Saturday, June 25, 2011

About Me - A Brief History

My full name is Jennifer Ruth Aschenbrener Jacobs Dick.  Whew!  So, I've shortened it to Jenna Jaydee. Most people just call me Jenna.  Not Jen.  Jenna.  Jennie, is fine, too.

I'm a mom, wife, and foodie.

This blog - a concept that is so very new to me - is the evolution story of my love of food and how it has influenced my life.

Growing up in the Twin Cities' suburbs, in a fairly typical home and family, I was more connected to Cub Foods (the local supermarket chain) than to the earth.  I think my generation might be the first to be reared primarily on packaged foods.  That's just how things were in that time and place, and it was just fine.

Moving to New York when I was twenty provided an opportunity to expand my horizons more than just geographically.  On my own, with no one to serve my dinner, a world of culinary divinations appeared to me, like some patron saint of delicacies.  I couldn't afford any of it then, but even wandering the aisles at a street-side fruit stand was intoxicating.

As life became a little more luxurious, so did my dining experience.  It was such an adventure to sit with unusually straight posture at places like Jean-Georges in New York or L'Orangerie in Los Angeles.  The upper-class mystique was such a departure from my upbringing, and the food was indescribably beautiful in appearance and in taste.

Now I'm thirty-seven, and so much has changed, both in terms of my personal life and my connection to what I eat.  I'm no longer single or pursuing the Broadway dream.  In fact, I have given birth (three times) to the life I love the most-- my family. And, I have dealt with a monumental tragedy, my first husband having been killed on 9/11 six days before the birth of our son.  From the grief of loss and the overpowering love for my children came a need to tie my world and myself to something even greater.  

My second husband, Chad, and I now have four children... Madison, Chad's daughter from his first marriage; Gabi, my son whom Chad has adopted; Brenner and Westley, the next (and last) two sons for Chad and me.  We have two dogs, one cat, and eight hens.  We have a neighborhood and a community of friends and family.

Together, we have embarked on a lifestyle that reflects a passion for food-pleasure, but also a connection to our best selves through the earth.  Instead of continuing on an exclusive path of haute-cuisine, we have chosen to understand the all-inclusive sustenance of our lives from its roots - literally.

We are vegetarians now, shop at our local farmer's market, limit our small dairy consumption only to local farms we know and trust, eat only our own eggs, and cultivate our own garden.  We pass our values along to our kids.

For all of this, we are thankful.

This blog is an homage to a tradition Chad started as part of our children's bedtime routine: "Wishes and Thankfuls."  Now done at the dinner table, we each take a turn making a wish for something we'd like for the next day or for the world in general and giving thanks for any good fortune we've had that day.

I've found that if I've had even a minute to marvel at a new strawberry or let the hens peck sunflower kernels from my hand, then I can be thankful for my connection to the earth and all its inhabitants.  I bring our harvest to my children to feed them, and I feel connected to them.  I share the bread I make with friends, they share with me, and I feel connected to them, too.

It's a far-cry from the flat, square blocks of my hometown or from the buzzing energy of Manhattan's Upper West Side, but deep down we are all the same.  We all eat. This is my way of joining this crazy place that is our world.

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