Slow cooked anxiety

by Jessie K on March 22, 2012

I haven’t heard from Jake in four days.  I don’t know where in the world he is or what he’s doing.  I have no news about Solha.  I have no idea under what conditions she’s kept, who is caring for her, and when she’ll be able to board a flight for the United States.  My book is currently ranked one hundred and twenty thousandth — that’s 120,000, people — most popular on, down from 22,000 as of yesterday.  What accounts for such a stunning drop in popularity in the span of an afternoon?   Did Jeff Bezos skim this blog and decide, “You know what, return to sender.” Is there an book gremlin out there who is trying to make me to jump out the window?

On the upside, my book is currently ranked number 70 on the “Best Southern United States Biographies” list — betcha didn’t know such a niche category existed, did ya?  —  right behind Stoney Knows How:  Life as a Sideshow Tattoo Artist.   Me and Stoney, we party.

Then there is my slow cooked Tuscan White Bean Soup….

The soup turned out to be….not good.   I learned a valuable lesson about slow cooking soup containing inexpensive bacon.  Inexpensive bacon is not a good substitute for fancier pancetta because all the gunky fat in the bacon renders out during the 11 hour cook time, giving the finished soup a sheen so slick and shiny I practically had to wear sunglasses as protection from the oily glare.

It was like eating hot salad dressing.

But I ate it anyway because I’m jacked on crazy this week.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Brad K. March 22, 2012 at 2:25 pm


I think the “popularity”on is a logarithmic scale, and varies by number of sales in the preceding week and month. Maybe 2 sold this week, and 5 sold last week? Or 2,000 and 50,000? Dunno.

Hope you hear from everyone soon.

Blessed be.

Diane March 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm


Perfect day for my favorite mantra (I have a lot of them to get me though): This too shall pass. About the soup–every good cook has at least one recipe that goes wrong. In our house it was a German meal I once made. Better to just not speak much about it. And don’t forget-there is always the wine.

Sheri March 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm


Seriously going to buy your book with my next Amazon order. I’m bribing myself with the goal of your book to help me plow through some major projects. On the semi-bright side, at least you have published a book, a major accomplishment.

Sarina March 22, 2012 at 3:18 pm


A fix for the over greasy soup. Put the pot in the fridge and then when it is cold.. you can easily scrape the separated solid bacon grease off the top! If you want to sub bacon in the future.. just precook the fat out of it:)

Paula S. March 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm


Hope you hear from Jake soon! As for Amazon, who knows how they figure anything. I don’t deal with them. I don’t do business on line. If an entity on line has no address and phone number, then I won’t be buying from them. Why not check with the local bookseller and see how sales are there? I can hardly wait for my book to arrive.

Jill March 22, 2012 at 3:43 pm


Try cooking the bacon first to drain all the excess grease then add the cooked bacon to the soup…. There are always work arounds the system to ensure inexpensive but tasty soup. :)

Andy Bates March 23, 2012 at 11:01 am


Julia Child frequently suggested blanching bacon to remove some of the smoked flavor. Would probably remove some of the fat as well.

Melora March 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm


This begs the question I had this morning – what’s your preferred vehicle for book buying? I had my Amazon account ready to pre-order to Kindle, then I thought …. hmm …. maybe Jessie does better if I get the hardbound, or perhaps she nets more from indie sales (I am on the other Coast so it’d have to be my local indie). But if your Amazon ranking is a driver maybe Kindle is the way to go? It’s one book, so it is probably not significant, but what a perfect opportunity to ask.

Bummer about the soup. I have had good luck with large meat dishes in the slow cooker, but prefer to use a stove or a low oven for soup. White bean and kale (lacinato if you can get it) is one of my all-time favorites. I throw in pig (ham hock, sausage, etc.) if my husband is around, but some smoked paprika gives you a lovely, smokey flavor sans grease.

beth March 22, 2012 at 5:17 pm


Haven’t heard from my other half in A-stan in a while either. (I wonder if he & Jake know each other???)

My favorite comfort foods in times of stress & anxiety (other than alcohol) are either insanely hot Indian food, or Adult Grilled Cheese.

Before your mind hits the gutter, AGC is made by slathering 2 slices of good Italian bread on one side with softened unsalted butter that was mixed liberally with parmesan cheese. Layer slices of mozzeralla and provolone in between. The cheapo shredded bagged stuff works OK, but I find I can’t get as much cheese as I want in there. Slices are better. Toast on both sides in a skillet until toasty gooey cheesy goodness is achieved.

AGC’s are best served with an extremely large glass of red wine.

Requires no crockpot.

And it was just a pot of beans!

Janelle March 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm


Can’t imagine the stress you’re feeling right now. Jake, June, greasy dinner, Sohla… What a tough week. Hopefully it will get better this weekend.

Poppy March 22, 2012 at 10:01 pm


have u heard anything more about the flight delay for the Afghani New Year celebrations? I am waiting for someone to return from Afghan also….haven’t heard from him and he was expected (tentatively) in the US today. is it true all flights are cancelled for a whole week?! he would be on a commercial flight. some info online described this holiday as lasting for 2 weeks ;(
here is a link to some photos taken of Afghans celebrating their New Year:

penny March 22, 2012 at 10:13 pm


Jessie, please take some time for yourself. Put June to bed and take a nice soothing bath. Hope you hear from Jake soon. I am looking forward to your book. God bless you all.

Alexis March 22, 2012 at 11:46 pm


I’ll order the book soon and help you rise to number one!

By the way, the Cooks Illustrated book on slow cookers is great and makes many yummy meals. I have made quite a few of them myself. But be aware that many of the recipes actually take more prep time than you would think. They are not just throw in slow cooker and turn on. So you end up browning meat, sauteeing onions, or microwaving aromatics at 7 am when all you really want to do is drink coffee and have toast with butter and jam. Can I recommend something else to supplement? The website I mentioned before ( has a whole library of slow cooker recipes :-)

Renee Kissell March 23, 2012 at 6:40 am


Sorry Jessie. This too shall pass. It’s just beans. I know you will hear from Jake soon and Solha will arrive and terrorize your wonderful neighbors and will make for really funny things to write about. I can’t wait to read your book. Have a bottle of wine and relax. My Grandmother used to say to me all the time: “If you do not like the way things are now, just wait a short time and it will all change.”

Howard March 23, 2012 at 9:16 am


Hope you hear good news soon. On the greasy soup, gently lay something asorbent on the surface of the soup. (SOS)? White bread or paper towels will pull it off. Thinking of stopping in at Books and Co today.

Cynthia in Denver March 23, 2012 at 10:48 am


1. Perhaps Jale and Solha will arrive home on the same day! (Remember the addage that no news is good news).

2. At least you got a trial run done on the soup before Jake gets home.

3. I bought your book! And from your local book store! If your looking at Amazon numbers, keep in mind that there are others who bought through other sources.

Howard March 23, 2012 at 7:28 pm


Sorry your soup was greasy. Would a paper towel gently laid on the oil slick absorbed it? Or a paper towel? Stopped in at Books and Company today. You have one more copy sold. Can’t wait to read it.

Jessie K March 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm


Whoo hoo, thanks Howard!

Pat March 25, 2012 at 3:39 pm


I recently read your essay in Martha Stewart Living. If it’s any consolation, there are many women who are “paying bills, farm chores, cleaning up all the vomit ever spewed by this child” whose husbands are not serving their country. They are zoning out in front of the tv because they had a hard day at work. Like their wives didn’t – either in an office (or on a farm) or at home or both. Women are as strong as they have to be! You can do it!

Sara April 3, 2012 at 10:22 am


I’m glad that as I read this post all the anxiety is a thing of the past! Also, good to know re the slow cooker. I got one for Christmas and am still getting used to it.

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