My name is Amanda, AKA The Maven of Mayhem, and I like food. I like food so much that it once tried to get a restraining order against me.
I have another blog - a personal, mostly parenting-based blog - that I love and yet can't bring myself to write in lately. I've given this a lot of thought and have concluded it's because I'm in a completely different place than when I started it over five years ago. Most notably, I'm far busier than I used to be. I was a stay-at-home-mom with three little gremlins and a daycare to run; I honestly didn't think it got more chaotic than that. But now I'm a part-time working-outside-the-home mom with three school-aged gremlins and a to-do list as long as the great wall of China.
Sadly, no one ever pays for guided tours of my to-do list.
Blogging has been one of those neglected activities I used to make a priority until all those other priorities of the loud/smelly variety got in the way. But I like to write, and I like to blog. Honouring the narcissistic exhibitionist in me is an important part of what makes me The Maven.
Thankfully, another big change just over a year ago may provide me with an answer to my conundrum.
(I just wanted to use "conundrum" in a sentence. It's a fancy word that makes me look smart, and saying it out loud as I'm reading the post back to myself during editing gives me an ego boost. Did I mention the narcissistic tendencies?)
In October 2010 I did something really stupid: in sheer desperation - and truly believing it would have no effect on my then failing health but why not give it a shot, anyway - I removed all gluten from my diet. And wouldn't you know it? That shit made a big difference. I never swore so much in my life when I realized I was gluten intolerant. Of all things to have to stop eating, it had to be the hardest to take out of my typical North American diet. Fuck. (See? Swearing.)
For those who don't know what this change entailed, it meant removing wheat, barley, rye and anything derived from those products from my diet - forever. Even a small amount makes me sick again. I have reluctantly joined the millions of people who are leading a gluten-free lifestyle.
Did you know I used to make bagels? I made really good bagels. I made bread, cinnamon buns, and pasta dishes that would make the angels weep. Gluten-based foods were a big part of my family's diet. Now I don't cook or bake with the stuff at all. I'm the only fully gluten-free family member - the rest will still nosh on crackers and other store-bought, wheat-filled goodies on occasion - but they only get the pre-made, boxed or bagged stuff so as to avoid cross-contamination. If your body has an auto-immune reaction to something, it's crucial that trace amounts don't invade your cooking surfaces, cutting boards, or other shared kitchen surfaces.
Anyway, all this to say that I'm now learning how to cook and bake all over again as a result of my allergy. It's been a steep learning curve. Add to this that I'm trying to severely cut back on sugar (another sensitivity of mine) and loosely follow a paleo diet for health purposes, and you'll see how my food life has turned into a form of culinary chaos.
And that's why I need this blog.
If there's one thing I'm doing more of these days, it's spending time in the kitchen. I cook from scratch out of necessity, and I need a place to record everything. I could do so privately by way of a quinoa flour-dusted binder on top of the microwave, but I don't want to. I scour the internet on a daily basis for tips and tricks from other folks, and I feel it's only right to give back by way of public display. Also, did I mention the exhibitionist tendencies?
This is not going to be your typical food blog. I am, at best, a terribly disorganized, risk-taking, mistake-making mess of a girl. All these, erm, qualities, will shine brightly in my posts. I will share my failures, I will proudly display my successes, I'll rant about how picky my kids are, I'll take realistic pictures of my creations, good and bad. I might throw some decent links in here from time to time to explain why I'm doing what I just did with that thing in that picture (that sounded so much dirtier than I intended it). The internet is all about the recycling of information, after all. I'll swear when swearing is due, and I'll likely make you giggle a few times because I like to cover up my insecurities with humour (learned through years of being the fat girl.)
I am, in every way, a (hot) mess in the kitchen. Hope you'll stop in, pull up a stool and watch the freak show. Please bring coffee and some money to throw in my therapy jar.