Rooted in memory
My earliest memory of cooking was with my dad, learning to make a roux. I remember telling him I thought my arm was going to fall off from repeatedly stirring this oil and flour concoction so it didn’t burn. I cherish that so much now because it taught me a lot. My dad cooked a lot on the weekends when he was off, usually breakfast for my mom and me after he’d spent the morning cutting the grass or working on his Corvette. Fried eggs, drop biscuits, ‘lost bread’ – all favorites of my grandmother. I enjoyed being in the kitchen with him and especially cherish those memories now that his muscular dystrophy has long prevented him from doing so.
My little escape
I’ve always loved to eat, growing more adventurous with age. I’ll try most anything once, I’ve even eaten had a horse burger in France (much to my horse loving mother in law’s dismay)! When I married, I traditionally wanted to cook for my husband. I hadn’t yet mastered gumbo but could manage a few things. Rachael Ray was my first forray into cooking and I still go to her mushroom linguine recipe for quick weeknight meal. Over time, I began learning more, studying Besh cookbooks, and making my own rouxs, risottos, soups and red gravy. What used to seem like a daily task grew into a love. It’s a time when my kids can go play outside, and I can just be alone with my music and my cutting board. I used to dabble in oil painting for years, but got away from it as I had kids. So in a way, cooking became my new creative outlet. Give me a little Rat Pack and a crisp Sancerre, and I’ll give you grilled fish and roasted brussels.
From Boone’s Farm to Bordeaux
Wine and cooking was something that my mom seemed to throw herself into when I went away to college. She grew from making simple enchiladas (which are still one of my faves) to beef bourguinon and picking out the best possible Cabernet to complement her meal. When my dad had the opportunity to design wine barrels for a friend’s California vineyard, he wholeheartedly embraced the project. It was then that my parents seemed to cultivate a love for a wine. I dismissed it in college; it seemed highbrow and leagues above me. Yet when I graduated my taste from Boones Farm to actual wine, I started to explore more. It was a trip to Europe that really developed my zest for cooking and wine. I love how dinners can just bring people together, especially in this city. It invokes so many memories from one simple meal. Pasta carbonara isn’t fussy or fancy, but it will always take me back to my first day in Italy, over that huge bowl of pasta with one of my best friends – and a large decanter of house made red wine to go with it. Wine and a great meal doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy, but it can be amazing.
The next time you’re in the kitchen, savor the moment. Light a candle, play some music and enjoy chopping your vegetables. Sip your favorite wine and immerse yourself in the experience of making something to sustain your family. Relish the fact that we are all blessed enough to put a delicious meal on the table – even if our kids refuse it. It’s the stuff memories are made of.
Check out my Best Wine Buys under $15 post!