A great deal of the content on this blog is about food–the food we grow or buy locally, or cook, or order in, or remember from childhood and travels. Sometimes the food evokes memories, sometimes it feeds my soul. But it always brings me joy. I don’t pretend to be a great food photographer (although perhaps I should make a study of that). I strive to tell a story or share a recipe or just make a link outside my sheltered space and mindset. It’s a big world out there. And while we are “stuck in here,” I will continue to search for ways to connect.
My passion for cooking truly sparked when my older sister, Pam, married and began preparing recipes from Gourmet magazine, Julia Child, and others. She gave me a copy of Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook after a particularly productive weekend of cooking with her at the pre-revolutionary farmhouse that she and her husband bought and restored outside of Leesburg, Virginia. Many books and recipes followed, some gifted by Pam or friends, others bought with my wages as a waitress and bartender at Marty Lafall’s Steak House in Washington, D.C.
When Marty’s closed, I knew I wanted to switch teams from the front of the house to the back of the house and train to cook professionally. I still dream of Saturday nights: slamming saute pans, tossing vegetables in butter sauce with the quick flick of the wrist, swirling the demi-glace into the red wine base for an “a la minute” steak sauce. I miss working on the line, tickets triple-stacked on the order bar, staff hollering “Pick up!” and servers jostling their trays for plates and garnishes.
Now I cook for family, for friends, for love. And I love a picnic. This morning I pulled out my favorite version of Blueberry Muffins from the Wolftrap Picnic Cookbook–another gift from my sister. This collection of recipes (hello, best-ever Green Bean Salad) and photographs is one part groovy-time-machine and a double dose of the type of preparations you might see in a spiral-bound fund-raising community cookbook.
My first edition copy lacks the cover (although I slipped it between the pages for safe-keeping) and bears the hallmarks of much use: food spatters, greasy finger-prints, perhaps some fossilized sugar tracings. I sent a copy to my friend Mary Mullally when she moved to Virginia, very close to Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. I gave her the green bean salad recipe long ago, a dish much requested at her family gatherings. I forgot to ask her what edition of the book she received.
So I offer some photos, some from my kitchen this morning–the blueberry muffin definitely ready for its close-up–and several from the cookbook. Check out the hairstyles, the clothing, and the food. Enjoy!