For those of you who are married, this wins the Obvious Statement of the Year award, and for those of you who are unmarried, take heed: planning a wedding is a LOT of work. Like, feels-like-a-second-job amounts of work. And for someone like me who basically does have a second job (or two or three, depending on how you count freelance work, being a landlady and running a micro-food-business), I barely have time to breathe let alone blog. For those who opt for a “regular” wedding at a place where it’s X amount per head all-inclusive, there’s still plenty to keep you busy (my sister went this route last year and still, a few months out, found herself wishing she had planned a small destination wedding instead). But when you capriciously decide that you want to have your reception at an old Model T museum, with no kitchen or staff, that doesn’t regularly host large events, you’re dealing with a whole new level of coordination. My chest gets tight just thinking about it.
Somehow in the midst of all this, I’m managing to squeeze in little snippets of normal life here and there- a Sunday supper of grilled salmon with scape pesto; a weekend visit with my mom and sister; a restaurant meal with my old high school friend Kathy and her husband Garrett (longtime readers may remember my posts about my stay with her in Portland, and making her family’s Chinese dumplings).
A couple of years ago, shortly after starting this blog, I did an online search for other Michigan food bloggers, with the idea of doing a little networking. At the time, I found only one in Detroit proper, a vegan blogger to whom I reached out but was ignored (oh well). However, I did come across a few bloggers in the Ann Arbor area as well as a couple in the far Detroit suburbs. Several of them had been in contact with each other for a year or so and had formed a small (back then- now over 100 members!) Google group called the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers. This was used for support and networking, linking to each other’s pages, asking each other food-related questions, sharing articles, and occasionally hosting potluck gatherings. Not knowing any other food bloggers “IRL”, I was really excited to connect with these ladies, some of whom had already been blogging for two or three years. Cynthia (aka Mom), Shayne, Alex, Patti and Maggie were just a few of the members who participated regularly in the mailing list and who helped bolster my confidence and enthusiasm for blogging in that first year. Continue reading
I’ve made some vague references to freelance gigs that were siphoning off a bit of time away from this blog, and today I’m excited to introduce SimmerD, a new monthly column I’ll be writing for Model D about all things food-related in the city. Below is Marvin’s accompanying slide show, which contains photos of many of the events I mention in the article that have been filling my schedule the last few months!
I thought that since I mention the Food Bazaar in the article, although it was a few months ago, now would be an appropriate time to go into a little more detail about what it was exactly and how it was developed. I would love to see people re-create these types of events in their own communities, if they don’t already exist! The following text was written months ago but I never had any photos to go with it (see below re: how crazy busy I was that night!) so it got lost in draft-land. I always intended to publish it, though, so here you go.
It started as a little kernel of an idea, and grew into something I could only have dreamed of- a festive, food-filled event attended by hundreds of people, all drawn by their love of local, artisan, small-batch foodstuffs. An event with 16 amazing local vendors, some of whom sold out of product in the first hour because of the overwhelming response.
I first started thinking of doing a holiday food event after our fledgling jam company participated in the Homeslice benefit for MOCAD in October. It was a great event, and wonderful exposure for our brand, but the percentage we were asked to donate back to the museum cut into our already slim profits. It got me thinking that rather than sell at a farmers’ market or other location where we’d have to pay a booth fee, why not organize our own event? I started asking around and brainstorming locations. As luck would have it, the person who lives above me volunteers for an art gallery that was trying to find events to host in order to expose people to their space. We ended up with 1800 square feet of free space at the Whitdel Arts in Southwest Detroit.
The next step was to find vendors. Through my involvement with GUDetroit, I know many food producers, both locally established businesses such as Simply Suzanne and Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, and tiny home-kitchen-based start-ups like Suddenly Sauer, Neighborhood Noodle, Detroit Zymology Guild, and Gang of Pour (links below). Through long chains of emails, I got everyone organized, and with the help of some of the other vendors (hi, Holly!) got all of the details worked out. A few more vendors were added through word of mouth, and Suzanne arranged for Michael Geiger to provide music. Marvin got prints made of 8 food-related photographs he’d taken, and hung those in the space.
Thanks to the magic of Facebook, promoting was a snap. Between all of the vendors and people inviting friends, the invite list was well over a thousand people. By the day of the event, over 400 had RSVP’d “yes”. We also got write-ups in both major Detroit weeklies, the Detroit News and a couple of online publications. I was floored and thrilled by all of the support and interest on the part of the press, but a tiny bit concerned about legal issues. Since this was originally intended as a semi-private, word-of mouth event, we hadn’t pulled any permits, and some of the vendors weren’t in strict compliance with MI food laws. Not only that, but our friend James was selling homemade wine on a “donation basis”. Two days before the event, I got a call from local NPR affiliate WDET asking if I would appear on the Craig Fahle Show to talk about the event (here’s the podcast, I’m on with Will of Corridor Sausage about halfway into the program). The irony was that they were referring to it as “Detroit’s first underground food show”. But we figured, hey, it took the city 10 years to finally crack down on Theater Bizarre… we might as well go for it and hope for the best.
At the outset, I had envisioned more of a “holiday party” where we would sell to friends and friends of friends, hang out and drink some wine, nothing too crazy. In actuality, I got to enjoy about 20 minutes of the 5-hour event and the rest of the time I was stuck at our booth because we were so slammed with customers! By the end of the night, we had sold out every last item we had for sale. The other vendors reported a similar hectic pace , but no one was complaining! I think there was a little bit of disbelief (at least on my part) that we had pulled it off, but we were ecstatic to know that this kind of an appetite exists in Detroit for the products we had to offer.
Thanks to everyone who participated, either as a vendor or attendee. I hope to repeat the event next holiday season or maybe even sooner- now that I (sort of) know what I’m doing, it should be a little less daunting! Below is a vendor list of links if anyone is interested in contacting them to get more information or order products.
Detroit Zymology Guild (soon to be Commissary)
RG Distribution (selling Kenzoil, El Azteco products, and more)
Hey there. Just a friendly warning, if you’re here for the recipe you may want to scroll down; the following may not be of interest to many of you, and that’s fine, but it’s something I felt I needed to write.
I had a post all written and ready about how my friend had this great sherry-tasting party last month, with all of this amazing Spanish food, lively conversation, etc. but I had this nagging feeling and it just didn’t feel right to post it. Although the party was beyond lovely and I had a great time, the evening was marred by the fact that I completely and totally flaked out on a good friend. I was supposed to text her the address of the party, and even after having said out loud to my brother as we were walking in the building that I needed to do just that, a few seconds later I was distracted by a conversation and the thought left my mind. I then proceeded to leave my phone in my coat pocket in the bedroom all night, so I didn’t hear any of my friend’s calls or texts. To make matters worse, she had already driven over 20 miles and was in a bar nearby awaiting contact from me.
Of course, as soon as we walked out of the building to leave the party, it triggered the memory that I was supposed to have contacted her, but by then it was too late. I called and offered frantic apologies, but the damage was done. Of course she felt, as I would have, that it was simply unimportant to me and that my other friends had taken precedence. I was so frustrated- how to explain that that was not the case; that I just hadn’t “pictured” her at the party (she decided to go at the last minute) so it didn’t seem “off” that she wasn’t there? Although it was the truth, it sounded like a lame excuse even to me.
I’ve been doing some research lately to try to understand why my mind works the way it does and why I’m often frustrated by my forgetfulness, inability to be organized or to accomplish certain tasks. I came across the following and it was like reading a summary of my life story: frequently losing things, trouble completing routine or mundane tasks, academic underachiever, short temper, low stress threshold and several other characteristics that were uncomfortably familiar.
These are some of the manifestations of a certain type of ADD. Now, I haven’t been officially diagnosed, but based on a laundry list of symptoms which I won’t bore you with here, it’s exceedingly probable that this is the explanation to years and years of figuratively banging my head against a wall wondering why I couldn’t seem to be motivated to accomplish as much as my peers of similar intelligence and education, why my house is frequently a mess, and why I feel disproportionately stressed out by life’s day-to-day tasks. Apparently it’s common for the condition to go undiagnosed in high-functioning girls/women, because they often don’t exhibit the hyperactivity and disruptive behavior that boys do. Because the hyperactive form of ADHD is so much more prevalent in the general discourse, I never knew that there were different types and it never occurred to me that it could be an explanation.
I couldn’t help but get emotional reading the list of symptoms and feeling this overwhelming sense of recognition, after literally decades of feeling that something was “wrong” with me but not knowing what (Am I just lazy? Why is it so hard for me to be organized? etc). Even my blog posts, which I enjoy, often take me two to three weeks after the fact before I am able to post them, and those of you who are regular readers have probably noticed that I often sound harried or overwhelmed even though I don’t have any kids and have a lifestyle with (relatively) few responsibilities.
Lest this post be a total drag, I did want to share with you this most excellent recipe for Spanish-style deviled eggs that I took to the sherry party. Just about everyone likes deviled eggs, and a couple people at the party said these were the best they’d ever had. They come from a colorful and well-put-together cookbook called The New Spanish Table, and although they’re no more difficult to make than any other deviled eggs, they pack a lot more flavor thanks to the inclusion of tuna and some other goodies.
2011 is going to be a huge year for me with the new house and the wedding, so I’m hoping that getting better informed about this condition will allow me to better manage these seemingly monumental events and enjoy them rather than feel freaked out and stressed. Wish me luck. As for you, I wish you all the best of holidays, and a healthy and happy New Year!
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise (I recommend making one or two extra in case you have a couple that don’t peel cleanly)
1 6-oz can tuna in olive oil, tuna drained and flaked
2 Tbs capers, rinsed and drained
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 small or half a large shallot, minced (about 1 heaping Tbs)
2 Tbs mayonnaise
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
piquillo or roasted pepper, cut into thin strips for garnish
handful of chopped parsley
Mash the yolks well in a bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise, lemon juice, shallot and capers until well incorporated. I like to mix the tuna in at the very end so it retains a bit more of its texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mound as much of the filling as possible into the halved egg whites (you may have a bit left over). Garnish each egg with strips of pepper, and scatter the plate with the chopped parsley.
When my band plays live shows, it’s common for us to play certain songs faster than the tempo we record or rehearse them in. There’s an energy to a live performance that incites you to do everything louder, faster, harder. For some of the songs that are already up-tempo, the live versions are sometimes performed at breakneck speeds that make you feel as if you’re on a runaway train that could careen off the tracks at any moment. It’s nerve-wracking to think it could all fall apart, but exhilarating at the same time when you finish the song, looking around at your bandmates like “Did we really just pull that off?”.
This is the feeling that sums up my September- a frantic, energetic, delirious blur. It bums me out that I’ve gone the entire month so far- over three weeks- without posting here, even though I had the first week of the month off (the pork loin shown above was cooked up north over Labor Day weekend, the last couple leisure days I’ve had). Rest assured, I haven’t been neglecting this space out of laziness or lack of interest. I’ve become involved in a few different new projects that are kicking into high gear and keeping nearly every free moment occupied, so I do feel a bit neurotic. But like that song that just manages not to self-implode, I’ve been holding it all together by the skin of my teeth and feeling, for the most part, immensely satisfied.
A month ago, I convinced my job to let me cut my work week to 32 hours so that I could have some extra time for entrepreneurial pursuits. I was a little nervous about the reduction in pay, but I knew it was something I had to do and was ready to take a bit of a risk. Since then, I have started making products for a small business with a friend (more on this soon!) and have written my first freelance article for Model D (out 9/28). I’ve also been working on getting this blog redesigned and moved over to a new domain, which I hope to have done in October in time for its 2-year anniversary.
Meanwhile, my cooking has fallen a bit to the wayside. I’ve largely been subsisting off salads, bread, cheese, and very simply cooked vegetables from the farmers’ market- nothing to write home about, but nourishing to the soul as well as the body. As summer grinds to a halt, I’m spending massive amounts of free time processing various fruits and vegetables, something I haven’t done on a large scale before. I hope to get my blogging mojo back soon, but for the moment my other projects are demanding just about all of my attention. I hope you’ll bear with me as I transition into these new and exciting ventures!
Grilled Pork Loin with Garlic & Rosemary
I haven’t really made anything requiring a recipe in the last month, but I did make the grilled pork loin pictured above with my favorite sous-chef, my brother Jesse, on Labor Day weekend up north.
Take a pork loin and cut it for a roulade (or have the butcher do this if you don’t know how). Generously season the meat on both sides with salt and pepper. Lay flat. Make a paste out of generous amounts of garlic and rosemary with a little olive oil; smear this liberally on one side of the meat. Roll it up and secure with butcher’s twine. Grill over high heat until it begins to color and brown, then transfer to indirect heat and grill, covered, until internal temperature is 145°. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes tented with foil; slice and serve. We served this with a “sauce” made of fresh Michigan peaches peeled and macerated with a small amount of sugar, and the grilled sweet corn pictured in the new masthead.