Great food should not be limited to expensive restaurants or to people with large budgets and unlimited time for home cooking. Great food should be available to all of us, including those on a limited budget, with limited time, and with the basic home kitchen.
I am a self-taught cook. I began cooking with my mom when I was four. At twelve, I decided to be a vegetarian (I have since returned to eating meat), and was told that was fine if I was willing to cook dinner for myself every night. So I did. For almost every night for the next thirty years I have prepared dinner for myself and others.
I believe food is a primary way you take care of yourself and others. I have used my diet to help control medical conditions (I have lupus). Good food, well prepared helps with inflammation, pain, and common GI problems. I also prepare food for lots of other people. It started out as catering birthdays, baby showers and special events for friends. Over time, I opened a kitchen for meal prep for my neighbors and began to cater larger events (weddings, engagement parties, fund raisers).
There something very special about preparing a hearty, thoughtful meal and inviting people you like to partake. Cooking for others can be as simple or complex as you make it.
I have found over the years, I know many people who like to host dinners and parties for friends. Often they feel pressure to do big showboat types of dishes, which can be exhausting. They also stumble over timing and quantities.
This site not only provides you with the recipes I have developed and love, but menus and preparation planning help. There is nothing worse than hosting a holiday dinner, planning the dishes you want to make, and then realizing that your main dish will come out of the oven an hour before your sides are done, there is not enough space in the refrigerator for your items that need to chill, and that something is getting soggy and cold when you have another hour until dinner.
I have never had a big kitchen. Most of the time I have had tiny kitchens. In New York City my kitchen was 20 feet long, extremely narrow, and had next to no storage. I figured out a way to do a five course holiday meal for my eight family members on a regular basis. The kitchen pictured on this post is pretty standard for what I have cooked in, small by any measure. This has shaped how I put menus together.
I like flavor- LOTS of flavor. I love preserved lemons, pimenton, fenugreek, mustard seeds, sambal and more! I prepare dishes that are not afraid of flavor. Unlike much of typical American cooking, my food has a lot less salt and a lot more spice. I will always note when a dish is hot (spicy) or has flavors you might not be familiar with. I would encourage you to not shy away from exploring flavors. While you won’t like everything, you will probably find several new things you will love!
I have never had a lot of money to spend on food. I struggled as a student in NYC, I have worked as a researcher, in nonprofits, and been unemployed. I still find ways to make tasty, substantial dishes within a tight budget. I will note the items I think it is worth spending a bit extra on and things that you can get away with the cheap stuff.
I hope you find a few things you enjoy and can incorporate into your meal rotation! I would love your feedback.
Finally, I would never have gotten to cook as many things as I have if I didn’t have cookbooks and cooking sites. When I have found great recipes other people have developed, I list them on my resources page. The world has a ton of great cooks! I think you should explore them all.