Happy Christmas to All!

At Christmastime, my kitchen becomes a place where past and present merge.  Through food, I honor my ancestors - the known, the unknown, and the never-to-be knowns, all the people whose DNA runs through my veins and shapes my nose and determines my character. They hailed from Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Cheshire, Lincoln, London, Kent ...…

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Foods for a Funeral and a Farewell

What to make of the lavish feasts that come after a funeral? When I attended my first funeral, at age 27, I cried a lot, even though I didn't know the  deceased, my sister-in-law's father. My grandparents all died before I turned 20 and lived 1250 miles away. Living as my family did on a…

Let Me Count the Ways: St. Valentine’s Day 101 (Yes, There’s a French Connection)

Remember the old shoeboxes for valentines in your grade school classroom? How you'd decorate your box with all sorts of frou-frous and hope the cute little boy (or the cute little girl) with the dimples would give you a valentine card, one of those mass-produced things? In school, at least, probaly no teacher ever told…

Thinking of Others as You Bite into that Bûche de Noël

David Lebovitz --- a whiz of a pastry chef, cookbook author, and food blogger --- got me thinking this morning about the meaning of all the glitz and glitter out there, if only I could just get out of my icy driveway. David is giving away a set of Le Creuset cookware, a gift to…

A Gallery of Birthday Cakes

It's lovely to think that a birthday cake actually manifests an ancient custom, when --- just like today --- bakers baked things for special days, like weddings, births, and funerals. Most of those celebratory items took the form of breads baked into unique shapes. But not until the nineteenth century could the average Joe (or…

Halloween: Cake and Candles

Prolific nineteenth-century domestic scientist, Sarah Tyson Hetson Rorer, in her Home Games and Parties (1898,  p. 139), wrote about some of the old Halloween customs. The ancient association of Halloween with fertility and love comes out int his section of Home Games and Parties: DIVINING BY THE CAKE WITH CANDLES MUCH sport may be had…

Of Carrots and Things

Never bolt your door with a boiled carrot. Irish Proverb A memory, augmented and tempered by time ... and carrots. I close my eyes and scraps of the past flicker through my mind. The last carrot rasped against the finest “teeth” on the four-sided grater, orangy juice pooling slowly into a small puddle in the…