Nostalgia is a very multifaceted traveler. Making its way to us via myriad sources such as music, movies, remembered locations, and even memory-inducing aromas, nostalgia is one of those simple, universal feelings we all experience and I, for one, tend to savor it the way one savors a delicious meal. Perhaps this is true for me because a lot of my favorite memories ARE actually attached to food. From the canned cranberry sauce on the annual Thanksgiving table (yep), and the gritty, sugary poof of cotton candy at a summer ball game to the taste of the Pizza Hut pizza that I ate so much as a child I’ve now nearly sworn it off – I love the way the food I eat takes me right back to a specific place and time.When it comes to the greatest hits list of my most nostalgic foods, undoubtedly the one at the top would be the cinnamon roll. A humble breakfast item it may be – filled with little more than sugar, butter, and spice – but for me, a cinnamon roll is always filled with such a feeling of warmth and memories of sweet Sundays past. Continue reading
My term abroad in college was one of the most fun and exciting times of my life. I think I looked forward to it for almost a full year prior to actually going. There was very little that I actually disliked about the experience, and I absolutely loved the chance to be more independent, responsible and free than I ever had been prior to boarding that flight to England.
Boarding that flight to England.
That flight and the series of mishaps and mistakes that (mis)shaped my day of travel to England might stand as the only thing I did not like about my time abroad. Thinking about that day is making me shudder with dread even now. While my actual time in England was immeasurably wonderful and happy and all things good, my experience getting there was anything but. When the expression, “that which does not kill us makes us stronger,” keeps running through your head, chances are you’re not having the best of days. Also, chances are you might have a flair for the dramatic. But such was the case for me on September 12, 2004; the blustery, rainy day that was supposed to have set a positive tone for my big adventure across the pond.
My friends had taken me out to dinner the night before at one of my favorite spots. At one point, Kevin unscrewed the lid to the salt shaker, a prank to which I fell victim and that I clearly remember thinking was very un-funny. I know I threw him a disapproving glance and proceeded to ignore him, rather than just laughing off the joke that he’d intended to be humorous and lighthearted. I just picked off of someone else’s plate instead, annoyed. I have no idea why I remember this seemingly insignificant detail of my farewell dinner. Maybe because I was already homesick, missing my friends before I was even gone, nervous and a bit unsure of the life unknown that I was facing over the months ahead. I was quick to impatience and touchiness as a result, I think. I feel bad about that. I should’ve laughed it off.
Any true baking devotee will, most likely, have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe that they are eager to tell you all about. I’m referring here to people who both like to create and consume baked goods, either/or. Like bragging to others about where you went to college without being asked or chiming in during a conversation in which you are not involved to share your child’s latest accomplishment, the “best cookie of all time” conversation can be a real touch-and-go sort of situation. Don’t mind me, I just have to make sure YOU KNOW that I KNOW good cookies. Gee thanks.
“My Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies are the best.”
“No no, my Mom’s are the best ever – trust me on this.”
“No, MY Mom makes the best cookies. I can prove it …”
and so on, and so forth.
Here’s a secret: you cannot win this conversation … Continue reading
Several years ago I wrote a cookbook. Not a very good one, albeit, but it was a fully realized thing that had a front cover, a back cover and a bunch of pages in between. I was in grad school at the time and I think I must have just tired of the grind of school, the piles of papers and research and work toward a degree that may or may not have been the perfect choice for me. The question mark dangling on the end of graduate school always bothered me a little: will it lead to a job? will the job lead to a career? did I choose the right field? should I pursue an internship? A lot of gray matter, that’s what graduate school felt like. Historically when this has been the case for me, I’ve turned my focus to cooking – the thing that I love most – to distract me from the questions and give me a solid place to land. From recipe contests that I sought out, worked tirelessly on and eventually won to creating my first blog years ago when I was stuck in a very uninspiring job, my love of food and cooking has always reinvented itself, reincarnating into some new shape or form into which I can become fully and happily absorbed. Such was the case with the aforementioned cookbook of mine. It was very un-gray. Continue reading
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. My last semester of college can be summed up very nicely by Dickens’ famed words. While it certainly wasn’t French Revolution “worst,” it was a period of dramatic change for me, causing my little world and sense of self to falter a bit. What is supposed to be the very best of times in one’s life – or at least ranking very high in that category – college, for me, was almost exactly that. The best of best times. Every day was the best day of my life. Every night brought with it new fun and shenanigans with the friends who had become like family. That stage of life where you get a taste of pure independence and freedom with the added bonus of not actually being independent at all (thanks Mom and Dad!) is a uniquely awesome time. This was the case for me right up until the very end. Continue reading
I found myself this morning uttering words and phrases that made feel both cliched and amused at the same time. I was swimming in motherhood this morning, quite literally. Elle was in the living room reading a book and sipping happily on her apple juice when I ducked out to quickly change my clothes. I was gone all of two minutes. But two minutes is a lifetime in toddler years. The amount of destruction and sheer havoc that can be wreaked in that seemingly small amount of time is staggering. Continue reading
Our little picnic basket was filled to the brim with all sorts of exciting outdoor-dining fare. The scent of my freshly baked salt and pepper popovers wafted its way right out of the loosely woven top, making it a real test to see if we could avoid eating one before we got to the picnic site. I gave Elle a bite of strawberry instead, and that seemed to stave off her audible stomach rumblings for the time being.
“Let’s go to our picnic, Mommy!” She was beside herself with excitement over this fun new activity with which I had presented her that morning, last Tuesday, to be exact. A picnic, I explained to her, is when you get to eat your food outside on a big blanket that everybody shares – no highchair needed. The prospect of dining in her most favorite of all places – the great outdoors – was almost too much for her to handle. I’ll admit that her excitement about our little picnic, in turn, caused me to get pretty darn excited myself. That’s one of the best parts of being a parent, I think. Seeing the world anew through your child’s actions and reactions never gets old. Plus after being cooped up in the house all Winter, the idea of getting out and enjoying the warmer temps and lovely Springtime breezes with which we had recently been bestowed (thanks Mother Nature!) was truly exciting indeed. Continue reading