Growing up in the 1970's and '80's my family ate a lot of salad. I do remember my mom eating beets, and we also had a pretty big backyard garden with peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and more. My parent's made pickles. We went apple picking. It was pretty neat. Unfortunately when I became a young adult and had more control over my diet, the produce turned into Little Debbie Swiss Cake rolls, pizza, and lots and lots of fast food.
I don't really remember spending any time with my mom or dad in the kitchen. I never was taught how to cook. That is no one's fault. But what I was taught was how to read.
It took me over 40 years, but I've learned that if you can read, you can cook. During my journey to lose over 200 pounds, I had to totally change not only my diet, but my "I can't cook" attitude.
My husband has always been an amazing cook. Our kitchen was always stocked with fresh herbs, and lots of spices. I never used them. Instead I buried my head in the pizza, and most of the time those fresh foods spoiled.
And then I changed. One of the first commitments I made to myself and my family was that the boxed processed, and fast food HAD TO STOP!
But then what? I didn't know how or what to feed my family. For the first 4 YEARS of this journey, our diet, while extremely clean and healthy, was BORING! James would often come home from work and "doctor up" whatever I had attempted to make. I didn't get upset, instead I asked him for help, and tips! But it was hard for me to understand what he was saying. He just KNOWS how cook. He doesn't need a recipe. He can just look at foods, and spices, and whip something together that is outstanding. But he never measures ingredients, so I could never write down one of his recipes and attempt to recreate it.
So we continued on with a pretty bland diet of grilled chicken/fish with steamed veggies on the side. Again, this went on for years.
Then last year I joined a produce co-op, Carlita's Bowl http://www.carlitasbowl.org/ and suddenly I had so many unique and interesting fruits and vegetables that I was forced out of my bland comfort zone.
Just check out some of what I received over the past few months. Eggplant and squash? What in the world was I going to do with that?
So I did what I do best. Read & Research. But then I realized that I don't like to cook with my tablet propped up, nor do I like to print recipes up because it wastes paper. And then a thought came to me! COOKBOOKS!! Genius! And suddenly a whole new world opened for me.
Prior to joining Carlita's Bowl, I would have NEVER bought, let alone attempt to cook, spaghetti squash. And beets? Those funky things my mom used to eat when I was a kid, they scared me. Turns out that beets and spaghetti squash are foods that I LOVE!
I started to get more adventurous in the kitchen. I started playing around with herbs and spices. And my husband and kids took notice. Our palates expanded, and I began running out of room in my kitchen. Coconut flour, almond flour, many different types of oils, heck I even made my own mayonnaise.
James made the decision to upgrade our kitchen. He started off by bringing another fridge into the kitchen. Previously I would often "forget" that we had a fridge in the garage and food would go bad before I could cook it. But with both fridges in the same room, it was impossible. My cooking started to get even better.
And now we are here.....
A full kitchen remodel. Super exciting! I am going to have larger prep areas, a new oven, and a new microwave. It's been a trying week having contractors in and out of the house, and washing dishes in the bathtub, but I am PROUD to say that we have only been out to eat ONCE and that was only because James wanted to give me a break from the bathtub dish washing.
While this whole remodel has been taxing, it hasn't stopped me in the kitchen.
James set up some wooden boards that I am using as a countertop. Thankfully.
Yesterday I attended the Southern Produce Exchange Council National Expo and came home with all of this!
I received so MANY mushrooms! Before my cooking skills took off, this would have totally intimidated me. But no longer.
One of the best things I read in my cookbooks was to set your prep area and lay out all the ingredients out first. Don't want to be surprised 1/2 way through cooking a recipe.
I'll share the recipe in a bit, but this is a HUGE breakthrough for me. NO RECIPE! It came all from my head.
Proof that if you can read, you can cook.
What's your favorite cookbook?