Author Archives: Jennifer Downing

In the Nourish Kitchen: The Can Opener (and a Recipe With Which to Use It)

Monday, Feb 25th, 2013 by

I am a vintage girl. As a kid I would rise way too early on a Sunday morning to hit the flea market with my mom — rain, shine or bitter cold. Especially unorthodox for a teenager, I kept going because I loved it. My taste has morphed over the years, but the nostalgia of the items I’ve bought still tugs at my heart strings. My tastes have ranged from primitive to mid-century, but my collections and passion have remained consistent.

A paint-by-number winter scene in a hobbled together handmade frame makes me smile after the Christmas festivities have passed. Vintage farm photos welcome spring, aqua pottery cools the summer heat and brilliant orange bowls warm the house as days become shorter and winds cool. These small things bring comfort and stories (though from my own imagination) I never tire of. When I begin to think it’s time to replace the carpet or tear down a wall, these new-to-me old things cheer me. This, I am sure, is why Doug never begrudges me a day at a flea market, time in antique store or unplanned stop at an estate sale. A hand-stitched apron with rick-rack trim costs only a couple bucks and doesn’t necessitate drop cloths or power tools.

One of the author’s prized possessions, with a story all its own.

Estate sales are my favorite. A peak into someone’s life and the things with which they lived is an honor. I carry memories of people I never knew: The owner of a small turquoise egg cup in a southern-style cottage with a low-slung porch, an organized housewife with a bamboo desk organizer. Amongst stacks of photographs in a simple 1960s ranch I found a photo of a 1940s housewife posing proudly in her kitchen; she has become the face of Nourish

At these sales, the kitchen is the room I gravitate to first in search of a mixing bowl or un-paired creamer in need of a good home. Sometimes I marvel at why a rusted Granny fork or chipped tea cup made the cut for so many years. Then I remember my can opener.

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In the Nourish Kitchen: Thoughts on a Cleanse

Tuesday, Jan 29th, 2013 by

Thanks to Jennifer Downing of Batavia-based Nourish for a contribution that made me not only laugh but also feel much better about never trying a cleanse. Check out her website for more information on her newly introduced Nourish Sessions, designed to help you create a workable family food plan.

Earlier this month I decided to follow Dr. Oz’s suggestion and do his 3-Day Cleanse. Although it may be obvious, based upon the title of my little column, food is very central to my life. My business, my hobby and the way I show I care all revolve around food.

It all went downhill after breakfast. Photo by Jennifer Downing.Though attempting this cleanse was more than a little daunting and stress inducing, it does support my many feelings about what we need to eat: Unprocessed, nutritionally dense and colorful foods are on the top of my grocery list. I’d never done or dreamed I would do anything like this, but it seemed an ideal way to refresh my body after holiday feasting. My wonderful husband agreed to be drug down this path, too, so we would do it together. It was a given Doug would reach his goal – he’s even run a marathon on a broken leg.  I thought I could do it, too.

I was wrong.

Breakfast was a piece of cake. Well, obviously not a piece of cake or this would be a wild success story. The rosy-pink drink was tangy with raspberries, sweet banana and nutty flaxseed. Sipped through a green striped straw, I could feel the micronutrients coursing through my body. I am sure I was glowing with vitality.

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Holiday Baking: Pecan Tassies & Christmas Cookies Past

Wednesday, Dec 19th, 2012 by

Thanks to Jennifer Downing of Nourish for sharing this recipe with us for the “Holiday Baking” series. She has lots of fun and interesting classes coming up in her Batavia kitchen this winter. I’m eyeing the “Soup and Bread” class myself. 

Baking is my favorite part of the holidays. It’s really my favorite part of any day. Many cakes, pies, and breads, both rustic and sweet have graced our kitchen. There are always cookies, plain and fancy in our oversized cookie jar. As I write the house smells deliciously of chocolate. This new brownie recipe is very similar to my stand-by but bigger. One hundred and seventeen square inches of bittersweet chocolate goodness makes brownies for everyone. The best part of baking is sharing.

Photo by mrjoro on Flickr.The Christmas of 6th grade, I invited friends over for an after-school tea party. An impromptu event, invitations were extended at nine in the morning and throngs of girls arrived when school let out. It wasn’t until a few years ago I learned, or was reminded, of the details from my mom.

Though now I can’t remember the names of the girls in attendance, I do remember the cookies – pecan tassies. I’m sure my mom didn’t relish making them while juggling many other holiday preparations.

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In the Nourish Kitchen: Strawberries and the Gift of Imperfect Perfection

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012 by

Recently, an intelligent person I have incredible respect for commented on my tendency to be hard on myself.  This comment made me think about this flaw which grabbed me as a child and has held on tightly. Some perfectionist mellow with age and the reins are loosened. In my case, the battle raged on into motherhood.

For Jennifer Downing, the perfect berry might be tiny and smooshed, but it smells like heaven. Photo provided.Many great moms told me to relax, let things go and give myself a break. I didn’t listen. Maybe after a decent night of sleep and formal proclamation I could have grasped the idea and understood such sage advice. “Welcome to motherhood! You won’t need all of that baggage. Nature Valley makes granola just as good, those breakable Pottery Barn-esque accessories are choking hazards, and no one really notices sticky handprints on glass doors.”  Instead, I constantly chased my version of flawless and, no surprise, I’ve never caught it. Taking heed would have made the early years of motherhood so much easier.  No, I continued to make granola, pick up toys every hour, group accessories higher, and then higher still.  I obsessed over the handprints.  As more children arrived in the yellow house, I ironed tiny t-shirts, and planned meticulously-themed birthday parties complete with homemade cupcakes (which went straight into the trash can).  I volunteered … for everything.

As children grew in numbers greater than the sum of their parents I began to let things slip. I recycled more volunteer sheets than I returned. The ironing board was in the closet, and I placed wrinkled but smoothed clothes into drawers. There was dust where energy efficient bulbs allowed it to be missed. Chips on my white trim remained chips on my white trim. I felt guilty. I felt I had failed.

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In the Nourish Kitchen: Of Boys & Bees (With Hope That Something Sticks)

Tuesday, Apr 24th, 2012 by

Earlier this month I assembled the boys of Den #3 for a meeting on the porch. In full-on Cub Scout mode, I enthusiastically talked about birds, trying to achieve the perfect balance of learning and fun. My clipped pace was necessary to accomplish our goals before their post-schoolday attention flew away.

Photo by Andreas. on Flickr.Trying in vain to share something which would stick, it became apparent something was driving them to distraction. Not the pleasant breeze of a prematurely balmy spring day, the football lying in the yard, or the typical antics of 2nd grade boys. It was bees.

They seemed to be everywhere, dodging between us, flying high and low then mysteriously disappearing near the heavy arm chair with peeling paint.  In effort to regain control, I stated with the air of calm used when diffusing the panic bees illicit, “If you leave them alone; they’ll leave you alone.” Then, “They are more afraid of you than you are of them.”  Followed by an exasperated, “Just ignore them.” Of course, as is usually the way, the boys heeded none of my advice, and I knew time was not on my side.

My son Henry, seated just to my right said to his friends, “They won’t hurt you.” He turned to look at mem continuing with, “Remember when we put them in the hive and one landed on my finger? He didn’t sting me at all.” And with that, I knew my efforts were worth it.

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