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Confessions of a Home Cook

January 5, 2013

H

Being a recent college graduate (!!) who’s made a re-entry back into the food industry, I am often asked about career paths and choices.  The fact is, I had my babies a little early in life (my youngest of the five are 10 year old twins) and I’m what you would call career-driven. Oh, hell yes.  Full steam ahead for this girl.

One of the questions I’ve been asked about is if I want to move more into the kitchen, professionally.  These days I’m dividing my time between retail and kitchen prep hours, so I do see the inside of the kitchen quite a bit.  I’m not the fastest prep cook on the block, but I’d like to think I can hold my own.  The truth is, however, I don’t have professional chef aspirations.  I’m a home cook, through and through.  I think that’s probably why I enjoy, and am experiencing success in, the retail end of my job – knowing just what the target market is really looking for and giving them several fabulous options they hadn’t even considered (we all need those ‘secret weapons’ in our pantry, don’t we?).

As a home cook, there are a few things that intrigue me … that I’m passionate about:  Supper as opposed to dinner. Comfort over formalities.  Cooking with people, as opposed to for people. Now, if I’ve cooked for you … it’s because I really like you. But there’s something very organic, very natural, about preparing food together. When I made supper last night with one of my girls, I not only got to instruct her on the finer points of building a kick-ass béchamel sauce, I got to hear about the boy who sits in front of her who is ‘naturally mean’ and a few other very funny stories from her day. Simple ingredients being turned into the best thing ever: magic.

The other thing that fascinates me about cooking, and cooking together, are creating something amazing out of very simple pantry and garden ingredients. The best pot roast you’ve ever tasted, thanks to fresh garlic, rosemary from the garden and some cheap red wine.  Or something else so delicious, all due to a secret weapon ingredient you’ve got stored in your freezer or on the back of a shelf.

Cooking, really, should be about togetherness. About including the kids in our ‘work,’ maybe more so than the kids including us in their play.  About trying new ingredients, gaining some new secret weapons, and about enjoying it all together.

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