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A few weeks ago, my dear friend Kate Hill (of the Kitchen at Camont) posted a cake recipe. It was a simple French version of pound cake, quatre-quarts, and she served it with the most magnificent looking strawberries. In fact, she made it specifically to go with those strawberries. The recipe is easy to remember: equal parts eggs, sugar, melted butter and flour. Weigh the eggs first, in the shell, and this determines the quantities of the other ingredients. It looked phenomenal though to be fair, everything Kate makes is pretty phenomenal.

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In my teens, I had a deep love for a particular type of pickled cauliflower. It was bright yellow, briny, a little spicy and I would eat it by the jarful. Sometimes it had carrots, sometimes it was just the cauliflower. Sometimes my mom would buy a jar of what was more like a chunky giardinara that contained the cauliflower and carrots but also pearl onions, celery and cherry peppers. I didn’t like that as much and would pick out and eat only the cauliflower and carrots, leaving the less desirable bits behind. This would really piss off my family. Oh well.

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I used to work near a little Italian deli that made the best food. Subs layered with various Italian meats, cut to order. Homemade meatballs with a fresh, tangy marinara. Freshly fried arancini, those addictive fried balls of risotto with cheese stuffed in the middle. Fat squares of cheesy pizza dotted with pepperoni or bits of sausage. Everything was so good. My favorite lunch was a spicy Italian sub, a Pellegrino soda of some sort and a lemon knot cookie. The cookies were sort of cakey, sort of dry with a close crumb and a lemon glaze. They weren’t the greatest cookies I’d ever had but I still loved those things, a perfect finish to a delicious lunch. After I left that job, I missed those cookies so every once in a while I’d try a recipe but it never quite delivered on the memory. But I think I’ve got it figured out.

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I am extremely prone to jet lag. Back in February, after a particularly long overseas flight, I had the worst bout yet. At one point, a day or two after arriving home, I was wide-awake for a good 36 hours with surprising amounts of energy. It was strange. So I did something I’ve been meaning to do for months – I reorganized all my cookbooks. I have hundreds of cookbooks and over the years, they’d gotten a bit messy. I prefer to organize my cookbooks by subject but they were willy-nilly all over the apartment. The pile next to my coffeetable was taller than the table. It drove me crazy but I hadn’t gotten around to doing anything about it. Now I had the energy so I decided to attack the piles.

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One of those Facebook memories popped up in my timeline recently, reminding me of a Napa Valley trip I took several years ago. Looking out the window at yet another freak April snowstorm, there was no place I would rather be. If ever there was a time to have a Star Trek type transponder, it was in that moment. I was sick of this never ending Midwest winter with it endless grey afternoons. I was bitter.

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As a product/recipe developer, I end up with a lot of stuff. Leftovers from various projects, bags and jars and cans of stuff upon stuff add up. Some, I give away but a lot ends up hanging around. I cleaned out my refrigerator earlier this week, a horrifying prospect at any time, and found quite a bit of nut butter accumulated on that bottom shelf. All open, all filled to various levels. I took inventory: 2 jars peanut butter, 1 jar sunflower butter, 1 jar cashew butter and 2 jars of almond butter, all tucked into that back corner that regularly escapes your attention. WTF? This was ridiculous.

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I have three go to soups: chicken noodle, French onion and clam chowder. If they’re on the menu, I will order them. Always. I may stray now and again, but these are my constants. I was recently in a Cracker Barrel in a soupy mood and the two offerings of the day were: vegetable beef (never) and clam chowder (absolutely.) My friend asked the server if the clam chowder was New England (white), as opposed to the lesser known Manhattan (tomato based) or the even lesser known Rhode Island (brothy). We got a blank stare in return. Of course we did and we deserved it, the food snobs in a Cracker Barrel that we were.

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