What is a “Locavore”? 

locavore is someone interesting in eating food that is locally produced. That means locally grown and meats that are raised (and, if possible, slaughtered) nearby.

“Locavore” was the Oxford American Dictionary’s 2007 Word of the Year.

I am a locavore because I’m dedicated to eating local and supporting local farmers, butchers and food artisans, and the restaurants that showcase local produce, meats and goods on their menus.

What’s the definition of local? 

The very basic definition is food produced within 100 miles of where you are. I have also heard it defined as anything within a one-day drive. That’s why you may find goods from neighboring states at your local farmers markets. For me, I try my very best to stick with food that is raised and grown in the PNW, either right here in Washington state or nearby in Oregon.

Why do you cook and bake gluten-free?

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been eating gluten-free for almost nine years! Before eliminating gluten from my diet, I was sick for nearly two years with a myriad of seemingly random and mismatched symptoms. My doctor tried to treat these symptoms as individual maladies, prescribing course after course of antibiotics. I didn’t get better, and all those meds wiped my system. I had a good friend who had celiac and was also training to be a nurse. After sharing stories and symptoms with her, I took my health into my own hands and eliminated gluten from my diet. (I later severely reduced soy and limited my consumption of sugar.) It took a while, but I recovered. I could think clearly, my legs were no longer restless, my joints didn’t hurt and the constant bloat I experienced disappeared. Eating gluten-free required a lot of trial-and-error. I had to relearn how to cook, but it propelled me to discover, eat and enjoy real, whole foods. For that, I am forever grateful.

Can you give a nutritional breakdown for your recipes?

Unfortunately, no. You can definitely enter any ingredients you use into an online calculator. In my personal life, I don’t count calories or fat or anything like that. Since I work for a local bakery, I try to pay attention and limit my intake of sugars, which can be difficult when I’m surrounded by incredibly delicious gluten-free goodies. My personal motto is to enjoy everything in moderation, and balance my sweets with good fats, healthy proteins and lots of veggies.

What’s your spirit animal?

Owls, because I am obsessively obsessed with them and because they are badass.

Why do you put measurements in grams or ounces? 

There are a lot of reasons why I bake and cook by weight. I use these measurements in basic recipes when I want to be precise. (Let’s be honest, how many times have you used a heaping teaspoon or a pinch rather than a level teaspoon or exact measurement?)

Similarly, I use measurements because baking is a science. Unlike cooking, where I often throw a bunch of ingredients together and hope for the best, baking is absolutely dependent on ratios and exactness. You need just the right amount of fats, flour and liquids. If you add pureed peaches or smashed bananas to a quick bread, you need to be able to reduce the liquids to balance out what you’re adding with the fruits. Weighing things helps to keep my ratios and my ingredients correct.

Second, I bake by weight because I am gluten-free. A standard one cup of flour should weight 140 grams. But substituting one cup of gluten-free flour blend for one cup of standard, gluten AP flour, doesn’t work. They weigh different. So, if I’m baking a pizza dough, I create a ratio of flours that has more protein and attempts to mimic high-gluten bread flour. For cakes, I use a starchier ratio similar to cake or pastry flour.

Providing measurements by weights versus by cups means you can adapt my recipes to make them your own. Not gluten-free? Use the same weight of AP flour. Don’t want to use millet flour or sorghum flour or can’t use potato starch due an allergy? Swap it out for the same weight of a different flour or starch and you should be good to go.

Measuring by weight takes the guess work out of baking and ensures that you can use the ingredients you have in your pantry to successfully make one of my recipes in your own home.

Can’t you just tell me how many cups to use? 

I could. I might, even. But telling you I used one cup of gluten-free flour blend that was made with millet flour, potato starch and cornstarch will ultimately be a different weight than one cup of a store-bought flour blend that has heavier flours and less (or more) starches. Using cups for measurements in baking can be misleading. I don’t want you to have a disappointing result in your kitchen.

What if I can’t find an ingredient you use in a recipe?

Substitute! This is one of the first things I learned in cooking before I was even making up my own recipes. No zucchini? Try eggplant or another soft flesh squash. No stinging nettles? Try another leafy green.

Very few of my recipes will feature strange ingredients that you won’t be able to find. The key to all of the recipes on Little Locavore is that they’re seasonal and based on ingredients I picked up at the farmers market. So, don’t try to make a recipe that features tomatoes or zucchini blossoms in the dead of winter. You might not even find these ingredients during that season, and if you do, I can guarantee they won’t be as good.

How do I find farmers markets near me? 

There are lots of resources available to find local farmers markets. Ask around, check community boards at stores in your area, and check with local community centers or city governments. You can even ask chefs at local restaurants where they buy their produce and if they shop at local markets or buy direct from farmers. Local Harvest is a great resource to find farms, markets and CSAs across the country. Local Farmers Markets is a thorough resource, too.

Who takes the photos on your blog?

I do!

What kind of camera do you use? 

Right now I use a Nikon D3100 dSLR with a fixed Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens. I also take a lot of pictures using my phone.

What’s your favorite food?

That’s a really hard question to answer. In the summer, I love perfectly ripe peaches, juicy fresh tomatoes and shishito peppers blistered in a cast iron pan and sprinkled with course sea salt. In the wintertime, I’m obsessed with squash, sweet potatoes, hearty cuts of meat and hardier greens like kale. I love lions mane mushrooms and I am addicted to Brussels sprouts (seriously). One of my favorite simply dishes is broccoli florets drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes and roasted until crispy.

My favorite part about this journey, though, is discovering new foods. I’m always trying (and falling in love with) something new. Do you have a food or product recommendation? Let me know. I’d love to hear your suggestions!

What is your least favorite food? 

This is also a hard question to answer. I have not yet encountered something I would never again eat, but there are plenty of things I have not yet tried. Really, I just dislike heavily processed and packaged foods that aren’t actually food.

Do you have a favorite farmers market?

The honest answer is no. I am so blessed to live in a city with so many options and so many incredible farmers, soap makers, home brewers and bakers. Each market here is unique with its own personality, quirks and finds. There are still markets in the city I haven’t yet visited, so it wouldn’t be fair to pick just one.