Susan’s European Bread

The first thing I ever cooked, as far as I can remember, was scrambled eggs. I remember being so amazed after pouring the eggs in the pan how they would gradually solidify as I moved the spatula around. The spatula seemed like a magic wand, transforming slimy goop into a fluffy yellow eggs.

Citrusy Butternut Squash and Roasted Kale Salad With Goat Cheese that I semi-invented with inspiration from Heidi Swanson and Yotam Ottolenghi

I don’t know if it was then or sometime further down the line, but I was hooked; a full-fledged food nerd way before it was cool to be. Elementary school…maybe I wrote a letter to the school district about providing more healthy choices in the caf (I did.) In Junior High, my vice principal came over to my lunch table on an almost daily basis to see what kind of lunch I had concocted that day. I would bring pasta salads, paninis, quesadillas, and ready-to-assemble salad kits complete with homemade croutons packaged separately, so as to not get soggy. It. Was. So EMBARRASSING to have the vice principal singling me out like that! But also a tiny bit fun. I guess I kinda brought it on myself. High school was when I really started getting into the cooking part of it. I loved Sunday afternoons cooking with my mom and sister, learning very valuable techniques from my mom almost without noticing that I was learning anything. Seeing people enjoy the food that I made was, like, the best thing ever.

Hasselbach Potatoes with a Spinach-Cashew Pesto (Actually I used kale and walnuts, can you tell I’m on a kale kick lately)

I love cooking because it reminds me, almost more than anything else, of being home. I have branched out some since high school, adding butternut squash, spinach, goat cheese, cilantro and garbanzo beans, and more, to my repertoire. The food blogosphere has given me so many ideas and inspired me to try new combinations that I’ve never thought of before. And I am free to explore all those new and crazy┬ápossibilities┬ábecause of the basics I learned in my warm happy kitchen at home. Cooking is kind of like art, you have to learn the rules before you can break them.Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars. So Very Good! Just…make these please. And invite me over.

I personally find it very miraculous that I can take flour, water, yeast, and salt, and make a beautiful loaf of french bread. It reminds me that the groceries I buy aren’t created at some mystical laboratory (hopefully) but are just normal ingredients mixed together. It gives me a whole new context when I go out to eat. I almost always try to order something that I haven’t made/thought of making before.

[a completely unrelated side-note, I was listening to a podcast about Halloween and the speaker said she would love trick-or-treating if, instead of candy, they gave out baguettes and french fries. I was like YES! She is my food soul twin! Because that is exactly how I feel. Candy's fine and all but it's got nothing on a good french fried potato.]

So I’m grateful for cooking for so many reasons. I am grateful for the creative outlet that it provides, how awesome it feels when I “invent” some new combination or cook successfully without a recipe. For how food brings people together. For the satisfaction of trying something I made that tastes really really good. And also for the disasters, like the time I spent a whole day making an amazing-sounding salted caramel ice cream and then it wouldn’t freeze and I ended up dumping it all over my friend’s kitchen (and ted), for reminding me that I still have a lot to learn. (Also-meat. A whole new frontier I haven’t even begun to tackle. I don’t know if I can honestly say I’m grateful for meat though haha)

Mostly I’m grateful for:

My mama for teaching me everything I know, pretty much.

My sister for being my partner in crime and just completely getting it.

My husband for being a patient, wonderful, sexy taste tester and dish washer.