The Tastiest Bite

I don’t think of myself as a writer. Growing up, my twin sister was the writer. I wrote in a journal nightly and spent just as much time devouring books as she did; but I always saw it as her thing. She seemed better at it and more determined. Rebekah knew it was what she wanted. Maybe I didn’t want to be a copy cat or was tired of the twin cliche but I never thought writing would be my line of work. Finding myself at a food writing workshop was as surprising to me as discovering I like to cook, especially after all those years telling myself I didn’t.

For me, food writing is a form of self reflection (something I clearly need more of). It’s about slowing down and focusing on what was just in my mouth. Remembering the textures, colors and feelings that the food elicits. In an attempt to improve this skill, Naomi Tomky suggests this exercise: write 200 words on the best food eaten that day.

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Day 1

The Tastiest Bite(s) on Valentine’s Day

I had many memorable bites yesterday, much more than a normal Wednesday. An ethereal, creamy vegetable soup topped with crisp speck and cold goat cheese was generously handed to me for lunch by a thoughtful friend at The Shop. Before leaving, I was given a decadent piece of chocolate cake layered with blood orange Italian buttercream. Both warmed my heart and made my taste buds dance in delight.

I was also surprised with chocolate covered strawberries by another friend yesterday afternoon. In all honesty, chocolate and fruit aren’t my favorite combination but these strawberries changed my opinion. They looked so inviting on the tray with the thick coat of dark chocolate enveloping the juicy strawberry.  I picked a strawberry up by its green top and took a bite. The thick chocolate shell shattered to reveal the ruby strawberry inside. My mouth was filled with both flavors simultaneously. Soft, sweet and juicy strawberry with bitter, crunchy chocolate.

My Valentine and I drank a special brut rosé that I had saved since receiving it at Christmas from my brother and sister-in-law and it did not disappoint. After dinner was done and the kids were almost tucked into bed, I heard the familiar whirl of our popcorn maker. This was definitely not our normal Wednesday. Warm and kissed with butter and salt, we cuddled on the couch munching popcorn as we watched our Olympians fly down the mountain. Love came in many forms on Valentine’s Day but most memorably was the sharing of food and drink together.

What was your tastiest bite yesterday?

 

Strawberry Lemon Pancakes

I started working when I was 12 or 13 years old. I remember rolling up newspapers for my paper route, rubber banding them and riding my pink, banana seat bike all around the neighborhood, tossing newspapers at each front porch.

At 15, I started working at a  pizza place and I worked there all through high school. I worked every summer. I worked and worked and worked some more.

After having both children, I worked full time without a second thought. I was used to working and juggling life around it. Then six years ago, we decided to move cities and knew it would be the perfect time to take a step back and be home with the children. These years are short (or so I hear) and we both wanted a simpler life for ourselves and our children.

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Now, fast forward six years and the kids are older and are both in school. Whew – free and clear! I was offered a part-time job as a baker and snatched it up. I couldn’t wait to get back into the working world. Co-workers! Paychecks! I was also looking forward to the ability to easily answer the question “so what do you do?” Stay-at-home mom always seemed to fall so flat. It sounds boring. It sounds like under-achieving. It sounds so privileged.

But then we were back to the daily juggling. Our simpler life went out the window. After working for a year, my body was telling me no, it was time to say good-bye to the baker position and return to the stay-at-home mom one.

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That brings me back to here.

Raising humans is a monumental task, yet it is made up of a million smaller ones. Packing lunches, laundry, homework, bedtime stories and play dates – all add up to what we hope are responsible adults who are ready to take on the challenges of this world. Yet, sometimes its hard to see the forest for the trees. The mundane tasks seems so – mundane.

I hadn’t realized how much my self worth was attached to my employment until I stopped working. It is hard for me to remember that in fact, self worth comes from me just being me.

In light of this, I’m trying to remember that me just being me is enough. I don’t have to earn my keep, so to speak. I do plenty. I can plan coffee dates with friends and indulge in hobbies. I can spend part of my child free time on things that enrich my life as an individual. Volunteer, read, and of course, bake.

 

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Now, with this extra lease on life, I decided it was time to work on some tasty new pancakes. Blueberry pancakes have never really been a family favorite. A couple years ago, our youngest was watching Daniel Tiger on PBS and they made strawberry pancakes on the episode. He immediately asked to make them and so we did. This time around, I embellished them with a zing of lemon and a powdered sugar for the topping.

Strawberry Lemon Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (half of a large lemon)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup diced strawberries, about 4 large fresh or frozen that have been thawed and drained

Instructions:

Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a medium bowl. In another bowl (I use a large measuring cup) combine the milk, butter and vanilla. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture and combine with a spatula until just combined. Gently mix in strawberries. Pre-heat a griddle to 350 degrees. Spray griddle with cooking spray and ladle 1/4 cup mixture unto griddle. Cook until lightly golden on the bottom (1-2 minutes) and then flip. Press the pancake down gently. Cook for another 1-2 minutes or until both sides are golden brown and the middle is cooked through.

I test the middle of the pancake by gently pressing the side of the spatula into the pancake and if it comes out clean, then I know the middle is cooked. Serve with a bit of butter and powdered sugar.

Enjoy!