Andrea Bemis, the blogger, farmer, cook, and photographer behind the blog Dishing Up the Dirt, released her first cookbook, also called, “Dishing Up the Dirt,” last month. But her love affair with food has been going on for many years.
I sat down with her to get the scoop.
Jessica Cassity: Your life is all about food these days. How did that start?
Andrea Bemis: “I hadn’t been much of a cook before moving to Hutchins Farm, which my in-laws run in Massachusetts. But spending my whole day focusing on growing food gave me license to explore in the kitchen. We were cultivating a ton of vegetables I’d never cooked before so there were some kitchen disasters at first, and I’d be lying if I said those never happen anymore. Still, just like with farming, over time I got a little better and and more comfortable. Taylor–my husband– actually started to look forward to the nights I made meals, and I was energized in the kitchen, even if I was beat after a long day of work.
JC: Why did you decide to start the Dishing Up the Dirt blog?
AB: I wanted to share my stories–and my meals–with my family back in Oregon, so I started the blog. Fast forward seven or so years… My new book is another glimpse into the life I share with my husband on our very own 6 acre farm in rural Oregon. Both share stories about love, community, farming, and most importantly, the recipes and food that we grow, eat and share around the table with family and friends.
JC: How do you come up with your recipes?
AB: Farming is not only physically demanding but it’s also monotonous. There could be 8 hours spent in the greenhouse seeding or 5 hours spent weeding beets. My mind naturally goes to food since we’re growing it. When I’m in the field I automatically start to think about what I can make with whatever it is I’m focusing on and that gives me lots of time to come up with food creations. Clearly, food is never far from my mind.
JC: How do you make the time to test out those recipes you dream up?
AB: Taylor and I have a good system worked out. The days can be 16 hours long because it’s just the two of us. I’ll often come in early to cook dinner and then we go back out and finish the evening chores. Even without the blog or book, the recipes have become really important to us. We want to keep our CSA customers inspired in the kitchen. Sometimes there will be beets in the box for multiple weeks which means they’re going to want new recipes.
JC: What’s your food philosophy?
AB: I cook very healthy food but that’s because it’s farm to table. Fresh food is nourishing because it’s from the earth. The meals I make are grown with love. Knowing my local community and knowing where our food comes from–the things we don’t produce ourself, like meat–makes mealtime a real celebration of food.
JC: What would you say to someone who wants to get into cooking, but hasn’t?
AB: I want people to enjoy the whole act of cooking. A lot of people are busy and to them, cooking is such a chore and such an afterthought. I want people to enjoy the whole process, to have a pleasant relationship with the meal they’re creating.
The more you do it, as with anything, the easier it becomes. If you do it enough, eventually you’ll learn to love the process.