5 Questions: Jen Prestegaard

 
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I'm so delighted to introduce you to my friend and longtime client (or 'eater' as I like to call those I support in the kitchen), Jen Prestegaard. Her charm is certainly reflected in her daughter's face in this photo. I have always admired Jen's zeal for good food, and her determination to share this energy with her own family, most importantly her two young daughters.

What does eating well look like for you?

When I am eating well, I am sharing a meal in the company of others. A nourishing start to my day includes a yogurt bowl with fresh berries, nuts and perhaps even cocoa nibs or chocolate chips. All washed down by a cappuccino in a mug made by someone who knows my name. Greens for lunch and a hot meal for dinner that I've planned ahead. I am off my game when I have a line-up of disposable coffee cups and pastry bags in my car. If you see me with a Taco John's bag, it usually means I need an intervention.

What is a favorite and reliable everyday dish for you and your family?

At the ripe age of 42, I have perfected the art of the take-out dinner. The Trader Joe's stir-fry bag with an over easy egg, pasta/peas/cheese and Friday night pizza delivery were once standbys. I have grown more confident and adept with Goosefoot's meal planning service however and now love warming up a homemade chowder or soup from the freezer, whipping up an omelet or throwing together a pasta sauce. Brinner (breakfast dinner) is a always a solid win in our house because the kids love bacon, pancakes, cheesy eggs and all the accessories.

Can you share a defining food memory?

Like most, all food memories lead to my mother. My mom devoured cookbooks when she was alive and I remember her (at least weekly) concocting a recipe for a work potluck. Her specialty was the appetizer although most involved a frightening amount of cream cheese. Her holiday dinners were massive spreads. The twice-baked potatoes, the red hot jello salad, the head of cauliflower doused in bearnaise sauce and nearly a dozen tupperware containers of cookies. Without fail, we'd be halfway into a holiday meal and Mom would exclaim that she'd left the crescent rolls in the oven and burnt them to a crisp.  

Traveling took my taste buds captive and changed everything. A frisee aux lardons salad in Times Square before a Broadway show, fresh macarons from Laduree in Paris and every morsel tasted in Sonoma County. The Macaroni and Cheese Gratin and roasted red pepper soup at Underwood Bar is my most memorable meal ever. And I want to start every day at the Inn at Occidental with their breakfast buffet and fresh granola, proceed to wine and cheese hour and drift off to bed with hot cookies and cocoa.

What topics around food are you most interested in, and why?

I'm very interested in enjoying the simplicity of food. For too many decades, food was confusing. The food labels, to meat or not to meat, the calories, superfoods, the cooking shows, bulk shopping, cleanses, slow cookers, aargh...I just want to eat real food that makes me feel good and know that it came from a good place. My greatest hope is that my children develop a relationship with food that empowers and inspires them.

I have to ask. What would you hope for as a last meal on this earth?

After much thought, I want to have my last meal at the lake cabin.  Grilled turkey and fresh corn on the cob with butter dripping off it.  I want a salad that tastes good (absent the iceberg lettuce and bottled salad dressings I grew up on).  And I want my mom's homemade strawberry pie . . . like only she could make it.

Traveling took my taste buds captive and changed everything. A frisee aux lardons salad in Times Square before a Broadway show, fresh macarons from Laduree in Paris and every morsel tasted in Sonoma County. The Macaroni and Cheese Gratin and roasted red pepper soup at Underwood Bar is my most memorable meal ever. And I want to start every day at the Inn at Occidental with their breakfast buffet and fresh granola, proceed to wine and cheese hour and drift off to bed with hot cookies and cocoa.