A couple of years ago, I was at a local social event I had been invited to as a woman writer and blogger in the community. I went solo and hesitant, not knowing another soul there. I went with curiosity - who were these other women in my community doing big things? How were they doing them? What were their secrets to success? There was also the lingering impetus I couldn't quite shake since I'd received the invite: I had been dying to go to that restaurant. I went.
At one point during the evening, I was sipping a delicious cocktail while talking with a woman who's passion was food styling. At the time, I was still mama first in every way. Even though I love looking at styled food photographs, I couldn't imagine then taking the time to photograph food in any way other than the finished product on the table, seconds before pretty turned ugly with little one's cries of pain because everything looks and smells disgusting, and do we have to eat that? In a regrettable moment, I said something to this woman along the lines of, I just can't imagine having the time for that [styling food at home for fun]. She was younger than me, her pregnant belly mid-way round with her first child. In that moment, when I said those words, I caused her pain. I saw it in her eyes. I embarrassed us both. Borrowing Anne Lamott's word, I was such an asshat.
I think about that beautiful woman often these days. I think about her when I'm clearing our cluttered dining room table and laying out a beautiful runner, linens, cobbled wood boards and smooth cold marble. I think about her in the slant of sunlight and the angle of my camera. In the quiet of the weekday daytime, windows cracked open, bacon, shallots, maple syrup and bourbon bubbling slow and low on the stovetop. I wonder if she's still styling her food and writing beautiful blog posts with a little one in tow. I hope so.
These days, while photo shoots and editing projects and writing assignments are on the down low, I have been savoring these extra hours with everyone out of the house to tap into a quiet kitchen. I leave the house mid-morning for the store and take my time. I usually stay for a small lunch and then walk around the block to a favorite coffee shop for a cappuccino. Then I come home and crack the kitchen window and get to work. I shush my mind's thoughts that I should be doing something more productive like trying to get more work to pay for these free-range market/coffee shop trips. Then I shush myself even more and get to dicing and sautéing. I get to this work because it keeps me calm. ish. I get to this work because it makes me happy. And if it's a really good day, I get the camera out.
Bourbon Bacon Jam - I followed this recipe.
To note: I used 3/4 of a package of bacon. I used cooking sherry instead of sherry vinegar. I did not blitz the jam in a food processor - I prefer a more rustic texture. Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly.
Some serving suggestions: I took a jar of the jam to a dinner party on a tray with warm, crusty baguette, a sharp raw sheep' s milk cheese (like manchego),and fresh blackberries. And until it was all gone, we had it on grilled sourdough with sharp cheddar and avocado.