den of vipers

I entered college with a pretty firm idea of what I planned to do there: I would major in English and International Studies, and then go into government, making change from the inside. Needless to say, things did not exactly go according to plan.

Within a few days of my first semester, before the first class had even met, I dropped my International Relations course because the book was too expensive. I discovered the Buddhist meditation group, met Eric, and the following semester I took a class he taught called "Oracles, Augury, & Divination." There was no turning back after that: I was a Religious Studies major. It wormed its way into my heart quickly; looking back, it makes perfect sense, since I was the sort of child who read encyclopedia entries on different religions for fun. (True story.)

At the end of every semester, there was a department party. I don't remember a lot of details - like the first one I went to, for instance - but what shines through is a feeling of belonging, of togetherness, of home. I remember attending one at John's house before he retired, driving with two dear friends only a few weeks after I had been dumped. I remember winter parties at Eric's on-campus faculty housing, hot mulled cider ladled out into mugs. I remember being a senior myself and finding myself surprised that I had to make a speech with the other seniors. I remember crying at the end of my speech, and getting blamed later for setting the trend.

However, there was also the baked brie. I can't tell you how popular this stuff was, except to say that when the dish was brought out, we all promptly stopped socializing with each other to shove our faces full of this cheese. Suddenly we would be ravenous.

I made this for one of Josh's potlucks, before this cooking thing really sunk in - though a step up from all the college potlucks I went to, where my offering was usually boxed macaroni and cheese (I know, I know). The technique works well with camembert, too; we used butter and almonds for that one.

Baked Brie á l'Eric

Best served with a crusty bread, a baguette. I'm not sure if this is exactly how it was made for those department parties, but it's still pretty tasty. Also, my pictures are a little deceiving - I didn't quite get all the rind off, because I was in a hurry. It's not a big deal, since the rind is edible, but still. Luckily this - like most everything else I post here - is pretty easy.

wheel of brie
maple syrup

Pre-heat oven to 325°F. Scrape the rind off the top of the brie and cut a cross (or an X, or a T, you get the idea) into it. Pour maple syrup on it. Bake for approximately 10 minutes.


  1. What a simple, but lovely idea! I have often enjoyed honey with cheese but hadn't thought of maple syrup. Looks comforting and perfect for a chilly evening.

  2. Tara, thanks so much for stopping by! Yeah, this is great for cool nights, especially with some hot cider.