Joie de vivre
We've picked our Winner for our Spring Contest/Giveaway. Stay tuned for another contest/giveaway coming soon!
We are working on our social media campaign here at The Cook's Atelier and we need your help. We'd like to grow our following on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and have you subscribe on our website. So here's what you can do to help:
Take a minute and follow us on our social media outlets and your name will be entered in the drawing to win this beautiful fry pan from our very own line of Mauviel Copper cookware. It's a 22 cm fry pan with copper exterior and lined with stainless steel. This fry pan is truly one of our favorites. We love its versatility and functionality on the stove top and in the oven. We use this pan daily for warming blanched vegetables in beurre noisette or frying the best eggs. This pan is essential to any cook's kitchen and is valued at 180 euros. For more copper cookware, please visit our online shop, The French Larder at The Cook's Atelier.
Each following or like to our various social media outlets will count as one ticket for the drawing. For instance, if you sign up for one, you get one chance. If you sign up for everything, you will get five chances to win! All you have to do is go to our website and follow the five social media icons on the upper right corner. Remember, to be entered into the contest, it's necessary to 'Follow Us' on our social media outlets, not just 'like' the photo. So if you're already a 'follower' on one outlet, be sure to 'follow us' on the others to enter the contest. Simple!
Feel free to share this contest with others.
The Spring Contest at The Cook's Atelier officially begins today and we'll choose our winner on Monday, April 6, 2015.
Joie de vivre
The cat is out of the bag and we are so excited to share with you our new atelier! We were presented with an opportunity to expand in January 2013 and we couldn't be more thrilled with the results. As you can imagine, it has been a whirlwind of a year. The Cook's Atelier is very proud to announce the opening of our new epicurean center in Beaune. After five successful years at our original atelier, we have collaborated with our friends at AP Wine Beaune to create a destination for food and wine lovers that highlights the local artisan food producers and winemakers of Burgundy and throughout Europe. This new epicurean center is housed in a 17th century building in the center of historic Beaune. Within the building, we have the wine shop, a retail space with cook's tools and provisions, our teaching kitchen and dining room.
Over the last five years in Beaune, we have created a strong network of artisan food producersthat we work with - farmers, organic gardeners, butchers, cheesemakers, bakers, beekeepers - both to support small, local businesses as well as to give our clients the chance to see (and taste!) the best that Burgundy has to offer. Our clients come from all over the world and participate in our programs to learn more about the region through cooking and to experience the conviviality of sharing food and returning to the table. In the unique setting of The Cooks Atelier, we conduct cooking classes that are informative and entertaining, as we believe that cooking should be fun, a bundle of this and a handful of that. As the group gathers around the long kitchen prep table, we give a brief introduction of the menu, then they break into culinary groups, tie on an apron and begin cooking. We circulate during the preparation of the meal to provide guidance and impart culinary knowledge. Once the cooking is complete, the group will be seated around the long zinc topped farm table in our dining room to toast their culinary success and savor the fruits of their labor.
Our goal is to teach our students that cooking can be simple, delicious, and rewarding by making the kitchen an approachable and fun place for everyone. The guests will depart the atelier with experiences that will remain in their memories long after the lesson is concluded. We believe that cooking for others extends the heart, and we gain great satisfaction and boundless pleasure from those who enjoy and appreciate the love of good eating.
Joie de vivre
Just when you think life couldn't get any better, another sweet little bundle arrives. I'd like to introduce you to our latest addition to The Cook's Atelier. In less time than it takes to bake a soufflé, Manon Clair arrived appropriately on market day in Beaune. We are over the moon.
Joie de vivre
Today was one of those days that reminds me of why I moved to France. It was perfect in every single detail A few days ago, Kendall scheduled a garden day at our potager, Clos de la Cozanne. As usual, we talked about what we needed to do in the the potager, what seeds we needed to purchase, and most of all, what we were going to have for lunch. Today was special though. We arrived at Clos de la Cozanne with the usual checklist, but on the kitchen table was a picnic basket. In celebration of my upcoming birthday, the big 5-0, Kendall had arranged the "sunflower picnic". We jumped in the car to a pre-scouted location. As we turned the corner, I knew exactly what was up, the "sunflower picnic". We've talked about it for years regarding the big 5-0. It was magical, surrounded by the people I love and it was the sweetest thing I had ever seen. It was a very special day for me and I am so lucky to have the life I have. In short, always choose happiness. It will never let you down.
Joie de vivre
We are in full swing here at The Cook's Atelier! We've been busy with cooking classes and the weather has finally warmed up so we have been spending the last few days planting our potager. On the list this year are heirloom beets, arugula, swiss chard, radishes, peas, green beans, an assortment of salad greens, fava beans, and zucchini. In a month or two, we'll add the heirloom tomatoes. There really is something wonderful about using ingredients from your own garden, freshly harvested and simply prepared.
To add to all the excitement, we were so lucky to be able to spend a couple days with the very talented couple behind Tiger in a Jar. If you follow Kinfolk, you'll know they are the creative film makers who produced several films for them, including our favorites, Classic Pesto and The Art of Making Bread. They happened to be in France working for a client in Normandy and decided to spend a couple days with us in Burgundy to experience and capture on film the magic of The Cook's Atelier. We took them to our favorite artisan food producers and we drove down the tiny vineyard roads in Madeleine before heading back to the atelier to cook. We'll be sharing the finished product with you soon. A big thank you to Julie and Matt for their inspiration and new found friendship. The world is filled with so many talented, creative people. We are blessed for sure.
Joie de vivre
In between batches of confiture and cooking classes, Kendall delivered a little something sweet, appropriately on market day in Beaune. I'd like to introduce you to our latest addition to The Cook's Atelier.
Petit Luc, perfect in every little detail. Extra bonus, a good appetite!
Oh my goodness, I am completely smitten... Seriously, I think I am in big trouble.
Joie de vivre
A Glimpse into Our Garden
To a cook, there is something really magical about stepping out into your own garden patch to gather ingredients for the day's cooking class or pick raspberries or currants to make confiture to preserve a little taste of summer for the cold winter months. We are proud to share that in addition to supporting the local farmers, we are including produce from our garden on the menu at The Cook's Atelier. We thought you might enjoy a peek into our garden at Clos de la Cozanne. Every time I rattle down the vineyard roads in Madeleine, I am reminded of just how beautiful Burgundy is. All along the Route des Grands Crus, kitchen gardens dot the landscape and you'll see people tending the vines or picking cherries using a vintage wooden ladder. Hollyhocks are blooming along side the road and a colorful display of bee boxes, lined up along an ancient stone wall, will catch your eye. Time has not stood still, but it certainly has slowed down. Just a short drive from Beaune, through picturesque vineyards and lush, green pastures, you will find Clos de la Cozanne. Clos de la Cozanne (aka Kendall & Laurent's home) looks as though it came straight out of a French fairytale. On the property is a little stone cottage, quirky, but perfect in every detail. Just a few steps from the front door, you will see the potager. We've planted an assortment of salad greens, roquette, mizuna, épinards, ruby beets, bronze fennel, radishes, sweet peas, strawberries, haricots verts and rows of heirloom tomatoes. There are plum, apple and cherry trees and rows of raspberries that have been tended to for over 30 years or so by Monsieur and Madame B and tiny, wild strawberries are tucked in and around the old stone wall. To the rear of the property, across the fence, you will see a small herd of Charolais cows sunning themselves in the morning sun, free to roam and being raised in a sustainable manner.
There are plans next year to build a chicken coop for a few clucking hens and a greenhouse is on the wish list. We are growing the good life, one little project at a time. If you really want to eat well, get your hands dirty and plant a little kitchen garden of your own.
Care to join us?
Joie de vivre
It feels as though autumn is finally on its way. The days seem just a little shorter and there is that familiar chill in the morning air. At the markets, the heirloom tomatoes have been replaced with chicories, Cinderella pumpkins and earthly wild mushrooms. We are busy preserving the last little tastes of summer here at The Cook's Atelier. Homemade confitures and cornichons have been on the list this past week and we are hopeful that Madame Pechoux will have some haricot verts at the Wednesday market for canning.
As cooks, the autumn months are our favorite time to be in the kitchen. Savory stews and duck confit are always autumn favorites. We roast root vegetables with olive oil and garden herbs and braise brussels sprouts with lardons and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Autumn desserts bring to mind, heirloom apples and pears, brown butter, and of course, more chocolate.
We have had such a wonderful summer here at The Cook's Atelier, it is hard to let it go. We've been busy with market tours and cooking classes and have participated in the celebration of a 50th wedding anniversary and are preparing for a 50th birthday later this week. We've enjoyed teaching little girls about fresh berry tarts and escargot and learned to make the French classic, tête de veau. We've met like-minded cooks from across the pond and are inspired by those who seek out real food, made from scratch. We are grateful for the new friends we've made at the long zinc top French farm table.
We have a lot of pots currently on the stove here at The Cook's Atelier. We are working on a new project, The French Larder, our online boutique that will be coming soon. Kendall and Laurent are busy with the plans for their new home, a lovely piece of property, with a creek, a kitchen garden, and a tiny stone house that brings to mind a fairytale. The house has been in the care of a sweet French woman for the last 30 years. She and her husband purchased it because of a memory that she had about a special place that she and her mother found as shelter during World War II. It is interesting to see that life continues and the love that you have for something can be passed on and entrusted to a perfect stranger. I am so happy for them and know that their love for each other will add to the spirit of this very special place.
A big thank you to all who have visited The Cook's Atelier this summer. It's been magical, to stay the least. We've been blessed to meet you.
Joie de vivre
Here's a little preview from the wedding in Burgundy. My beautiful daughter and business partner, aka The Wine Girl here at The Cook's Atelier, and her darling husband were married in Beaune.
As a mother-daughter team, we put our heads together putting all the details and decorations into place. The focus was on the dinner celebration and wine, of course, and my daughter, Kendall, and her husband, Laurent, invited only the closest family and friends. It was a small affair, complete with The Cook's Atelier signature décor (and lots and lots of candlelight). The day was full of magic and the love they share is so sweet. I am happy for them beyond words.
Here's to the bride and groom, the most beautiful couple in all of Burgundy.
Oh, and by the way, her "something blue" was our vintage blue 2 CV all dressed up and ready for the big day!
photo credits: Jen Altman
Joie de vivre
2008 Beginnings | Spring
Oh my gosh, it is already here. The last month has flown by in a flash and it looks like winter is finally over. It has been busy at The Cook's Atelier. With the promise ofblanquette de veau, my new French son-in-law has helped me transform my very own, darling French apartment into our kitchen atelier. The whirl of the mixer was replaced by the buzz of a jigsaw and buckets of creamy, white paint were stirred with a wooden spoon. We scoured the local brocantes in search of the perfect French farm table for the dining room and we have our eyes set on a vintage chandelier. Shelves are filled with old French jam jars holding silverware, favorite cookbooks and treasures we've been gathering along the way.
Finally, The Cook's Atelier has a home.
Just outside our big French windows, we've filled our window boxes with organic herbs and last year's heirloom tomato seeds, gathered from the market, have been planted in tiny pots on the windowsill. We've planted a small organic potager in raised beds, terracotta pots and vintage zinc laundry tubs on my daughter's terrace.
Spring calls for a much more simple style of cooking. Less really is more. A quick blanch or brief sauté is all that is really needed to highlight the flavors of spring. At the market, we are just beginning to see the the first bright spring vegetables. Tender white and green asparagus, fresh morels, artichokes, green garlic and tiny, fragrant strawberries fill the market vendors' tables. English peas cooked for a few minutes in a pool of sweet butter or new potatoes, primeurs in France, lightly crushed with butter and a sprinkling of fleur de sel are some of our favorites of the season.
So here's to all things spring and new beginnings. Should you see us on the road, you'll know it's us because the back of our 2CV, Madeleine, will be filled with baskets of fresh produce from the local market, orange tulips and a bottle or two of Burgundy.
Joie de vivre
It's Christmas time in Burgundy and we are surrounded by all the reasons we moved to France: friends, family and a life rich in simplicity. To add to the Christmas spirit, we've been blessed with several days of snow and Beaune is festively lit with garland and twinkle lights that illuminate the cobblestone streets.
In celebration, we'll be enjoying a traditional fish dinner inspired by the South of France (an ode to Laurent's origins, Kendall's husband and the Frenchman of The Cook's Atelier) and a new tradition of serving les treizes desserts de Noël on Christmas Eve before we bundle up for our walk to church for Christmas Eve mass. In general, the French enjoy their holiday meal on the 24th of December. In Provence, the meal is called le gros souper and is served before midnight mass. For dinner, we love to make red rascasse, a Mediterranean fish, baked in sea salt and bay leaves and served with steamed fingerling potatoes and pistou we preserved from last summer's garden.
At the end of the meal, we will honor the Provençal tradition of the thirteen desserts. It is said to represent Jesus and the twelve Apostles at the last supper. The assortment varies from village to village, but they all include the les four mendiants (literally the four beggars) followed by Pome a l'huile (the olive oil pump) and the two nougats.
This list of the first seven desserts are:
Hazelnuts or walnuts symbolizing the order of St. Augustin
Dried figs symbolizing the Franciscan order
Almonds symbolizing the Carmelite order
Raisins symbolizing the Dominican order
Pompe a l'huilesymbolizing the olive oil pump, a flat yeast bread made with olive oil such as fougasse
White nougat, a soft candy made with sugar, eggs, pistachios, honey and almonds symbolizing the good times
Black nougat, a hard candy made with honey and almonds symbolizing the sad times
The next six desserts may include dates, the symbol of Mary and Jesus' safe journey from the East: oranges, clementines, apples, pears, melon, quince paste, and Calissons from Aix en Provence. It is said that one should sample each of the thirteen desserts for good luck in the New Year.
There is something really special about the Christmas holiday in France. We fill our homes and atelier with shades of white and fresh greens. The focus is on good food, simple entertaining and lots of candlelight. A simple, cozy, hand-made holiday and filled with the tiny little details that make it magical.
Wishing you a Joyeux Noël and a very Happy New Year!
Whole Fish Baked in Sea Salt
One whole fish weighing about 1 1/2 pounds, cleaned, head, tail and scales left on
2 pounds course sea salt
extra-virgin olive oil for serving
For the Pistou
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
3 garlic cloves
2 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
To make the pistou, pound the pine nuts and garlic with a pinch of salt in a mortar. Add a few basil leaves and continue to pound. Alternating basil and olive oil, continue pounding until a smoothing past is achieved. Stir in any remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Makes about one cup.
For the Fish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Rinse the fish with cold water, pat it dry and refrigerate until just before cooking.
Pour a layer of sea salt in the bottom of an ovenproof baking dish and place the fish on top. Place the lemon slices inside the belly cavity of the fish and season with freshly ground black pepper. Pour the remaining salt over the fish to cover it, leaving the tail fin exposed if necessary.
Place the fish in the middle rack in the center of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the fish from the oven and gently crack off the layer of salt, removing as much of it as you can.
Remove the filets and place on slightly warmed dinner plates. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with lemon slices and pistou.
Joie de vivre
Yesterday was a picture-perfect day in Burgundy. The sun was shining and the air was crisp and clean after a day of seasonal showers. The sky was a brilliant shade of blue and it seemed to be the perfect excuse to take a drive in the country. Just minutes from the center of Beaune you'll find yourself in one of the most beautiful areas of the region. As you drive down the country roads, you'll meander through the vineyards and little villages filled with stone houses and kitchen gardens and have an opportunity to experience a taste of rural France.
At the end of a lane, about twenty minutes outside Beaune just near the edge of the forest, you'll find La Ferme de la Ruchotte. It is owned and operated by Frédéric and Eva Ménager who have restored the old farmhouse and raise heritage breeds of pigs, goats, lambs and chickens on their biodynamic farm. Monsieur Ménager is known for his advocacy and passionate support for the cause of real chicken, properly fed and reared. As you enter the farm, ancient chicken breeds strut and share the space with a herd of black pigs, roaming freely in a field, rooting to find the perfect patch of mud.
As cooks, we are not restaurant people. We prefer to entertain at home with a group of friends or linger in the kitchen with a glass of wine and create our meals from the seasonal offerings at the market. However, there is one exception noted; the opportunity to sit down for a long, leisurely lunch prepared by a like-minded cook who is passionate about his ingredients and respects the animals that he raises.
As we entered the old farmhouse we were greeted by Madame Ménager and seated at the end of the long harvest table, lined with fall pumpkins, near the vintage wood-burning stove. The menu was written on a slate board and included an aromatic pumpkin and apple soup, wild mushrooms that Monsieur Ménager's mother had delivered to the farm the day before, a perfectly roasted chicken with truffle risotto, local cheese and walnuts, and crêpes Suzette.
At La Ferme de la Ruchotte, the menus are always seasonal and created around the animals raised on the farm. Much has been said lately about the problems with the industrial food system and the disconnection between the food that we eat. We are passionate supporters of the connection between the farmer and the cook and it is even better when the farmer IS the cook. Take note, this is what responsible, truly local eating looks like.
Joie de vivre
I just recently returned from Valloire, a tiny mountain village located in the French Alps. Specifically, it is located in the Savoie department in the Rhône-Alpes region in southeastern France. The region is known for its pedigreed beef, wonderful milk, cream and cheese and is blessed with several artisan producers who are passionate about preserving the culinary traditions of the area. The traditional food of the area is a "stick to your ribs" type of fare; think fondue, crusty breads, potatoes and artisan sausage served with wine from the region or a glass of cold beer.
My days were spent visiting the little hamlets in the area and enjoying picnics near the river on the green slopes just outside the little village. The sky was bright blue and the ground was covered with an amazing assortment of wild flowers. All was quiet except for the distant sound of the bells on the sheep while they grazed just up the hill. To say it was picturesque is an understatement. There are plenty of well-maintained little potagers dotting the countryside as well as little patches dedicated to the art of keeping bees. They have a weekly market in Valloire that surrounds the beautiful baroque style church in the center of the village that features artisan sausage makers, regional cheese from the area such as Beaufort (cow), Chevrotin (goat) and Reblochon, made from raw cow's milk and honey made from the wild alpine flowers.
It was during this visit that I had the pleasure of meeting Monsieur Christophe Traviegnet, the cheese maker at La Ferme du Pré Clos. By definition, farmstead cheese is a type of artisan cheese that is made traditionally from milk from the producer's own herd of cows, sheep or goats. Artisan cheese is made by hand using the craftsmanship of skilled cheese makers and the taste of the cheese reflects the care of the cheese maker as well as the terrior of where it is produced.
I arrived at the creamery mid-morning to a little crowd already gathered who were interested in learning more about the art of making cheese. We tasted fresh cow's milk from that morning's milking as we sampled an assortment of cheese made on the farm. On the day I visited, M. Traviegnet was making a Tomme cheese. Tomme is a type of cheese, and is a generic name given to a class of cheese produced mainly in the French Alps. They are normally produced from the skim milk left over after the cream has been removed to produce butter and richer cheeses. I spent the morning with him as he worked and I can honestly say this was one of the best mornings of my trip. It is exciting to meet people who are so passionate about what they do and who are dedicated to the preservation of culinary traditions.
Things around here have a natural order to them. People do what they love and they seem to be connected to the land. It's very local, not just a saying or a movement, it's just the way it is. After finishing his morning making cheese, M. Traviegnet drained off the remaining whey and returned it to the milk buckets and mentioned that he would be giving it to his pigs. It's a great example of sustainabilty and coming full-circle on the farm. Thanks to a new generation of farmstead cheese makers, traditional cheese making is becoming more and more popular in America and many come to France to learn their trade. Be sure to seek out the artisan cheese makers in your local market and do your part to help preserve this culinary tradition.
Marinated Fresh Goat Cheese
Marinating goat cheese will give it more flavor. It is the perfect accompaniment for rustic bread or a green salad from your garden.
A selection of small fresh goat cheeses, approximately 2 ounces each
Extra-virgin olive oil, preferably organic
Place the cheeses in a jar and add the oil to cover. Add the peppercorns and thyme to taste. Cover the jar tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. It is important to keep the cheese completely submerged in the olive oil. You may use the olive oil in the dressing for the salad.
Joie de vivre
We are often asked why we choose to live in France and what makes France so special. For us, we can only say it is our obsession with good and simple food. Through our cooking classes and market tours, we enjoy sharing the knowledge that we have learned over the years about the connection to food that French people seem to have. Good food in France is not about recipes as much as it is about the quality of the ingredients. You eat what is in season here and what is fresh and local. It's not a political statement or a new way of thinking, it is an everyday connection to the things that make life worth living; people you love, good food, good wine and the time to relax and enjoy it. It is as simple as that.
Although each region has its own specific cuisine that it is known for, the real draw for us is the connection that French people have to the simple act of eating. They take their time, each meal is savored and never rushed. The table is properly set, no eating in the car, and most importantly, they know how to slow down and savor the things in life that truly count. Things just taste better in France. The focus is about real food, the artisan producers and the local cooks who create it.
On a recent visit to the Savoie, we had the pleasure of meeting Monsieur Michel Grange, an artisan bread baker from Bonne Nuit. Bonne nuit, is French for "good night" and is one of a few little hamlets just outside the village of Valloire in the Rhône-Alpes region in southeastern France. We spent our days researching artisan food producers in the area and were pleased to be able to visit with Monsieur Grange on more than one occasion. After a short drive south on the curvy mountain road just outside Valloire, you will reach the boulangerie of Monsieur Grange. It's not the typical boulangerie that you might be used to seeing on a visit to France. There is no counter or display of fancy breads, no initial artfully created on the boule with flour, like those of a famous Parisian boulangerie. This is rustic bread, made by hand, from a true artisan producer.
Monsieur Grange bakes his bread in a very small, one room, stone building located at the end of a country road. There is a little sign posted over the door that reads "1892 four à Pain". This translates to "1892 bread oven". Simple and to the point. The room is dark with the exception of a stream of sunlight coming through the only window and the glowing embers when he opens the door to the wood fired oven. Through the doorway, at the rear of the tiny, dirt-floored building, you can see the old oven, a stack of wood, a table, an old-fashioned scale, a few proofing buckets and rolls of linen he uses for proofing.
Now this is artisan bread making. No whirl of a mixer or steam ovens here, Monsieur Grange makes every loaf by hand, weighing his ingredients on an old scale. There isn't even electricity in the building. He makes only one type of bread; pain d'alpage, an alpine country loaf, and only sells his bread on Wednesdays at noon. He arrives very early in the morning to build the fire in the oven and returns late morning, when the embers have cooled to the correct temperature, to bake the bread. The first morning that we met him, the bread was proofing on the table and he was preparing the bread for the oven. We arrived early so we would have a chance to visit with him and watch him work. Once the boules were proofed and ready to bake, he sliced a quick design on the top with an old paring knife, and slid them in the hot oven using a long handled bread peel aided by a family member holding a flashlight. He was kind enough to let us photograph him while he worked and suggested that we return at noon to pick up my loaf of bread. As we arrived a few minutes after noon, Monsieur Grange was waiting patiently near his car for our return and politely pointed out, it was time for lunch.
On the following Wednesday, we returned just before noon in time to watch Monsieur Grange take the bread from the oven. A small crowd was forming in anticipation. We were amazed at the number of people who arrived to this little stone building, right at noon, to pick up their loaves of freshly baked bread. All at once, Monsieur Grange quickly placed the warm loaves on the table, just outside the doorway and, within a few seconds, they were all gone. This bread was enjoyed at an impromptu picnic with local cheese and a drizzle of honey from the hives in the pasture across the lane.
We love visiting the little villages and seeking out the artisan food producers and local cooks who are best known for their preparation of a regional meal. A meal that begins with seasonal ingredients and is prepared by cooks who take pleasure in slowing down and sharing the meal with people that they love In France, they take their food very seriously. They enjoy the art of preparing a meal and the leisurely time it takes to eat it. It's not about rushing or getting back to the office in an hour flat. It's about taking time to reconnect with your family at the table. This is done through preparing and cooking lunch and dinner each and every day.
As Americans, we should take note.
Joie de vivre
An Approachable Guide to Sustainable Food
When was the last time that you shook hands with your local farmer or asked about how the chickens were raised when you picked up a dozen eggs at your local farmers' market? These simple questions offer a glimpse of what it means to eat sustainably. It's not difficult; it just takes some planning and the desire to be more connected to the food you eat and to educate yourself on the way our food is produced from farm to table. Eating sustainably really is about being conscious of what you are eating and how that affects the health of your family, your community and the planet.
As cooks, we have been long-time supporters of shopping at our local farmers' markets, cooking with the seasons, and the philosophy behind the growing sustainable movement. However, we are surprised at the number of my students in my cooking classes who are not aware of how to practice this in their everyday lives. Here are some simple ways that you can eat well and at the same time be part of something good.
Put value back in food
One of the most difficult things to do when one tries to eat sustainably is to rethink what you've learned about the price of food. With the current economic times, we may have tried to trim our household budget, and the first thing that usually gets slashed is the money we spend on groceries. Fifty years ago the average American spent 20% of their monthly budget on food. Today, that's down to 10%. Now, more than ever, is the perfect time to get reconnected with the food you put on your table. Highly processed food is expensive, and it's bad for your health and the health of the environment.
Buy local, buy organic
By now, we have all heard that the produce grown in the United States travels an average of 1,500 miles before it shows up at our neighborhood grocery store. A simple way to begin living a sustainable lifestyle is to get to know the farmers at your local market or join a community supported agriculture (CSA) group. Buying organic ensures that you are not consuming harmful pesticides and that you are supporting farmers who work their land sustainably. Not only will you be able to purchase the freshest food possible, but you'll also be doing something good for your community by supporting local farmers.
Cook with the seasons
The typical American doesn't bat an eye when shopping in the grocery store at the sight of tomatoes in February or an assortment of berries in the middle of winter. We seem to be disconnected from the seasons. Your cooking will greatly improve just by shopping with the seasons and choosing the best quality ingredients.
Start a kitchen garden
Even if you live in the city, you can get a little closer to the food you eat by starting a kitchen garden. If space is tight, try growing your favorite herbs in a container or even an assortment of your favorite salad greens in a pot on the terrace or in a window box.
Eat real food, avoid packaging
Eat real foods like grass-fed beef, cold-pressed olive oil, real butter, whole milk and artisan cheese. Over-processed food requires more packaging. We avoid industrialized food like the plague, and don't even get us started on the industrial production of beef, pork, chicken and eggs. We purchase these items from farmers that we know, who have a love of what they do, and respect for their animals and the planet. Another thing - it's better to purchase a whole chicken, rather than just pieces. By doing this you ensure the freshness of the bird, avoid excess packaging, and you can stretch your grocery dollar too. When you purchase an entire bird, you can create several meals and use the leftovers to make a pot of chicken stock.
Eat less meat, quality over quantity
It is said that grain-fed, pen-raised animals consume half of the antibiotics used in America and that industrially-raised livestock produce more greenhouse gases than the transportation sector. Choose beef, pork and poultry that have been sustainably raised, and make it twice a week rather than every day. You'll be doing your health a favor as well as the health of the planet.
Invest in a market bag
The question you often hear as you are checking out of your local market is, paper or plastic? The option is clear - neither. Pick up a colorful market bag to tote your groceries home. It's a simple way to make a difference.
Bring the family back to the table
It is said that the replacement of the American family dinner with processed, quick meals on the run is linked to a variety of social problems, including depression and the increased rate of obesity in young people. Bring your family back to the table and get reconnected.
This was posted on Sustainable Table on March 5, 2009