For Ashley Wegmann, food is about fuel, but it is also about community. A few times a month, she joins a group of Atlanta Ballet dancers for a rotating party they call "Family Dinner."
"Someone hosts, and we all help prep and cook while snacking and drinking wine," says Wegmann. The group also hosts a big Thanksgiving dinner each year since the dancers are always busy rehearsing The Nutcracker, and most don't live close enough to family to travel home.
"It's a huge potluck with all the traditional dishes and some international ones from our foreign dancers." The home-cooking culture is so strong at Atlanta Ballet that the dancers have created a cookbook called Bravo, which supports the Dancers' Resource Fund for career transitions.
Wegmann in Don Quixote. Photo by Charlie McCullers, courtesy Atlanta Ballet
Wegmann's specialty? Homemade chocolate chip cookies, adapted from a recipe in The New York Times. "I make them for most of our big get-togethers and special occasions," she says. "People are always requesting them."
She first started baking back in high school while growing up in New Jersey. The hobby gave her a love for creating homemade gifts. Today, one of her favorite foods to gift is infused honey. "It is so versatile," says Wegmann, who adorns her petite and festive mason jars with personal tags and string. "And it lasts a lot longer than, say, a loaf or a poppyseed cake."
How to Make Ashley Wegmann's Infused Honey:
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- 8 oz. of raw honey (preferably locally sourced)
- 1–2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
- 5–7 cardamom pods, cracked open so seeds are exposed
Add cinnamon and cardamom to a half-pint mason jar, then fill with honey. Cover and let sit, in a sunny spot if possible, for two to four weeks.
The longer the honey steeps, the stronger the flavor. "I try to let the honey infuse for about a month before I gift it," says Wegmann. "I've also made other varieties with lavender and rosemary."