Food has always been a central part of my life. Simply being born into an Italian family (whose dedication to food is second only to their dedication to each other) pretty much guaranteed that it would be. Meals were events, at times even occasions in themselves and we unknowingly learned to cook at our parents’ knees.
When I became responsible for my own meals I carried my “fooditude” with me. Don’t get me wrong, I also developed some typical university-student eating habits. But mostly I was still something of a food snob. I liked good food, my pizza standards were very high and very specific, I spent more money on groceries and time on cooking than all three of my first-year suite-mates combined, and my parents would deliver a variety of frozen homemade staples on a bi-weekly basis.
As a graduate student with a proper kitchen all to myself and a Foods of All Nations supermarket nearby I took my game pro, so to speak. I experimented with recipes and learned about new cuisines and had dinner parties with friends. And still, my parents would send me a variety of frozen homemade staples packed in dry ice and shipped overnight via FedEx (on a monthly basis now).
Cooking for others and spending hours seated around the table were the makings of a great night in and I enjoyed carrying that family tradition forward. The man who would be my husband for a little more than a decade was also willing and able cook and a bit of a foodie and cooking together/for each other, sharing meals, and/or entertaining brought even more enjoyment to those daily rituals. Dancing was a very common occurrence in our kitchen.
Post-marriage I took some time away from the kitchen. I had moved and started a new job and, living alone for the first time in a long time, I just didn’t find the whole process as satisfying as I once did. (It more than likely was due in part to the absence of the communal eating factor to which I was so accustomed.) In fact, I basically subsisted on a the following short list: roasted chicken (and the ensuing chicken salad), eggs (in all preparations), salads, pho, and one, sometimes two nights a week I made a meal of a baguette, cheese, and wine. Sometimes I added a small tomato salad. Or just a couple of tomatoes.
Fast forward a few more years and I find myself enjoying my time in the kitchen again. I’ve found a willing and eager diner—and taste tester for my culinary experiments!—in my significant other and I’ve taken command of the kitchen again.
Why then have I made one of my 2018 To Do list items “Stir It Up”? Well, traditionally I’ve loved making and eating big, sometimes elaborate meals. Over the last six months or so I’ve started eating more, smaller meals per day. I drink at least one smoothie a day, and In an effort to stay healthy, I’ve focused on making my meals as lean and green as possible. I still enjoy my Italian meals, just not as often.
I’ve been experimenting with more vegetarian and paleo recipes, substituting alternative ingredients and sweeteners whenever possible, and even trying to find ways to prepare tofu and tempeh that I will enjoy. (Full disclosure: I haven’t found a way to accomplish that last task. If you have any ideas/recipes to share I’m very open to suggestions—please send a message or leave a link in the comments!)
My goal is to try two to three new recipes a week and hopefully, I will have successes to share with you. I welcome your advice, suggestions, recommendations for recipes and websites. Wish me luck!