Jennifer Woods is a native Arizonan from Tucson who remembers pulling on pink corduroy jeans in the middle of summer to harvest prickly pears with her mom to make jelly for PB & Js and buttered toast. She moved to Phoenix after graduation from U of A and has since been the “Coca-Cola Lady” for Joe Johnston at Joe’s Real BBQ, provided tabletop wares for Josh Hebert at his first restaurant (the one before Posh), sourced pastry bags for Tracy Dempsey at Cowboy Ciao, and started a Restaurant CSA for Crooked Sky Farms among other things. She continues to work for Crooked Sky Farms providing tours and the email/social communication and contributes to the Phoenix New Times’ food blog, Chow Bella. And she’s our final chef in the Winter Chef Series.
So what exactly is a “Winter Greens Ninja Class”?
I was at the Crooked Sky Farms CSA coordinator brunch a few weeks before being invited to participate in the Winter Chef Series. The common challenge among the CSA coordinators around the state (Flagstaff to Tucson) was that many members still had a hard time with winter greens and didn’t renew for winter sessions due to that fear.
It really struck me that the people who you’d think would be most open to them, still had a hard time. I wanted to have a class about greens and make them not so daunting. They’re so good for you, and there are so many ways to enjoy them that aren’t just sauteed in garlic. I wanted to have a class to showcase and talk about how to invite them into your kitchen with confidence.
I called it a ninja class because ninjas yield swords (perhaps for chopping vegetables from time to time), and can handle anything. Just like the ninjas who have been known to have supernatural powers, I can teach you to effectively manage an abundant CSA share week after week. I’ve been doing it for 6 years.
What are you making for us in the Chef Series (and why’d you decide to make that particular dish?)
I’m making a warm bacon dressing over a bitter greens salad and poached egg because I think it’s just the best salad. It’s the classic Salad Lyonnaise that’s good for breakfast lunch or dinner. Often times you see a head of bitter greens and pass it by because it’s not as familiar as a lettuce or spinach. This, in my opinion, is the best way to eat it and a dish that is super versatile but also one that you would want to make over and over again.
The second course will feature individual pizzas with Fossil Creek goat cheese, Rainbow Valley farmer cheese, an olive and Crooked Sky greens sauce, toasted pine nuts and dates. I wanted to share the special no knead dough recipe that makes weeknight homemade pizzas such a cinch, as well as almost instant pita bread, artisan loaves and homemade hot pockets.
The third course will feature brownie bites studded with candied seville orange peel and whipped creme fraiche, because who doesn’t like brownie bites and candy? I’ll be sharing how to make candy out of all that backyard fruit we have this time of year.
What’s your favorite thing about cooking?
Something I have heard a lot lately is how food nourishes. I love that word. Not only does it feed your belly it also fills your heart. I think it’s important to be mindful of where my food comes from. It helps me know that my dollars are spent toward the local producers I know who make it safely and sustainably. The food I get from the farmers markets and CSAs feel so much more special in my fridge than the supermarket foods. I feel like it’s my job to take what the local farmers have done and make sure that the food is prepared with care and not gone to waste. The farmers and farm workers work insane hours doing hard manual labor to provide this food. If we don’t support them, the farms and food would eventually go away and then our children won’t have a choice as to where their food comes from. I don’t want that to happen. I truly hope that the whole local/sustainable thing isn’t just a fad but more of an awareness that sticks.
I spend a lot of time cooking with my kids in the kitchen making memories and giving them tools to feed themselves as they get older. My kids are preschool aged and I give them both lettuce knives and teach them how to cut food safely. They feel so empowered.
Taking care of people by feeding them nourishing food and a pleasurable experience makes cooking such a joy for me.
Sign up for her Winter Chef Series cooking class here.