Take a thoughtful approach!

Simple meals are by far the best for entertaining, for feeding your family, or for a nice repast by yourself. They may often be easy and quick to prepare, having an elegant appearance when presented with style.

Use the freshest fruits, vegetables, and meats available to you. Shopping at local Farmers Markets, vegetable stands, produce markets, etc. for seasonal products from your area is a great way to support your community as it supports you. Consider growing some of your own produce as well. I have an abundance of Heirloom Tomatoes and Aji Chili Peppers to support my kitchen. These are straight from the vine so freshness is guaranteed. Fresh roasted tomatoes, stuffed or not, make an exceptional and delicious centerpiece for a simple meal, and homemade Salsa may be used as a condiment or sauce.

Any conversation about freshness of produce naturally leads to nutrition. I have had the privilege of taking several classes with Chef Ron Patterson. Chef Ron makes an excellent point about color variation in the planning and execution of any meal. A well-balanced meal is one in which each element is of a different color. For example, one of my very favorite simple meals is Poached Salmon Fillets with Lemon and Dill served with steamed Fresh Green Beans and lightly boiled young Carrots with Tops. Each food represents a diverse set of minerals and nutrients, as well as distinctive flavors that can stand alone or together, and the variation of color is appealing.

Alright, I also liberally use frozen and canned products. “Oh. Blaspheme,” you say. Hey, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with creating a wonderfully nutritious and elegant meal using canned turkey (see recipe for Bev’s Curried Turkey), plain white or brown rice, and a store bought bag of baby spinach (for a warm Wilted Spinach Salad). Remember, style is in presentation.

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