15 Minutes with CSA Members: Katie Casto + Patrick Hynes

If you see Katie Casto and Patrick Hynes, congratulations are in order. The pair will be  getting married soon.

Until then, though, the couple will be focusing on their shared passion: running. Be sure to wave as they sprint by on one of their favorite runs: Down from their home in Gowanus, looping past the Farm, around Fairway, through the piers and then on to Baked.

“Our addiction to running is a great balance to our love for sweet treats,” they say.

Katie currently works as a merchandizer at Cynthia Steffe, but this fall she’ll be leaving the world of fashion to become a student studying nutrition and exercise. That will make them a two-student household: Patrick is finishing his Master’s degree while also working international education at the Soros Foundation.

What was the food culture in your house growing up?
Patrick: My stepfather was the short, male, bearded version of Marcella Hazan. It’s rather embarrassing that I’m not better at cooking classic Italian.

Katie: Simple American. Mom cooked straightforward, simple, tasty meals for our small family of three. It was the basics that I remember — pasta, tuna salad, chicken and veggies. What they knew as healthy and balanced. Dad’s experimentation in the kitchen and passion for cooking didn’t expand until later on.

One food you won’t you eat?
Patrick: Does not exist.

Katie: Licorice

Favorite vegetable?
Patrick: Broccoli. Raw, steamed, battered and fried. It’s all good.

Katie: That’s a tough one since I love my veggies. Currently, it’s fresh snap peas.

Favorite food experience?
Patrick: Serving as assistant on my grandmother’s eggplant parm, which had absolutely no equal. She would change the oil and wash the frying pans after each round to ensure a consistently high quality and flavor on each piece. Remember: thin slices, good oil, and a whole lot of time and patience are the keys to a good eggplant parm.

Katie: I have found a small group of girls who share my passion with running and joy for good food (especially sweet treats). One way we’ve learned to cover both areas at once is our destination long runs. After running 15 to 20 miles, we finish at a tasty bakery, the new local ice cream store, or the dim sum restaurant. I mean everyone should enjoy ice cream or pie for breakfast once in their life. Or sit down for dim sum and point at the food you think looks tasty, but you actually have no idea what you are eating.

What do you value about food or eating?
Patrick: Whether Katie and I are cooking to decompress after work, or eating to reenergize after a long run, eating the dishes that I enjoy is what gets me through the day…in both a literal and cathartic sense.

Katie: Through food you can learn about a person, a culture, a place. It also gives you the perfect excuse to get together with loved ones. I learned from my mother how to entertain with food. Each time Patrick and I open our home to friends or family, I am rewarded by both their companionship and the joy they experience through food we’ve made.

Favorite appliance?
Patrick: French Press. I’d be found asleep with no pants in a gutter without that thing.

Katie: Veggie peeler. Soon to be Kitchen Aid Mixer if someone actually purchases it from our wedding registry.

Favorite food book or memoir:
Patrick: “Heat.” Katie laughs when I insist that, like Buford, I will one day butcher a pig in our apartment or on our back patio. OH, it’s happening.

Katie: “Food Inc.” Yes, it’s a movie, but I guess I am visual person. I had read Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, but after this I think that’s when it all really hit me. I knew it was time for a change in the way I ate and how I thought about food.

Most disastrous kitchen or garden experiment:
Patrick: I once tried to make a “risotto” from a sports-nutrition cookbook. Those scare quotes are there for a reason. It looked like rotten porridge and smelled like feet. What a nightmare.

Katie: My vegan cherry cobbler. Strong honey never works as a good substitute for Agave. I was pawning off the desert to my co-workers who didn’t know any better.

Why are you involved in the Red Hook CSA?
Patrick: First, the core initiatives of Added Value are all things that Katie and I strongly support. And second, it provides me with a good excuse to stop at the Red Hook Ball field vendors and grab a huarache every Saturday.

Katie: To eat local produce and support the neighborhood.

What’s the best lunch option near you?
Patrick: Free lunch provided by work. Not amazing, but you can’t beat that price.

Katie: Whatever I bring from home, especially leftovers if Patrick did the cooking.

What inspires you?
Patrick: New York. It’s like evolution on fast-forward.

Katie: Life. I am constantly learning and gathering new experiences from which I can grow and share with others.

Your opinion: Does talking to plants help them grow?
Patrick: Does it hinder their growth?

Katie: No, but maybe I should try it as my terrace plants are struggling.

Do you sing to them?
Patrick: Maybe….who told you told?

Katie: No.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Patrick: Be excellent to each other.

Katie: Share your passion and love with others, as most importantly life is about how we impact those around us.

Tell us one thing about yourself that would surprise us.
Patrick: I can still recite every verse from Wu-Tang Clan’s “Enter the 36 Chambers.”

Katie: I can burp louder than Patrick.

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