Hopefully I don't get blacklisted for posting this grainy point n' shoot of Michael Ruhlman, because it makes me grin, and grins are in short supply these days. This was just before the closing keynote at BloghHer Food conference this weekend, and Ruhlman was getting ready to bring it on the ballroom stage along with Shauna and Molly. At the conclusion of what was already a great conversation between these three writers, Ruhlman was compelled to stand and remind us that cooking is important (and according to anthropologist Richard Wrangham cooking is what makes us human) pacing the stage with the kind rhetorical passion I can only describe as...Mr. Ruhlman Goes to Washington. I would like to thank him for the boost. Well, I want to thank everyone there, actually. I only made it to one day of the conference, but the lift I got makes me feel like a boat that was dry docked all winter and suddenly plopped into the bay on a warm and fogless autumn afternoon.
It doesn't hurt to have picked up a badge at the last minute from the lovely Tara Austen Weaver, because I got to discover her writing, and also how much other people loved her. Thanks for making me look good Tara. While I might plan more carefully the next time I attend a conference (note to self: bring LOTS of cards; people love cards) my agenda was just to look for inspiration and learn and watch. As a baker and fan of Dorie Greenspan from Baking with Julia, I wasn't going to miss her session, and it was so wonderful to hear about cookbook publishing, but I almost wished I could split myself in two to have been at Penny de los Santos' photography session. Inspiration was all around like a rising tide.
San Francisco's balmy October weather did not disappoint, and approximately everyone descended on the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Having only ever seen the considerably tamer weekday versions of this market, I was astounded at the number of farmers, purveyors, and food vendors that wrapped around the ferry building like a labyrinth. Some bloggers were led on a tour, but I wandered, passing wonderful stands finding myself far too impatient to wait in line in the midday sun until I was lucky enough to stumble upon Rachel Saunders of Blue Chair Fruit Company demonstrating how to make jam out of Early Girl tomatoes.
Look at those copper preserving pots; not only beautiful, the wide bottom allows the fruit mixture to reduce faster and more evenly. Rachel was selling and signing books, so I have already learned a lot about jam making by reading the first section of The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, a primer on making fruit jams, jellies and marmalades. Having spent ten years tinkering with fruit and honing her craft before starting her company, Rachel knows her jam.
(Side bar: Impressive but maybe a lapel mic for the folks doing demos so they can use both hands?)
There it was. Wrapped up into a single day. Inspiration everywhere I turned - an artisanal food producer whose company I admire, esteemed cookbook authors who've been with me in the kitchen (in spirit) by virtue of their fabulous work, wonderful writers, photographers, cooks, chefs, bakers, publishers....whew. It's a nice break from working alone. Which is saying a lot because I get to do this: