Larder Love in the Afternoon

larderThe things we should treasure.

By Gretchen Finn

It wasn’t going to be my average Thursday lunch when I walked through the doors of Church Street Coffee and Books; that much I knew. The front parking lot had been conquered by growling bellies there to place their lunch order with Shindigs, Birmingham’s food truck famous for serving up locally grown and badass food. The Pantry by Stone Hollow Farmstead, a newly opened restaurant behind Church Street, was also celebrating this lunch hour with complimentary Lemon Verbena and Basil Mint teas. Church Street always seems to be a safe haven, and “even playing field” for hipsters, business men, the movers and shakers of Birmingham and the stay at home moms in tennis skirts. This diverse group of people had all come together to listen to Rohan Anderson talk about his cookbook Whole Larder Love. Within seconds of being there, I knew that the book was way more then just a fabulous cookbook with a unique style and beautiful photographs; it had the potential to be life changing.

He was interesting to look at—you know, the type of person that is both approachable but so damn cool you wonder what you might say if he ever flung a question your direction. He wore an Alabama Farmer’s Market hat and a denim button up that went rather nicely with his beard. “I’m just a bloke from Victoria sharing my story,” he began.

He was raised on a farm, but like many a person, found himself in a world so far from his childhood—a 9 to 5 job with tedious and unfulfilling returns. He admits he was depressed, full of anxiety and in serious poor health. Unashamed, he told us that he knew he would be laying on his deathbed sooner rather than later if he weren’t willing to make an enormous change in his lifestyle.

Anderson chose to bid adieu to his old way of life of microwavable chicken nuggets, processed foods, and the stress of living a daily life that wasn’t satisfying. He chose a “healthier way of life” which eventually led him to a sense of “connection and purpose to the little things in life that keep us alive and healthy.” As he continued talking, I casually flipped through the book page by page. The first page caught my eye. It was a very powerful three sentences. “This is me. It’s always been me. I’ve come home now.” Those three sentences ring deep into my heart because I feel like I can relate on many levels to that idea of cherishing home leaving, but yet always finding your way back in some fashion.

His new outlook on life and theme of his cookbook is “Grow. Gather. Hunt. Cook.” He was going to reconnect with nature and allow it to provide for him and his four young girls the way it was intended. Since staring this new way of living, he has lost an enormous amount of weight, his heart condition dramatically improved, and the quality of his life has brightened.

Anderson lives on a “modest” plot of land in the country. He grows beans, carrots, leeks, tomatoes, zucchinis, peppers, pumpkins, citrus and fruit trees. He stores and preserve food for wintertime. Don’t worry, the book provides the steps to do just this. He goes on to share that he hunts for his meat.

The basic philosophy, which is the most important theme I took Whole Larder Love, is just this: “Nature rules supreme.” Anderson’s cookbook explains, “Taking back a little bit of control of where your food is produced makes life tend towards the simple side.” This comes with a wonderful disclaimer. Simple doesn’t mean easy. It doesn’t mean lazy. It doesn’t mean boring. Rather quite the opposite. Often it is “more work, more planning and even more thought put into your philosophy of life” all while increasing the joys of life and ultimately “leaving behind a planet that is still wild and beautiful” for others to appreciate.

I agree with him. There is something to be said about getting your hands dirty and knowing that if you provide the conditions and patience, you will soon get the direct return of food and nutrients.

After wrapping up his inspiring, insightful and often hilarious stories, Anderson politely answered questions and proceeded to sign cookbooks. He signed my book. I smiled and happily raced home to water my three, sheepish looking tomato plants and mint, which is begging to be used for mint juleps. As I stood outside watering, I knew that even though I might only get two tomatoes this year and 20 mint juleps, they were going to be the best damn tasting tomatoes and cocktails I’ve ever had… because they were mine. I also knew that I would attempt more in the upcoming seasons so long as I have Whole Larder Love next to me for continued inspiration and directions. I leave you with a phrase Anderson so eloquently cites when sharing what Whole Larder Love is truly all about: “This food represents the old ways. It represents what we should hold onto tightly: tradition, and a determination to provide for oneself. These are things we should treasure.”

Visit Rohan’s website to discover more:

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