Welcome to another edition of the Real Food Kitchen Tour. This week we travel to San Diego, CA to tour the kitchen of Tracey Black, author of the blog Don’t Mess with Mama.
What’s a Real Foodie?
A “real foodie” is someone who cooks “traditional” food. We cook stuff from scratch using real ingredients, like raw milk, grass-fed beef, eggs from chickens that run around outdoors, whole grains, sourdough and yogurt starters, mineral-rich sea salt, and natural sweeteners like honey and real maple syrup.
We don’t use modern foods that are either fake, super-refined, or denatured. This includes modern vegetable oils like Crisco and margarine, soy milk, meat from factory farms, pasteurized milk from cows eating corn and soybeans, refined white flour, factory-made sweeteners like HFCS or even refined white sugar, or commercial yeast.
We believe in eating wholesome, nutrient-dense foods that come from nature. So we shop at farmer’s markets or buy direct from the farmer, or we grow food in our own backyards.
This Week’s Real Food Kitchen Tour: Don’t Mess with Mama
Name: Tracey Black
Blog: Don’t Mess with Mama
Location: San Diego, CA
Size of Kitchen: I have a fairly large kitchen. It was a kitchen and den combination, but we turned it into a large kitchen with shelves and an arts and crafts table for the kids. We spend so much time in the kitchen, so I loved the idea of my kids hanging out with me while I cook or come up with new recipes. I even have my laptop in the kitchen and usually work from my kitchen island.
Things You Love About Your Kitchen: I love the open space. I can easily go from cooking to playing with my youngest son at his train table without leaving the room. We combined a play area and our kitchen space so we could all spend time together. My kitchen is the most utilized area of my home. We also have a vaulted ceiling and a lot of natural light, which makes it a relaxing, warm environment to work in.
Things You Would Change: I wish I had more countertop space. I usually have a ton of kitchen gadgets, produce, dishes and even toys on my counter so it always seems cluttered. But for a family of five, I think we work pretty well with the space. I also wish I had more shelves. We always seem to be pressed for space when it comes to glasses and dishes. Another thing I would change is the color scheme of the kitchen. I love the white cabinets but the countertops are a bland speckled grey and black formica. I am very influenced by color and would love something more light and warm.
Favorite Tools & Gadgets: I’d say the most utilized kitchen tools are my cast iron pan and my bamboo spatula. I use them with nearly every meal. I’m pretty finicky about my knives too. We were lucky to receive a high-end set of knives for our wedding 10 years ago and that knife set is still going strong. I just need to sharpen them regularly. Other than that, I love my food processor and my immersion hand blender. I love to make cauliflower mash and homemade pureed soups with my immersion blender. I rely on my food processor for everything from mincing vegetables to prepping my bread doughs.
Biggest Challenges Cooking Real Food: I’d say our biggest challenge is time. With three kids, we’re always busy with homework, extracurricular activities, etc. so it can be hard to find time to cook real food. I usually dedicate my weekends to making homemade bone broth, baking fresh gluten-free breads, prepping fresh-cut vegetables for my kids’ school lunches, making homemade gelatin snacks, and soaking rice and nuts to use for weekdays.
During the week, I use the foods I prepped over the weekends and make simple meals. I try not to stress on making gourmet dinners during the week. Rather I prefer to focus on simple, real food meals. In fact, I try to avoid recipes that call for more than 10 ingredients (other than spices) just to make it easier on me. The weekends are my opportunity to spend more time on making home-cooked meals.
I’d say the other challenge for us is eating out. I’m fortunate that my kids are fully on board with eating real foods. They don’t like fast food and actually love eating fresh fruit and vegetables. We try to eat only at restaurants that have organic, local, fresh and gluten-free options for us, but that can be challenging if we’re out of our area, such as when we’re traveling or my kids are on a playdate. We try as much as possible to live by the 80/20 rule. We always eat gluten-free foods (we all have gluten allergies or intolerance) but we aim to eat organic, healthy, local foods 80% of the time and indulge in the occasional treat here and there. I watch my kids’ sugar intake, but occasionally I’ll give them candy, chips or other snack foods that’s free of artificial ingredients and colors. I don’t want to deprive them, but I want to be sure that my kids know they can choose a healthier alternative.
Current Family Favorite Meal: Sushi. My kids ABSOLUTELY love sushi. We have sushi night once a week and make it ourselves. It’s become a whole family affair. I make and prepare the rice. My older sons take turns rolling the rice and cucumbers in nori, and my youngest son sits at the kitchen island munching on nori while we all work. We don’t even really sit down to eat it. We pretty much eat as the rolls get made. It’s become such a fun activity for all of us. The only thing I wish I could change is the mess. There’s usually rice and seaweed bits everywhere by the time we’re done.
Favorite Cookbooks: I’m always on the hunt for new gluten-free cookbooks. A couple of my favorites right now are the Gluten-Free Vegetarian by Hannah Healy and Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Breads, Batters & Doughs. I’m a former vegetarian, so I find myself gravitating to meatless dishes but I want to be sure I give my family the protein they need. My kids also love their breads and other baked goodies, so I’m constantly trying new bread and muffin recipes.
Let Us Tour Your Kitchen
Are you a real foodie? Do you have a kitchen that you’d like to see featured on CHEESESLAVE?
Please email me at annmarie AT cheeseslave dot com. Either send me a link to a Flickr set or email me your photos (minimum of 5, but more is better). Note: Please send me LARGE photos. Minimum 610 width. If they’re too small, I can’t use them.
Oh, and please send the answers to the above questions (at the very top of this post).
As much as I’d love to include all the photos I receive, I can’t guarantee that I will use your photos in the series. I’m looking for creative, good quality photos.
Some ideas for photos:
- Show us what’s in your fridge or what’s fermenting on your counter
- Take some snaps of some of your favorite kitchen gadgets, or show us how you organize your spices
- Got backyard chickens? Send some pics!
- How about a lovely herb garden?
- Kids or pets are always cute!
- Try to include at least one photo of yourself, ideally in your kitchen
And no, you don’t have to have a blog to be included in the tour.