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Now that I've eaten my weight in berries this season, I've been looking for ways to use them in cooking projects. Of course, there are lots of creative ideas floating around out there, but sometimes simplicity and familiarity are in order--the sort of lackadaisical recipes that are perfect for summer vacations and lazy mornings.

Like most other avid cooks, I develop food crushes.

For a while, I put toasted cumin in almost everything. I kept a small bowl of it by the stove and would add a pinch here and a pinch there. It was a new (to me) flavor sensation, and I was testing its limits.

One thing about fruit: you never know exactly what you're going to get.

Back in high school, I ate no fewer than one orange a day. I liked oranges, as you might imagine, but under the guise of eating a snack, I was studiously applying my own less-than-rigid, pseudoscientific theories as to how to select a good orange.

I first made kombucha out of frugality. I was a student at the time and making $8 an hour on a goat farm. Fancy lacto-fermented beverages simply weren't in my budget. I scoured Craigslist for a kombucha mother (which now seems somewhat sketchy, I'll admit) and started making my own.

98-degree heat reminds us how unappealing turning on the stove can be… in an apartment… with no air conditioning. We can’t complain too much, since we’re on a low floor and do not get very much direct sunlight, but consumer-grade fans can only take you so far. Still, our current situation is much better than the poorly-ventilated apartment kitchen-closets of yesteryear.

There are plenty of food trends that I just can't get on board with. This is why you may never see me post a recipe for cupcakes on this site. It's not that a cupcake can't taste good. It's a matter of principle. I just don't want to perpetuate a really overdone, tired trend.

The first summer I worked on a goat farm was a scorcher.

North Carolina summers tend towards the hot and humid, but this summer in particular was punishing. The days were unrelenting and bright, sticky in that special way the South and Midwest are.  It gets humid enough so that sweating doesn't do you any good--nothing evaporates and you just end up being hot and wet.

As far as "authenticity" in food goes, I'm not much of a stickler.

There's a lot of bickering in the food community about what is authentic and what isn't when it comes to certain dishes. I personally dislike the term "authentic" to begin with. Authentic to whom? I think "typical" is a better word to use. As in, "typical southern cornbread does not contain sugar."

I am at my best in the kitchen when the fridge is near-empty and the pantry almost bare. It's like my own personal version of Chopped, except with no time limit and more pedestrian ingredients (and the judges tend to be a lot more forgiving!).