Bread + Barrow
Meg is a proud New Englander who grew up on the sandy beaches of Cape Cod. Bread + Barrow is her space, where she shares her love of New England and recreates the magical moments from her childhood. Like memories of her dad’s culinary genius over a camp fire and her mother passing down the importance of family dinners.
I am so happy to have Meg Dubina of Bread + Barrow joining me on the show today.
(*All photos below are Meg’s.)
On Growing Up on Cape Cod:
Growing up on Cape Cod was really great. It’s a really beautiful spot to be a kid. It’s funny, the summers are so bustling, there are so many people, it takes an hour to get to the grocery store some days, where normally it would just be a 10 minutes drive. And then the winters are really desolate. So you kind of have this polar opposite. But it was a great spot to be a kid. The summers were full of beach days and going to the vineyard, and then the winters were very quiet and rainy. We didn’t get much snow on the Cape. I think that’s why we spent a lot of time in New Hampshire on the weekends, because I think my dad would go a little stir crazy if he was on the Cape all winter long. But some of those rainy, wet winter days were some of my favorite. My mom used to take us kids down to Woods Hole and have a cup of chowder, overlooking the wet landscape, which I still love to do. So it was a magical childhood.
On Her Interest in Cooking:
I think it was when I was little, I actually really did, my Easy-Bake Oven was probably my favorite. But other than that, growing up, I wasn’t so interested in it. My sisters and I often played restaurant, so that was one of our games. We had a little, now that I think about it, kind of creepy setup in our basement where we had, like, lawn chairs and a table, and we had a big menu that we’d write on the walls in chalk. But then in my teens and early 20s, I wasn’t interested in it much until I moved in with my now husband. That’s when I started looking back to things that we had made, because I was cooking for myself for the first time and was like, well, what am I going to make tonight? That kind of made me get more into cooking for myself and for other people.
My mom is actually a really good cook, she cooked for all of us. I’m the eldest of four, so there are six in my family. She always had a home-made dinner for us. She definitely taught me my basics. My aunt is also a really great cook, she’s been cooking her whole life, it’s been her passion, she’s obsessed. So they’re both resources that I always go to. Like, “How do make a Béarnaise sauce? How do I do this?” Roasting a chicken was one of my first things that was, like, “I don’t know how to do this,” so I would call them. But I also did look to bloggers and websites and cookbooks and a lot of it was trial and error. There was a lot of really bad cooking at first.
On the Importance of Family Dinners:
My mom was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom. So that definitely helps, because you have your day to prep. Being a stay-at-home mom is a crazy job in and of itself, but I have also been a nanny for a really long time, that’s what I was doing to make money before I got into cooking and writing and things. I worked for quite a few families that found this to be challenging, because it really is. It’s hard to manage a full-time job, a household, children, and get dinner on the table by 6:00. It can be crazy. So obviously organization is key.
I think if you have children and you work and you’re planning on doing nightly meals, I think prepping on Sunday, knowing what your meals are going to be, either making them all and keeping them in the freezer or just, if you have a crock-pot, setting that, and just saying like, 6:00 or 6:30 or 7:00, or whenever it’s easiest for you, is dinner time and that’s that, we’re doing it.
Set a table. I think setting the table is huge, because sometimes if you just throw down a pile of forks and a pile of plates and say, “Okay, kids, dinner is ready.” It doesn’t always end up the way that you want it to. If you set the table and say, “Okay, five minute warning, we’re having dinner.” Then it gets the family to think about, okay, we’re sitting down together to eat and share a meal.
I like to start a meal with a prayer or something to say, because then it also gets the family all on the same page, you’re not thinking about, “I really still need to mow the lawn or do that laundry, or someone needs to do his homework.” You can get yourself all together in one space for a little bit of time.
On the Food in New England:
New England has a reputation of being stuck in their ways, and I mostly feel that that’s still true. Which is hard, it makes it a little tough for table sharing. Sharing these meals together or having the local spot to go, I don’t think it’s a very popular thing to do in New England, which is a little bit tough. But that being said, I feel like there are a lot of younger chefs that are coming out with these awesome ideas.
Island Creek Oysters is an Oyster company out of Duxbury, which actually happens to be where I went to high school. They have been doing some really cool things with getting the community together and doing an Oyster festival and really getting people involved with what they’ve been doing in their town. I know a chef, Patrick, who just started a restaurant at Applecrest Farms in New Hampshire and he too is really into, not only showcasing what New England cuisine could be, but also bringing people in and really getting the word out there of, like, wanting to bring in other people, collaborations and things. I think that that is really cool and that’s the way that I hope that New England cuisine is going to go. Because right now it can really be just stuffy pubs with chowder and fried clams. There is nothing wrong with that, those are great, too, but sometimes people I think are a little wary of changing their direction.
On One Thing She Wants Us to Know About New England:
I would like people to know that while we still are pretty old fashioned and that a lot of things haven’t necessarily changed, I still think that there are people here that are willing to see what we have to offer, and really use those resources, whether it’s the ocean or the farms or the mountains. I hope that people know that you can catch a fish one day on the ocean and then be frying it in the woods of the mountains that afternoon, which is pretty cool. I guess, I just hope that people realize everything that there is here and use it to their advantage.
On Hosting Photography and Styling Workshops:
I think how it all happened was Betty and I both realized that we were in the same State, we were like, “What? Let’s get together.” So once we actually met and realized that we not only both loved food, but we really like each other, that we wanted to start sharing that. I think that was the main reason for both of us in starting our blogs, was to share our heritage and where we’re from.
She has some amazing Chinese cooking on her blog and we want to showcase that with people, and really bring people that may not know each other together, and she’s a brilliant photographer. So I think that was another thing that we were, like, “Why don’t we just get people together, show them our cooking, show them how to use their cameras and make a beautiful meal out of it?” That’s where that whole thought process went.
We wanted to incorporate some unusual activities that maybe someone doesn’t do often, and we also wanted to base it around where we’re going to be. So we did a daytime workshop in Boston where we went to the SoWa, which is the south end of Boston, the Farmer’s Market. And we then cooked a meal with the produce. So in that vein we kind of decided that with going to New Hampshire, this little town of Tamworth is adorable. They have the New Hampshire Mushroom Company there as well as Sunnyfield Brick Oven Bakery, which you’d never think, like, these two awesome companies were in this one little town. So we were, like, maybe we can do some mushroom foraging. The man that owns the company is so sweet and he does this, basically a 4H club every Sunday, where he takes people out foraging and teaches them about the poisonous and also edible mushrooms. Then the bakery is inviting us in to watch them with their sourdough bread baking process. That’s something I’m really interested in, because growing a yeast culture scares me. I’m really intimidated by it.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
Oh, none, I’m so bad. I love Ina Garten, but she’s probably the only show I can tolerate.
What are some food blogs or food websites we have to know about?
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook or Snapchat that make you happy?
Krissy from Cottage Farm, her stuff is beautiful. She was a floral designer, I believe, she just has a great aesthetic. I love also following Anna from Rifle Paper Company, hers, too, she just has a great vision. Really inspiring.
What is the most unusual or treasured item in your kitchen?
I would say my copper pots that my grandmother gave me, I love them. But they’re really hard to keep clean and my KitchenAid, my husband bought it for me our first Christmas together, so that one is really special.
Name one ingredient you used to dislike but now you love.
I don’t think that there is one that I used to dislike. I’ve pretty much eaten everything since day one except beets. I still can’t handle beets.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
Renny Darling, I don’t know if anyone even knows who she is but she has a really old cookbook, it’s called, Quick Breads & Cakes and I just love it. I don’t even know where you can find it anymore, you can probably order it online, but her banana bread recipe is the best. Then I have recently been going through The Original Boston Cooking School Cookbook, which is really interesting. I think it was from, at least the copy I have, is from the early 1920’s. Just seeing the ingredients in there, it’s so interesting. But it’s really cool, it’s inspiring.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
So I’m a huge dork and I listen to a lot of Broadway musicals if I’m by myself in the house, but if I have company over I usually put on like Edith Piaf or Regina Spektor, something a little more calming, a little less dramatic.
On Keeping Posted with Meg: