Our family has known the Hodge family since I was 9 years old. When we moved to Illinois we met Meredith’s husband Matt and his brother Mike at our church. We were the same age they were and lived only a short bike ride away. Our summers were spent living at the park, riding bikes, playing “war” in the backyard, going to the manual car wash on a hot day and spraying each other with the high powered pressure washer…you get the gist. It was a great childhood.
Fast forward many (many) years, Matt and Meredith were married and last summer they were members of our farm to table produce boxes. Every week Meredith would send us photos of meals she made with our produce and they looked incredible and tasted even better. This winter we inquired to whether she would be interested in putting together recipes for the produce included each week of the 2019 season. We were so excited when she accepted!
So you can get to know Meredith a bit better, we did a little Q&A.
What do you like about preparing food?
There’s something magical about preparing food--an artform, really. I love taking individual ingredients and marrying them to create one cohesive dish. Putting my heart and creativity into a meal for my husband, family, and friends brings me great joy--especially when it is a flavor combination or ingredient they hadn’t previously tried, but now love.
Food brings people together, and food is something everyone can relate to. James Beard said, “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” And it’s true: food is humanity’s unifier. We all need it, we all love it, and we all make memories through it.
Why is local organic produce important to you?
Produce that is local and organic has a different “feel” to it--and I know that may sound strange. But knowing where and how your food is grown and who produces it creates a bond, trust, and deeper connection to food. In a world that is so commercial, mass produced, and removed, there’s something comforting about shaking hands with your farmer, knowing their name, and walking the very ground where your food grows. Local and organic farmers practice respectable, responsible, and sustainable methods, and we’re blessed to support that. And let’s face it: local organic produce just tastes so much better. The best meal I ever had in my entire life was made with Field and Farm Co. produce!
What’s your favorite thing to cook?
I love a good chili, soup, curry, or any dish that needs time to develop its flavors.
What’s your first memory in the kitchen?
My mother always welcomed me to be involved in the kitchen. As a child, I was generally more interested in baking and sweets, especially because I’d get a lick of cookie dough or cake batter from the bowl. My mom allowed me to express my creativity and get messy in the kitchen. We have home videos of me around age three sitting at our kitchen table playing with flour and bouillon cubes; my face and clothes are completely covered, and we both were laughing. Those positive experiences and continual encouragement to be creative jump-started my love for cooking and baking.
What can we expect from your recipes?
Expect flavor and some surprises! I enjoy putting little twists on traditional meals and creating mashup dishes from different cultures.
Why did you choose to move to a plant based diet?
The main reason we shifted our eating was for health reasons. I was frustrated by doctors prescribing more medications for issues I was having without ever finding the root cause. After researching, I was convinced that the amount of animal products we were consuming was becoming detrimental to our health.
After making the switch to eating only plants, and seeing the tremendous change in our health, that was it for us--no turning back! Matt and I also eat plants for environmental impact and animal cruelty reasons, and are passionate about sharing why it is important to know your farmer and where your food comes from.
Any tips for people who want to cook at home but maybe don’t have a lot of time to prepare food?
-One easy way is to purchase ingredients that have been pre-washed and pre-cut. In the produce section of most grocery stores, you can find spiralized and cut veggies, pre-cooked lentils and other legumes, and even fresh pasta. You’ll have to pay more than if you bought the ingredients whole, but it’s a time and mess saver.
-Another option is to invest in some handy gadgets. Buy a food processor or hand-chopper that will do most of the cutting, chopping, and dicing for you. Sometimes I enjoy hand-chopping my food, but other days, I just throw my ingredients in the food processor and let it do the hard work for me.
-Some people enjoy executing “meal prep” for the entire week. This means choosing a day--usually on the weekend--to do all of the meal preparation for your week’s recipes. You’d chop, measure, portion, and store everything, making it easy to simply grab, dump, and cook when the day comes.
-Also, there’s nothing wrong with canned goods--provided that the can has no chemicals like BPA, there are no added preservatives, and the vegetables are organic. You don’t have to soak your own black beans; (low sodium) black beans in a can are just fine!
-Lastly, save time by leaving the skins on! The (edible) skins of most produce carry beneficial nutrients and fiber. Mash those potatoes with the skins on and roast your carrots unpeeled!
if you want to know more, Meredith would love to hear from you!
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