autumnal feast: lake forest farms | part two

Here are some more images of the beautiful dinner put on by Lake Forest Farm. Still reeling from the beauty of the evening, and the delicious treats that were served by Chef Joey Dawkins of Wodafood.

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Q: While we were talking, you mentioned that this was the first Farm to Table dinner you have been a part of. As a chef, what does it mean to you have this kind of “fresh + local” movement in our area?

JD: Right now local is coming on strong in many cities across America. People are tired of being fed food that is shipped across the nation just to save a penny. They’re quickly realizing that the same produce in the store is actually being grown down the street from them. Educating people about this fact and showing them where to find it is priceless. People actually being able to eat the food from the farm they just took a tour of helps connect them with the land and the farm who grew. It means the world to me to be able to be the chef that helped bring it all together.

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Q: What was the reasoning behind the dishes you chose to showcase for the dinner?

JD: I chose classical French cuisine because everything was being served with French wine. I was also classically trained in French culinary as well.  I think the main reason though was because French cuisine was made to warm the bones in the fall and winter.

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Q: What is your absolute favorite fall dish to make?

JD: I would say my all time favorite fall dish would actually be a very simple one. Tomato basil soup with heavy cream and a three cheese grilled cheese. I make it every year for my family when the leaves begin to change. It’s actually a tradition in our family now.

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 You can learn more about Chef Joey Dawkins and Wodafood here.

the kinfolk table: thoughts on family, food, and the importance of gathering

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It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the quarterly publication Kinfolk. My love for seasonal eating and food photography has flourished in part because of their beautifully curated pages. Each issue is developed with such care and I treasure my volumes because I can feel that care with every turned page and recipe shared.

This past Sunday (and almost every Sunday) J and I gather at his parents home to enjoy a big meal together. Everyone who’s in town joins us. Bottles of wine are passed around, a game of spades is usually being played, and our local radio station blasts everything from Muse to David Bowie to Lord Huron and it is magical. Warm and familiar feelings creep into my heart and I’m instantly transported back to my childhood. Until our sport schedule took over, we were able to dine together as a family almost every night.  I wish I appreciated the togetherness more as a child (I wasn’t exactly a fan of setting the table), but today I know the lasting impact of what happens at the dinner table.

Food is community, it’s togetherness. It’s meant to nourish our bodies, but I believe it nourishes our heart and relationships more than anything. The tantalizing aroma of my dads homemade spaghetti sauce brings back memories of cold dry winter days, the time we got our new (beautiful) nude couches, and the excitement my sisters felt when “daddy was making his daddy  sauce”. My mom made an organic chicken noodle soup once with spinach and tortellini and if I close my eyes I can imagine how tasty it was when I was home sick with pneumonia. I’ll never forget how she cared for me that day, and how incredible the soup was. The first time J glazed a thick Chilean sea bass with tart miso paste I felt my heart melt and got weak in the knees when he proudly pulled it off the grill. I like to think he secured my heart that evening.

I fear the generation where the value of a family made meal, whether it’s once a day or month, is forgotten entirely. The Kinfolk Table shows that there are many who still hold those values dear, and I’m so thankful for that.

I’ll definitely be sharing some family inspired dishes in the future. In the meantime, you can purchase The Kinfolk Table here.

colorado: packing flannel and preparing my heart

You know that rush you get when you hop on a plane for the first time headed towards a city you’ve always dreamed of visiting? Or the thoughts that go through your mind when you meet someone you just know is going to play a big role in your life? The “I don’t know what’s going to happen but my whole life is about to change” feeling? Yeah I’ve had a major case of this for about 3 months. Thoughts of gorgeous landscapes, hours spent fishing, and a full t e n  d a y s away from the monotony of day-to-day life have had me all but salivating. So I’ve packed like six flannel shirts and the cutest hiking boots I ever did see. My beanies are going to get some serious use and they’re definitely going to come back smelling like campfire. Did I mention no cell service or wifi? Yesssssss.

I’ve had to prepare my heart for this trip. When I’m there, I plan on taking myself on a date in the woods. Just me, my cameras, and my thoughts. You see it’s been a verrry long time since I was able to sit down and be real with myself. Although I was never this way as a child/teen, I’ve turned into the type of person who bottles things up until they become too much of a problem to handle with rationality and poise, so I end up having a neurotic breakdown about things that shouldn’t have been that big of a deal in the first place. It’s an unhealthy habit that has also allowed stress and cynicism to creep into the corners of my heart where I’ve never allowed them to roost before. There’s a lot of priorities to shift around, and a thing or two I need to let myself finally cry about. There’s things I need to forgive others for, as well as myself. I haven’t surrounded myself in quiet and peace outside of the yoga studio. So I decided t’s time to change how I do a few things. And there might be a little of this.

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bringing some of the kids

How could I not come home changed after being surrounded by so much natural beauty? And so many positive people? I’ll be in the company of 16 of them who love each other like crazy. Guys who set an example for one another, and women who uplift each other. I am constantly astounded by the way J’s family gets along. He and his three brothers are literally like best friends. His aunts and uncle are so loving and good. His parents adore each other. And his grandma… oh, that little southern belle. She is one of the kindest and most genuine women I have ever had the pleasure of being around. Her love is light a tight hug and hot chocolate with those tiny marshmallows on top. You know, like Christmas in a cup.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in Colorado (as I’ve been a good girl and tried not to plan too much), but I do know my time there will change me. I hope to walk away with wisdom, peace in my heart, and some whiskey-laced memories.

And definitely photos.