I know it's a tired cliché to try to summarize the year with a "best of" list, but I don't care. I love reading these lists and I know I'm going to enjoy making mine. I've had a pretty amazing year in food adventures, I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit.
If it's true that "your intentions determine your reality," it's clear that my intentions to explore some long-standing food interests have turned into a full-fledged obsession with pursuit of understanding what matters about it and what's fun and interesting - at least to me. While I'm still ambivalent about the public aspects of blogging (since there's a kernel of truth in the description of bloggers as "people who can't write, for people who can't read), it's been a useful way to attempt synthesizing and articulating a point of view. It's an unexpected bonus that there are actually a couple of people who read and encourage this! Thank you! Did you have adventures in food this year? I'd like to know what they are.
My top 10 include:
1. Caribbean sailing in February with Pam and Ian that included: early morning (it's over at 7am) farmer's marketing and eating my first rotie on Tortola, finding home made spicy sugar loaf cookies on Jost van Dyke, and demolishing, once more, some of Uncle Joe's (the world's best) BBQ ribs on a heavily trafficked and open air corner in St. John.
2. Trying the Eat Local Challenge in April to see if it is possible to spend within the budget of the average American family on local food out of our high season. And finding not only early rhubarb at the farmer's market, but more than enough local food to feed us within the budget. In the process of looking for what's grown and produced around here, discovering Westwind Milling for organic, Michigan grown and milled wheat flour and cornmeal within 50 miles of us.
3. Getting a fabulous gift (from the fabulous husband) of a week at the CIA's Pastry Boot Camp in May and finally learning how to make laminated doughs and pastry cream.
4. Frog Holler Organic Farm's unbelievably perfect ripe strawberries in June and making strawberry shortcake as the main dish for dinner then putting up many jars of strawberry jam for this winter.
5. Growing the heirloom seeds I got from the Seed Savers Exchange (for free through Slow Food Huron Valley) and my first harvest of lettuce, beans, and a cucumber from my own garden in June. Finding new favorites - Christmas Limas and Aunt Molly's German Green tomatoes.
6. Organizing a Slow Food farm tour in August: visiting Old Pine Farm and learning about their clean and humane meat CSA, picking organic blueberries at the Blueberry Patch in Grass Lake, and ending up with a wonderful potluck and tour at Tantré Farm.
7. Hosting the Sustainable Table's "Pie Across America Eat Well Guided Tour" with our own "Pie Lovers Unite!" event in September. It was a pie extravaganza of unprecedented dimensions - a pie contest (judged by local chef Eve Aranoff, culinary historian Laura Gillis, pastry chef Vanessa Sly, and mathematician Patrick Ion), a pie walk (naming local farms) with pie prizes, pie music, pie quotes, pie making kits, and of course PIE EATING of more than 40 homemade pies.
Apparently, it's been quite a year for me. There are lots of things that didn't make it into the Top 10, but I'll just make my own Top 1000 in private.