Showing posts from January, 2012

One Year Anniversary!

Today marks one full year since I began this little blog.

One year since I first made an entrance.

One year of writing posts every single weekday, rain or shine, happy or sad.

A year of recipes and reading links, of photographs and holidays celebrated together.

I have a lot of thoughts about how this year has gone, and how the experience of producing this blog has shaped me and my reflections on food.  I hope to devote my next few blog posts to sharing some of those thoughts, as I consider what comes next for Dining and Opining. (And, as always, I wholeheartedly welcome your input). What will almost certainly come next is a bit of a pause, and a bit of a re-structuring. I likely won't be posting every day this week, and may not establish a regular rhythm right away. Whichever way it goes, I'll keep posted.

But, for now, I want to THANK YOU for being along for the ride, for reading and thinking with me, for commenting (either on the blog or in person) and letting me know tha…

Comfort Food

I recently read this beautiful article, Showing Compassion Through the Gift of Food, at, and was flooded with memories of all the times friends have taken care of me by sharing a meal or a treat.

It made me want to share these photos with you, of a recent meal--full of Southern comfort food--that our friends SB and JB made for us to help us through some rough times.

A pan of delicious barbecue tofu and crock pot full of golden grits:

Stewed greens and barbecue sauce, along with an assortment of delicious pickled peppers and tomatoes:

Crispy, buttery cornbread and perfect gluten-free apple tarts:

The whole meal came together like a dream, and kept us full and warm (in our bellies, and our hearts) for days to come.

Like the author of the above article told her six-year-old daughter, "when you make people food with your hands, it can help them feel better."

How have friends offered you solace through food in times past?

Food Job Opportunities

In the past couple of years, I've been really excited about two new initiatives that have cropped up: FoodCorps (a public service program dedicated to bringing good food to limited-resource communities) and Food Day (a day in promotion of healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way).

Ode to the Onion

A beauty from Pablo Neruda:

Ode To The Onion  by Pablo Neruda 
Onion,  luminous flask,  your beauty formed  petal by petal,  crystal scales expanded you  and in the secrecy of the dark earth  your belly grew round with dew.  Under the earth  the miracle  happened  and when your clumsy  green stem appeared,  and your leaves were born  like swords  in the garden,  the earth heaped up her power  showing your naked transparency, and as the remote sea  in lifting the breasts of Aphrodite  duplicating the magnolia,  so did the earth  make you,  onion  clear as a planet  and destined  to shine,  constant constellation,  round rose of water,  upon the table  of the poor. 
You make us cry without hurting us.  I have praised everything that exists,  but to me, onion, you are  more beautiful than a bird of dazzling feathers,  heavenly globe, platinum goblet,  unmoving dance  of the snowy anemone 
and the fragrance of the earth lives  in your crystalline nature. 

--- I originally saw this left-aligned, but I really like the onion-like b…

Root Quilt!

How beautiful is that?

You might think it's some image I pulled off the web, but it's not! It is, in fact, a small quilt that my dearest friend AMM made for me by hand!

It came in the mail yesterday, just in time to cheer me in a deep and touching way as the semester began. I think it's one of the most beautiful works of art I've ever seen, and for now, am displaying it as such--over our bed in our bedroom:

The actual image (inspired by this Pinterest pin) really resonates with me, with its beautiful cross section of sky and earth, of blue and brown. The way the colorful roots are nestled below ground with their green leaves above ground creates all kinds of aesthetic harmony for me.

I love it beyond (any more) words. Thank you, amm.

Food on This American Life

I (along with other white people) love This American Life.

And so when looking for audio recordings about food and family for my seminar, I naturally turned to Ira Glass and the others at Chicago Public Radio for inspiration.

I figured I'd start a running list of episodes to listen to here so that I could come back to them, and so I could ask you all for recommendations or reviews. Be in touch!

117: You Gonna Eat That? [Whole episode]
The family table is stage on which many family dramas are played out. We hear three stories...of three three meals.

110: Mapping [Act Five]
LA Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold goes to the places on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles that he visited back in the early 1980s. He tells the story of how he decided to map an entire street using his sense of taste, and how doing this changed his life. (13 minutes)

62: Something for Nothing [Act Three]
Tao Of The Dumpster. Writer Dirk Jamison, who gave up a 9-to-5 job and succeeded in getting someth…

Georgia Thali

While visiting my parents in Georgia, we had our first experience with thali, otherwise known as "a unique experience in gourmet eating" through Indian vegetarian cuisine.

JH did some searching on for the highest-rated restaurants in the area, and came across Vatica Indian Vegetarian Cuisine, which immediately caught our eye. Vegetarian! Indian! All You Can Eat! $8.99! Thali!

What's there not to love?

So, we made it there faster than you could say lickety-split, and soon were treated to this feast:

This traditional thali preparation offers a range of different curries in separate bowls, along with rice and other accoutrements. In this particular case, we got (beginning with the bread at the bottom and moving clockwise): roti (flatbread), a sweet treat made of rice flour, raita (yogurt sauce), a bean curry, potato-pea curry, malai kofta (like vegetarian meatballs), daal (lentil soup), basmati rice, and in the middle, some sort of potato bite with cilantro sauce,…

Food Writing Exercises

As the spring semester approaches, I'm doing my best to plan for the small seminar I'll be teaching called Eating and Memory (described previously in this post).

Because I got such helpful feedback and guidance last time (thanks, SW!) when I asked for help, I figured I'd try it again, this time with less a focus on readings than on writing exercises.

I'm trying to structure each class around some sharing, reading, and writing, and so would like to have a whole bank of writing exercises to rely on as I put together the class schedule.

I have some early ideas, but would really love more of them from any of you who like to write, teach writing, have taken great writing classes, or just have ideas about how to spur good writing, particularly in the genre of creative nonfiction.

Some of what I've come up with so far:
Try to write a portrait of a person by describing a food, a meal, or an eating experience.Try to write a portrait of a place by describing a food, a meal, o…

Values, Ignorance, and Seafood: Some Quick Thoughts

A special treat today--a guest post by the husband, JH:
When non-vegetarians ask me about my (almost) vegetarianism, I brace myself for one of two responses. First, there is what I like to call “the Oklahoma response.” This typically involves one form or another of deliberate crassness: either a reminder that meat tastes good, or a suggestion that caring about the well-being of non-human animals is na├»vely soft-hearted. (My father's comments usually fall into this category, as when he gleefully tells people that my vegetarianism is merely “a fad” that the kids are following these days.) The second response is what I call “the Madison response.” The Madison response usually involves a lot of vigorous nodding, perhaps followed by an admission that my interlocutor is sympathetic to vegetarianism—maybe she/he even tried it once!—but an explanation that for one reason or another, she/he still eats meat, often with some degree of guilt.  My mother exemplifies one strain of this r…

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