what’s going on here, anyway?

Mindport

I know it’s been a little quiet around here. I’ve been trying to decide what this blog is really for. After over five years of writing Food on the Brain, I’ve figured out that I’m not cut out to be a professional blogger. I went to a food blogger conference a few years ago where they convinced me I needed to own a privately hosted website and monetize it, but I’ve finally realized that – for me, at least – they were wrong. I don’t want to run flashy ads, or instruct people on how to make lasagna with careful step-by-step photographs and clever SEO that draws the whole lasagna-recipe-seeking internet to my door. I might write about a particularly delicious lasagna that we had for dinner, but that doesn’t mean that was the only way to make one. I don’t need to be the go-to site for lasagna. Or anything else.

I’m fascinated by the world of food, but I don’t consider myself to be an expert in anything. My original intent was to share great eating experiences, write down some of my more successful cooking projects so I’d remember what I’d done, and generally have a record of my life in food. Unfortunately I’ve allowed myself to be intimidated by the way other bloggers set themselves up as authorities and start informing people what condiments they need to use and the final word in chocolate chip cookie recipes. I personally don’t think that there’s any right answer to what any one person should like best. I just want to share the journey of discovery.

What I would like is to reclaim this space for myself. I’ve been using facebook for off-the-cuff updates instead of putting them here, which is ridiculous. If no-one comments, that’s fine – honestly, I’m used to it – but I don’t want that to stop me from writing what I want. I do write actual cooking articles and restaurant reviews and farmer profiles, and you can see all of my professional work through my other website http://www.jessamyntuttle.com, but that’s not what this site is for. Let’s see where it goes.

Thanksgiving roundup

pecan pie

The problem I have with the endless emails and web articles I see about “16 Thanksgiving side dishes” and “10 million pies” and “what to make for Thanksgiving this year” is that, like many people, I like to make the same things for Thanksgiving every year, and I don’t use recipes for most of them. When I’m in charge of dinner, I generally make turkey, mushroom-sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted sweet potatoes, creamed spinach, and pecan pie. And I don’t need other people telling me how to make those things, as I’ve already done them, thanks.

I was going to do a roundup of Thanksgiving recipes from the past three years of my blog, only to discover that I haven’t really written most of them down – for the above reason, that I don’t really follow recipes for this sort of cooking. I do use a recipe for pecan pie, but it’s pulled straight from Baking Illustrated so I don’t really want to reprint it here and have the fine folks at Cook’s Illustrated come after me with pitchforks. I have found a few good recipes to mention here – the fresh cranberry relish with a whole orange that I like so much, sweet potato dinner rolls, the spinach recipe that isn’t remotely healthy but tastes fantastic, and a cranberry tart that doesn’t replace pecan pie in our household but is still really nice.

My favorite cranberry sauce

Sweet potato dinner rolls

Aunt Mary’s creamed spinach

Cranberry tart

And, since I’ve been so lame on the Thanksgiving post front, here are some posts from other bloggers giving a nice range of holiday experience and planning from past years, many of whom avoided all kinds of stress by simply leaving out the turkey:

A Cook Local Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, Downsized

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Local Style

Thanksgiving in France

Gobble, Gobble

Ix-Nay on the Urkey-Tay

backyard chickens

fresh eggs

Some of you may be familiar with another local blog, The (Not So) Urban Hennery, written by my friend Laura McCrae. I am happy to announce that, two weeks from now, Laura will be giving a talk at my workplace, the Mount Vernon City Library, on raising chickens. And given that I’ve been buying rather transcendently wonderful eggs from Laura every week, I can tell you she knows how to take good care of chickens.

Yes, it’s a Monday night, but it doesn’t run that late. Come on out and show your support, visit the library and maybe learn something about chickens! And perhaps we’ll go out for a beer afterwards.

Backyard Chickens
with Laura McCrae

(part of the Renew Washington project)

6:30 pm, Monday, May 17

Mount Vernon City Library
315 Snoqualmie Street
Mount Vernon, WA, 98273
(360) 336-6209

an egg in the hand

playing tag

I was tagged the other day, by Nancy of Play With Your Food. I don’t really have any good recipes to report on today, unless you want to hear about oatmeal or leftovers, so I figured I might as well play. The rules are,

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Because I’m lazy, I’m going to ignore numbers 4 and 5 – I never forwarded chain letters, either. But should you feel inclined to pick up the meme, please consider yourself tagged.

In any case, here are my six random things:

1. One night in Florence, I ate for dinner nothing but a single, fresh yellow bell pepper. What can I say, I’m a tightwad.

2. I really, really like Cheetos and potato chips. Sweets I can take or leave, but salt and grease are my drugs of choice.

3. I was named after the author Jessamyn West. I share this honor with a number of other people.

4. I have three cats of whom I am very fond, but I still consider myself basically a dog person.

5. As well as being involved with blogging, photography, music, gardening, cooking, and working a day job, I am also a handweaver. Yes, I have too many hobbies.

6. I once played for flute master Louis Moyse, for a workshop. When I finished, he kissed me on top of the head. I’m still not sure why.

That’s it! Feel free to pick up the theme, and drop me a comment!

The Omnivore's Hundred

in the pantry

Since I started working on this post, it seems like everyone’s been doing it. I guess I may as well finish up and post before I’m suddenly behind the times…

This was a fun challenge from the blog Very Good Taste, featuring a list of foods every omnivore should (theoretically) try. Some are unusual and challenging, some not so much – depending on what part of the world you’re from.

Here are the rules for anyone who wants to take part:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea (not opposed, but not very interested)
3.
Huevos rancheros

4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart (does a county fair booth count?)
16.
Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (Raspberry good. Cranberry OK. Guava disgusting)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream Continue reading

The Omnivore’s Hundred

in the pantry

Since I started working on this post, it seems like everyone’s been doing it. I guess I may as well finish up and post before I’m suddenly behind the times…

This was a fun challenge from the blog Very Good Taste, featuring a list of foods every omnivore should (theoretically) try. Some are unusual and challenging, some not so much – depending on what part of the world you’re from.

Here are the rules for anyone who wants to take part:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea (not opposed, but not very interested)
3.
Huevos rancheros

4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart (does a county fair booth count?)
16.
Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (Raspberry good. Cranberry OK. Guava disgusting)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream Continue reading

in the garden: a new blog!

lilies

I have news!

As you may have noticed, ever since I started this blog, I’ve been amusing myself with a self-indulgent weekly Saturday post featuring something blooming in my garden. I have no idea if this has been interesting to any of my foodie readers, so I decided to do a little rearrangement.

Henceforth, Food on the Brain shall be food only. Those wishing for more of a garden photo fix, or just see what’s blooming here in Skagit Valley, may now repair to its sister site, Jessamyn’s Garden. I can definitely say that there will continue to be some crossover, since food and gardening are my passions and they keep leaking into each other, but it won’t be quite such a jumble. I’ll be moving all the old “in the garden” posts to the new site as I have time.

Please check out the new blog, and let me know how you like it!

Edited 8/4/08: I have moved all the old garden posts over, and deleted them from this site.

Edited 9/14/09: I started the new blog as The Weekend Gardener, but got tired of it and changed it to Jessamyn’s Garden as of today. Hopefully it’ll stay put now!