The Webster-Merriam Dictionary defines feast as “something that gives unusual or abundant enjoyment." Here we mean for it to encompass all facets of our daily experience, from eating, to working, to sitting on the porch. So with that, you are invited to join our cyber-table. We hope you enjoy the feast!

07 January 2010

One Flag

    I have wanderlust. I can't help it: every six months or so I get the insatiable urge to travel, to break my routine and explore someplace new. Since I was a young girl (and an expat, at the time), I've become comfortable with this newness--grappling with a foreign language, finding my footing on unfamiliar terrain, cautiously biting into some strange, untried food--and have even sought after it. Some aspects of my life just don't feel normal without a hint of discomfort or unfamiliarity.
     Everyone travels differently. Some people enjoy following a guide and learning about a place's history; some prefer to lay on a beach for a week. I like to really live in a place for however long I'm there. Oh sure, I'll see some sights while I'm at it, but to me, the best part of being in a different place for a few days is finding out where the locals shop, buying their groceries and cooking their food. If a kitchen isn't accessible, I'm perfectly happy eating while sitting on a stoop somewhere along the edge of a street (a chunk of crusty bread and 100 grams of piave cheese will do), or finding my way to that spot where all of the locals meet, where you can really taste the essence of what that town is all about. I don't feel too much pressure to do anything in particular when I travel; I'd be happy to spend an afternoon reading a book in a patisserie, for example (of course it always comes back to the food).
    With all my fanciful notions and trip plans and explorations, however, my favorite part of leaving is always coming home. My own kitchen. My own pillow. My own space. I like sitting in a quaint town in Austria eating Apfelstrudel mit Schlag; but I love flying into a drizzling, grey-skied Detroit, walking through its bland airport with other pale passengers, waiting silently for my suitcase to come around the luggage belt. And so, an ode to home...

Why I Love Living in the States:
Freedom of speech
Many cultures, one flag
The Joy of Cooking
Simon and Garfunkel
How the color of dirt changes as you travel south through Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama
Old Ford and Chevy pick-up trucks
Apple pie & Vermont cheddar
The Fourth of July
The Rat Pack
The Great Lakes
Easy travel from State to State
All of the different accents we speak with
Patty Melts
Corn on the Cob
The Four Tops
Up North
Down South
Palm Trees and Pine Trees
Metroparks, National Parks, Park and Rides
Our National Anthem
The Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds
The Ford Mustang
The Pageantry of Football Games and Tailgating
Chicken Fried Steak
The Blues
Rogue River Blue Cheese
Hollywood movies
My neighbors
My home
The mountains
The blue birds in the snow outside my window
The University of Michigan
The Silver Palate Cookbook
The Chicago to Mackinaw Regatta
Cafes Zola (Ann Arbor) and Lula (Chicago)
N.Y.C., for all its grime and beauty
e.e. cummings, Thoreau, Hemingway, Billy Collins
The train to Chicago
Disney World, Lego Land and Cedar Pointe
Sweet Grass Dairy, Jasper Hill and Twig Farm Cheeses
Rufus Wainwright, Sufjan Stevens, Norah Jones, Pink Martini
Michigan Rest Areas along 1-75
Mac ‘n’ Cheese
The Mamas and the Papas
The Beach Boys
Pop tarts and marshmallow cream
The Big House
Top Gun
Big tires, muddy roads and Bud Light
The Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market
The Temptations
The West Coast
The East Coast
Alaska & Hawaii
Chocolate chip cookies

jj's CCC's
I read in a food memoir* recently that back in the day, some master chefs would provide their apprentices with false recipes so that they could never quite reproduce what their masters made. No recipes should go to the grave. These are my chocolate chip cookies:**

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup toasted, chopped pecans

To Make:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Toast the pecans and take them off the heat to let cool. Mix together the flours, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, sugars and vanilla in a mixing bowl until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well until fully incorporated. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and cooled pecans. Portion heaving spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes or until slightly browner than golden brown. (Share them.)

*Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China, by Fuchsia Dunlop (Norton & Co., 2008).

**A special thanks to Andy H. for the tip about the salt, and to Matt and Kelly G. for the idea of using some whole wheat flour.

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  1. Oh my god, I love this post and the ode to home. I just heard about Lula Cafe in Chicago and can't wait to try it next week when I embark on my quest west. I love how you describe the Detroit Metro Airport. I know exactly what you mean. It is such an ironic relief. Endearing in it's imperfection. Hahahah. Oh Jenny! I am clueless as to some what some of the lines in your ode are, for example, I have no idea who Rufus Wainright is, but I absolutely can't wait to find out. Happy posting! Love you!

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  3. the way, are we allowed to post comments on our own blog? Wait, wait, don't tell me, I know the answer-'I do what I want!'