Sometimes when I’m at the farmers market, I ask myself what Lindsay-Jean would do.
For starters, she would pick back up the 7-dollar carton of eggs I just put down, because those 7 dollars will support the farmer and the farm and the happy chickens and complete the glorious cycle of food that is good for you and also for the world. And then she would come back next Saturday for another dozen.
She’d tell me to ask for seconds, now the worst-kept secret at the market, and to buy chive blossoms to make into vinegar. (I will be scared of this proposal, as I am not a homesteader, but she will make it sound easy.) Back in the kitchen, she’d tell me to save my scraps. You’re better for just reading these two paragraphs; imagine how we fare learning from her every week.
As a contributing editor and writer with us, Lindsay-Jean quickly found her beat: She cares deeply about sustainable farming and beautiful food and how the two co-exist, and she’s been sharing that ethos with our site for nearly three years. But that’s not all of her: She’s also known for an eggcellent pun or five, a love for sesame ice cream, and stories from the time she spent living in Japan. (Next time you see her, ask her about the time she tried to order vegetarian sushi in Kanazawa.)
Lindsay-Jean's family! Cue sighs.
Here’s a little more about her:
You've been at Food52 for a while. What are you most proud of that you've accomplished here?
Food52 has an amazing community of members who are not only passionate about food and living well, but who also truly care about each other, support each other, and cheer each other on. I feel lucky to be a part of it, and I’ve loved getting to know some of them virtually through interactions on the site over the past three years. So I’m proud of the small hand I have in helping to nurture that community by monitoring the activity on the Hotline and growing the base of user MVPs, a small subset of our most knowledgeable, active community members.
It’s too new to be proud of exactly, but I’m very excited about Cooking with Scraps. Although it’s not a new concept, I’m delighted by the resurgence in enthusiasm for reducing food waste. I’m enjoying finding recipes in the archives where members are making use of overlooked scraps and look forward to discovering many more. (Hint, hint. Don’t be shy! Tell me about them!)
Blueberry muffins and Lindsay-Jean with her daughter and husband.
One of my favorite things to do is to ask cooks what they make when they only have 20 minutes and need dinner. What do you make?
If I’m cooking for the family, I’ll attempt to make something approaching a proper meal: a clean-out-the-fridge frittata, chickpea salad sandwiches, or soba noodles with dipping sauce and edamame. But if it’s just me, “dinner” is going to be a lot less pretty—I don’t enjoy cooking for myself all that much. I’ll probably be grazing on avocado toast or cheese and crackers with pickles of some sort. Sometimes an egg and cheese sandwich if I’m feeling motivated.
Now you have a whole, child-free afternoon. What do you cook?
I’ll go on a baking bender and make bread, cookies, maybe a cake. And then to my husband’s chagrin, I’ll promptly deliver a good portion of it to friends to get it all out of the house.
Rumor has it you lived in Japan. Other than a love for black sesame ice cream, what else did you take away from that time?
Getting to spend two years in another country, completely immersed in their culture, was a gift. I tried to step out of my comfort zone and get as much out of that time as I could. I climbed Mt. Fuji and reached the summit at 4 A.M. in the pouring rain and then hiked back down in rain and hail. I bathed in onsen: nude public bathing facilities where you sit at a tiny bathing station and scrub the daylights out of yourself to get clean before getting into the actual hot water bath. I joined a C.S.A. and learned to cook vegetables I’d never seen or heard of before. I tried (and loved) new-to-me foods like yuba, natto, and ginkgo nuts.
I got used to toilets with 20 buttons and built-in sinks as well as traditional toilets that are little more than troughs in the ground. I joined a gym and regularly jumped around in the pool in an aqua bootcamp class with dozens of Japanese men and women many decades my senior. I took myself out to eat for the first time in my life. I reveled in successful language interactions, from the small (catching a grocery clerk off-guard by telling him I didn’t need a bag) to the large (taking my parents on a multi-day trip to other cities on my own).
I got a little more comfortable in my own skin: I adjusted to being constantly stared at and I got used to going from being on the smaller side, size-wise, in America to being on the larger size in Japan. (Once I went shopping for a new outfit and after trying it on and going to pay, the clerk asked me if I realized that I was buying the largest size they carry, and was I sure that’s what I wanted.) I traveled around the country as much as possible to see new sights and new cities and I made friends that I keep in touch with to this day.
Crinoid fossils really do look like Cheerios.
I'm guessing that Japan ranks high on your list of favorite places in the world. Where else makes the top three?
- Ogden Dunes, Indiana: This is a tiny town on Lake Michigan nestled in the Indiana Dunes, about an hour outside of Chicago. “Town” is actually probably too strong, within its boundary lines there are no hotels, restaurants, or even public beaches—it’s really a residential community. My grandparents (the ones of banana cake and molasses cookie fame) had their summer home here—a house right on the water—and I spent many a summer with my toes in the sand searching for crinoid fossils (which look like tiny Cheerios), rather than shells. It’s a spot I love dearly.
- London, England: You could plunk me down pretty much anywhere in the U.K. and I’d be happy, but I’m especially fond of London. I’ve visited a handful of times, and while I always want to continue to experience new places, London is one of those cities that I can’t wait to go back to again. It’s a beautiful city, and it’s easy to navigate: I’m not a big fan of driving, so any city with clean, efficient public transportation gets high marks in my book. Plus, people are friendly (and have delightful accents), you can’t take more than 2 steps without stumbling across a pub, you can get a Pimm’s Cup at Wimbledon (and not at Wimbledon), you can get black currant-flavored candies, and fries (sorry, I mean chips) are served with malt vinegar.
- Key West, Florida: After earning my Masters in Urban Planning, I received a job offer in one of the Florida Keys. And while I did not fall in love with that particular key (or accept the job offer), I did fall in love with Key West. It hits so many of my favorites: It’s warm, by the water (actually it’s surrounded by water), and has a laid-back vibe, has great restaurants, and a walkable downtown.
I have it in my head that everyone has their kitchen kryptonite. Is there a certain dish or technique that gets you every time, or that has scared you off enough from trying it?
I get nervous cooking for large numbers of people—anything over, say, 20 people. There are so many tricks of the trade I don’t know: What can (and should) be done ahead of time, how to time everything—and other things I don’t even know to worry about.
Back in Real Time Farm’s heyday, Food52’s VP of Product Karl Rosaen, his wife Cara, and I cooked breakfast (along with the help of volunteers) for nearly 200 people at a local foods breakfast salon. It was a great experience, and thrilling in its own way, but it was nerve-wracking. I don’t think running a restaurant kitchen is one of my life’s callings. (If you were wondering, we made smoked pulled pork with cheesy grits topped with a roasted tomatillo-jalapeño salsa and apple galettes with cheddar cheese crusts and dollops of crème fraîche.)
Whiskey or gin?
Gin. Hands down, no question. Gin and tonic, dirty gin martini with olives (why anyone puts vodka in a martini is beyond me), French 75, Negroni…so many great drinks start with gin. And you know why Pimm’s is so good? That’s right—because it’s gin-based. (Or at least No. 1, the one we can easily get in the States, is.) And Kenzi, while we’re on the topic, a good Pimm’s Cup is like a good Bloody Mary—it should basically be a salad in a glass, none of this muddling and straining and restraint business.
Name three things on your #happylist right now.
- Chipmunks (not the singing variety)
- A “new” vintage swimsuit
- My backyard
Lindsay-Jean's #happylist and raspberries from her garden.