Everybody Has A Foodprint

Food is one of those things you either care about or don’t. I’ll never understand those friends of mine who can go to a new city and not be constantly thinking about where we’ll eat dinner. Living out in the epicenter of nowhere like I do, I’m all about experiencing the edible offerings of my travels. When I’m in DC, I want something like Ted’s Bulletin, We The Pizza, or a soft pretzel vendor on the street. I don’t want to find the closest Chipotle, much as I love Chipotle. And don’t get me started on the sinking feeling that comes the second I realize I’m road-tripping with someone who doesn’t stop for snacks. Forget the bathroom: I want to know why we aren’t getting off this exit populated with exciting lunch options.

I consider food to be a kind of gift. If  I’ve prepared a meal for you, I’ve thought this through. I’ve done my best to remember the things you’ve told me you hate, the things you’re allergic to, the components of a good meal, and which tablecloth doesn’t have wax stuck to it from my family’s Valentine’s Day breakfast. Then I’ve cooked the meal and done my best to juggle the various pieces so they all come out at the same time and the oven fries haven’t wilted while I was mashing cloves of garlic for the salad dressing. And if I’m successful with all this, I hope you realize what a miracle it is that I managed to stay in the kitchen when really all I wanted to do was drink lemonade with you and eat guacamole straight from the bowl, because I love you like that.

My food is my signature. It’s uniquely mine, like my fingerprint. The recipes that have become family canon have memories sauteed into their fiber. Sometimes literally (my recipe for carrot cake is almost unreadable because of the film of dried cream cheese frosting over the plastic cover. Wipe it? Never.). New adventures in food come with memories of their own: where I was when I got the idea, or what Google search spawned this new mania with olive tapenade. Just like I can trace my family back to two Heffington brothers who came over from England way back when (whose noses we perpetuate to this day), I can trace the seasons of my life through the food I cook. No one else’s foodprint  is exactly like mine. One of the reasons I love to cook with friends is to learn their signatures. Sometimes the findings surprise me, like the fact that Katie, (a glamorous politico who taught me everything I know about designer clothing) cooks Southern comfort food. Or that Jill’s three favorite things to cook for friends are tacos, muffins, and pie. Possibly on the same plate.

We formed a text group, we three (plus another friend): The Sassyfrass Foodiehood, we called it. I’m the only one in the group who actually knows all three of the other members, but we were able to bond from afar over a mutual love of food: a New Yorker-turned-Virginian, an Oklahoman-turned-Virginian, a straight up Virginian (no chaser), and a tried and true Georgia native.  I love food. I love people. I love how the two combine our differences under a common roof of flavor. So what does my foodprint look like?

Healthy (mostly).

I have a stock of recipes that will always be in circulation but I also enjoy trying something completely new. I like to use as many colors as possible and making a plate “look pretty” is a goal. My cooking adventures are often inspired by something I’ve written, watched, read, or experienced recently. Hence my foray into homemade tikka masala chicken after watching The Hundred-Foot Journey or my need to make chevre right now after having read up on cheese cultures. I’m the girl who’s all about wheat-free and natural alternative sweeteners till the sourdough bread comes out. Then we’re toast and tea and butter till kingdom come. I swear there is a right and wrong way to make toast. I’ll blog about it sometime. I like to play with new flavors, put coffee in my chili, and throw thyme and honey together in a mustard sauce because bees like both. It’s the Rachel Method, where logic counts very little in your final score.  I take recipes, substitute half the ingredients and go by instinct much of the time. I cheat on chilling times and forcibly rise dough in a warm oven. Basically, I take polite liberties with my cooking to let my personality come through the flavors and presentation. Cooking should be fun, not a stress. Cooking should be a total blast. The recipes I share on this blog are the ridges and lines, swirls and dips in my unique foodprint, and I thank you truly for letting me share them with you. Bread is meant for breaking together, food is made for sharing...so I want to know now: what’s your foodprint?

(All food pictures taken on my recent trip to Romania. If I lived there, I would officially be enormous.)

Welcome to Lipstick & Gelato!

I find blank spaces addicting. No, not the Taylor Swift song (although, hey, gotta love those Starbucks-lovers!), but the idea of a fresh start, completely unhindered by past mistakes. 

I’ve blogged for years.

Okay. Let’s be honest. By “blogged” I mean “stumbled around the internet spewing words and ideas" since the age of fifteen or sixteen. I posted poorly-photographed recipe posts and stories, and argued about the Civil War, participated in senseless tags and tacky blog awards, kept track of family events, too much randomness, and tried to pin down deep thoughts. Eventually I grew up and began taking my fiction-writing seriously enough to move all things pertaining to that into its own blogspace: The Inkpen Authoress. When I graduated highschool I discarded the old patchwork affair I had called a blog and worked on a new one...or two. Maybe even three. Let’s call my young blogging style...unfocused.

I don’t mean to give the impression that everything I wrote in those years of blogging was terrible. Some posts were actually pretty great and if the others lacked in good sense, at least they helped me make sense of those transitional years between being a girl and becoming a woman.
But of course growing into my adult self brought fresh interests and dreams...among these: having a new brand and new blog: something that brought some of my nicer passions (food, fashion, art, people) under one pretty roof: a giant celebration of the joy to be found in everyday life.
For a long time I told myself, “I’ll wait till I get married and have my own home. Don’t you know how hard it would be to have a food blog with ten people in the house?”
“You can’t run a style blog off mirror selfies. You’d have to find someone to take pictures.”
“Your art isn’t good enough. You aren’t Inslee Haynes for pete’s sake!”
But here’s the thing: I’m not the hugest fan of waiting for perfect conditions to chase dreams.I live at home with my parents and siblings. I write novels to fill my hunger for words and work as a nanny (which pays more) to fill my hunger for other things. My life has this way of seeming to change not at all while changing all at once. God is really good with paradoxes and likes to surprise me.
Conditions in my life have rarely been “perfect” when I’ve reached for dreams. Why did I let that hold me back in this case? The longer I thought about it, the more I realized how silly it was to wait for what I call “the all-elusive Someday” to work towards this goal of being a real blogger. So I went to Walmart after the worst day of work ever (tremble, peasants) and bought a sketchbook and G2 pens. In that sketchbook I started work with a logo and a blog name and a defiant little piece of art that wasn’t Inslee Haynes, but was very much Rachel Heffington. And in that sketchbook was born the outline of this blog, Lipstick & Gelato.

What You’ll Find On The Blog

Recipes: In the Kitchen, on the Gelato side of the house I share all things edible: recipes new and old, hole-in-the-wall spots for a fine meal, foodie friendships, cooking challenges and more.

Fashion: In the Closet (or Lipstick gallery) I talk about style, beauty, dressing my ‘curvy’ body gracefully, and all things related to looking your best. Some of my inspirations style-wise are Audrey Hepburn, Amy Adams, Tanesha Awasthi, Kate Spade, Zooey Deschanel, classic and vintage silhouettes, and rich colors.

Art: My art is...all around! From fashion-sketches to food illustration, to quick sketches done on the sly under the nose of a snobby Starbucks barista, I throw my art into this blog the way I fit it into daily life: here and there, in all the nooks and crannies.

Beautiful Messes: Just a fair warning.

Thanks for dropping by. You’re welcome here! We talk real bodies and real people, real food and real stories. We talk lipstick and gelato and fish tacos and high heels. Basically, we talk life and how to live it creatively. Sound like something you’d enjoy? Welcome to the Lipstick & Gelato family. Sit down and forget about a working on your thigh gap. We celebrate more important things.

       Rachel Heffington