time I come, but I’m always happy with what’s here.


TKW March 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm


Thank you for your nice words. I hope you keep coming back.


Paula March 5, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I’m not even sure what the homie awards are but I’m impressed.

I think that none of os fit in a box but we do that to people just to make life easier because it takes time to peel back the layers and of course, some people don’t allow it. Your writing makes it easier for us to see your layers. I wish I was comfortable with being so transparent.


TKW March 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm


I may be transparent but you have the courage to make videos, dude! That is amazing to me.


SuziCate March 5, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I love that you’re all over the place; kinda’ makes me feel at home. Your memoir is superb and your recipes are fabulous…I like what’s going on at your blog. You keep doing whatever your heart tells you.


Maggie S. March 5, 2012 at 5:50 pm

No, I totally get that.


Katrina Kenison March 5, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Sometimes the kindest words from others are the hardest to hear, that’s how scared we are of our own beauty and brightness. And yet, it takes courage to admit that the compliments make us feel weird and crazy in our skin. You express that beautifully, as you do everything, which is why I’m always here, reading and appreciating and resonating. You don’t always need a recipe, nor do you always need a story, and you never need a label. Just be you, and do what you do — and as you can see from the gazillion comments preceding mine, we will all keep showing up.


TKW March 5, 2012 at 7:45 pm


Scared and nervous. Nervous and scared. But grateful for you.


Justine March 5, 2012 at 8:02 pm

I can’t believe you kept that from kindergarten! How incredible.

You may have a crisis because you are many things, but you’re also funny, wonderful, talented and just plain awesome. Nothing wrong with that :)


Heather March 5, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Honey I would Never, EVER call you boring! And I wouldn’t want you to fit into a category. You are my laugh and my cry and my drool over a kick ass recipe. And don’t hang onto that Kindergarten thing… My kindergarten teacher said I was much to shy to amount to anything… Now I just don’t shut up!


Privilege of Parenting March 5, 2012 at 10:46 pm

I second Katrina’s sentiments and compliments. I show up for your spirit and the truth with which you write—and the love and humanity that permeates every story of humor and pathos, every recipe for nourishment and courage and being less alone. As a screenwriter I was often asked about who I really was—comedy, action, drama, etc. I hate pigeon-holes and that’s not great for branding and marketing, but apparently it is great for finding a community of fellow-spirits who are co-creating some sort of consciousness that none of us can sum up, but which envelops all of us in its bewitching spell. Perhaps one of the reasons that compliments feel odd is not only our core insecurity (after all, we want to be truly understood, which includes others knowing just how scared and crappy we sometimes feel) but also our wishes to transcend ego and aloneness and simply be included. We work so hard for that, workig to find the courage to have our voice (I was a similar kid in terms of quiet and nervous). People may not realize how blogging itself, for an introvert, feels like a profound act of extraversion.


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes March 6, 2012 at 6:11 am

Honestly? The diversity of your writing is why I love reading your posts. You are never boring, never ever.
And I wished my pictures looked as nice as yours.


KLZ March 6, 2012 at 6:15 am

But this is why I love your blog and read along even when I don’t comment. Because it’s uniquely you.


idiosyncratic eye March 6, 2012 at 6:24 am

Don’t fret, just keep writing, whatever it is that takes your fancy, day by day. That’s why we’re here reading along and even if we weren’t, write for yourself always. :)


Jane March 6, 2012 at 8:10 am

All I know is that I love coming here. I love your stories. I love your recipes with and without back stories. You write really, really, really well. With or without nerves. In fact, I love your nerve. ;)

I’ve often wrestled with the same thing – and I don’t have yummy recipes and mouthwatering pictures to fall back on.

You, my dear are an amazing writer. And that’s all you need to know.


Sherri March 6, 2012 at 8:40 am

I so relate to you on so many levels – now…. seeing your K report card, I’m wondering if we were in the same class / place back in the day :). Categorizing this blog would be tricky – it is a memoir at times – it is so present day – it is yummy, helpful recipes – it is funny, sad, friendly :). Confessional? Is that a “thing”? Anyway…. I like coming here. Nice of K to nominate you.


Erica@PLRH March 6, 2012 at 8:49 am

There’s only one of you and that’s what I love.


Contemporary Troubadour March 6, 2012 at 9:57 am

Girl, all those things that make your blog your blog are why I love to read it. Categories are useful to a point. But it’s the stuff that unintentionally transcends “genre” that is most memorable because it’s real, it’s honest, and it’s life jumping off the page. Love and more love.


Ink March 6, 2012 at 10:27 am

What everyone else has said. I love reading your blog. Not, it should be said, for the recipes, though those are fabulous (I’m just not much of a cook, though I admire everything you make and marvel at your culinary mastery). But I read to HEAR YOUR WONDERFUL VOICE. You can tell a story like nobody’s business, girlfriend. It amazes me. Love you.

ps: my elementary report cards always said “Needs to stop talking to her friends during class.” Oops.


Heidi March 6, 2012 at 11:31 am

I actually love that I never know what to expect when I come to your blog. I’m never disappointed! While your recipes are tempting, I really enjoy your storytelling. That’s what I would call you- a storyteller. (By the way, I’ve made your Beef Lentil soup for every big snow this winter (Cleveland). Question– when you take this to people, what do you put it in?)


TKW March 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm


The biggest freaking pot I have :)


The Curious Cat March 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Your blog is unique – that’s what. And that is why I read it. It is a great blog! :) xxx


Kate March 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Labels are for boxes stored in the closet. Not people. I love reading here because it feels like an extension of who you are – multifaceted , complex, interesting. And you write so well.


Kiyah March 6, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Oh, you are not alone, TKW! For everyone jerk who has a beautiful, glowing, artful, totally together blog/website I wonder how many are out there – like me – floundering with uncertainty and indecision. “What do I really love writing about?” “Is this a parenting site that talks about pretty things or a pretty thing site that talks about parenting?” “What happened to your weekly meal planning series; dropped off the map didn’t it. Maybe you’re not really cut out for this.” “Maybe if I do [X,Y, or Z] I can fool more people into reading my blog and, by increasing traffic to the site, maybe then I can quite my day job and just search those internets all day.”

Seriously. I have this discussion with myself. At least for you, it seems to be working- we love reading the “mess”!


TKW March 7, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Hopefully, a glorious mess, but even if not, I’m glad you’re riding shotgun with me, Thelma.


Belinda March 7, 2012 at 8:50 am

I prefer to think of being all over the map as being alive and in tune to the present, the truth and the process. I appreciate focus in most things, but when I read blogs, I welcome being able to follow the journey of the blogger. Those tangents to me add so much flavor and dimension.

Congratulations on the nomination.


Stephanie March 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm


I’ll admit it, I stumbled across your blog looking for a different “food” blog a friend told me about. But then I found you and fell in love. I mean, the snark makes me laugh. The stories make me smile. And you food makes me hungry. (Who doesn’t crave a bowl of rice with melted butter sometimes?)

We’re women and we don’t accept labels…given to us by others or ourselves. So you just keep doing what you’re doing in whatever way you feel like doing it. And we’ll keep reading it!

(As for me…maybe I’ll find the motivation to keep doing my own blog.)


TKW March 7, 2012 at 5:23 pm


So glad you stumbled. Hope you stay.


denise March 7, 2012 at 4:40 pm

I understand and have had similar thoughts. I got all nervous when I switched blogs. And then I used to worry when I boomeranged from one writing topic to the next. And interestingly, I’d THEN worry when I wrote exclusively about one topic. Geesh.

I love how your spirit flows throughout your different posts. (And as you know, I love it when you write memoir.)


TKW March 7, 2012 at 5:24 pm

“Boomerangers” should be an official term. Sooo guilty.


bryan March 7, 2012 at 5:59 pm

When the infamous Mrs. A introduced me to your blog I was smitten! I know that it sounds odd to you but half the time I read one of your posts I think “I wish I could do that.” I love how eclectic your blog is, great recipe? Touching memory? Dorky story? I’ll give you the answer to your identity crisis… the category your corner of the web falls into is “stuff people like to read.”


tasteofbeirut March 8, 2012 at 2:38 am

I agree with one of the commenters; you are a writer, a really good one and that is what makes your blog fun and interesting to read. It is a treat.


Karen Sagaspe March 8, 2012 at 8:11 am

Didn’t mean to set you aflutter. My personal opinion is that you are an amazing writer and I enjoy everything that you do here!


TKW March 8, 2012 at 10:04 am


I loved your email. I’m so glad you sent it. I’m just a dork :)


BigLittleWolf March 8, 2012 at 8:02 pm

How did I miss this superb post? Ah yes, the free fall of every day these days… Reading you – all the variations of you – is always such a human experience. And that’s no small thing, Dana.



Papa Guy March 8, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Dana, sweetheart, you are all those things and more.


TKW March 10, 2012 at 8:18 am

Papa Guy,
You are right. I am more than nervous. I am neurotic and insecure, too. :) xo


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