general information and events

field notes: florida, 2014.

field notes: florida 2014.

Remember when I said I couldn’t wait to get back to making food and writing about it in this little space I have here? Yeah…so as it turns out, I don’t do that much baking and cooking on vacation without really making an effort to do so. I had no idea: in years past, it seemed like the natural thing to do.

This year was different; I blame the Amish. Hear me out.

The Amish really messed this up for you people this year, because they opened a brand new, enormous, barn-housed farmers’ market just down the street from where we stay. It’s phenomenal. The fruit and vegetable selection is so vast that it’s like walking through bins of rainbows. They have a much-sought-after meat and cheese counter, a fresh fish counter, tons of bulk nuts, seeds, and grains, and then…then, friends…they have what everyone is really there for: the Amish bakery. As soon as you make your way past the fruit rainbow, you find yourself smack in the middle of a cinnamon forest of baked treasures, still hot from their precious Amish ovens. Last time I calculated it, our purchases on average are 74% fresh produce, 26% hot buns.

Anything I wanted to bake? The Amish baked it for me. Cooking projects? All quite boring from a blog perspective; place me in the tropics, and all I crank out is fresh fish tacos with slaw, burgers, and some chips and dip. As for the fruit, we just eat it. Look at it. Fruit.

mango, dragonfruit, kiwi.

mango + dragonfruit + kiwi = vacation.

Who’s going to screw up fruit that nature so lovingly assembled? Not this girl. Okay, sometimes…sometimes we galette the fruit. “Galette” is actually a food verb, by the way. Derivations including “pie the fruit” and also “tart the fruit.” For vegetables, I employ my “olive oil toss / season / roast until crispy and I can smell them” technique; not exactly something you need step by step instructions for.

And honestly, who wants to look at the inside of a kitchen when – if you turn around – you can look at this:

wee one vacation 2014.

You’re looking at how we spent at least 90% of our time. Also what our hair looked like 90% of the time.

I didn’t think so.

So much has been made and even more has been eaten and enjoyed, but nothing (literally, not one thing) to write home about from a recipe standpoint. Also, sometimes I make ugly food simply because I am under zero obligation to photograph it. Like I made this one artichoke / walnut / basil / parmesan dip which looked very much like wet concrete. My grandma very tactfully asked me “now…what exactly makes it this color, honey?” because it’s simply, utterly hideous. The answer? Freedom. Freedom makes it that color, because food doesn’t have to look delicious if it’s only for yourself. I’m still convinced the proliferation of so many fruit crumbles during the summer is at least partly due to fruit making a pretty alluring subject, just saying.

So back to work, officially this time: we head home today, and after 3 1/2 weeks, I feel thoroughly vacationed and anxious to head back to my own kitchen with my own stockpiles of ingredients and nothing to distract me. I miss the ease and familiarity and fun of my non-vacation life, which includes all of you; see you in a few days.



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  • Reply Brianne July 30, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Sounds like you had the best vacation ever. I mean, that fruit. And that pool. Too fun! My summer has been full of non-delicious looking food. Freedom, for sure! Cue William Wallace.

    • Reply shannon August 11, 2014 at 8:47 am

      A wonderful, relaxing vacation, for sure! And food…all the food.

  • Reply John@Kitchen Riffs July 30, 2014 at 8:11 am

    Sounds like a great time! I always eat out/buy premade a lot when I’m on vacation too. Next time you’re in Florida you should check to see if there are any decent Cuban places where you’re staying — there’s fabulous Cuban food in Florida, and definitely worth seeking out.

    • Reply shannon August 11, 2014 at 8:50 am

      You know, now that you mention, I meant to check out in particular one or two Cuban places while in Florida that are yes, known for wonderful cuban food. I didn’t get around to it this year, but i’ve declared next year “the year of the florida restaurant tour,” because i always end up cooking and we mostly don’t go anywhere; something i feel needs to be changed. I’ll report back in 2015. 🙂

  • Reply Dana Staves July 30, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Yay! Glad you’re back! I think it’s good to embrace this natural order of things – letting the food be, letting the Amish bake for you, letting ponytails be the default. Happy to hear about such a lovely adventure!

    • Reply shannon August 11, 2014 at 8:50 am

      Dana, Amish baked goods + ponytails = how i want to spend most of my life.

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats July 30, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Aw, sounds like so much fun! I want to go to a giant amish barn filled with delicious food! no fair!

    Also I want to find a dragonfruit now so I can eat it. Darn you!

    • Reply shannon August 11, 2014 at 8:51 am

      Seriously, shout out to the magical mystery that is The Amish Fruit Barn. i’m asking to live there next year.

      You have to have dragonfruit around there, surely? maybe? They had TONS of it, so i’m assuming it’s the season for it…so good. I want to make drinks with it.

  • Reply Deb July 30, 2014 at 10:02 am

    What a terrific vacation! I try not to cook or bake while on vacation. It’s a vacation after all!

    • Reply shannon August 11, 2014 at 8:52 am

      Next year, i’m boycotting any cooking, i think: salads, okay, and maybe some ice cream, but beyond that? someone will need to make me food. because you’re right: it’s VACATION.

  • Reply Ashley July 30, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Woah, gorgeous fruit and awesome vacation! I’m glad you took time to relax and be free. But I’m equally excited to see what you make next. Missed you!

    • Reply shannon August 11, 2014 at 8:52 am

      It was fun, and i missed you too! It’s nice to be back.

  • Reply Amrita July 30, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Whoa that sounds amazing. Definitely just eat that fruit, no need to mess with nature! I would eat it aaalllll. Glad you enjoyed the vacation! Sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy life in the moment and not be thinking about blogging or how to make super delicious things look pretty when they’re just not meant to be 🙂

    • Reply shannon August 11, 2014 at 8:55 am

      It was so much fun: i was surrounded by dragonfruit, prickly pears, and mangos the entire time i was there, and i could not have been happier! It was yes, definitely so nice to just not worry about working…i tried to worry, but it just didn’t ever make me actually want to do anything. 🙂 It’s nice to be back, but we had a great time.

  • Reply Abbe@This is How I Cook July 30, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    Those Amish? I have to tell you that both my kids went to school in PA. Don’t ask me why it turned out that way given that we are from CO. In any case, my daughter had one of those markets that you are talking about less than a mile from her school. OMG! I had to walk through it every time we visited. And my son lived in rural PA and we saw their buggies wherever we went. I wanted to chase them to see what they might have sitting on their kitchen counter. Anyway, glad you are back safe and sound. I was ready to call the blogger police to come find you. Sounds like you had a great trip. Treasure it!

    • Reply shannon August 11, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Seriously, the Amish do it right, and do it more right than any of the rest of us mere mortals, not to mention those buggies. THE BUGGIES ARE THE BEST!
      i’m safe and sound, and back: SO BACK that i’ve actually been having a super good kitchen run and everything i’m making has turned out awesome, and i’m thrilled to say that. No calling the blogger police this time (but if i’m ever gone for that long again, feel free. 🙂

  • Reply elizabeth July 31, 2014 at 9:23 am

    It does sound like you had a wonderful vacation (3.5 weeks!) and yes, the Amish are pretty awesome at selling delicious food thing. (I grew up in the exurbs of Philadelphia so going to PA Dutch Country to hit up the good markets was a regular occurrence for me.)

    Cooking on vacation is an interesting thing: we’re cooking so much when we’re at home that it is nice to have a break…but then maybe we get a little too overloaded on restaurant food and start craving something homemade. I guess renting an apartment or staying somewhere that gave you access to their kitchen is the best of both worlds (the B&B we stayed at in Italy kindly lent us the use of their kitchen for a few of our meals), but even then meals are going to be simple because it always takes a while to get used to a new cooking space. In short: I completely see the wisdom in not cooking for visual appeal when on vacation.

    • Reply shannon August 11, 2014 at 9:13 am

      The PA Amish are really the OG’s of the Amish world, i feel. So you really must have had the cream of the crop there.

      So well said, and so accurate on all counts for me: strictly living on restaurant food is fun for a few days and then kinda gross, but making food in a new kitchen carries with it some serious pitfalls (like not being able to find the oven mitts when things are ready to come out, not knowing how “hot” the stove and the oven actually are as compared to yours, etc). it’s hard if you’re writing recipes and even harder if you’re trying to photograph things in “new light” versus your old, comfy light. Certainly SO great to have a wonderful kitchen to work in, but not to WORK in. 🙂

  • Reply Sarah @ The Cook's Life July 31, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Oh, yes, all the fruit. And all the vacation cooking. And all the family. I can just hear your grandmother asking you about the dip, all the while trying not to hurt your feelings. Embrace it all, with no apologies. Well, maybe for the color of the dip. 🙂

    • Reply shannon August 4, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      Now i’m thinking of remaking that dip and photographing JUST so i can share it with all of you. I mean, it was total cement. Pantone could not have created a more lifelike color swatch. 🙂

  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog August 1, 2014 at 6:35 am

    It sounds like you had an amazing time. Sweet, sweet freedom. I don’ know why, but it always feels so good to make food for yourself and not have to worry about primping, spritzing, and curling. It really is the best. See you soon!

    • Reply shannon August 4, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      Seriously, making food without making start-to-finish notes, photos, and a post about it is downright LUXURIOUS for food bloggers, i think. I don’t know why it feels so good, but it really does.

  • Reply Elizabeth @ Eating Local in the Lou August 2, 2014 at 9:04 am

    It looks like you had a wonderful and relaxing vacation! Glad to see you were able to take some time to really enjoy!

    • Reply shannon August 4, 2014 at 4:43 pm

      Thanks, Elizabeth! We had a great vacation, for sure; so relaxing, and i’m happy to be back.

  • Reply Emma August 22, 2014 at 11:07 am

    What would possess the Amish to move to Florida!?? That sounds like the absolute worst place to have to toil long and hard outdoors day in and day out. Hot sun, bugs, giant snakes crawling through your vegetable garden…. what were those Amish thinking? Probably, old folks. Money. Get rich.

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats August 26, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Obviously I’m finally catching up on blog posts…seeing as how it’s a month late. Looks like you had a great vacation! Also, what is dragonfruit? I think I need to try it since I want ALL THE FRUIT this pregnant summer.

  • Reply Carla September 20, 2014 at 7:42 am

    Dragon fruit! We have a lot in our kitchen because my uncle harvested and gave a few kilos to us. We’re getting tired of eating it. My sister keeps on pestering me to bake with it but since I became pregnant I’ve been too lazy to move. So there has been some spoilage already.
    Glad to see you enjoyed the summer!

    • Reply shannon September 27, 2014 at 5:03 am

      Getting tired of eating dragon fruit is something i’ll never experience, sadly: but i don’t have a few kilos sitting around my kitchen either! Thanks, Carla: we really did have a lovely summer, and are looking forward to a equally wonderful fall: hope you are as well!

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