Thursday, February 12, 2009

Debi: Yummy in a crowd

I made these "carrot cupcakes" for Ronni's sixth birthday last year, at her request.
Stori is right; we are both passionate cooks and love experimenting with new recipes and food ideas. I don't know if she'll get around to bragging about this, but Stori has invented the most delicious bread I've ever had. She calls it Mimi Bread, named after her mother, who was seeking a bread low on the glycemic index. Stori's Mimi Bread (aka "million grain bread," since the number of different grains and seeds in it is astounding) has been in regular rotation around my house for a while now, and is now a request of some of my friends and family when I ask "what can I bring?"

And right there is a very key difference in Stori's and my food-lives: we city mice eat with lots of different people, all the time.

Stori mentioned in his blog that, living remote from town as they do, her parents and her brother's family make up their little community. For me, living in a densely-populated urban area, and with large numbers of extended family members living all within an hour radius of my house, my "community" is quite a different thing. In a given week, I'll sit down to a meal (or at least a cup of coffee at a cafe) with half a dozen different friends or family members. Impromptu gatherings after school sometimes turn into "just stay for dinner," with someone running home for an improvised side dish while their kids play in my basement. It's not uncommon to have dinner consist of whatever soup I've made, homemade bread, someone's quickly procured batch of hard-boiled eggs, and a big bowl of fruit.

In the summers, my family gets a weekly box of organic produce from a farm about 90 minutes away, delivered with dozens of other boxes to someone's garage nearby. It's called a "CSA share," (CSA is Community Supported Agriculture), and we pay a premium to get these delicious, fresh, locally grown vegetables for 20 weeks of the year. We pick up our box on the same day as our neighborhood farmer's market, and so our routine last summer was to go home, make a quick picnic dinner, and eat it at the park adjacent to the farmer's market, where we'd supplement our picnic with fresh fruit from the local farmers who sell there. Lots of neighborhood families meet there to picnic together and watch our kids play.

If I make that Mimi Bread, I almost always end up with an extra loaf to give to someone -- a neighbor with a new baby, or a friend of Ronni's with a sick parent, or someone who has stopped over here to say hello on their way home from school. When I bake cookies, I'll often stick a baggie of them in the lunch box of Ronni's best friend, or leave a plate of them at the front desk at Sammi's preschool. A particularly good batch of soup might find its way into a single-serving container and handed to a friend with a cold.

This is all to say that for me, food is part of the way I communicate with the people around me. I love to cook, but mostly for an audience!

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