A Disclaimer of Sorts: I am not a professional chef. I have never been to cooking school, unless you count standing outside the Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago after being lured there by the delectable smells. I am what I affectionately dub a Saturday Chef—a weekend warrior of the culinary variety, fortified by the education I have gleaned from two high school cooking classes, the Food Network and my own gastronomical experiments.
During the week, I’m stuck in the 9-to-5 rat race sponsored by Burger King and Popeyes and Panera. But once the weekend arrives, I have time to make elaborate meals like Braised Short Ribs with Roasted Pearl Onions, Shrimp and Black Bean Flatbreads, Hearty Chicken Chowder and even Coq au Vin.
While I’m not ashamed to spend all day making bagels by hand, and proudly call myself a foodie, I’m not a food snob. I enjoy an Extra Value Meal as much as the next girl. “Would you like fries with that?” ALWAYS!
I was raised in the Midwest, Indiana , then Wisconsin , by parents who enjoyed “simple American food,” and I ate as such until college when I discovered two things: 1) The Food Network broadcasted until 3 a.m. and 2) College fare is unhealthy, expensive and really gross. Thus, in the little galley kitchen with slanted counters and an arthritic stove, I became a Saturday Chef, buying things like rotisserie chickens and potatoes to cook on multiple meals on Saturdays and Sundays for the rest of the week. I learned a lot about quick but healthy meals from Rachel Ray and Giada De Laurentiis. I realized that “fancy food” wasn’t inaccessible to anyone as long as you had a little skill and a lot of patience from Alton Brown and Emeril Lagasse. Finally, I discovered that my father will eat my disasters—like Turkey “Brick” Meatloaf—even if I won’t.
Cooking became a new passion as much as writing was an old one. And it also made me a few friends from the dorms. At 21 years old, I hosted a few Saturday dinner parties in my apartment, showing my friends how to make lasagna, even though I’d never done it before. That is how I fell in love with cooking as well as eating.
I’m 27 now, and finally taking the advice of a good friend and starting this blog, where I will happily share some of my own recipes as well as my take on the old standards. Unfortunately, I haven’t struck it rich yet, so my culinary escapades are still relegated to the weekends, but my love for cooking is stronger than ever, galvanized by more successes than failures, and the beautiful fact that the more I cook, the more people there are to feed. So please stay turned for fun recipes, inevitable disasters and hopefully, a lot of good food.
Braised Chicken Thighs with Artichoke Hearts and Sweet Peas