I am, above all else, a lover of food. Food is one of the biggest pleasures in life. We smell food, feel food, hear food sizzling, melting, simmering while it cooks all before we taste food. Eating is a sensory act as much as it is an act of nourishment. The sharing of this enjoyable experience is at the base of most cultures around the world, coming together as we nourish ourselves and our loved ones.

During my previous life as an opera singer, I studied at the Royal College of Music in London, a city that really is the melting pot of the world. England has long battled its reputation as a culinary dolt (a reputation highly undeserved), but I found my foodie self in London. I was lucky to live there during a time when locally sourced, seasonal ingredients were on offer at dozens of street markets around the city. Fresh tuna steaks cut right from the tuna in Borough Market, purple cauliflowers, wild boar sausages, raw milk butter, rabbit and pheasants, freshly shucked oysters, aged beef roasts, goose terrines, colorful spices, wine-soaked cheeses aged in underground caves… the list could go on and on. In addition food organizations would hold how-to seminars at busy rail stations and TV cooking shows featured people either growing their own foods or hunting and foraging their food, then cooking it in beautiful and varied ways.

Inspired by all I had learned from these chefs and producers of deliciousness, I moved back to California determined to make use of our varied, natural resources. I cultivated and planted a large garden, began raising chickens and turkeys, and turned my sights onto traditional models of eating unprocessed, real foods for health and well being.

Food is central to the enjoyment of our lives and too often we neglect the sensual pleasures of eating for the quick energy of a drab ‘hold-your-nose-and-swallow’ protein bar, or that glitzy-advertized, greasy, sugar-laced fast food “meal.” Real traditional foods need no fancy advertising gimmick. When we eat well, we feel better. We are drawn to the vaguely familiar idea of home cooking because when it’s done well, there is nothing quite as cozily satisfying.

Our society has moved away from traditional, nourishing foods full of flavor, vitamins, minerals and nourishing natural fats and straight into industrialized “foods” that don’t occur naturally in nature, that are preserved past reason but more importantly, that fail to provide the full nutrition our bodies have come to expect over the past millennia.

Picture Real Food will present easy-to-make, nutritious and delicious recipes that you will feel instinctively good about eating. We will explore various ingredients and learn their origins and the processes by which they are made. I will profile some of the people I most admire in the Real Food and Slow Food Movements along with small farmers and local growers passionate about their products.

For those of us confused by the laundry list of “correct” diets and intimidated by the idea of eating non-fat yogurt and steamed chicken breasts with broccoli for the rest our lives, I submit that healthy weight and whole nutrition cannot be achieved long term when we are starving ourselves of natural fats which are conductors of both flavor and satisfaction in every meal. Learning about the benefits of olive oil, coconut oil, butter, lard, tallow, nuts and more will add variety, flavor and satiety to all of your meals.

Long term dietary change comes from positive, intrinsic motivation for betterment as opposed to internal guilt and external disapproval by today’s self-appointed food nazis. Healthful change also ultimately eludes us when we sit in self judgement of each and every bite that doesn’t perfectly fit into the diet du jour.

I have experienced first hand the benefits that come with discarding the various diet mantras and embracing the traditional eating lifestyle, from weight loss to improved joint function and reduced pain. I am not a licensed nutritionist, I am instead an informed consumer, enthusiastic eater and happy cook who enjoys preparing natural foods in delicious and satisfying ways.

I hope that Picture Real Food will offer you a window into your own health and provide recipes you will make repeatedly for the simple pleasure of eating delicious and nutritious real food.

Jet love everyone, Skippy in the arugala and Bindi looking at the sunset.




53 thoughts on “About

  1. Love all the colorful pics in your recipes. Your blog is off to a great start, and should pick up followers quickly. Writing a blog is work, as I’ve found out. Not that I’m any blog expert, but I noticed your tags are pretty specific (olive oil, rosemary, pancakes, etc.). I’ve found that effective tagging brings in more readers, so be sure to use some general tags like “natural food,” “gourmet,” “unprocessed.” Adding some general tags seems to help with searching. Good luck. Look forward to more. Love the garden and chickens!

    • Thanks for the suggestion! I hadn’t even thought of generalizing my tags, but I definitely will now. Blogging is a lot of work — so I will take all the help and hints I can get!

  2. Marisa, your passion for sharing the wondrous sensatory and vitality of natural and well prepared foods shines through clearly. You posses a gifted writing style that seamlessly flows with clarity of purpose. Your multi talented voice is a welcome addition to world of blogging – a world I am just exploring myself.

    The intuitive and instinctive elements you describe in your blog make perfect sense. Just looking at your beautifully prepared Santa Maria Blackened Tri-tip made me crave a bite. Our bodies are designed to process these foods. Our brains need the various animal proteins, enzeymes and fats for their proper function, and studies are indicating that these essential foods, when properly prepared, can ward off the onset of dementia and Alzheimers.

    There is no question, that preprocessed and GMO foods are killing us. One only needs to look at the rising obesity levels of children and teenagers today to make that connection. Small farms are endangered. Industrialized big business farming and their lobbyists are doing their utmost to suppress our agrarian heritage and instincts.

    Thank you for providing us a wonderful resource to refuel our bodies and our spirit.

    • Thanks for the kind comment! You’ve hit on many real food-related topics which concern me and which I plan to profile here. The more we can celebrate natural, whole foods and the processes by which they are grown and nurtured, the more happy and grounded we can be. Thank you for your support!

      • You are welcome. I realize that some of the things I committed on are in direct opposition to what is commonly believed, especially my references to consuming red meat. Most people are completely unaware of what is happening to our small farmers and our heirloom seeds. Today, seeds are being engineered so the can be trademarked, so they can’t reproduce themselves thus insuring the need to repurchase them season after season. The resulting bioengineered chimera is more frightening than any monster discussed on my Halloween for All blog.

        Steroids that are being fed to our animals end up in our water system, and ultimately inside us. Livestock that are herbivores are being fed feed that contains meat. Soy products that influence people’s fertility and other bodily functions are practically in everything! And on, and on, it goes.

        I look forward to reading your insights and findings in your future posts. There are so many areas of concern when it comes to what we eat and how it is prepared that you are assured of being busy for quite some time.

        While I enjoy sharing the fun of Halloween, you are really truly filling a vital need that has the potential to improve the quality of all of our lives dramatically. We just fortunate that someone who is so articulate and gifted in sharing these issues has dedicated her time and energy to help us all. As such, I will tell everyone I know to check out your blog.

        I apologize the the lengthy entry…Thank you again for all that you are doing!

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  4. Marisa, your blog definitely shows all your passions; including the brilliant opera singer! The pictures are all absolutely stunning!

  5. I love, love, love the concept of your blog. Your recipes look intriguing. And I really like the format of your blog–very different from most of the ones I look at!

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  7. Marisa, I think we are kindred spirits! Fellow singer and fellow food sister =) Love what you’re doing here and very much look forward to your future posts! Thanks for stopping by — you’re always welcome here at Small Kitchen Chronicles anytime =)


    • Hi Christina! Oh, it’s great to find a kindred blogger! I really love your blog and look forward to your future posts too. Your recipes and photos are lovely and make my mouth water. Thanks for your comment!

  8. Amazing Blog you have there… Love the pics and the format… Following you 🙂 Keep up the great work!!!

    BTW, thanks for following me … Appreciate it…

    I hope to build a blog which will be close to good as yours… hahaha… there’s no harm in dreaming, is there? lol.. hopefully, my laziness doesn’t catch up… hehehe…

  9. Hi there, firstly I love love your writing technique, and your passion for food!! WE are food lovers in my home, Seasonal cooking, Farmers Markets, and home grown are my specialties 🙂 I am sure to find inspiration on your blog. I look forward to seeing more.

  10. I love all of your beautiful, colorful photos! And your food looks incredible. I will definitely be bookmarking your blog so that I can come back to it and get some recipes!

  11. Thanks for the follow, Marisa 🙂 I really love everything you’ve just said here. And I’m totally impressed and inspired by your courage to move across the world to California to pursue your interests (I assume you’re originally from London?) I’ll be coming back here frequently.

  12. Marisa what a lovely blog and such beautiful photos. You might just even convince me that food in England isn’t that bad! Have always wanted to get up and go early to Borough Market. Will have to give that a try sometime. Look forward to reading more; it all looks so delicious!

    • Why, thank you so much! I really appreciate that. And, I know, I know, the mere suggestion of cooking with L-A-R-D usually elicits more blood-curdling screams than a Hitchcock heroine. But consider this: Lard is a monounsaturated fat, being 50% monounsaturated, 40% saturated and 10% polyunsaturated. This means that lard actually has more in common with olive oil, which is also monounsaturated, than beef tallow, which is a saturated fat (with only 40% monounsaturated fats). Monounsaturated fats lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and leaves HDL (good cholesterol) alone. Consider also that monounsaturated fats are more chemically stable for high temperature cooking than polyunsaturated fats (like corn, vegetable, safflower, sunflower and canola oils), which are easily damaged by heat, rendering them rancid and oxidized (never mind that all of those oils are already rancid due to the high heat/chemical processes by which they are extracted from their source in the first place). I’ll write more on fats soon — why I only use natural saturated and monounsaturated fats, and why I avoid polyunsaturated fats like the plague. However in the meantime, if you’re interested, I suggest the real fats bible written by the earliest anti trans-fat campaigner Mary Enig, “Know Your Fats,” or Nina Plank’s wonderfully researched and thoughtful, “Real Food: What to Eat and Why.” I learned a lot from both of these books and both authors address the topic far more eloquently and exhaustively than I have here.

      • Love all of your info! You won’t change my mind in any way as I can’t stand the taste nor smell!
        Seriously, I’m really chuckling. It’s just one of those things with me. Animal fat = yuk. I don’t even like Parma ham!

        • Ahh, well if it’s down to person preference, then I’ll let you off the hook! 🙂 Haha! I couldn’t stand the thought of you missing out on something you might enjoy for fear of the L-A-R-D monster. Even parma ham? (Shaking head.)

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