Betty Teller is an intrepid food lover and home cook who tries not to take food or life too seriously. Laugh with her about kitchen catastrophes, her endless battle with the oak tree in her yard and whatever else strikes her funny in her column amuse-bouche, appearing biweekly on the Food Page.

Even for me, this has been a crazy year of traveling. I have to admit that after returning last week from my fifth continent of the year — a journey to Singapore, Cambodia and Vietnam — I am tired, and very, very happy to be home.

They say we eat with our eyes as much as with our mouths. But I’m beginning to wonder if the balance has tipped. Do we even care what food tastes like anymore, as long as it looks good in a picture? In any restaurant, especially the fancy, pricey ones, you’ll see people’s dinners congealing …

Wow. It is so great to be home, with a cellphone, internet access, my own cooking, a good mattress, the ability to turn off the lights, an absence of lesbian love triangles, friends who aren’t trying to shank me and no evil guards watching my every move.

I took another brief trip this month, back East to the Delaware and Maryland shore, to join my Washington, D.C.-area buddies for crabs, Philly cheesesteaks, poker, Scrabble and hanging out at the beach. I had a fabulous time catching up with the sort of old friends where the conversation pic…

Even though I gave away and reused as much as I could, my kitchen renovation a year and a half ago generated a dumpster of construction waste and I still feel guilty about it. I have been trying to atone ever since by adding as little more to landfill as possible.

Napa these days is becoming more and more of a tourist town. Some folks complain about that, but I like it. I enjoy sharing our beautiful valley with visitors and getting a glimpse of it through their eyes.

Our visit to Morocco happened to coincide with Ramadan, as well as with a weather event known as “chergui,” which is roughly equivalent to a Santa Ana or a sirocco — a very dry desert wind that brings scorching temperatures.

As you know, I make the sacrifice and travel only for your sake, to have something to write about other than my oak tree, Woody. In the normal course of things, I would be milking my last trip for all it’s worth, continuing to prattle on about my trip to Chile and telling you about the local…

I know this is on the food page and I should be telling you about what I ate on my trip to Chile (a lot of fish, if you must know, not surprising in a country with 2,600 miles of coastline). But you’ll have to forgive me if this column is more of a travelogue. The food on the trip was great,…

There are people in this world who spend months planning their international travel, scouring guidebooks, consulting websites, poring over maps, gathering information and envisioning their trip in every detail. They are organized, well-prepared and make the most of their time. I admire peopl…

As I’m writing this, it is yet another dreary, rainy day in a winter full of them. But I’m thrilled to say that by the time you are reading this next week, it will be summer and sunny.

I’m a full-grown adult, at least in the eyes of the world. Despite what our president thinks, the cashier at the grocery store never asks me for an ID, not even when I buy wine. It has been years since I was carded; the last time I can remember was at an event where it was clearly a no-excep…

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Oh ugh. It’s January, the self-improvement month. The month when everybody joins a gym (and even goes to it for a few weeks). The month when we look down, see waistlines that somehow expanded dramatically during last month’s eggnog and cookie onslaught and collectively vow to go on a diet.

When I was a kid, back in the pre-digital age, our local newspaper carried a syndicated column called Hints from Heloise. When I looked it up, I discovered that it is still running today, though written for the past 40 or 50 years by Heloise’s daughter.

I’ve figured out why Halloween candy goes on sale so many weeks in advance. The marketing wizards know that once we buy it and get it home, we’ll consume half of it before the kids ever show up, thus ensuring a return trip to buy even more.

Boy, am I glad I didn’t have a slingshot on hand and didn’t try to use one to drive away the giant swarm of crows that I wrote about last time. In case you were thinking of getting one yourself, let me warn you, don’t even think about it.

Have you ever wondered, as I have, why they (the mysterious “they” who decide these things) don’t just describe all groups of birds as being in flocks? Instead, they get all flowery and say “a gaggle of geese,” “a parliament of owls,” “a stand of flamingos” and an “ostentation of peacocks.”

The out-of-town travel that I mentioned in my last column was a trip back east for a visit to the beach with my dear old friends in the Washington, D.C., area. This is a nearly annual event that I join as often as I can.

I confess I didn’t do a lot of advance planning or research for my recent railroad trip across Russia (about which, I promise, this will be the last column). I pretty much fell for the exotic phrase “Trans-Siberian Railroad” and signed on without knowing a lot more. The whole itinerary was a…

I am so disappointed in Merriam-Webster. The folks who compile that dictionary clearly have no culinary flair, no sense of adventure and no real interest in finding nuance and complexity in the words they define.

Since the advent of texting, new abbreviations like LOL, ROFL, IMHO and TTYL have all worked their way into my brain so that I no longer have to scurry to Google to figure out what someone is trying to say.

I’ve been back for more than a week from my epic trip on the Trans-Siberian Railroad and beyond, but my brain is still somewhere over the Pacific and my sleep schedule resembles that of a colicky infant. Traveling to three countries in less than three weeks will do that to you.

I have been trying to concentrate today, but I keep getting distracted. Every 10 minutes, I am compelled to stop what I am doing and open the drawer where I keep my passport to make sure it is still there, safe and sound.

I haven’t had my genome mapped, but if I ever do, I am pretty sure the scientists will isolate a genetic marker that predisposes me to travel.Perhaps it came down to me from my forebears or both sides, who must have had it in spades — after all, they were immigrants at a time when boarding a…

Someone should write me up in a study for the Journal of the America Medical Association. Scientists need to know about me. They should be observing me. I’m a medical phenomenon.

Stuff is a plague in my life. It crowds my closets, fills my shelves, overflows its boundaries and in general clutters up my space and my brain. I have made it my mission this year to get rid of as much of it as possible.

I said a final goodbye to an old friend today, but I find I’m not feeling as sad as I thought I would. It’s a loss, but one we both knew was coming. I’ve done my best to ease her transition, and I’m hopeful that she will be moving on to a better place.

When I renovated the back part of my house a decade ago, I was left with piles of random construction debris. In fact, that is a lot of what was still cluttering up the shed until I finally cleaned it out this fall.

Now why did I have to go ahead and make that New Year’s resolution that I would stop talking about my kitchen renovation all the time? If I hadn’t done that, I could be telling you about how awesomely great it is turning out.

‘Tis the season. Can you feel it in the air? At my house, it’s beginning to feel a lot like a joyous gift-giving December holiday, which in my case is Hanukkah.

I have always feared that I suffer from OCD. Among other symptoms, I hate loose ends, fixate on details, get way too much satisfaction from raking leaves and (as you know) am obsessed with the idea of cleaning my drawers. On the other hand, I am perfectly capable of overlooking the mail that…

Have you ever looked around your house and wondered, how did I get all this stuff? I do. I feel weighed down by the possessions that have accumulated over the years.

Like most people in Napa, I spent a big chunk of the last two weeks in a state of suspended animation. Even though my house was not near the fires and I was in the lucky part of town that retained power and even cellphone coverage, all I could do for days was pace around the house and obsess…

By now, you are probably beginning to wonder if I plan to rhapsodize about every bite I ate during my recent visit to Peru. It’s tempting (and I did warn you I was going to milk the trip for every column inch I could get out of it), but I do need to move this along or we’ll still be in South…

Here’s the annoying thing about this golden age of instantaneous communication and reality TV: Even when you are thousands of miles from home and being led by a knowledgeable local guide to a less-than-promising-looking eight-table restaurant in the chef’s slightly rundown house that is only…

When I visited Lima on a brief business trip in the 1980s, I was not impressed. It was a sprawling mess of a city under perpetually gray skies. I described it as being a lot like Los Angeles — if you picked L.A. up, shook out all the money and swept it away, then dropped it back down.

For some reason, people think of me as energetic. I pretend that is so, but inside, I know the truth: I’m a sloth.

As I write this, I’m getting ready to head out of town for a short trip. Since I’ll be gone nearly a week, I have been cleaning out the fridge in anticipation.

In recent years, I have developed some moderately expensive food purchasing habits.

I am happy to report that my personal kitchen “repeal and replace” project has been going far better than the Senate’s. In fact, after an intense negotiating session with the designer last week, I’m ready to put it to a vote. And since I only have to woo one legislator (me), I think it is a …

I’m a big fan of the “Dr. Who” TV series, but if the Doctor showed up and offered to whisk me off in his TARDIS time machine, I’d probably murmur a polite “no thank you” and send him on his way. I don’t envy his constantly imperiled companions.

I had planned to use this column to give you a report on my bagel-making experiments. But if I did, it would be a pretty short article. Here’s the update:

As you deduced from my last column, I am a world-class procrastinator. Thus, you can understand my having put off buying a new computer for eight years (which is about 110 in tech years).

My dear readers, I owe you an enormous debt of gratitude. You would not believe how much I have gotten done today, and it is all because of you and your expectations that a new column will arrive to amuse you on Tuesday.

Nothing has the potential to make one aware of the changes that take place during the passage of time more than celebrating yet another birthday, as I did this month.

One of the great things about being such a highly respected food writer is that I get offered so many fabulous food-related opportunities.

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