Jonesy and jay, at home in park slope. 

A Garden Grows in Brooklyn 

GRILLED CHEESE, PLEASE! is a series that explores dinnertime by looking at an eclectic group of families. A home-cooked meal? Great! Take-out? No problem! Pull up a chair and join us as we discuss everything from favorite food memories to never-fail dinner options.

Meet Jay and Jonesy. Jay is a communications strategist at Sunshine Sachs. Jonesy is nine years old and quite a baseball player. The boys live in Park Slope where they eat at home often and keep an amazing herb and vegetable garden.

Jonesy and Jay along with an impressive collection of dinner guests.

1. What’s for dinner?

Knockwurst from Flying Pigs Farm, broccoli, and snap pea and cabbage slaw straight out of the current issue of Bon Appetit.

Slaw, in the works.
Jonesy’s plate.

2. What’s the usual dinner routine?

Jonesy’s mother and I have what’s called a 2-2-5 arrangement, so he’s with me every Monday and Tuesday, and every other weekend. We eat at home together a lot, but we also go out quite a bit. I think it’s good for him to learn to comport himself in a restaurant. But typically, I cook a lot on Sundays to get ready for when he comes on Mondays from his mom’s place — things like pasta with pesto that I make from the garden. He loves broccoli, so I will give it to him until he says “No.” You know, he likes things that we all like — hamburgers, pasta, ice cream. But as long as it’s in moderation for him, it doesn’t bother me at all.

Jonesy’s favorite vegetable.

3. What about breakfast and lunch?

I’ve always cooked for Jonesy. In the morning, it’s usually a fried farm egg, some whole grain toast, oatmeal with maple syrup and salt, and a glass of milk. It’s a lot, but if he doesn’t eat it, I will! There’s no reason kids’ food can’t be good food. And I think people overthink kids’ lunches. It doesn’t take much to do it. I will make him a sandwich, maybe hummus and cucumbers or good ham and cheese, and a few chips and sliced fruit, and that’s it; it’s easy.

Jay adding some final touches to dinner.
Jay’s kitchen.

4. Do you come from a family that is into food?

My grandfather had a garden in downstate Illinois and he was always picking and then pickling things. I still am into all that kind-of stuff; I’ve got homemade vinegar going and I’m aging bourbon this year in a little barrel. Last summer, I made barrel-aged negronis. Both of my parents always enjoyed cooking and eating. My dad was especially into it. He was making homemade beer and wine in the 1970s and his own tortillas, too. When we went out to dinner, he always wanted whatever the waiters were eating. He still always loves any reason to make a weird, great food thing. Once, the day after Christmas, he smoked a cow’s head. Growing up, I loved Mexican food and French food. Jonesy loves sushi, but I didn’t have it until I was like twenty. My two first cookbooks were The New Basics Cookbook by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso and Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells.

Homemade pickled figs (from a tree in the backyard!)
Aging bourbon.
A small portion of Jay’s cookbook collection.

5. Does Jonesy like to cook?

Well, he’s around it a lot. He made his first meal recently; he made me breakfast for Father’s Day — some toast, jam, and a glass of milk. He also picked a flower from the garden.

Jonesy picking mint in the garden for his dad’s slaw.
Jay and Jonesy’s garden.

6. Jonesy, what’s your favorite thing to have for dinner?

Fried cheese! I also love sushi. I get a California roll, a shrimp roll, and an avocado roll. I never change it, I always get the same thing.

Jonesy’s art show.

7. Jonesy, what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

I’m not telling!

Jonesy’s baseball memorabilia.