While I’ve had a larger-than-average appetite for as long as I can remember, and have always gotten immense joy out of eating food, it wasn’t until five years ago that I became interested in cooking. Having finished my first year of university, I was back at home with my parents who had recently purchased, along with a big-screen TV, several specialty channels. My father, who has always been interested in cooking and has a lot of talent, watched the newly acquired Food Network on a regular basis. One evening, I decided to join him on the couch while waiting for my laundry to dry in the next room. Now, I can’t quite remember which show he was in the middle of watching— it was most likely Emeril Live, Licence to Grill, or Boy Meets Grill—however, I do know one thing: this moment changed my life.
I’m not sure if it was the fact that the big-screen made fresh and colourful ingredients look the size of a pick-up truck, or if, considering there are many great hobby cooks in my family, I had some kind of genetic predisposition to cooking that was triggered at this instant; in any case, I was mesmerized by this channel. Over the next four months, if I wasn’t at work or in the pool, you could bet your life savings that I was watching one of my favourite shows: Everyday Italian, Barefoot Contessa, Chef at Home, Good Eats, Christine Cushing Live, or Iron Chef, to name just a few. I couldn’t get enough, and I was learning every day.
I didn’t really put any of my new information into practice until I went back to university, where my sister and I shared an apartment with a decent kitchen and did our own groceries. My culinary revolution started small: I began chopping an onion, just like I was taught on the Food Network, and sautéing it in olive oil until soft before adding in the usual ingredients for our supper (at the time, since my sister is a vegetarian, this would have been tomato sauce, tofu, or veggie burgers, among other things). I think the fact that this simple concept was a huge step for me in terms of learning to make my food more flavourful illustrates how much help I so desperately needed in the kitchen.
Fast-forward a few years from when I thought chopping an onion was news-worthy, and you’ll find a woman who owns more than two dozen cookbooks, spends at least thirty minutes per day scouring the Internet for new recipes, and who cooks from scratch with her fellow foodie boyfriend (Jeff) on a daily basis. Cooking has become more than a means to sustain life; it is a hobby, a passion, an obsession. In addition to cooking, I have become much more interested in the origins of my food and its impact on my local economy; shopping at my local farmer’s market is a weekly ritual that has allowed me to form relationships with the very people who grow and raise my food, and who very clearly appreciate my business. I can think of few things that are more heart-warming than a smile from a farmer to whom you have just raved about how much you enjoy the fruits of their labour (no pun intended.) When I can see from afar that my favourite cheesemonger has spotted me and pulled my usual wheel of cheddar out of the case, it reinforces my belief that I make the very best choices when it comes to what I buy to eat. I am thankful to these hardworking people every day when I sit down to a nice meal with Jeff.
This blog will be a place for me to share my experiments in the kitchen. I firmly believe that cooking seems a lot harder than it really is; if you have good ingredients, you don’t have to do a whole lot to them to make a delicious meal. Once I learned the basics of cooking, I became much more confident in trying new things and developing my own style. Although I collect hundreds of recipes for inspiration, I hardly ever follow them to the letter. Therefore, as someone who has no artistic ability, cooking allows me to express myself creatively. Trust me when I say it really doesn’t take much to get started; all you may need is the Food Network, and an onion.