I've spent four hours on a tiny, overly air-conditioned bus going to the Hamptons from New York City very early on a Saturday morning, and I am extremely grumpy. I remain that way as the six other people on the bus and I get out at Amagansett's picture-perfect Amber Waves Farm. I'm still sour through flower- and raspberry- and bean-picking and am basically just no fun until I meet Jennifer Garner, who shakes my hand heartily and happily asks me if there's any better way to spend a Saturday. There is not, I tell her, and I totally mean it. She is a ray of sunshine who made the entire day - one meant to celebrate her work with Once Upon A Farm, the extremely organic kids food company she co-founded - so worth it!
In a short amount of time, she runs me through why she's so obsessed with Once Upon A Farm baby food, how her "Pretend Cooking Show" came to be (you know the one), and who she'd most love to cook dinner for. Oh! And she provided A Very Important Update on her now-famous chicken Hennifer.
She's all for trying out your kids' food before your kid does.
Though Jennifer's involvement with the company may seem random at first, it's really just ... not. "I have three kids, I made their baby food, and when I was too busy and couldn’t do it ... there was nothing on the market that I would pull off the shelf and have a bite of myself," she explained while snacking on a whole carrot:
Baby food is synonymous with something disgusting, and that makes no sense - we are feeding our actual babies! It should be so, so delicious and so vibrant and green and nutritious and we’ve kind of gotten screwed up in our heads [about what baby food should be], so as soon as I saw and tasted the product, I knew, "Oh my gosh, I have to be involved with helping bring this to the world!"
She's quick to note the convenience factor of the baby food pouch is one that is invaluable for moms who might not have had an extra set of hands around in the way she was able to when her kids were younger: "I had help to help me clean after grinding and whizzing up [baby food], and I had help keeping it clean and keeping track of everything. [Even then], it is an enormous hassle."
She would "never" do a cooking show, but ...
The delightful Pretend Cooking Show wasn't exactly an accident. "Truly, anything that happens on Instagram is a dumb idea," she laughs. "[But] I do have recipe favorites I’ve made so many times and I am such a cooking show fanatic that I feel like I have something to offer." After the idea came to her one night, she and her assistant Mo "just did it! In my pajamas, no makeup, which, later, you think ‘I coulda put a little lip gloss on.'"
Her most recent episodes feature recipes from the Pioneer Woman and Smitten Kitchen, but her all-time fav ...
She'd love to cook dinner for Ina Garten.
In fact, she did the very next day. She and Ina have a blossoming friendship, which makes her Jen's number one choice for a celeb dinner guest, she says: "She’s just so much fun! She would drink and laugh! Not that she’s a big drinker, but she would be fun, and she would have a good laugh, and she wouldn’t get too hung up if I screwed something up, she would just be like 'It’s fine! It’s great! Don’t worry about it!' She’s not precious." She'll tell Ina I love her, she says, when they hang out the next day. [Ed. note: I have not received confirmation my hello was, in fact, relayed to Ina, but this Insta-proof of their date will do].
Ina is Jen's foremost cooking inspiration - great. But Hennifer might be her all-time fav.
You remember Hennifer, yes? Jennifer's tiny, happy chicken namesake?
Hennifer, a Silky, is the smallest of her many chickens by far, Jen confirms, but she is T-H-R-I-V-I-N-G. "She has to have her own food and her own water bowls because she, well, she just can’t reach what the bigger girls have," she says. "The feathers on her legs are freaking out, they’re growing so fast, but yeah, she’s a freak, and she’s my favorite."
Yeah, that's all I need to know to head all the way home happy.
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