Blogoversary Flowers
I have enormous respect for the power of marking a year, whether it’s a birthday, New Years, an anniversary, or a blogoversary. Anniversaries of any kind give us the chance to stop and think about how we’ve spent our time in the last revolution around the sun and what we plan to do in the next one. April 22 marked my three-year anniversary of this blog, and it sort of sneaked up on me. It turns out that I haven’t logged in to this site in over a month, due primarily to a significant case of writer’s block. And photographer’s block. And kitcheneer’s block.

The truth is I have struggled over the last few months. Despite the fact that I work fewer hours, have more days off, and enjoy a kitchen filled with natural light, I’ve found myself groaning over the notion of cooking even familiar meals and not in the least bit interested in climbing atop a step stool angling for a shot. The muse that once perched on my shoulder whispering words, recipes, and stories into my eager ears seems to have folded her arms and sealed her lips. I’ve become increasingly frustrated that I can’t seem to get back into the productive rhythm to which I had grown so accustomed in North Carolina and have spent a lot of time trying to figure out why. Did I really manage to pack up everything I owned but forget to bring with me my inspiration, my drive for sharing this locavore’s story? Is it still sitting on the counter in my dimly-lit kitchen, or perhaps hiding in the grass next to my ever-fertile community garden plot?

Or did it survive the move after all, frozen but intact despite this deeply unpleasant winter, but is simply too nervous to peek its head out for fear of another frost?

Read on »

Fluffy Frosted Sugar Cookies
As someone who bakes rather a lot of cake, it might surprise you to know that I actually don’t bake many cookies. If you invite me to a dinner party, you’re more likely to answer the door to find me carrying a teetering stack of tender cake layers, smeared with berries and whipped cream, than a plate of half a dozen cookies. Well, I should clarify: I make a LOT of chocolate chip cookies, as it is Brad’s favorite and one recipe that I could likely make in my sleep. No, I haven’t posted that recipe here yet, but I promise I’ll remedy that situation soon.

In the meantime, though, I desperately want to talk about this cookie.

Frosted Fluffy Sugar Cookies
If you’ve ever enjoyed one of those Lofthouse cookies, or the grocery-store knock-offs, this recipe is for you. Not only are these cookies SHOCKINGLY easy to make, but they are soft and fluffy and flavorful and cute and everything you want them to be without the weird sugar-y aftertaste of their inspiration.

Simple cookie ingredients
We start with a pretty basic array of ingredients. Flour, baking powder, and salt combine to form the dry set, butter and sugar cream together to form the base, and egg, vanilla, and just a bit of almond extract wrap it all up.

Read on »

Egg in a Hole for Breakfast

It’s entirely possible that I’m the last person to arrive at this party, but these days I find I really, really like soft-cooked eggs. Growing up I thought I only liked scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, and deviled eggs (who doesn’t?) but recently, I’ve discovered the pleasure of the slightly runny yolk.

And THIS, it turns out, is the best way I’ve found to enjoy it. I feel a little generous even calling this a recipe because it’s SO quick, SO easy, and amazingly, deliciously good.

Simple ingredients
I’ve seen this recipe with a number of different names. Egg in a Hole, Frog in a Hole, Egg in the Middle… but the principle remains the same. You take a piece of bread. And you punch a hole in it. And then you put an egg in the middle and cook. Simple!

Making the hole
I like using a round cookie cutter for this, but you could get cutesy and use a heart, a square, or whatever shape you want. The important thing is to not make it too small. Trust me, if there isn’t enough hole, the egg will just overflow and not cook and you won’t be able to flip it and all will be ugly for your breakfast.

Read on »

Charred Corn Salsa
It felt like spring the latter half of this week. The sun was shining, the last of the snow that has persisted in our street for weeks has melted, and it was nice enough to wander about without a jacket. The thrill of the weather finally breaking is one of my favorite moments each season!

Ingredients
Perhaps associated with the first burst of warm-ish weather, I tend to also get an itch to vacation at this time of year. It might also be years of Spring Break indoctrination, but I suddenly yearn to pack my bags for some tropical adventure! Not that I actually did a lot of that growing up, but the once or twice that we did vacation somewhere warm over Spring Break were enough to permanently spark anticipation every February. Unfortunately, we have no imminent vacation plans for this spring. So! To ease my wanderlust, I’ve settled by making some charred corn salsa.

Read on »

Valentines Raspberry Cheesecake Bars
Hello!

I’m so happy to say that. You may have thought that I had given up the goat, abandoned this little blog and buried it in the snow of this long, deep winter. But the truth is I just, quite simply, haven’t had the time or creative energy to handle it these last couple of months. Between the final events push of the fall semester at Duke, co-hosting a holiday party, moving out of my sublet, traveling for the holidays, camping on a friend’s couch for two weeks, saying goodbye to Durham, moving to Columbus, unpacking, organizing, starting a new job, visiting old friends, re-organizing, visiting more friends, and enjoying the company of Brad again, my camera has sat dormant for just over two months.

This move was a toughie. I started my new job almost immediately  upon my arrival in Columbus, and the cold weather provided me with little incentive to do much more than curl up in blankets when I got home each night. It’s taken several weeks to get used to my new kitchen. I’ve spent several evenings lamenting the fate of meals I nearly burned to death as I try to get used to cooking on a glass-top stove. I keep reaching for things where they used to be in my old kitchen. The pantry, still, is a total nightmare, as I have yet to find several hours to sit down and really consider where everything should go (doesn’t everyone do that?)

But finally, the time came this weekend for me to break out a recipe I’ve wanted to share with you since I started this blog. I must say, glass stove and messy pantry aside, I can’t deny that my current kitchen is far more equipped for blogging than my last, primarily due to one giant feature.

LIGHT!

Light, glorious light! Flooding in to every corner of our apartment, these gaping sunny windows line the southern and western walls of our new home. They overlook a park and a river and trees and some sort of weird oyster-and-pearl sculpture. Admittedly, also a freeway, but I confess it is somewhat fascinating to watch the sludge of evening traffic heading north after Brad and I have already arrived home.

The point, here, is that not only did I shoot one recipe this weekend, I shot three! Complete with the natural, angular light that I love to shoot in. No more toting cutting boards topped with carefully balanced ingredients to the office!

Let’s get started, shall we? Three years ago, about two weeks BEFORE I decided to start a food blog, I made these compact cheesecake bars to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Thinner than normal cheesecake, they can easily be eaten without a fork and can be made in any shape you so desire.

Graham crackers ready to crush Read on »

Row of peas
At the dawn of a new year, it seems that our natural tendency is to reflect. We think about what went wrong or right or good or bad over the last twelve months, sometimes celebrating a successful year, sometimes happy to close the book on a year we’d rather forget.

This year, I’ve spent my New Years Day considering not the past year, but the coming one, which starts off with a tremendous amount of change. I’ve spent the last three years in the same city, the same apartment, and the same job, but within the next two weeks, all three will be left behind and replaced with something new.

Since graduating college five years ago, this change marks my third city, my fourth move, and my fourth job hunt. Part of me finds this constant change exciting, and I wouldn’t trade it. I’ve gained a strange and wide variety of job experience, from door-to-door political canvassing, to opening a new performance venue at a major university. I’ve learned to eat locally in both the urban Mid-Atlantic and also in the prolific, fertile South. I’ve developed so many dear friends and met such interesting people, more than I ever could have hoped to meet had I stayed in one area.

Yet despite my drive for new experiences, new friends, and new places, I also ache for a sense of home and a connection to the community in which I live. I put down roots quickly and whole-heartedly as a desert ephemeral whose time to bloom is brief, immersing myself deeply in the experiences offered by each area in an effort to create home. The value I find in this is immeasurable, giving me a sense of stability despite my somewhat migrant behavior.

But it does make leaving harder. Just when I feel like I finally have close friends and enough knowledge to give someone directions by road number, it’s time to go. It’s hard to start a completely new job when you know your current one so well. It’s hard to make new friends, chatting over introductory small talk while your old friends start to move on. It’s hard to organize a new kitchen, damn it!

Read on »

Another sneak peek!
Last week, I announced my most recent project: I published a calendar for 2014 full of some of my favorite photos from the blog! To celebrate, I hosted a giveaway to one of you!

And the winner is CathieJ!

As to her favorite month, she replied, “February. Both my husband and I were born in February. I also love to stay inside during the cold snowy month and indulge in my favorite things: crafting and baking.”

Congratulations Cathie! (Please check your email so we can arrange shipping.)
Thank you to everyone who participated. I hope you’ll consider ordering a copy of the calendar, available now on Lulu! Use the discount code FBC18 to get 18% off, or FREESHIP to get free shipping!

Potato Leek Soup

Happy December, friends! I feel like the super-late date of Thanksgiving has caused December to sneak up on me even more rapidly than usual. For me, December usually equates to a significant uptick in baking, candy-making, and gift-crafting that keeps me in the kitchen late into the night breaking up toffee and tying ribbon around pretty little boxes of mulling spices before packing them gently in bubble wrap and shipping them to friends and family across the continent.

And as much as I might like to convince myself that I can survive on party mix, mini cheesecakes, and pomegranate salsa, I work really hard to make sure I also have some real food in my fridge to sustain me. Something, warm, easy to prepare after late nights of baking, and filling enough to get through the busy days. To keep cooking to a minimum, I often turn to soups.

I had a bit of a soup explosion last fall and posted A LOT of them on the site: Butternut Squash Soup, my Favorite Chili, Sweet Potato Soup, Colorado Cape Cod Chowder, and more. This year I’ve been repeating many of those soups, but I did discover a simple potato leek soup recipe that I HAD to share with you.

Simple ingredients
Like so many soups, this one has fairly humble components: potatoes, leeks, and an onion make up the base, and a little butter, salt, pepper, and cream bring it all together.

Read on »

2014 Calendar!
I can’t decide if I am more nervous or excited about sharing this with you. So bear with me.

Since I started this blog two and a half years ago, it has been solely a digital enterprise. Oh sure the cooking and the gardening and the eating exist beyond this little corner of the internet, but my writing and photography and recipes live only here. Recently I’ve been toying with the idea of bringing some of that work to life, creating something that could live on a wall or a desk or a shelf. And no, I am NOT attempting to write a cookbook: I have neither the talent nor the time to take on a project of that scale.

So how about a calendar?

Sneak peek
It seems only appropriate: the available local produce marks seasonal changes for me just as strongly as weather and leaves and hours of daylight. I’ve sifted through hundreds of photos in the last few weeks to find my favorites for each month, and I am thrilled to present the final product to you. I’ve already received a proof, and I am very happy with the result: thick pages, bright colors, and a clean, simple month design make a good calendar in my mind, and this one has all three!

So if you’ve ever wanted some 30 Pounds of Apples swag, your moment has arrived.  If you think this looks like something you want on your own wall, or something you want to give to someone else, I hope you’ll order one! I really think you’ll like it. Everyone needs a calendar, right?

PS:

I also want to give away a copy to one of you. I get so much out of this blog, but my favorite aspect continues to be the conversation, the question-asking, the story-telling from those of you reading. I’m so glad you’re here.

Another sneak peek!

How to Win the 30 Pounds of Apples 2014 Calendar

1. Leave a comment on this post to answer this question: What is your favorite month, and why is it your favorite?
2. BONUS! To enter twice, head on over to 30 Pounds of Apples on Facebook and like the page. Then, come back to this post and leave me a comment saying you liked the Facebook page, and you’ll be entered twice. Fancy! (New likes only, but thanks to all the early adopters!)
3. Enter by 11:59pm EST on Monday, December 2. Winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 3.
4. Open to US residents only (sorry to my international readers, shipping is so dang expensive!)

Fancy Fried Green Tomatoes

I attended a wedding a couple weeks ago for two good friends I’ve developed since moving to North Carolina. A fairly significant portion of our friendship is based on a love of and fascination with food: we’ve explored North Carolina farms together, swapped recipes, and enjoyed a wide variety of Triangle restaurants. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that their wedding included not one, but two meals, the first an Indian buffet to celebrate Varsha’s culture, and the second an elegant array of quintessential American cuisine to celebrate Eric’s.

I’ve heard people say that no one will remember the food at a wedding, that people have simply come to expect a good meal when they attend a reception. The food at this wedding, however, was anything BUT forgettable. We ate until we couldn’t eat anymore, and then after a few minutes, everyone squeezed in just a little bit more because the food was so. dang. good.

And my favorite treat was not an entreé, not a dessert, but one of the passed hors d’oeuvres for the second meal: a fried green tomato dressed up with a bit of pimento cheese and mint jelly. I was so impressed that after seeing a large pile of green tomatoes at the farmers market the next week, I snatched up a couple to re-create them at home.

Simple green tomatoes

Now work with me on this one. I was really, really skeptical when this tray came around. For one thing, I had never eaten a regular fried green tomato before. I don’t particularly like red tomatoes, so I guess I’ve never felt inclined to try a green one. Don’t worry, I now know I’ve been MISSING OUT for years. I guess I’ll just have to compensate for all that lost time by making these all the time.

Read on »