So You Think You Can’t Cook

“I don’t like to say that my kitchen is a religious place, but I would say that if I were a voodoo priestess, I would conduct my rituals there.” ~ Pearl Bailey

 

Repurposed plates

Repurposed plates

While putting together last night’s supper, and taking photos along the way, I realized that no matter what I do my blog will never look like other professional blogs. I enjoy beautiful blogs and view them with envy. But my food photos look like they belong on a dinner plate, not a page in a magazine.

After fretting about how casual my method is, I realized that my approach to cooking is realistic. After all, cooking is about preparing delicious nutritious meals.

Flavorful, healthy, doable

I like making food that is easy to prepare, and not fussy. My favorite foods are soups in winter and big salads in summer. I make a complicated dish several times a year. When I cook, I double the recipe to have enough to freeze for a future meal. If I need a pie crust for a quiche I’ll make enough for two and freeze the other dough ball. Or I’ll just make a frittata that doesn’t need a crust. I seldom bake pies, and don’t make cakes that need frosting. For birthdays I make an Apple Walnut Cake without frosting. Icing a cake to perfection is way too much work, and we don’t need all that sugar essential to frosting.

Neatness

I do my best to keep my work area clean. I’ve been cooking so long that I am orderly within my disorganization. In Alaska, I had a dog named Cessna who would lie patiently by the kitchen door staring at me while waiting to scarf- up whatever I’d dropped on the floor. Cessna would eat anything except peas.

When I worked as a pantry cook in a busy neighborhood restaurant in Portland, my work space was about the size of a desk. I could easily reach ingredients I needed quickly. By the end of the night, food scraps littered the floor. The wait-staff would come to my station for their laugh of the night. And I always cleaned up my mess.

No cookbook in my future

If I were to write a cookbook, I’d title it It’s OK to Be a Chaotic Cook. It would be the go-to book for people who want to be relaxed while preparing healthful, tasty meals.

The art of cooking

Everyone who cooks is an artist. But for most of us recipes don’t emerge fully formed from the air. We find inspiration from magazines, old family recipes, or from ingredients on-hand. Your best teacher is your imagination. Whenever you see a perfectly designed photo in a food magazine, cast aside that little voice in your head that says “I could never cook that.” Real people don’t cook like that.

My inspiration for what to make comes from what I have and what I find at the grocery store. Broccoli was the star of last night’s dish after I found beautiful fresh-looking broccoli at the store and thought of the enchiladas I had not made in a long time. When I realized I didn’t have an ingredient, I improvised and the enchiladas turned out great.

My herb garden

My herb garden

I love to eat

The first time I saw displays of fresh veggies in a supermarket in San Diego was like being in a museum—those works of art can’t be real food that I can eat! Coming from Ohio in the early 1970s I was electrified, my mind energized with possibilities. I touched and smelled each piece to get a sense for what I could do with them. The chance to taste something I’d never seen before captivated me.

When snow is still on the ground I pour through seed catalogs like a billionaire looking for their next yacht. My mouth waters as I imagine what I will do with each of the plants I grow. Often I eat them fresh off the vine under a hot August sun.

You don’t need fancy equipment

I had an opportunity a few years ago to buy some equipment. Instead of buying a countertop KitchenAid mixer I bought a hand-held one. In the store I knew that I didn’t need a big mixer especially for the price. My blender is decades old and I bought my single-speed food processor at a yard sale for $10 fifteen years ago. I have lots of hand tools; wooden spoons are my favorite.

Economizing

Cooking real food doesn’t need to be expensive. You can eat well even on a tight budget. My recipes rarely contain high-priced ingredients. I substitute affordable ingredients when I cook, and pass on to you when I create a recipe.

Get cooking

Shed your worries and jump in. Figure out what you and your family like, and go from there. I will help you.

Author:Sharon Reese

Lacto-ovo vegetarian for over four decades.

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I will be pleased to hear from you. I’ll try to answer questions you might have about cooking or nutrition.

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