As I sat down to write this post, I wanted to talk about the past year in a way that wouldn't ignore the downfalls, but still highlighted all of the huge accomplishments and change that happened this year. And, next to that, I intended to talk about what a major role food had in shaping my year. After deleting a few really wordy attempts at the start of a post, it clicked in my head that food and 'everything else' weren't mutually exclusive.
January - April was a field exam fog. I had no posts for the majority of February, March and April, but that doesn't mean I wasn't surrounded by food. I spent late nights crouched over 19th century non-canonical Irish literature eating aged stilton on crackers. When I was too stressed to sleep, I found comfort in the whirring of my kitchenaid or a stroll through the farmer's market the next morning. I conquered my anxiety over having people over for dinner and found myself cooking for friends more frequently. In a way, the fact that I have no posts during all of this speaks to the way that while my brain was always occupied with my grad assistantship or my exam or looming graduation, food became so much a part of my life that I didn't need to think about it. My kitchen was a safe space to think and create without needing to talk or write about it. I could simply eat and enjoy or pass along my creations to my ever-hungry and always grateful friends.
Somewhere along the way, I subconsciously realized how important food had become to me and wanted to do more with it. I registered for Eat, Write, Retreat, a food blogging conference in DC, with the naive assumption that I would leave and it would magically motivate me to consistently blog and I'd somehow gain a huge following and life would be ducky. Instead, I was challenged in ways I had never imagined and I learned more about myself than I had expected to at a food-focused conference. I'm thankful that my passion for food pushed me out of my comfort zone and onto a Megabus, headed for a conference where I knew absolutely no one and came out with a head full of ideas, a heightened interest in food photography and several new blogs to read and friends to follow!
I wish I could say that life slowed down post-graduation, or that I blogged as often as I wanted to. For a little while, I was able to focus on blogging and really dive into food photography. I built two versions of a lightbox and started reading up on food styling techniques. Life quickly caught up to me again and I spent my summer working full time, planning an event I had never attended all while trying to apply for jobs and figure out whether I was staying in Pennsylvania or moving back home to New England. It was a lot of stress to face, but I kept my head afloat and kept my kitchenaid going.
As silly as it may sound, I'm thankful that I have this crazy passion for food because it's been the background to celebrations like graduation and getting a new job. It's also given me normalcy in times of uncertainty. I take incredible solace in knowing that when I feel overwhelmed by things breaking or people sucking, I can turn on my kitchen light and get completely engrossed in a culinary project like making mozzarella cheese by hand or developing a recipe for chocolate Guiness whoopie pies with Baileys swiss meringue buttercream filling. When I look back at 2011, I'm not sad that I didn't post more or take more beautiful pictures. I don't want to be the best blogger in the universe. I'm happy just recognizing the gift I have in this crazy talent of mine and that no matter what happens in 2011, I'll be able to get through it, just so long as I'm able to bake.
Here's wishing you, dear readers, a 2012 filled with delicious food and the foresight to stop and be thankful for blessings that get you through all that life has to throw at you! Happy New Year!