La Cocina showcases women we admire and their kitchens. Part photo essay, part interview, all admiration.
Here is our new episode of La Cocina, a conversation with Sadie Flint.
Please describe your kitchen.
Sometimes clean, sometimes messy, generally chaotic, most definitely tiny, but full to the brim with love.
What’s your style of cooking? Do you taste as you go? Do you like snacking/drinking while cooking? What is the soundtrack to your cooking?
I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda home cook! If I’m cooking something that takes time to build flavors, generally I taste, but not always. I’ve learned I need not nibble while cooking, it’s such a disappointment to sit down and feel not even close to hungry. Our kitchen is an amalgam of sounds… usually a four year old singing, his hoverboard humming, skirting around me and a snoring dog (à la Linguini on roller skates in Ratatouille), and the news in the background sounding similar to the adults in Peanuts, with my husband on the phone going over the day with his father, who is also his boss.
We all have our tried and true meals. What is your...
“I can’t be bothered” meal?
One of our favorites, baked chicken wings with baked beans and celery, avocado salad. So simple and delicious.
“I want to feel comfy” meal?
Hearty split pea with bacon or Puttanesca.
Baked salmon, steamed rapini all with a splash of Nong’s sauce.
When my husband decides he’d like to grill and give me the evening off.
Favorite take out meal?
Phở gà from Pho Van & anything from Ps and Qs.
First meal you will indulge/a Portland restaurant you’ve missed during COVID?
I think we’ve missed dining to the max in relation to the interaction, being entertained by the cooking, the bustle, the atmosphere, etc, but we feel very fortunate to have still been able to visit our favorites by ordering take out or eating under their outdoor expansions. We have indulged already!
What is your all-time favorite meal, where did you eat it, and with whom?
Always Luscious Dumplings, always with my friends the Barbers before the Huntington Garden.
Food shopping can be a drag or a dream; where is your favorite spot to gather ingredients?
It’s a dream during CSA season, otherwise I send my husband. He’s much more efficient at the grocery store, I tend to get sidetracked. Favorite spots: World Foods in the Pearl and Wild Roots Farm online CSA store (they retail goods from others too: Campfire Farms, Laney Family Farm, and Tostado Coffee) plus they deliver to the nursery.
What ingredients/staples do you always have stocked in your pantry and/or fridge?
Carrots (crunchy pup snacks), celery, shallots, and garlic. Eggs from the nursery chickens, salmon from our CSA, meyer lemons from my parents’ farm. Good salt, good olive oil, moscatel vinegar, dijon, parm and a delicious bottle of Txakoli.
Meal plan or wing it?
Winging it 365.
Recipe hunting: where do you enjoy finding recipes? Online? Cookbooks? Which are your go to cookbooks?
My pre-Covid practice—rather than a recipe, inspiration by reading menus.
What is your most well-loved cooking utensil?
A silicon spatula and a sharp knife.
Doing the dishes: soothing or annoying? What’s your relationship to dish washing?
I cook, my husband washes. I try to clean as I cook, tidiness helps with the after dinner dish disappointment. When I’m not that efficient, he’s a good sport.
What is the kitchen task you most dread?
Washing produce, hands down! Then being annoyed I didn’t edit/clean the fridge out first when attempting to put clean produce away. I’ll never learn, happens every time.
What has your relationship been with food over time, has it changed? If motherhood is a part of your story, how did becoming a mother impact your relationship with food?
My path with food –started as a farm girl eating apples from the trees and cracking walnuts to a robust love of dining to working in the restaurant industry. I’ve always enjoyed dining and seafood. Growing up, I was very fond of the fresh seafood dinners that my family would share together on their diving trips. Actually, seafood minus the sea cucumbers. I’ll still pass on those.
I spent my early adult years floating the sea of amazing restaurants in the Bay Area–with the Slanted Door, when it was in the Mission, Zuni Cafe and the Tadich Grill, I still dream of the experience. The quality and abundance of amazing food definitely affected how I viewed it in years to come. It wasn’t until I moved back to Oregon, when I took a job with a restaurant group, that I really started a relationship with it. Now I really appreciate it. Prior, food and I, we were only just dating. I’m delighted to be a grateful patron only at this point.
With motherhood has come the practice of preparing lunches, lots of snacks, and patience—a lot of fun seeing new taste buds experience flavors for the first time, but then comes the patience when instant disgust and refusal arrives. Being stuck in the complexity of decision making –what we have, want to make, juxtaposed with what our four year old will actually eat sometimes feels exhausting. I love how the CSA pushes you to be a flexible cook with the ever changing offerings, but it’s also challenging with four year old taste buds. It does make us sometimes feel like we’re running two kitchen programs. Who am I kidding, we are! I have grown to flex on some things, readymade snacks, eating in the car, food things I didn’t really care for pre-child. I’m still learning to embrace eating in a rush. It’s hilarious how once you’re a mother, some things just fly out the window.
Are you pro kids in the kitchen? Or do you prefer to cook alone? What meal/food do your children most request?
Completely! Pancake helpers are the best. Plus, I love it when our kiddo asks to set the table - total score! My child is a continual snacker. Oof! And we’re now at the age where we have opinions and so it’s getting used to having another brain in the mix. Current requested menus from four year old: fruit, salmon, spicy shrimp, ramen, bún thịt nướng, Chinese dumplings, and pepperoni pizza with the pepperoni taken off (NOT to be mistaken for cheese pizza, says the four year old), SNACKS! More SNACKS!. Repeat.
What do you gift to friends who love to cook?
We’ve gifted gift cards from the farm whose CSA we subscribe to, we’ve given knives from the Korin catalog, locally made ceramics and we’ve given a handful of MADRE linens. All things we genuinely love, use ourselves and so we hope our friends enjoy too.
Whose kitchen is your favorite/inspires you most?
My friend Jesse Barber’s personal kitchen–you have to experience it. He’s a wonderful, thoughtful chef and his kitchen is just dang cool - French Laundry tidy, has all the best staples and stylish housewares and is always full of fantastic aromas and great conversation + his wife Celia is the go to for wine selections (& the stylish housewares). Every time I visit it reminds me of what care looks like. My most favorite meals have either been cooked by him or eaten alongside them. He also sharpens my knives.
What books have inspired you most regarding cooking/eating?
I’ve made a scrap coffee table book out of The New Yorker’s Tables for Two, does that count? Zola’s Le Ventre de Paris and what about a movie - have you seen Tampopo? Popping some popcorn.
MADRE’s tagline is We all eat. We all rest. We’ve asked a lot about eating, so how do you build rest into your day/week/month?
Still trying to figure that one out.
Here is a recipe for Ful Medames (Egyptian Fava Beans) Sadie cooked for us.
To find more about Sadie:
Photographs by Naz Sahin: