I crafted this business out of shame.
For years, I worked like other restaurant chefs–most hours of the day, through all meals. Days off found me clawing through a box of cereal, or nestling up to the corner diner’s tuna melt. Rarely did I practice at home the skills I learned in the professional kitchen, unless they posed a proper challenge–a cassoulet, terrine, a custard—and involved feeding a crowd.
After my first daughter was born, I limited my work to more humane hours. Still, I spent my energies cooking only for guests, and left nothing for even modest meals for ourselves. My attempts to cook us a casual dinner while caring for a newborn left me despairing. I would inevitably under-salt pasta, if I didn’t overcook it. I burned plenty of vegetables left steaming in a long forgotten pot. And the dishes generated in our toy of a kitchen surrendered us to too much take out and meals of cheese-toast and beer.
Mind you, my daughter never suffered such injustices. The baby food I made for her consumed our cooler space and my time. Eleanor’s first foods weren’t simple purees, they were fruits and vegetables recast as edible silk. I maintained a disciplined schedule of baby food production until, after she licked clean my plate of tuna drippings, I saw our tastes begin to merge.
I continued my commitment to making fresh, varied food for my kids without thought to the way I did it. When, two years later, I gave Eleanor and her little sister poached halibut for lunch a well-meaning friend offered the shameful observation: your kids eat so much better than you. I had to agree.
In defense, I suggested that our refrigerator was too small to stock properly, that we lacked a dishwasher to clean up after an ambitious meal, had different dinner schedules for kids and adults, and that my husband and I were left with little motivation to do much for ourselves at the bitter end of a long workday. But, really, feeding ourselves anything but cereal and Thai take-out felt impossible.
I was wrong. In cooking for our kids, we had commited a common parental error of treating them to a quality of service we weren’t insistent on for ourselves. I dove fully into the strategies I had been using to put high quality meals in front of my kids, methods, garnered from years in professional kitchens, to then feed us all. The result was more interesting, varied, economical, healthy, impulsive, delicious, and expedient meals at home. And Purple Kale Kitchenworks was born.