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Watching Taylor Carpenter, a rangy 14-year-old with a wild head of curls, skateboard fluidly around his family’s large open kitchen, you might think he’s one of the luckiest kids in the world.
Sure, his parent, Jake and Donna Carpenter, started Burton Snowboards and recently bought Channel Islands Surfboards. Sure, the whole family took off on a 10-month, six-continent surf/snowboard odyssey a few years ago. Sure, Taylor has been partially homeschooled, lives 15 minutes from the lifts in Stowe, Vermont, and, if it snows, is pretty sure to find fresh tracks. But there’s something even better. As Taylor sums it up: “My mom’s a really, really great cook.”
Growing up on Long Island, Donna Carpenter worked with renowned cookbook writer and chef Ina Garten (a.k.a. the Barefoot Contessa). In 1993 she took some time off from helping Jake run Burton to open her own gourmet food shop, Harvest Market—complete with a brick oven where steaming loaves of sourdough are baked daily. “Donna’s sesame noodles [a Harvest Market staple] are insane!” says Jake (his highest compliment). Other items on the menu include penne with pancetta, eggplant, rapini, garlic and tomatoes, and grilled vegetable napoleons.
It’s Donna who sees that Taylor, George (18) and Timmy (11)—all riders, skaters, surfers—are fed well, eat with remarkably good manners and are more or less healthy. “Finding something that they all like to eat is not always easy,” she admits. “Jake tries to avoid meat and Timmy loves it,” she notes, adding, “In fact when we were in Tonga we were at a local feast and as the youngest male Timmy was offered pig’s brain and he ate it.”
After their worldwide adventure, Donna came back inspired by meals she had with people ranging from Maori to Masai. One of her favorite dishes is Nasi Goreng, an Indonesian take on fried rice often served for breakfast. Typically made with leftover rice, spices, meats, shellfish, eggs and a cucumber/tomato garnish, this versatile dish can easily be made vegetarian.
Traditional Nasi Goreng can also be made healthier, as we discovered. We swapped out white rice for brown rice (which has nearly three times the fiber, magnesium, potassium and other nutrients) and loaded it up with fresh vegetables. Reduced-sodium soy sauce and a fiery paste made of shallots, garlic and chiles add flavor. Donna serves this with chicken and tofu satés—everyone gets their pick—using peanut butter as the basis for both a marinade and dipping sauce.
It’s lunchtime and Jake’s home from the gym where he swims laps to get in shape for a surf trip to the Maldives. Timmy has been snowboarding all morning, George comes home from school and Taylor props his skateboard in a corner.
A good sign is there’s little talk as they all gobble down mouthfuls at the table. “How do you like it?” Donna asks. Jake looks up, gives a nod and says, “It’s insane.”