October 12, 2011
Lisa Kivirist holds a carrot at the Inn Serendipity farm, a wind turbine works in the distance
Photo by John Ivanko
Lisa celebrates food independence with her carrot harvest, as a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine powers the farm at Inn Serendipity.

A hearty, tasty and warm welcome to this new Farmstead Chef blog!

We’re honored and thrilled to join the Hobby Farms blogging family and connect weekly with you about recipes, tips and creative ideas to savor the garden harvest and eat seasonally and locally throughout the year.

Our kitchen philosophy and passion for all things culinary roots in our new cookbook of the same name: Farmstead Chef. Yes, this cookbook has recipes and ingredients with measurements and temperatures like you’d expect.

But the concept of a “farmstead chef” goes much deeper, a return to our nation’s historic, long-standing farmstead roots of independence, frugality, self-reliance and community connections. No culinary degree or abundance of gourmet gear required. (We have neither.) Rather, this “farmsteadtarian” approach stems from a commitment to connect directly with our farms and food sources and celebrate daily the fun factor found in fresh and seasonal fare.

There’s no farm address required to eat or cook like a farmsteadtarian, though. Growing numbers of suburbanites and urban dwellers in the heart of the city have kitchen gardens in their backyard or on a patio—or purchase a CSA share or hit the farmers’ market every week. We want to be on a first-name basis with the butcher, baker, farmer and beekeeper—not our doctor. Anyone, anywhere, can now take an active role in what’s on their family’s plate.

Here are three starter tips to channel your inner farmstead chef:

1. Focus on garden-fresh ingredients and eat seasonally.
Don’t worry about culinary technique; instead, focus on what’s in the pan. When you start with garden-fresh (or home-kitchen preserved) produce harvested at the peak of ripeness, let those flavors guide and inspire your cooking. Less is more with quality ingredients; focus on ways to let that rhubarb or rutabaga shine.

2. Think Boy Scout meets Michelangelo.
Remember that Boy Scout mantra “Be prepared,” but apply it to the kitchen. Keep a well-stocked pantry of staples (look for future posts on pantry tips) so you can readily whip up whatever you fancy in the kitchen, inspired by the pile of tomatoes or what’s in abundance on your counter.

But channel your inner Michelangelo, as well: Create in your kitchen. Think of produce as your palette: What new flavor combos can you concoct? We’ll share recipes for our new favorites inspired by produce profusion, from Beet Burgers (who knew shredded beets work so well in a veggie burger?) to unique combinations like Pumpkin Peanut Butter Bread.

3. Cultivate Collaboration
A key ingredient for today’s farmstead chef: connections. From talking about tomato-preserving techniques with your senior neighbor down the road (we’ll introduce you to some of our many local mentors in this blog) to researching radish recipes online, we’re blessed to live at a time that blends the best of traditional and modern communications. Keep those conversations going over coffee cups while also tapping into the wealth of information out there on the Internet. These resources quickly add up to more than technique and culinary skill. Connecting with others stirs up that core value for all farmstead chefs: building community and our interdependence with each other and the planet that sustains us.

We look forward to sharing this Farmstead Chef blog with you, inspired by our 5-acre farm and bed-and-breakfast, Inn Serendipity, located in southwestern Wisconsin, and we welcome your comments and ideas along the flavorsome way.

Check back next Wednesday and we’ll share how we savor our abundant Swiss-chard crop before the snow sets in with a delicious recipe, perfect for family visiting over the holidays.

Yours truely, 

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