Our good friend Rachel, who's in town visiting from Chicago, came over for dinner last night and brought me a beautiful gift: Brené Brown's new book Daring Greatly. (This is incredibly ironic, considering another good friend has been harping on me nonstop to read Brown's book The Gifts of Imperfection. Clearly I need to spend some quality time with Brené!) Rachel had read the book and said she thought it would be a great thing for me to read as I embark on this journey of creating this cookbook. She read me a quote at the beginning of the book, by Theodore Roosevelt, that I want to share with you:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly...who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."

[recipe:best-pumpkin-madeleines-recipe]

I cannot WAIT to read this book! I'm inspired already! I'll share snippets as I go, but just wanted to encourage you: whatever arena you're in (or even if you haven't stepped into the arena yet), let's all dare greatly together. At the end of the day, it's not about winning or losing, but about following your heart. And about being bold. The journey is what shapes us anyway, not the end result.

Madeleines-Flipped

One of the first recipes I tested for this book were these delicious little pumpkin madeleines. I'm obsessed. They basically combine two of my favorite things: pumpkin muffins and French madeleines. OK I know these aren't real madeleines. Real French madeleines are spongy little tea cakes made with butter, vanilla, and lemon zest. These are made with pumpkin, spices, and oil instead of butter. Proust, I'm sure, would roll over in his grave. (I personally think he'd love them. But I regress...)

As for me, I can't get enough of these little treats. They're the perfect thing to whip up when I need a quick pumpkin fix: 10 minutes of prep, 10 minutes of baking, and voila, pumpkin bliss. All you need is an inexpensive madeleine pan, which is something that I think should be in every cook's kitchen anyway. :) My good friend Julia (who lived in France with me for over a year) bought me my first madeleine pan years ago, and I use it all the time. I'll always associate her with madeleines: the day before her wedding, her brother and I made hundreds of madeleines in her parents' kitchen for the wedding reception. They were served with a fountain of chocolate...ahh, the memories!

Double-Madeleine

So I promised you that I'd tell you a few ways to get involved with The Cookbook Diaries.

First of all, follow along! I'll be posting updates daily on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Second, I'd LOVE your thoughts on what sort of recipes you'd love to see in the cookbook. Write me a note - either in the comments section below or at anna@theyellowtable.com - and let me know some of your favorite recipes from The Yellow Table that you want to see in the book.

Third, I need help recipe-testing! As I post recipes from the book (like today!), I'd love it if you make them and send me feedback. I'll be tweaking as I go.

Last, I'm putting together a fun series of Yellow Table storytelling dinner parties that I'd love for you all to be a part of! Once a month, I'll put together a complete dinner party menu on Pinterest, with recipes and a storytelling topic. These are my favorite type of dinner parties, and I'd love for you all to join in and host your own and send me pictures, which I'll post on the blog. More details to come...

See you tomorrow! I'll be sharing my favorite Detox salad recipe and some fun ideas for the weekend. In the meantime, dare greatly!

All photos by Signe Birck