What’s Cooking Wednesday: Fearless Food and Inspiration

Who, or what, inspires you in the kitchen? If you’ve been reading here for very long, it’s no secret that my family and family history inspire me. Gardening with my dad and the lessons he learned growing up on a farm, how to save what you grow and put everything to good use (snout to tail way before it was trendy), seeing the stash of pickles and other preserves my grandma put up in the cabinet my grandpa built for her, the canning my aunt still does. Cooking with my mom, learning to expand my palate, the joys of sharing good food with good friends and family, the love in recipes and traditions that have been passed down from my great-grandmother and great-grandfather to my grandmother and grandfather, aunts, uncles.

In the past year, I’ve grown my very first vegetable garden, swapped food and stories with new friends, and taken classes to learn new recipes. The common theme? The Peterson Garden Project.

New home of the Chicago Food Swap

This post was originally just meant to help PGP get the word out about their upcoming kitchen-warming (I’ll get to that in a second), but as I wrote, I realized how important the garden and its new kitchen space have been to helping me grow, if you’ll pardon the pun. This is kind of community movement I want to see more of and that I’m so grateful to have in my neighborhood.

Next Saturday, January 31 from 6-9:30 p.m., Peterson Garden Project and the Fearless Food Kitchen are having a kitchen warming and benefit to officially kick things off with amazing food and drinks from some pretty amazing locals:

  • Amanda Rockman and Erling Wu-Bower of Nico Osteria
  • Brad Newman and Michael Taormina of Cookies and Carnitas (if you haven’t been there yet, go, now, immediately)
  • Dave and Megan Miller of Baker Miller (another you should go to immediately, this place is 100% worth the nationwide press they’ve been getting for their locally grown and in-house milled grains. I’ve got some of their tri-color grits and steel cut oats at home waiting to be put to good use.)
  • Chris Pandel and Joe Frillman of Balena
  • Patty Neumson of Edgewater’s new Herb Restaurant
  • Tangley Oaks Wines
  • Terlato Spirts

The chefs will be talking about who inspired them to cook and creating the menu around this theme. It will be a great time, I hope you can go!

The kitchen also has a ton of amazing classes coming up: fermentation, spaghetti and meatballs, classes on garden planning (never too early to start dreaming about spring), and the one I can’t wait for, Basque cake with Chicago pastry chef Amanda Rockman herself. (Oh, and if you sign up for the class on January 22 (“Cooking the Books” on Mark Rhulman’s How to Roast) or January 24 (“Let’s Get Saucy“) you can save $5 by using the code “PGPflyer”.)

Great class in a beautiful space!

On the topic of fearless food, I’m curious–what foods are you afraid to cook? For me, steak and fish are the two biggest things I shy away from. Overcooked steak and fish are just bad, and I hate risking making something inedible with not-exactly-cheap ingredients. Plus I’m always worried my kitchen will smell like fish for the rest of the day.

And finally, a reminder–only five months until I can enjoy this view again!

June garden in full swing

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