Sharon Shiner wants to get into your pantries.
That sentence doesn’t say what you probably first thought it did, and it definitely doesn’t mean that. It is, however, one of the main components of Shiner's business, Thyme to Cook.
Shiner, a local personal chef and fitness nutrition coach, wants to help you reorganize your pantry and make better use of the items via a process she calls a “pantry raid.”
“I go into people’s homes and see what’s in their pantries,” Shiner states. “I tell them what I think is good for them and what isn’t. I love being able to do that for people, look at their ingredients - almost like ‘Iron Chef’ - and help them.”
The procedure is fairly straightforward. The day before the pantry raid, Shiner requests her client does a “regular” grocery shopping trip to stock his/her kitchen with vegetables, proteins and whatever non-perishable supplies might normally reside in the pantry. Shiner then travels to her client’s home and, using the ingredients s/he has purchased, works with the client to help create meals from the supplies on hand and plan upcoming meals.
Shiner has other means of helping her clients, even if they aren’t game for a whole top-to-bottom kitchen and lifestyle reorganization. She enjoys teaching basic knife skills and cooking rules, “such as (which) cooking oils to use, how to sauté, how to cook specific proteins, veggies, grains, as well as food pairings in terms of flavor profiles.”
In fact, the whole “helping others” basis for Shiner’s business can be found in its clever name, Thyme to Cook.
“When I was starting Thyme to Cook, the point was to help clients who didn’t have time to cook or who weren’t able to cook or who had a special diet. That’s how it started," Shiner says.
Before finding her way as a personal chef, fitness nutrition coach and food educator, Shiner spent many years in biotech. Eventually she decided she wanted to pursue a career that allowed her more creativity and more time at home.
Shiner had been to the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts when she was younger but hadn’t done anything with her degree until the opening of Thyme to Cook.
But in October of 2007, seguing to “follow [her] passion,” she did a cooking demonstration at the at the .
Soon after, Thyme to Cook was featured in the quarterly senior section of a local publication. From that publicity, Shiner got her first client and soon several others followed.
Shiner originally conceived of her business as being more focused on food preparation and on building a client base in whose homes she could prepare multiple, weekly meals that addressed their various dietary and scheduling needs. But, when she was needed at home more as her children got older, Shiner found she wanted a more flexible schedule so she could better address the changing needs of her family.
In addition to the need for more time at home, Shiner wanted more time to focus on personal goals. A former spinning instructor, Shiner had always enjoyed the parallel process of teaching fitness and nutrition. Throughout the years, Shiner had earned multiple fitness and nutrition certifications -- but she was still looking for a new challenge.
So Shiner began working towards completing the Russian Kettleball Challenge in September of this year, building on her previous Hardstyle Kettlebell certification. She has been training relentlessly and has even adjusted her diet to better supply her body with the nutrition necessary for this daunting undertaking (much of Shiner’s blog currently focuses on this pursuit, including a plethora of recipes that embrace the Paleo diet she is now following).
This variety of dietary experiences has had an added benefit for Shiner’s fitness nutrition counseling and her kitchen/pantry reorganizing, as well.
“I’m certainly not going to tell anyone that they absolutely can or can’t eat anything,” Shiner says. “But at least I can share my experience. Even if someone wants to do some kind of hybrid (eating style), I can help with that. I’ve been there!”
Shiner is contemplating returning to personal chef work, as she remains very inspired by her ability to help her clients make positive changes in their lives.
With that in mind, Shiner shared with Newton Patch this recipe for Miso-glazed Eggplant, something she has prepared for both her family and clients.
Miso Glazed Eggplant
- 6 small eggplants or 2 medium to large eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise if small, or into rounds if bigger
- Miso Glaze
- 2-3 TBS miso...I used a white miso, which is sweeter, but really any miso would work well
- 1 TBS tamari, soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
- 1-2 tsp honey or other sweetener of choice
- Juice of 1 lemon, divided in half
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 1-2 tsp chopped parsley or other herb (I used tarragon because that is what I had in the house)
1. Prepare your grill to a medium-high temperature.
2. Prepare your miso glaze by adding the miso, tamari, honey and half of the lemon juice to a small bowl and whisking until combined.
3. Give your eggplant a light coating of olive oil and then place on the grill, grilling on one side for 3-4 minutes.
4. Flip your eggplant and brush with the miso glaze. Allow the eggplant to cook on the second side for another 2-3 minutes.
5. Flip again and brush with the glaze, and cook for another minute or 2. Repeat the flip and glaze a couple more times until the eggplant is cooked through and the glaze is caramelized.
6. Remove eggplant from the grill and sprinkle them with the remaining lemon juice, sesame seeds and chopped herbs.