One of my favorite things about cooking at Chewonki is the anticipation of farmers coming in the kitchen door laden with harvest. In the spring those beautiful first deliveries of spinach or mustard greens awaken taste buds and cooks notions.
Soon the summer workers arrive and the influx becomes steady. “What do you have today?” I might ask a summer farm worker, usually a returned semester student, and the exchange is loaded with enthusiasm on both parts. It never gets old for me, to see them pulling up in the farm truck with crates and boxes of produce. It is fodder for creative thinking, as I imagine new ways to incorporate daikon, for example, or tatsoi, both new to me even after many years as a professional cook.
In the fall, I find myself taking stock of the harvest and I begin to imagine how far into the winter will the carrots and beets and potatoes, these gems of the Neck, feed our community. How can I feature beets? Will these beautiful red onions take us into winter or even the spring?
Now, in the dark of Maine winter, I am still adding Chewonki ingredients to the menu board, and each time a rush of appreciation courses through me. There is an element of cooking with ingredients that my coworkers have so thoughtfully and expertly tended that makes cooking an almost spiritual work. This is most welcome, as the work can sometimes be anything but spiritual!
For this inspiration and the chance to continue to learn, I am grateful.