Well, it’s been 10 weeks. Graduation is around the corner. I have a dress and shoes; my family has a hotel reservation. (I’m still working on finding us a spot for dinner, eek!)
I also have a one-way plane ticket and several carefully packed boxes. I deff tend towards hoarding, but the prospect of moving cross country is turning me into a minimalist. I have purged clothes and books and bedding. I’m struggling to let go of the house plants I nurtured the last three years, but passing them down to friends makes it easier. Now the question is: will this blog come with me to post-grad life?
Running a food blog is hard. Now that I (mostly) know how to navigate wordpress, the greatest challenge is taking pictures; the light in the co-op kitchen is awful, and I’m no photography buff. I find myself doing fewer stews and more baked goods, churning out shiny loaves of bread and dainty cupcakes because I know they are easier to photograph. It is a struggle to time my kitchen projects around not just my class+work schedules, but also around the presence of natural light. Sometimes I even torture my housemates and make them wait to eat until the next morning, when I can get a mouth-watering pic of my (cold, stale) creation.
Blogging has changed my cooking in other ways too. When I cook just for me, or just for my housemates, and not for the blog, there is seldom a set recipe. I cook by touch and smell and taste, measuring with my hands and eyes. I add a pinch of this or a shake of that, adjusting based on frequent taste tests. The process typically involves a mild disaster, and lots of improvisation to recover. “Notice that butter is inexplicably melting out of your dough and pooling on the pastry in the oven. Carefully pour it off and bake another 20 (or 30??) minutes.”
By the time the food is on the table, I am hard-pressed to recall an ingredient list, let alone an accurate recipe. What I cook is informed by the ingredients in the house, and by my housemates’ complex constellation of dietary restrictions. I substitute butter for milk because co-op member Eli can’t do “raw” dairy; I make a fruit curd with flat Sprite because there is a bottle taking up space in the fridge. One of the kitchen skills I am most proud of is my ability to look in a fridge and see a meal, but this creative element is lost, counter-intuitively, when I cook for the creative project that is this blog.
I started the blog with the intention of documenting my last term at college through the food that has been so central to my undergraduate experience. I wanted to force myself to take full advantage of the resources I have here — a steady stream of farmer’s market produce and a fancy Kitchenaid stand mixer, to name a few. Yet this blog does not feel like the honest record I imagined. Lost is the satisfaction of hearing a housemate declare a meal “so hecking good,” or seeing a loaf of bread devoured in the time it takes me to go to class and return. Lost is the mundane magic of assembling disparate ingredients and transfiguring them into something delicious, something that is warm and filling and tastes like home. Documenting what I make robs the process of spontaneity and sometimes makes cooking feel like a chore.
I’m going to spend a week at my parents’ house before my Big Move. Mostly I will be going to doctor’s appointments and seeing dear friends, but I’ll also be deciding whether or not to continue this blog. Maybe the authentic documentation I’m searching for is best found through a finsta?? (I am only half joking). Maybe less frequent but more intentional posting will better fit my vision? Maybe I just need to explore and find some established bloggers whose work I can emulate.
Tell me what you think, and perhaps you’ll hear from me soon.