I recall sitting on an old counter in my grandmother's kitchen – a 1950s era vintage with the metal edge that would dig into the back of my legs. Together, we might pick feathers from a chicken recently butchered for dinner, or grind the end of a ham hock for our family’s always coveted ham spread – served best on warm, yeasty home-made bread. Summer and fall were always special – filled with canning wonderfully sweet cucumber pickles or making crab apple jelly from freshly picked fruit – all used to fill my grandparents’ cold dirt cellar for the West Virginia winter.
Growing up with a Southern-cooking grandmother who learned from her mother, and a mother who carried on those traditions, I knew I must pass those experiences along. And, those experiences taught me the importance of using the freshest ingredients and how special ingredients make the best meals. When my daughter was born, I wanted her to have some of the same opportunities and memories that I had growing up.
After researching and reviewing the options on market shelves for her first meals, I realized the best I could do for her was to make her baby food myself. I used primarily locally grown produce and meats at the peak of their freshness. She watched and giggled as I developed new combinations and flavors, and she not only loved the food, but it helped develop her palate to LOVE how real fruits, vegetables, and meats should taste. Now, she prefers poached salmon and avocado to chicken nuggets and french fries – and that I love.