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  • Andrea Durnell

It isn't about grand things. It is about making things grand.

I no longer have the time, or necessarily the means, to dash off to Africa for a few years, zip to Europe for few weeks of galavanting, or meander down to Guatemala with a backpack for a month of lingering in small villages and countryside. (My recent trip home to Montana was a very welcome sideline, though) I am so glad I did those things and I still long for adventure. And, I will probably do these things once again.

In my current life, I set myself up for daily adventures with the mundane, the quotidian pursuits I tick off my lists day after day. Walking the dog, baking in the kitchen, motoring around Pennsylvania and Ohio in search of antiques, vintage fabric, and wool roving or digging through my cupboards for forgotten dishes and glassware to elevate the leftovers as they get pulled out of the refrigerator. (Don't get me started about what I think of paper plates and plastic cups.)

Of course, December is about Christmas in our household and, being that I take this month off every year to give my fingers and mind a much-needed respite from the long days in the studio beginning in January, I do a lot of baking, we eat a lot of good food, and pull out quite a bit of wine and spirits to punctuate our regular mealtime festivities. The fireplace is constantly crackling as a backdrop.

Our menus are eclectic and hail from all parts of the world given the number of countries my husband, daughter and I have lived in and traveled to. We bring a little piece of each place home with us in the form of favorite foods we found there. We painstakingly hunt down the spices and other ingredients necessary to magically transport ourselves back to where they came from in an effort to share it amongst ourselves. (I have even brought back yeast and flour from more than one country--yes, that makes a difference in the flavors!) Some might suggest we spend a bit too much time appreciating food and not enough time on anything else and I guess that is open to debate. It is hard to deny that we spend a lot of time considering our meals and the components that go into them. Of course we could substitute the closest local ingredients, but the homogenized results would not have that grand effect of magically transporting our tastebuds back to where they first experienced that flavor.

If I have ever given you a recipe, be forewarned! Should you follow it to a "T" based on what is written on the card, you might find it lacking. The magic is not included! I expect you to find and add your own. I rarely actually follow a recipe and almost never do it the same way twice other than for yeast breads which have a lot of ritual and order for mysteriously making the same few ingredients look and taste very differently depending on when and how they are combined.

When things come out of the oven and make their way to the table I like to find their assets. Is something steaming and glistening? Would their colors look great on redware or does it call for stoneware, pewter or glass? It might just be some boiled potatoes, but with a dash around my yard to find some parsley or rosemary and a drizzle of olive oil all set up in a vintage soup terrine, it becomes a grand pot of potatoes! It tastes so much better than just plunking them on a plate.

As I go about this month of applying to next fall's shows, gathering all the things I will need for my long 9 months of making ahead, I want to make sure that not a single day goes by without a small adventure. I don't need grand, I just need to make it grand. So, if you see on facebook that I have posted a photo of the sun hitting my orange juice just right through the kitchen window in some old crystal blast from the past, THAT'S WHY!

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