You probably have already figured out, I like to cook. Especially if you follow me on social media channels like
Through the years, I have always enjoyed cooking at home whenever possible but cooking in restaurants, hotels, large venues rarely provided me the time. 2020 like many people, really prompted me to cook at home, largely due to COVID-19. In March 2020, the first lockdowns began with restaurants being forced to close. Consumers began to panic buy at grocery stores, Costco, Amazon and more. It seems like overnight, the world as we knew it changed and it became hard to find a bag of flour, yeast, chicken, canned beans, toilette paper and many other normally stocked sku's at the grocery.
I found myself at a new farmer’s market in the spring on nearby John’s island. The market is known as the Sea Island Farmer’s Market happens every Saturday morning. There you can find, locally raised Pork, lamb, chicken, grass-fed beef and pastured duck. Also, there is a plethora of vegetables from local farms, heirloom grains & rice from a local miller, local kombucha, elderberry elixirs, and coffee. Usually there are a couple of food trucks with some tasty BBQ, Grilled Sausages or Woodfired Pizza. Having access to such variety of locally produced and grown food is truly a blessing. Because of these terrific producers, we do not have to rely on the larger food system that supplies much of the country. We saw first hand during the first wave of the pandemic how fragile and a tangled web the industrial food system model is, and what can happen when it is threatened.
This is a reminder of why Local Food Systems are so important to communities and the people that live within.
Local Food Systems, provide a direct connection to the people and place their food is grown or raised. It also keeps food dollars in those local economies where they exist, and provide tasty nutritious foods for the community. These foods are often heritage breed animals raised in a responsible humane manner. Much of the vegetables are often heirloom varieties and sometimes organically grown, or they follow organic standards but are not certified. Food grown locally has many other benefits. They are less traveled, fresher and more nutritious. You have likely been hearing about "local food" for decades now, or maybe not. In my opinion, 2020 shined a brighter light on the importance of Local Food Systems or Food ways.
The new year 2021 has begun. COVID-19 is still very much a daily topic and continues to effect life as we knew it prior. In the meantime, as long as I work from home, I will continue to cook at home instead of eating out, or cooking away from home. I find the biggest differences of cooking at home vs. for a living at a restaurant or commercial food operation, are: smaller audience, usually of one. Smaller and less equipment to clean and maintain but, not as powerful. More condensed footprint or space. I get to cook what I choose to cook, not what is demanded by a business and it's customer base. I still however, deploy techniques that a Professional Chef would use in a restaurant. Definitely not as “preciously plated,” as you would find in some establishments. I was never one to “overly fuss” a plate with tweezers and flower petals or raw sliced watermelon radish garnishes anyway. Those unnecessary steps and ingredients only add expense more often, not value to the final product. I prefer to use ingredients like Maldon Sea Salt, or a drizzle of high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or maybe citrus zest minced herbs that enhance flavor and elevate the dish from simple to more complex.
Whatever your preference is to cook at home, I encourage you to look for locally raised foods at a farmers market near you, whenever possible. Also, I have rediscovered the importance of a well stocked pantry. Your pantry not only includes your cupboard or closet where you store shelf stable goods, but your freezer and your refrigerator too! When you cook a meal, especially for one or two people, you will find it easier to cook more than what is needed for one meal but, can be repurposed for another and maybe another. Rice for example, is perfect for serving right away when just cooked but, you can save and store in the refrigerator some for another meal. I love to make fried rice dishes for breakfast or lunch with any leftover rice. Also, soups, stocks, vegetables, grits or polenta and more, all have more than one life! I heard the term “Nextovers” on a food podcast a couple of years ago and it stuck with me. That is, not viewing cooked but unconsumed food as “leftovers” but as ingredients to create another dish altogether! Brilliant. I would love to hear from you, some of your home cooking adventures, pantry tips and about the #nextovers you create. I encourage you to subscribe and follow me on this blog if you don’t already. I look forward to another year of cooking! In the meantime, more sourdough!
Bon Appetite! 🥂🥬🥦🐓🐖🐂🐑🐟🦐🦆