Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer has finally arrived!

Welcome back Summer, you have been really missed!! The Kitchen is once again open for business and if last year taught me anything, it is that life is never exactly what we expect. Right now I have so many ideas and thoughts racing through my head that it is a little difficult to figure out where a good starting point might be.

These are my giant Roma Tomato Plants!
I began growing these back in late May and never
truly thought this garden would work.
I am now a believer in my own skills!
I turned the light switch off on the my dining room desk last fall because it was time for me to concentrate on the most important job in my life, that would be me being a dad. Many people don't know this about me but I am a full time stay-at-home father of three great children!! I used to try and hide that fact or kind of pass over the things I did at home. It hasn't been very easy for me to go from being in charge of full kitchens, preparing meals for hundreds, launching big parties...to diaper duty and homework. Three children and a whole house to look after was never something I learned in school and the 'family' support network is not an option for me to turn towards when I need advice. It is also not easy to watch as my better half works some long hours and brings home our only real paycheck. She is amazing and I probably don't say "Thanks" nearly enough, especially for all she does for the kids and myself.

Paraphrasing just a bit here..."but a funny thing happened on the way to the market"...Realizing that I have strengths that go along with my weaknesses was and still is hard for me to come to terms with. I have learned that not only was I pretty damn good at being a Chef, it just so happens that I am even better at being the man of the house!! Certainly was a shock to me...apparently however, not to most people around me. One of these days I will stop doubting myself and listen more.

Right about now, you may be asking yourself what any of this has to do with food, recipes or even being healthy. I am getting back to that sort of thing in a minute. Before I do though, it is important for me to let people know that writing, cooking and coming up with new recipes is really fun for me and is also therapeutic in many ways. I also have a bit of green thumb and spent somewhere around 6-8 weeks working on my yard, making a huge vegetable garden and generally feeling good about what I wanted in life.

So the book got placed on the shelf until I had free time to bring her back to the table. I dusted off the notebook which was covered in my daughters artwork, grabbed out my recipe files and started to get back into working on book creation 2.0

Sweet Onions are growing and coming along great!
I have missed writing and creating these past months and am looking forward to a fun filled summer of exploring different Farmers Markets, coming up with new ideas, playing in the
kitchen and making dreams come true. I may have even convinced the before mentioned other half that we need to invite people over to see my new garden oasis and to also try some of these recipes. Sangria anyone?

I plan on doing things different this summer as well. Recipes are important and they go along with all the stories which come from the people and farms that are such an inspiration when I am creating things in the kitchen or writing. I am going to cut out the marathon recipe weekends and concentrate on quality over quantity. This summer is also going to be about taking a stand and being much more vocal about the food community and culture around all of us.

This brings me to the reason why I felt the urge to get things rolling again and why I am going to be an advocate for doing things the right way when it comes to food.

The other day I was at our local supermarket and needed strawberries, so I grabbed a container and for some reason never really looked at the package. In my head it was berry season and naturally anything in the produce area would be fresh, local and packed with flavor. The strawberries weren't exactly bad but they were far from what I expected. These little guys were picked somewhere down in Georgia, then trucked to some shipping facility, then transported to another facility where they were divided up and shipped to us here in MA...now that they are here though, they get loaded into yet another truck for drop off at the supermarket, where they are then placed in a cooler until they make it out onto into the produce area. They have been handled by countless pairs of hands, sprayed with who knows what, washed, left to dry, brought in and out of a cooler, washed again and then finally they get put out on display for everyone to grab at.

These are the strawberries I mentioned.
They were gigantic and packed with flavor!
Or....as I did this morning...you can go the local farmers market and buy your strawberries that were picked a few hours ago (while most of us were sleeping). You can pay the same person who picked them and drive home with the entire car smelling of fresh picked goodness. In a nutshell, you get better quality produce, a cheaper price, you help out the local economy and you have the feeling of doing something better when it comes to the food in your life.

These markets are literally everywhere!! I have taken the whole family to different markets, some close to home and others further away. Each one of them has something different, a new vendor or an interesting way of presenting themselves. Live music, activities for the kids, gardening resources, fantastic local south coast wines and so much more.

Did you know that many markets will match dollar for dollar what you receive in the way of SNAP benefits as well! Seriously, there is no excuse when it comes to the food we eat!

Here is a great way to see where you can find a local market here on the South Shore of MA.

Edible South Shore and South Coast is a member of Edible Communities and has some great ideas when it comes to food, farms and living the good life. Clicking the name will bring you to the main website and by clicking on this one, you will be taken directly to the page where they list all of the current farmers markets in the area.

Squash is growing well in the garden. Next season it is
time to flex the muscles a bit more and try
for some more variety
I also want to give a special shout out to both the Hingham Farmers Market and the Weymouth Farmers Markets today. I visited both and had a great time with the family. The people were fantastic and the markets were hopping. My heart holds a special place for the market in Hingham after doing some food demos late last summer. The people I met made a very lasting impression and I owe them a huge thank you for all the support!!

I'll see everyone here on the blog page and over on Facebook during the weeks to come. Feels great to back doing what I love surrounded by the people, friends and family who support my efforts. I love all of you!


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