2012, the year this blog almost died
Although it’s been quite some time since my last post (um, several months! my screen saver should be tumbleweeds…), I’m not quite ready to give up blogging. Perhaps I’m in denial, but after spending all that time to transfer to a new domain earlier this year, getting a new masthead, etc, it seems a shame to let it slowly die. Although this fall and holiday season were our busiest yet for Beau Bien Fine Foods (selling at Eastern Market; getting our retail license to sell in stores) and the Detroit Holiday Food Bazaar was the biggest so far, you’d think my fairly flexible schedule would allow for some blogging time… I suppose my priorities just shifted towards activities that could potentially earn me some income, such as freelance writing and selling vintage clothing on my Etsy shop. But since January through April is a pretty slow season in the jam business, I’m hoping to get back into posting more regularly.
In spite of the lack of posts, I’ve been cooking just as much as ever. Lots of trout during the very hot summer and early fall; lacto-fermented pickle experiments with sauerkraut, kimchi and root vegetables (see below); some slow cooker experiments with pork ribs; dough for bread and pizza when it wasn’t too ungodly hot to turn on the oven. Some days, I’d even come home from a 10 or 11-hour day at the kitchen and prepare a meal for Marvin and myself. Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely a few takeout meals and rotisserie chickens in the mix, but I tried to get into a groove of having enough groceries and pantry staples on hand to rustle up some simple healthy meals after a long day’s work.
The biggest challenge in my year of cooking was hosting Thanksgiving. Not only was it the first time we’d ever hosted a holiday gathering, but we had a huge group- over 40 people from both sides of our families. I had never cooked a turkey before, and there were some mishaps– in spite of taking its temp, we found it was undercooked when carving it, and had to put it back in the oven in pieces, which dried it out a bit. Fortunately my dad had brought a smoked turkey and one of Marvin’s cousins brought pernil (Puerto Rican roast pork), so we had alternate meat options. I also baked bread and made homemade salad dressings, a brussels sprouts side dish, mashed potatoes and a pear almond tart. And probably a couple other things I’m forgetting. The day was a blur, but everyone seemed to have had a great time, from what I can recall! It was fun to have a mish-mash of Puerto Rican dishes like yuca and arroz con gandules, and more typical American fare like baked squash and green bean casserole.
Molly and I had fun developing some new flavors for Beau Bien in 2012, including Blueberry Lemon Vanilla preserves (probably our new best seller) and Peach Lemon Lavender preserves, as well as expanding our savory selections with a Blueberry Chutney and an Apple Mustard.We taught a jam & pickles class at the Corktown bed & breakfast Honor & Folly in November, which was a lot of fun. Our plans for the new year include expanding our retail presence, updating our packaging, and getting into some new farmers’ markets once the weather warms up. I was lucky enough to receive this copper jam pot as a Christmas gift from Marvin, and we can’t wait to get back into the kitchen and try it out.
In non-food news, the biggest change in our lives came on November 6… not because of the elections, but because of the arrival of Cleopatra Bijou Lothamer-Shaouni, a 5-month-old Shepherd mix (we’re not sure what else she’s mixed with- any dog people care to speculate?). We had been contemplating getting a dog for a few months, and at the end of October, decided to take the plunge and start looking. We started on a site called Last Day Dog Rescue, and after perusing some adoptees online, went to check out a litter of 4-month-old puppies in Livonia. I was smitten with a beagle mix named Winchester (as of this post he’s still available and super adorable!), but Marvin didn’t feel a “connection” with him or any of his siblings. We told them we’d think it over, and went to get brunch. After eating, I suggested stopping by the Humane Society on the I-75 service drive- it was right on the way home, and we figured we may as well check it out. It was there that we found Cleo (then Mitzi), a shy and somewhat skittish but friendly little pup. We can’t figure out why she was unadopted for so long (she’d been there 3 weeks and was just 2 days from being euthanized!) except that her chart stated she “might not be good with children”, and many people seemed to be looking for a family dog. Their loss- she has since blossomed into a very sweet and loveable personality, headstrong but smart and (usually) well-behaved. After having to give up my cats 2 years ago because of Marvin’s allergies, it’s really nice to have a pet again.
I’m looking forward to doing some recipe posts very soon- probably one about the granola I gave out at Christmas, and my favorite braised chicken dish of 2012, a Moroccan chicken with preserved lemons and nigella seeds. What were some of your favorite dishes in 2012, and what’s on your bucket list to make for this year?