About my work: I’m a contemporary American author, food blogger and photographer. After graduating from the University of Michigan, I was employed with Hill and Knowlton in Manhattan, and worked as a technical writer and photographer on international accounts. In the eighties, I returned to Ann Arbor to open a specialty food store, The Back Alley Gourmet.
After 20 years of honing my skills as a business owner, cook, recipe writer, and cooking class instructor, I sold the store, which continues to thrive. After selling the business, I wrote under a weekly byline in the food section of Ann Arbor.com and MLive and took on the challenge of writing a real time food blog for AnnArbor.com for 365 consecutive days, including weekends and holidays. I launched this site in November of 2011.
I was also afforded time to release the characters that have been bottled up, pounding stakes into my dreams. Simmer and Smoke: A Southern Tale of Grit and Spice, will be published in 2015. I am honored to donate 10% of the profits from the sale of the book, including the Kindle edition, to the Southern Poverty Law Center. I am hard at work on my next novel, The Painted Dog Café.
My recipes are clearly-written and well-tested; the results of thirty years in my professional and home kitchens. For my store to be successful, I had to learn what my customers wanted to eat and to be consistent in my delivery. After working long hours, I had to pull it together to provide healthy food for my children, who didn’t necessarily want to eat adult food from my store.
The recipes in this blog are accessible and delicious. They are more than lists of ingredients and vague instructions; I share my thoughts on preparation and ideas on what can be made in advance. I categorize recipes according to my own, and my families, bias. The recipes are a suggestion; customize them to your palate. More about my philosophy on nutrition…
About my family: I raised two children, Greta, a custom furniture designer in Chicago, and a graduate of The Art Institute in Chicago. Check her out in her current show: Discovery Channel’s Epic Bar Builds.
My son, Zan, is a poet graduated from the University of Michigan. (Pictured left reading his poetry at Zingerman’s Camp Bacon.) He will be married in June to Lucy, co-owner of Rose’s Fine Foods, a pioneering eatery in Detroit. I’m now married to Richard; a research scientist quick to disect each molecule of every ingredient used in my recipes.
About my towns: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Birmingham, Alabama are my home towns, each citizenry shaped by their passion for food, which have inspired my cooking through the years.
Raised in Alabama, Farm-to-Table is no fad for me, but a way of living. My family still lives in the house where I was raised, a plume of smoke often curling from the chimney in the barbecue pit, where a pork butt smokes. The Birmingham Farmers Market – Pepper Place – is a favorite; I visit whenever I can.
I left Alabama to earn my BA from the University of Michigan. After college, I landed a job in New York. The bourgeoning new American food scene, however, captured my passions far more than my career in public relations. I returned to my college town, and opened the Back Alley Gourmet–been here ever since. Ann Arbor is a small city, but because of the University of Michigan and tech shops such as Google dotting the downtown landscape, it has an uptown, cosmopolitan flavor.
Ann Arbor is a mecca of international cuisine, and I’ve dozens of ethnic markets, farmer’s markets, the nationally acclaimed Zingerman’s, a Trader Joe’s and two Whole Foods in spitting distance of my kitchen. Several years back, Bon Appetit named Ann Arbor runner-up for the best small foodie town in American. In October, 2011, The New York Times described Ann Arbor as the ultimate college town, going into length about our food scene. The relationships I’ve built with the local fishmongers, butchers and bakers are priceless.
I would love to learn about you; your taste in food as well as literature. I welcome your comments!