[When] I stopped dining out.

 

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Blueberry pie in the making.

When dining out the food all tastes good — it usually tastes like food. But you know what; it doesn’t; it just doesn’t have that taste of home. It does not taste like I made it, nor does it taste like we made it.

When dining out there’s no second guessing either —maybe I should have added more salt — or this tastes really off. Whether it’s a quiche, pasta, soup or pulled pork made from Grey Rock Farm’s pork. We constantly crave and create the food we make.

I don’t think our opinion of scratch-cooked food is overtly fantastical, because we can make it any better than any restaurant, but then on the other hand I guess, well, we can do that.

Why we choose to eat home cooking, as some would call it, is because, first, we know exactly what it is that we want to eat. We don’t have to go out, scour a menu for something we might be interested in. If we feel like making a rustic cabbage soup, or homemade whole wheat bread then we make it. We appreciate the time it takes to develop a recipe or time it takes in slow cooking.

woodspoon

When you eat something you actually put effort into, and not just something that arrives to you already prepared, you have an appreciation of that food, the ingredients or development of the complex or even subtle hints of flavors.

Secondly, we strive for a self-sufficient lifestyle, meaning we try and take care of ourselves. We can make anything you would find at any restaurant — scratch-made tortillas, pork carnitas, smokey baba ganoush, yeah, we got all that going on. And we use whole foods, we don’t skimp there — prepared or processed foods are a no-no in our house. I mean we make our own barbecue for goodness sake.

I learned to appreciate home cooked meals from my grandmother. Never anything less than that was made in her home — from scratch sauce, meatballs, frittata and my personal favorite — fruit pies. I take inspiration from her cooking methods and her stories of how foods used to be made.

A favorite story of mine she tells is when a pig used to be slaughtered, everything even the blood was utilized. Nonny says they used to fry it and it would cook up into a tasty little snack.

One of the mainstays in any kitchen should be local and seasonal foods. We can and preserve and generally keep many of these local delicacies in stock all year long. Canning tomatoes, pears, peaches, pickles and much more as our ever expanding pantry grows so does the list of from-scratch dishes we can make.

The tomatoes go wonderfully in sauces and soups, the fruit for smoothies and deserts and our herb garden provides us with great dried products for teas and seasonings. So when we cook we’re always thinking — where was this grown, how was it grown, who grew it — ever mindful of what we’re consuming, because the story behind the food matters just as much as the food.

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Our fav. cafe in Burlington, Vt., Penny Cluse Cafe.

So why sometimes do we go out for a meal? We, just like most people, appreciate getting out of the house. But even when we do head out for a bite, we try and treat it as an experience, not just going out and paying for someone to make our food for us.

We enjoy the surroundings — dining outside or enjoying the decor and lightning of the restaurant. We don’t make it out often to a restaurant, so we try and make it matter — trying to enjoy things we can’t make at home, like a great haddock fish fry from the Fish Co. of Liverpool, or oatmeal-battered rabbit from LOFO, or the gazpacho from Alto Cinco — by far one of the best cold soups I have ever eaten.

By making these times we dine out experiences, rather than the norm, and appreciating the fact that there are other good cooks and menus out there besides us and our home cooking is what we feel is the proper way to enjoy blending our food experiences.

We’re not frightened by making a quick cream sauce to top some pasta —whisking together some milk, butter and flour. We’re not turned off by whipping up a pot of curried garbanzo beans, or taking the time to soak our whole wheat flour in order to make a velvety soft bread the next day.

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Spring veggies – asparagus, ramps, green onions.

What we are afraid of is people losing tradition — forgetting how to cook — not caring enough to cook their own food and allowing the big box burger joint around the corner make dinner for them all week. Because they’re not cooking at these places, they’re selling an amalgamation of food like products modified with thickening agents, processed flavor enhancers and preservatives.

So let’s get back to the kitchen — cooking with your family, by yourself — learn about your food and experience food like you never have before.

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