first of the month: counting calories

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This past week, Michelle Obama made an announcement about a proposed change in nutrition labels on packaged food. If this change survives the might of food industry lobbyists, it would be the first time the labels have shifted in 20 years. New labels would reflect more realistic serving sizes (who, really has ever gotten 4 servings out of a pint of ice cream?) as well as put the calorie count up front and center and clarify the source of various sugars.

I heard this news as I cleaned up the breakfast dishes after shooing the kids out to school. NPR hummed along, and I turned it up when the topic turned to food labeling. Michelle Obama started making jokes about tiny and confusing nutrition labels, how they just give you all sorts of confusing information, “when all you really wanted to know was should I be eating this or not”. Continue reading

good enough to wish on

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The first birthday cake I ever made was for my friend Jen’s thirtieth birthday. I’m not sure where I found the confidence to make that first cake, but Jen had just given me a scale for my birthday, and that, along with The King Arthur Baking Companion she’d given me for the birthday before, made me feel equipped. She chose a recipe for a chocolate mint cake that became my standard chocolate birthday cake, and over the years I’ve morphed and changed it in so many directions. Last week, I made a cake for her 37th, and sure enough, it was based on the framework of that same recipe. Continue reading

first of the month: habit and change

IMG_3920(Okay, okay–middle of the month. Happy middle of the month!)

I’m just getting deep into my second week of cooking for my friend Diego’s film. I’m not on set, but twice a day, someone comes and picks up meals that I’ve carefully packed and labeled: gluten-free, contains dairy, not vegetarian, put this sauce on this chicken! I’ve cooked for friends’ films before, and I really love it. It feels like I’m cooking for a big family. But over the course of the last week, something surprised me. Continue reading

fire cider

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Oh, Fire Cider. Where to begin?

Let’s start in the Fall of 2011. My friend, Gina, asked me to be a judge at Hancock Shaker Village’s Harvest Festival farmers’ market, which basically involved wandering through the shortbread and local honey, trying to take myself very seriously. Sadie helped, trailing along after, whispering about this and that product over my shoulder, peering at my scribbled notes.

I found Amy, Dana and Brian at their little card table, sandwiched on either side by the cloth-wrapped soaps and homemade jams and jellies one usually finds at such a market. I was drawn right to the table for so many reasons–that there were three people under 40 I did not recognize (laugh if you will, but anyone who’s grown up in a small town will understand) and they had this relaxed and glow-y rockstar effect going for them. They were surrounded by little bottles with the most amazing label, and yes, yes, I’m a sucker for a good label. And in the air around their stall, I could pick up notes of ginger, and lemon, and… was that horseradish? Whatever it was, it all came together to create a sort of tractor beam that pulled me in. I was transfixed. Continue reading

into the kitchen

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Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of requests to do a kitchen and pantry tour. I understand the appeal–I love peeking into people’s kitchens too. It can feel like you’re seeing the inside layer of who they are, and in this case, I can assure you that’s true. This kitchen’s been through a lot. When we first moved in, and for years afterward, it was a tiny, mostly metallic hallway with no lights and a bar sink. Then we made the house bigger to make space for my mother, stepfather, and sister. While we all worked on the house, we moved into a temporary kitchen in what is now my stepfather’s office and a smaller kitchen for my parents and sister. That’s where I wrote and tested my first book. We moved back into this new kitchen in 2011, and I’ve been pretty much living in this room ever since.  Continue reading