The Feathered Nest

The softer side of MaisonBisson

Home is where the blondies are baked. August 5, 2010

TowerGirl @ 1:45 pm
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We are moving. We love our home, but the hubby has an exciting new career opportunity so we are relocating to San Francisco. I’ve been busy boxing up all our belongings and planning our new space. I’ve been trying not to feel heartbroken about leaving our beloved tower.

I try hard not to get too attached to stuff. Clearly, the important things are that my husband and I will be together, we are embarking on an exciting new adventure, and we are bound to come out of this as more interesting people. Right? This is what I am telling myself.

The part of the tower I am most attached to is my kitchen. My kitchen in compact but perfectly designed. I have accomplished great things in this kitchen. I’ve learned to bake bread, created 150 whoopie pies for a friend’s wedding, made Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, and Christmas feasts, and made countless cozy meals for two.

When looking for apartments in San Francisco, my brilliant husband, who had to do the leg-work while I scrutinized Craigslist and the photos he sent (Thank you, iPhone!), knew that the kitchen was the most important element  for me. Our new apartment, though small, has a very serviceable kitchen.

In an effort to make this move as simple as possible, we have placed a grocery order with Safeway to be delivered upon our arrival. We ordered the basics: milk, bread, eggs, bananas, cat food, cat litter, and butter. I just added chocolate chips to the order so I can whip up a batch of Platinum Blondies, our favorite comfort sweet. I think if I can make the kitchen feel, and smell, like mine right away it shouldn’t be too hard to make a new city feel like home. What can I say, some people burn sage and chant to bless a new home, but a dusting of flour and the whir of my trusty Kitchen Aid works for me.


Happy National Donut Day June 4, 2010

A box of yum from Kane's Donuts

Today is National Donut Day. Officially, it is a day to honor the women who served donuts to soldiers during World War II. In practice it’s about donuts.  That means to me that this holiday, like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day, seems to be a bit of a “duh” holiday. A day designed for those who need a kick in the pants to appreciate a special part of their daily life. We should appreciate our partners and our parents every day. However, our busy lives and self absorbed ways have forced us to smack a date on our calendar to remember to do this. Now, the delightful inner tube of joy is suffering a similar fate. We mindlessly pull into a Dunkin’s or Krispy Kreme, grab a donut, and consume it one-handed as we ponder today’s agenda or last nights worries. The donut has become an item of convenience. We take it for granted and, in doing so, we have lost sight of how wondrous and varied this confection is.

My husband and I are not big Valentine’s Day people. We’ve worked hard to make sure that we feel valued and appreciated in our relationship always; Hallmark can go pawn their junk elsewhere. However, in late January the bombardment of plastic hearts and bad chocolate is hard to ignore. One day after running errands, I brought up Valentine’s Day junk, this segued into a discussion of useless holidays, this segued into a discussion of undervalued items, this led, as so many conversations with my husband do, to a conversation about donuts.

My husband’s love of donuts runs deep. He is always on the search for the transcendent creme filled donut. Five years ago he initiated a donut tour to take in the donut shops of the greater Lowell area. Now our conversation got him thinking about Donut Tour Redux – More donuts! More locations! More people! He hit the internet and planned our route. Then he hit the phones and assembled a fearless group of culinary adventures. We planned a date. Visions of jelly cremes danced in our heads.

(don’t stop, there’s more…)


Dirty Little Secrets May 1, 2010

and sometimes I have to do it all in COLOR

Every family has a secret or two that they keep to themselves. A little something that is too horrific to share with the outside world. Better, they think, to sweep it under the carpet or bury it in the back of the closet.

However, with the exception of bath mats, we have no carpets. We also have very little closet space. Besides, all those Dr. Phil types are always telling us to talk things out and put things out in the open. Brace yourself Philly-Boy. This one will get you right in the heart.

Our dirty little secret is the truly obscene amount of butter I use when I go on a baking spree. Today I made caramel corn for an upcoming school trip. I made a lot of caramel corn. I used three pounds of butter in two and a half hours. If that won’t stop your heart, nothing will.

Damn! It felt good to get that off my chest. Dr. Phil, I think I’m cured.

(Gorgeous butter photo by Robert S. Donovan.)


A Revolution I Can Get Behind March 22, 2010

TowerGirl @ 6:57 pm
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After work today I watched the preview of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on Hulu. While I question the ability of reality TV to spur any sort of real change, I cannot help but cheer his cause. I see what our schoolchildren eat and it isn’t pretty. A tour of a school cafeteria during lunch period feels like Christmas morning. So many packages are ripped open and the wrappers fly. Yes, there are definitely families who know how to shop the periphery of the grocery store, but these, in my experience, are the minority. If you ever visited this blog before you know that I am passionate about food; my other passion is education. In the interest of allowing myself a personal life, I have tried to keep these somewhat separate. Perhaps that is unwise.

This has been a tough year for schools. Shrinking budgets have forced many schools to make painful cuts. Programs like health classes, family and consumer science, and even physical education have been on the chopping block. It’s hard to fight a revolution without soldiers. Perhaps we need to find away to integrate food education in non-traditional ways. I suspect simply modeling healthy eating choices could make an impact. The problem is super-sized and I can’t begin to pretend that I have the answers. I have heard many break-room discussions about The Bachelor and American Idol. If Food Revolution gets a real conversation happening, then that’s a step in the right direction.

Jamie, if you need a soldier, let me know. I wield a mighty veggie peeler.


Book Review: Best Food Writing 2009 January 2, 2010

Looking over my bookshelf I notice a trend.  Since our move almost three years ago it seems that the majority of the books I purchase are food related. Some are direct meditations of the role of food in our lives, like Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle or Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life and some are guilty little pleasure reads where food reveals the emotions that characters cannot, like Kate Jacobs’ Comfort Food. There are also anthologies of food writing like The New Yorker’s Secret Ingredients. My favorite has become the yearly collection edited by Holly Hughes.

During the holiday break I picked up the latest Best Food Writing 2009. Like last year, Holly reveals how in sync she is with contemporary food issues by pairing writers from the established food world next to fresh voices from the blogosphere. I have been tearing through this year’s collection and enjoying every moment of it. What makes it so fun is how varied the stories are. Monica Eng’s essay “Morality Bites” chronicles her attempt to come to terms with her omnivore lifestyle by witnessing the slaughter of the animals she eats. Hugh Garvey takes us Tokyo where the preparation and consumption of classic cocktails is a near-religious experience. The essays are short which makes it a perfect book to pick up when you can only give a few moments of a busy day to reading.  I look forward to this collection each year and believe this year’s collection is one of the best.

Like many, I have made a New Year’s resolution to eat more sensibly and thoughtfully.  I feel guilty if I chow down on a big plate of chocolate chip cookies, but I don’t feel guilty if I read about the perfect chocolate chip cookie.