Flashback Friday – Peeps Show ’09

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 4/17/09 at Exit 51.

Peeps Show ’09

I like to think I am a good host.  At a minimum, that means that I try not to leave you with incomplete stories.  So by my own definition, I would not be a good host if I didn’t bring you the results of the 2009 Washington Post Peep Diorama Contest.

image from the washington post
image from the washington post

Now that the contest is over, enjoy your Peeps.

Shameless Self Promotion

Remember that moment at the end of Steel Magnolia’s when Spud surprises Truvy with a second beauty salon and she exclaims “I’m a chain!”?  Thanks to Etsy, I’m having my very own Truvy moment.

See, after my chardonnay and stress induced meltdown about the state of our finances in relation to the adoption process, I decided that I could either w(h)ine about it or I could try and do something about it.  I guess you can figure which choice won out.

My shop is officially open for business over on Etsy where you can purchase custom note cards featuring original images used here on BAH as well as some of my favorite non-food photos.

I won’t try and sell you on the idea that buying from my Etsy shop is going to stimulate the economy.  Sure, your order means that I will continue to purchase supplies and materials from other vendors, thus feeding the economy like a hungry sourdough starter.  But that’s a cheap sales tactic.  I am hoping that the images speak for themselves.

Seriously, look at the baby goat staring at you up there?  Doesn’t that face just make your heart melt?

I never said I was above emotional sales tactics….so click on the link above, the Etsy badge on the sidebar, or bookmark http://www.etsy.com/shop/bonappetithon.

Flashback Friday – Bon Appetit

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 4/8/09 at Exit 51.

Bon Appetit

You knew it was too good to last right?  I mean my recent downsizing of the cookbooks.  It started innocently enough with the new Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics.  But since I won that, does it really count?  And then there was Bon Appetit: Fast, Easy, Fresh.


I blame Molly of Orangette for this one.  If I hadn’t been so fired up to get her book, A Homemade Life, I would have never walked into the bookstore.  If I had never walked into the bookstore, I would not have come face to face with 700 pages of recipes.   If I had never come face to face with 700 pages of recipes, it would not be sitting on the dining room table right now.

I’m hopeful that some of these recipes will become old friends.  And I’m pretty sure there will be others that will never be invited back to the table.  How long do you think it will take to get through 700 pages of recipes?  I may never need to buy another cookbook again.  Right, who am I trying to kid?

And when the cookbook is not in use, it makes a lovely place for the cat to rest, don’t you think?


Flashback Friday – In The Bag

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 4/6/09 at Exit 51.

In The Bag

I am one of THOSE people.  You know what I mean, the ones who bring their own bags to the store.  I have a stash of them in my trunk; my favorites would have to be the old Trader Joe’s bags.  They hold an incredible amount of stuff.  And not only is my handmade market bag from B-More Bags great for produce, but it’s also terribly fashionable.  Who said that utility has to be ugly?

blue avacado's gro-pak

I will admit that I remember when plastic bags became fashionable.  And I was thankful.  I remember lugging in brown bags full of groceries as a kid.  Of course, without those brown bags, my school books would have gone naked.  But I could never carry more than two of them in a single trip.  I think that’s what I hated most, all those trips up and down the steps on grocery day.  So when blue bags took the world by storm, I rejoiced.  I could now load myself up with as many bags as I could carry.  And if I distributed the weight between my forearms and hands just right, I could make it in one trip.  I probably looked ridiculous shuffling up the walk, and getting the front door unlocked was a challenge, but I only made one trip for a week’s worth of supplies.

Then blue bags became the enemy.  Their versatility to hold just about anything and everything couldn’t make up for their environmental impact.  So people started to look for reusable alternatives.  I recall that those brown bags from my childhood were also reused.  As soon as the groceries were unloaded, the bags would be folded and put in the pantry for the next trip.  My grandparents were thrifty like that;  it had nothing to do with the environment.

Thankfully, the awareness of ‘byob’ has increased. When I first started to carry my own bags, people did not quite understand what they were for.  The bags would ride up the belt and the cashier would promptly move them aside and start putting scanned items into their plastic bags.  Or they would try and ring them up as though they were part of my purchase.  Most stores finally get it.  I still get funny looks when I bring my own bags some places – yeah, that would be you Target and Macy’s – but I figure they that eventually will figure it out.

In my mind, all of this begs the question ‘how much is too much’?  How many bags does one person need?  I would say that I have nearly one dozen reusable bags.  They are all different shapes and sizes and some serve specialized purposes.  Like that cute little bag with cubbies for bottles of wine…genius.  But specialty items like that aside, am I obsessed with shopping bags?  Maybe.

Because despite knowing that I do not have a need for another single grocery bag, I am really finding it hard not to order one of these gro-pak kits from blue avacado. I love the all in one system they designed so that everything breaks down for easy storage.  Some even look small enough to fit easily in a purse.  Because  really, nothing is more frustrating than getting to the checkout and realizing that I forgot to bring in a bag.

Now, if only the cashiers would understand that just because the bags are sturdier it doesn’t make them less heavy when they put every single canned good into a single bag.  I will never understand that.  Is there some unwritten rule among cashiers to make the bags as heavy as possible?  So if you happen to be in line behind me at Harris Teeter, don’t be surprised if I ask for some bags to be repacked.  I’m just that kind of a person.


father of the bride, 2004

Today is your birthday.  Right now I am thinking back to one year ago when I flew down to make you birthday dinner.  I can’t recall what I made, except for the cupcakes…you know the ones I mean…the ones that were devoured in a span of only two or three days.

I remember we stopped off for supper on the way back from the airport.  You ordered your steak to be so charred beyond recognition that it could have been considered a crime against decency.  I suppose you could have said the same about my bleedingly rare cut of beef.  Over your scotch on the rocks and my diet coke we managed to joke about the challenge of finding a birthday card for you.  I never imagined anything as innocent as that could be so awkward…or so funny.

Those visits last year have all kind of melted together in my memory.  But I clearly remember that when I went to leave that weekend, I told you that we should do this again next year.  Despite knowing what I knew, I had a hope that today I would be in your kitchen filling the house with the smells of freshly baked rolls, hearty meat sauce, and, of course, those magic cupcakes.

So today is sad for me because I’m not there and neither are you.

I can’t get used to referring to you in the past tense. Over the last four months I’ve found myself looking for you…looking for signs of you.  Sometimes I find you in the turn of a phrase.  Sometimes you are in the clock on the microwave, or my cell phone, turning off without warning.  And sometimes you are in the smell of freshly ground coffee beans in my kitchen, when there is no coffee to be found.  Thank you for popping up in these “moments” and giving me a fleeting hello.

So today, on your birthday, I will fill my kitchen with the smell of those magical cupcakes.  And maybe, just maybe, there will be a “moment” when you’re there too.

Flashback Friday – V I C T O R Y

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 3/30/09 at Exit 51.


Given enough time, and the right circumstances, just about any trend can come back into fashion.  Except maybe the mullet.  I don’t know when that would ever be considered a good idea.

During WWII when food was rationed, people were urged by the government to plant Victory Gardens.  All across the United States, and in Europe, citizens planted fruits and vegetables.  It was considered patriotic. In 2009, the economic recession combined with a growing consumer movement of searching for locally grown food.  One result seems to be a resurgence of the Victory Garden.  Who knew that our grandparents were such trendsetters?


Me, I’d love to be able to plant a Victory Garden of my own.  But, like many urban dwellers, I have no yard to speak of.  The back “yard” is a concrete pad.  Neither dirt nor shade can be found there. Yes, there is a small planting bed on the side of the house.  My rose bushes currently reside there.  They are rather fond of that location and I’m inclined to let them remain.

Reason #1 ….because I have the blackest thumb known to man. It is only because those roses thrive on neglect that they have endured.  They have survived in spite of me, certainly not because of me.

Reason #2 …because the animals in my neighborhood will not be deterred from using that area as their own personal comfort station.  They laughed at the cayenne pepper, the orange peels just shriveled up withered away, and I would almost swear that they dabbed that expensive potion of all things stinky behind their ears like cologne.  I even tried setting out itty bitty spikes crafted from bamboo skewers.  Guess who suffered most with those?  That would have been me.

Reason #3 …because of the meddling kids.  I feel so old saying that, but it’s true.  I can’t keep them from pulling the flowers out of the beds.  How the heck would I keep them from walking off with the (literal) fruits of my labor?

Reason #4…did I mention I have a servere case of black thumb?

So don’t look for me to be tending the garden.  Instead, I will do my best to support the local farmers and growers and stimulate the economy.  I think it makes more sense to buy something that someone else grew than to throw away good money on the idea of being thrifty and victorious.

What about you?  Are you lucky enough to be able to grow your own?  Or are you, like me, an economic stimulator?  Thing thing is, they are both important.  I just wish we, the buyers, had cool graphics like the growers.



2012.  A new year.  2011 defined a new sense of low for me and I haven’t been this eager for a year to end since The Mistah was deployed.   As I thought about this sense of longing for time to move, it struck me how often I wish time away.  It goes back as far as I can remember, like when I was told I couldn’t go with my brother to an Orioles game because I was too young.  Well, I didn’t want to be too young.  I wanted to be old enough to do what the “big kids” were doing.  I guess that’s the curse of being a younger sibling…having to watch from the sidelines as life goes on without you.  So it started early.

And it kept going.  I remember being 8 or 9 and wishing I was 10 already because 10 is double digits and nobody mistakes a 10 year old for a little kid.  Wanting to be 10 became wanting to be 13, because nobody tells you how hard it actually is to be a teenager.  Then that wasn’t good enough and I couldn’t wait for the day I was 16 and could drive.  I would have gladly forfeited the next two years so that I could be 18 and leave for college.   The last big “I wish it would just get here already birthday” was 21….no explanation needed.

After that, wishing away time was not about being older.  It actually became about not being.  Not being stuck in a miserable day at work.  Not being torn apart by a relationship that ended.  Not being tormented by my doubts.  And definitely not being helpless to watch a course of events unfold before me.

If I could even roughly approximate how many times I thought “I can’t wait until this {fill in the blank} is over” I bet I have wished away entire years.  What 2011 taught me is that time doesn’t work that way.  You don’t get a few extra years tacked on at the end because you wished them away earlier.  What’s more, all that time I spent fixated on not being wherever or whatever I was, I basically had my eyes closed to what actually was wherever or whatever I was.

How many opportunities did I miss?  How many shards did I ignore that could have made the most beautiful mosaic? How long will it take for me to stop wishing my time away?

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions and I never really gave much thought to why that was so.  If you would have asked me that question twenty years ago, my response would have been something like “I dunno”.  But thinking about it now, with whatever wisdom I’ve managed to accumulate, I think it’s partly because a resolution is an acknowledgment that I am responsible for making the changes I want to see in my life.  I can’t pawn that job off on anyone else.  And it’s also partly because a resolution made one day a year seems to have a pretty quick expiration date.

So what’s the alternative?  For me, it’s this: be present even when it’s uncomfortable, wish to get through the experience instead of wishing away the time, and make these affirmations to myself every day.

That’s my hope for 2012.


tuesdays were reserved for sharing recipes {image by lisa kaser}

Once upon a time I was a tiny bit obsessed with this space.  I would plot and plan what recipe to make next.  I would sometimes delay getting the food on the table so that I could take the perfect photo to convey the deliciousness of the meal at hand.  Fortunately, The Mistah is accommodating to this quirk.  Then I would spend hours at the computer processing photos and trying to come up with new and interesting stories to share.  Admittedly, it’s been a few months since I’ve eagerly picked up the camera.  And it’s been about the same amount of time since I’ve sat down and tried to connect a story to a meal.  And that bothers me.  I feel like something is out of whack.

But at the same time, I keep waiting for someone to throw a switch and for me to be back to my old self.  The reality is that my old self and my current self will probably never inhabit the same space.  They might wave to each other across a crowded room but they won’t be settling in together on the couch for drinks and small talk.  That’s the thing about change, it doesn’t wait for you…it just keeps rolling along.  And at some point, life will change things up again so that my current self will become yet another version of my old self.  It makes my head hurt just to think about that.

My point is that I’ve been waiting around these last few months for someone to take charge and tell me to get on living my life.  And in the absence of that, I have relied on excuses for why I’m not doing the things that I enjoy doing.  The rational part of me knows that there’s no magic switch or even if there were, the only person who could turn it on is me.  So where does that leave my current self when rational me knows the reality of the situation and the rest of me chooses to ignore it?  I’ll tell you where that leaves me…stuck in neutral.

That’s where I’ve been lately.  And then unexpectedly I received a reminder about why the things I’ve let languish were so important to me.  It came wrapped in Christmas paper from a coworker.  When I opened the box and pulled the tissue paper aside, revealing the drawing above, those words were a wake up call.  “tuesdays were reserved for sharing recipes”  For me, there are two more words implied in that sentence.  In my mind, I added “with friends”.  And that’s what’s been missing…feeling like I’m creating opportunities to get together with friends and share recipes.

In a million years I don’t think my coworker can ever know how much I needed that reminder.  And the woman who drew that illustration certainly didn’t create it with me in mind.  But The Universe saw to it that those words, on that illustration, made their way to me.

I said I was waiting for someone to take charge and tell me to get moving.  Guess it’s time that I listen to The Universe and get to getting.

Be Brave

I have been procrastinating, avoiding the “Add New Post” page.  Just today I stalked a Praying Mantis in my rose bushes, watched the moon crest just above the trees in the fading afternoon light, uploaded photos of said Mantis and moon, and stopped just short of cleaning the cat’s litter box to avoid opening this page.

This procrastination is not for a lack of recipes I desperately want to share.  I’ve got 22 drafts and a baker’s dozen of recipes that haven’t even made it into draft form yet.  Each and every one of them is worthy of your time and mine.  But I’m not ready to talk Apple Slices, Sweet Pickle Relish, or Crockpot Polenta just yet.  I know, you come here for the food…but I appreciate your patience as I ramble about other things while I work my way back to the food.

I said that “words have been swirling through my head“.  In its uncanny ability to recognize what I need before I do, the Universe has had one word in particular following me around.  That word is gratitude.   It started with Maggy’s piece talking about her husband’s expression of gratitude for the meals that she makes for him.  I had a chance to chat with Maggy after I read that post, and what I didn’t tell her in the conversation is that reading her description of Andy’s expressions of gratitude instantly made me think of my dad.

My dad could cook, had cooked, but in his adult life he did not cook.  Yet at the end of every meal, whether it was a simple ham and cheese sandwich with chips or a pot roast with mashed potatoes and gravy, he always thanked whomever had made the meal.  It wasn’t until I started cooking for him and was the recipient of that thanks that I realized it was about more than the plate of food.  It was his gratitude for the effort and love that went into the food.

Up until he became sick, my dad was not one to say “I love you”.  And it was only after his death that family members told me that he was proud of me.  But in his way, each time he expressed his gratitude for a meal, he was saying those things.  I just wasn’t able to hear it in that moment.

As I said to Maggy, her discussion of gratitude really spoke to me at a time when I needed a reminder about why it is important for me to take the time to cook.  It’s not just about the food.  It’s about all that goes into it and how we, or I, use food as a metaphor for all of the things I can’t find the words to say.

And then a few weeks later, I opened a link in Twitter, not having any idea that I would again be coming face to face with the word gratitude.  But there it was, in something like 18 point font, on a post by Matthew Naquin.  As I read his words, I felt his pain.  Because it was my pain also.  But here it was, in black and white, the Universe basically giving me a lesson plan in how gratitude and the free will to choose can make a difference.

So why am I rambling about gratitude instead of talking about Peach Preserves or Honey Dijon Chicken Thighs?  Partly because I’m struggling.  Struggling with the day to day reality of feeling like my world has been turned upside down and shaken like a snow globe.  Struggling with the overwhelming emotion that takes me by surprise…both with the fact that in my life I will never see either of my parents again as well as the fact that I have to consciously choose each and every day to make my future what I want it to be.  So when these emotions come and knock me off balance, I have to stop and think about exactly why it is that I’m hitting a wall.  What is it that I am reacting to?

In a single word, it’s change.

And that gets me to the other part of the why.  I have been taking part in a weekly discussion with a small group of women.  We each have our own struggles and challenges and we’re all at different places in our journeys.  But there is so much that we can learn from each other’s experiences that the fine details aren’t quite as important as the big picture.  In our discussion last week, I heard two more words that triggered this latest round of reflection and emotion, and reluctance to talk food.  Be brave.

Two words that are simultaneously simple and powerful.  And what they mean to me is not necessarily what they mean to anyone else.  I hear them and think: be brave in the face of change; be brave and reach out for help; be brave and admit that I don’t have all the answers; be brave in spite of being afraid; be brave and actually choose change; be brave and express gratitude each and every day.

So maybe my procrastination earlier today was actually a bit of disguised gratitude.  I chose to take the time to see the Mantis hiding in the rose bushes.  And I chose to watch the moon crest the trees in the fading afternoon light. I chose to be brave and not care if the neighbors thought I was weird for climbing into the rose bushes or walking around my yard with the camera.  And now I choose to go upstairs and make dinner for The Mistah to express my gratitude for his patience, support, and love.

Kerrygold Give Away

I got to thinking, after posting all those odes to Kerrygold for the contest, that it would be wrong of me not to give you an opportunity to experience #butterlove for yourself.  The folks at Kerrygold have been very good to me and it’s only right that I pay that goodwill forward.  Besides, I think part of finding grace in everyday life is making the conscious decision to share that which you have with others.

So, two lucky folks will each receive:

  • One store coupon redeemable for the Kerrygold product of your choice…as in FREE y’all.
  • One eco-friendly reusable shopping bag featuring the fine Kerrygold logo.

While the folks at Kerrygold are not sponsoring this give away, I did receive these items from them at various blogging events.  But let’s be honest, the folks at Kerrygold could pass me on the street and we’d never recognize each other…unless they were decked out in that happy gold foil and I had #butterlove tattooed on my forehead.

Want a chance to win some #butterlove?  Leave a comment on this post no later than midnight on 20 November 2011 to enter the “sweepstakes”.  Be sure to include a valid email address in the comment form so I can contact you in case you’re one of the two randomly selected winners.

Sadly, it’s a litigious world y’all, so here’s the necessary long form, legal mumbojumbo, disclaimery type language:

  • This sweepstakes is open to residents of the United States only.  Entrants must be at least 18 years of age.
  • The Give Away period shall commence at 8am on 16 November 2011.  Entries must be received no later than midnight on 20 November 2011.  Any entries received after that time will be disqualified.
  • Entries shall be limited to comments on this post and must include a valid email address in the comment form.  No alternate form of entry is available.
  • Each prize consists of: one manufacturer’s coupon for the Kerrygold item of your choice (approximate retail value $5); one reusable grocery bag.
  • Odds of winning will be determined by the number of eligible entries.
  • Bon Appetit Hon is not responsible for entries that are not received due to technical error.
  • Two winners will be randomly selected using Random.org on 21 November 2011 and will have five days to respond via email to claim their prize and provide shipping information.
  • All prizes will be awarded and shipped via USPS.  Bon Appetit Hon is not responsible for loss of prize by USPS.
  • Manufacturer’s coupons expire 31 December 2011.