Food trend posts are ubiquitous this time of year, oui? I’ve seen every magazine, blogger and television personality attempt to predict what 2012 will bring. Trend posts tend to tire me but I do see value in wishes. And food wishes – an expression for what we hope will happen in food – are never a bad thing.
After the busy Christmas season, I try to wind down, reflect on the past year and make some food wishes. I explored my regional backyard at the end of last month with a visit from sea to shining sea – or from Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont to the Atlantic in Portland, Maine. I spent five days sleeping in, eating, and tasting food in boutique bakeries, gourmet shops and organic food co-ops across the 250+ miles between these two tiny cities.
I took what feels like several million photos including many I posted on Instagram. Since several of you asked if I’d post on the trip, I thought it might be fun (for me?) to share a smattering of Instagram photos along with my food wishes for 2012.
Wish 1: More booze in our food
Before I packed up, I spent Christmas making my Christmas Marmalade with holiday gifts of grapefruit, lemons and oranges. I topped off the batch with too many ounces of Champagne to add a slight punch to the 20+ pints I’ll gift this winter. While I’m no stranger to a well-made cocktail, I’m way more interested in adding booze to my food. Think of adding more dark rum to desserts, liquors to jams and preserves, and wine to sauces and condiments, using them as you would almond extract or vanilla bean seeds. Oh, and booze last forever (just not in my house).
Wish 2: More baking, good baking, from everyone
While I can whip up a cake from scratch (okay, with a recipe for a bit of guidance), not everyone has everything on hand to bake a bread or flip some pancakes. It’s time for all to discover their inner gourmand and feel like a pro at the school bake sale. Many food makers and professional chefs have developed all-natural, organic lines of baking kits that will impress even the most snarky food blogger. Eat Boutique will soon offer a few selective baking kits that we’ve tested and tasted and fallen for as a delicious sure-thing when we don’t have time and just need a pile of brownies now (like, every day).
Wish 3: Make chic snacks with fewer ingredients
Tiny plates with twenty ingredients are totally annoying and, in my humble opinion, a thing of the past. Give me a slice of toast with some good blue cheese and simple honey, and I’m all yours. Good food should feel effortless so that we’ll cook it more often. Who wants to be the next Top Chef? Not me. I want to spend more time enjoying dinner conversation and less time basting or stacking. I spend a few hours making tomato basil jam each summer so that I can open a jar at each dinner party, pouring it over local mozzarella to start or end an easy meal. The only fanciness that shouldn’t go anywhere is my crock pot: a few roasted red peppers, a tin of tomatoes and homemade broth makes a tasty and pretty soup.
Wish 4: More urban (or suburban) homesteading please
I have a friend who manages to run a stellar tiny farm in her very citified home. In addition to growing vegetables, she’s forced mushrooms, keeps hens for eggs, and set up a hydroponic garden for produce and shrimp. She even has a pet pig. I don’t have a pet pig (yet) but I do preserve everything in my garden, dry my herbs for year-round use and my own tea mixes, and I make cordials from whatever I think may taste good in vodka, bourbon or rum. I’m investigating a greenhouse set up while my hubby begins to dabble in craft beer. Between my friend and I, we’re up for any tiny farm challenge and I believe you all are too. Homesteaders unite!
Wish 5: More flavors from the planet, fresh and dried
I want to see even more of the planet in my food, year-round, and it’s already showing up in food maker vision across New England. I had the most delicious cardamom bars, flecked with spice and fused with pounds of butter in a sweet gourmet food store in Maine. While in Vermont, I discovered a floral pine tea that reminds me of a forest without tasting like one. It’s elegant and elevated and I’m scheming up several recipes to show off the pronounced scent. And while we’re at it, herbs should retain their striking aromas way past their typical growing season. Mine do, so why can’t the ones sold in grocery stores? I’m excited to share more new finds that keep their earthiness longer, like retro-styled Italian Seasoning that still tastes of a Maine farm months later.
In addition to cardamom, pine and garden herbs, I also wish to see the following flavors in my food stat please: mint, rose, mushroom, coffee bean and chestnut.
Wish 6: More savoring, reusing and smaller sizes
In other words, let’s take our time but also save money and help the planet. No small task but I think every home cook can do their part. I’ll start by insisting on quality products and not keeping a thousand of them on hand at every moment. My fridge is far more empty than full and I like it that way; I waste less and make what I buy go further. Two cucumbers can take me through all week – half sliced as cracker replacements, another half tossed into a sandwich and yet another in a big Greek salad for dinner. I’m also way more conscious of what I’m eating, which isn’t a bad thing for a food fiend like me. The big grocery stores with all their big products should be used exceptionally, and we need to think tiny – small products made by small businesses tend to be more thoughtfully created and just taste better.
Wish 7: More year of the dragon ingenuity
This is the time, people. This is the most prized year of the Chinese zodiac. It’s the year of the dragon which blesses those born in 2012 with a brilliant can-do attitude. I like to think that all of us get a bit of that ambition infused into our spirit too. I’d like to see us all take a few more risks in food, try wild flavor combinations and, just perhaps, do something crazy like set up a taco truck in the middle of the Irish countryside. Hey, it could happen. I’ll settle for setting up a wine bar in my barn – any takers? – and classes in my kitchen. The schedule will be up this spring and expect several special guests to fly in from abroad to help me make it so.
What are you doing to take risks in the kitchen in 2012?
All photos styled and photographed by Maggie Battista.
Eat Boutique is an online magazine + market for food enthusiasts to celebrate the best pure, local + comforting handmade foods. We call it: food that hugs you back. Looking for the perfect gift? Eat Boutique sells gift boxes filled with handmade sweet and savory treats. Send a gift box of handmade food today.
Eat Boutique was an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista – an author, business guide and alignment seeker. After hosting retail markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie now supports entrepreneurs as they create values-based businesses through We Are Magic Studio. Follow Maggie Battista on Instagram.