At one point in my life, I was a picky eater. Spaghetti,  please. Sure, the occasional piece of fruit,  maybe some vegetables. But what really satisfied my stomach was a heaping bowl of spaghetti with meatless, processed red sauce.  Ask my roommates from college, it’s the only thing that I could contribute to weekly dinners in my on-campus apartment.  When I was cooking, it was pasta. Wednesday was Spaghetti Day. So was Monday, Tuesday, and all of the rest.

It wasn’t until I began living in “community” that I learned there was more to life than carbs and jarred tomato sauce. Weekly dinners our eight-person family in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps were put together from a collection of  favorites from our individual homes. Ingredients were supplied from our landlord’s overabundance of vegetables from the garden. I soon became familiar with all different types of recipes, brussel sprouts, slabs of steak, tofu, spatzel, homemade guacamole, arroyos con pollo, and the feared bratwurst. Some food I enjoyed, some I did not, but I learned the in’s and  out’s of cooking it- even if I was just the sous chef.

Life eventually threw me a series of challenges. The first being that my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I would have to move back in with my family to take care of her and providing for father and my two younger sisters. The second being that “providing,” basically meant “cooking.”

A family friend gave me a cookbook featuring recipes that you should prepare for someone with cancer. I dove in, hesitantly. My first solo experience cooking a family meal was some kind of chicken in lemon-y broth. Hard, dry, overcooked.  My family gnawed and picked at their teeth. “This is delicious,” they said. And so it went from there.

I’m not exactly sure when the transition was made, but eventually, my dad couldn’t stop talking about how great my cooking was.  It was rare that anyone believed me, until I started bringing food to family occasions, preparing side dishes for holiday meals, and throwing my own dinner parties in which I designed and prepared the entire menu.

All the while, I took comfort in my cooking. The preparation involved in cooking, the slicing, chopping, the aromas of a bubbling pot of soup, of quick-bread baking in the oven.  I found the whole process soothing, and the results rewarding.

Eventually I turned nightly dinners into a spectacle. What could I make next? No repeats. Must be healthy.Falafel and cous-cous, waldorf salad, spicy turkey meatloaf, kale, sprouts,  salmon burgers, portobello bugers, quesadillas. You name it, I made it. The more exotic, the better. Of course there were always some mishaps, but it was all part of the learning-process. And in the meantime, my family began looking and acting healthier.

The only thing I took more comfort in than cooking, was eating.  There was nothing that excited me more than going out for a meal prepared by someone else. I loved opening a menu and exploring each option and the ingredients that contributed to it. I loved trying new things and attempting to copy it at home. I would eat something at a restaurant, run home and look it up on-line. If they can do it, so can I.  I was slowly becoming a foodie, one recipe at a time.

And that’s what brings me here.

In this blog, I will compile stories about the food that I prepare and consume, the recipes that I find, the ingredients and tools that I buy, and the establishments that I visit, that only make my love for food grow stronger each day.