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When Jacqui isn’t running Slide Sideways, a graphic design and handmade goods business with her husband, she’s a freelance photographer/stylist and recipe developer. Her blog Good Things Grow is focused on seasonal, whole foods, with recipes that are meant to be shared around the table. You can also find her work in the Meatless Monday column at Martha Stewart’s Whole Living blog.
What is your favorite season to cook in?
Definitely the current season we’re in. I love when the end of summer flows into the beginning of fall. Here in the Pacific Northwest our climate is typically a lot cooler year round, with August reaching its peak, so we still get all the tomatoes, berries, and peppers along with the apples, winter squash and root veggies. It’s so much fun and easy to cook with such fresh and seasonal produce.
How has growing up and living in the Pacific Northwest affected your cooking style?
I’ve never lived anywhere else, so it’s hard to know, but I think the Seattle area has always had a large food community and so many resources for fresh, local, and great tasting food. I definitely I have a very west coast style to my cooking, which I think all started with Alice Waters. I really enjoy celebrating the flavor of a tomato right off the vine or a peach just plucked from a tree. It’s simple, but the flavors are too good to be hiding behind a mask of fried dough or rich sauce.
How often do you and your husband host dinner parties?
It used to be very rarely because lack of space, but last May we moved into a new home and since then it seems like people are over at least twice a month. Although it’s usually a pretty casual event, I love these gatherings and really can’t wait for more.
Is there a crowd-pleasing dish that you can always rely on?
People always ask me this and I never have an answer. I’m one of those people who likes trying new recipes and tinkering with old ones. I’m never afraid to test a new idea on people when they’re over, which yes, has had great and not great results! But I’m often asked to either bring a dessert or bring a healthy salad. I think those two options describe me exactly!
What are some of your favorite ingredients to bake with?
Chocolate, because I don’t know many people who will turn down anything with chocolate in it. Whole grains, not just because they’re considered healthier for you but because the flavors they hold are all so unique. I think my baking totally transformed when I started playing around with all the different flours and grains now available. I have a few vegan friends, so I’m never without chia or flax seeds. These two ingredients can help when a recipe calls for eggs, plus I just like adding them to things for texture or color.
Which healthy blogs inspire you?
There are so many blogs I love to cook from these days, but the one I first found and still continue to go to is Heidi Swanson’s 101cookbooks. Her site is so well organized and my pantry must match hers because I know I will always have on hand the basics for most of her recipes, then I can just change out or easily substitute whatever fresh veggies I have on hand.
Join Food Network’s Healthy Eats in discovering the best healthy bloggers around the web. Today we’re talking to Jennifer Vagios.