“Eat anything you want — just as long as you’re willing to cook it yourself.”
(Harry Balzer, as quoted by Michael Pollan)
When it comes to food and my approach to living a healthy and happy life, food writer and idol of mine, Michael Pollan, described it best: enjoy all forms of food, but cook them in your own kitchen and know where the ingredients come from. Food, even in its most simple state, tastes far more delicious when seasonally picked, grown in your own backyard or purchased at your local farmer’s market or the grocery store around the corner, and prepared in your own oven. I love food: cookies to top off a meal, cocktails to celebrate an occasion, French toast in the morning. And one way I’ve found I can “have my cake and eat it too” is to prepare as much of the food I enjoy as possible. The Farmstead Table is a testament to that philosophy. Delicious, healthy, even indulgent at times, recipes prepared in the comfort of your own home.
I began cooking when I was six years old. When other kids were out riding their bicycles or playing video games, I was in the kitchen learning to make pâte à choux and homemade butternut squash agnolotti with guanciale. That passion followed me throughout my 15+ years as a professional chef. After culinary school, I worked as a catering chef, a restaurant chef, a corporate chef, a cake designer, and a pastry chef. My culinary philosophy is derived from all aspects of the culinary world. But nothing gives me more joy than cooking for my friends and family, and enjoying the food in their company. The recipes I create take the tricks of the trade I’ve gained over the years and apply them to fit my family’s lifestyle.
Having grown up in kitchens where men predominantly ruled, I was constantly on the lookout for female chefs who could not only stand on the line right along with the boys, but cook circles around them too. I admire Alice Waters for the innovative California cuisine movement she helped to pioneer in the 1970’s. I love farm-to-table food with a strong emphasis on seasonality, and Alice Waters is the “mother” of that cuisine. Since I believe food has to be beautiful as well as tasty, I admire chefs like Elizabeth Faulkner who tend to use food as artistic expression. Her food has movement, and thought, and beauty…. and is delicious too! And because I was always the girl who wanted to try to outdo the boys with the most elaborate or creative dishes, I look to chefs like April Bloomfield for her adventurous, no-holds-barred approach to cooking. April is known for “snout-to-tail” cooking in which she creatively uses all parts of an animal to ensure there is no food waste. I admire her ability to go against what is “normal” or “safe” to showcase a side of food that many people may not realize is just as gourmet as a lobster or an aged steak.
I love cooking because it gives me infinite opportunities to be creatively expressive as well as constantly challenged. The industry is always expanding and changing, and there is always something new to learn. When writing a recipe, I try to apply multiple techniques and flavor profiles while also giving thought to the aesthetic of the dish. I try to hit it all: salty, sweet, spicy, acidic; contrasting textures and colors; seasonality; different methods (braised, sous vide, fried). After that, it’s just trial and error (albeit a very delicious one!) until I find the perfect recipe. But because I always want to challenge myself, my “signature” dishes are anything but final; to my mind, there is always room for improvement.
The Farmstead Table
My approach to cooking comes inherently from the earth. Farm-to-table cuisine embraces local, sustainable agriculture as the root of food that is more flavorful, nutrient-rich, and socially conscious. At the heart of this movement is the farmstead: the land on a farm and all of its buildings, including the barn, homestead, root cellar, and silo, among others. And at the heart of the farm is the kitchen table, where food is shared and bread is broken. Eating is a sociocultural activity; it is when families come together and talk about their day, reconnecting with each other over a warm meal that was cooked with love. This is the heart of my passion for cooking.
Thank you for visiting The Farmstead Table! If you have any questions, recipe ideas, comments, or even just want to talk about delicious food, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me here or connect with me on Facebook and Instagram.