On this week’s episode of Tent Talk we interviewed two of the most devoted farmers’ market shoppers we know: Tiffany and Terence Cooke (AKA @cookesinthekitchen)! Not only are Tiffany and Terence loyal supporters of their local food purveyors, they’re also incredible cooks and self-made food stylists. In this episode we discuss the perks of making friends with your local farmers’ market vendors, the keys to a successful weekly meal planning process, and how they capture their delicious homemade creations in photos.
From Cookes to @cookesinthekitchen
Last February Tiffany and Terence started the Instagram handle @cookesinthekitchen as a fun way to document their favorite meals. Sick of always asking “what was that thing we made five weeks ago?” they began cataloging their tastiest homemade dinners. It became a creative outlet and something they could enjoy doing together.
Tiffany and Terence divide the work evenly and play to each other’s strengths. Each week Terence is in charge of planning the weekly menu and shopping for all of the ingredients. Then, once the pantry is stocked, Tiffany does the cooking and takes the photos.
Shop ’til you drop
Having grown up grocery shopping with his mother, Terence developed an affinity for menu planning. Before heading out to the market, he methodically develops a list of all the items he needs to pick up for the week. And to make his shopping experience even more efficient, Terence organizes his list based on where vendors are in the market, or if he’s at the grocery store, based on how the aisles are arranged.
Terence shopped the Dane County Farmers’ Market while attending college in Madison, Wisconsin. Then, after meeting Tiffany in Chicago, they shopped at the Green City Market in Lincoln Park. When they moved to San Diego a few years ago, they settled in Little Italy, just steps away from the Little Italy Mercato. Now they live in North County San Diego but they still make the trek to the Little Italy Mercato most weekends to stock up on their favorite farmers’ market goods.
Man with the plan
Cooking can be intimidating, but Terence believes that most cooking anxiety can be managed by making a menu plan. To make his menu plan easier, Terence has devised a basic template he can riff on each week. Sundays are soup and/or salad. Mondays are Salmon-days. Tuesdays are Taco Tuesdays. Wednesdays are a wildcard. Thursdays are for salads or grain bowl. Fridays are pizza night. And Saturday’s Tiffany gets the night off!
“When it comes to coming up with other ideas, we get inspired by other people’s pics on Instagram,” says Terence. They also develop recipes based on ingredients they discover at the farmers’ market, or put a spin on recipes they find in cook books or online (The New York Times Cooking blog is a go-to). When in doubt, they can always revisit a favorite dish from their own Instagram archives.
Pics or it didn’t happen
As if planning a weekly menu, shopping at the farmers’ market, and cooking six nights a week isn’t enough, the Cooke’s are also self-taught food stylists. After whipping up each meal, Tiffany snaps a photo on her iPhone 7. With the help of the natural lighting in their kitchen and a photo editing app called Snapseed, the @cookesinthekitchen page is a sight to behold.
Despite the casual flawlessness of most their photos, Tiffany will be the first to admit that there are occasional cooking blunders. Luckily for her followers, she often shares kitchen outtakes in their Instagram stories. But even if the meal doesn’t turn out as planned, Terence says “the biggest point of frustration in this whole operation is when she’s taking a photo and I’m starving!”
Where can I listen to Tiffany & Terence’s full episode of Tent Talk?
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Do you have a farmers’ market question you’d like us to answer on air? Got an idea for a future episode topic? Is there someone you think we should interview? Please let us know!