Reality Bytes: It Ain’t Easy Being Green
In the last episode Chef Brian & I went to Pasadena to cook for the awe inspiring Dervaes family at their Path To Freedom Urban Homestead. Usually for each episode I lug around all my heavy Le Creuset cast iron pots, my knives, a food processor, my stand mixer… seriously a crapload of things. SO when Chef Brian & I were told by Tom we didn’t need to bring anything other than our knives the family had everything we needed available there… other than not being able to bring my Le Creuset I thought SAWEEEEEET!!! We were emailed the family has a garden in the backyard & we were making a meal showcasing the family’s produce (no meat) & we can use EVERYTHING they had available so I was like wait… I don’t have to shop & schlep all the food either?!?!? Even SAWEEEETER! This was all I thought of prior to going there up until I walked up to their front gate, I didn’t at all realize the magnitude of what I was about to experience & what would potentially change my life & how I cook.
It rained that day, pretty much rained during every episode I shot so I was starting to feel like I had bad luck but I knew I was walking through a “garden”, I had cute houndstooth rain boots… FAB! Calling this shangri la a “garden” was truly an understatement. I was GOBSMACKED when we walked in. On 1/10th of an acre this family of FOUR manage to produce 6,000 POUNDS of fresh produce a YEAR! There were these amazingly cool exotic chickens & ducks, I got to pick my own eggs…. yeah I touched some duck poo in the process & wailed like a 4 year old but still clapped like a feral seal because I was so happy to be there. The goats were so strong & healthy. I tried to milk one of them but alas she was fresh out of milk because at the time we shot she had already supplied all the milk she could for the day. I’m telling you having a Haitian girl that close to a goat & I couldn’t eat them I felt these guys had some amazing karma especially because they ended up living their goat lives in such a beautiful place. OH & the family also raised bees & make their OWN honey & had one of thee most intricate irrigation systems I have ever seen.
Bri & I are walking around, I’m having a blast & skipping & thinking how proud First Lady Michelle Obama will be of me (yeah, because she watches the show…. nuh doiffy!) & then I realize after seeing the bicycle blender (how genius is a blender on a BIKE?!?!?)…
the clay & solar ovens… HOLY SMOKES there’s no power at this place & I have NONE of what I called “crap” with me because I didn’t have to lug anything around. I think I pee’d myself a bit. I told this family I’m going to bake muffins & not only do I not have my stand mixer (I don’t care I’m a bit boujie when it comes to my favourite kitchen tools to make my creating easier… SUE ME!) but it rained that day & I have to BAKE in a “solar oven”. I’m a perfectionist. SO it’s one thing when I cook to showcase my skills, but this incredible family invited Chef Brian & I into their home to showcase their products that they have lovingly nurtured & sweated over AND it’s to help them take their business to the NEXT level because we are cooking for buyers from Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, Happy Market & HELLO the incomparable Evan Kleiman from KCRW’s Good Food & I have to BAKE in a solar oven that never reached over 140 degrees?!?!?!? Kill me NOW!
If you know anything about baking it’s an exact science. You have to use exact measurements & temperatures or risk not achieving what you want it to taste & look like. The muffins should have taken 18… 20 minutes tops to bake… these took almost 2 HOURS to bake, I just remember running up & down those stairs every 5 minutes to check on how they were doing, even though I saw them rise they were just schvitzing & looked batter like the entire time…. STRESSED! I didn’t give up but about 30 minutes before the dinner guests arrived I couldn’t take the pressure anymore & I REALLY did not want to let this family down I gave up… without even trying them. I did a toothpick test but the pick felt wet, there was a very slight bounce to the cupcakes but without even tasting them I couldn’t deal & I 86’d them.
Chef Brian was keen enough to try them, I couldn’t even accept they could be fine & what do you know they tasted FANTASTIC! I LOVE working with him. The most moist (ugh that word really is awful) muffins I have EVER made, actually the most moist thing I have ever baked. Ev-ER-y flavor from the Dervaes Homestead just shined. The Meyer lemons, which I swear were thee smoothest, silkiest, sweetest lemons I have ever tasted & I felt at one point while I was zesting them I thought “wait a minute this can’t be the lemons” … HA! The rosemary was subtle, firm & fragrant but I’m telling you something about that solar oven & the way it cooks made their already ethereal products SPECTACULAR! The best part was I served the muffins with Anais’ beautiful preserves. The buyers were blown away with what this family has done. You really could, pardon the cliche…. “taste the love”.
All in all I wish the family & what they have done was shown more in the segment, but I guess it’s hard to understand the scope of what they do there in a a full episode let alone in just a 12 minute segment. I was extremely PROUD to be invited there. I think with the economic state of our country, our ability to be so wasteful & unappreciative this family is a shining example of the potential we all have to change & not only take better care of ourselves by what we put into our bodies but how to take better care of the world we live in now & for many generations to come. You can purchase produce & products like the bike blender & solar ovens from their website http://urbanhomestead.org/ .
I am SO happy to have had this experience. I will definitely be telling my grand children about this one & oh on a side note…. SO happy I did my own lips in the interview part…. MY GOODNESS! I do my OWN makeup in the cooking segments & when I meet with the clients… NO lipstick on my teeth but FN gets me a makeup artist for the interviews & in every God BLESSED episode there’s dang lipstick ON my teeth! Dagnabbit…. Murphy’s Law, DAMN YOU HD… *snort* HA! Oh well, what can you do? It’s a show about food not America’s Next Top Model so I’ll let it slide this time… but TRUST we get picked up for another season, I’m doing my OWN lips…. kisses ♥