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The Blog: Vermont-based Carey Nershi shares her passion for roasting vegetables, making sweets and mixing cocktails on her blog, Reclaiming Provincial.
You create a lot of great drink recipes. Any ingredients you're particularly obsessed with right now?
My interests tend to be pretty seasonal, so I'm very excited to be flush with blood oranges and Meyer lemons at the moment. Also, beets. Beet juice plus lemon plus aperitifs was a fixation I developed last winter, and I've been experimenting with it again this year. In the same vein, I've had two rotating seasonal obsessions for the past several years: Making bitters in the winter and shrubs in the summer. Thoughts of fir and smoky cardamom bitters have been forming in my mind over the past couple of months, and I'm really looking forward to giving both of those a go.
Your Angostura sugar cubes are brilliant. What are some of your other favorite food gifts, particularly for Valentine's Day?
Thanks! On the whole, I'm a big fan of homemade gifts that stand the test of time. Baked goods are great and all, but their yumminess deteriorates quickly. Things like homemade candy or booze (home brew, liquor infusions, etc.) are awesome—they're unique, impressive, and you won't feel rushed to make your way through them. Also: ice cream, condiments...there are so many possibilities! (Real talk: If someone gave me homemade cheese and mustard [grainy, please!] for Valentine's Day, I'd start planning our wedding. But that's just me.)
What do you love about roasting? I see it a lot on the blog.
Ha! I'm a little obsessed, aren't I? My mom, while a wonderful cook and baker, never took much to roasting. (I think a lot of that was due to the fact that both my parents have been pescatarians since long before I was born. Consequently, our oven didn't handle much in the way of meat and veggie dishes. Just lots of muffins and cookies.) I still remember the first time I had a roasted vegetable. It was asparagus that a friend had prepared, and it was browned, slightly crispy, and so darn delicious. I didn't understand how it was possible, so I asked. After that, I was hooked. The high heat of roasting achieves things that aren't possible (or as easy to attain) through stovetop cooking. Sugars caramelize and flavors become more concentrated and complex. Edges brown and crisp. (Crispy, slightly burnt edges are one of my favorite things.) And it totally appeals to my lazy side. Just cut up a bunch of stuff, season it, stick it in the oven and check on it now and then. Easy as can be.
You say in your bio that you don't like onion. It's such a pervasive ingredient—how do you deal with it at restaurants? In your own cooking?
Ugh, my onion phobia. It's debilitating! I've been actively trying to work past it recently by slowly incorporating it into my own cooking. I've come to recognize onion as such an essential flavor component of many things, so pureeing of sauces and soups or very fine mincing for dishes takes care of the textural issues that I have with it. I also discovered that I might actually like raw red onion in small doses, which is huge for me. There's hope!
What are a few of your favorite blogs right now?
Oh, my goodness, there are so many amazing blogs out there. This list goes beyond a few, but the blogs that constantly inspire me and are run by some talented ladies that I'm proud to call friends are Adventures in Cooking, The Bojon Gourmet, My Name Is Yeh, Princess Tofu, Savory Simple, The Tart Tart, Top With Cinnamon, Two Red Bowls, The Vanilla Bean Blog, Vegetarian Ventures and Will Cook For Friends.
Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and cofounder of Stewart & Claire, an all-natural line of lip balms made in Brooklyn.