Dorothy Neagle, Co-Founder of Good Food Jobs
Entrepreneur, mother, food altruist. Three equally important and weighty roles that our new friend Dorothy seems to manage with graceful aplomb. This Bluegrass State native, who incidentally owes her great eye to a background in interior design, found a way to share her love of food and community to an eager audience hungry for both when creating Good Food Jobs. Oh, and can we just take a minute to point out her insanely enviable Victorian era porcelain skin?
Read on to learn more about Good Food Jobs and Dorothy's favorite squash pie recipe!
Please tell us what you do.
As a co-Founder of Good Food Jobs, with my lovely partner Taylor, most of my work is done in front of the computer (the paradox of creating a website to build community is that we have to make an effort to get out and be in the community, physically rather than electronically). Although we strived to create a website that was user-friendly and do-it-yourself, we personally review and approve all jobs posted on the site, so there can be a lot of day to day work. As with most jobs these days, there’s a tremendous amount of emailing. And I also do a lot of the graphics for the site, including print materials and miscellaneous things like that. That part is fun enough that it doesn’t feel like work.
How would you describe your food aesthetic/cooking style?
Homemade and comfortable. I grew up watching my mom make everything from bread to apple sauce from scratch. I love the process involved in making even simple things, like pancakes or mashed potatoes.
What are your favorite kitchen utensils or gadgets?
When I was growing up, we didn’t have any simple gadgets, we had things like a giant tabletop apple sauce grinder that spit pulp and peel out the side while fresh hot apple sauce poured from the front; or an unwieldy, hand-operated ice cream churn that took what seemed like half the day to use. When I went to college, I discovered more elemental things like whisks (a fork really is not a good substitute – sorry, mom) and lemon squeezers. I still don’t go for anything too fancy or specific – I love a big wooden spoon, a plastic spatula to help you get every inch of brownie batter from the bowl, a good microplane for zesting citrus.
Where do you shop for kitchen supplies?
Where do I not shop for kitchen supplies? Okay, you asked first… I love even the big chain kitchen stores like Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table, but living in New York I feel it’s my duty to make the trip to the occasional one-of-a-kind spot, like New York Cake & Baking Supply on 22nd Street, or to wander along the Bowery for discounts. I also love Fishs Eddy for things like glassware – that’s where I found the perfect glass lemonade pitchers this past summer.
What are the top pantry essentials in your kitchen?
I don’t know what I’d do without dairy: we always have butter, cheese, milk, yogurt, eggs and ice cream. (I’ve tested the theory that you can make a meal out of anything if you put a fried egg on top of it.) I also keep plenty of dried beans, pasta, and polenta on hand. And we couldn’t live without olive oil and good sea salt. I’ve always had a jar of peanut butter in the pantry, since way before we had a baby on board.
Do you have secret, surprise or unexpected ingredient you love to use?
My secrets are pretty simple. I use lots of butter or olive oil, and salt. I use lard in my pie crusts (except when my Jewish in-laws are coming for dinner, of course!) and I actually cut the sugar in most recipes by at least half.
I always feel compelled to confess that I’m not good at keeping up with food blogs, even though I have one! But the one that I return to over and over is Smitten Kitchen. Cookbooks are another story - if the kitchen is my house of worship, they are the holy texts. My mother passed on her reverence for The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and The Vegetarian Epicure Book. Recent favorites are Rustic Fruit Desserts and Once Upon a Tart (a great café in Soho). I use Nourishing Traditions for basic things like mayonnaise and chicken stock.
Has having a baby changed the way you cook/eat at home? How do you determine your meals?
All I can think to say is… having a baby changed EVERYTHING! But yes, it did change the way we cook, mostly by narrowing the focus down to ease above all else. I also put more energy into preparing things in advance, and making things that freeze well in bigger quantities. Meatballs in tomato sauce is a good example. Or pie and quiche crusts.
What are your favorite dishes to make at home for you and your family?
I love to make dishes like lasagna or quiche that require assembly, but lately we’ve been making a lot of meals out of vegetables and adding a cheese and a nut – like roasted cauliflower with parmesan and walnuts. Or Brussels sprouts finely chopped and sautéed with almonds and feta. This time of year we’ve making lots of soups: butternut squash with coconut milk, curried corn chowder, broccoli cheddar, Italian wedding soup - those are always perfectly simple with a piece of crusty bread and butter.
Rich Squash Pie
Adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook
Basic Pastry Dough for 9-inch pie shell (recipe follows)
1 cup pureed cooked winter squash
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a pie pan with the pastry dough. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and beat until smooth and well blended. Pour into the lined pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300F and bake for 45-60 minutes more or until the filling is firm.
Basic Pastry Dough
Courtesy Group Recipes
For 8-inch Single Pie Shell:
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water
For 9-inch Single Pie Shell:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
Combine the flour and salt.
Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender or food processor on "pulse."
Combine lightly until the mixture resembles course meal or really tiny peas.
Sprinkle water over the mixture 1 Tbsp at a timeand mix lightly with a fork or your hands. (If you used a food processor, transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl before adding the water.)
Use only enough water so the pastry will hold together when pressed gently
Who is your biggest food inspiration?
Although my parents had the most influence on me, I’d have to say that my partner Taylor is my biggest inspiration. She never seems to tire of being in the kitchen, and her enthusiasm is infectious.
Any chefs/food producers you admire and why?
I have the most admiration for farmers. There is nothing more appealing to me than having knowledge of the natural world. When someone can tell you the difference, in sight, texture, and flavor, between one squash and the next, it makes me feel full of wonder, like a child. No one knows more about flavor than the farmer, because he or she knows about the soil conditions and the weather patterns and the ripest moment for each crop. And there’s nothing like taste testing by picking something right off the vine.
Do you have a tasty hole-in-the-wall you'd be willing to share?
What do you like to listen to while you cook?
Whose pantry(ies) would you like to raid?
Mark Bittman, Martha Stewart, Ruth Reichl.
What is your go-to dish that's sure to draw raves from guests?
Having dinner guests feels like a distant memory of a former life, but if I remember correctly, we always loved making spaghetti and meatballs with roasted broccoli.
What's your idea of a perfect dinner party?
The potluck isn’t thought of as a very sophisticated affair, but I love when guests bring something. It makes everybody feel good to share, and no matter how inspired you might be feeling as the host, it’s always nice to have some collaboration. The scene would be a mid-summer evening in the country, everyone a little worn out from the afternoon’s outdoor pursuits, eating outside at a big table, or in the grass. It would always involve fresh berries for dessert, picked that morning at a nearby farm, and hopefully an excuse for whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Please share your best tips for novice home cooks.
Try not to overthink it. A great meal can be very simple. And don’t be overwhelmed by the effort it takes to make simple things, because the results (once perfected) are more than worth it.
*Photos by Christine Han Photography for Pantry Confidential. All photos on Pantry Confidential are original and copyrighted. Please credit and link back to our site when using our images, thank you.