Kitchen Table

Chicken Soup for the Teenager Soul

My first child’s high school years were screeching to an end in the proverbial ‘blink of an eye’ that all the more seasoned parents always warn us about.

Really, how did he grow from this——————————————-—to this overnight?

curated by dena kids in the kitchen.jpg

In a panic I realized that Home Economics is not something that is offered in his high school curriculum among all the triple crazy trig-something-something and the AP Physics sciency-thing classes and since I wasn’t invited to go along to college with him it was time to take things into my own hands. I may not be able to teach him how to change a tire or fix a plumbing leak or repair his car, but I can teach him how to feed himself. Off to the market we went and this is the story of Chicken Soup for the Teenager Soul.


Santa Barbara food photographer Dena Robles
California based food and restaurant storyteller
Downtown Market Grand Rapids, food narratives by Dena Robles
Teaching our teens to shop for food and cook
Curated by Dena, farmer’s market shopping trip
Learning to cook with kids
Veggie Portraits by Dena Robles
Roast vegetable and chicken soup prep
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Roast Vegetable and Chicken Soup, curated by dena
curatedbydena soup story j.jpg
Roast Vegetable and Chicken soup, food styling and photography, CA
Food Styling and Photography by Dena Robles, California
Getting Teens in the kitchen

I’m less of a recipe-developer and more of a styler, photographer and storyteller. I’ll include the recipe here to complete the narrative, but here is the link also where I found the recipe a few years ago and continue to find inspiration. https://againstallgrain.com/2013/01/30/leftover-roast-chicken-soup-with-roasted-vegetables/ AND the recipe for our favorite cornbread (we sub in gluten-free flour) yummm. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/76594/grandmothers-buttermilk-cornbread/

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Food for Fall

I believe that the autumn season is synonymous with certain comfort foods and possibly that this is the season most strongly tied to dishes. I know we have holidays which contribute to that and the ridiculous marketing of pumpkin-spiced-everything and the colder weather turning us indoors to wrap ourselves in our favorite foods. But what happens when you suddenly live in a country without those holidays? Or a place without pumpkin patches or pumpkin-spiced-everything-imaginable-under-the-sun, or gasp! no changing leaves, no smell of wood smoke, not woolen hats and it is still 80 degrees outside? Well, perhaps we are creatures of habit, or perhaps there is something truly intrinsic, ancient and innate about our bodies wanting these autumn dishes, because here I am, in green California wearing tank tops and flip flops and craving rich soups, apples, winter squash and pumpkin pie. Now if only I could bear to turn the oven on…

Don’t be fooled by these beautiful changing leaves, this is a collection of photographs I created LAST autumn, in crisp chilly Michigan. My Food Story of Autumn.

Food Stories by Dena Robles, food stylist and photographer, Santa Barbara California



Rice Pudding with Caramel Pecan Topping

And you thought winter was over?  Psych!   My days of hot, rich, and sweet comfort foods have not yet ended.  Enter Rice pudding with Caramel Pecan Sauce. It is perfect as a breakfast or a dessert. 

cold michigan winters and sugar and cream
snowy landscape and jasmine rice
white on white in the kitchen and rice pudding ingredients
sweet rice pudding, perfect as dessert or breakfast

If you can't be warm on the outside, at least you can be warmed on the inside!  Recipe to follow.  I started with a googled recipe from The Pioneer Woman and veered away to wing it on my own. Like always  :)