About the Recipes

Q: Are there any foods that you stay away from? Are you on a special diet? 

A: In my kitchen, I try to stay away from ingredients that contain and recipes that call for: 

    * artificial ingredients (e.g. aspartame, sucralose, etc.)
    * overly processed ingredients (e.g. high fructose corn syrup, white sugar, processed cheese, canned soup, etc.)
    * unnecessary/unhealthy additives (e.g. monosodium glutamate)

IMG_0795Whenever possible, I try to make substitutions or additions to a recipe to incorporate: 

    * unrefined sugars (e.g. maple syrup, honey, evaporated cane juice, sucanat, etc.)
    * whole grains (e.g. steel-cut oats, whole wheat flour, wheat berries, etc.)
    * oils and nuts with healthy fats (e.g. extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, walnuts, etc.)
    * herbs and spices to minimize the need for added salt

I pay close attention to the source of my ingredients. The unfair plight of family farms set against the irresponsible, inhumane practices of agribusiness and factory farms has really opened my eyes to the importance of “voting with your purchase”. I choose to buy, whenever possible: 

    * local, organic, in-season produce
    * free-range, vegetarian-fed, organic poultry and eggs
    * grass-fed, hormone & antibiotic free beef
    * organic pork
    * organic, hormone-free dairy

I’m technically on a diet since I try to keep track of the calories, fat, fiber, and sugar that I eat every day. I try to IMG_1075be as active as possible so that I can enjoy moderate amounts of “naughty foods” but I also try to incorporate as much healthy stuff in my daily diet as possible. 

I generally label foods that are high in calories and saturated fats or that really only provide empty calories as “naughty”. I don’t say these are forbidden, however, because: 1) I’m a human omnivore; 2) I’m not interested in eliminating any of the food groups from my diet; and 3) I’m (thankfully) not allergic to any foods as of yet. 

That being said, I try to minimize my meat consumption and practice very responsible portion control. There was a time, for example, when I didn’t really care what size a chicken breast was; I simply counted it as a “serving”. I’ve since changed my ways: 4oz is a reasonable serving of chicken, 6oz is a large serving. 

Q: Did you write all of these recipes? 

A: No. Sometimes I try a recipe and I like it so much that I just want to share it with everyone. In these instances, I may change the order of the steps or change the quantities of a few ingredients, but I essentially leave the recipe as is. I always strive to give credit to my original source — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also so that you can look them up for yourself. 

Q: Why are some recipes called “A Tales of Thyme & Place Original”? 

A: There are two kinds of recipes that I consider original:

    1) Sometimes I completely create a recipe in a white IMG_0679heat of inspiration. These are most certainly original.

    2) Sometimes I create a recipe that is the result of my having made several different versions from different sources in the past. My creation is something of an amalgam that I hope takes the best characteristics from those sources while leaving out the bad stuff. If my recipe differs enough from these sources, I consider it an original. If all I did was change one or two things, though, I don’t consider it an original. 

Q: How do you decide which recipes to post? 

A: I never post recipes that I wouldn’t recommend, personally, so I try to post recipes that I’ve made several times in the past or that I’ve tried recently and I’m just really excited to share. If a recipe doesn’t turn out quite right, I don’t post it — no matter how good the picture may look! 

Q: Where do you get the photos you use for your posts? 

A: With a few noted exceptions, I take the photos myself. Since natural light is the most flattering for food, I try to set up in the south-facing window of my kitchen. Though I sometimes use a few props to inspire a certain mood for the recipe or the post, I usually just take a picture of my plate right before diving in! 
Q: What cooking magazines do you like? 

A: I typically like any magazine that frequently showcases recipes and overall cuisine that I enjoy eating. While I do like fancy food and like to at least think of myself as someone who appreciates all things “gourmet”, there are certain heights of hoity-toity to which I do not aspire. If a recipe calls for an ingredient that I probably won’t be able to incorporate into other recipes, I typically pass on making it. 

I was a torch bearer for Cooking Light for many years (2002-2009), but I’ve since lost my fascination with the magazine since they’ve changed editors. Since then, they’ve adopted a layout and design that I don’t really appreciate, have become bloated with ads, and their recipes seem to have taken a nose dive in terms of quality and imagination. While I let my subscription lapse, I still have my big backlog of issues and there are many of their recipes that I use either for inspiration or I keep coming back to every year. 

I’ve recently become a big fan of Cook’s Country and Cook’s Illustrated. Cook’s Country epitomizes, in many ways, the kind of cuisine that I’m interested in crafting in my own kitchen — home-style, dependable, tasty, etc. — IMG_0363but they do sometimes overdo it on the fat and overly-processed front, so their recipes often serve as inspiration for me rather than being set in stone. Cook’s Illustrated is my idea of high-brow cuisine, most often. Their recipes are no less dependable than Cook’s Country, but they’re typically more involved and are better suited for dinner parties and the like.