Many of my friends have asked me how I came to enjoy cooking so much. Some find it tedious, baffling, ho-hum. I have also had my share of staring blankly at the pantry at 5:15 p.m., wondering what to make for dinner. But, I do love creating a good, wholesome meal and sharing it with others.
My mom treated cooking as an adventure, so we were always trying new things, old things, and anything between. Although she had well-worn cookbooks, Mom often threw things together simply by what she knew about the ingredients she had on hand. While doing so, she always seemed to be telling me, describing to me, explaining to me what she was doing. She had me smelling, tasting, stirring, and judging. Our gathering place was the kitchen. It was my cooking school.
Even so, making batches of cookies, cakes from a mix, and heating cans of soup through high school and college did not make me a cook. Although I considered myself as knowing “how to cook”, until I applied the lessons I had learned, I was not one. As a newlywed, I started compiling recipes and marking up cookbooks. I followed suggested menu ideas and familiarizing myself with ingredients, seasonings, herbs, and spices. I began to think of cooking as a science. If you know the properties (scent, taste, texture, etc…) of the substances you are working with, and have observed their reactions to different mixtures and applications of heat, then it stands to reason that you can be relatively successful in predicting the outcome of new recipes or in making up your own. This became my cooking philosophy. Not to mention, I have always enjoyed a challenge. Now, as scientific and lab-oriented as that sounds, cooking should be a creative and heartfelt experience. The rewards are not only delicious meals that are good for you, but the satisfaction of sharing your creation with family and friends. I do not know one soul who does not appreciate something good to eat!
I do enjoy cooking, and I think it shows. That can be said of most anything. If you enjoy football, it shows. If you enjoy decorating, it shows. If you enjoy ______, it shows. The trick is, what if you don’t enjoy cooking? What if it is a burden or a stumbling block? We are all different, but we all need to eat well. I have kept that in mind while putting this book together. I have cooked for 2 to 25 people, with weeks to plan, or minutes to spare, at most times on a budget. The recipes and ideas compiled in this book are geared towards busy people at any level of expertise, cooking for a crowd or just themselves, who want delicious, healthy food that will energize and lift their physical and mental capacities.