Because everyone likes to eat, right?

Here’s the thing. There are a ton of food bloggers out there. Pioneer Woman, Smitten Kitchen, A Year of Slow Cooking, Authors Kitchen…. And then there are the major recipe sites like Food Network, AllRecipes, Mollie Katzen (Moosewood, vegetarian) and my favorite – Cook’s Illustrated. To get the really good stuff at CI, you have to subscribe. Best $4/month I spend.

Since all those people specialize and do food blogging much better than I do, I’ll probably just limit my contributions to a Friday Foodie type thing. But it’s Thursday, and since I feel like talking about food, here you go.

My mother was a great cook. I say “was” not because she’s gone, but because she’s pretty much retired from cooking. A lot of her meals were simple, but she’s always had a liberal hand with the spices, so they were never bland. Also, she was a daring cook. She’d fry frog legs, host crawfish boils, make weird terrines, do a crown roast for dad’s birthday…all kinds of stuff.

But she never taught me how to cook. I’d get in the way, I was too slow, too messy, too whatever, so I didn’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Fast forward to the aprรจs-honeymoon phase of my marriage.

I couldn’t cook. Anything. DH would ask what was for dinner and I’d go, “Umm, what cans do we have?” It was about that time that Emeril Lagasse started doing his “Emeril Live” show. Bobby Flay showed up on TV. Martha hadn’t gone to jail yet. I started writing down recipes and tweaking things.

But it wasn’t until we moved from Idaho to Louisiana that I really started working in the kitchen, though. I wasn’t working anymore, wasn’t going to school anymore, and we launched into the whole baby thing, so I had plenty of time to fuss around in the kitchen. We were buying cookbooks like we had room to spare and I discovered that the quickest way to make DH happy was to have the scent of onions and garlic cooking in hot oil when he walked in the door.

Honestly, what is it with men and food?

Long story short, I learned. A lot. Over the years we’ve hosted Gourmet Clubs, officer’s wives meetings, neighborhood get-togethers, New Year’s brunches, and countless holiday meals for the family.

Sure, sometimes it’s pizza night. Sometimes it’s a pre-made freezer meal. But mostly it’s my cooking and I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I’ve gotten further and further away from pre-packaged things except for emergency situations.

I’m also working on switching to more organic/local produce, dairy and meat, but it can get expensive quickly. While pesticide residue is only one aspect of organic farming, I found that using the Dirty Dozen Food List is helpful in prioritizing which fruit and veg to buy organic and which isn’t so critical.

Dairy was one of the first things we changed, and honestly, I still don’t buy organic. I do, however, buy hormone-free. For years, I thought I was lactose intolerant. When we moved to an area that had a regional dairy, they made a point of only using dairy products that came from cattle that hadn’t been treated with growth hormones to force more milk production. I decided to do an experiment for a week and drink the “new” milk and lo and behold! No digestive issues! I’m not lactose intolerant at all, but I’m wicked sensitive to that hormone. Now that I’ve solved the milk issue, the trouble is finding other hormone-free dairy products like yogurt, cheese and cream — that don’t cost the earth.

Meat is by far the most expensive change, so we’re still inconsistent. I mean, good grief. I recently saw a whole chicken that weighed 3 1/2 lbs marked at nearly $17!! That’s crazy talk! Obviously, I need a more reasonable source for that sort of thing.

Last year, I decided I needed to lose about 30 lb and figured that I would sacrifice all that whole food goodness to try Jenny Craig. And it worked. I went through a few weeks and lost weight…and broke out in hives every night. I could NOT figure out what was wrong with me until I asked some friends and they pointed to the food, which is filled with preservatives and colors and chemicals of all kinds.

Damn. That food kicked my immune system into overdrive and I had to go on a really boring elimination diet to see if there were any actual foods I was sensitive to now, aside from the chemical garbage. I’m still working on that. So far, it seems to be mostly the food colorings and preservatives, but I might also have a soy thing. Which is particularly awesome since soy is in nearly everything. *sigh*

Anyhoo (I did tell y’all about my unfortunate ‘anyhoo’ habit, right?) tomorrow I’ll be posting a recipe I found for a vegetarian dish that everyone in the family was surprised that they actually liked. Cheap, easy to find ingredients, and low effort. Yay!

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