Harvest and Honey

An open-ended love letter, culinarily inspired.


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barfly

Homemade Moonshine Hot SauceSpicy Roasted Chicken with Boozy Hot Sauce

“Poor old fool,” thought the well-dressed gentleman as he watched an old man fish in a puddle outside a pub. So he invited the old man inside for a drink. As they sipped their whiskeys, the gentleman thought he’d humor the old man and asked, “how many have you caught today?”

The old man replied, “You’re the eighth.” – from A Prairie Home Companion

Homemade Moonshine Hot Sauce

“They call ’em the flyover states because no one wants to spend any time in ’em, you see, they’re just for driving through and flying right on over, you know?” He motioned with his hand in mock airplane fashion, making a whoosh! sound as it passed in front of my face. I do the same thing to my son when I’m trying to get him to eat something. Open wide! Here comes the airplane … 

I was perched at a relatively empty old bar in DC, waiting for a friend to join me and trying my best to appear intentional in my lonesomeness. The man sitting catty-corner from me, just across the worn corner of the old wooden bar, had scooted his bowl of half-eaten peanuts to me as he carried on about the merits of coastal city living, wondering why anyone would want to live in the so called “flyover states.” Originally from Oklahoma, he’d moved to DC two decades ago, raised two kids and didn’t give two flying leaps about the fact that he’d left his home in the literal dust. Where’d you say you were from again? He’d asked me, swirling his whiskey around in its glass and circling back to the question that had kickstarted the conversation in the first place.

Indiana.

Oh, right. Sorry. Continue reading


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the economics of home

Dark Chocolate Cherry Chunk Breakfast Cookies with Toasted Walnut and Maple N'ice CreamIMG_2829 IMG_2858IMG_2409 Dark Chocolate Cherry Chunk Breakfast Cookies with Toasted Walnut and Maple N'ice CreamIMG_2862

He made fun of me for double-knotting my shoelaces. I was unaware, prior to that day, that adding a second, more protective knot to one’s tied laces was deemed wholly uncool and I suppose I have that boy to thank for educating me on the matter. He was seated at the table just across from me in our third period home economics class and he was a whole head shorter than me, as were many boys during the awkward, smelly middle school years. He had a cluster of acne on his chin and a haircut that looked as if someone had placed a metal mixing bowl on his head and cut clean around its edge, hacking off any hairs that may be in the line of fire. His braces were green and blue, alternating from tooth to tooth. Was THIS cool? I wondered, as I sat at my desk, discretely untying the second knots in my shoes. I took note of all these things as I scanned the unfamiliar faces in the classroom that day, my first day at a new school in a new town in a new state. I know those faces now; know that some of them would grow up to be doctors, lawyers, nurses and engineers … moms, dads, wifes, husbands, and everything in between. I know that one of them would not make it to the age of 30. But on that day, I knew none of this. I was nervous and anxious and jittery and hungry for acceptance in this new sea of faces into which I’d been dropped.

There were mixing bowls and wooden spoons and measuring cups at every desk. Recipes printed in large black lettering were taped to each table and a handful of ovens were preheating, coils slowly showing signs of life. 350 degrees Farenheit: the universal baking temperature. I knew this number. It had been emblazoned across my family’s oven for much of the previous Saturday, as I’d baked pie after pie with my Grandma – cherry and chocolate meringue. The memory made me happy as I sat there in class – in the middle school home economics room – and for the first time that day I felt a little more comfortable … a little more relaxed and familiar with the scenery. We would be baking cookies, my 6th grade comrades and I, and this was something I was good at; something I loved. Continue reading


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summer came like cinnamon

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She couldn’t make a good cup of coffee to save her life. At least that’s what she told me as she set the chipped white mug of inky black liquid in front of me. Kiss me! I’m From New York, it read. The incessant honking of the yellow taxi cabs just outside the small East Village diner seemed to chide the mug’s cheeky sentiment. More, “kiss this!” than “kiss me!” I found it all so very charming; so very New York. She snatched the pencil out of her high-perched bun, readying it to take my order. The perfectly sharpened tip never actually met the surface of her small pad of paper though, as I rattled off my order item by item. Bagel with lox and cream cheese … large orange juice … turkey sandwich to-go. It seemed like more of a formality, that pad of paper; those things we do for show because they’re expected of us, not because they really matter or make much difference.

It was a sultry summer morning on New York City’s lower east side, and I had wandered into a small, non-descript diner looking for a break from the heat – relief that came in the form of bagels, chive-filled cream cheese, pulpy juice and the enjoyable company of a waitress whose name tag read “Susie Q.” I called her Susie throughout the duration of my morning visit to this diner, although I suspect that it wasn’t her given name. Oh, I just love this song! She’d said to no one in particular, as she hummed and sang along to the music coming from the small radio behind the counter. Girl put your records on  … tell me your favorite song … just go ahead, let your hair down. I’d sidled up to “her” counter and taken temporary residence on one of the bright red stools with which it was lined.

She saw me staring at her small pad of paper as I gave my order, as if I was expecting her to begin scribbling something down any second, and she just smiled. “This little pad has been empty for years. I keep it handy though, right here in this pocket, because I always think today will be the day my memory fails me. Hasn’t happened yet though! She exclaimed proudly, tapping her forefinger on her temple. The old mind is still sharp as it ever was. Oh, good morning Sal! Will it be your usual today?”

Sal was one of her regulars. Continue reading


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the devil’s in the details

Smoky Tomato Deviled Eggs with Candied BaconTriple Chocolate Devil's Food cake Smoky Tomato Deviled Eggs with Candied BaconIMG_2130Smoky Tomato Deviled Eggs with Candied Bacon

“What would you be if you could be anything you wanted? Seriously, anything. Just pick something. Go ahead, you can do it. Here, I’ll help you.” 

I stood there chewing on the inside of my cheek, a nervous habit of mine, and then I yawned. But it wasn’t a real yawn, it was fake. Also a nervous habit of mine.

The camp director was very nice. She was tall and lanky and appeared to have a penchant for long khaki shorts. She had fiery red hair and freckles across her nose that I bet were at their peak right then, seeing as how it was summer and all. She looked down at me quizzically. Are you tired, Lauren? You can take your turn a bit later if you’d like. It’s okay! This is supposed to be fun!

“No, I’ll go now. Sorry.” My cheek was starting to hurt. It was summertime in Kentucky and I was at theater camp, trying to understand how to become a grand  a c t r e s s. I struggled the entire week with whether or not this choice of summer camp qualified me as really cool or really nerdy, but I don’t think I cared so much as to which box I fell into. I wanted to learn how to do magical things like all of the people on the stages I’d watched over the years. I wanted to sing and dance and recite my lines across from a handsome co-star and make people feel happy or sad or excited or … anything, really. I wanted to bow dramatically and then run off the stage only to run back on for another bow because the cheers just wouldn’t stop. And roses. I’d imagined my arms filled with all of the roses that I’d collected on stage from the adoring fans, after the curtains had fallen and the seats had emptied. I was enamored with the idea of it all.

But on this particular day – this hazy, humid mid-summer’s day in small-town Kentucky – I was a little girl at a local theater camp being asked to act out my dreams. Or, more specifically, my dream job. I was supposed to pretend like I was stuck inside a glass box and, using just my movements and facial expressions, act out a certain profession so everyone could guess what I was. So, Charades basically. I couldn’t come up with anything that I felt like acting out, and my nerves got the very best of me there in that moment. I froze. Stage fright! It was my first dose. I’ve had others to be sure, but this first one was a doozy. Lots of other kids I knew were seated on the floor below me, knobby little legs all crossed, chewing noisily on the bagged lunches they’d been given, eyes staring up at me like, Well?!? What’re you gonna do now? Continue reading


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strawberry & rose meringues

Strawberry and Rose MeringuesIMG_1595Strawberry and Rose Meringues Strawberry and Rose MeringuesIMG_1624

I didn’t even really like strawberries before that day. But, there they were on the table right in front of me, sitting ever so fetchingly in a small plastic Tupperware container practically begging to be eaten. Alright fine, I thought. I’ll try you. Before I knew it, I’d eaten the entire container and was busy checking its corners for any remaining juice and/or bits that may have escaped me. I’m not sure, as I sit here now, whose container that actually was. But they were so good, those strawberries. Too good, really. Why were they so delicious? Have I been missing out all this time? I sat there in my chair, fidgeting, with my folded arms resting under me on the table as I perched over the now empty and bone-dry container, pondering the mysteries of these especially sweet strawberries. Mixed with the ever-present smell of chlorine and SPF 30 sunscreen, these berries solidified the season for me that day – it was officially summer.

I sat back in the chair and checked my reflection in the window across from me, making sure my hair looked okay. My legs were now tucked underneath the oversized t-shirt that I used as a cover-up, stretching out the neckline and giving my Mom good cause to scold me for it. Lauren! Your shirt! You’ll ruin it! Oops. Forgot. Sorry! I stared down at the sparkling blue swimming pool that I knew so well and shaded my eyes from the nearly blinding sun that danced over its surface that day – that perfectly bright blue summer day. I remember feeling nervous excitement as I removed the giant, slightly stretched-out shirt and made my way down to the pool in my navy blue swim suit, ready for my close-up. I was going to be on the news – on TV! For my swimming! The awesomeness of that notion didn’t escape me, and I wondered how many of my friends would see it, how many people in my town … in the world even!

You’re special. They said.

You’re amazing. They told me.

One of a kind. 

“Richmond, KY native Lauren Angelucci was born without her left hand and doesn’t let that slow her down! Something about making my own waves … something about winning blue medals despite this and that …”

I don’t really remember the newscast at all; don’t remember much of what they said (the interviewers) or what I said (the interviewee). I’ve mostly just held onto a few scattered soundbites. I really didn’t see what all of the fuss was about or why I was getting any attention. I didn’t feel like I was any different from anyone else. I was just me. I did really like to swim though, and I was pretty good at it … even compared to “all of the other kids.” I thought getting to do it on TV would be pretty amazing – wasn’t going to pass that up, no way. This could be my big break! I daydreamed. Maybe I’ll get to be a movie star after all! Never know who might be watching.

And I also liked strawberries – I learned this truth about myself that day and it’s the one aspect of the whole experience that I can recall very clearly. Just before the little red light on the camera came on and the man started asking me questions, I remember wiping my chin to make sure there wasn’t any juice leftover. That would be the last thing I needed on this most special of days.

No, I’d never seen a movie star with strawberry juice on their chin.  Continue reading


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spring loaded

IMG_1672IMG_1801Strawberry Cobbler with a Rye and Coconut Flour Crust IMG_1751IMG_1830Strawberry Cobbler with a Rye and Coconut Flour Crust

Lucas, the kids and I are heading out of town today for a long weekend away in Virginia to see family and enjoy an always-appreciated change of scenery. I want to make sure I leave you with a post this week, though, and even though I don’t have the time to really compose a full one (I still have to pack! We leave in T-minus two hours! The insanity!), I can at least give you a little Springtime food inspiration for the weekend ahead …  Continue reading


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pray, tell

Classic Dutch Baby with White Chocolate and BlueberriesClassic Dutch Baby with White Chocolate and Blueberries Classic Dutch Baby with White Chocolate and BlueberriesIMG_8817Classic Dutch Baby with White Chocolate and Blueberries

The hallway leading to the confessional seemed smaller that day. Stuffy, more narrow. There were a few glowing candles situated on a table at the end of the hall, as if they were intended to show us the way. I folded my fingers under the neckline of my blue woolen sweater, tugging at it and frustrated with my choice of outfit on this most important of days – the day of my first confession. I was the last to go that morning, everyone else in my Sunday school class having already completed theirs. The itchy collar was beginning to irritate me and I wondered if it would be okay if I just took it off, stripping down to the grubby old t-shirt I had on underneath. Probably not. Priests probably don’t like grubby old t-shirts.

The further down the hallway I walked, making my way toward that most nerve-wracking of rooms, the less I could make out the sounds of the pancake social that was going on in the church’s large common area behind me. The smells of maple syrup and buttermilk pancakes gave way to more sterile aromas that I could’t quite identify. Was it baby wipes? Disinfectant cleaners? Paste? I wondered this as I made my way past the darkened Sunday school classrooms that morning.

“Oh hi, Lauren! Looking for the bathrooms? They’re right down the hall to the left.” The friendly teacher motioned down the hall with her hand as she expertly balanced a plate that contained an impressively tall stack of pancakes.

“Thank you. I know where the bathrooms are.” I told her. “I’m going to confession. My first one.” I was supremely nervous and fidgeted in place as I stood there awkwardly, me in my black Mary Jane’s on the shiny  linoleum floor, wondering what to do with my hands. No pockets. I’ll just bite my nails then. Wish I had a fork to hold … a plate of pancakes. Those would come after … a reward for my truthfulness. That’s what they promised.

“Confession! Are you old enough to do that already? My how the time flies.” She squeezed my shoulder then. “Well, I guess you’ll be turning right at the end of the hall, not left … just where those candles are.” She waved her fork to the right this time. 

“Yes.” I said. “Thank you.” As I walked away, I glanced backward at her pancakes and looked forward to having my own. Those nerves were doing a number on my appetite. Continue reading

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