Wednesday, July 2, 2008

NaBloPoMo, day 2

It's only day two and already I'm not so sure I'm up to this daily blogging. I did fine in November, but life was different then.

My eldest child, my daughter, just had a birthday last month. She was out of town with my parents on her actual birthday, and we've had a busy, busy summer, so we haven't been able to schedule her birthday party until tomorrow.

So here's the deal.

She wanted our neighbor, Ashleigh, to make the birthday cake. Because, in her lovely words, "I want a pretty cake this year, Mom."


My desserts are not known for their beauty, but they do taste good. But apparently my cake decorating efforts at my son's birthday party were so laughable that she won't ever forget.

Not wanting to disappoint my delightful, if painfully honest, spawn, I placed an order, and we're looking forward to enjoying it tomorrow.

But after the sleepover, the kids will be eating the breakfast that I cooked from scratch. And they'll love it. Because pancakes don't need to be pretty.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Day One, NaBloPoMo

My relationship with food has been a bit of a roller coaster over the past few years. Now, that statement seems loaded. Do I have an eating disorder, or do I fight with my weight? No, and no. As far as eating goes, my relationship with food is pretty steady: I eat when I'm hungry, and I mostly eat what I like.

No, the relationship to which I refer is more about the kitchen. See, sometimes I get really passionate about cooking and meal planning and grocery shopping. Heck, here I am, posting in a food blog.

But sometimes I really can't be bothered to spend more than a couple of minutes thinking about feeding my family.

I'm in one of the valleys these days.

It's probably because of my job.

If you didn't already know, I work in a hospital, in the food service department. It's not really a glamorous department, but my job is very visible and, to be quite honest, awesome. It's probably also of value to mention that my current position was a promotion from another, desk-bound, position in the same department. And my current apathy toward all things culinary pretty much began the day of my promotion.

My job allows me to engage in chef-like behavior (somewhat) and get a lot of ego strokes in the process. My prior position was primarily administrative and involved very few ego strokes and even fewer forays into the kitchen.

But my family is paying a bit of a price here. They used to get creative, well-balanced, well-cooked meals, courtesy of me, nearly every night. Trips to restaurants were special and also well-considered. These days, however, I've mostly delegated the cooking (and the shopping, and most of the planning) to my husband (who does a great job, by the way).

I'm hoping that this process, this daily blogging about food for the month, will help rekindle the passion. I can't remember the last time I tried a new recipe (except for cocktail recipes, which I tried just last week, with excellent results).

At least I'm well-positioned to succeed. Our vegetable garden is thriving in the Memphis summer. With the backyard-fresh vegetables, I've got plenty of inspiration, or at least good ingredients.

So here's the plan: I'll try something new in the kitchen every day this month. I've already started gathering recipes for pickles and jams and such. And I'll document the results. I can't promise passionate cuisine, but I can promise a dedication to fresh, wholesome food that (hopefully) families would like to eat.

Tomorrow: pickles, part 1.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

New post!

I've neglected this poor blog for too many months, but I'm back!

We were a little more ambitious this spring when we planted our vegetable garden. Flushed with success in growing herbs and tomatoes in past years, we raised the stakes a little and decided to try a few more vegetables; jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, and cucumbers have joined a few more tomato plants.

As has been the story for the past two seasons, our basil is an utter disappointment. I've tried several different locations and varieties, but it just hasn't thrived since our first summer at the house (this is our fourth).

The rosemary, however, is trying to take over the world, as are the sage, pennyroyal (not a food herb), lavender, and thyme. The oregano, which has normally been a very aggressive plant, is very politely staying in its corner. And the parsley seeds I planted over a year ago have suddenly decided to sprout. I also planted some stevia, on a lark, and it's looking quite healthy. Now I need to figure out what to do with it!

We've harvested at least twenty tomatoes thus far, and have many more to harvest in the next week. Our cucumber vine grew and grew and grew, and just this weekend I found some fruit. We've harvested a couple of bell peppers and three jalapenos (yum!).

NaBloPoMo's July topic is "food", and I'm planning to post a garden update daily, as well as what we've done with the harvest. This weekend's plan is pickles (small batches to test recipes). Also, finding a use for stevia (besides brewing them with my iced tea).