Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Adventures in Cooking


This past Sunday, I visited my local Trader Joe’s to do a bit of grocery shopping. I arrived shortly after opening and the produce was piled high, undisturbed by the hundreds of shoppers that would squeeze and hold them.


All the food looked so good, it made me feel like cooking up something from scratch. I finished my shopping there, and then went to Whole Foods Market to pick up a few more items.


Isn’t this a beautiful shopping area where Whole Foods is located?


So back to my story… maybe it’s because it’s Spring or just because all the food looked so wonderful and fresh early in the day, but it got me thinking about how much I used to love to cook.


When I was a child, I was always cooking or baking something. When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I joined the James Beard Cookbook of the Month club. I looked forward each month to the new catalogue of cookbooks from which I would make my selections and acquired quite a collection, anticipating the many new recipes waiting to be tried.


I made a gingerbread house one year from scratch and still bear the scar from the drop of boiling sugar that I spilled on my hand. I made pies and cakes from scratch (as well as a mix), mixing pastry dough by crossing two knives back and forth through the pastry crumbs. I roasted Thanksgiving turkeys and created a Baked Alaska for dessert. I couldn’t wait to take Home Economics in junior high school and continued taking it in high school. One year, I started a massive cookie dough fight while our sweet, demure teacher never noticed a thing!

Now, I admit I had my share of Hamburger Helper days back then, as I was also in charge of making dinner each night from age 13 to 16. I couldn’t make a new creation from scratch while taking care of my sister and doing homework each day. I have to laugh at some of the funny foods we had back then. Does anyone remember Jell-O 1-2-3? It was a favorite of mine. The Jell-O settled into three yummy layers. And who knew that Tang was just orange sugar water?

In my adult years, I loved to try new pasta recipes as Italian food has always been a favorite. Hot or cold, I made many wonderful dishes. But then about 14 years ago, I developed an intolerance to wheat products and had to change my diet. It was then that my love for cooking changed. I had to cut out a lot of products – you would be amazed at how many foods contain wheat. There were not as many good options back then and it was actually quite stressful trying to figure out what I could eat. Luckily, we have so many more choices today. But, cooking was never quite the same after that since I couldn’t make the foods I loved. During that time, I also adopted a vegetarian diet for six years. I had the best of intentions for my health and that of the animals, but it did not work too well for me. Eventually I had to add some meat back into my diet after suffering severe anemia. Now, it’s much more a matter of finding the time to cook. You wouldn’t believe the number of recipes I tear out of magazines each month – my stack just gets bigger and bigger but I do dabble in trying them, looking for the “winners”.

Soon there will be wonderful fruits and vegetables coming forth that will inspire me to make some favorite foods. If you’ve never had roasted asparagus, you don’t know what you are missing! Simply roast it at 425 degrees after coating it in olive oil; add shaved parmesan cheese slices before serving. I’ll definitely be making fruit salads and desserts plus fresh vegetable dishes. Nothing taste better during the Spring and Summer. For now, I’m making lots of vegetable soups for those cooler and rainy Spring days, but I’m still perusing that recipe pile, always looking for something new.


Kerry McKibbins said...

We have asparagus all the time, but I've never roasted it! I'm going to try this. Thanks!

Katie {My Paisley Apron} said...

Mmmm, I love this post!! And beautiful pics, too!