It’s the first annual Culinaria Eugenius year in review! In sum, it was a delicious year, with much less home cooking than I had expected due to constant travel in the last half. Still, I managed to learn more about baking and continue my pickle odyssey. What was your favorite food moment in 2010? Here are some of mine.
January with chicken drummette confit salad with frisée, beets, Rogue Valley blue cheese, and hazelnuts. I wrote an article on casual, cost-efficient confit for our local newspaper, and, I confess, kind of overdid it at home and at Belly, resulting in a need to refrain from confit for many months.
February weekends were dedicated to breadmaking classes run by the Master Food Preservers, including these hand-rolled grissini (Italian breadsticks). My plan to bake more this year lasted for about a month. Terrible news of the year was that the MFP program didn’t last 2010, with the closure of Extension office in September, but a few programs rallied and regrouped, including the Master Gardeners and our new Food Preservation Associates, which will be actively pursuing commercial kitchen opportunities and holding a range of classes in 2011.
March took me north to the wonderful homestead of preservation maven Linda Ziedrich, whom I interviewed for another newspaper story. There, I saw how it was done: a heated garage full of shelving units to store hundreds of jars of pickles and jams.
In April, our beloved farmer’s market opened up for the season, and hungry ghosts ravaged the tables for greens and sweet young roots.
May flowers brought travel east, a weather pattern that lingered until the end of the year. We celebrated Retrogrouch’s father’s birthday in Baltimore, at which no crab was spared.
In June, we finished school and I jetted off to Prague for Joycean merriment, which, as always, included a great deal of beer. I wonder if I would love being a Joyce scholar less if the powers that be would select crummier places for the conferences. Or maybe it’s just a requirement for Joyceans to live in great cities. In any case, I was introduced to the Czech liqueur Becherovka (left), provided gratis to the group as we boarded the boat for a river tour. Very sensible people, those Czechs.
July brought me home, and I began the first of many canning sessions with our local tayberries. I made Tayberry Old Bachelor (with homemade vieux garcon liqueur) and Tayberry Old Spinster (with rose geranium) first, then apricot, loganberry, mixed caneberry, blackberry brulé, and spiced red fruit as the season evolved.
In August, I attended a Joyce and food workshop in Zurich, and spent a week or so at the British Library. At the Zurich James Joyce Foundation, we were inspired by Joycean totems (fetishes?): a Jacob’s biscuit tin, iron jelloid and desiccated soup tins, a bottle of Bass ale, and ceramic rounds that once contained Plumtree’s potted meat (without which the workshop would have been incomplete).
Pasilla peppers welcomed September. My little forest of Central European and South American pepper plants grew well, yielding several dozen in various sizes, shapes and colors. This was somewhat surprising, as the summer was cool and wet, and we lost most of our tomatoes in the valley. I turned them into salsa, pickled peppers, and ajvar before school started at the end of the month.
October is mostly a blur, with about 75% of my photos comprised of a single shoot of the Norway maple leaves on my front lawn. Rough month. But I did make a juicy, tasty ma po tofu!
November in Victoria, B.C., is not at all bad when you’re a PNWer. Didn’t even notice the rain and fog with such lovely tea at Murchie’s while I graded papers in between panels at the Modernist Studies Association conference. Although I shot nicer images from the fancy tea at the Empress, I felt very cozy and perfectly indulged with a single scone and a pot of assam, so this is the memory I’ll keep of that sweet little town. Well, that and the dozen oysters with mussels chaser and a bottle of wine I shared with a new friend. (Hint: if you want to be my friend, shellfish is the way to go.)
December allowed me to cook again once I finished my article and classes. Thick, mustardy pork chop with pickled prunes, I’m still thinking of you fondly, and will be long into the new year.
I hope to have more delicious meals to share with you in 2011. Thanks to all my readers for your support and shared joy in cooking and dining in a place I love to bits. There’s no place like home.