Looking Back at 2022

Made it to the end of the year.

Thank you for your patience during the radio silence over the last few weeks. It’s not something I’m especially proud of, but the headlong rush of Christmas preparations at the shop and a few personal issues cropping up meant that pretty much any time I was not working I was resting. Especially after my last post (and indeed reflecting more on the role of my spirituality in my life,) I didn’t want to scribble out some half-assed nothingburger post.

I know that “finished is better than perfect” but I’ve gotta have some standards, dammit.

Now that the rush is over and it’s time to look at the New Year and what that might entail, I figured I’d just let you know what’s been going on for me, the blog, and future projects.

“AAAAAAAA SO WHENS YAAAAA NEXT BOOK COMING OUT BRAH….”
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“Whose Idea Was This?”- Looking At Vintage Recipes and Food History

Like most of the internet, I’ve gotten a real kick out of the Tik Tok videos of Dylan Hollis. The vintage style aficionado and self-described amateur food historian has carved a space for himself on the internet with his bombastic personality and humor while testing out recipes spanning the 1800s to early 2000s.

The recipes he tries vary wildly in quality, and the recurrence of typically timely ingredients (especially lard and gelatin) regularly turn into comedic gold. More than once, Dylan strikes oil in his search for tasty recipes (“magic” peanut butter cookies and an eggnog recipe from the 1800s spring quickly to mind) and I sometimes use his videos as inspiration for things I can make at the pie shop.

Most often, I find myself intrigued by the recipes he picks and the trends they exhibit. WHY so much lard in everything made before the 60s? Why so much gelatin in mid-century America? Just HOW freaking high, lonely, horny, or all three must someone have been to create the “Candlelight Salad?”

The answer is, simply, that these recipes- like the books, movies, and music that were enjoyed then- are products of their time. Foodways are a part of culture and one can track the history and trends of a period of time as easily in a cookbook as you could a textbook.

Someone back in the 1920s decided that this was a salad. James Beard described it as “culinary eroticism.”
Picture from Wikipedia.
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A Story About A Cake

Last week I brought up the ins and outs of “secret” recipes- why we have them, why we might not, and how to keep recipes safe behind the law.

In writing it, I said that I am generally happy to share my recipes for a number of reasons- but that I won’t share some recipes for sentimental reasons. When I said that, I was thinking of one of my recipes in particular.

It’s a recipe that very few people outside my family know, one that I have been tweaking and trying to perfect for several years, and this is the story of why I decided I was gonna hold it close to my chest from now on.

A cake is worth a thousand words
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Not-So-Secret: Why I (Mostly) Don’t Mind Sharing Recipes

When it comes to our favorite recipes- whether it’s the dishes we make for family or the ones we sell at our businesses- whether or not to share recipes can cause a lot of emotion either way you lean. The same people that have no problem sharing the recipes they created might be a little twitchy about sharing their family’s “secret” meatloaf. That goes double if you are in the business of cooking for others. Why would you want to give away your perfect fried chicken recipe where a competitor could get it? Can we protect our recipes? Should we protect our recipes and keep them secret?

The short answers are “Sorta?” and “Only if you really want to.”

Four people stand in a line. 2 are in military uniforms, two in tuxedos. Focus is on one mans hands holding a small black box with "top secret" written in white capital letters.
Photo by Caleb Oquendo on Pexels.com
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The Role of the Bagel

There are precious few Jewish delis in Portland. That’s not surprising, as we only make up about .7% of the population. There ARE, however, at least five or six bagel makers in the city.

Everyone has an opinion about whose bagels are the best- the best price, the best flavor, the best texture, the closest to the “New York City” ideal.

They are all right, they are also all wrong, they are going to argue about it, and that is possibly the most Jewish thing I’ve seen in this city outside of actually going to a synagogue.

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