People have asked me when I began cooking.. and I think it was at a really early age. I think I always helped my mom or grandma in the kitchen… but I remember the first meal I ever made solo. I had looked through this new computer CD that we got with more recipes than you could imagine. After hours of searching I found the meal I was going to prepare for my family. Chicken with white wine sauce over angel hair pasta. I remember my mom and i searching the store for cooking wine… she spent a fortune to get all the ingredients so I could prepare this dish. I remember her asking me if I wanted to try something less complicated. I said no. It took me hours to prepare this meal. The family was starving, and they were making jokes about ordering a pizza because my food would be bad or never be done… but I was determined to cook a gourmet meal and serve it to my family. At first bite- they were all impressed (or in a state of shock) but they loved it (or they lied) and it gave me the encouragement I needed to just keep cooking.
Since then I have cooked, I have followed recipes, invented my own, tweaked others and found a place of joy in the kitchen. Cooking to me is like art. You get to be creative and engage with all your senses. Over the years it has become a form of therapy and relaxation that I can't really explain.
There are many days and nights that I cook for myself. I will wake up and make myself an entire breakfast that some would say should only be for if you are with others. I think that is silly. As an unmarried woman there are plenty of times that i am alone- so should I just resort to cereal because I am alone? No way. I am going to treat myself how I like to treat others and good food is involved in that equation.
However, that is not to say that I don't enjoy cooking for other people. I absolutely love preparing a meal that someone can sit down, relax, and enjoy. I love that quote that "cooking is love made visible. Last weekend I was able to cook for friends- I chose to make savory crepes, with a chicken pesto cream sauce, served with asparagus wrapped in parma ham. Of course there were extra crepe batter and we could have some chocolate/strawberry crepes for dessert. This was one of the best nights I have had in Edinburgh. Able to cook for a group of people, enjoy a meal and drinks with my friends and just laugh. A group of people who were all once strangers to each other in one form or another were able to connect over a dinner and deepen our friendships.
"If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him...the people who give you their food give you their heart.
The other night I was able to cook a meal for one of my girlfriends. We indulged in pasta, red wine and chocolate. Great conversation and a movie we both had never seen from the 90s? Yes.. we watched Something About Mary. I am still laughing about a couple of those scenes. The next day we hit a few shoppes and markets and now she was inspired to cook herself. She had just ordered an entire new set of pots. I hope that she is able to experience the same joy that I have through cooking. The picture of the fajitas she made looked amazing!
I usually cook for Mr. Tyke once or twice a week (he sometimes gets my food more than that and depending upon our schedule may not get it at all- totally deprived). I love being with someone who loves to eat as much as I do. And I like surprising him with my ability to create all different kinds of foods. I have made everything from American Favorites (Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, bbq pulled pork & slaw) to an array of Mexican delights (Enchiladas, fajitas, tacos, taco salad) to some fine Italian dishes (risotto, amazing chicken dishes and of course homemade pasta sauces), I've also thrown in a few curries from around the world. Last night, I made a Chinese dish with fried rice. When I got back from the store he says, I don't really like stir-fry, and when I said I was making fried rice he was like "eh"- but let me back up for a minute. I am the one who doesn't really care for Chinese food from restaurants and he is the one who loves it. So what was wrong with having stir-fry? Its just one of those things he doesn't like. Fair enough, right? So now- I was determined to get my flavors right and make a meal that would be described as "gorgeous." On top of this he begins to tell me how the pizza that would have been 2 quid from morrisons (had he been eating alone) would have been so much cheaper! And I respond with- well, this is much healthier and will give each of us two meals. He says, "I don't think healthier! The portion sizes are like the size of a mountain.." Oops- ok so I am an American, I am used to a full plate of food. And honestly, you know what Julia Child says, right? "Always start out with a bigger pot than you think you will need." That is superb advice- and I usually fill the entire pot! But lets be real my food was going to be much better than a pizza from the local shoppe, right? (Oh he is so cheeky and knows how to wind me up!!!) Half way through cooking, he comes in and says "that looks good"- "ha! I am doing it!" I think to myself. And then.. It is done, smells good- so I pop my head out and say, "you just want a little bit, right?" like a half a cup of rice and a scoop of meat or so?" hehehe I know, I am evil! He says, "No! I want what you are having! Same amount if not MORE" haha- so yes he may tease about my portion sizes but he knows he likes them! I didn't get a "gorgeous" at the end, but I got that the food was "lovely" and had a nice presentation- which for a guy who doesn't like stirfry- i think my mission was very much accomplished!
You might be wondering why I am rambling about food and cooking.. I guess its just one of my favorite past times… and I am thankful that my family gave me the opportunity to eat good food and were willing to let me start creating good food at such an early age. I can now share these foods with all the people I love!! Also, I am moving into a new flat this May. I will have an actual kitchen. I can't wait to have you over and share a meal with you.