Up Close and Personal: Meet The Oregon Farm Table Cookbook Author, Karista Bennett
Author and chef, Karista Bennett, will be taking over our Instagram Live on Thursday, October 15, from 10:15-10:45 am to share a garden-inspired recipe from her newest book, The Oregon Farm Table Cookbook, 101 Home-Grown Recipes From the Pacific Wonderland.
With the arrival of fall, shorter days and cooler temps, what are some of your favorite go to recipes inspired by the farms and fields of the PNW?
There are almost to many recipes to name! I adore soups and stews and meals that feel like a cozy, warm blanket on a plate or in a bowl.
I tried to include many delicious selections that would be fun for fall. A few of my favorites are: Black Bean Soup with Griddle Cakes, Northwest Style Smoked Salmon Chowder, Winter Vegetable Gratin, Chicken and Rosemary Lemon Dumplings, Spiced Winter Squash Soup and my Mushroom Bolognese.
Did you always want to be a chef?
No; although I’ve always been completely enchanted with beautiful and delicious food. When I was a child, my family experienced quite a bit of food insecurity, consequently, food has always an important topic for me as an adult.
However, it wasn’t until I decided to take a sabbatical from my career in health care after my second child was born that I realized I couldn’t cook! I had five to eight recipes that I knew how to make and that was about it. I was completely lost in the kitchen. Thankfully, at that time, my husband did a lot of the cooking.
What’s the best part of being a chef, food writer and author?
Sharing my food and my love of locally sourced ingredients is the best part. Truly, it brings me so much joy to share my recipes, my experiences and knowledge surrounding food, health and nutrition. When I create a recipe and send it out to the world, my hope is that it will bring home cooks as much joy and satisfaction as it’s brought to me.
There is nothing more wonderful than receiving an email or message from a reader that says they loved one of my recipes. Or that one of my recipes is their family’s new favorite. I love that my food helps build community and connection. Because that’s what food is all about. I wrote a quote a few years ago that sums up exactly how I feel about food and cooking. “Food is the element that brings us to the table, where life is lived and memories are made”.
Why should people eat locally?
Eating locally is the right thing to do for so many reasons; and food just tastes better when it’s local. Eating locally sourced food helps support the community in which we live. It makes life better for all of us. It creates jobs and a stronger local economy.
Eating locally also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to improving our carbon footprint which in turn helps us address the looming problem of climate change. It’s also a healthier option. Food that hasn’t traveled far is fresher, more flavorful and more nutrient rich. This is vital to keeping our communities physically healthy as well.
What’s the inspiration behind your new cookbook, The Oregon Farm Table Cookbook?
The term “farm to table” is increasingly important to most people. Especially now that everyone is doing more cooking in their home kitchens.
We want to highlight the stories of a handful of Oregon farms and food producers, chef’s and winemakers along with recipes created around locally grown ingredients. Stories bring a human element to the act of sourcing ingredients for our daily meals.
I also want the book to give a face and a name to the produce we purchase or the wine we sipped at dinner. These individual profiles give the reader a glimpse into the life of a farmer or food producer, and why they chose to support their community through farming and food production. I enjoyed meeting these amazing people.
Many farms are female powered, and a few are sixth or seventh generation. However, I found many farms in Oregon started in the last ten years by first time farmers. Small agriculture is thriving simply because it’s loved and supported by local communities.
Whether you grow vegetables in your backyard or bring home the bounty from a local farmers’ market, Karista’s The Farm Table Cookbook will inspire and instruct you as you consume your delicious local harvest.
Karista Bennett lives in Oregon with her family. She is a regular on-air recipe expert for KATU Channel 2, AM Northwest Morning Show in Portland, Oregon, and On-Air Talent for the Oregon Blueberry Commission. The Oregon Farm Table Cookbook, 101 Home-Grown Recipes from the Pacific Wonderland is her first book.