Hi I’m Stacie – welcome to my blog!
Here I vent my ideas and dreams of all things food & hospitality in the hopes that my experiences can inspire others. I am heavily influenced by my Italian heritage; and the time I spent living in Italy changed the way I look at food (it also explained a lot about my family). I’m interested in everything from Asian cuisines to cocktails to gardening to kitchen gadgets to restaurants. I’m the sort of person who will spend 4 hours on dinner and think of it as my “me” time. I enjoy trying new recipes and perfecting old ones. I drive my husband crazy with new experiments and strange ingredients, but I love the classics.
I am here because I am trying to change my whole lifestyle. I’ve spent the last 5 years sitting at a desk gaining weight and developing ADD, literally losing mental capacity for lack of challenge and human interaction. So I’m not here to be a snot and push my ideas on other people – I simply enjoy documenting this process because I’m enjoying life again. So this is what I think and what I plan to do about it. I hope that writing it all down will help keep me accountable to myself, and I hope you will join me on the journey!
What’s Driving Me
I’ve realized that while it was normal for me in my family to prepare everything for ourselves, most people do not live like this anymore. Cooking no longer seems to be something that everyone just kinda knows how to do, but has become a genuine specialty. It’s completely possible these days to get through an entire 4 year degree, but never learn how to cook rice. While I don’t fault anyone for this, and realize that some people just don’t have the interest, I think this loss of self-sufficiency is a small tragedy and loss of heritage. Sort of like – it’s handy to know how to drive a stick even if you don’t own one, basic cooking skills are important even if you don’t cook for fun. I’d like to help people learn to cook for themselves.
It seems to me that poor diets cause more health problems in this country that just about anything else, and the biggest factor in determining the quality of your diet is whether or not your food is prepared by a person. Nobody uses partially hydrogenated cotton seed oil when they make their own dinner. When you are good with your knives, you never use your chopper gadgets. Cooking can be for everyone! It takes practice, and with a little practice you can prepare your own healthy meals quickly and without a large production. I’d like to help people who want to improve their diets.
Many people love the service industry, but leave when it’s time to grow up. The hospitality industry has a tendency to destroy a large percentage of the personal lives of people who are dedicated to it. I want to create a system that helps me be with my family, rather than taking me away from it. Along those same lines, I’ve also been feeling for a long while the pain of going to work and giving my child over to a daycare of babysitter so I can subsequently give them a third of my paycheck. On the verge of doubling that situation with a second child, I’m seriously questioning the value of paying someone else to raise my children. I want to find a more sustainable way to take care of my family and hopefully inspire others to do the same.
I want to stop giving all of my money to a grocery chain. I want to plant my own gardens and raise my own chickens and know exactly what goes into them. I blow more money on groceries than anything else EVER. I remember when I was first on my own, going to the grocery store and filling my cart for 2 weeks with about $100. Now its $40 every time you go. And for what? To send our money to California for example, so they can water their farms to feed NY while they’re having a drought? Then pick their food early so it doesn’t spoil and load it into a mac truck to ship across the county at $2.73 a gallon so you and I can have a genetically engineered red pepper on demand at a premium of $2.00 each? I want to grow a breed of squash for the way it tastes, not for the way it’s shaped. Maybe we’ll find out my husband likes squash after all? If I make tomato soup from scratch it costs like $15 for the tomatoes. No wonder people buy soup in a can. This whole situation seems unsustainable to me, and I frequently ask myself how much more cost increase the market can handle – because I know that I can’t handle much more.
Those are all ideals, but the best part of food is watching people enjoy themselves. There are few things more satisfying to me than someone tasting a piece of baklava and involuntarily saying “oh my god that’s good.” I believe food should just be like this all the time – elicit reactions, be rewarding to eat and share, create romance, convey love and inspire creativity. I also think that making people feel welcome, comfortable and relaxed should be part of that food experience in order to really get the most from it.
The Ultimate Goal
To accomplish all of this, my dream is to create a Finger Lakes “agriturismo,” a beautiful and all-encompassing idea that I’m stealing from Italy. This involves leaving my lovely city Victorian for the country and at least 10 acres. There we will build a chicken coop and pig pen, plant gardens, dig a root cellar, can things, freeze things and eat seasonally, making grocery store trips for obscure items. Stage 2 is 3 or 4 micro-houses with different themes in private places on the land and start a B&B. Besides breakfast, I would like to offer various garden products like my spicy smoky tomato sauce, chamomile tea, corn salsa, jam, etc. Stage 3 involves the construction of a large barn with a commercial kitchen, and opening the property for weddings (check out my dessert tower page) and cooking classes. For a few nights a week – like the agriturismos in Italy, I’ll offer dinner – a locally produced pre-fixed menu of several courses. My hope is that at this stage, I will be able to hire a few other parents who’d also like to keep their kids with them.
I will never work in an office again. I’ve decided that – at least this human – isn’t meant to live like that…but I suspect that I’m not the only one.
In the meantime, Dante’s Inferno offers cooking lessons, catering for small parties and dessert or cupcake towers.