To provide a bit of context for my random musings, recipes, and finds on this site, I thought I’d sit down with you and share my general approach to food and why I am so passionate about it.
Let’s start with a little background. I grew up on the West Coast in a home that sat on several acres overlooking the Pacific ocean. To keep you from creating the wrong mental image, let me be sure to tell you that the house was a cozy 1,000 square feet and our only heat came from a single wood stove. So just chase any Malibu mansion images far far away! As long as I can remember my family grew our own food. We had a big vegetable garden, apple trees, and even a pear tree, thanks in very large part to my father’s love of gardening. In addition to fresh produce, my father’s avid interest in hunting and fishing meant that fresh seafood and game was never far from our table. Some of my favorite food memories as a child involve sun ripened blackberries, fresh dungenous crab, and picking baskets full of apples each fall.
My brother and I were expected to help with the garden by picking the produce, watering occasionally, and by mowing the lawn (which I hated) thus allowing my dad more time to putter in the garden (yes Dad, I’m on to you!). We also were taught to fish and hunt, and spent many hours out on the water catching salmon or tromping through fields in search of pheasants and ducks. I always loved the meals we ate, but never really appreciated the incredible freshness and enjoyment that comes with growing/gathering your own food until I left for college.
Cooking has always been fun and interesting to me. It was a way I bonded with my Mom, beginning at age 3 with thumb-print jam cookies which are one of my earliest memories of cooking. When I was 14 my Mom went back to work full time plus some, and the responsibility of weeknight dinners largely fell on my shoulders. My dad is a decent cook but he would always say, “It just won’t taste as good if I make it!” and encouraged me to come up with the meals myself. My dad is also responsible for teaching me to be unafraid of failure in the kitchen, and to keep trying to make things until I master the process. He is singularly responsible for breaking what would have been a third generation fear of pie crusts. (Thanks Dad!) He’d always help me patch the dough when it didn’t roll out right, and eat my pie no matter how awful the crust tasted.
As I moved around the country to attend college, I continued to cook for myself whenever possible and learned a lot more about organic and natural foods. Through several years of corporate jobs following graduate school (which included a lot of travel) I was exposed to a wonderful amount of regional cuisine and higher end restaurant creations.
Then I married Mr. B and found myself in a town that has three, count them: one, two, three good restaurants, one decent grocery store, and of course a Wal-Mart Superstore. All of a sudden I found a very good reason to put everything I’ve learned to use in a big way! Evolving out of my background and current location, my food philosophy could be described as follows:
I use fresh, local, minimally processed ingredients whenever possible. Overall I have found the quality to be higher, the health benefits to be huge, and the relationships with local growers to be very enjoyable. However, living where we do, locally sourcing food (or even just finding it in the grocery store) can be a challenge so I quite often end up finding speciality items online or when I’m traveling outside of the immediate area.
I choose foods that are organic, free of preservatives/ unnecessary additives, and avoid corn syrup and hydrogenated oils whenever possible and reasonable. In general I think that avoidance of ingesting trace pesticides and chemicals in my food is always a better choice, however I’m not willing to take this to an extreme level. Price and/or limited availability are still factors in my purchasing decisions.
I value homemade/homegrown foods and enjoy the creativity and quality that are possible through making and growing food myself.
A little bit of high quality, high flavor food, is more enjoyable than a lot of low quality and boring food.
So, that’s my general philosophy when it comes to food and eating. I promise to never be preachy or espouse the virtues of one philosophy over another – it’s just where I’m coming from when I write about the food we enjoy. And at the end of it all, I believe that since food is a basic and common element of human survival, if you can find joy in the daily act of preparing and eating food, then you will live a very happy life.