...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.

My Journey With Food

  • 1978-mid 1980s: In my earliest years my parents (former Shaklee dealers; my dad the son of a farm girl who cooked professionally) got eggs from a farm, raw honey from a local source, did not allow white sugar, white flour, or white rice in our daily meals.  We munched on carob and fruit leather instead of chocolate and Fruit Roll-ups.
  • Mid 1980s: Once my sibs and I were all in school and our mom went back to work full-time while getting her MFA, convenience trumped "health food" and we were given a chance to make or own food choices.  Naturally we explored sugary cereals, cheese-filled hot dogs and frozen pizza rolls to pop in the microwave, and lots of soda.  I can only speak for myself, but from this I learned what I didn't want to eat, but also those foods weren't so taboo after that.  I tried them and eventually moved forward.  During this busy stage in our family I still remember sitting around the table nearly every night for dinner.
  • 1992: Took my first trip abroad to explore England, Germany, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands and begin whetting my appetite for my future in food and art.
  • 1992-1996: As a high school athlete I was interested in fitness and began reading about nutrition, acquiring my first cookbook on my 16th birthday when the "low-fat" craze was in full swing.  By senior year of high school I was cooking dinner for my parents every night and learning my way around the kitchen and all kinds of new and "exotic" foods (like bok choy and ginger root).  Took cooking classes in high school Home Ec.  (Shout out to my teacher Angie Propst who encouraged me to follow the path to nutrition in college.)
  • 1996-2000: Studied Food and Nutrition in Business at Purdue University.  The curriculum was very mainstream so even though I learned a lot about what I didn't want to pursue, it gave me a good base.  (And knowing that I survived several semesters of Chemistry, Biology, Anatomy, BioChemistry, etc. makes me realize I can get through anything when it comes to learning a new subject.)
  • 1999: While working part-time in a restaurant I had an epiphany about why food brings people together and decided to learn more from a culinary/gastronomic perspective.  Took wine appreciation classes (and as a college student, you can bet I really "appreciated" those Monday evening tastings), went to regular wine tastings, and researched the health benefits of red wine for my coursework.  (In case you didn't catch it, this was also when I started to actually enjoy wine.)
  • 1999: Was writing food and nutrition articles for the campus newspaper and, in seeking a summer writing job in MKE, stumbled upon and subsequently began writing for the Outpost Exchange food and wellness journal where I first learned about organic foods and GMOs.  This was a huge breakthrough in my lifestyle and relationship with food.  A decade later--after writing food, nutrition, health, and gardening articles as well as restaurant reviews--I earned my first column as the "Budget Gourmet."
  • 2000: Finished my nutrition degree and went on to culinary school during which I worked in a fine dining restaurant and gained a huge appreciation and expanded knowledge of food and wine.  Became acquainted with a friend's organic farming sister and her husband and volunteered on their farm for a couple of seasons.  Was gifted an ownership to Outpost Natural Foods Co-op where I began discovering more natural and organic foods and my food community and later became a lifetime owner.  Discovered Slow Food Madison and other food-related organizations and began attending their events and conferences and networking heavily.
  • 2001: Traveled to northern Italy to spend a week at an Italian cooking school where I learned to love all things Italian and further enhance my wine knowledge.
  • 2002: Traveled to France and Switzerland with a chef and group of hospitality students from my alma mater to learn more about European food and wine culture.
  • 2003: Fulfilled an agricultural-literacy internship at Michael Fields where I began to meet the majority of the farmers I now call close friends.  And also where I earned my Master Food Preserver certification.  Helped found Slow Food Wisconsin Southeast. This internship experience was another major breakthrough for me, a life-changing point in both my personal and food life.
  • 2003-present: Began teaching food preservation classes, vegetarian cooking demos, and other nutrition-based cooking classes in various venues around the metro-Milwaukee area through which I have developed a great sense of community.
  • 2004-2005: Worked at an urban Milwaukee farm where I continued to meet and work with local farmers, learn about food deserts, food inequity and food security through different organizations
  • 2005-2010: Worked with Braise doing on-farm cooking demos where I continued to meet new farmers and friends.
  • 2006: Bought our house and began ditching the lawn and concrete to make way for our vegetable and fruit growing aspirations.  A few years later this small plot became known at the LeFort Urban Homestead where I continue to grow, preserve, and make food from scratch as much as possible at this point in my life.
  • 2009: Our daughter was born, which launched me into a whole new food world from exclusive breastfeeding to preparing homemade baby food and making sure she gets adequate nutrition as well as exposure to new and interesting foods.  Via the Holistic Moms Network Milwaukee Chapter I have been further enlightened and my dedication to the buying, preparing, and eating wholesome food has been enhanced and encouraged.  This group of woman has been a huge influence on my current eating habits.
  • 2010: Was diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity, which quickly turned my baking world upside down but for the best.
  • 2011: Began teaching Basic Knife Skills classes, which progressed into basic hands-on from-scratch cooking classes for adults and families to teach people how to cook more affordably and healthfully with local foods.
  • Where do I go from here?  There is so much more I want to learn and perfect.  I also look forward to sharing my knowledge and love of food and gardening with my daughter.  

1 comment:

  1.  Nice rundown. You are certainly qualified!