Posts Tagged ‘local food’
Today we are thankful for cooking. Thanksgiving is a holiday based in homemade dishes, and hours spent in the kitchen with the ones you love. Since the mid-1960s, home cooking has fallen by half. Did you know that the average American spends 27 minutes preparing food, and only four minutes cleaning up? We, as a country, have fallen into the habit of letting the industry take over our meals, which has led to disastrous results. While these statistics are bleak, we are thankful for people like Michael Pollan who uncover, research and share information about the current state of our food system.
Pollan has dedicated the last 25 years of his life to researching and writing about the topic of nature and food. While discussing his most recent book, Cooked, for the The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), Pollan explains how cooking can change your life.
We have discussed the importance of knowing where your food comes from, and the ramifications of industrial food. We know that buying local is important, but what we haven’t touched on is how interacting with your food (cooking your food) is a crucial step in the process. Studies have shown that the rate of obesity decreases when people cook at home. In order to make shelf stable food, the processed food industry relies on three key ingredients: fat, sugar and salt. And while these ingredients can be layered to taste good, there is little to no nutritional value. A diet filled with processed foods means you take “once in a while foods” and turn them into “everyday foods”. It’s no surprise we live in a time where 1 in 3 kids (and 2 in 3 adults) are considered overweight or obese.
The shift to diets rich in processed foods happened when the industry coerced American families into thinking cooking at home was drudgery. During WWII, the food industry worked with the military to develop shelf stable food for the troops. When the war ended, they saw a market with the everyday American family, and had the technology to create a fast, processed and convenience based food culture. A famous KFC billboard in the early 1970s showed a giant bowl of their infamous fried chicken with the words, “Women’s Liberation”. They took homemaking and cooking and put a negative spin on it. And while Pollan has gotten flack for his book being “anti feminist”, his point was simply that the industry saw an opportunity to insert itself into the American family. Too busy working? Cooking wasn’t worth the precious time, and if the industry could cook for you, why bother?
Fast forward to today and you have an epidemic of obesity, heart disease and a general disconnect with where food comes from and how to prepare it. So today (and every day you can) spend time in your kitchen. Go grab real food and start exploring. There is so much joy in making a big meal with and for the people you love.
We want to acknowledge that we live in a society where some families have to work multiple jobs to ensure their family can even eat. This opens a whole other can of worms in regards to what’s broken with our food system, but we think there’s still time to cook. The average American spends over 30 hours watching television. And while there’s nothing wrong with unwinding after work, perhaps it would be worthwhile to take an hour or two away from technology and put it towards making food for yourself and your family.
Take the momentum from cooking Thanksgiving and translate that into your everyday life.
Today we are thankful for Alice Waters and local food. We’re in an exciting time where food is in the spotlight and people are realizing that local tastes better. This shift towards farm to table restaurants, grocery stores (woo hoo!) and food trailers is in part thanks to chef Alice Waters. Back in 1971, Waters decided (with no prior chef experience) to open a restaurant.
In an old house in Berkeley, CA, Waters opened the doors of Chez Panisse, and has been helping shape the local food movement ever since. Her inspiration came from studying abroad in Paris during the 1960s. As she traveled around the country, she realized that the best flavors came from what was made, grown and sourced from France.
Taking this idea of local food tasting better, Chez Panisse menu consists of simple, local food prepared with a lot of love. Since opening, the restaurant has grown and fostered relationships with growers in California. Using weekly trips to the farmers market as inspiration, the menu is shaped by what’s available and what’s in season. And while Waters acknowledges the challenges of eating local (where are the bananas?), she urges people to get creative, “Eating locally is so particular. You have to accept that fact and celebrate what does really grow.”
Waters has taken the idea of a local, sustainable diet and moved it from the restaurant into the classroom. Seventeen years ago, Waters teamed up with Neil Smith, a principal at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School to transform an acre of asphalt into an Edible Schoolyard. They then added in a kitchen element, and by year five, the teachers at this public middle school taught ten 90-minute classes a week in both the garden and the kitchen. Since then, they’ve added chickens to the land, and now grow more than 100 varieties of seasonal vegetables, herbs, vines, berries, flowers and fruit trees. Best of all? They have served over 7,000 students. The work they are doing for the farm to school movement is huge, and if you’re seeking inspiration, go check out the multiple projects they’re working on to bring real, local food to the classroom.
Alice Waters is an inspiration. As a business whose ethos is to bring local, sustainable and seasonal food to our community, it’s not surprising that Waters was one of the main influencers for opening in.gredients. Last year at the Think Beyond Plastic award ceremony, one of our founders, Christian Lane, got the chance to meet Alice Waters. While discussing local food, Waters congratulated us on the work we’re doing, and encouraged the growth and expansion of in.gredients. To say we were flattered is an understatement. It’s not everyday you get kudos from a national local food leader.
When we look into the work of Alice Waters, our hope is restored. She’s living proof that with a lot of work, a lot of love and a strong passion and commitment to what you believe in, you can change the way people view and value their food. This Thanksgiving, raise your glass to individuals around the world who are bringing local back to the table.
Today we are thankful for our early adopters. We are grateful to the folks who looked at our business model and mission statement and said to themselves, “Yes, this is something I believe in.” Whether this support came in the form of funding our Indiegogo campaign, helping us dig our garden beds or shopping here since day one, we are thankful for each and every one of you.
The founders of in.gredients took the conventional grocery store model and flipped it on its head. In a country where over 40% of our food goes to waste and so much unnecessary packaging fills the shelves, in.gredients exists as an alternative. We are a small grocery store that serves our community sustainable, seasonal and local food. We believe in our farmers, ranchers and artisans and think that our money should stay within our community. in.gredients isn’t about convenience. We are about innovation and shifting the way people shop and interact with their food. So today, we are thankful for all of those that believe in what we are doing.
In 1962 a man named Everett Rogers published a paper titled, “Diffusion of Innovations” This paper sought to explain how, why and at what rate new ideas and technology spreads through consumers. Shaped like a bell curve, this idea shows that there are a small number of early adopters, and these are the folks that catch wind of an innovative idea, acknowledge its purpose, and sign up. From there, more and more people catch on and eventually this idea becomes a part of everyday life.
Source: Alta Street
While a majority of the real life examples apply to technology (DVD players, Apple iPods, etc.), this is a theory that can be applied to any innovative idea. In Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, he asks the question why some leaders, businesses and organizations are so great at inspiring action and change. Referencing great leaders from our past, he suggests his Golden Circle idea. According to Sinek, every single person and organization knows what they do 100%, but very few people and organizations know why they do what they do. Not many organizations have pinpointed what their purpose is. Instead, they think from the outside in, first answering what, then how and finally why.
What makes inspiring innovators different, is that they answer the why first. They inspire by making believers out of their followers. As Sinek puts it, “The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.” These believers, they are the early adopters. They are the ones that will dive head first into the business before anyone else. They are the people who funded us before we opened, volunteered countless hours to help us build the store from the ground up, and continue to shift with us as we grow and adapt our business.
Today, we are raising our glasses to our early adopters. The people who heard about in.gredients, saw that we were pioneering the idea of a zero-waste grocery store, accepted that it would be a work in progress, and have supported us ever since.
Thank you for believing in us, we wouldn’t be here without your continued support.
This Thanksgiving week, we are dedicating our blog to things we are thankful for. Today (and every day), we are thankful for real food. We are thankful to our local farmers who we know by name, and who work hard to grow the most beautiful produce we’ve ever seen. We are grateful for our ranchers who treat their animals with respect and put value in the life of another creature. As a business, in.gredients is dedicated to sourcing from local farmers, ranchers and artisans so our customers can shop here without fear of hidden costs to your health or the health of the environment.
We’re advocates for real, local food and here’s why.
Conventional food, while monetarily cheaper due to government subsidies and policies, has a much higher cost than you might realize. The Sierra Club’s National Sustainable Consumption Committee launched a campaign about the true cost of food. In a short 15 minute movie, they walk you through what conventional food really costs.
Let’s start with meat. The average United States citizen eats 270.7 pounds of meat per year, which is more than almost any other country on the planet (Luxembourg eats slightly more than the US.) Meat has a much larger impact on the environment than any other food we eat. One quarter-pound of hamburger meat requires 6.7 pounds of grains, 52.8 gallons of drinking water, 47.5 square feet of land and 1,036 Btus (british thermal unit) of fossil fuel energy. In this country, a majority of the meat is raised in factory farms, where animals are not only treated inhumanely, they are given copious amounts of hormones and antibiotics. Did you know that US livestock operations use 77% of total antibiotic use? That’s 3.9 time greater than the amount sold to humans. Needless to say, our current source of meat is sick. The Sierra Club estimates that the true cost for a one pound, conventionally raised steak is $815 a pound.
Source: J.L. Capper, Journal of Animal Science, December, 2011
Credit: Producers: Eliza Barclay, Jessica Stoller-Conrad; Designer: Kevin Uhrmacher/NPR
Next up is conventionally grown produce. Mono-cropping has become the norm for growing fruits and vegetables in the United States. Only planting one crop at a time means that a single disease or pest can wipe out an entire crop. To avoid this, big agriculture turns to pesticides. Nearly 1 billion tons of pesticides are used every year, which kills the “bad” pests while simultaneously killing everything else around it. This causes a loss of 24 billion tons of topsoil a year, as well as contributing to the pollution of our rivers and groundwater. Not only does mono-cropping and big agriculture damage the natural environment, it also hurts small family farms.
Did you know that the largest 10% of the farms collect 65% of the government subsidies, and 7% of our farms sell 72% of our food? And a majority of the “food” they are growing are corn and soy, which are used to make the massive amounts of processed foods that have become the normal breakfast, lunch and dinner for many American families. So what’s the average cost of a conventionally grown tomato? According to the Sierra Club, the true cost of a tomato is $374.
Last but not least is processed food. Let’s take a look at a box of cereal. Boxed cereal was one of the earliest convenience foods and represents the power of marketing and packaging. They represent how you can take a cheap commodity crop (corn, soy, wheat) and convert it into a “high value” good. In reality, there is little to no nutritional value in processed foods, and they are basically fat, sugar, salt and chemicals passed off as food. Because of processed, “convenient” foods, 15% of American children are overweight, a number that has tripled in the past 25 years. It’s not just the kids, ⅓ of American Adults are overweight, which has increased the risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and numerous other health ailments. It’s the first time in history where children have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
Alright, enough with the doom and gloom facts. The fantastic news is that we, as consumers, have the power to vote with our fork, and make it clear that we value and want local food. With the average meal traveling approximately 1,500 miles, it’s time to take a step back and look at the food growing around you. Eating locally saves up to 17 times the fuel costs of conventional food. There are now five times the amount of farmers markets today than there were in 1980, and the organic food market is growing 25% every year. And while the monetary cost of real, local food might seem more expensive, when your food comes from a place that works with nature, not against it, it costs a lot less in the long run.
This Thanksgiving, stop by in.gredients or your farmers market and thank the amazing folks that work tirelessly to grow food you can eat with pride. The real cost of our conventional food system is haunting, and we are the only ones that have the power to change it. Support local, seek ownership and responsibility for the food you’re buying for yourself and your family, and let’s work together to build community around real, local food.
If you want to know more about the real cost of food, here are some great resources:
Thanksgiving is a week away, and we have so much to be thankful for. We are honored to serve a community that values real, local food. We are inspired by all the people in our neighborhood who come together and make this place such a wonderful place to work. in.gredients wouldn’t be here without your support, so to kick off this week of giving thanks, we extend our gratitude to our customers.
A few of our regulars have captured our hearts. They are here almost every day, and have become a part of the in.gredients family. If you’ve visited the store, a few of these folks are probably familiar to you (Zippo is the unofficial store hound.) These are faces we adore, and we sat down them to find out why they are “in.”
Get to know your neighbors. Support local. Be a part of this amazing community!
Describe yourself in 3 words: easy-going, adventurous and fun
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood? It has a little bit of everything, and you don’t have to walk far for it.
How did you hear about in.gredients? I lived across the street!
Why do you come back? I never left… haha. And all my friends are here.
What are you favorite things about in.gredients? It’s dog friendly, and I like the zero-waste idea. I also love the familiar environment.
If you were to describe in.gredients in one word, what would it be? Pleasant.
Last but not least, if you were a fruit or a vegetable, what would you be? I’d be a kiwi… a hard exterior with a sweet inside.
Describe yourself in 3 words: new, music, experiences
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood? Without a doubt, it’s the community, the people and the neighbors.
How did you hear about in.gredients? I watched it get built and then came on over.
Why do you come back? The staff! They are the nicest. in.gredients exceeded my expectations, the store has so much more stuff than I initially thought it would have. I do almost all of my grocery shopping here, it has everything I need.
What are you favorite things about in.gredients? It gives our neighbors a place to be. It’s our pub, our grocery store and our play house, all in one place.
If you were to describe in.gredients in one word, what would it be? Tasty
Last but not least, if you were a fruit or a vegetable, what would you be? I’d be a green bell pepper because I can go with anything!
Describe yourself in 3 words: funny, smart & lazy
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood? The people
How did you hear about in.gredients? I moved in across the street right before you opened.
Why do you come back? I like it here. It’s full of good people and fun.
What are you favorite things about in.gredients? The prepared foods, the events and the selection.
If you were to describe in.gredients in one word, what would it be? Community
Last but not least, if you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be? An avocado. It’s delicious and green is my favorite color!
Describe yourself in 3 words: crazy, cat, lady
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood? My neighbors
How did you hear about in.gredients? I moved in right next door.
Why do you come back? The staff. Everyone is encouraging about healthy food, and don’t make you feel stupid if you don’t know something. They aren’t patronizing or intimidating.
What are you favorite things about in.gredients? It’s a great place to hang out. My friends and community are here.
If you were to describe in.gredients in one word, what would it be? Family
Last but not least, if you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be? Cheese doesn’t count as a vegetable?
Describe yourself in 3 words: charming, gentle and sweet
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood? All the people and dogs!
How did you hear about in.gredients? Jake told me.
Why do you come back? To visit my pals.
What are you favorite things about in.gredients? The events.
If you were to describe in.gredients in one word, what would it be? Friendly
Last but not least, if you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be? A pear… I’m soft and sweet.
We set a lofty goal when we embarked on our zero waste mission. Luckily, we work with amazing local farmers, ranchers and artisans who share in our vision. We realize our vendors are up to their eyeballs in work, and are so grateful when they take the extra steps to help us reduce waste.
Today we received our first shipment of Vital Farms eggs in reusable containers. In the past, we’ve received them in cardboard boxes and egg cartons. While these were collected and given back, we knew we could improve the system. Now, with the help of Vital Farms, we’re getting our eggs delivered in milk crates and reusable plastic egg cartons. Each week we will wash and store these crates and cartons, and return them with our weekly delivery. It’s a pretty neat system, if we do say so ourselves.
We owe a big thank you to Vital Farm founders Matt and Catherine, who met one of our managers a few weeks ago and turned around as a zero-waste delivery partner within days of hearing our idea. Vital Farms, founded in 2007, started out on a 10 acre piece of land south-east of Austin. They now work with small family farms from California to Georgia in order to produce pastured eggs year-round.
Vital Farms cares about their chickens. With fields full of grass, legumes and insects available to the birds, plus certified organic Coyote Creek feed to supplement their wild diet, plenty of outdoor space and a nighttime shelter with clean nesting boxes, these chickens are well taken care of. The founders have gone to great lengths to make sure each of their farms meet this high standard, sometimes requiring 6 or more farm visits per year.
We’re happy to support Vital Farms, and can’t wait to see how our next zero-waste endeavor goes.
Did you know that we source over 95% of our produce from Texas? We believe in Texas farmers and think a farm to table diet is not only feasible, it’s also delicious! We have teamed up with Traveling Recipes to bring our community free culinary workshops that focus on plant-based dishes featuring Texas produce. We are able to offer these workshops for free thanks to the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant, which gives us the opportunity to promote produce grown in Texas.
We met everyone at in.gredients so folks could pick up their beverages of choice (what’s a workshop without wine?), before heading down to the Sustainable Food Center (SFC). SFC’s new space is less than a mile from in.gredients, and has a beautiful fully equipped kitchen that was perfect for the workshop. After introducing ourselves and why we were there, we got to cooking!
Chelsea from in.gredients and Andi Jo from Traveling Recipes had done all the shopping and initial prep work, but beyond that it was all up to the participants to chop, grate, blend and cook the six plant-based dishes. With different stations set up around the kitchen, everyone spent two hours getting well acquainted with a wide variety of Texas produce.
After all the hard work we all sat down together to eat the fruits of our labor, and enjoy a meal together. It was a wonderful evening, and we can’t wait to host the next one! Stay tuned for the next workshop, as we hope to host them on a monthly basis!
This workshop’s menu included:
Super Loaded Salad
Raw Veggie Pad Thai
Spaghetti Squash Pasta
All of these recipes will be listed on the Traveling Recipes website within the next few days, so keep checking back if any and all of those dishes have you drooling.
Recently we reached 11,011 likes on Facebook (woo hoo!) To celebrate, we asked our followers to share with us the 11 reasons they love local food.
We are so blessed to be in a community that so wholeheartedly embraces the beauty that comes along with local, sustainable and seasonal food.
Y’all shared with us amazing lists (and photos!) that we can’t help put pass them along. Take the time to read why our community loves local food, and please feel free to share your lists. The more the merrier.
- in.spires the community to make sustainable decisions
- in.corporates small businesses into larger economies
- in.volves the local population in the worldwide food movement
- in.timidates the big food corporations
- in.troduces new ways of thinking
- in.centivizes local entrepreneurs to follow through on their ideas
- in.creases awareness of the impact food has on our environment
- in.cludes opportunities for the community to become more self-sufficient
- in.toxicates the locals with unbelievably good craft beer
- in.justice is exposed when local food proves there is a better way
- in.novation proves to be in.finite when it comes to using real in.gredients
- Keeps Austin Weird!!!
- Love knowing the people who grew/raised my food
- It has taste unlike most mass-produced food
- The fresher the food the more nutrients I get in my body
- Support local economy
- Support people who are stewards of the environment
- Reduced carbon footprint
- No nasty GMO foods
- Opportunity for bulk purchases (as my salsa and canned tomato stash can attest)
- I have visited the farms and felt the dirt that nourishes me and seen for myself how the animals are treated
- Brings back good memories of childhood visits to my grandparents farm – sitting in the middle of the strawberry patch eating the berries straight off the plant (competing with my sister to see who would get through her row fastest), or shucking corn with my grandpa (and nibbling on a few ears)
- The friendships I have made with people I have met at the markets, at food swaps, and at restaurants and stores that carry local produce.
- Incredibly fresh
- Less fuel required for delivery
- Can meet your farmers!
- Supports the local economy& Supports small farmers
- Fosters a close relationship with local community
- Encourages creative business models
- Encourages creative approaches to cooking
- Allows you to experiment with interesting local produce (prickly pears! loquats!)
- Allows you ensure that everything you eat is ethically produced because you can trace the origins of everything on your plate.
- Local food = supporting local farmers/ local economy
- Less carbon in the atmosphere from moving around food!
- Local food is super fresh and delicious
- It ensures you’re eating only what’s in season.
- Fresh food is more nutritious!
- It’s a step toward food self-reliance.
- There is more variety!
- Is free of GMOs!
- Represents Austin’s food culture
- I love knowing where it came from, and visiting those places!
- Lastly, It feels great to make good choices about what you put into your body!
- Getting to know my farmers
- Often sustainably grown
- Fewer food miles (less carbon/water waste)
- Outdoor markets
- Supporting my home
- Fresh food
- Makes me food conscious
- Often it’s native to the region
- Supports education!
- The colors
- Low carbon foot print
- Meeting the farmers
- Eating in season
- The price tag
- Promoting it
- Teaching it
- Growing it
- Community it creates
- Farmers markets
- The people involved
We’re big fans of Mary from Mary Makes Dinner. Not only did she rise to the challenge of creating a meal using in.gredients found in the store, she also provides our community with a well thought out and beautifully executed blog.
Besides being our go-to for food guidance on the internet, she’s one of the ATX food bloggers that is involved in the community in a big way. If there is a food-based event, Mary will be there. And if you aren’t impressed yet, she also teaches culinary classes around town, online and privately. Yeah, she’s a guru of sorts.
Mary walks the walk, talks the talk and boy, can she write. Learn more about how she got caught up in the ATX food movement.
How did you discover your love of food and writing?
I was raised in a food family, so my appreciation for food pretty much started at birth. My Dad’s family were restaurant people, and my Mom’s father was a fisherman in Maine. Growing up, I was surrounded by my Mother’s rural home cooking and my Dad’s culinary adventures. I started working in the food industry after quitting school at sixteen. I spent most of my youth working in Japanese restaurants. Later, I got the chance to live in China, where I took my first formal cooking classes. Somehow, despite all the food in my life, it had never occurred to me to take a class. Once I did, I was hooked. I enrolled in the Community Culinary School of Northwestern Connecticut as soon as we came back home.
Has blogging changed the way you view food and cooking? If so, how?
For me, it’s actually the other way around. I’ve worked as a blogger for more than five years, but the bulk of that time has been as a DIY natural beauty guru on The Natural Beauty Workshop. I always focused on formulating recipes and creating tutorials, so I never really though of myself as a writer. It wasn’t until I started seriously working on Mary Makes Dinner, about three years ago, that I actually took writing seriously and learned to take pride in it. Now I can’t stop writing. I even created a new blog, Mary Makes Pretty, to catch the non-food overflow that keeps streaming out of my head.
What is your favorite ingredient to use in the kitchen?
I buy soy sauce by the jug. Japanese mayo and sriracha are my condiment MVPs, and furikake and fresh scallions win for most-used garnish.
What is your best memory in the kitchen?
Making my chef say “Oh YEAH” during my last few weeks in culinary. You have to imagine his old-timey Manhattan accent, to get the full effect. Oh YEAH. When I catch myself saying the same while tasting a recipe, I know it’s a keeper.
What is the best thing about your kitchen?
I love that it has plenty of room for company. Everybody wants to be in the kitchen when they come over, and I’m happy that they all fit.
What is your favorite meal to prepare?
Dinner, hands down. When I cook, I’m able to tune out everything else and just enjoy the moment. Cooking dinner every night gives me some time every day to focus on the present, let go of my troubles, and just be. I think it’s funny when other people talk about cooking like a chore. For me it’s a retreat.
What does your dream kitchen look like?
Butcher block counter tops, a well padded linoleum floor that can take plenty of abuse, a gas stove, lots of natural light, plenty of workspace, and room for friends.
What 3 guests would you like to have at your dinner table?
It is a little cheesy, but I love feeding people I love. You could put the names of all my friends and family into a bag, pull out three random pieces of paper, and that would please me more than any celebrity foodie or historical figure… except maybe Patrick Stewart. You could put his name in the bag too.
What does the word “sustainable” mean to you when it comes to food?
It means food that was grown in a way that doesn’t carelessly wreck the world for everybody else. There are different degrees of that, for sure, but I like to support agriculture that is at least trying to move in the right direction.
Favorite Recipe to Date?
I’m pretty proud of my Black Bean Soup recipe. It is fairly simple, but I am yet to find another version of Black Bean Soup that I like better than my own. Of all the recipes on my blog, I could this one the most frequently. In that sense, it is clearly the house favorite.
The readers’ favorite on my blog is my Cashew Rangoon. These crispy little dumplings are delicious, but I only make them for parties and gatherings. I came up with the recipe by trying to invent a vegan replacement for one of my favorite junk foods, crab rangoon.
What three recipes would you share with our readers?
Blogs like Metropo Chris are why people start taking pictures of their food.
As a photographer and writer for Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, Chris understands what it takes to make food (and everything else) look good, really good. It’s hard not to drop everything and make, eat, or go to the places Chris takes photos of. With the perfect angle, light and descriptive summaries, Metropo Chris is where you turn when you need inspiration. Whether you’re a food blogger yourself, or appreciate the burgeoning movement of foodies– stop by Chris’ blog and you won’t be able to get food off the brain.
How did you discover your love of food or writing?
I really didn’t gain a love for food until I moved to Austin – about 6 years ago. I think the combination of being right-aged (old enough to appreciate culture and the arts) and moving to Austin in the middle of a bit of a food renaissance helped me discover the passion that is a big part of who I am today.
As for the writing, that joy wasn’t discovered until much later – a little over a year and a half ago. And it happened rather serendipitously, when I casually applied to an open tech writing position for Apartment Therapy – a national lifestyle / interior design blog. After I got a phone call saying the position was mine, weekly deadlines and a regular audience fueled my new creative outlet that involved photography, writing, and gaining regular inspiration from some of the most fascinating people in Austin’s creative culture.
Has blogging changed the way you view food and cooking? If so, how?
The food we eat is actually very telling of our personality. Blogging, by way of meeting various people, has helped me see that – so in that sense I would say I’m more attentive to minutiae of the things I eat or serve.
I definitely am more open-minded and adventurous in what I eat or cook, and having an outlet to divulge my curiosities encourages me to savor and appreciate each bite and experience.
What is your favorite ingredient to use in the kitchen?
I finish nearly every dish with some freshly ground black pepper. I love the smell of it.
What is your best memory in the kitchen?
I don’t know if I can pinpoint a single memory. But I do have fond memories of my wife and I’s often ambitious undertakings. From baking multi-layer cakes and covering with decorative fondant, to preparing dozens and dozens of holiday cookies, to cooking some authentic German-style pretzels, there are several memories that linger in my mind as sort of one big experience. It’s the kind of thing – when you think about it – that makes you sit back, smile and realize you might have done a few things right in life.
What is the best thing about your kitchen?
The pull-out drawers and organization we installed in every bottom cabinet. I probably don’t have to tell you that there’s a blog post on it. That simple weekend upgrade has made our lives in the kitchen so much easier.
What is your favorite meal to prepare?
The thing I love most about cooking is the chance to share it with others. Cooking to me, is an opportunity to nourish and thank those around you that mean the most.
Given that, I love smoking a large park shoulder and having a large gathering of friends over to share it with. My wife will make fresh flour tortillas and some pickled onions to go along with it all, and together it makes for a special day.
What does your dream kitchen look like?
It’s outside,and has a wood-fired pizza oven with a wall of fresh herbs and tomatoes that grow plentifully year-round in the Texas sun. There’s a modified keg-a-rator for wine-on-tap and kombucha, and friends just drop over for sips and conversation.
What 3 guests would you like to have at your table?
I feel like I’ve kind of removed myself from the national celebrity of things, to where the people I admire and would love to have a conversation with the most are the inspiring people around me, and in Austin.
I’d love to have a dinner party with Aaron Franklin, Jodi Elliot, and Janina O’Leary to name a few. I’ve been fortunate to meet each of them at least once, and they’re the type of people you meet and immediately realize are incredible selfless human beings. Success doesn’t just find those people, they make it out of whatever they do.
What does the word “sustainable” mean to you when it comes to food?
‘Sustainable’ food to me means ‘natural’ or ‘from the earth.’ It’s food that is unprocessed and used as nature intended. As Ron Finley (the Gangster Gardner) said in his TED talk “the trick about sustainable food is that you have to sustain it.”
Favorite recipe to date?
My smoked pulled pork, which changes slightly every time I make it. However it always involves an overnight brine with brown sugar and molasses, and always involves an overnight smoke over wood as well.
What three recipes would share with our readers?
Grilled Dutch Baby – I basically use a recipe from GQ Magazine, but cook it on the grill at about 450 degrees. When you open the grill it looks miraculous. You can see it here on my post for TheKitchn.com.