It comes as a surprise to no one, especially me, that Aldo starting to eat solid foods has been one of the most rewarding and fun parts of this whole ordeal. (Can you call having a baby and raising it for nearly eight months an “ordeal”? That seems simultaneously too negative and way too casual. Like I’d need at least 10,000 more words to describe what it’s like, but a decent percentage of them would be way more positive than “ordeal.”)
Also unsurprisingly, a lot of people ask me what he’s eating and what our general philosophy is on how and what he eats. Baby led weaning? Homemade? How quickly to introduce allergens? What to introduce and when? The way we’ve gone about it is a fairly good indicator for how we’ve done most things as parents – do some reading, pick and choose the elements we like to form a generalized plan, then see what works and what doesn’t, reformulating the plan nearly on a dime as needed. If there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that you can’t go into anything with too many expectations or being too rigid, because this fantastic little guy is actually a human, and he has plenty of his own thoughts and preferences.
And through everything (and we’re not just talking about food here, but also sleep, and play, and everything else he does), I get more and more of this sense that he’s going to be just fine. We can provide a general structure, but as long as we go with our intuition and take note of the signals he sends us, it’ll all work out okay. Read more
It’s time for another All Whisked Up! I’m one of the founding members of Wisconsin Whisk, and every few months we randomly assign blogs to feature one another’s recipes and to introduce our readers to other local sites. Perhaps, for some of us, it also helps us commit to writing a little more often … (apologies, apologies).
This round I was pleased to be assigned to All Food Considered, a Madison-area blog from T.J. Thering. T.J.’s background in engineering gives him a particularly methodical approach to his content and, as his title might suggest, the site’s recipe index covers an impressive array of cuisines and techniques. My favorite part of his site is his collection of 31 culinary lessons, including his advice on kitchen equipment, an overview of ingredient substitutions, and a detailed guide to eggs (as many of you know, my absolute favorite food). This is the sort of content I’ve always intended to develop here on my own site, but T.J. has actually made it happen – perfect for the beginning cook, someone looking for answers to basic cooking questions, couples putting together a registry, or a recent college graduate looking for how to stock and use their first real kitchen. Read more
I’d never hesitate to say we love living in Madison (aside from Brett’s desire to be closer to mountains). It’s no secret I’m meant to be in the Midwest, but I really do love this place in particular, for reasons chief among which is that the food scene here is incredible. I don’t mean the hipness of the restaurants or the caliber of the chefs (although in those arenas Madison certainly wins some points), but because of how many people here are so passionate about Wisconsin and everything it means – its slightly eccentric culinary traditions, its commitment to agriculture and small-scale production, and an endless joy to be taken in the enjoyment of good eats and drinks. (No one could deny the strong and pervasive German sense of gemütlichkeit in this place – no wonder we feel so at home here.) There’s a reason farmers’ markets are such a big occasion here in Madison, and why it’s natural for folks to turn it into a morning of activity, filled with eating and enjoying the space, not just picking up ingredients for that week’s meals.
And all of this is why I’m happy to feature local companies and their products on this site and in my recipes. I always try to source local products with a story when I teach my classes, and we certainly do it when we’re shopping for ourselves. So when a local company whose work I know and love asks if I’d like to put something together with their products, I don’t hesitate to say yes.
And when someone from Underground Food Collective asks, there’s doubly no reason to say no.
As the holidays approach, I can sense a growing anxiety in the conversations about food that I have with other people. From simple office potlucks to special holiday feasts and everything in between, this time of year can be particularly taxing for folks who start to feel overwhelmed by what needs to come out of their kitchens. There’s pressure to make something exciting and to keep up with traditions, to make things that feel special, and to get it all right, even when you’ve maybe never made the dish before. Sharing and enjoying food you’ve made can be one of life’s best moments, but it’s easy to let anxiety build and overshadow the experience. I get that; it happens to me too.
What’s my advice for overcoming it? Oh boy. It’s woven through my classes and through all the conversations I have with anxious home cooks, but it would take a bit of thinking and a fair amount of time to write it all out – and we all know this isn’t a time of year prone to excess time hanging around. So for now, I’ll just leave you with a secret weapon – a caramelized apple Dutch baby.
As if you somehow have been living under a rock and aren’t currently aware, THE HOLIDAYS ARE COMING. And boy does the world want you to know it.
Should this sort of thing cause your pulse to quicken and temples to bulge, a few things to note:
- Holiday dessert, decided. See photos above and below and tell me that wouldn’t look gorgeous as part of your holiday spread. Spiced cake, creamy cream cheese frosting, and crispy, sweet-tart sugared cranberries spiked with orange zest and vanilla. Once everyone stops oohing and aahing long enough to eat a slice, you’ll quickly be crowned the king or queen of the holidays and everyone else will lay down their spatulas in submission. (A little dramatic.)
- Looking for a creative, unique holiday gift or gathering? Remember that Bowen Appétit offers private parties and gift certificates! Read more