What I mean by It’s Not Easy Eating Green
American ideas about sustainable eating are very stereotyped. You seem to fall into a few narrow categories. There is the pure environmentalist that strives to live off the grid, eat only organic and avoid all processed food. They recycle everything from used aluminum foil to baby food bottles and walk to work up hill both ways. Then there is the pure consumer who feeds their children only microwaved foods from the freezer section, that is when they are not gas-guzzling their super-sized SUV through the drive-thru window at the fast food joint down the street. Of course most of us live somewhere in the middle of these extremes. It can be very difficult on the modern family to avoid the fast food place down the street, and those of us with more than the 2.2 children frequently find the need to drive a car bigger than a Prius. However, that doesn’t mean that we have to swing all the way to either side. You can raise a family in a modest sustainable way, making home cooked food that is seasonable, healthy and appealing to all. That is who this site is for; those of us in the middle. We are trying to do what we can to save the planet, but we feel the need to balance that with the realities of raising a family. It’s okay to run through the drive-thru every now and then, and the polar ice caps will not melt just because you did not recycle the smelly tuna fish cans.
It’s Not Easy Eating Green strives to provide recipes that embrace seasonal cooking and the idea that limited use of animal proteins is not only a healthier balanced way to eat, but also friendlier to the environment. I try to encourage my children to appreciate and enjoy scratch cooking, whole-grains and the abundance of locally made foods. We enjoy “Field Trips” to local food producers to see where our food comes from and further educate ourselves on a sustainable food chain. The recipes here do not fall into one stereotype either. While many of our recipes are vegetarian, others contain meat. While many of the recipes are whole-grain, others are not. We have sugary desserts, healthy salads, hearty soups and many meatless meals. There is a little something for everyone here at the little blog that lives in the middle of the stereotypes. It’s not easy eating green, but we try!
I’m from a lot of places. The second child of two many-generations southerners, I was born in Baltimore, grew up in Texas and have spent most of the last twenty years in New England. There are a lot of different regional cuisines I associate myself with; Southern, Chesapeake Bay area, Tex-Mex and Yankee. My food is a reflection of that. However, before we get to the food, here is the story of how I went from IT specialist to food blogger.
A long time ago I worked in the IT world. Lucky for me I was laid off about the same time as everyone else that worked in IT. After spending several months trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life (which mainly involved spending a lot of time at the laundromat and exploring the little shops in and around Harvard Square) I decided to go back to what I wanted to do when I was a little kid; be a chef. So, I enrolled at Johnson & Wales University in their Culinary Arts program. For one year I made the trip from Boston’s North End to Providence at 5:00 am four times a week. At the age of 32 I spent several hours a day hanging out with 19 year old boys that thought that their one year of experience at the local steak house made them the next Iron Chef. That takes a certain type of dedication.
While attending school, I worked as an intern at America’s Test Kitchen, the publishers of Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country magazine as well as countless books and a hit television show. After finishing my degree and internship, I continued on at America’s Test Kitchen as an Assistant Test Cook working on the book America’s Best Lost Recipes. It was this project that started my still current fascination with heritage and retro recipes. For the project we reviewed and tried out hundreds of old “Lost” family recipes that time had forgotten. For months we baked, roasted and sauteed our way through hits and misses and then standardized these recipes for the home cook. Working in the test kitchen environment of America’s Test Kitchen was an unequaled opportunity. I was surrounded by people who knew more about food than I ever hoped to know. I learned how to bake from cake designers and pastry chefs; how to grill and fry from food scientists and how to develop recipes from test cooks who had been doing it for years and years.
When my project ended I took a position as the Sous Chef at a boutique catering company that specialized in weddings and high end events. For a year I developed my cooking skills while learning the ins and outs of catering large events. I cooked for Dana Farber’s Boston Great Chefs Cooking for a Cure (Now called Chefs Cooking for Hope) and the Anthony Spinazzola Grand Gala. I catered sweet sixteen birthday parties out of broom closets and weddings on the lawn of the Commandant’s house looking out at the U.S.S. Constitution floating in the harbor. This was a charmed year, full of hard work and really unbelievably good co-workers.
After a year at the catering company, life began to intrude on the ability to stay in the kitchen. I knew I wanted to start a family, and I realized I could not continue the two hours of commuting time and twelve hour days of hard labor and heavy lifting. I left the kitchen for a full time catering manager position at a college much closer to where I lived. Here I stayed and further polished my catering skills until I left the workforce all together. By the time I left, I constantly felt I was really working two full time jobs; my job as a catering manager and my job as a mother and wife. It was because I felt I was failing at both that I felt the need to focus on the more important of the two.
You can ask almost any Stay-at-home mom what the hardest part of staying home and raising children is, and the answer will usually be boredom and the feeling like she is missing out on her career. Within months of leaving my job I realized I had two choices; go crazy (no thank you) or do something to challenge me and keep me entertained. I also felt the need to do something, no matter how small, to help others realize that there is a place for those of us that lie somewhere between the unaware consumer raising a family on processed junk food and the tree-hugging stereo type of the family that is completely green. I started this blog in May of 2011 as a way to share my recipes and to help everyone realize that raising a family and living a sustainable life are not mutually exclusive ideas. Since then I’ve created recipes that appeal to both children and adults. Not all my recipes are kid-friendly and not all of them are meatless because I believe that variety is the spice of life. I hope you enjoy this blog and choose to stick around for awhile.
Meet the team
Me: This is me. I’m just a normal mom with a little time on my hands and a lot of recipes to share.
Hubby: He’s pretty fantastic. He’s good at washing dishes, great at laundry, and don’t tell him I said so, but his chocolate chip cookies are better than mine.
Little Guy: My right hand man. He’s helpful in the kitchen and even getting pretty good at doing dishes. I use him as my barometer to just how kid-friendly my dishes are. He won’t eat most of them at first but a little coaxing will get him to admit they are all pretty good. His favorite thing to say after finally trying something is, “Hmm, not so bad!”
Miss Magoo: The name just sounds good, and she’s so cute she needed a cute name.
Squishy Delishy: The name says it all. He’s such a squishy little guy that he’s delish. You can’t help but pinch the cheeks!
The Science Desk: My dad. He’s a physicist with a background in biophysics, nuclear physics and geophysics. He also acts as a spring board for ideas and as the noble editor of my posts.
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