From The Kitchn: A Few Things That Make Us Feel Thankful (2008 Edition)

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

We did an internal poll here at Kitchn HQ — we asked our little community of writers about the things (food-related, of course!) that make them feel thankful this year. Farmers, toast, a new appliance, a new stab at baking, and more emerged. Read on to see what some of us said.

What were you thankful for this year, in the world of food and cooking? Can you relate to any of our picks below?

joanna.jpgJoanna Miller: I’m thankful for the inspiration to face my fear of baking. Motivated by all the wonderful pie entries this month, and the great advice of the editors here, I baked my first pie ever – a pear ginger maple pie with a dark rum crust. It didn’t look perfect, but it was delicious!

And it made me confident to take on another first – rolls, which I’m proudly serving this Thanksgiving.

emily.jpgEmily Ho: I am thankful for the people who grow and harvest the food at my farmers’ market, which provides me with so much nourishment, inspiration, and education. I am thankful for my first taste of a Violette de Bordeaux fig and a single wild grape—eaten straight off the vine, warmed by the sun—that completely opened my eyes and palate. And I am grateful for the honey bees who play such an important role in producing the almonds, apples, and countless other fruits and vegetables that I enjoy every day.

DanaV.jpgDana Velden: In my household, we have a daily ritual where a tiny little bit of food is placed on an altar. There are a lot of reasons for this but for me it’s a daily reminder not to take the abundance for granted. Always always, always expressing gratitude for food, it’s plenitude, it’s wholesomeness and deliciousness, and that often a life was taken so that this life can continue.

And of course thankfulness radiates out from there, as Joanna and Emily have said: for community, inspiration, farmers, the natural world. I would add migrant farm workers to that list, whose backbreaking labor for cheap wages (and occasionally even enslavement) often goes unseen.

So Thanksgiving is kind of a day-long ritual for me, shared with people I care for and packed full of gratitude and good things to eat. What more is needed?

Kathryn Hill: 2008 was a year of travel for me, and for this, I am thankful for all the opportunities and rewards. Through my traveling I have been able to spend quality time with friends and family members who are far away, see new places, and have new experiences. This year was full of new culinary adventures.

In 2008, I:
• Ate at The French Laundry for the first time
• Learned to cook Korean
• Bought an oyster knife and learned to shuck my own
• Traveled to France and visited wonderful food market halls in Languedoc and ate fondue in the Alps, learned about “mere de vinaigre”
• Revived the Three Martini Lunch with a trio of girlfriends
• Picked unripe green walnuts and infused them in vin de noix
• Went to the Caribbean and dove for conch which I later ate mixed with lime juice, onions, & tomatoes, sampled strange new tropical fruits, and ate tamarind right off the tree
• Visited a friend in Napa and ate at Julia’s Kitchen, discovered COPIA, the wonderful Oxbow Market, and went wine tasting
• Drank a lot of vinho verde as the weather got warmer
• Went to Sonoma with my mother, tasted wine in the Dry Creek area, and had dinner at Cyrus
• Attended Slow Food Nation
• Went to NYC and ate at Restaurant Daniel
• Wine tasted some more in Napa and Paso Robles

Looking forward to seeing what 2009 brings!

NoraMKitchn2008.jpgNora Maynard: I’m thankful for all the fresh, delicious food available to my husband and me on a daily basis. To all the local farmers, artisans, and merchants who make this possible. For all the meals prepared by and shared with family and friends. For finding a community of people with a passion for food and drink.

And for my cat, who can eat exactly the same thing day after day with every bit as much enthusiasm as the very first time.

Emma Christensen: Oh, goodness. I’m grateful to onions for their very existence. I buy more onions than anything else.

Also, I thank humankind for the invention of toast. I don’t know what I would do without toast or the bread it’s made from.

I’m truly thankful for the community of chefs and food lovers and food bloggers and home cooks who provide so much inspiration and joy. Five years ago, I didn’t know this community existed; now I can’t imagine my daily life without it.

Elizabeth Passarella: I am thankful for a two-cup Cuisinart coffee maker that my mother bought on her last visit to New York because she was tired of walking several blocks to a coffee shop every morning. I never made coffee at home, was never addicted to it or craved it. I thought it was a myth that people were bleary-eyed before their first morning cup. No more. I am so much more productive before 10 a.m. now, it’s astonishing. I’m a snob about organic grounds and am learning all about free trade coffee. I love having half and half in the fridge because then it’s always on hand for sauces and soups and gratins. So, really I guess I should just be thankful for my mom. (Which I am.)

I’m also very thankful for the pasta/meat/greens template we’re always talking about. That’s become my new favorite, easy dinner and always reminds me of my Kitchn friends.

norasingley.jpgNora Singley: Happy Thanksgiving! Wow, these are such great responses. I’m thankful for being part of this little group, reading what everyone is covering each week, and I’m grateful that there’s never a dearth of subjects to explore.

I suppose it’s this that I may be most thankful for—the magnitude of the food world and industry, that it’s never-ending in its production of subject matter. I know that all of us can relate to that sensation of barely finishing one meal and being unable to quell thoughts of what to start cooking next.

Food-wise, I’m grateful for salt, and its awakening abilities. I’m thankful for really good olive oil, too, partly for the same reason.

There’s SO much more but my family is calling me and I have to run….Happy Thanksgiving and good eats!

Chris Phillips: I was making this stew on Saturday and I was like — I love my Le Creuset and my stews. And I love how the pan is so worn out from me doing the browning, stirring, over and over. It was new like 8 years ago and I’m wearing and crazing the enamel all by myself. And I made myself stop and think: the farmer grew the carrot, the Whole Foods butcher cut the meat, some guy in France molded the pan. Some winery in Sonoma made the wine for the braise. I rarely get like that over cooking, but it just happened.

Faith Durand: This year I acquired a new kitchen, a new home, and a new marriage. I’m very grateful for a sweet, small, quirky kitchen to cook in, a partner who loves to make breakfast, and a new set of family members to cook for. Foodwise, I am grateful for the small community market literally half a block from my house, where I can find almost any bulk grain or spice I need. I am grateful for a new farmers market close by, and the chance to explore Ohio’s wonderful community of farmers. I am grateful for so many chances to cook, bake, and learn new things. I am very grateful for a trip to France and some mindblowing olive oil we discovered there (and are now hoarding).

On a bigger level, I am so grateful for the readers of The Kitchn. We don’t say this often enough, but we just love it when you write in and participate. This is a participatory website, one built around the community of readers and cooks. You know so much more than all of us, collectively, and we love to learn new things from you. We’re just starting the conversation; you’re a part of it too.

It completely makes my day when one of you writes in or leaves a comment saying “I tried this recipe and I loved it,” or “I tried this recipe and made a few improvements.” I am just so excited when someone says: “This inspired me to try something I’ve never tried before.” It really makes this job one of the best there is – I do believe. So thank you for reading, and thank you for being a part. Happy Thanksgiving – let’s remember to be grateful all year long.

(Top images: Toast by Flickr member FrancoisRoche; Onion photo: Flickr member J.C. Rojas, both licensed for use under Creative Commons. Coffeemaker image from Cuisinart.)