Huntington Kitchen was originally conceived in Raleigh, NC on a chilly winter afternoon in 2011. Jennifer Huntington decided on a whim to bake up a wholesome batch of her favorite granola for friends & neighbors for the holidays.
It wasn't long before she was receiving calls & emails about her addictive treat. She started perfecting her recipes for other baked goods & inviting friends over to try them...giant cinnamon rolls with bourbon cream cheese icing, fluffy English muffins made with buttermilk from the local creamery smeared with spicy blood orange fig jam and freshly ground almond butter, rich chocolate peanut butter brownies using dark chocolate from the chocolate factory in town and filled with homemade peanut butter.
Baking had always been a hobby of hers, but baking for other people quickly became her passion. As time passed (& her family grew), she decided to leave the corporate world & devote herself entirely to family & her new found craft.
Huntington Kitchen now specializes in creating scratchmade nut butters, granolas, & other artisanal foods featuring all-natural, locally-sourced ingredients & giving them an innovative twist. We are serious about our craft & hope that you find comfort in the foods we make for you.
How did you get started?
I got my undergraduate degree from UNC Chapel Hill, and a few years ago finished my Masters in Public Health with a focus in nutrition. After my husband and I had our first son, James, in 2009, I made the difficult decision not to go back to my job in the public health field. As a new mother, I also found myself with very limited time to make the kind of meals for myself that I made before having kids. I started making, and eating, granola… lots of granola. It was a quick, energy-packed meal I could eat on the go with the kids in tow. It was convenient AND healthy, a combination that was important to me, yet seemingly hard to find in our fast-food-centric culture. Soon after settling into my new roll as a stay-at-home mom, I found myself making more and more granola for friends and neighbors as presents, with rave reviews. Then I sorta just put 2 and 2 together. I started baking other stuff (i.e. cakes, brownies, scones, cinnamon rolls), but I always wanted to come up with that twist…that little something different that made it a little more modern (like grapefruit poppyseed scones with prosecco glaze). We started by selling exclusively at the downtown Raleigh farmers market and got a great reception there. Then life intervened once again and we had our second baby boy, Benjamin. This put things on hold for a bit, but soon enough I was rearing to get back out there, and at that point, we decided to start concentrating more on our granolas and nut butters. Given my background, one of the things I really wanted to focus on is the nutritional aspects of everything we make. Along with that, my husband and I have also always been cognizant of WHERE our food comes from, geographically speaking. We love NC, and it was important to us from the get-go that we incorporate as much local products into our business as we possibly could, both from an environmental impact as well as an economic standpoint. We source all our peanuts from a farm in Eastern NC, and we use local honey, local chocolate, etc. Having said that, there is some stuff we simply cannot get locally, like cashews, but whenever possible, we are into keeping it local, and building good relationships with our farmers and other local artisans.
What farming/cooking/growing practice would you outlaw?
With a background in public health and nutrition, I’m constantly focused on eating healthy and making food that not only tastes great, but is nutritious as well. I grew up eating the national brand, non-natural peanut butter that is filled with hydrogenated oils and preservatives. Once I started learning how unhealthy these nut butters on the market were, I was even more convinced that people need, and deserve, something better. It is definitely a bit of an educational process, but I think people are getting more comfortable with the whole oil-separation thing that occurs with natural peanut butter and that there will be a big movement towards natural nut butter in the near future. So, I would outlaw the use of certain additives and preservatives, particularly some of the ones that are environmentally destructive, and get people back to the basics of eating good, clean, simply delicious food. One rule I like to live by is that if there are a bunch of ingredients on the label I cannot pronounce, I don’t eat it.
What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday?
My perfect Saturday would begin by going for an early morning run before everyone else in the house wakes up. I am an avid runner, and it really helps to center me. I also come up with some of my best recipe ideas when I’m out on the trails. Then we’d all go to brunch at Poole’s for their sweet potato hot cakes and mimosas. The reset of the day would be spent outdoors with my family. We’re BIG outdoors people. I truly believe that my older son would never come inside if I didn’t cook him good food! At the end of the day, I can think of nothing better than relaxing with my husband with a good bottle of wine (or occasionally an imperial IPA for him).
If you were transported to some other place in the world, where would it be?
My husband and I talk about this a good bit. It may sound cheesy, but we absolutely love Raleigh and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. There is so much exciting stuff happening in Raleigh right now and we just love our town…we want our kids to grow up here and us to grow old here. Having said that, I think traveling is important, as it gives perspective like nothing else can. We are both originally from the New York City area and have traveled a good bit in our lives. While we would love to travel more, particularly as our kids get a little older, we always love coming back home. But if I had to choose somewhere else to be temporarily “transported to”, Id have to say San Francisco (domestically), because of the food scene, and London (internationally), because of the history.
What do you bring in your picnic basket?
Nut butter! (haha,if you haven’t noticed yet, we eat a lot of nut butter in our house) I like making fun sandwiches with our almond, cashew, and peanut butters…like flutter nutters with homemade marshmallow fluff. I’d also bring fresh fruit from the farmers market, and some homemade potato chips with caramelized onion dip (my husband’s favorite!) Last but certainly not least, I’d bring some bubbly for me and a good, hoppy craft beer for my husband.
What is the best part of waking up?
Again, this may sound like a canned response, but truly it is my family. I feel very blessed to have such an amazing and supportive family, and nothing tops that for me. I’ve been married for 4 years, and I feel like my life didn’t truly start until I had my husband and our two little boys. Who has been the biggest influence on your life? It would be impossible for me to pick one person. There have been so many people who have influenced and inspired me during my life. These days though, my two little boys (3 ½ years and 7 months old, respectively) have the biggest impact on my life. I never could have imagined how much having children could change a person’s perspective on life. It is profound beyond words.
When was the last time you had an amazing meal?
Pretty recently, actually. We had the good fortune of experiencing a 100% kid-free date night at St. Jacques in Raleigh, and the food was ahh-mazing. It is such a romantic restaurant and it was a real treat to go there. Some of our other local favorites are Hayes Barton Café, Bella Monica, and the original Dos Taquitos (for an easy, fun time out w the kids).
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Sew. I would love to know how to sew, and make pretty pillows, quilts, and even design my own clothes, but I have no idea how to even sew on a button. It’s embarrassing… I need to go learn. If my husband rips a small hole in something, I have to take it to the tailor.