I grew up on a farm in the northwest corner of Connecticut. From a very young age one of my favorite pastimes was wandering through the gardens, eating off the vine, berry bush, or tree. Such readily available bounty right out our front door must have made it a little easier for my mother to create such fresh, delicious meals for my brother and I, as well as the various friends and neighbors who were regulars at our house.
Seeing most of my food cooked from scratch was inspiring. At the age of seven, I fancied myself a bit of pastry chef and mixing together various amounts of sugar, flour, eggs, and milk to make a dish I called “sugar bread”. Admittedly, this particular dish was not my finest, although my mother and brother would always very politely taste a little nibble and pronounce it “not too bad”. The wonder of combining ingredients to create something delicious to share with my friends and family has remained with me through the years though. And while I don’t consider myself a culinary wizard, I do like to think my cooking has somewhat improved with time.
Over the years I have lived in New England, Scotland, Germany, and Northern California, and in each place food has played an important role in helping me create a sense of community. While in college, my friends and I made a point to have dinner together every night. When I studied abroad, several friends and I started a weekly themed dinner, where one person was responsible for cooking dinner each week. Not only was it a respite from beer and pub food; it was a needed opportunity to talk and reflect on our experiences abroad. When my husband and I first began dating, our date nights were primarily cooking dinner together. I introduced him to my mostly vegetarian, seasonal style of cooking and he opened the door to the delightfully exotic world (to me at least) of New Mexican cooking.
I now live in Northern California. Although geographically far from my roots, I am still fortunate enough to be surrounded by wonderful friends and agricultural abundance. I continue to use food to create a sense of community; an ideal evening for me is wine and a home-cooked meal with friends and family. The ritual of planning a meal, the joy of seeing the ingredients become a delectable dish, the warmth and love emanating from the faces of my dinner companions, bring me great joy. I hope to share this with you.