Radical Kitchens

Hello everyone!  Ben, Gabriel, and I had so much fun presenting at NOFA last weekend!  The great news is that Ben got it all on video, so very soon we’ll have those videos up here for you to view!

In the meantime, get a cup of tea and dig in to the handout I gave everyone, and enjoy!  I’m loving your comments, and am excited to reply further to them, and also to keep teaching this class and expanding it – we have lots of ideas :)  So keep your feedback coming, and as always, it’s a privilege to share our knowledge with you.  I’ll be posting the Cooking with Whole Grains & Beans class also, in just a few days.

Radical Kitchens

First – congratulations!  Making the decision to take back production of your food into your own kitchen is one of the most amazing gifts you could ever give yourself and your family.  It’s a journey and an ongoing adventure to be sure, so remember to be kind to yourself.

Menu Planning!

You need to learn to menu plan.  Unless you currently make three meals a day, seven days a week successfully (in which case, why are you taking this class?) – you need to buck up and do it.  It takes 15-30 minutes once a week (or once a month!), and it will save your sanity.  Learning to menu plan is more important than learning recipes.
Do your menu planning on the day before you go grocery shopping, the day you find out the contents of your CSA share, or the night after you come home from the farmer’s market.  You need to know what ingredients you’re working with, then grab a stack of cookbooks, a dedicated notepad, a pen, and sit down and get inspired!
Use designated days of the week – soup night, pizza night, leftovers night, etc . . .  You can make a weekly menu that continues for a whole month, especially in periods where you have less time (sickness in family, new baby, etc).  Be sure to have a leftovers night, and a night where you make something that uses up random odds & ends, like pizza, soup, or a casserole (sheperd’s pie, tamale pie, etc).  You want to eat up all that good food you’ve got!

Make it Ahead:

Once you know what you’re making, make as much of it in one big bang as you can!  My friend Sarah makes pancakes for breakfast almost every day, so she makes a huge batch of pancake batter and keeps it in the fridge.  The same works for granola.  You can make a big batch of muffin batter and freeze the uncooked batter in muffin cups.
At the beginning of the week, make your staples: a big pot of beans and a big pot of grains (rice, wheat berries, spelt, etc), some loaves of bread.  If you’re chopping an onion for dinner, go ahead and chop five and keep the rest ready to go in the fridge.  This is an important lesson from working in commercial kitchens – it takes about as much time to make 10x as much, so go for it!

What is your goal?
It’s important to take some time and identify what you want your kitchen and your family’s eating habits, ideally, to look like.  Important to remember that your kids may turn their noses up at what you make sometimes, but be very grateful later on.  As a kid, I was totally mad that my mom didn’t serve us pop-tarts for breakfast and TV dinners, but now I’m deeply grateful!
Get a vision and do your best to stick to it.  You’re not a short order cook, so don’t get sucked into making different meals for different family members.  Don’t make something you know everyone will absolutely hate, either – make sure there’s a crowd pleaser you still feel is in line with your goals (i.e. mashed potatoes, a simple soup, grilled cheese sandwiches) at each meal, and then make peace with some minor complaints.  Major complainers may exit the table.
If you don’t want yourself or your family eating it, don’t bring it home!  This can be a hard one to really dig into.  It’s easy to think we’ll buy a treat, bring it home, and save it/dole it out in small portions.  It’s much, much easier to just leave it at the store and not have to bargain with the family about when, how much, how often . . . Figure out treats you feel are appropriate that your family is excited about, and make those together.  If they want the treat they can pitch in to make it.


I got a lot of requests to talk about sourdough in this class.  Making sourdough bread is beyond the scope of this class, but I can give you some helpful tips for keeping your starter happy.  Always remember that your starter is a living being – it’s like keeping a pet.  It needs food and water twice a day, every day.  If you have to leave town or something, you can store it in the fridge for a few days, but then it will need several days to recover before you try to make bread.  If you’re starter isn’t happy (bubbly, smells alcoholic, rising) don’t bother trying to make bread – you’ll just be disappointed!
Buy a digital scale, only use recipes that go by weight, and buy a digital thermometer.  Unless your house stays a steady 70 degrees F, seriously consider investing in a seed mat (sold at garden stores and online), and set it to 70, and keep your starter on it.  This will make your starter super strong and happy!  Make sure your water is warm and your dough is warm when making bread.
Also, use your starter as frequently as possible!  Ideally, use it every day.  Sourdough starter is delicious in bread, pancakes, pasta, etc . . .

Use it All Up:
In a happy Radical Kitchen, there is no waste.  Save your meat bones in the freezer and make bone broths or cook them with your beans.  Save your cooking fat and use it to cook eggs, add to beans, etc.  Make sure all those veggies get used up on pizza night or in a soup.  Soup is your best friend.  If your family eats meat, have a meat casserole night as part of your menu – use up any leftover meats chopped up and leftover veggies/unused veggies, put a pie crust on top and you have a delicious dinner!  No one has to know it’s all the leftover bits :)
Speaking of leftovers, leftovers are awesome!  In our house, we eat leftovers for lunch almost every day.  I usually make enough for dinner that we’ll have leftovers, and I try to make meals that improve with age.  Industrial foods taste disgusting reheated, most homemade meals are actually even better as the flavors continue to meld.  Get rid of your own ideas that leftovers are gross or second-best and your family will follow you.


Afternoon slumps happen – be ready with healthful snacks.  Here are some we love:

- green smoothies (if you use bluberries, your kids will enver know you added greens)
- popsicles
- popcorn (nutritional yeast is a great topping, so are dried herbs, cinnamon, etc)
- applesauce
- rice with soy sauce and sesame seeds
- frozen blueberries
- nuts
- make a snack tray with veggie sticks and cheese slices – whatever isn’t eaten can be used in lunch or dinner


Here are some condiments you might not know you can make amazing versions of at home.  I highly recommend it, since even the organic versions of these have lots of additives like guar gum, carrageenan, etc –

Sour cream (New England Cheesemaking Supply sells the culture)
Ketchup (Putting it Up with Honey)
Mayonnaise (Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
Salsa (Putting it Up with Honey)
Vinegar  (Wild Fermentation)


Preserving, Condiments: Putting it Up with Honey
General Cookery: Cooking from Quilt Country; Forgotten Skills of Cooking; Mastering the Art of French Cooking; Lulu’s Provencal Table; Feeding the Whole Family; Nourishing Traditions
Vegetables: Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables
Online:  101cookbooks.com; nourishedkitchen.com
Whole Grains & Beans: Whole Grains Everyday; Heirloom Beans; Ancient Grains for Modern Meals

5 Responses to “Radical Kitchens”

  1. 1

    Oh, I want to come to a whole class on sourdough with you! Would truly love to hear more about how you tend yours (sounds very different from what I am familiar with…) and maybe a few favorite recipes. This is great, Adrie. And thanks for the tip on blueberries in green smoothies!

  2. 2

    What a great resource! Thank you for sharing this! Makes me want to give sour dough another try.

  3. 3

    This is great, thanks for sharing. You are so right on menu planning. It saves money too because I only buy what we need for that week – saves me from the “maybe we’ll want xyz” and throwing it in the cart. I’ve got breakfast and dinner down, but lunch and snacks are still hard for me to figure out for some reason. This list helps, thanks!

  4. 4

    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this, Adrie!! Thanks for addressing the snacktime slump suggestions, we get stuck in our own little slump and don’t think about something as simple as rice with some condiments. And your Make Ahead suggestions, duh, sometimes I do, but pancake batter and chopped onions (one of my least favorite chores), why didn’t I think of that?!?!? I have made menu plans in the past and it does save time and money too because you stick to your shopping list and you can plan out meals and thus have less waste. I am going to go back to it just in time for the start of the school year! Thanks again! And by the way, we ate raw Poptarts as a snack after school in front of the television or in our lunchbag, can you think of anything more disgusting?!?!!!! So glad we walk a completely different path!

  5. 5

    …oh, and one more thing, I am all over making my own sour cream, definitely adding that to the list of things to do, right up there with lacto-fermenting (but that is a whole different class!). And I just might try my hand at sourdough! Oh, the possibilities are endless!!

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