On Food and Bonding

As a person who sometimes suffers from severe social anxiety, I often have a hard time finding common ground with people. I’m the awkward person off in the corner, biting the inside of my mouth and trying to find an in into the conversation. I don’t have that carefree, confident ease that some have with others. I’m quite shy, and often come off as intimidating to others, or so I’m told. What is seen as a smug superiority is actually quiet, crippling insecurity.

Because of this social handicap, when I do find a common ground with someone, I tend to cling to it. I nurture the common interests I share with others, eager to revel in a shared passion and strengthen a friendship. Food is one of those things that is universally loved, and I’ve often formed intense friendships and bonds with people over a shared love of food, cooking, recipes and nutrition.

Some of my fondest memories are of cooking and eating with friends and family. From my earliest memories of my Mom’s homemade blueberry muffins; to my Grandma’s cheese biscuits and vegetable soup, brimming with okra and beans from her own garden; countless plates of fajitas, sweet potato sushi, and bowls of vegetarian pho at lunch with my Dad; the first time I tried kumara and feijoas in New Zealand; the memory of the sugary, crunchy pastel buttermints melting into the creamy white icing of my wedding cake – a flavor I’d give anything to taste again; the first bite of food I had after having my son, and the knowledge that plain old Velveeta macaroni and cheese will never taste as good again; trying out recipes with friends, and leaning over the island in my kitchen, enjoying a glass of wine and the amazing grilled food, dips, desserts and salads that we whip up together, enjoying one another’s company. I love food, I love to cook, and I love sharing those passions with others. There are few things that make me feel more comfortable than standing in my kitchen, chopping vegetables, adding a dash of this or that, and mastering a recipe that becomes a family favorite. I read cookbooks for fun, and I seek out friends with recipes they may enjoy. I show my love for others with food.

A shared love of food can be a bonding experience. After all, food isn’t just an enjoyable experience – it’s nourishment, necessary to our very life. It provides us with energy and sustenance, and sharing it with those you love can undoubtedly strengthen your relationship. I feel very blessed to have friends and family in my life who enjoy the art of cooking, who eat with relish, who share the same values and interests as I do in regards to nutrition, preparing food, and eating.

To food love!

Almond, Apple and Cherry Cobbler

2 large Macintosh apples
1 large Granny Smith apple
1/2 cup sweet red cherries, pitted and chopped
2 tbsp raw honey (or agave nectar, if you’re vegan)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp raw sugar
1 tbsp vanilla nut extract
2 tbsp amaretto
1/4 stick butter (or coconut oil/butter, if you’re vegan)
1/2 cup almond meal
splash water

Core apples and cut into medium sized wedges. In a large mixing bowl, mix together apple wedges and cherries. To the fruit, add all wet ingredients and the sugar. Stir to combine. Allow to sit for a few minutes so the lemon juice and amaretto can work its magic with the cherries and apples, allowing the juices to render. Add a tsp or so of the cinnamon; more if you prefer it to have a stronger flavor.

In a small bowl, combine the almond meal with the butter. Using a spoon, break the butter into the almond meal, until the mixture forms small, pea sized pieces in the almond meal and the entire mixture is coarse and incorporated.

In a medium sized, ungreased baking dish, add the fruit mixture, spreading out evenly. Drop the almond and butter mixture over the top in clumps, making sure the majority of the cobbler is covered. Spread out with a spoon to make it more even.

Bake at 350 degrees for around 35-40 minutes or until the almond crust is slightly brown, and the inside filling gooey and bubbling. Serve warm.

By Teri Drake-Floyd

An almost 30-something synestheste, foodie, genealogist and all around proud geek.

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