Welcome to another edition of the Real Food Kitchen Tour. This week, we travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to tour the kitchen of Jennifer Cordova, author of the blog Sweet Plantains.
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: Sweet Plantains
I’m Jennifer Cordova, a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of 4 children. I blog at Sweet Plantains about all the things I love: my family, food, nutrition, and all things homemade!
We recently moved up to Pittsburgh from Florida when my husband got a job up here. To save money, and because we wanted to get a lay of this new land before settling down and buying a house, we decided to move our family of six into a super small, 650 sq. ft. apartment!
We have about half of our possessions in storage, and we’re living simply. It has been such an experience, filled with some unexpected positives – chief among them living with less stuff. We are literally on top of each other, but it’s been nice in so many ways: I have a smaller space to clean which is a blessing with a new baby, and I know what my kids are up to…most of the time. My little one still manages to sneak away somehow and get into mischief!
The hardest part has been getting used to working in such a small kitchen, which is where I spend most of my time. I miss my old Florida house, where we had chickens right outside our kitchen door, but a huge positive of our new location is that I do get to fill my fridge with all sorts of goodies from some amazing local farms!
Blog name: Sweet Plantains
Blog author: Jennifer Cordova
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
How long blogging: 3 months
House or apartment: Apartment
Size of Kitchen: 11 x 12, including “dining room”
Things I love about my kitchen: There’s plenty of natural light, so it’s usually bright and sunny – which is always a mood booster! Also, it’s the central room in our little apartment, so I can be a part of all the fun my kids are having; and it provides ample opportunity for them to interact with me and take part in all the goings-on in the kitchen.
Things I would change: There’s very little workspace and storage, but that’s to be expected in a 650 sq. ft. apartment! I would love to have a little nook where I could stash my dehydrator that would make it more accessible – I have to put it on top of the refrigerator, and set it up on our little table when I use it; this means we have our dinner outdoors when I’m making yogurt every couple of weeks. I wonder what we’ll do in winter…living room picnic, maybe? Oh, and there’s no dishwasher.
Favorite tools & gadgets: I am in love with my dehydrator – it was a birthday gift earlier this year from my dad, and it is AMAZING. When we were packing up the majority of our possessions for storage, I could not fathom letting go of this hulking appliance – my life would not be complete without it! My slow cooker is also a favorite – it’s constantly going with stock, beans, meat – everything! I know it’s not really a tool/gadget, but I don’t think I could live without my Berkey… it’s taking up some valuable counter space, but it’s so worth it!
Biggest challenges cooking real food: Because we have so little space, it’s hard to get the savings from buying in bulk and making large batches of food. My husband has promised ample storage and a freezer in our next house, which is pretty necessary for a family of 6! For now, I have to stick with making as many get-ahead meals as possible, and shopping every week.
Current favorite family meal: We are crazy for stews here in our house – it’s a great make-ahead meal, and it’s chock full of my favorite food: stock! I often reduce down the stock until it’s down to a rich, thick coating for the meat, which is usually shredded (with the help of little hands!), and we put it in tacos, sliders, and over rice. So easy and so good!
Favorite cookbooks: When my mother passed away 6 years ago, I inherited her collection of Fine Cooking magazines – the pages are dog-eared and full of her handwritten notes. I learned to cook from those magazines, but these days I’ll often just leaf through them to feel a connection to my mother, who was an amazing cook and real health enthusiast (she had us wheat and corn free long before it was popular!). I also love all my cookbooks by Anne Willan, which include [easyazon-link asin=”0895779323″ locale=”us”]Cook It Right[/easyazon-link] – a book that has all sorts of basic cooking techniques, shows you how recipes look when cooked correctly, and more importantly, how to fix mistakes – a necessity when you experiment as often as I do! I also love my [easyazon-link asin=”0316118400″ locale=”us”]The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs[/easyazon-link] – I often reference it for flavor pairings, and to inject new life into staple dishes.
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.