When did you first get in to cooking and do you remember the first recipe you tried?
My Grandma always inspired me to cook while growing up because she made everything from scratch. She would take the vegetables from her garden and can or freeze them. Everything from soups to waffles to lemon bars were made entirely from scratch. I was always amazed at the quality of her meals and the flavors she was able to achieve with very basic ingredients and humble cooking tools. She seemed to carry a sense of pride when it came to cooking and I always found that inspiring.
I think the very first recipe I tried was in her kitchen. My cousin and I were close in age and would spend the summers at her house. We made cakes in an old Easy-Bake Oven!
What's your kitchen like and how do you keep organized when cooking?
My kitchen operates like much of my life - In a state of organized chaos. I'm not organized by nature but the kitchen is one area where everything has its place. I find that setting your kitchen up in a way that works for you encourages you to actually use it. If things are out of reach or shoved into the back of the cupboards then cooking becomes a hassle. If everything is easily accessible and there's a good flow it will be a space that you'll want to use. My kitchen is very rustic and basic - I feel that I utilize the space that I have very well.
Keeping it clean is another story! My husband often comments that I cook like a mad scientist.
What tips would you give to someone wanting to become a better cook?
My advice would be to approach food and cooking with curiosity rather than fear. Become curious about ingredients you've never tried and learn where they come from and what dishes you can make with them. Don't be afraid to branch out from the food you ate growing up. Develop an appreciation for food in general and make time for it. If we make time for cooking we will view it as a source of joy rather than an inconvenience. I always say that I 'get' to cook and not that I 'have' to cook. And realize that learning to cook is a process. It's something that you get better at the more you do it. Learn wherever and however you can and don't be afraid to make mistakes.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party and what would you cook for them?
Anthony Bourdain, Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, Tina Fey, Samantha Bee, and Jon Stewart. I think it would be amazing to spend time with a group of people with such an appreciation for culture, travel, food, comedy, razor-sharp wit, and the absurdity of life.
It would be fun to serve a variety of tapas, fancy cheese, and Spanish wine. I love wine of all kinds but Spanish is my favorite. There's nothing like the flavors of an old-vine Spanish red.
Do you do any other crafts and what are your hobbies?
Nature photography is my first love so I like to get outside any chance I get with my camera. One of my favorite things to do is drive down gravel roads, listen to classic rock, and look for photo opportunities. My husband and I love to hike and cross-country ski and we travel every chance we get. Gardening and writing are also a very important part of my life.
Which cooking blogs do you love to read?
One of my favorites is Simply Recipes. I'm all about the classics - Blogs that are no-nonsense and focus, well, simply on recipes!