Cooking from Scratch
I love food. I love to cook and I like to eat but mostly, I like to prepare meals for others. I learned to cook from three women in my life — my mother, my godmother, and my grandmother — and none of them really followed a recipe. It was a little bit of this and a little bit of that and, most important, tasting through-out the whole process. Cooking in the fall is loaded with abundance of the harvest, apples, root vegetables and everything is so delicious. Cooking and entertaining doesn’t have to be complicated, and it shouldn’t be stressful.
I like to prepare simple, fresh meals from scratch using ingredients from my local community, especially the amazing farmers markets we have in so many communities but particularly the abundance of local food here in Peterborough. Peterborough was founded in the 1850’s based around a sawmill on Little Lake but the markets where food was traded was not far away and was the centre of the community. It was from this premise, I started my business at the farm. Preparing food for others. We hosted farm dinners, workshops, and weddings for well over 12 years.
I also loved the idea of serving food in different spots around the farm for example in the herb garden, in the field. It’s fun to move around and do something different. Even in a small space you can picnic on the living room floor, sit near a window or at the kitchen table. Here in town, there used to be an event called Under Water Dining at Lock 21. The experience took visitors on a historical dining experience through, inside and under the world’s highest hydraulic lift lock. Someone that worked at our farm helped prepare the meals for this event - simple, fresh local food sourced here from our community and cooked from scratch.
Cooking from scratch, going to markets to pick up ingredients does foster stronger relationships and, I believe, builds community. I’m pretty new here in town, but I’ve come to know and talk to the vendors and store owners, getting to know them and arriving home with a bag of food, one might gather at the kitchen and share those stories. Shawn’s favourite time of day is when we cook together (he stirs) but nevertheless, memories happen and I truly believe he has a deeper appreciation for better, fresher ingredients.
When the girls were young, they often chastised me for only having ingredients in the pantry and not prepared food. “Oh well” I told them. I know how much they appreciate it today that cooking from these ingredients preserves our family traditions and builds their future and if I think about it, preserves the heritage passed down from the important women in my life.
Peterborough is surrounded by farms that bring their products into the markets each week and there are local stores that cater and promote local food. It is a great way to experiment with what is fresh and build up your own repertoire of dishes. Gather your ingredients and those you love, roll up your sleeves and create your own delicious meal to nourish your friends and family.
Danielle French is the founder of South Pond Farms, writer, small business consultant, podcaster and co-host of How You Play the Game.