Category: Random Rants

For enduring my ramblings, I will bestow unto you two baking projects bound by a shared frosting.  So you get two and a half recipes for the price of one!  You can’t afford NOT to read this!

I love Christmas.  It is essential to note, however, that I use “Christmas” as a lump term meaning “celebration on or near the winter solstice involving lights, singing, feasts, and acts of generosity and kindness.”  It is a socially expedient shorthand, though I understand if other non-Christians choose to call their particular celebrations by other, more precise names.

What is hard for me to understand is people who hate the holidays in their entirety: the Grinches, Scrooges, and Burgermeister Meisterburgers of the world.  A lot of people are disappointed as they grow up and find that a cold, aphotic December can come and go without Christmas magically sweeping them up in merriment and joy.  In this regard, I come from a place of privilege.  My parents also love Christmas immensely, and by way of teaching my brother and I to love Christmas, they also showed us how to MAKE Christmas, because the making is the most important part.  It’s the point.

The universe is much like a northern winter.  It is overwhelmingly vast, dark, hard, and uncaring.  Life is an act of audacity.  Abstractions like hope, joy, and love are even more so.  They do not exist on their own.  They exist because we make them.  The most perfect encapsulation I’ve found of this idea is in Terry Pratchett’s “The Hogfather”, in a conversation between Death and his grand-daughter, Susan.

Saturnalia/Yule/Christmas/etc. are about magic: the amazing act of making light in the longest night.  The joy of Christmas is not a thing that happens to us.  It is a thing we bring into being, an attempt to be the best of all of our ideals, in spite of everything.

Be the spark in the darkness.

Anyway, for less abstract values of “making”, this post I bring you a cake, some cookies, and a wonderful frosting for both that also stands on its own as an insanely buttery fudge.

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A Little Academia Before Lunch

I was recently directed to Rachel Laudan’s “A Plea For Culinary Modernism“, by my friend and fellow culinary arts student, feminismbot.  I was a history major long before I started thinking about cooking for a living, and the intersection of the two fields always makes my heart tingle with joy.

I definitely recommend this article for anyone interested in the politics of food.  Which should be everybody.

Laudan does an admirable job of dismantling the romantic illusions about old food-ways, many of which are currently base-belief among large sections of the population, particularly among those who consider themselves foodies.  She addresses the myth that our ancestors ate a more balanced/healthy diet, the overwhelming social power imbalances and oppressions that were fundamental to the pre-industrial food and agriculture industries, and several other points.

This is what a strictly local, plant based diet gets you.

This is what a strictly local, plant based diet gets you. A family in Carraroe, Ireland starves during the potato famine, 1845-1850.

I’m not going to go out and pick up a Big Mac anytime in the near future, and I still intend to buy locally produced food when practical, simply out of a desire to support local farmers, but the overwhelming message of her essay is something I can get behind, and something that I feel meshes well with the ethos of this blog:  frozen, canned, and preserved ingredients can be good, and good food should be available to everybody.

Coming soon: an actual food post!

Announcement for a New Year

For years, friends and family have told me I should go to cooking school.  Food is something that has consistently provided me with great delight.  I always rebutted that food was something fun for me, and that if I had to make a living off it, it would suck the joy out of cooking.  And I was probably even right; until recently, I doubt I would have had the ability to compartmentalise cooking as work from cooking for self and loved ones.

But as of a couple weeks ago, I am transferring into my school’s Culinary Arts program.

I’m really excited about this, and now that I’ve made the choice, it seems like it really was the obvious thing to do all along.  There’s certainly a chorus of “I told you so”s coming from friends and family.  But it was a decision I had to be sure of, lest I risk ruining one of my greatest joys.  I have a long and sordid history of throwing myself into the passion of the moment, then burning out on it after a few months.  Frankly, food is too important to me not to take the choice very seriously.  I needed to be sure I loved cooking enough to really commit to doing right by it.

I do intend to keep updating this blog, though I don’t know how frequent the updates will be.  If nothing else, it will be an interesting record for myself of this new phase of learning.  I welcome all of you to keep reading along with me and my journey, and for those of you who knew me before this blog and are among the “I told you so”ers… you were right.  Thank you.


Here’s your parade.

Hi, internet!

Like many of you, I born to a white, middle class, American family.  Also like many of you, I’ve lost track of the times I’ve heard a hipster mourn about how they wish they had a rich cultural tradition, or a middle aged, straight, white guy whine, “Where’s MY Pride Parade?”

I call bullshit.

Granted, it can be hard to spot the unique and defining aspects of your particular set of social constructs when everyone else around you is following the same behaviours and values, also without consciously identifying them as culture.  You don’t think of them as “traditions”, they’re just What You Do.

But guess what.  THAT’S WHAT CULTURE IS.

So as a goyish gaijin gadji gringa, I’m dedicating this little pocket of webspace to my favourite bit of my own culture: the foods that I associate with my northern New England upbringing, and my family.  Every society in the world has traditions of food sharing, and I’m happy to share my food traditions with you.