We live in a world of change, constant change, of complexity and hidden agendas. In the hustle and bustle of our fast paced lives, life itself seems anything but simple. The simple joys and pleasures of life, living in tune with nature rather than fighting to have control over it…listening to the needs of our own bodies and the foods that nourish us. Knowing where our food comes from and honoring the people that grow it, easily gets pushed to the back burner for “someday”. For me, it is about taking care of our bodies, our spirits, our land, each other and our communities.
We often forget to treat food with honor and respect, for it is what sustains us. It is what builds community and brings us all together.
I have an uncomplicated approach to food and hope to be a source for all things food, finding the roots of food with ways you can honor, participate, nurture each other and yourselves. Ideas for change.
It doesn’t need to be complicated or time consuming. It is about finding the simplicity in cooking, finding excitement in a life with food and rejoicing in that bounty. It is about caring.
I have gardens, chickens and even had milk goats for awhile because I drank goat milk and thought I should milk my own goats to get it.
I believe in understanding, not only food, but where it comes from and how it gets to me. I want to understand all sides of something so that I am more appreciative of what I have and what it takes for me to have it. I want to live in a way that fully appreciates the people that make what I do possible. I believe in understanding the affect we have on each other, our own health and the world, by our choices in food. I believe in the connections.
How can what we eat not profoundly and subtlety affect every aspect of our being, our environment and our communities. Why on earth isn’t it obvious to every single person alive, that the farther we get from nature and the natural way of things, the sicker, as a culture, we have become, in more than just physical health.
For 20 years I have been going to the Boulder Farmer’s Market to get the food for my restaurant.
Even if you didn’t care about getting your food locally, going to the farmer’s market every week, twice a week for 20 years would seep into the most stubborn soul and fold itself into your being. For me, I’ve always believed that is what we should do. It’s a small way to make a difference in our families, communities and our world. It is my life and has pushed me out in front of a movement, to set an example for what I just simply live.
Whether I wanted to or not, completely unintentionally, what is now known as farm to table is a responsibility I feel. Potager is the embodiment of that reputation.
The first couple of years I simply pulled my red flyer wagon around the market and filled it with food. No one knew who I was or what I was doing. I just showed up. I wasn’t looking for bargains or introductions, I was looking for food, the best food. I wanted to know who grew it, when they grew it and where they grew it. Where it grew the best and what the differences were. I wanted to know farmers and them to know me, not by what I did or who I was or what I said, but by how I acted in the world. For me, it is always about building relationships.
During the market season, I work with 10-12 farmers. I haul food. I load it, unload it. To have a restaurant that relies totally on locally grown, seasonally grown food requires a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of organizing and a solid knowledge of what everyone is going to be harvesting from week to week. A commitment to going to the market and looking at every stand each week has taught me very well.
I believe in it. I learn it. I live it.
A big pot of soup
There’s something to be said for a big pot of soup in the fall and &the winter. If there is anything better to eat on a cold day, than a warm, hearty bowl of soup, crusty bread, soft butter and red wine, I have not found it.
When it’s cold, when you have a cold, when you just wanna feel cared for. It’s the perfect food and the perfect solution. It’s a one pot meal that takes care of everyone for a week!
Coming home hungry but too tired to cook, someone else comes home late, nobody wants to cook. Heat up soup filled with vegetables, delicious broth, meat if you eat it, ham hock, beans, lentils, pezole, spices, herbs. Make a big pot for friends, leave it on the stove and the smells from the kitchen wrap themselves around the house like a warm blanket on a cold night!
I’ve had many winter parties at my house that feature a big pot of soup. Holiday parties are often seafood chowders or bouillabaisse. Set a stack of bowls on the counter next to the stove, a board filled with cheeses & meats, good wine, a fire in the fireplace. Everyone gathers in the kitchen to fill their bowls and their spirits.
Last winter I had a family of 5 living with me in my house and I think I made a big pot of soup every week.
Truth be told, I am a lazy cook when it comes to feeding myself. I want all the great ingredients, I want to eat healthy but I do not want to spend every night in the kitchen after work or clean the dishes. Sometimes I need a break and just want to be fed.
I’ll spend a couple of hours at the beginning of the week making a big pot of soup. After the first day, the whole thing goes into the fridge. (That’s how lazy I can be).
It accommodates everyone’s different schedules or we can pull it out, heat it all up and set it in the middle of the table for family meal and game night.
My ingredients change with whatever I feel in the mood for and sometimes it’s the same basic soup several weeks at a time.
Sometimes it changes up each week but it’s always something that is chalked full of goodness and begins with a delicious stock.
Once everything is in the pot, it cooks on the stove for hours, filling the house with that amazing smell. If there’s soup left over at the end of the week, I ladle it into containers for the freezer. Quick meals for another time.
Here’s how I make winter pezole’.
1. Soak pezole in water overnight. It doesn’t really expand like beans so it doesn’t need so much water.
2. Make a chicken stock. I get a few packages of chicken wings and legs. Saute onion, carrot, celery, add the chicken, throw in bay leaf, peppercorns. Fill the pot with water, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for a few hours. Strain it.
3. Get a big pot or clean the one you just made the stock in.
4. Prep your mirpoix veggies to get things started: 1 onion, 5 carrots, 5 celery, 1 butternut squash and/or 3 sweet potatoes.
5. Heat some oil in your pot and add the vegetables. This will give you time to prep the rest of the stuff.
Saute the vegetables just until they are starting to turn golden.
In the meantime:
6. Add 3 cloves chopped garlic, continue to cook for a few minutes.
7. Deglaze with a little white wine.
8. Cut up green cabbage, potatoes, roasted chiles, anything else you’ve got and throw them in the pot.
9. Throw in a ham bone or 2 if you have room in your pot!
10. Add drained pezole’.
11. Add 4 packages or cans of charred tomatillos (these I get at whole foods)
12. Cover it up with your stock. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat way down, put a lid on it and let it simmer for a few hours. The pezole should be soft.
13. Squeeze in the juice of 2 or 3 limes.
14. Taste it and season it with sea salt and fresh pepper.
15. Pull out the ham bones, let them cool so you can touch them, pick the meat off the bones, cut it into small chunks and throw it into the soup.
16. Finish it off with chopped cilantro or parsley. 2 bunches.
Obviously soups are as varied and different as one mind to another. There are a million cookbooks with a million good soup recipes. My only recommendation is that you make a nice rich stock and double or triple a recipe so that you have your own big pot of soup.
A big bowl of salad
This is a big bowl of soup’s seasonal opposite.
An employee leaving the restaurant once said that one of the things he would miss, was seeing me sitting at my desk eating salad out of a big stainless steel bowl. It is the ultimate one dish meal. If a big pot of soup is winter’s solution, you can be sure that a big bowl of salad is summers‘! Honestly, it is a celebration of the season’s bounty in a bowl. If it’s in season, you will find it in my bowl. Generally I do not make a dressing, just nice olive oil, maybe lemon juice and always herbs. If I’m making it for friends, it’s a big bowl, tossed together and set in the middle of the table. Add crusty bread, soft butter and a chilled wine. It’s a dinner party! If it’s just me, the bowl is either smaller or it is less full.
Here’s an example of what I do, say, in August. I prepare each thing separately, season separately and then it is magically delicious when it all comes together at the end. Keep your ingredients separate from each other until you’re ready to toss it up. All the prep can be done ahead of time so that the only thing left to do when people arrive is toss it in your big bowl.
1. Get a bowl.
2. Grill some chicken and pull it off the bone. Squeeze a little lemon, sea salt.
3. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, brush with olive oil and grill on both sides. Cool, cut it up.
4. Quick blanch some green beans or toss them in oil and grill them in a grill pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, chopped oregano.
5. Quick blanch potatoes or grill little potatoes on the grill. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
6. Then, blanch beets, peel and cut up. Season with salt, pepper, chopped dill. (you can use raw beets but will need to slice them very very thin)
7. Grill corn and cut it off the cobb, or leave it raw and cut it off the cobb.
8. Very thinly slice sweet red pepper.
9. Cut up a few different types & colors of tomatoes and cherry tomatoes
10. Peel and slice a cucumber. Season with salt, pepper, chopped mint.
11. Peel and cut up a peach.
12. Peel and cut up some melon.
13. Chop a handful or 2 of basil.
14. Crumble some feta, or slice and grill some haloumi, then cube it.
15. Toast some pine nuts or almonds or peeled hazelnuts or no nuts.
16. Everything into the big bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, quickly toss.
Do not over-toss or it will get mucky and muddy.
17. Taste for salt and pepper.
Remember this an August salad. The ingredients vary with each market and with each season but they all have this general theme and idea.