I share my love of eating well, of savoring the gift of food and all this means to me – life, nourishment, comfort, pleasure, celebration, adventure, relationships.
Welcome to Jennifer Feasts.
I have always loved to be in the kitchen. It’s my refuge. It’s where I seek nourishment and comfort. It’s where I create and experiment. It takes me down memory lane and it lets me go places I’ve never been. I experience great joy in feeding my family and friends there. It’s where we build new relationships and strengthen existing ones. There is laughter here and sometimes there are tears. It’s where we celebrate. It’s where we reflect. It’s a special place of thanksgiving in our home.
The purpose of Jennifer Feasts is to document my journey, to share recipes that have left a lasting impression and have given those close to me much pleasure and enjoyment. Most of what you find here has been dreamed up, researched and tested by myself, but I will also share other recipes that have inspired me along the way. My great hope is that recipes and ideas from this website will become part of your own journey too, whether you prepare them as written or they inspire you in your own creations. I’m so happy you stopped by!
I’ve always loved food and the joy of sitting around the table and sharing a great meal. I was born and raised amidst a family of food lovers in the beautiful state of Virginia. Family meals were big occasions and there was always a sense of appreciation and gratitude. My grandfather had (and still does!) an amazing garden in his back yard where he grew tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers and greens, among other things. The food was cooked simply, but it was always fresh, seasonal and super delicious. It’s funny how you come to appreciate things so much more when you can’t have them. I live in the UK now, and during late summer I’d give just about anything to eat one of those massive sweet, juicy tomatoes. Of course there’s great local produce here, but sometimes there’s just no substitute!
Although I loved our family meals and enjoyed baking the odd chocolate chip cookie, it wasn’t until college that I really became passionate about the process of preparing, cooking and baking food. Once I was in charge of doing it for myself, I was sold. And that’s where my own personal food journey really began. I read, I practiced, I learned and then I read and practiced some more. I loved it so much I decided to try and make it my career.
My original dream was to open a specialty food store. I’d worked in retail for several years and got a business degree from the University of Virginia, so it seemed a logical way to combine my two passions. I went to work for a wonderful local grocer and deli called Feast! in Charlottesville (can you tell I love the word feast?) to learn more about the specialty food business. It was hard work, but I loved being in that environment. I was constantly inspired by the local produce, traditionally made foods and the passion of the team. Inspiration comes easily when you are surrounded by great quality ingredients!
I learned about simplicity at Feast!, delicious food doesn’t have to be complicated. Choose ingredients that are in season because that’s when they are at their perfect peak of flavor. Salt isn’t the only seasoning that brings out flavor in food – vinegars are a wonderful thing! And above all else, what grows together goes together.
So that was the original plan. But as often happens, God had a different plan for my life. Somehow, I ended up here. In Leeds, West Yorkshire. I married my handsome English prince and he whisked me off my feet and took me to a very cloudy and rainy land far, far away (much to my poor family’s dismay!).
And me being the somewhat logical personal I am, decided to get more education to help me in my entrepreneurial efforts. I knew nothing about the food market in England or what it would be like to own a business here. And there is definitely a “settling in” and “adapting” period when you completely uproot and change your life!
So I got a job at Deloitte and earned my Chartered Accountancy qualification here in the UK. I learned a lot, but I was out the door as soon as my contract was up. I was determined to get a business up and running (while still working full-time) and just when I was getting somewhere with this plan, I became pregnant.
This was totally intentional. We were thrilled. We had all the same hopes and expectations that any parent-to-be does. I also intended to carry on with my food business aspirations while pregnant. However, what we did not expect or plan for was the extremely difficult pregnancy that took me off my feet and out of work at 22 weeks. Nor did we expect that our precious daughter, Scarlett, would be born at 30 weeks fighting for her life. She spent six weeks in the neonatal unit and came home when she was just 36 weeks, weighing about 4 pounds. It’s an understatement to say that our lives and priorities changed dramatically. And I wouldn’t change a thing.
Luckily, God had a better plan. First and foremost, we have the absolute pleasure of parenting our little Scarlett. She is a healthy, spunky and very determined child with an infectious love for life. Secondly, the great thing about working for a company like Deloitte is it gives you opportunity.
I have the privilege of working part-time for one of my former audit clients, Caring for Life (CFL). CFL is an amazing charity that provides life long care to some of the most vulnerable people in our city. It’s based on a farm out in the gorgeous Yorkshire countryside and I do all sorts of finance and business-y things for the limited company that supports the charity. And the company just happens to comprise a restaurant and farm shop, so the arrangement is ideal! Most importantly, it allows me quality time with my daughter.
The original dream is still there, just nestled quietly in the back of my mind until further notice. In the meantime, I decided to start getting out what’s been patiently waiting and growing behind the scenes. I love that this blog will be an outlet to share, to connect and to learn new skills. I’m sure it will be an incredible journey and I have to say, I think I prefer this plan to the original dream!