To everyone who reads this every day, thank you.
One year and seven months ago, I started a Tumblr account in which I took a photo of something that I ate daily. That’s it, just pictures. One year and seven months later, I built up a modestly sized written food empire that has grown by twists and turns in ways that I would never expect. For this, and you, I am extremely grateful.
From the beginning, I vowed that I would never cover the same thing twice on my blog. To my knowledge, I have not. In this process (as well as in my stubbornness) I blew the lid off of my own creativity. What started off as me taking a couple of photos a day of food developed into a love of writing. Where the adoration for the written word anchored itself into my heart, I discovered that my knowledge base needed to grow. I went out there and did just that, pestering cooking friends and then studying under cooks (gratis) for almost a year. I ate. I read all that I could get my hands on when I couldn’t experience the cooking experience myself. I cut my knuckles, sheared off fingernails, hyperventilated over mandolins, burned my palms, my wrists, my arms. I did it all because I wanted to know, because I wanted to sop up the juices at the bottom of the bowl. I created Unprofessional Cookery because I love to cook and to write and I love to entertain you as well.
In that time, I’ve seen all kinds of transformations within myself and within the blog. I’ve played with formats and writing styles only to discover that I’m definitely not going to be the next Hemingway (but I’m not half bad). Every day I discovered a new joy when my analytic numbers jumped 10, 15, 100 marks from the day before. I strategized, planned and motivated myself through cultivating a wider audience. I ate up all of this like candy.
For one year and seven months I have been obsessed with food and cooking and writing about it all. Every morning I scanned headlines looking for inspiration and bought extra foodstuffs to mangle in my kitchen at night. My social life often suffered because I took this unpaid labor of love extremely seriously. My tight abs went from a two-pack to a pear with a secretary spread. This blog, this little photo blog of mine, has become a second job for me. Every morning I get up an hour (or more) earlier than I need to just to write another article for you.. and for myself. I buy good food and eschew gadgets because I have to know how to do this right. I jumped into this with three feet into a complete abyss of fun.
I’m grateful for this experience of writing about food obsessively, but I’m tired. Over the last week in Montreal, I realized that I wasn’t having fun rushing from here to there thinking of writing projects for when I got back, suffering through maple syrup tastings and looking up native Québécois cuisine. I don’t earn a paycheck from my hobby and I know a hell of a lot more about good cooking and good eating than I did one year and seven months ago, so why am I burning my candle at both ends for something that once made me happy? As I’ve known for the last few months, watching my creative juices run as thin as the maple syrup that ran down my gullet that its best to exit stage left when you’re at your peak.
So I’m leaving you for now. Which fills me with sadness, but also supplies me with relief.
I’ll continue to cook for sure. I’ll probably continue to write for myself as well. It is guaranteed that I will definitely miss all of you that read this daily and tell me about it. Yet I know that for now its time to put this blog to sleep under a layer of pate a choux with sweet memories. The crust will brown nicely rather than becoming tough and burnt over time. I will not degrade into a “foodie”. I realize that there’s an infinite number of things that I will never know about my hobby of choice, but I will be happy to experience them all from someone else’s perspective.
Maybe I won’t be gone forever. Maybe you’ll see me sitting at a table somewhere, studying my salad of choice like a fine painting. Perhaps our paths will cross in line for coffee, mine always black. Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll ask you for a bite off of your plate.
Until then, keep eating often and keep eating well. And keep it vegetarian.
So! As my very hungover roommate alerted to me today, today kicks off the most magical weekend of the year for eastern seaboard landlocked geekery. Yes, Comic Con 2012. I would say hide your kids, hide your wife, but that’s probably only applicable if either are fluent in Dothraki or Klingon. Apparently last night was the $3 PBR and cheap whiskey mixer.
Anyways, when I lived on the West Coast one year I was unfortunate enough to be in San Diego when the behemoth convergence of the socially maladjusted. Comic Con is like nothing else. Imagine taking all those kids you once knew, aging them 20 years, stuffing half of them into ill-fitting superhero costumes and the other half in duster jackets and then let them all loose on the streets willy nilly, fueled by the exuberance of fantasy and cheap hooch. Its kind of traumatic. I can only imagine New York is the smaller version of that spectacle.
Despite my horror, this event did give way for inspiration. I present to you, fair readers, the history of Mountain Dew and Doritos. Read the rest of this entry »
Last night I was making dinner and I had this lonely block of tofu sitting in the fridge that I needed to use up. I consider myself to be a one woman tofu rescue mission, considering that I buy blocks of it, forget it, and then throw it away three months after its expiration date uneaten. Call Sarah Mclaughlan, I’m running a tofu haven in my kitchen.
Anyways, this particular evening that tofu was getting to see no mercy. I was not about to return this tofu to the wild, to let it roam wild and free amongst the rustling grasses of the soybean plains, noble and majestic. No sir. I was going to use that puppy before it developed a rapidly expanding colony of microorganisms. My tofu block stared at me, pleadingly. I stared back, blinking, blankly. It pleaded for life. I pleaded for inspiration.
You see, this is the problem. I buy tofu, expecting that I’m going to think ahead and make something inspired but I never do. I run out of time to press it, I have nothing for a marinade, yadda, yadda, yadda. Last night I didn’t care. I would have eaten that tofu if it had been expertly crisped or if it were rubberier than a foam mattress left in the rain. This tofu block was going down. TODAY. Read the rest of this entry »
As the autumnal season careens recklessly towards our patio furniture like a freshman at Chico State, it becomes apparent to us that change is looming. Leaves splatter our sidewalks, crunching underfoot. Sandals are replaced by sensible footwear. Ah yes, fall. Time for soup.
However, in addition to being a season in transition, this time of year is also marking the beginning of change for one of the largest soup manufacturers in the United States, Campbell’s. People just aren’t eating soup the way that they were just a few years ago. Is it global warming? Something that’s saying “not cool enough for cream of mushroom”? Is canned soup not heirloom enough for todays discerning soup market? People just aren’t into anything they have to rehydrate from a can?
Perhaps. But before you eschew your next spoonful of bean and bacon, wouldn’t it be interesting to know where your canned soup came from? Read the rest of this entry »
This year, I’ve been on a frosting quest.
Not a buttercream frosting quest or a poured fondant quest, no maám. I want to know what that ultralight whipped frosting from grocery stores is and how its made, as its my achilles heel. My kryptonite. My everything. So I’ve let my fingers do the walking to find what this mysterious frosting is called and a recipe ratio I can hack.
I was reading the New York Magazine approval matrix today and I saw this little point fairly far down on the “highbrow” and “acceptable” quadrant that caught my eye. Fred Armisen, funnyman supreme, had made a book trailer for Penny Marshall’s new book My Mother Was Nuts. My eyebrow raised a bit in a certain manner, my finger stroking my chin in that presumptuously educated way as one might when reading New York Magazine . Reeeeeaally.
I had to check it out.
I did, and I just about asphyxiated from laughing so hard when I watched it. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Stop right now and check this out, I’ll wait. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday I was standing in line at my local bodega waiting to pay for my soda and staring into space (which I often do, on both counts). Normally I just look at the racks of chocolate thinking that I shouldn’t eat them, but yesterday was different. Something else caught my eye. Something flashy and colorful and reminiscent of my youth.
Bubble gum. Not just any bubble gum though, the trifecta of bubble gum competition competing for valuable shelf space. Bubble Yum, Bubblicious and Hubba Bubba in all of their glory. The packages elbowed each other slightly, puffing out their chests as if potential suitors. “Pick me!” they cried, offering hollow offerings of how superior they were to the others. One bubble gum pack, I believe, bench pressed his neighboring pack in a feat of strength.
Although I was flattered, I left with my original purchase of my soda and nothing more.
So let me just start out by saying that I despise restaurant and food critics with a special kind of hatred. I know, it’s a bit of me being a self hating food writer, but serious. If you have not had any experience working on the other side of the counter, isn’t any fancy pants new cheese or whatever going to taste “exquisite”?
But, this being known, I am always game for impartial comparisons in the food arena. I’ve compared chain restaurant foods stoned and sober, but what would it be like to compare one standard favorite food against another fancy favorite food (clearheaded as clearheaded can be)? Would the old fashioned food without fanfare or slick color coordinated logos trump over something new and “artisanal”? Was I buying into a sleek marketing rather than good food? I dove in, head first.
Also to note, I just like doughnuts. Read the rest of this entry »
A few weeks ago I was chatting with my neighbor who had taken it upon himself to try to make his own (better) version of the Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme with the lady he was dating. The idea struck me as novel because I had never really given much thought to the idea of improving on something that was set at the absolute lowest benchmark in dining experiences. Also, knowing my neighbor, I could never picture him eating Taco Bell by his own volition. This lady must have wooed him many times over.
The seeds of curiosity were planted with my neighbor’s project, which flourished with the pictures of the finished product that he had sent me. Apparently homemade Taco Bell is pretty good, once you figure out things like nacho cheese sauce on your own. It got me to thinking if I could perhaps do the same but even better than that. Read the rest of this entry »