Full Disclosure, Part 1

centerpiece

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. Work has been extremely busy, my days are long, and I just haven’t had it in me to keep up here. If you’re really curious, you can see what we ate for dinner Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday on Flickr. We went out to dinner on Friday, a well-deserved and much needed night out at Chez Pascal, which did not disappoint.

But that’s not what I want to talk about today.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this site, what it started out as and what it has become, and the fact that, much to my surprise, traffic keeps going up and up and up. I’ve developed a wonderful readership, have gotten so many comments and emails that I can barely keep up, and it’s incredibly flattering. But there have been criticisms, too, more now than ever, and I do take that to heart.

spice drawer

I try very hard to cook and eat mindfully, to be aware of how the choices I make at the market and in the kitchen have an impact on not just our household and health, but the world around us. My choices may be different than yours, but that’s okay – I feel very comfortable with the way we eat, and as I’ve said many times, I am grateful that Mike and I are in a position to live and eat the way we do. I have never taken it for granted.

fridge, 10.18.08

I’ve discussed our views on eating meat before, and though that post was written when we still lived in New York and had easier access to a wider variety of sustainably-raised meats, it still holds true. It is harder now for us to find certain things, but we take full advantage of what we can find.

pantry, full view

But I don’t want to cover old ground here. What I do want is to try to put the meals you see here into context. This is “Last Night’s Dinner,” after all, and what you see here is mainly our dinners, but if that’s all you see then it would appear that we eat, as one commenter recently wrote, “a lot of meat and fat.” But dinner is just one meal out of our day. It’s not the whole picture.

Inventory

With this post and another to come, I hope to give you a bit more insight into our kitchen and our diet. Take a look around not just our fridge and freezer, but our pantry as well – it’s all out here for your perusal. Click the photos for annotated versions; the full photoset is here.

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41 thoughts on “Full Disclosure, Part 1

  1. Jen,
    Your blog was one of the first food blogs I ever read, and am still reading and enjoying it.
    Your photos and creativity in the kitchen is what I love most. That you can whip something up without a recipe. A true cook.

    I received an email about a veal milanese dish I made, that it was cruel to eat veal.

    I love animals, as you know, donate my time to animal charities. Have cats and adore them, they are my kids!
    It is MY blog, and MY kitchen, and I eat what I like. Always healthy and naturally raised beef, farmers market produce, etc. You know the drill.

    I resent that people would even write to you on how to eat or what to buy.
    You are one of the best cooks that is not a professional. Keep cooking those pig trotters and liver and what YOU like.
    The last time I looked, it was a FREE country with choices, and afterall, it is YOUR blog!
    Stacey

  2. mdj says:

    Hi Jen,
    I am a long-time reader of your blog. I have never commented and I rarely read comments. You should know that there are quiet readers like myself who appreciate and enjoy your blog very much. I don’t know you, but I like you and know that if we were neighbors (I’m in Toronto) we’d likely be friends. I imagine having a blog like this on the Internet (a scary, scary place) you have to develop somewhat of a thick skin. Please know that you do not need to justify your choices. And, in my experience, most of us who care so much about what and how we eat are well aware of our good fortunes. It is obvious you are a thoughtful, joyous person with a generous spirit – like many food-lovers, in my opinion. I hope you will continue to blog about your dinners and allow a glimpse into your life.
    Thanks.

  3. I have been drooling over your website since chronicbabe.com shared you with the world, but I haven’t commented. I just wanted to tell you how you inspired me to try a CSA and to do a better job of being mindful of the food I buy, both in buying it and in using all of it. Take pleasure in knowing that you eat better- in more ways than one! than most people in the US. I love reading about your food philosophies, but please don’t feel that you have to share to defend yourself and your choices. And finally, thank you for your amazing mac and cheese- it alone has revolutionized my home!

  4. Hi Jen, I’ve been reading your blog for a little while now and am even going back to read some of the archived things that I’ve missed. I just wanted to say that your blog is one of my absolute favorites out there. You’ve inspired me to change the way I think about food and how to prepare it. It’s opened my eyes to try a new world of local farmers market produce or farm raised meats. I feel so much better about what I put on the table for my family.People can be so judgmental on these blogs. I’ve been in the same situation as you and it just stings when you read something negative. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks again, and I look forward to reading your posts in the future. Oh, and we have two cats too that are out babies and I love the photos you take of yours! =) Take care.

  5. Hi Jen,
    I am another long time reader who has never felt compelled to comment before. But your tone this week seemed so down that I felt that I had to offer you an encouraging word.
    I look at your blog every week and it always inspires me to want to be not only a better cook, but a better person. Your photos represent a life that I have always longed for. So much more than just good food, they speak of warmth, home, family and love.
    I live in Brooklyn (we were probably Greenmarket’ers together) and I also strive to eat whole foods, to use local ingredients and to eat organically and sustainably. I love food just as you do, and I am passionate about using quality ingredients and eating in season. I have gone through vegetarian periods of my life, but I found that the lifestyle just wasn’t for me. Now I seek out meat that is raised and slaughtered responsibly just as you do.
    There will always be people out there who will tell you that the way that you live your life is wrong. But I just wanted to let you know that your life inspires me to keep making responsible choices for myself and for those people around me who I love. Thank you and please keep doing what you are doing.

  6. There will always be another opinion. If those who critizice took five minutes to browse your blog insted of spewing their own bitterness and unresolved unhappinesses into a comment, your take on eating would be revealed.

    Then there’s this –

    If you pleased everybody you would be the one thing you are not:

    Mediocre.

    Don’t fall for for it.

  7. Sarah says:

    Jen,

    I think it’s sad that you have to defend yourself in your virtual home. Those who are concerned with “a lot of meat and fat” should direct themselves to the hundreds of no fat, no fun, joyless “food” blogs that permeate the internet. Please don’t take their comments to heart, and please continue to show us the wonderful meals you create with honest, healthful, real food.

  8. Just wanted to chime in and say that I’ve found your blog SO inspirational…especially including the fearless cooking of cuts of meat I’ve always been curious about. Please know that many of us really enjoy seeing these dinners.

  9. Amy says:

    Jen,
    To echo many other here, it is ‘a peek in [YOUR] kitchen.’ You need not defend yourself, there’s constructive criticism and the other stuff you should just ignore. You are a compassionate person, a talented writer and cook, as well as conscientious consumer as you have proven over and over through the length and breath of your blog. Keep doing what you do, you do it well and with passion.
    ~A.

    Oh, on a different note: every time I try hard to poach an egg, I screw it up, but then last week, I slid the egg in and got distracted with something else and it turned out perfectly fine. Twice! Arugh!

  10. Heidi in NYC says:

    Every blog I read has some nasty comments and I always wonder why if people are so offended to the continue to read. Your site is so enjoyable. I never comment, but thought this time I’d make an exception. Cheers from your old city! How did happy gilmore put it, harness good, block bad. hehe

  11. Marcos Castrillon says:

    I don’t think there’s a single person on Earth who loves animals more than me. I can’t even watch regularly Discovery Channel ’cause your typical animal hunting behaviour drives me to tears.
    And anybody with half a functioning brain would know you share the same principles, simply by reading your blog.
    So to hell with nutjob vegetarians. Sustainable, humane farming is not a crime. And we are carnivores anyway, for God’s sake.

    With that said, dry fruits in the freezer? Madness.
    Which reminds me I need to plan this weekend’s excursion to the forest: wild berries, nuts and hopefully some mushrooms. Yay Third World!

  12. Christine says:

    I’m really excited about this new emphasis, seeing your freezer inventory, pantry, etc. Not only do I read your blog for the pleasure of your photos and descriptions, but also to add to my knowledge of food, cooking and kitchen “management” for lack of a better term. A weakness of mine has always been continuity- or follow through-with all of the ingredients that I compile, and I hate wasting. So it’s really great to see how someone else who is also a passionate cook manages this issue. Thanks for making ourself vulnerable, it’s a sacrifice, I realize. But it expands the horizons of my world and I’m grateful.

  13. Janice says:

    My comment will only echo those posted above. Your blog is the shit. I live in Dawson City…super hard to eat responsibly here, but we do the best we can….growing our veg, and eating wild meat. You truly inspire one to exert more stewardship over the food one ingests. Many thanks.

  14. You know I have always adored and will continue to adore your food and your approach. Like many before me, you have influenced some of my choices and my thinking ESPECIALLY when it comes to meat. As a matter of fact, looking back on it, you and one other blogger have probably been my greatest factors in changing the way I buy meat. Huh. I hadn’t really though about it until now.

    I’m impressed and flabbergasted at your photos. Not to mention it gives me lots of idea about stuff I would like to keep on hand!

    You’re awesome Jennifer, and I hope you’re always around.

  15. My two-pennies worth: there are a great many of us out here quietly enjoying your posts (and very often not commenting, I think). You write openly and honestly, you take amazing photographs and you clearly cook very wonderful food. There is no need for you to justify yourself; just keep doing what you’re doing and know that those with criticisms (are there will always be a few) are in the minority. I’m sure that most of us leave your blog drooling and wishing our own dinner was going to be half as beautiful!

  16. Liz says:

    Jen,
    I have very much enjoyed your Blog for over a year now, thank you for the gorgeous photos and sweet, simple words. I live in Ireland and it’s nice to see people all over the world enjoying food for what it is – one of the most beautiful, enjoyable and treasured daily rituals of the human life.
    Criticism has it’s place elsewhere and I hope you don’t take the negative people seriously (they are probably suffering from indigestion).
    Bon Appetit,
    Liz

  17. Kelly says:

    Hi Jen,
    This is my first time commenting as well. I love your blog! Who cares if someone thinks you eat too much meat and fat. If that’s what they want to read about they can check out the Weight Watchers website! I don’t understand people who feel the need to criticize…if someone doesn’t care for your blog they don’t have to read it! Don’t let it get you down!! -Kelly

  18. I am with everyone else here. You are not writing a diet blog. It is a food blog and geesh, people need to grow up and make their own adult choices here. I agree that your idea that a blog post is just a small snippet into your life. The folks over at A Good Appetite posted a week of apple recipes, did anyone accuse them of not having enough variety in their diets?

  19. Jennifer says:

    I can’t agree more with everyone here. I love to come and see what culinary delights you’ve whipped up with Mike over the weekend. The pictures are gorgeous and I often have kitchen-envy. We try to eat from local farms as much as we can too…don’t feel a need to defend yourself to those who would criticize your open fridge/pantry doors. Those of us who come here want to see the beautiful dishes you create, not to chide your choice of ingredients.

  20. I completely understand what you are saying. It doesn’t take much to hurt my feelings either. And the really sad part of this story is that you ARE so responsible about what you eat. And just by talking about it you bring attention to the issue of politically incorrect meat, and it is helping “the cause.”

    Hopefully the comments you’ve received on this post will confirm that 100% of your legitimate readers are here because they enjoy your great blog. The others — the radicals — are just doing drive-by shootings on probably every blog they can find. Apparently no one has ever told them you catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.

    As for availability of the right foods; I’m in Orange County, CA., in a very populated area, and it’s still difficult for me to find free range chicken, pork & veal. I have to drive a long way just to get to Whole Foods. I think it would help so much if we all requested our local grocery stores start carrying FR meats. I grab a comment card every time I’m in a grocery store and fill it out at home, requesting at least free range chicken and pork options, and mail it in. Eventually they will get with the program.

  21. J. Marce says:

    Wow, aren’t we so self-rightous that one finds it necessary to tell another “how and what to eat”. What can be more an example of personal freedom than choosing how to lead one’s life; lifestyle, foods ambition, goals etc. The last time I checked the KGB, Stazi, Gestapo, and the Internal Security Agents have not been tailing me and taking notes on my grocery shopping. If they did they would find freshly processed rabbit, local greens, local fresh killed chicken, and of course the obligatory offal treats. “DON”T LET THE BASTARDS GET YOU DOWN!!!!”

    We eagerly seek out your latest additions.

  22. Wow, cupboard and drawer shots! How did you know.

    Your pictures are gorgeous. I want to eat ALL your food, and own your fridge and freezer, avec contents. BUT I have a propane fridge/freezer combo that is smaller than most. We run mostly solar.

    Love ya!!

  23. Jen, you have been my biggest inspiration to expand my culinary horizons, to source local ingredients, and to just be more creative and responsible with what is eaten in our home.
    You are the greatest; I admire you very much.
    (I wrote a much more eloquent ode to you a few minutes ago but my ailing and possibly infected laptop decided to shut down…sorry so crude this go around…tech support!)

    You Mike, and the kitties are the best.

  24. Michelle says:

    I too, am new to your blog. I love it. I just have to comment about the criticism – you are reaching and writing to those of us who love what you are doing. Of course there will be those who don’t like it, but they need to find a different blog to read. I look forward to visiting often. Thank you for helping to inspire us in our daily lives.

  25. Camille says:

    I just happened upon your website this past week & spent most of this past weekend going through your archived posts. The thoughtfulness of your meals, the simplicity & yet elegance, make me want to try so many of your recipes…thank you!! Your website is not only beautifully designed but your photography is stunning! You call yourself an amateur photographer…I should be so lucky to be so “amateurish”. Being both a foodie & a cat lover, I’ve very much enjoyed looking at your photos & look forward to you sharing more of your dinners, stories & photos !

  26. Nira says:

    You should know that you bring inspiration to the majority of those who seek out your work. It is disheartening to know that people have a need to criticize your choices. I know that to have a public face is to accept a certain amount of criticism, but don’t people have bigger fish to fry? I’m not a blogger, normally, but I think your site is both refreshing and professional and you have NO reason to defend yourself. Although I can’t share your dinners, I do find your photos and comments nourishing at the end of a rough day. Thanks!

  27. Mark says:

    I don’t know where you live but if you’re interested in sustainable grass fed meat and you’re anywhere close to Dallas, Texas check out myrancher.com . It is a hidden jewel in a ranching industry gone to pot. They mail stuff too. Styrofoam cooler, dry ice, arrives 2-3 days later frozen solid. Delicious.

  28. Sally says:

    I am afraid I’ll be just repeating what others said already much better than I could.

    It is impossible to please everybody all the time, and you should not waste your time and energy with folks who profit from the anonymity of the internet to act like jerks.

    this is YOUR virtual house, where lucky people such as myself have a chance to spend a little time every day, and be inspired.

    Don t change, and don t let anyone wear you down.

    Keep those fires burning….

  29. It stinks that you have to deal with the bitter and jealous folks who lash out at you. Clearly having access to the internet does not ensure manners or class. It seems that in the blogsphere, few popular bloggers are utterly immune. So guess what? You’ve arrived!

    _Please_ just keep doing what you are already doing so well.

  30. penguin18 says:

    Of freakin’ course you will use some oil and butter and meat in your cooking – most of us, even those of us on diets, do! This is not a diet blog and it is not advertised as one! The less-than-polite commenters can take their Molly McButter and 100 Calorie Packs and move on to another site.

  31. Zeana says:

    I just want to echo all the positive comments and say that I am a ‘quiet’ reader who has just started enjoying your wonderful website! You have inspired me to keep a recipe journal and to keep on experimenting. Your food and pictures always look amazing. Keep the faith!

  32. Carly says:

    As others have said, I find your blog such an inspiration. Whenever I’m about to end my work day and trying to mentally catalog what is in my fridge and what I can make for dinner, sometimes all it takes is a quick scroll through your recent posts and something will come to me. Don’t let the cranky people of the world ruin your virtual home–

  33. you know how i feel about this blog and you – and your food…

    this is the internet and there are many people out there who won’t agree with who you are and what you do. don’t take it to heart… just do what you do so magnificently…

    and blog on sistah!

  34. Jen, your blog is one of the few I read regularly – I only comment occasionally but I am hear all the time (thanks for the info on the Government Center farmers market!) Our meals are inspired 2-3 times a week by something you made. I am a foodie, too, and a recent transplant to New England as well. I cook like you do — often not by recipe, but by inspiration — and I eat and buy local whenever possible. I had begun that journey on my own about 2 years ago but your blog and your posts about Michael Pollan inspired me to read his books – I even shared them with my book club.

    All that to say keep on posting – so many of us enjoy and appreciate w peek into the meals of a fabulous, socially responsible, and innovative home cook. You really do inspire. Thanks :)

  35. another long time, first time. I can’t cook to save my life. I don’t even like it much but we are cooking now because of the economy and to save money and to eat better and because THERE ARE FOUR RESTAURANTS IN GREENPOINT. I read you off and on but every time I read I get an idea or a flash or something inspires me. You write in a wonderfully open, accessible way, without attitude or foodie-snobbery, and this is probably why someone cranky felt they could criticize you, because your approach here is so down to earth and open. My response would have been to close up a little bit, but what do you do? You open yourself up MORE. You don’t owe us or anyone that.

    Just know that a girl who can’t cook worth a damn is going to be trying your kale-chickpea-sweet potato thingie tonight back home in the BK.

  36. Hi — I just wanted to let you know that I linked to this post in a new section of my food blog called “Lunchtime Links”. I really admire all the excellent stuff you have in your fridge, and kind of wish it was my own.
    Please come take a look — tell me if you’d rather I didn’t link you any more, etc.
    Thanks !!!

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