I also want to know what people eat. No, really, I am genuinely interested. Tell me, if you could have anything to eat right now what would it be?…a plate of spaghetti and meatballs? I hear you. What’s your favourite toast topping?…raspberry jam, interesting. With butter? What did your grandmother make at Christmas gatherings?… jelly slice? Cool.
People and food make me happy. As do writing and cooking. It’s nice when you know what makes you happy, and you can create a life that is full of your particular brand of happy. Everyone has a different definition and realising this can take time. As a twenty-two-year-old you have four jobs: to stay up past 11pm, to drink cheap beer, to think pensively on all of life’s question and to figure out your happy. I failed at the first task, I only drank cheap beer with pizza or curry (though I could down cheap wine with embarrassing ease), and I only sometimes thought on life’s questions because honestly, how can I possibly ponder what happens when we die without going mad/stopping everything boring immediately/quit giving Optus my money because WHAT’S THE POINT?!! Instead I chose to debate in which country I would spend my summer-job cash, because travel made me happy. And I’d go and do just that, returning with a tan and one too many pairs of Thai fisherman pants (and I only bought one). That’s what you do in your twenties, you figure out what you want out of life. Or at least what you don’t want. You also learn that Thai fisherman pants don’t suit anyone.
After graduating from University I avoided getting a job that didn’t involve asking people how they wanted their coffee (which at that point felt far more natural to me than calculating feeding tube rates). Five months of skinny half strength soy flat whites later, I headed overseas with Ben and the two of us spent nine months backpacking across Europe and Asia. Travel = happy. Long train trips and airport floor slumber parties gave me plenty of time to think on what might be a more “grown up”, financially responsible form of happy. I battled with what I thought I should do with my degree versus what I really wanted to do. And then, fuck, did I even care because my brother just died and all I wanted to do was eat pasta and swim along the Sicilian coast. I told everyone that during our trip I was going to have an epiphany in Greece…I just felt it. That didn’t happen, though I did make good friends with our neighbourhood gyros maker in Athens. I’d bring him grapes and he’d give us super cheap gyros, which was life changing in its own right. And I realised things about myself on that trip. I learnt that I really did want to work with people and food. My parents had great flexibility in working for themselves and I knew wanted that too, but in what capacity I wasn’t sure. I don’t think I was quite aware of how deeply I adored food and what it would come to represent in my life until I was well into my Nutrition and Dietetics degree. I mean, it’s obvious now, I know. I have four years of food blogging as proof (and don’t even get me started on my instagram feed, pictures of food make me happier than they perhaps should). Could I combine lofty dreams with realism? Because beyond this cooking, sharing, reading, writing and eating business, I love helping people enjoy food from a health perspective. And by health I mainly mean mental health, because that’s where it starts. It hasn’t been until this past year that I’ve learnt how to merge my two loves and call it “work”. That’s a pretty cool realisation. Almost as life changing as gyros with charcoal rotisserie chicken, hot chips and mustard aioli.
After that 2009 trip paying rent became once again something to consider so I negotiated a “real” job (that payed actual money Optus would accept) while working to make my dream job, the one where I legitimately ask what people eat for breakfast, a reality. It didn’t come quickly or clearly, it took compromise and trying not to rush to the now because along the way you learn and grow and that is important. But it did come. In fact, lately I’ve realised that it’s here… those years as a studious youth who saved like a demon paid off. And while I am acutely aware that I owe much of my success (or rather, the ease of my success) to the stability of a loving home and a good education (in other words, my parents), I also have myself to thank. When I was younger and contemplating musical note tattoos in honour of my brother, I articulated my personal definition of happiness and strove towards that. Go get it, girl. I’m proud of myself.
Why am I rambling on in this self-indulgent manner? I just feel like reflecting. I’m 29 now and when I look around I see and feel a lot of happiness. My life is full of people and food and writing and cooking. And I’m thankful. It’s not all honey pies, of course. Life isn’t always sweet, it’s sometimes heartbreaking, often scary and every now and then I burn my pie crust. I still need to pay Optus and some weeks I don’t see enough clients and we eat chickpeas for dinner three nights in a row. But we’re here and for not very long, so we live out our happy as earnestly as possible, with people who listen and love, who give and challenge and push us to uncompromisingly live our happy. For them, for the gyros-making gurus and loved-ones who fill your face with smiles, I am thankful. For them, I make pie.
The picture below is my piled high plate from Friendsgiving this year at Yasmeen and Jase’s house. The room was filled with beautiful people doing crazy cool things in this world. One talent we all shared? Eating.
Yasmeen and her husband, Jase, make a ridiculously perfect turkey. Their technique is a mix of instinct and butter. You can read Yasmeen’s tips here (which also involves regular basting), plus more on her recent post about this year’s Friendsgiving. Our hosts also made cornbread (seriously) and stuffing with chestnuts (!!), as well as a boozy cranberry sauce and her family’s sweet potatoes. Guests brought more stuffing and other delights like scalloped potatoes and zucchini fritters. And then there was pumpkin pie (thank goodness), a divine fruit salad with dates and some cheese and chocolate that deserved much more attention than my measly nibble (it was the end of the night and despite wearing a loose-fitting dress I. Was. Done.).
I brought a salty honey pie, my favourite “sure thing” pie. I adore fruit-filled crusts, but find my results to be anything but consistent. Fruit fluctuates whereas honey is reliable. Plus, this recipe felt “on theme” and decidedly fall-esque for this autumn-like, spring Saturday. I’ve spoken of this pie before (here and here) but thought I might share the recipe again, with an updated picture and reaffirmed applause. This time around, Joy helped me get those crimped edges just right. Please, make this pie. And thank you for reading. I’m thankful for you too.
Sorry for swearing, Nana.
Salty Honey Pie (recipe link).