Food stylist and cookbook author Jeanne Kelley makes every meal enchanting.
In Eagle Rock, a Los Angeles suburb near Pasadena that blurs the boundaries of urban, suburban and downright hip, Jeanne Kelley lives the high-end homestead lifestyle. Hers is a Modernist abode built into the precipitous granite hillside, where a jackhammer is required for any gardening project. Peach, apricot and blood orange trees thrive, heavy with fruit. A community garden guards her cul-de-sac. You’ll even spot a beekeeping suit and kit, and compost bins for her chicken coop.
From here, the noted food stylist and former contributing editor to Bon Appétit releases her third compendium, Kitchen Garden Cookbook—a four-seasons, crop-by-crop journey through her sun-soaked idyll. In addition to primers on raising chickens and beekeeping, each chapter includes easy-to-follow growing tutorials exploring staples like fava beans (try grilling them) and sweet-spicy radishes (plant pots of quick-growing French breakfast varietals). Simple meals emerge, from charred shrimp and green onions with romesco to poblano pesto-spiked crispy pumpkin tacos. Fresh eggs lead to orecchiette carbonara, while honey is slathered on peaches and roasted, made decadent with vanilla cream. Lusciously shot dishes are entirely doable, yet still on par with seasonal restaurants like Camino or Cook’s County. (No surprise; the Pasadena native attended culinary school in France, and she first released Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes: Recipes from a Modern Kitchen Garden, in 2008—republished this past February—then Rizzoli hit, Salad For Dinner, last year.)
Nevertheless, Kelley relishes her creative spontaneity: “When writing a book, you are so careful to measure everything and track times and amounts. The other night, I blanched a few snow peas, added arugula, potatoes and roasted pork tenderloin. A total early spring/late winter dish.” jeannekelleykitchen.com.
Written and edited by Alison Clare Steingold
Photographed by Ray Kachatorian/Weldon Owen