It’s a well-known fact that Victor and I don’t go out to eat very often. We love to eat, but we also both like to cook and we enjoy the comfort of eating at home.

That being said, I think we have a new favorite restaurant – Founding Farmers.

A bit of backstory…

When we moved here, almost 20 years ago, we were pretty much out in the boonies. Two miles from us was a huge golf course and lots of open space. Naturally, development came in, there was a huge freeway interchange developed, office complexes built left and right, and after a prolonged fight, the golf course was developed into a massive condo and apartment complex and a fairly massive faux-downtown area of shops, restaurants, and a gigantic grocery store.

So much for quiet suburbia…

I ended up going to the grocery store because my favorite store closed, and we’d drive through the complex to go to the new gym that was built in the complex when we became gym rats and lost all that weight (which is creeping back up, right now, but that’s another story for another time…)

But, we shied away from the restaurants and shops. I’m thinking now, that at least in one instance, that might have been a bit of a mistake.

Since the virus hit and we’ve been sheltering at home, grocery shopping has taken on a new meaning. I’m generally a weekly shopper and don’t give a lot of thought to running out of things – we live in a land of abundance. When I worked at Trader Joe’s, I’d augment the weekly shopping with new items or a last-minute impulse-buy, but I never gave thought to not being able to get something if I needed it.

Hasn’t that changed?!?

I did fairly normal grocery shopping the first couple of weeks – bringing my wipes along with me – and was amazed at the bare shelves. My normal staples were missing.

Maybe three weeks ago I did my shopping with wipes and mask. That was the last time I ventured out. We talked about it and decided to do a grocery delivery. It’s a LOT more expensive and, while we did get most of what we ordered, there were some missed items and a few strange substitutions. It worked, but it wasn’t ideal.

I bought flour and grits from Adluh in South Carolina – a family mill – and then did an Atlantic Spice order – where we’ve been shopping for years. We have yeast, we have sourdough starter, and I can bake. Victor makes stellar pasta. We both know how to be creative in the kitchen – we’re adventurous when it comes to food…

Fast-forward to Wednesday morning, and a friend of ours mentions she has been ordering from Founding Farmers and loved everything.

We knew where the restaurant was – in the new golf course development – because we had driven by many times on our way to the gym, but… as we rarely go out to eat, had never stopped. I went to the website and was impressed with their philosophy. I found out that a farmers union owns majority share in the company. They buy as local as possible, as sustainable as possible. Treat their employees like humans. They’re making the attempt.

I placed an order…

Initially, I was impressed with their philosophy. When the order arrived, I was really impressed with the quality and the care that went into the order. We bought the $100 Family Pack and were totally overjoyed. Unpacking the box was like Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one!

It is obvious that actual thought went into the pairings of food and the creation of the Family Packs – people who understand and care about food.

After getting everything put away, I set out to create a feast – roasted chicken, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, and green beans with sliced almonds. And Strawberry Shortcake for dessert.

No, we didn’t both eat half a chicken. We each ate half and the rest will be made into chicken salad and chicken stock.

The chicken was basic and simple – rubbed with oil, salt and pepper, and then placed into a preheated 500°F oven for 15 minutes and the temperature then lowered to 350°F for about 15-20 minutes more – until internal temperature reaches 165°F. The gravy was a simple pan gravy of drippings, a bit of onion, mushrooms, a splash of white wine, chicken stock, and a pinch of thyme, salt, and pepper. The green beans were steamed, and then sautéed in the tiniest bit of bacon fat and butter, with sliced almonds added.

Very simple and very basic – allowing the food to speak for itself. And it spoke loudly! The quality was evident. It’s really easy to be a good cook when the ingredients are stellar – it was excellent!

And then it was time for dessert…

I told Victor we were going to have strawberry shortcake for dessert and he said but we don’t have any whipping cream… I just smiled and pulled out a box of Trader Joe’s shelf-stable whipping cream that’s been in the back of the ‘fridge for weeks and weeks. I was a Boy Scout. Be Prepared.

I made simple biscuits of 1 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, a pinch of salt, about 1/3 stick butter, 1/3 cup milk. 2 tablespoons sugar, a bit of vanilla, and a pinch of cinnamon and allspice. I brushed them with milk and sprinkled them with demerara sugar. Baked at 400°F for about 15 minutes.

I made two biscuits but they were actually too big for single servings, so I cut them in half – we have dessert for tonight, as well. I sprinkled the sliced strawberries with a bit of sugar and a drizzle of kirsch. I’m glad I cut the biscuits in half because I would have eaten the whole thing – it was that good.

This morning I stripped the carcass and started a pot of stock.

Chicken bones, onion, onion skins, celery ends and pieces, garlic cloves, a bit of thyme and poultry powder, white wine, and water.

It’s going to make some great soup!

So, thank you, Founding Farmers, for a bit of Christmas in April. It’s going to take us a while to get through all of this – but we’ll be back!

And… we’re looking forward to actually eating in the restaurant when we can!