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If You Can Read, You Can Cook

When I started writing this blog I had approximately a zillion and one ideas about what direction it should go in. I thought about meal planning, and being budget conscious. I thought about my strange kitchen experiments that often yield pretty great results (and sometimes not so great…). I thought about the foods we enjoy as a family and how to incorporate things I just plain old like. I did a lot of mulling it all over and working it all out, and after several pots of coffee I finally decided that what I hoped to accomplish was this:

I WANT PEOPLE TO COOK.

I have always spent a great deal of time in the kitchen – out of necessity, enjoyment, holidays, and employment. I’ve always been the girl that brings baked goods to work, just because I like to share and make people smile (and also because I don’t need to eat it all). I look forward to birthdays and occassions when I get lots of requests and I have extra special reasons to try new things and feed the masses. I get a kick out of trying to reproduce flavors and feelings, and I find the best therapy in measuring ingredients, chopping, dicing, and stirring with my wooden spoon.
What I have learned through my food sharing ventures, though, is that there are two distinct categories of people : those that cook, and those that don’t. The people that fall into the “don’t” category fit there for many reasons, but the reason I come across most often is that they really think they CAN’T.

And to that my reply is, “NONSENSE!”

I learned my way around the kitchen when I was about 9. I can distinctly remember spinning the lazy-susan round and round until I found all the ingredients listed for banana bread on the batter-splattered pages of my mom’s church cookbook. I probably asked a gajillion questions and I learned as I went. It’s true what my momma told me: if you can read, you can cook.
The prospect of blogging about cooking for me was probably as daunting as the actual cooking is for the “don’t” cookers. When you read pages of amazingness in places like Smitten Kitchen, Joy the Baker, or Can You Stay for Dinner, it’s very easy to be intimidated by the writing, the photography, the sheer volume of clever talent.

At first I thought, “I can’t do this. I don’t have pretty dishes, table linens, or marble countertops. I cannot afford a $1500 camera. I don’t have the extra budget to buy fancy cupcake liners, or candy melts. I don’t have time to drive to 15 stores on the quest for green shoestring gummies.”
Then I remembered my first apartment and making “grilled” cheese on a cookie sheet in the oven because I didn’t have butter or a skillet to put on the stove. I thought about the fact that we all have to eat everyday. I considered the things I’m able to pull off in the kitchen even though I don’t own a food processor or a bundt pan or a fancy stand mixer.
So I decided to forge ahead using my cell phone camera, Google (in place of any actual knowledge about computers or web design), and recipes I’ve been making for so long that I have to slow down to judge the measurements.

Sometimes I post recipes calling for prepared tomato sauce or boxed cake mix. I think we can all agree that homemade sauce or from-scratch cakes will win out on taste every time. But in the real world, people love Classico sauce in a jar. They don’t always have time to stew their own tomatoes. They don’t know what a food mill is and definitely don’t have one. Almond extract does not live in their pantries.

They do still need to eat, though. Recipes that call for 48 ingredients you don’t currently have in the cupboard seem daunting. It’s easier to hit the drive-thru or buy some Tuna Helper.
I wanted this to be a place for recipes that are plain old useful. Not intimidating or fancy or out of reach. I wanted to use ingredients that people can ACTUALLY find… even when they are forced to shop at the worst grocery store on the planet way out in the boonies. Once I read a chicken recipe that called for fines herbes. I searched high and low, came up empty, decided to make my own, and discovered that unless I grow my own by tomorrow, chervil and tarragon do not exist in my zip code. I had to scrap that recipe and move along. It was sad.

But Chicken Gyros? That I can do.
And I make a mean egg salad.
And if you take a few minutes to read a few recipes, try maybe just one new thing, you can, too!

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Edward

Sunday 16th of December 2012

I grew up hearing my mother repeat those words so often that I named my blog after it!

Heather

Sunday 16th of December 2012

Wow that's so fun! It really is true. Totally my mantra.

Real Life Farm Wife

Monday 18th of June 2012

You've summed it up perfectly! Too many people believe you have to have all that "fancy" stuff to cook. Not true. (Though I wouldn't give up my KitchenAid mixer for anything.)

Now keep on sharing those great recipes!

Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

Tuesday 19th of June 2012

Thanks so much! I love me a great kitchen aid (Aid)... but I think sometimes when recipes seem intimidating people just opt to order a pizza. They forget you can MAKE pizza. And it's easy, cheap, and tastes better everytime! Though I will admit to being in love with Pizza Hut Thin Crust. I've got recipces a-plenty over here :)

eatwilmington

Sunday 17th of June 2012

Hey - I have a food mill! But I rarely use it for tomatoes - now that I can get canned tomatoes that are low or no salt added, I'm all set there. I use my food mill to make spatzle, or anything that requires a food processor - because I don't own one of those (can you believe it?) I also have a mortar and pestle. I'm such a geek in the kitchen;)

Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

Tuesday 19th of June 2012

I'd love to have a mortar and pestle! I just really like recipes that are easy - the kind that fit themselves into a weeknight meal, even though you've worked all day, still need to hit the gym, and have to help with homework. I love to get complicated when I have the time, but making everyday cooking simple affordable, and enjoyable is really my goal. And I like my everyday meals to feel a little bit special, too :)

Terri at Time To Be Inspired

Saturday 16th of June 2012

I love your approach to the kitchen. I agree that anyone who wants to can cook. I think it is such an enjoyable process, but I would love a good sous chef... I've nominated you for the Versatile Blogger's Award. Details can be found on my blog - timetobeinspired.wordpress.com - just wanted you to know how much I enjoy your blog.

Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

Saturday 16th of June 2012

One day I will trust one of my boys to wield a knife. Ready-made sous chefs :) Thank you so much for your kind words!!! I will post this award up next week & am excited to read your other picks! Awards really are my favorite way to find new reads. Thank you for taking time out to come here!!! Much appreciation.

burlesquebaker

Thursday 14th of June 2012

I loved this post! I was actually just thinking about all of this today....I'm kind of obsessed with my blog as a hobby and I like to cook, but I only have an OLD camera (and on occasion Ron';s camera phone) and no real experience in the kitchen. But you're right---we can all cook and have fun in the kitchen! And we don't need a fancy camera to take a mean picture of egg salad! Hugs!

Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

Thursday 14th of June 2012

Awww thanks! I actually lucked out with a camera earlier this year (Chad gave me one for Valentine's Day) and I love it, but I can assure you it is not one of the fancy dancy varieties listed in the "about" sections of so many blogs. We're straight blue collar up in here. And the styling and the lighting... it's all new to me. My dishes are thrift store specials. But it's cool. Cause I'm having fun with it. Also the food is good. And I get to make friends!