Barry: Own your kitchen like Martha Stewart

Published 11:02 am Thursday, November 8, 2012

Most of us have idols, mentors or heroes whom we look up to and want to emulate.  For me, there is a collection of five or six activists, innovators, status-quo challengers and business people I admire immensely.

Several of them are women who, despite what society expected of them, took risks and created a social or pop culture movement. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to see several of my living heroes speak or perform, and, almost every time, the idolized version lived up to what I saw in front of me on stage.

Last Thursday was one of those times. I was about 20 feet away from the original female business women and domestic goddess herself: Martha Stewart. I have looked up to Martha for a long time. Not only is she super crafty and a genius in the kitchen, but there is something about owning her femininity yet still being a savvy businesswoman that gels.

For women of my generation, I often see a struggle between the notion we can have and do anything professionally that men can and the traditional roles women are expected to play. In breaking the professional glass ceiling, something has gotten lost. I see this with many of my girlfriends who have successful careers, even beautiful families, yet struggle to feed themselves and their loved ones wholesome, real food. In believing we could “have it all,” some of us have abandoned basic domestic necessities such as cooking.

Martha said in her closing points that homemaking should be an art, the home should be a place of beauty and comfort. I don’t think she would disagree with me when I say that, even as a feminist woman, there is a grace and fortitude in owning this. We don’t need to shy away from these “feminine” arts, but, by embracing them, we exert a certain power over the fast-foodism of modern life. Being able to make a pie from scratch doesn’t mean you’ve sold out to traditional expectations.  Rather, it is an honorable skill in which to take pride.

If you are the kind of woman who asserts leadership in the workplace, I encourage you to do the same in your kitchen.  Martha used the phrase, “lavish simplicity” to describe the from-scratch, organic meals she served back when she started her catering company. I love this concept because I think it sums up the efforts we have to put in to get back to eating real, whole food rather than the canned or boxed convenience foods so prevalent in modern American homes: It’s actually simple, but it seems like a lavish treat.

Here are a couple simple recipes to lavish upon your family, friends or whomever is lucky enough to dine with you.  If you would like to learn more, I will be teaching a cooking class themed around soups and complementary seasonal dishes at Martin’s School of Cooking in Stevensville on Nov. 15.

Call Martin’s at (269 429-1711 for more information.

Homemade applesauce
1 bag organic Michigan apples, peeled and sliced
Organic, all natural apple cider

Place apples in a large stock pot. Cover with all-natural apple cider and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer about 30 minutes or until applesauce is desired thickness. Use a heavy-duty wire whisk to further mash up, if necessary. Use in place of eggs in your favorite cake or muffin recipe.

Walnut grounds
This is a great meat substitute. You can also use pecans or crumbled tempeh.

½ yellow onion, chopped
1 cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 tsp. olive or grapeseed oil
About 1 tsp. fresh black pepper
1 tsp. liquid smoke

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add oil once it’s warmed up. Next, add the onion. When the onion starts to become translucent, add the walnuts and remaining ingredients. Cook until sauce thickens, about five minuets.  Toss with your favorite pasta, stir fry or serve with sauteed veggies on a bed of quinoa.