Re-Writing the Recipe for the New Year
Happy New Year. I’m hoping that your 2014 is off to a good start.
As I reflect on the now previous year, this is my first opportunity out of the kitchen in what feels like ages, 2013 was perhaps the busiest year of my life, filled with many great losses, along with many wonderful moments too, for both in life or in its sad parting, along the spice road of food and friendship there always involves a shared table.
Preparing and sharing food with love is sometimes all we can do for others when there is little else we can and such was the case in the tremendous loss of my brother-in-law, Michael, at fifty-three years old, truly, one of the kindest, most loving and gentle individuals I’ve ever had the privilege to know.
The final week of the year, the thirteenth loss among loved ones and friends in 2013, I said good bye to a former colleague and friend of thirty years whose passing sadly brought a deeper sense to the positive impact others make in our lives and the table shared afterward brought a greater appreciation to renewing the old friendships whose circumstances brought us back together.
Among the most valuable food related experiences over the past year was through the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) whose webinars offer continual educational opportunities regarding many facets of the food industry, including ways to make our Blogs better from an instructional cooking standpoint. I’m always appreciative of Dianne Jacob at Will Write for Food who in a friendly weekly column provides poignant topics involving many aspects of communication in food writing and related accurate recipe writing too.
Following what seemed an endless project late spring into the summer emerged a lovely brand new kitchen…
that immediately transitioned to the preparation and coordination of twice weekly tailgates a shared team, family, and fans tradition with the American University Field Hockey Team involving mostly outdoor set-ups of long tables consistently lined and brimming with broad selections of food choices twice-weekly from mid-August until the week before Thanksgiving.
As for me, the seasons end tallied preparation somewhere around two thousand burgers, four hundred hot dogs, give or take thirty-five, forty-five salads, and fifteen cases of water. Yes, and we took back the Patriot League Championship! Go Team.
We celebrated senior day with my youngest, Alex the Athlete, her final official Division 1 collegiate game, the championship all of which she played amazingly, then faced the emotion tied to the finality when one is no longer required to spend both days of every fall and spring weekend with teams and families at the field hockey pitch, and preparing enormous amounts of food afterward.
There were a couple of longer travel tours on the weekend sports circuit, a stop over in Williamsburg with a couple team families in the interim day offered some flavorful sampling opportunities such as Virginia Ales, and ‘Best Of’ Crabcakes.
The one single free weekend day took me on a visit to Lewes Delaware attending the Great Tomato Recipe Contest of the Historic Lewes Farmers Market of which my former neighbor and friend, Martha Dalton, took first prize for her Rustic Tomato and Cheese Pie.
Prior to game weekend travel to upstate New York, I also got to have lunch with Vicki an old high school friend visiting the area from Arizona who I’ve not seen in thirty years, of course it seemed no time had passed, just as is the blessing of good friends.
We enjoyed sharing laughter of memories past as well as catching up on life. Vicki’s sister Debra writes the gluten free food blog, Smith Bites. Being with Vicki provided me just the inspiration I needed beginning to feel a bit isolated over the year with the food blogger conferences that all seemed to be happening in so many other far away parts of the country. This year I’ve already registered for the BlogHer Food Blogger Conference in Miami and also look forward to meeting Debra and her husband, ‘The Professor’ at the Food Blogger Pot Luck happening in Pennsylvania in the fall.
Hosting the Team Dinner for the only in-state Pennsylvania game of the season, my brother Steve, flew in from Florida and we prepared a whole pig on the La Caja China, it turned out fabulous and the team loved it.
Thanksgiving welcomed both of my sisters for a holiday stay, with Carolyn and her husband Roger flying in from Vegas, and Michelle from Florida. We also enjoyed Alex the Athlete’s team mate, Rebecca (Becks) hailing from Wales who has become sort of a family member to us over the past couple of years then rounding out our dinner for thirteen.
Preparing a lovely seafood stew the evening before Thanksgiving I used a lobster stock base prepared through the tackiest thing I did all year- perhaps ever- asking for a take-away bag to include all of the lobster shells at a Philadelphia restaurant where Bob and I feasted on two pound lobsters using a gift certificate from some occasion provided by our eldest, Sooky the Stylist.
Then of course, the splendid tradition of the turkey dinner…
In early December, on the road again back to DC, I took my first full day food writing seminar with Monica Bhide of A Life of Spice. Monica, a native of Delhi, India is a food, travel, and parenting writer whose publications in addition to three cookbooks include The Washington Post, Bon Appetit, Saveur, Food and Wine, The New York Times and many more. Packed with lots of learning and inspiring ideas, the day also proved pleasantly entertaining with Monica’s stimulating, encouraging personality.
Assisting Monica for the day was Aviva Goldfarb, cookbook author and founder of The Six o’Clock Scramble website. Surrounding a small wine and cheese party, the day finished out with an informative panel on the changing world of food writing with Tim Carman, food writer at The Washington Post, Aviva Goldfarb, Cathy Barrow food writer for both the Times and the Post, Nycci Saffier Nellis founder, publisher of DC centric site, The List, DC’s resource for all things wine and food, and, radio co-host of Foodie and the Beast, and Chef Todd Gray of Equinox DC restaurant with Ellen Kassoff Gray of Harvest Moon Hospitality Group.
After a full packed day I darted the straight streets with huge blocks about mile off the Smithsonian area to a small local gelateria to acquaint for the first time with my assigned IACP connect partner/mentor for this year, Francoise Villeneuve. Francoise, a food, wine, and travel writer and photographer writes the blog, Francoise Eats and at our brief time of meeting Francoise and her Chef husband had been busily preparing traditional Christmas puddings for sale over the holiday season.
Christmas Eve brought the rare, fortuitous circumstance that my nephew Luke would travel the rail line from New York to join us due to limited time in returning home to Ohio with only a one day break. A sit down dinner of seventeen on Christmas Day was enjoyed by all, including one of the specialty appetizers, stuffed Rockfish, Asian style that Bob had hooked earlier in the week on a fishing trip through Miss Susie Charters in Solomons Island, Maryland with some of the field hockey dads, proving that yes, there is life after collegiate sports.
Tied into the year, daily homework and extra reading with my grandson, the J-dude, and as always, our precious time spent cooking together.
Wishing you all perfect measures of happiness in the coming year, cupfuls of sweetness, that the tart be scant, and whether you are writing or re-writing the recipes in your life may your shared table always be full along the spice road of food and friendship. Happy 2014! Love and Hugs, Peggy