Something has been happening in my life..my garden is growing.
When I last left y’all I’d just finished cooking on the NBC morning show in Nashville and I was gearing up for the Noble Food Makeover. Gearing up is right ’cause we packed the house!!!!!!! Holy cow did folks show up, and this is telling – PEOPLE want to take their kitchens back, they want to feel empowered and own their choices.
I first started the NFM out of a desire to share what I’d learned - food is for supporting our bodies, it’s not expensive to cook real food, it’s really simple to do and finally that not only can we prevent illness, boost our immune systems but also heal our lives on many levels by seeing ourselves and owning our choices. I’d been alone with my illness, alone with my fear and alone in my kitchen the first year of doing this – I wanted to swap my lonely table to full seated down home kitchen, with others that were too taking their power back, learning what they didn’t know and healing their lives. Many years ago the kitchen is where people went for support, momma’s, grand daddy’s, children, aunts and uncles and neighbors gathered in the kitchen as it took time to prepare our daily meals. This time was spent laughing, crying, loving and sharing – sharing remedies and recipes for what ailed us. The folks running the kitchens were almost never CHEFS, they were regular folks that had been trained by the best – women who KNEW what to do.
Once I was standing on my own two feet I did just this, creating a community table where we can all be supported in our lifestyle changes – the most important beauty makeover ever is one that comes from the inside out. How ever this makeover a special person, one who recognizes their value and the value of their loved ones.
In Nashville I cook at the Integrative Life Center on Music Row, there is only a tiny kitchen, therefore I set up 5 recipe stations that include, table, butane burner, cutting boards, knives and the ingredients needed for each tables recipe. Cooking this way shows people how little they need to cook a full meal with nothing processed – that a fancy kitchen and high dollar ingredients and utensils are unnecessary. I know from my own experience before learning to cook, I’d watch most of the cooking shows and I’d think to myself – he or she is a trained chef of course they can do it, or look at that fabulous kitchen of course they can cook like that. the NFM brings it all back into perspective – simple food, simple kitchens – real people.
Everyone walks in grabs a seat we chat a bit about the giant WHY we want to eat this food – example Butternut Squash is a fall POWER food, packed with vitamin A, Vitamin C, Fiber and beta carotene making it a super immune booster – who knew? Then we all get to work, cooking, chopping, peeling and preparing – yep, it’s a bit chaotic, funny and fun – much like preparing a Holiday Meal with people you really like. It takes about an hour to cook it all then we clear the tables, pull out the table clothes and sit together as a community. I love all parts of these events but the sitting together is my favorite part; as we discuss our relationship with food, our health concerns, parenting and rehash the craziness that just went down.
This past Nashville NFM left me speechless as I looked around the room watching everyone work together. This journey started out with just me cooking away, cleaning away, begging people to try real food, and now it’s grown to close to 40 and a core group of 10 people that basically help make it happen, each time we do it the core group expands – this ain’t no longer a MEE thing but a WE thing. I watched as my D.F.F. forgot about the pain in her liver as her focus shifted to being a part of something greater. Mary Alice ran the Millet Mash table and the all mighty Fred jumped from situation to situation. Jane Ellen and her kids, chopped, swept and organized and Diana stood washing greens from my garden in the tiny sink – all along I heard whispers as people shared tips and tid bits. Empowering on all levels is all I can say.
Boarding that plane for LA I questioned what we are all doing in LA. I love being a person of value, I love having something to share with my community and I appreciate belonging, our farm and cattle ranch is a pillar in the community, Lee does his share of participation there too and the core values of the people are the finest for my children to learn from- Nashville holds my heart. The entire plane ride I spun with questions, searching to get it right and get it tight with my own personal intention, ’cause fo’ sho shawty life follows what we desire.
Once I landed I was in full NFM swing as there were just a few days left to prepare for the first one to be held in Malibu – I was nervous, my “crew of Nashville NFM folks” weren’t here to do this with me, I didn’t know if being in a completely different demographic was going to make it tough. I also didn’t know how much west coast folks already know – there is nothing worse than telling people what they already know and boring them. Then of course my self judgement tried to take over, “Hi I’m Not Enough”
after all I’m just a regular lady who learned to cook food that heals – is this enough in such a fabulous place like Malibu? Are people out here going to enjoy an evening reminiscent of a country kitchen gathering? Ooh, I was NERVOUS!
To make matters worse, the babysitter I’d hired was a NO SHOW and Lee was in Nashville for the weekend! Luckily a friend helped out her sitter cancelled too so she wasn’t going to be able to make it, she offered to keep the girls and I took her up on it.
Location: The California Ocean of Learning Preschool, I made it in time and immediately got to prepping. At 5:30pm folks started arriving and I put them to work. The kitchen was absolutely perfect a nice gas stove, a long wooden table for chopping and chatting – game on!
Within 2.5 hours I taught them to make Butternut Squash soup w/carrot apple & ginger, millet pilaf, millet croquettes and millet mash with Kuzu gravy! Yep, we started with one grain and I showed them what you can do with it from start to left over finish. (click her for recipes).
We had a blast, a TON of laughs and then we too sat together, as I looked down the long family style table I felt this wave of gushy love overcome me – I understood what the Noble Food Makeover is really about – creating a space where we can all gain confidence to learn and try what we don’t know. I have now done this project cooking in every type of kitchen, from a predominately African American community in the south, to music row, to the finest homes in Nashville as a private teacher to now Malibu – one of the wealthiest communities in world and y’all wanna know what? Money, fame, location and even higher education do not separate us – we are all lost in the journey of what is actually healthy, how to cook it, where to buy and how to feed it to our families; the thread that binds us is the understanding that Food Desert’s are happening not only in low income households but at times more often then not in some of the wealthiest. This is not a battle for the government but a CHOICE for the people. The Noble Food Makeover is bringing back personal Nobility, one table at a time and hopefully one day it will come to yours. (peep this video & meet the Malibu Crew!
I returned to my house and crawled into bed – fulfilled drifting off to sleep nestled in deep and wrapped in a blanket of value, belonging and appreciation – my world is big and by the grace of God I have many places to call home, I guess planting seeds can deliver more than just greens – it can also feed communities the desire to expand. Malibu you too inspire Mee to grow.