My mother tells stories of me as a toddler, running to get her when Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood ended and Julia Child came on. I spent years watching Yan Can Cook, The Frugal Gourmet, Justin Wilson (I do declare), and Martha Stewart on PBS. I also spent much of my childhood begrudgingly helping out in our family’s organic garden and urban orchard. I dreaded summer harvest because it meant making jam, drying fruit, and canning our fruits and veggies. I avoided time in the kitchen with my mom like the plague because I could never do anything to the precise standards my mom — who once worked as a French pastry chef — required.
Yet I’m an adult who loves cooking and baking. When not working crazy hours, or shuttling kids to soccer or Scouts or pleading with them to please get their homework started/ rooms cleaned/ set the table, I try to find time to plant gardens (vegetables, herbs, and succulents) and tend to my fruit trees. I stockpile mason jars to preserve the best of summer. In short, I am more like my parents than I realized.
In spite of our crazy life, I’m trying to make a home-cooked meal a few nights each week. I love making food that our kids enjoy, too. (We’re still working on that with one kiddo, but cautiously optimistic that eventually, we’ll be able to make one meal that all four of us eat.)
One of the things that attracted me to my now-husband is that he loves to cook and he loves to eat. He’s curious about flavor, technique, and how to get the freshest/tastiest/ healthiest ingredients. He likes the art of cooking, and the science of how to really get the most flavor out of ingredients. (This makes sense given that he majored in Engineering and minored in Latin American poetry in college.)
One of my first big gifts to him was a proper chef’s knife, carefully chosen after trying out several at a local cooking school. His gift to me was a passion for selecting and preparing food together and a constant curiosity about how to improve what we’re doing. He is the one who devours information and brings chefs and resources like Cook’s Illustrated, Kenji, Samin, Bittman, and the like into our kitchen.
While our Like Water For Chocolate days of spending a Saturday cooking and devouring a meal are over (hey, we have two kids), we still love the sensual pleasure of great food and excellent company. For now, the focus is on teaching our kids about the world one bite at a time, and imparting Tony Bourdain’s wisdom– that one person’s ‘weird’ is someone else’s ‘delicious.’ We’re getting there, and have one kid whose favorite TV shows are The Great British Baking Show and Cook’s Country — on PBS, of course.