Cooking is Scary…NOT!!!

November 23, 2013

How We Will Cook Together Part I

Has anybody noticed all the food porn out there lately? From Food Network to Pinterest, cooking has become the sexy chore, a skill to be desired, and a little bit…intimidating. If you didn’t already notice, any pictures I post of food are taken by my trusty rusty iPhone camera (see below). Despite my attempts to find the right lighting (making food look pretty is so much harder than it looks), they are far from food porn. But I kind of like it that way.

I don’t want you to look at my blog, pine over the recipes, look at the ingredients and then never actually make the food. I want you to see cooking the way I have learned to see cooking. As an incredibly rewarding experience – I mean, I get to create healthy, whole and delicious food, and then eat it! (Mind *BLOWN*)

I got bitten by the cooking bug about 8 years ago. At the time, I was working at a fancy pants country club; my days were filled with ladies who lunch and my nights with cocktail parties and lobster bakes. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen; observing the chefs chop onions, steam deep pink salmon, boil flown-in lobster and drizzle truffle oil atop pretty much everything. I couldn’t help but be inspired by the art of it all, and how it never failed to amaze people. And why wouldn’t it? I mean, it’s art that tasted so very good.

Soon I began to watch Food Network religiously. I’d make it a point to stop by the cookbook section every time I was in a bookstore. And I’d always be the person taking pictures of food instead of people at parties (sorry Mrs. Solberg!).

My valiant attempt at food porn using a Thai Sweet Potato Veggie Burger recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Oh She Glows 

My valiant attempt at food porn using a Thai Sweet Potato Veggie Burger recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Oh She Glows 

The bigger I built up cooking to be, the more intimidated I became by it. It was something I could look at, but not touch. Real cooking was a craft that only a chef could champion, or a full-time housewife (I was far from either). I thought to myself, maybe one day I’ll have the time and the resources to cook, but not now, not while I’m in college, or not until I have a family to cook for.

The funny thing is, I may have been obsessing about food, but I sure wasn’t eating it. I was in college at the time and consumed with being as healthy as possible. At the time, “healthy” to me meant low calorie and skinny – low calorie instant oatmeal for breakfast, one slice of deli turkey on one piece of whole wheat bread for lunch, a lean cuisine for dinner, and raw carrots and Diet Coke in between all meals to try to fill my never-ending hunger.

Then, I turned vegan.

I got a hold of the book “Skinny Bitch” and got so incredibly inspired that the change happened almost overnight. The author told me that I could be skinny and healthy, and eat ALL I WANT. My previous notions of what I considered to be healthy got an extreme wake up call. Veganism wouldn’t allow me to eat my food from a frozen box or a deli counter. It required me to cook.

And cook, I did. Steel cut oatmeal with rice milk and flax seeds, grilled and marinated tempeh rolled up in a wrap stuffed with spinach and sautéed onions, mounds of vegetable stir-fry peppered with seasoning and Thai-baked tofu. I got into it, and I absolutely loved it.

Today, I am no longer vegan, but so proud to announce that not a week goes by without fresh home-cooked meals on the table. I learned a lot from those days because veganism really forced me to use my imagination and find flavors outside of meat, cheese and eggs.

What it really looks like when I cook

What it really looks like when I cook

I stopped veganism for a number of reasons, but I am still a big advocate of others doing it – if they have the time and they do it right. Honestly, for me, I love food so much that it’s hard for me to turn down a bison steak on a special night out or a beautiful veggie-filled and feta-sprinkled omelet on a Saturday morning.

The biggest thing I realized was to take my expectations for cooking down a notch (or 10). Veganism forced me into it; it offered the simple truth that if I wanted to eat healthy, I would have to cook. But the act of cooking made me stay. I do still find myself obsessing over recipes, following their direction as if it is a scientific formula. But then I snap myself out of it and remember how much more fun cooking is when I just go with it.

With that, I’d like to declare a new kind of recipe. I call it…

To find out what it is, wait for my next post 🙂

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