seasonal RECIPES for those who love to EAT
I am an admitted and deeply addicted "foodie". I love nearly all things edible and am constantly amazed by the possibilities for creativity and enjoyment that food has to offer. I grew up near Chicago, and I owe much of my love for food to my Momma, who taught me (unbeknownst to me, that tricky lady) to approach food and cooking as an adventure. I spent countless hours as a kid watching Momma caring for her beautiful garden and creating something delicious in our kitchen. In college, and more so later in law school, I focused in earnest on learning how to cook well, as I began to see how a good meal can truly draw people together and help build lasting relationships.
Now, as I am living the life of a young associate attorney, I find myself returning to food and cooking as a creative outlet and as a way to connect with the wonderful people I have in my life. I owe a huge thanks to them for their encouragement, for eating my meals and for almost always asking for seconds. Finally, I would be lost in this mess without my behind-the-scenes partner in crime. Thanks to his unwavering support and incredible hard work, so much has gotten done and this website is a beautiful reality. Thank you, Matthew :)
Drawing from some of my favorite restaurants, my goal with this site is to develop monthly dishes and menus that celebrate local and seasonal foods. The aim is to provide a variety of options that changes routinely and allows the hobby cook (like myself) to be creative and the novice cook to explore. Working with food has long been a dream (albeit often a "back burner" dream) of mine and I hope that one day it will play a more central role in my life. However, for now, I've headed down a different path and food has become a beloved hobby, rather than my source of income. I love preparing and sharing food with friends and family and I hope that you will find these recipes to be practical, fun and interesting.
Cooking is an incredibly versatile exercise - the opportunities for variety and to try new things is almost endless. This is one of the things I truly love about cooking, no matter what I am craving, I can make it happen (or at least attempt it.)
I am a very firm believer that anyone (and I do mean anyone) can cook and can cook well. Even if you've never boiled a pot of water, you can cook. If you want to learn, you will - just like anything else in life. There is no "rule book" that says in order to become a cook you must go from knowing nothing to knowing everything overnight. Take it one step at a time. Pick your favorite dishes and learn how to make them, step by step. Then, gradually, branch out and try new and more challenging things. Most importantly, enjoy the experience and don't be afraid to mess things up - I always remind myself that if everything goes up in smoke (a very real possibility) I can always order pizza.
Finally, I approach cooking as a creative outlet. In keeping with that philosophy, I tend to treat recipes as guidelines. For me, cooking is a way to create something unique and totally my own. Yes, there are a few "firm" rules in cooking. Chicken should never be pink in the middle. Overcooked anything is pretty unappetizing. The basics of baking are like chemistry - if you don't have the right ingredients in the right ratios you will not get the result you want. However, from my perspective, beyond the fundamentals required to make recipes work and avoid illness, there are no rules. If you don't like an ingredient, don't use it. If you really wish a recipe included something, add it. If trying to julienne a carrot is utterly impossible for you, just chop the dang thing instead. Make each recipe your own.
I believe in eating organically, locally, sustainably, and seasonally. I get excited for farmer's markets and road-side produce stands. I like balanced diets, eating well, and the age old mantra "you are what you eat". Most importantly, I think that eating well is, and should be, a way of life. By "eating well" I don't mean eating elaborate, gourmet meals or using expensive and rare ingredients. Nor do I mean only looking for low-calorie diet options. To me, eating well is a holistic concept, one that means caring about and understanding what we put in our bodies. It means choosing ingredients and recipes with an eye for what tastes good and what makes us feel good. Sometimes that is no easy task in a world of processed foods and jet-setting produce. Despite those hurdles, I am a firm believer that it is not only possible, but easy to make smart, healthy choices, as long as you have a little information and try to stick to a few basic principles: Choose produce that is in season, in season where you live, not in season in a different hemisphere; choose foods that are produced locally, organically and sustainably; and try to eat as close to the earth as possible.
Yes, this is all good for the planet and good for local economies, but it’s also good for your body. Locally grown produce is often delivered at or very near the peak of its quality. Ripe foods that have been picked very recently have the highest levels of vitamins and nutrients, meaning you get the most out of what you eat. Also, consider the number of steps it took to get from a living plant or animal to what you're thinking about eating. Try to choose foods that are minimally processed whenever possible and have few preservatives or additives.
Nearly everyone shops on a budget, which is a simple reality of life. However, if I stop for a moment and think about my priorities, what could be a better use of resources than high quality food? I eat multiple times a day - probably more than I'd like to admit. Say its three meals a day, 365 days a year - over the course of an 80-year lifetime that comes out to more than 87,000 meals. What we eat contributes substantially to how we feel, our energy level, and our overall health. If we want the best results from our bodies and minds, then it makes sense to fuel them with the best foods. The choices we make in terms of what we eat are probably the one true opportunity we have to really "put our money where our mouths are."
So I encourage you to explore your neighborhood markets, stop at roadside stands, talk to the folks at your local farmer's market and make friends with the person who runs the produce department, bakery and meat counter at your local grocery story. These folks are around and excited to help you discover the delicious things that exist in the world, just waiting for you to cook them!
Who IS this BECCa girl?