For this Saturday’s post, I thought I’d take a moment to share with you who has had an impact on me and my cooking ways. You see, though I have always loved food, I haven’t always loved to cook.
Let’s start at the beginning…
Growing up, both my parents worked late into the night, so dinner was always a hectic, last minute, defrost-and-put-together some sort of meal kinda thing. Cooking duties usually fell upon my mom, though my dad was the one to call for fruit salads. The best lesson I learned from my mom was something her mom (my grandmother) taught her: the secret to good flavor is to brown the meat well. Believe it or not, I still think about this “secret” every time I cook meat. It’s so very true. I also developed from my mom a basis for understanding how to cook, as I watched her prepare meals without using a recipe. I still incorporate several of the meals my mom made into my cooking today, especially spaghetti and corned beef and cabbage — though with my own changes, of course.
When I met Dustin in high school, I didn’t cook all that much. Dustin, on the other hand, loved to cook — something he learned from his dad. Dustin taught me to have fun with cooking. He also showed me how to plan meals — something at which my family was not very good. Dustin, who followed recipes to the “T,” introduced me to a whole new world of food, like beef stroganoff, chicken cordon bleu and fried chicken. He would try out new recipes that sounded good to him and wasn’t afraid to make new things. He also taught me that it’s not worth eating if it isn’t tasty. Now, he may take this to extremes sometimes with his picky eating, but it is a good lesson, nonetheless. I loved — and still do — to watch him entertain with his food. If there’s a party, Dustin wants to be in charge of the food. He is happy when everyone is fed and content. My kinda guy.
Then came the Food Network into life. I met — and fell in love with — Alton, Giada and, of course, Ina.
Alton taught me the science behind food. He gave food a formula for how to be good and demonstrated a passion and education for food I hadn’t seen before. Dustin and I started watching Good Eats right around the time we remodeled our home and installed a new kitchen, so we really got into trying Alton’s recipes out in our fancy schmancy kitchen.
Giada de Laurentiis
Giada really put a face on Italian food and cooking for me. Before her, I loved Italian restaurants and made spaghetti and alfredos all the time, but she taught me how to make them well. Giada also taught me that Italian food is more than just marinara and alfredo — it has its own heart and soul that should be showcased through fresh and delicious ingredients.
Ina taught me how easy it can be to make great food. She taught me to focus on fresh, good quality ingredients when I cook so that my food comes out tasting delicious. She doesn’t sacrifice flavor or quality for price. Now, this can get pricey at times, but she has a great point. I always have her in my head when shopping for groceries. She also taught me it’s okay to pursue your passion and to be the best you can be. She gave up a career with the government to run her own bakery without a lick of experience. And, look where she is today? I really can’t say enough about Ina. She’s so wonderful and has made such an impact on my life.
Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman)
Ad then there was Ree. I started following food blogs not too long ago when I was creating my personal chef business. Ree has, by far, been the most influential blogger for me, both as a business woman, a cook and a mother. I watch her and am in awe of how great a job she does at creating her brand, providing good recipes, opening herself and her family to the world and making you feel like you know her. Her openness and love for family spoke right to me and made me more open to sharing my life with my readers. Plus, I love how she provides assistance with photography as well.
There you have it. Invariably, others have impacted my life in other important, remarkable and significant ways, but this list is of those who hold a special place in my heart for helping me to pursue my own passion for food and for, well, love.
Who has impacted your (food) life for the better?