My Favorite People, My Favorite Recipes: Maria Rodale
Rodale “recognizes the connection between our personal health and that of the planet, between one’s physical, spiritual, and emotional health, between individuals and communities.” It’s more than a mission statement for CEO Maria Rodale — it’s how she lives.
She grew up on one of the country’s first organic farms. Even after a day of biz, she still sits down to a home-cooked dinner with her three daughters. Most times, Maria’s the one doing the cooking. She brings to the kitchen a sensibility gleaned from all her childhood organic experience. Co-chair of the Rodale Institute, she advocates organic produce, but more, she has a wholistic, integral attitude about food. Maria wants you to get your hands dirty. And your pots and pans dirty. She sees each meal not just as something to eat but as an opportunity for a transformative experience. Lest this sound woo-woo, if you’re looking for a definition of authentic, she’s it. She’s as real as the food she cooks.
Excerpt and recipe from Scratch by Maria Rodale, used by permission from Rodale Publishing, 2016.
I believe anyone can cook. I believe that a home-cooked meal made from scratch — preferably with organic ingredients (and maybe even homegrown) — is one of the greatest pleasures of life. I believe that when you cut through all the confusion abut food and cooking — the fears and insecurities, social pressures, false ideals, or just plain not knowing where to begin — this is where you can begin.
Cooking from scratch isn’t about impressing friends and neighbors (although you probably will); it’s about nourishing our families and ourselves. And the truth is, when it comes to making delicious and easy food from scratch, it truly is freaking easy.
Growing up, I noticed that once people were well fed they were a lot less angry. I noticed that a good meal unites people. I noticed that drinking was fine and fun until someone drank too much and then it wasn’t fun at all. I noticed that skinny people weren’t always happy or nice. and just because your body might be shaped like an athlete’s, it wasn’t always healthy. And I noticed that while people were arguing about what was the right way to eat and the wrong way to eat, it seemed to me that the most important thing was that the food should come from nature and be real, not fake.
I believe cooking is what makes us human. I believe food heals the heart and soul, as well as the body. I believe we ingest the energy of our food in more than just calories, but in life force and freshness, the aliveness of our food, and even the environment and intention with which the food was grown and raised.
Classic orange and fennel saladThis salad, a very traditional Italian dish, is easy, refreshing, and delicious. It takes about 5 minutes to prepare and is the perfect complement to a rich, wintry comfort meal. I make it with Cara Cara navel oranges, which have a beautiful jewel-like salmon color and fragrant flavor. They are in season during January and February, but you could use any type of orange.
- 2 oranges
- 1 large bulb fennel or 2 bulbs baby fennel halved lengthwise
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Micro greens for garnish (optional)
- Using a sharp knife, cut away the rind from the oranges and slice crosswise into rounds. Arrange in a circle on individual salad plates or on one big serving plate.
- Trim the tops and bottoms from the fennel, reserving the fronds. Cut out the woody end of the core and thinly slice crosswise on a mandoline.
- Arrange the fennel slices over the orange, ensuring there are no seeds. Drizzle with the oil, season with salt and pepper, and top with the fennel fronds and, if you want to be fancy, some micro greens!
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