Today I am a 24 year old girl (woman?) who loves to cook. I think about food everyday, all day. I wonder what my dinner is going to taste like. I do not, however, ever wonder what I will have for dinner. I love to plan my meals out and only make one trip to the grocery store a week if possible. Trader Joe’s is my Sunday go-to for almost everything – fresh veggies, stranger-than-Safeway-has ingredients, and of course wine. Their meat, in my opinion, is overpriced; most of it is organic, and while I’m health conscious, I cannot afford only organic meats at this point in my life. I choose to shop at Harris Teeter or the fish market for all of my meat needs… until I win the lottery, of course. I love to fill up my basket knowing that later that week I will make something wonderfully tasty. I will stand at my 2 foot long counter (I am not kidding) and chop red bell peppers, onions, and lots (and lots) of garlic. I will slice meat in the perfect lengths and pour exactly one tablespoon of oil (I read we Americans are using too much oil in our cooking – who knew?) to begin the stir-fry. I’ll read the recipe over and over, but use my best judgement to tell when everything is cooked perfectly.
This to me is the most exciting part of the day. If I could, I would spend every day with the Crock-Pot on with a beef stew simmering inside, while a chicken is roasting in the oven, and sauteing garlic while the pasta boils for a delicious sauce. (I hate washing dishes and doing laundry though, so I’m hopeless as a housewife if that’s where you think this post is going.) To me, cooking is an expression of love (how many times have you heard that?) – but more of a love for food than those I’m cooking for. What? Can’t I be honest? Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing a smile come to M’s face when I know he really enjoys a meal. But 99% of the time he’s there cooking with me, so it’s not always about me cooking for him. It’s about a relationship with food – from the ground, to the markets, to my refrigerator, and then to my (coffee) table. I can create anything. (Eh… with the right tools, budget, know-how… you get the picture.)
Today I am a girl (woman? I must decide at some point…) with a highly sophisticated palate, only excluding a few items from my diet: avocados, peaches, almonds, cabbage, raw carrots and apples, cherries, strawberries, soy beans… the list goes on. Wait, that doesn’t mean I have a sophisticated palate? Hogwash…
All kidding aside, I actually have food allergies to all those items listed above and more. It’s called an Oral Allergy Syndrome, and mine specifically relates to Oak and Birch pollens that keep me inside all spring with a box of tissues and 90-day supply of Allegra-D. Basically, I eat any of those foods and my mouth and throat start to itch like bug bites I can’t quite get to with my tongue. It can also spread down into my chest so that my breathing becomes more shallow; death of course is possible, but not probable, if I get Benadryll or an epi pen in me relatively soon after eating those foods. I tell you all this because it has limited me as to what I can eat. So have my taste buds, considering I’m not allergic to but just don’t like things such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce (but I love spinach!). I try to push myself to find new foods I didn’t know I liked, and to re-try foods I previously thought I didn’t like. That’s how I came to actually enjoy onions (sweet, regular and red!), and how I can now tolerate tomatoes if cooked down and I don’t get a hunk of one in sauce… don’t even try to give me a raw one with salt though. Ick!
I try to vary my diet and cook real food – food that isn’t styled like it could be in a magazine and photographed with a $5,000 camera. My pictures may be grainy, and I may have eaten half of the dish before I remember to take a picture, but I hope that any recipes I write about are inspiring to someone who sometimes has a lot of time to cook, someone who sometimes doesn’t, and someone who doesn’t care how long it takes as long as it tastes good. I am all of these people rolled into one – I sometimes pick ambitious meals because they look too good not to cook. And I sometimes pick 30-Minute meals because I really don’t have more than 45 minutes to an hour to cook. (Come on, you know they take longer than 30 minutes)
Today, I am a beginner cook that loves food more than anything else. Tomorrow I could be something different, but hey, I’ll always need to eat, so why not start here?