Hello again.

Hi!

It's been a long time.  How are you doing?  I'm doing ok.  It's been almost a year since I have made a peep on here and I'm ready to be back. Have you ever eaten too much pineapple and it burns the inside of your mouth and then you have to swear off pineapple for a while?  That's kind of what happened with me and this Internet corner. 

It's been a crazy year!  I wrote an honors thesis!  I graduated college!  I got a job! (At Food & Wine magazine.)  I moved! (To Birmingham, Alabama where the magazine is headquartered.)  I'm having a panic attack now just looking at that list! Whatever!

I want to tell the Internet about all of this, though. Part of the reason I took a break was that I've been a little frozen by the knowledge that there are just SO MANY voices out there talking about food.  As I was working on my thesis I went back and forth between feeling comforted and buoyed by that community and feeling like I couldn't say anything at all if I didn't have an unique point of view. That anxiety definitely infiltrated this space - I have often felt embarrassed about this website because I worry that I'm such a cliche - a girl with a blog about food and nothing original to say at all.

I think I let that anxiety overtake my natural urges to write the way I talk, and to talk about food.  I'm learning that I have so much to learn and I want to use this space to process some of my learning.

I get asked a lot of questions about food - via text and email and Instagram and on the phone with friends and family members. I love answering these questions - talking about food is my actual favorite pastime, so it brings me great joy to be able to share all this information I have swimming around in my head!

Do you have a question? A few examples of questions I’ve been tackling include -

  • How do I roast vegetables?

  • Why did my broiler set my salmon on fire?

  • What sauces can I put on my standard grain/vegetable bowl that I eat every day that will make it taste better?

  • What pans should I buy to outfit my kitchen?

  • Where should I go to dinner in Raleigh with my sisters? (Hey, mom.)

As you can see I am happy to share my strong and completely biased opinions about everything related to food! If you have a question, please text me. Let’s be real, you probably have my number. If you don’t, you can email me (maddy@awomanwhoeats.com) or comment below, or send me an instagram message.

For now though, I'm just saying hello, again. Let's call this a clean slate, like my new little kitchen in my sweet, southern apartment.

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Birthday cake(s) and snow days

Last week here in NC, we got, like, a buttload of snow.  It started snowing on Wednesday morning and didn't stop until nearly 9pm.  Snow in North Carolina is magical for several reasons, not least of which because it creates this fake holiday that falls (usually) in the middle of January.  I know I'm not alone in feeling that the real holidays can be stressful because there are so many plans and traditions and expectations.  Snow Holidays have all the magic of the normal ones, without any of that.

Snow Holidays force everyone to abandon their to-do lists and take a few days off.  You can't make plans because you don't know when it's coming, so it creates these magical moments of everyone being profoundly in the moment.

It also helps when it's on my birthday.  Which happens a lot.  Because my birthday is in the middle of January.

I've written about this before, but I always make my own birthday cakes.  This is largely because I really love making cakes and I feel pretty strongly about the way it should be done, so I don't want to allow anyone else to do it, but also because I kind of like to treat birthdays as a time to celebrate other people.

And what better way to celebrate the people you love than with CAKE?  I actually made three.  The first one was an ice cream cake, which my mom used to always make me for my birthday.  It involved a brownie cake and homemade peppermint ice cream using candy canes left over from Christmas.  The second, which I nicknamed my Trashbag Birthday Cake, was a boxed funfetti cake with a cream cheese center and chocolate frosting.

And then I made this chocolate cake from one of my favorite books that is also one of my favorite cookbooks by Ruth Reichl, which she describes as a cake that will solve all of your problems. I recommend that you buy the cookbook here, but even if you don't want to, the recipe is posted on the New York Times Cooking site, where it has 800 FIVE STAR REVIEWS.  I'm just saying.

I do realize that just one week ago I told you that I was transitioning towards more every day food - I believe the words I uses were "affordable and reasonably healthy."  This recipe is, arguably, neither of those things but it is true to what I've been eating the most for the last week, since birthdays should always be an exceptional time.

Happy new year.

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Hello again.  I’m trying something new over here.  I’ve had a difficult few months – without getting into details, there have been some significant changes in my family life that have thrown my life off it’s axis.

I happen to be someone who really loves beginning of the year energy – I love all the resolutions and the hope to improve ourselves and our lives, and I take it pretty seriously.  This spot of the internet has been the focus of a lot of my New Years energy, and I’ve been thinking about what is actually important to me, and why I’ve stopped feeling driven to write over here.  I think it’s because the recipes I post here started feeling divorced from my real life, which has mostly been filled with cooking large meals for people I love.  These meals have generally been fairly simple, relatively focused on being affordable and reasonably healthy, with the occasional 2-day lasagna thrown in for good measure.

My best and most important New Years resolution is to cook a community dinner every Thursday.  This resolution feeds into my larger resolution, which is to rekindle my old excitement about meeting new people.  Is it sad if I tell you that I haven't felt very excited about meeting new people in the last year?  It's true.  I've been a lil closed off.

My dream for this dinner situation is that I will cook a simple meal every week and invite my friends and acquaintances so they can meet each other.  My other dream is that I will write about those dinners here because I want this place to reflect my actual life. So:  here is my actual life.

Last week I made vegan coconut lentil soup and it was wonderful and hot and comforting.  Thursday was the day after classes started and it was warm (wut) and grey and horrible.  I walked back from class and stopped at Med Deli to buy a couple of ingredients that I needed.  They happen to have my very favorite bulk bin situation.  See below.

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On day two of my last semester of college I was filled with an almost nauseating anxiety about what I am going to do with my life or at least, like, the first six months after I graduate.  The practice of chopping/stirring/seasoning/talking to real humans filled me with immense relief.  I think I will be ok.