Does this basil make my butt look big?  

Greenmarket; Aix en Provence, France

I’ve been talking about a blog for well over a year now.  At a meeting of local chefs and cooks last week, a friend announced (unannounced to me) that I was close to having one ready.  My eyes went all Little Orphan Annie.  I felt like I’d been dropped head-first into a big, cold pool with nothing but deep ends. I figured I’d better get busy.

Ultimately, my sweet friend did me a massive favor.  I’d been talking without doing for far too long and we both knew it.  It’s so comfortable to talk about starting.  Starting something, anything.  At the same time, I’d been thinking about starting a better eating and exercise program – known generally as the eat less move more plan.  I figured combining blogging and cooking and eating and moving was as good a place as any to start.  Sometimes I just need to stop thinking about the size of my butt and DO something.  Are you feeling me, as the kids say?

The plan is to write to you with recipes and stories of what I’ve been baking and cooking of late.  I’ve also got some new class ideas, and I’m finally going to get to work on the series of Divas cookbooks I’ve been threatening to start for a couple of years now.  More on that later.

Now for what has inspired all this talk about eating and living better.  I spent 3 weeks in Italy and France with my daughter last summer.   She had won a scholarship to an international dance program in Florence, and spent a month there before I flew over and joined her. I’ll spare you the travelogue, but I have many photos to share.   And lots of food stories – I kept a food journal, you see. My daughter was living on the 10,000 calorie-a-day dancer in a hot (seriously hot) climate, and I felt sort of anthropological as I recorded her food intake compared to mine.


                                          The dancer that pizza built; Florence, Italy

The cooking and eating we did there has had a deep and lasting effect on how I continue to look at food and cooking.  It got me back to the ingredients and simple methods that have informed my cooking all along.  And we were both struck by how radically different the European pace of life is from our typical daily lives.  We both returned with the idea that it might just be good to slow things down a bit.  To leave room for simple enjoyment during any given day.  We’ve experienced mixed success.  But that doesn’t mean we’ve failed.  Rather, the thought returns frequently to give us a poke.  2012 is a nice round year for paying attention differently.


                                                      Market stand; Bologna, Italy
I’m reading that the new food words for 2012 are “artisanal” and “authentic.”  “Artisanal” may be one of the most over-used words of the past 10 years.  Maybe more.  Beer, bread, meats, pottery, cheese, clothing, pizza, you name it.  The banking industry may be the only one not to have used it, and that may be because they just haven’t thought of it.  Yet.  But I can get behind “authentic.”  I take it to mean generally, know where your food comes from, know what’s in it, and if you’re serious, make it yourself.  From authentic ingredients.  We lost sight of what most of the world does every day, and it’s good to be getting back to it.


                                                    Buffalo Mozzarella, Bologna

Another food phrase I came across the other day, courtesy of Barry Estabrook is:  “Meet your meat.”  When it comes to meat, I suspect that one person’s “artisanal” is another’s working damn hard to deliver a quality product.  But it’s sure as hell authentic.  When my son and daughter were (both!) here for Christmas, we made a pilgrimage out to Dot & Rick Gallager’s Shane Creek Bison Ranch ranch for some meat for them to take home.  The herd put on quite a show, running from the round bale feeders up to the top of the hill, then back down, then back up, then back down.  On each downhill run, Max and Lydia would back rapidly away, until they realized it was all a celebratory game on an unusually warm, sunny December afternoon.  Meeting one’s meat doesn’t get much more authentic than that.


                Shane Creek Bison Ranch, Columbus, Montana

Welcome to the deep end of the pool.  It’s feeling more comfortable already.  More to come.

About thesolitarycook

I'm a chef, a cook, a teacher, a reader, a writer, a bike-rider, a dog- and cat-woman
This entry was posted in STORIES, THE BEGINNING: INTO THE DEEP END, WELCOME and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. vkhanson says:

    Love this: “…I suspect that one person’s “artisanal” is another’s working damn hard to deliver a quality product. But it’s sure as hell authentic.” Good writing! 🙂

  2. Really enjoy this blog already, I want more!! So glad you did this.

  3. Annette says:

    Wonderful to hear, I can see your gestures as you share your experiences. Looking forward to more!!

  4. Rita Kau says:

    LOVE IT! Thank you for including me.

  5. Marci Raihl says:

    I’m so glad that “friend” pushed you along! As I suspected, a superb beginning. Can’t wait for more!

  6. Krisstinna says:

    What a refreshing to hear you speaking through your blog! Bravo Chef Cynthia. I crave more.

  7. Yay!!! I’m so happy to see you join the blogosphere with your wonderful voice and recipes. I’m already hooked and am looking forward to your posts. I particularly love the photo of your daughter dancing – just beautiful. As a note, did you see Jennie’s (Steinhauer) article in the NYT on Wednesday about Montana Senator Tester’s ranch, and his habit of taking his meat with him whenever he travels? Gives new meaning to the phrase “Don’t leave home without it”!

    • Thank you for your warm, kind words, Susan. YES! I did see Jenny’s article. A fair number of people found the concept downright strange, but I love it! Whenever the son and the daughter are here to visit, they return with suitcases full of frozen bison. Same concept. And they always find a “love note” from the TSA!

  8. michelle foltz says:

    very entertaining, I’ve enjoyed reading this and waiting for the next. But you should have told me

  9. Military wife says:

    Nice job. I truly enjoyed this. It dis however make me lonesome for an old friend.

  10. Claire D says:

    So glad i have discovered your blog – looking forward to many more posts!

  11. Pingback: SUNDAY SUPPER: LAYERED MAC & CHEESE BRÛLÉE | The Solitary Cook

  12. Felix says:

    What’s up i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anywhere, when i
    read this paragraph i thought i coukd also create comment due to
    this brilliant paragraph.

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