If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram there is no denying that I love to eat. It is not just the act of satisfying my need to be feed, though I will get hangry if I get to hungry. I enjoy the act of eating, especially when out with friends at a restaurant. Whether it be having a classic favorite at one of my go-to places in Charlotte or trying the newest hot spot in town (that is an entirely different post). There is something ritualistic about the art of eating and sharing that experience with other.
Through that love for eating and food, I have found a love for cooking. I have not always been a good cook and even now I sometimes question my abilities. I did not honestly start really cooking until I bought my home in 2009. I was working at a non-profit organization not making a lot of money and just bought a house. Needless to say that my budget to eat out, which was already practically non-existent, dwindled down. And to be quite honest, my eating habits had not really developed into what they are now. I like to consider my eating habits now as Healthy with a Side of Indulgence. It forced me to learn to cook and through practice cook well.
I remember the first time I had my family over for dinner after buying my house and how much they liked what I had cooked. Granted I had followed a recipe and used one of those seasoning flavor packets. Their enthusiasm about my cooking skills gave me the confidence to try new things. As I continued to cook more my confidence continued to grow enough to where most of the time I don’t even use a recipe. Not to say there haven’t been failures, most of those failures have been in the baking realm. There was the chocolate pumpkin pie, which I made for dinner at my friend’s house with her husband and their neighbor who I found to be incredibly cute at the time. Another baking failure was for a pineapple upside-down cake for my mom’s birthday, I decided it was a good idea to experiment with baking in the cast iron skillet. It took me almost 2 years before using the cast iron skillet again. And I will say with no shame, that I probably set off the fire alarm at least once a week…not because I burnt anything but because things get sauteed too hot and being in a townhouse a little smoke goes a long way.
Cooking to me is therapeutic. Even as messy of a cook as I am. No matter how prepared I am to create something in the kitchen, there is no doubt going to look like a tornado came through. In the end though it doesn’t matter as long as I sat down and enjoyed a good meal…I can deal with the mess. I can also control how much I want of one thing versus another. Or maybe I am in the mood for a lot of greens or something spicy. I don’t have to ask for extra or hope the dish I am ordering is going to satisfy my craving. Ultimately it puts me in control of what I put into my body. Since trying to eat healthier and going about 80% gluten free in my diet, cooking at home is just easier.
When I cook I try to reduce as much waste as possible. Recently, I cooked several back to back big meals that not only left me with leftovers to eat but also leftover ingredients. After getting tired of eating sauteed squash, I decided to make soup with the leftover acorn squash and roasted eggplant. I did it on the fly. No real recipe, just trusting my gut and knowing the flavors. It was probably one of the best things I have made in the kitchen recently. Someone asked me on Facebook after posting a picture of my dinner, “where do you get your recipes?” I had to respond that a lot of the time, especially during the week I don’t use a recipe. I know I should start writing things down and taking notes, especially after the Thai Squash and Eggplant Soup I made, that way I can recreate it.
In the end, I cook for me. I cook to create something I (or the people I am feeding) will love. I do it because I love it. I enjoy the time I spend in the kitchen cooking with music on dancing around and ultimately making a mess.
Finally, just because I love to cook doesn’t mean there are not nights I don’t eat something random for dinner. Like Tuesday when I had just frozen yogurt from TCBY.