I’m not kidding when I say I am a flavor addict, and really, I was raised that way. Like many, I come from a self-proclaimed foodie family, and the Good Flavors Philosophy is inspired by them, especially my Grandma Kathryn “Kay” Garvey Kastner. My grandma grew up very poor and very cold in Solon Springs, Wisconsin. Her childhood taught her to eat seasonally, can everything, and even smoke meats. She and her mother were forced to cook creatively and to never sacrifice flavor. No matter how basic a meal is, it can be elevated, with leftovers always repurposed.
Despite having her own nursing career, a constantly travelling pilot for a husband, and four bouncing babies to take care of, she never let her passion for food slip. She read cookbooks like novels, and she could be heard from the other room smacking her lips and sighing as she imagined new flavor combinations. Throughout her adult life, even when money became a bit less tight, she made it a point to continue cooking practically and innovatively, and would often bring home veggies and the odd cuts of meat on sale that day. It was not unusual to smell sauerkraut cooking from the top of the hill, nor was it weird to open a lid and find a whole cow tongue staring at you. She shied away from nothing, and she inspired her children to be the same. With her delicious cooking, her kitchen became a sacred space for many. If you were hungry, there was always a meal waiting for you at the Kastner table–and always with a parsley garnish.
My Mom and Aunt Kathy took after her–mom, in the creative but still doable way, and my late aunt in the scientific gourmet kind of way. Both possessing some serious skills and a palette bar none. As our families have grown, and we’ve adopted new cultures, and familial traditions… My dad is a picky eater, and I married a man of Polish and Cajun descent with a bottomless pit for a stomach, so what more can you expect? Needless to say, we each developed our own techniques and preferences, and we aren’t afraid to tell you why ours is right. If you sit the Kastner girls down to lunch, we start talking about dinner. Once we finally sit down to the dinner we’ve slaved on, the first thing we’ll do is look to grandma. If the meal is good, she would close her little eyes, smack her lips, shake her head, and go Mmmmm. Good Flavors. That’s our cue to start talking about what we did right, and what we’d do differently next time. We just vehemently believe that a recipe, no matter how tried and true, can be tweaked and built upon to become something spectacular.
When I went to college, I had to start cooking for myself on a severely limited budget. There were nights where my meals would consist of an avocado and a fork. I found a pinch of cumin and a squirt of lemon would make it divine. My sweet grandma would send me monthly cards with a little bit of extra cash so I could go to the store and pick up “something special” to cook, and I’d always call her with questions on the cooking time for an odd cut of meat, or whether I should braise or boil this or that. After graduating, my (now) husband, Joe, and I moved to Belgium for graduate school, and we were fortunate to travel across Europe, and parts of North Africa. It was here that my passion for flavor exploded, and I really fell in love with not just eating good flavors, but creating them.
Going to the grocery store was an adventure every time, and don’t even get me started on the markets! I discovered new ingredients every day, and with each trip, I tasted something mind blowing. Eating grilled fish straight from the sea on the Mediterranean, tagines in Morocco, fresh-off-the-tree olives in Spain, gouda in Holland and fresh croissants in France never got old. I remember having a moment in Italy where I had never felt closer to Heaven than when I put a fork of fresh pasta and simple tomato sauce in my mouth. I closed my eyes and smacked my lips before looking at Joe wide-eyed and whispering, “Wow. Good Flavors!” I carry these experiences with me, the flavors were my souveniers, and I try to capture them every time I cook.
Enter, Eat Good Flavors. This blog has been a brainchild of mine for the last five or so years, but I’ve only recently gotten to a place where I can not only take on this endeavor but truly have inspiration. It wasn’t until after my sweet grandmother passed away that I really started to get serious about getting this project off the ground. Good Flavors has became a bit of a mantra in my family, and it was always a goal we would strive towards. I have inherited a beautiful Le Creuset dutch oven that I use endlessly, and I have a new library of cookbooks at my fingertips–full of post-its, and my aunt Kathy’s and Grandma’s annotations. Cooking is a way to share their memories with the world, and I strive to keep their spirits alive with every bite I take and share. I hope you enjoy it.
Food writing is a community, and cooking is a shared passion. I will always credit the cooks and bloggers that inspire me and my recipes.
Blogs I follow: