We ‘met’ Theresa Loe online many years ago…she’s an absolute authority on canning and preserving, we’ve learned so much from her over the years and have enjoyed trading ideas and stories as part of the larger online canning community. I think for us that’s been one of the most amazing things about having WellPreserved in our lives, the chance to share ideas and inspiration and meet so many interesting people. Even though we’ve never had the chance to meet in person, we knew we’d have a great conversation and when Theresa asked to interview us on her “Living Homegrown” we were really excited to talk to her. We are in two different countries on opposite sides of the continent…Theresa is in Los Angeles, California and we are in Toronto…our growing seasons, climate, and access to fresh produce are quite different. But our passion for food and preserving is the same. We’d love for you to listen to the two (2!!) episodes of her podcast and listen in on our conversation. A lot of the time we forgot there was supposed to be anyone else listening we had so much fun. (available on iTunes and Stitcher).
Episode 57: Salt Cured Lemons, Real Limoncelo & More with the authors of “Batch”
Episode 58: Preserving with Salt & Smoke
We’re super pleased to share our second Q&A here today, where we turned the tables and got to ask Theresa Loe some questions about Living Homegrown in LA…Enjoy!
What does your ‘average’ day look like?
I’m an early riser! I am the only member of our TV team on the west coast. So, I get up super early so that I’m more on their timeline. This allows me to get my most important work done first thing before the rest of my family gets up. Then I get my kids out the door for school and I go work out or do some sort of physical activity to get moving agina. After that, I work until my kids come home from school. Afternoons are spent with the family or in the garden or experimenting in the kitchen.
Where are you based? What’s the best thing about your neighbourhood and/or community?
I am in Los Angeles, CA in a tiny little beach community. The best thing about my community (other than the fact that we have a lovely sea breeze and never get over 82 degrees F in the summer) is that many of my neighbors grow their own food. So we share, barter and trade produce and homemade goods all the time. Things like eggs for avocados, summer squash for eggplant, jam for bread, etc. It’s awesome!
Favourite day-off activity?:
I love all sorts of outdoor activities so I can connect with nature. I love to bike ride at the beach, hike, hang out at the beach or garden.
Where do you get your kitchen inspiration?
From our 1892 farmstead. My husband and I are working to restore an old farmstead with an heirloom orchard up in Northern California. It will take us many more years as the land and the orchard were both in horrible disrepair, but it is coming along nicely and we have apples, pears, peaches, plums, grapes, and wild berries that I am experimenting with in my preserves. We have no idea what the varieties are and no two trees are alike. It is quite the adventure!
If you need to ‘cut corners’ in the kitchen what is negotiable and what is non-negotiable?
Negotiable: Although I really do try to eat seasonally, I will sometimes buy produce out of season when I am testing recipes or experimenting. But I will still try to keep that produce organic. Where I won’t negotiate is with olive oil. I refuse to use a low quality olive oil in my cooking. If I’m going to use it, I want excellent flavor.
Kitchen experiment that didn’t work out so well:
I honestly can’t think of one! Even if something doesn’t come out as expected, I have always been able to figure out how to use it. Like if a jam doesn’t gel…it suddenly becomes syrup. Ha!
Favourite preserving method(s), what do you love about it?
Right now, I am really into dehydrating and powdering. Tomato powder is my favorite.
Favourite preserve (home-made or bought):
One year, a friend made and gave out cognac cherry preserves and she gave me a jar. It was one of my most favorite gifts. I have yet to duplicate it.
This season’s essentials:
I have two new fruits in our garden that I am loving: Sweet Treat Pluerry (pictured here) & Flavor Supreme Pluot. A pluerry is a cross between a plum and a sweet cherry. And a pluot is a cross between a plum and an apricot. These are non-GMO fruits. They are crossed in the same way that a bee would pollinate. But the fruit is beyond description in flavor. Super fun to play with in preserves
The herbs in my herb garden are always my favorite ingredients. I love to experiment with lemon verbena, fresh bay leaves and this year I had a bumper crop of fresh celery seed.
Favourite kitchen tool:
My steam juicer. It is an amazing tool that allows me to juice large quantities of fruit at the farmstead and then freeze the juice for jelly making later.
The preserve you always have on hand:
I always have frozen homegrown tomatoes, tomato powder and dried herbs from my garden.
What is your favourite meal to serve friends?
Hmmmm….that is a tough one. I suppose it would be my slow roasted stew. I create that on the stove first and then slow roast the meats and root veggies in the oven with wine, leeks and herbs. It has many layers of flavor and wins over ever person who thinks they don’t like stew. I also love to turn people on to roasted Brussels sprouts with lemon and balsamic. The caramelized flavor makes it taste like candy. Even my kids request that one.
Any people or projects you’re inspired by, would like to mention?
Since I am all about preserving what we grow and I am always looking for new things to try in my garden, I am especially inspired by the work of the Seed Savers Exchange. They work hard to preserve our seed heritage and help connect gardeners doing that work.
You can find Theresa here:
If you’re new to canning you should definitely check out
Theresa’s – Canning Academy, an online course
where you can
“Learn all the canning basics, without the whole ‘getting everyone sick’ part”