The 7th–10th Day

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, ten lords a-leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming…

If you’re just tuning in, I am doing the 12 Days of Christmas Blogging: Food Memory edition. Each day I will pick a food memory from that number month of this year. I am doubling up because, well, I have 4 jobs and am in charge of cleaning the house, decorating the tree, and baking the cookies, so…let’s get to it.

Day 7: July

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Seven scallops swimming in a limoncello sauce. It works.

I won’t lie to you; July sucked. I won’t go into depth – I already have – but we lost a treasured and beloved family member, and I did not handle it well. And then my plans to go to Italy fell apart. And the rest of sanity followed suit.

But before all this hit the proverbial fan, I hit DC with my mom on our home from Georgia to see the What’s Cooking Uncle Sam? exhibit at the National Archives. This exhibit documented the history of the food industry in America essentially from its conception. As many of you know, I wrote my senior thesis on M.F.K. Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf and WWII-era American food culture, so anything involving American food history immediately has my attention. When a friend found this exhibit online and showed it to me, I simply had to go. Had to.

You can read the full post here; I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it, but I really, really enjoyed the exhibit. AND I got Queen Elizabeth’s personal scone recipe. #winning.

Day 8: August

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Yes, I know this picture has nothing to do with maids or milking.

But August really was not about food.

August was all about Izzy. The newest addition to our household, this teeny tiny 2 pound cotton ball was exactly what that ridiculous and stupid summer needed. She is the highlight of my day, and perhaps the thing I am most grateful for this year. And even when she went into an unheard-of heat at 5 1/2 months old and I spent my birthday mopping blood spots out of every material in the house, I love her so very, very much.

Day 9: September

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[There were plenty more than nine of these cuties, but while I was in India we were invited to watch a children’s traditional dance class – it was lots of fun for dancers & audience alike! Smile]

September – I’m pretty sure it didn’t exist this year. If it did, I think it was only a week long. Seriously, does anyone remember September?

Well, I do remember getting a certain internship with Chefs Collaborative. Probably one of the best decisions of my life. I really love feeling like I’m finally “in” the food world, and it’s been so useful in figuring out viable career paths for me. I’d be lying if I said I had any memories, food-related or otherwise, of September, but…seeing the “you’re in, yay” email in my inbox was pretty exciting. And it just so happens to have led to one of the top food experiences of the year in…

Day 10: October

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Forget ten leaping lords. October was all about the twelve chefs who cooked for Chefs Collaborative’s annual fundraiser, the Grilling on the Green, which I was very active in helping with – mostly by eating as much as possible.

Oh, was that a wonderfully delicious event. It was so fun to go to an event explicitly about the food, and sustainable food at that. And that fennel sausage pizza – well, hot damn.

I linked the hell out of the recap post on it, so check it out if you’d like to see who & what was cooking – and get excited for next year’s!

Only two days left…I think I still have most of my presents to wrap.

The 6th Day

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six geese a-laying…

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Geese a-laying, apple cinnamon muffins…potato, potahto.

Oh what, like you have a picture of half a dozen pregnant geese lying around?

I thought not.

Day 6: June

Well, June was…unique. I quit my first “job” (well, unpaid internship from hell, but “job” for all intents & purposes). My near-annual descent into madness began. And I was living in Atlanta with my aunt, uncle, and 3 crazy but adorable boxers.

Food – well, eating was not exactly very interesting. But I was doing a fair amount of single-gal cooking.

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Actually, cooking for one became my favorite activity. At the time, it felt like the only thing I could have any semblance of control over in my life. I went to the local farmers market, and I experimented with different spice combinations. I pretty much have a degree in lentil cooking from that odd month. Cooking was one thing I could count on; even when a dish didn’t go in the “make again” pile, it was still a small kind of victory, and afforded me the excitement and anticipation of trying new foods.

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When people hear about my interest in food, the first thing they say is, “oh, you must be a great cook!” I firmly deny it – I’m a baker if I’m anything – but perhaps I’m more of a cook than I thought. What is cooking if not looking forward to a meal you designed and prepared all by yourself, anyway?

And let me tell you, that tofu & swiss chard curry was one damn delicious dinner.

The 3rd–5th Days

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens…

*I realize I’m a tad behind – there were airport pickups, birthday dinners, and disappointments of unfortunately high proportions to be had. I don’t know what this “true love” did for a living, but it must have been pretty sweet if it allowed him/her the time and money to actually pick up all these things…

So, Day 3: March.

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Not so much three French hens as three Indian birds…yes, all my non-dog animal pictures are from my safari in India. Leave me alone, I’ve only had a camera for like 3 years. I don’t get out much.

March was an interesting month. School was in full swing, spring break was right around the corner, and the end of my college career was looming a little closer each day.

I had also fallen completely in love with our new apartment and brand new oven. I had just ordered the big yellow Gourmet cookbook bible, and was itching to try out a recipe or two. I saw my opportunity in an easy-looking recipe for Irish Soda Bread – and what better food to make for St. Patty’s Day? Take that, creepy green sugar cookies.

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This was my first ever attempt at making bread from scratch completely, and it was wonderfully successful. One my favorites challenges yet!

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YUM. That recipe, by the way, is THE perfect way to introduce you to yeast bread baking, if it is as intimidating to you as it was to me. Very difficult to totally screw up.

Next!

Day 4: April

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Four calling birds crazy dogs. (At least give me credit for creativity…)

April was a bit of a blur. I got incredibly sick almost immediately after returning from Spring Break, and the race toward the end of the year was ON.

But in terms of food, I do distinctly remember my roommate’s Senior Honors Thesis Presentation. Because there are so few of these per year, the student actually gets a little money to buy food for a reception at the event. Of course, I immediately volunteered to bake cupcakes from scratch. I told you I was on a I-have-a-kitchen-must-bake-constantly high.

And so I made 2 dozen oatmeal cookies and about 30 cupcakes (vanilla and chocolate with tie-dye buttercream, since you’re wondering) in a matter of 4 hours. For my own presentation a week later, I made bruschetta and biscotti.

I was a bit of a nut. But damned if all of those weren’t absolutely delicious.

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Day 5: May

5 college grads

5 golden rings college graduates.

In May I graduated from Converse College after 4 years of literary analysis, late night Walmart runs, and Disney movie-thons. I met my favorite people in the whole world there.

And when it comes to food, well, there were more dinners, parties, and champagne toasts than I ever imagined could be crammed into a single week. I’ll tell you what I do remember:

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The Senior Candlelight Dinner at a country club that had hairspray in the ladies’ bathroom. I just about died. Gotta love the South for that.

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Plenty of champagne – and , of course…

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Chocolate. No major life event can ever be had without it in one of its many wonderful forms.

The 6th day is comin’ your way! Got any geese-a-layin’  you’d like to share?

Catch up:

The 2nd Day


On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, two turtle doves…

Cutest thing EVER!

 

Or in this case, two baby owls in a little heart-shaped nook in a tree (Ranthambore park, Sawai Madhopur, India).

Welcome to day 2 of 12 Days of Blogging: Food Memories! Now let me think back to February…hmm. Seems like a lifetime ago.

And it kind of was, in a manner of speaking. I was a senior in college, and had just moved into the brand new on-campus apartments. The elevators worked, the windows could actually open, the shower was hotel-quality – but I was much more interested in the kitchen. And when I say interested in, I mean enamored of. [Sidenote: I can end that sentence with a preposition because I am maintain the parallel structure of the preceding phrase. Boo-yah.]

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A kitchen – and specifically, an oven. What would be my very first baked good in my very first apartment kitchen? Well, the opportunity presented itself when one of my roommates called from Missouri, where she had just accepted the internship of her dreams. After somewhat of of a letdown with the previous internship audition, this was ca-razy exciting for her, and it didn’t take long for the rest of the apartment to come to one conclusion: we were making surprise celebratory cupcakes! I did a combination of her 2 favorite cakes – red velvet & marble. I donned my apron, preheated my shiny new oven, and baked up the inaugural dessert of apt. 304.

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And then I blogged about it. Thus began three of the most wonderful months of my college life. I miss that apartment a lot, and all the shenanigans it saw us through. From bar crawls and Disney movie marathons to final papers and YouTube-athons, all the way to graduation – it was home.

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And the cupcakes weren’t too shabby either.

The 1st Day: January

12 Days of Blogging

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree.Note

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Ok, that’s not a partridge, or a pear tree. But it is a pear-colored bird in a tree at the Ranthambore park in Sawai Madhopur, India.

Totally counts.

I’m a big fan Christmas & holiday seasonal songs. I’m also a big fan of themes in general, so some kind of “12 Days of Blogging” countdown sounded like fun!

After pondering what exactly to blog for this countdown, I found myself at a bit of a loss. I can’t make up recipes in that kind of volume or time. Being an unpaid working gal four times over has quite the harrowing schedule, I’ll have you know.

But you know what I do have? Memories of all the wonderful food I’ve eaten in the past twelve months. Food memories are a topic I hold very dear to my anthropology-nerd heart, because they are really at the bottom of what this blog is about – food as an experience. Food, for me, is not just about sustenance and flavor. It’s about a moment, an ambience, a sensualness. It’s about taking the time to appreciate the little things, something that I associate very strongly with the holiday season.

So, the 1st annual WBIB 12 Days of Christmas Blogging begins with my favorite bites from January 2011. Don your Santa pants, people. You’ll need the extra waist space.

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In January, my roommate and I flew off to sunny California to deal with our fast-arriving futures. More specifically, she was going to audition for a music therapy internship in Sacramento, and I was checking out the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in the lovely St. Helena. But you KNOW that I was all about the food.

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Specifically, the food at Cibo bakery & cafe in lovely Sausalito, where I had my first taste of Blue Bottle coffee – one of the best lattes I’ve had on this side of the Atlantic – and 2 fantastic paninis split 2 ways.

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I know, you’re thinking, “you were steps away from the foodie paradise of San Francisco, and you’re blabbing about a couple sandwiches?” As a matter of fact, I am. Because it was about more than just the deliciously crispy bread and the juicy bite of prosciutto. This memory is about the wonderful feeling of sitting in a little cafe on the other side of the country with my best friend on an adventure. I was high on independence and the sight of green grass in January. And our lunch sitting on high bar stools while looking out at the water was the most fun I had all month – and maybe even all year.

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A good latte is a damn fine way to start out a new year, and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

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What was your favorite food moment in January?