2013 The Year in Food

I love the introspection the end of the year brings. It is kind of amazing to look back and see everything that you’ve done, accomplished, and been apart of. While I have been mostly silent on the blog this year, I still made somewhat of an effort to keep taking pictures. It would have been nice to take more than I did but I am happy that I still have something to show for the year.

Fuyu Persimmon

Fuyu Persimmon

Things started with creating and helping execute a menu (on top of many other tasks, including speaking at said event) with a friend for a woman’s tea event for our church. Can we say, “crash course in catering?” But the scones, lemon curd, fresh strawberry jam, tea sandwiches, cream puff swans, cheesecake bites and the cake… a chocolate genoise cake, filled with a stabilized whipped cream, and topped with chocolate ganache. All handmade with a whole lot of love and passion.

Chocolate cake of awesome

Chocolate cake of awesome

Then there were trips to Napa and Cambria that brought some incredible dining experiences. One of which was being seated at the bar that faces/interacts with the kitchen at the Glen Ellen Star. Intimidating yet inspiring to watch the head chef and his crew do what they do best. My tastebuds danced in delight from the bold and fresh flavors served with simplicity. Oh and taking pictures of our food was greatly encouraged by the chef.

Moroccan meatballs

Moroccan meatballs

This year also marked my first foray into creating a true celebration cake. Celebration as in awesome high end bakery type cake. I tested, and tested, and tested. Then we tasted and compared. I did a whole lot of math to pare down recipes for testing and filled the freezer single layer cakes. But I did it. I made the best dang cake I have ever made. It was a 3 layer white cake with strawberry bavarian cream filling, and a vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. And it was beautiful. I also made cupcakes (white cake with strawberry swiss meringue buttercream) so I didn’t have to make a huge cake for everyone.

Carrots from the garden

Carrots from the garden

But the year wasn’t all about butter and sugar. It was also filled with great abundance from garden. Various greens all year long (and still going in the dead of winter!), snow peas, english peas, broccoli, carrots, fava beans, dinosaur sized rhubarb, radish, herbs, and more greens.

Rose cake

Rose cake

The biggest, most impactful change in my food this year has been moving to a primal/paleo way of eating. And with that I also decided to cut sugar from my diet. I know, crazy, especially with my love for baking. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I was heading that direction nutritionally whether I knew it or not. And now I’m experiencing food in a whole new way.

Lamb, tomatoes, zucchini

Lamb, tomatoes, zucchini

It has been a great year in food, despite not capturing more. I was able to grow my culinary chops, tantalize my taste buds, and start exploring food with a whole new outlook. I’m excited for what is going to happen in the kitchen in 2014… higher quality and more nutrient dense ingredients, possibly a wedding cake and more celebration cakes, continued growth in my culinary skills, and a whole new set of confidence.

Instead of including a ridiculous number of photos in this post I went ahead and created a couple of galleries to share the food of 2013.

Part 1 is here and part 2 is here… or you could click on the galleries page and find them there or just scroll down from the home page and see them below this post.

Updating email subscriptions

Just doing a little house keeping. If you are subscribed to receive email updates (all 5 of you), can you please resubscribe right over there on the right? I decided to stop using Feedburner and have switched to Jetpack. Jetpack is so tightly integrated with WordPress that it will allow me to do all kinds of awesome stuff with it… like post appropriate sized images on the blog but have scaled down (appropriate size) images in the emails. The only downside is that I can’t transfer your subscriptions, thus you have to resubscribe.

Does this mean I plan on posting again? Maybe.

Oh and don’t forget, after you enter your email address, you then have to go check your email and confirm that you want to subscribe. It’s a two step process.

Cheers!

Mostly back, definitely alive

August second and most of our summer travels are behind us now. We’ve been back for several days now but my body (and mind for that matter) has been in a weird state of limbo… not quite sick but definitely not firing on all six cylinders. There is still one last event this weekend, a wedding up in Cottonwood, CA and then things settle down for a couple of weeks.

I’m not even going to try to encapsulate Ireland, the photography class, and Hollie & Jeff’s wedding in this post. At the rate ate which we have been going I don’t think I’ve truly had time to process everything we experienced. No, this is more of a “hey, we are back” kind of a thing.

Our travels have been no less than an adventure. There were so many times I stopped myself along the way to consciously let my eyes drink everything in. I am thankful to have cameras that capture the many things I know my brain will not be able to hold onto in the years to come. I am convinced that with Ireland, God intentionally bumped the saturation bar to the max. And yes, it is awesome! And down in Southern California God treated us to the bluest of skies and warm weather. A part of me couldn’t help but miss her… though not the weather, I have adapted too much to the coastal microclimate I am in for me to want the hot So Cal weather back. ;)

Yes, pics are coming. Just not in this post.

Things are working their way back to “normal” but change is on the horizon. (heh, when is it not?) Plotting and planning for the rest of the year has started brewing in the back of my mind. More travels, events, dinner parties, Christmas card, and the holidays. But for now, at least the rest of this week, I’ll sort through bomb that has exploded in my office, write a few blog posts, and cook some wholesome food.

And with that I am off to the farmers market.

Epic Summer

After weeks (feels like months!) of planning and preparation the time has come for my epic summer of travel to begin. Early tomorrow morning Will and I set out on a month long journey to new lands, celebrations, and what I’m expecting to be some pretty amazing adventures.

Our travels are taking us to Ireland and Northern Ireland where we will spend two weeks exploring the land, meeting friends in person for the first time, and where I will be taking part in a food photography class. Then after we get back to the States, we will be heading down to Southern California to be apart of a dear friends wedding. And not stopping there, the weekend after said wedding we are headed up to Northern California for another friends wedding.

For me this trip is about three things:

Friends

While I feel like the whole trip is going to be one giant ball of awesome, the highlight for each our adventures is friendship. How all these people, from different walks of life, were brought together many years ago through a silly little band, have become integral parts of our life. Just wow. More on this post-epic summer.

Photography

Photography has been apart of my life many many years, but never quite like it has now. It is as if the flood gates have been opened and I am riding the water as it gushes out of the gates. This part of the reason I feel so incredibly blessed to be taking part in a photography master class with Helene Dujardin (whose blog is here) at the Belle Isle cookery school.

I know, right? Food photography, at a castle, in Northern Ireland? Consider me amazed and honored to be apart of this.

Adventure… also known as broadening my horizons

If I am honest with myself, I have long since lost my sense of adventure. As my life has been cast with enormous amounts of change over the last five years, I can see now that I traded in my sense of adventure for a desperate need for security. It’s time to step away from the insecurity and step into security. I will no longer let fears keep me from seeing and experiencing God’s creation. I am blessed and thankful to be taking these steps with the best possible traveling companion.

I’ve gone ahead and scheduled some blog posts for while I am gone that way this place isn’t a ghost town for a whole month. I’m not sure if I will be posting anything while we are in Ireland but you may see a picture or two.

I’ve also set up email subscriptions (thank you Dana for suggesting I add this feature) for the site. You can sign up here (it’s also located on the front page, under the archives on the right. We haven’t had any time to stylize the link and make it recognizable) and you will receive an email when a new post been published.

So with that I bid you aduie.

Shifting Tides

Last week in the early morning I was out in the garden getting a few kale leaves for breakfast. The day ahead was fully booked so I knew I needed a good start to the day. It was a wet morning and the dew was thick across the grass. As I reached in to break off a kale leaf I stopped. All the leaves in the garden were covered in an array of water droplets, as were all the plants in the backyard. It was beautiful. I knew this was a moment to capture. But I hesitated… I have things to do, I must get going, I don’t have time for this!

Then I realized what I was doing, shook my head at myself, and said no. I will not let the busyness of the day take away this moment. I went back into the house, grabbed my camera and proceeded to photograph the splendor of that dewy morning.

This is when I realized I had taken the first step to a newly shifting tide.

Just when I feel like I have a handle on the way things are going to work they inevitably seem to shift. Usually, I am not okay with this. But change has been brute force attack over the years and ultimately always wins. It is wearing me down to see its purpose and the necessity to go with the tide as it changes.

I preparation for a large amount of travel this summer (more on that next week), I suddenly realized how clinical things have become around here. I’ve gone from being excited to share the good eats I’ve created or found to feeling like I have to produce X recipe X times a week. Writing posts have become a drudgery.

I’ve stopped now and have taken a breath. I remember that this is my blog, nothing is set in stone. It can be whatever it needs to be. I say this for myself, not because of the pressure of anyone else. But because I tend to put myself into a box and try to conform to the status quo. This is not how I want to live.

And so it is, the tide is shifting with the blog and once again my life.

What does this mean? Not much really. I’m growing, changing, and am learning about myself. There will still be photographs and recipes… I’ll just be going about them in a different way.

Lord, we don’t where all this is going
Or how it all works out
Lead us to peace that is past understanding
A peace beyond all doubt
– Newsboys