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19 April 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

cooking with Jamie

This is pretty much my favorite spot in our house.

Oh, I love the feeling of our bed when Danny and I can finally fall into it together, dead tired from working and running after Lu all day. I love the sound of Lu's giggles bouncing off the walls of the bathtub. I love the smell of hot coffee curling around the corner from the kitchen to our bedroom. And these last few warm, sunny days, my favorite spot is not in the house, but outside in the garden, with Lu, blowing dandelions.

(I taught her how to pull weeds today. She bent down her head and pulled as well as she could for 15 minutes. This could really come in handy!)

Still, my favorite spot in the house is this one — standing in front of the bay window, in the kitchen.

Cooking is about to happen here.

This past week, the cooking all came from Jamie's Food Revolution. What a week of cooking and eating it was!


cauliflower cheese casserole

You must have heard about Jamie Oliver by now. I've been talking about him here for years. And in the last few weeks, so has much of America.

His television show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, has been a must-see in our home. Luckily, Danny has Friday nights off from work, so we can cuddle on the couch to watch the show trying to change the way people eat in this country. We spend much of the hour with our mouths open, sort of horrified, mostly determined to do what we can to help.

It's interesting. There has been a lot of talk about this show. Many of us love what Jamie is trying to do. Some just can't stand it. That's part of the process, of course. You can't please everyone. But the reaction that befuddles me is this: "It's such a reality show." Well yes, it is. There's music in all the pre-appointed places and dramatic moments that are hyped up for tension and extreme close-ups. Jamie himself seems entirely genuine. The production values make the show look like an episode of Extreme Makeover. Some people seem disdainful that this important information is being presented in this fashion.

Here's the deal. Reality shows? They're hugely popular in this country. I'm not a big fan, but I know many people who are. We've been having important, polite conversations about the need to improve school lunches on PBS shows and New York Times articles for decades. Alice Waters has been leading a quiet revolution in Berkeley, as have Ann Cooper and Kristen Richmond. People who are passionate about food have known for awhile that something needs to be done about school lunches.

In the past month, with this brazen splashy show on ABC, I have heard more conversations about food in schools than I have in decades. People are talking. That's really the only point. The conversation now includes the people who like to watch a lot of reality shows. Frankly, these are the people who need to be part of this conversation.

Look at this from The New York Times:

"Americans eat 31 percent more packaged food than fresh food, and they consume more packaged food per person than their counterparts in nearly all other countries. A sizable part of the American diet is ready-to-eat meals, like frozen pizzas and microwave dinners, and sweet or salty snack foods."

I keep thinking about this commercial that played a few months ago, emphasizing family togetherness in the kitchen. A mom and her daughter laugh over the kitchen counter, talking about their days...as they open a big lasagna tv dinner and pop it in the microwave.

It just seems to me that all Jamie Oliver is trying to do is persuade people to start cooking in their kitchens.

sweet potato chorizo soup

I used to open tv dinners and deli containers and hot food from the grocery store across the street. The year after the terrible car accident I had, my body hurt too much to stand at the stove and cook. I never felt that confident in the kitchen anyway, so it didn't occur to me that cooking could make me feel better. I ate what was convenient, what was available, what was easy. I ate to just get food in my body or for the pure sensory pleasure of the taste. The skin on that deli chicken slid off fast, salty and greasy, and kept my mouth occupied for awhile. I spent months without seasoning my own food.

I was miserable. And it wasn't just the pain. I felt disconnected from my food, something that had always given me joy. Chopping onions and listening to the sizzle of them in hot oil in the pan seemed so far away. It all just seemed too hard.

People don't have to be in pain to be afraid of cooking. It seems like foreign language, tongues tumbling with unusual sounds. Cooking can be scary: fire could burst out of the skillet as you throw it in the oven, mushroom stock could spill all over the floor, the dinner you spent 45 minutes making could turn out mediocre bland.

But what I love about Jamie Oliver, in his show but particularly in this cookbook, is that he's filled with enthusiasm for food and an unquenchable optimism that keeps him going into people's homes and new countries to change people's minds. He wants people to stand at the stove and feel good.

It's not much, really. And it's huge.

Moroccan lamb with gf couscous

Jamie has done this before, you know. He tackled school lunches in Great Britain, opened cooking stores, taught people how to make Moroccan lamb with yogurt sauce, then asked them to pass it on to someone they knew. He received some of the same flak there that he's getting here. He just kept going.

This particular cookbook is made up of quick-to-prepare, affordable meals. Sweet potato and chorizo soup. Cauliflower cheese casserole. Ground beef wellington. Tomato soup. This is hearty comfort food and simple salads, basic stews and fast stir frys. This is not just an assemblage of favorite recipes. Instead, these are dishes that are meant to teach: how to sauté, how to blend flavors, how to build a salad out of good ingredients.

And teach they did. Interspersed through the recipes are shots of British folks proudly holding plates of salmon or bowls of vegetable curry they made themselves, from scratch. Every one of them looks so damned happy.

Here's a quote from a bloke called Simon Atkinson:

"At the age of thirty-six I had never cooked a thing, not even mashed potatoes. And the only fish I'd eaten was in batter. When I was passed on the recipe for fish pie, I cooked it and tasted it and there were all these flavors going on and I thought, 'Wow, I like this.' I now feel like my taste buds have been missing out big time."

I swear, the idea of this makes me a little teary. What a gift it is to teach someone to cook. If you know how to cook, you start buying better ingredients. If you buy better ingredients, you might start growing them or going to the farmers' market to buy them. If you do that, you might start making yogurt at home or canning up jam. How much a life can be transformed by standing at the stove and feeling confident.

This book could teach anyone to cook. I'm convinced of it.

ground beef wellington with gf puff pastry

If you cook every day, you might think, therefore, that the book would be a little elementary for you. You might buy it to hand over to someone else.

Keep this book.

Danny and I loved every single dish we made from here. The salmon stir fry took us 15 minutes to make. The flavors of garlic, chile, ginger, fresh cilantro, tandoori paste, snow peas, and coconut milk were a revelation. Neither one of us had ever thought of that combination with salmon. We're making it for dinner again this week.

That's the thing. Jamie Oliver may be a celebrity now, but he is first and foremost an incredible chef. When I first grew besotted with Jamie Oliver's cooking shows, I thought he was just a tv chef. A charismatic and darling one, but still a television chef. When I first introduced him to Danny, I thought he would scoff. Instead, he leaned forward and watched, fascinated, then went to the kitchen to try some new tricks.

That's the joy for me, reading this book — knowing that anyone who stands in front of the stove for the first time will be eating really, really well. And then, hopefully, passing it along to the next person.

I hope, one day, that we become a culture of cooking again. There's nothing like standing in that space, the light coming through the window, and knowing the magic is just about to begin.

Jamie Oliver doesn't want anyone to miss this.

We're giving away a copy of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution to one of you reading. Tell us a story of how you learned to cook. Or, tell us a story of teaching someone else to cook. Maybe you could even start this week.

And if you haven't done it yet, you might want to go over and sign this petition. It could make a difference.

gluten-free scones





Fruit Scones, adapted from Jamie's Food Revolution

Scones. Need I say more?

1 cup dried cherries (or a mix of any dried fruits you like, which make these new each time)
8 ounces/227 grams superfine brown rice flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 ounces/170 grams potato starch (a little less than a cup)
4 ounces/113 grams tapioca flour (a little less than a cup)
2 ounces/57 grams teff flour (about 1/2 a cup)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon guar gum
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch fine sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, just out of the refrigerator, cut into small cubes
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk (some for recipe, some for brushing the tops)


Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 400°. Pull out a sheet tray and put a Silpat (or piece of parchment paper) on top of it. Soak the dried cherries with just enough water to cover them.

(Jamie's original recipe called for orange juice, which I'm sure would be delicious. However, Lu doesn't seem to do well with citrus, so I just used water.)

Combining the dry ingredients. Put the brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, and teff flour into a food processor. Run the processor for a few moments, to combine them together well and aerate the flours. (If you don't have a food processor, use a whisk or sifter.) Add the xanthan gum, guar gum, baking powder, and salt. Pulse them all together.

Working in the butter. Drop the butter cubes into the food processor. Pulse until the butter starts to work into the dough, about 7 0r 8 times. The final mixture should look like cornmeal with little clumps of butter.

Finishing the dough. Pour the buttery flour mixture into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Beat the eggs and milk together in another bowl. Drain the cherries, then add them to the eggy mixture. Pour this liquid mixture into the well of flours. Stir everything together with a fork or rubber spatula. (Toward the end, you'll probably use your hands.) When the dough is soft and fully combined, stop. However, you might need a bit more milk, depending on your dough.

Making the scones. Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1 inch. These don't rise that much, so roll them out as thick as you want to eat them. Cut 10 circles from the dough with a biscuit cutter or a water glass. You might have to cut circles, then re-roll out the dough and cut more.

Baking the scones. Transfer the scone dough circles to the baking sheet. Brush the top of each with a bit of milk (or butter, if you want). Bake in the oven until the scones are browned and have a thump at the bottom, about 12 to 15 minutes. Take them out of the oven and allow them to cool.

Of course, the proper British way to eat these is with jam and clotted cream. We had butter and honey. Later, I even made a cheese sandwich with one. But I'm weird. You'll know your own best way.

Makes 10 scones.

302 Comments:

At 11:59 PM, Blogger Stefanie said...

My Grandmother taught me to cook. (Am I giving me age away) and I have taught my teenaged sons to cook some special dinner dishes and we add baking and desserts to their repetoire too. I love knowing that when they leave home they will be able to cook the basics and have some dinner dishes to serve up for their guests. I love that sometimes I can hand the kitchen over to them too for supper.

 
At 12:10 AM, Blogger delicious said...

not a story of how i learned to cook, but when i realized that i was good at it; one day i looked in my fridge, and thought 'well what do i have', and threw together a tasty meal. i was so proud of what i had learned to do with food. i love knowing how things work, and finding new combinations. mmm, food.

 
At 12:28 AM, Blogger Cinda said...

I knew of Jamie Oliver before Food Revolution, but that was the extent of it. Now, I'm inspired to finally start cooking at home. I was raised by my father, and we ate dinner out every evening. I'm now 44 years old with a 4-year-old son, and it's time I start learning to cook. Love his new show and I've checked the book out from the library and would love to win a copy.

cinda

 
At 12:41 AM, Anonymous Rosie said...

I learned to cook by watching my mom and the other line cooks at the Mimosa where I spent most of my days from birth to... I don't know when. I just know that I was the youngest waitress they had and therefore got the best tips.

 
At 12:43 AM, Blogger hausfrau said...

We're watching 'Jamie does...' over on this side of the pond. Last week it was Morrocco and my girls were very enthusiastic about a beef tagine. We had all the ingredients in stock so that's what we had for supper the next night: a more exotic stew than I would normally have made for the family to eat together: a mix of sweet paprika, garam masala, cumin, cinamon and ginger. And eaten with couscous instead of our usual dumplings or potatoes. Delicious! We will make it again.

 
At 1:27 AM, Blogger lorax said...

I'm learning to cook right now!

I've grown up being slightly involved in the cooking of family meals, but since I had an aspiring chef for an older brother, he tended to dominate the kitchen and I was left to the side turning into a nineteen year old who has never learned how to use garlic.

This is my first semester to be living in college apartment housing that has a stove! Sadly, most on-campus apartments provide students with a kitchen that only includes a microwave. It's a horrible prospect.

Anyways, this semester, my roommate and I make dinner together every day. As she's vegetarian and I'm lactose intolerant, we experiment with tons of fresh vegetables from the market. We mix them up in pastas, stir fries, sauces or simply steam them.

Besides learning all those practical things (like who to use that garlic), I have finally learned the importance of taking the time to cook and eat together with the people you live with. Everyday, I am immediately energized when we step into the kitchen and begin cooking. My roommate and I talk and laugh more than we do at any other time of the day and by spending the time to actually sit down and eat together, we add in a routine of relaxation that our college peers often do not have.

I cannot wait to get home this summer to cook meals with and for my mom. I explore food blogs everyday, looking for recipes, learning about food and finding ways to help fight in the food revolution.

 
At 1:33 AM, Blogger Heather said...

Hi there. I wonder if anyone has suggestions on what to substitute teff flour with? I have purchased a few american gluten free cookbooks and they all use teff flour as well. Here in Australia you can not buy teff flour. I have been told buckwheat is an okay substitute. How about quinoa flour?
Thanks!

 
At 1:52 AM, Blogger Arielle said...

How wonderful, I love Jamie.

My father could only cook maybe three dishes, one of which was an abominable fish soup. But he taught all of us how to make granola and how to cook tofu (can you tell he was a complete hippy?), before either of them were popular or well-known foods in Canada.

My mother taught me to truly cook and bake. From a very young age she seemed to recognize that I was the chef and second mum of the family, and she raised me on all the little tips and secrets of great cooks: how to make chicken stock, the importance of sifting flours, how to make the perfect pancakes by separating the eggs and whipping the whites to perfect stiff peaks. At the age of 8 I would explain to the moms of my friends that the eggs should come to room temperature before they started baking. The love I feel for cooking for others came from her. Nowadays I am the cook of the family, who makes the entire holiday meal from scratch, and taught my mother little secrets of vegan and gluten-free cooking. And I love to teach friends how to make simple, healthy meals so they stop eating take-out!

 
At 1:55 AM, Blogger Ruby said...

I started to cook in college, oceans away from home. But I've always loved watching people cook whether it's through tv shows (jamie, nigella ect..) or watching my mother in kitchen. My Grandmother is an amazing cook. I grew up eating home cooked meals everyday of my life; mostly. I came from a culture and country (Taiwan) that have traditional markets where chickens are alive and it's killed and ready for you and every possible vegetable/poultry/meat can be found fresh in one place. as well as supermarkets. so i'm blessed really. real food has always been a part of my life. the tv dinners here really wasn't that appealing...

and. I've always loved Jamie's shoes. It started with the naked chef years years ago so it has been so awesome to see someone so passionate really changing the world through... real food!

a school cafe at a time at that!

cooking had became a release for me. I cooked throughout the spring break a few weeks ago. i ate well everyday and was happy.

now school is back. thought our college cafe is one of the best with fresh and prepared from scratch ingredients (Bon Appitite) it's still different compared to cooking for myself.

and! the paste i can make by heart I believe was from your website! the one from long ago that you share with the red sauce. you wrote it during the time the chef and you were (in the process of) moving.

I've been learning cooking through the internet! and believe it or not. after I watch the chef's video of how to take apart a chicken. I went out to get a whole chicken and took it apart. granted it took way long than a few minutes. I've been hooked since. I love buying whole chicken and cutting it apart now. it is really economical and the stocks from those bones were amazing.

so thank you Shauna and the Chef!
you guys are a part of my cooking influences. as well as celiac awareness (more and more people I know seems to be effected in recent semesters too).

this all goes to say. many people had taught me how to cook. and yes. I would love it if i can add jamie's book to be a part of it too!

>=D

 
At 2:13 AM, Blogger Bee said...

I learned how to cook because I had no other choice. My high school didn't offer lunch at school (just a mid morning snack) and because my parents always got home late me and my older brother had to cook for ourselves. (frozen already prepared meals were a no-go in our household. My parents never bought them and they said that they had no intention on ever buying them.)

In the beginning it was mainly simple pasta dishes and similar, but over the years my cooking skills have gotten better and better.

I also should mention that both my brother and I have our parents to thank for our appreciation of "real food" and cooking. (my father especially has a passion for cooking) When I was younger I was sometimes angry that they wouldn't just buy the simple frozen dishes, but now, I'm grateful that they didn't.

 
At 3:32 AM, Blogger Jennifer Jo said...

I learned to cook from my mother. I was selling pie crusts by the time I was nine (and it wasn't very profitable, but never mind that). I'm blogging to teach and inspire (and because I love food), and I'm teaching my own kids to cook. Though that's a slower process because there's four of them and if one is in the kitchen, they all are. And then I get overwhelmed and start yelling. They will learn though. Soon. (I learned from my friend that my eight-year-old can tell the difference between a box cake and a made-from-scratch cake---she was amazed that my friend made a store cake at home!)

 
At 4:00 AM, Blogger Kristin Glasbergen said...

I agree with you, Jamie is entirely genuine. I've been enjoying the show too, watching with my kids.
My cooking career started with many pre-made packages in University, it made me feel terrible. Pretty soon I started to make things from scratch and I felt better, I just kept going. I am still learning.

 
At 4:09 AM, Anonymous Shirley said...

I learned to cook when our then almost 3 year old firstborn was diagnosed with celiac. It's been an awesome ride fortified with strong memories of my mother's cooking and the support of a partner with an innate passion for cooking, himself. Learning how to cook, and being challenged to cook 'outside the box' has brought me closer to a more genuine place of Being...what an unexpected gift.

Your blog has been a wonderful part of my journey and I thank you :-)

 
At 4:32 AM, Anonymous Fiona said...

I never learned to cook at home, just to bake (and that was pretty darned good). For the last 20 years I've been blessed with a husband who cooks incredible food and, for the most part I was happy to let him get on with it.

With my celiac diagnosis 5 years ago everything changed. It coincided with a time when my husband was away on business so much that if I didn't cook for myself I wouldn't have eaten much. And so the cookbooks came off the shelf (including some of Jamie's) and I started to experiment. I now cook more than I bake (but I'm starting to enjoy that again too thanks to sites like yours) and people want to eat my food (that still surprises me!).

 
At 4:32 AM, Anonymous Jo's Quirky Cooking said...

From as far back as I can remember, my sisters and I cooked with Mum in our noisy, happy kitchen. She taught us that cooking for someone is a way to show them you love them. She gave us the freedom to experiment. We had so much fun making up our own recipes, mixing together all sorts of strange concoctions and baking them in the oven, or stirring them in a billy over a little metho stove in our bedroom! (Don't worry, we had a cement floor!) She never told us to get out of the kitchen because we were making a mess. She often told us that the recipe was just a guide, and we could change it. And Dad always ate everything we made and praised it as if it was a gourmet banquet! My mum gave us a great head start in life, because she taught us to love to cook!

 
At 5:00 AM, Blogger ElwoodCity, Ph.D. said...

Heather,

Teff has a pretty strong, whole-grainy flavour. I like to use a little bit in with milder flours to make things taste more like whole wheat. I think buckwheat would probably be closest. If you know anyone heading on vacation somewhere, I'd recommend asking them to try smuggling some home.

I learned to cook during a semester I took off from University. I had taken two years off already to serve a mission, and was supposed to go back in the fall. I wasn't ready to commit to what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and I felt like I needed to have my plans set before taking any more classes. (The truth is, I started to have a panic attack every time I thought about registering for Analytical Chemistry.)

Instead of going off to school, I did landscaping for a while, then took a month to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and make dinner for my parents and younger brother and sister every night. I grew up learning how to make things like spaghetti and chili, how to boil potatoes and fry hamburgers. While I had been gone, my family had shifted into a vegetarian phase, and every recipe now started with chopping onions, fresh garlic, and carrots. Zucchini was also very popular.

Reading Zen and the Art... and chopping vegetables with a big chef's knife was really what I needed to spend time with right then. I needed to let go of the idea that I knew where I was going to end up at graduation. I needed to enjoy the right now. Chopping vegetables to saute came to symbolize a connection to process worth doing well rather than the end goal.

At the end of the semester I went back to school, stuck with my original major and am now a professor at a small University in my home town. That first semester back I started a dinner club, and ended up marrying the younger sister of one of my friends in the group. I didn't end up really liking Analytical Chemistry, though. Organic Chemistry is so much more like cooking.

 
At 5:06 AM, Blogger Sassy said...

My mom taught me how to cook by letting me get my hands dirty, letting me make my own mistakes and learning from them, and by being patient and kind to me. She taught me how to love to cook for my family.

 
At 5:06 AM, Anonymous Adrienne said...

Honestly, I can't recall when I learned to cook, but I know I've always loved being in the kitchen. Growing up, meals at home were not too inspired. We were a sporty household often zipping out after dinner and my mother hated taking too much time over a meal that would be inhaled in 5 minutes. Still, we all sat down together every night of the week, so that was important. In many ways, I've been self-taught - trying new recipes, flavours, tackling things like bread as a teenager. Today, I have two teenagers and am trying to instil a love of cooking and the value of cooking for oneself, experimenting and eating fresh. We're starting to compile favourite recipes and last night concocted a clear-out-the-fridge quiche (with a grated potato crust - all g-f of course). I think they're getting it! Jamie's book would help, too! Thanks for the tip.

 
At 5:09 AM, Blogger beastmomma said...

I am still learning how to cook. I have different teachers from my mom's intense in-person cooking classes, to cookbooks that combine technique with recipes such as How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and Splendid Table, to of course food blogs. Now that I have my own kitchen stocked with great cooking supplies (All-Clad and Le Creuset) that were gifts from my wedding, I find myself being brave and trying to cook with no fear. Sometimes, we have to force ourselves to eat nasty tasty food but more often than not, we are surprised and delighted at the yummy results.

 
At 5:15 AM, Blogger Beth said...

I learned to cook from my husband. When I met him, I was a microwave dinner kind of girl. My parents had never really cooked, and I didn't know where to start. He taught me that food just tasted better when you made it yourself. Now we're cook at home people, down to making our own bread and chicken stock. I never want to go back!

 
At 5:23 AM, Blogger elle said...

Home Ec and tuna fish casserole! LOL And darn, I still like it. Can't wait for the new pasta recipe! All the kids were encouraged to cook and took 'the casserole' to new heights!

 
At 5:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up watching Julia + Justin Wilson (The Cajun Cook) + Victory Garden on PBS, with my mom.
I remember being in kindergarten and coming home and Mom teaching to me to make egg salad, before we sat down to watch a soap opera together (she was a YOUNG mom).
Anytime I was in the room while she was cooking dinner, she'd say "Come over here, see this."
You always brown the beef before you put it in the crock pot for roast.
or
You layer a lasagna like this.
or
These spices go well together in just about anything.

And so, when I went to college, I just started cooking. I didn't think I needed to be taught, it was just there, deep in my bones.

 
At 5:40 AM, Anonymous michaela said...

I'd done a little bit of cooking in college... but food really started to speak to me in my early 20s, when I lived in New Mexico for a few years. The flavors were so intense - so different from what I'd eaten growing up on the East Coast - that I wanted to figure out why. So I started cooking then, and I've never looked back. And these days I'm getting my four-year-old daughter into the kitchen, too... amazing.

 
At 5:45 AM, Blogger Stacy said...

I learned to cook on my own, mostly from cooking shows. I grew up with a mom who made pasta or just reheated stuff from frozen. All those frozen burritos! After I figured out that I was gluten intolerant (my diagnosis was inconclusive as I had just started eating gf when I was tested and no way was I going back to eating gluten ever again!) So I started with the expensive, premade, reheat from frozen stuff and was very unsatisfied. So I started watching cooking shows, all of them. Seven years later I still watch them and I am learning a new technique or recipe or buying a new something for the kitchen all the time. I am much healthier and so is my family. I love it when I make that new dish that hits a home run and everyone is feeling satisfied. It has inspired me to take on my son's school district. I am now co-chair of the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) that every school district is now required to have. And I can tell you the biggest obstacle to getting better food in the schools is money. It is not lack of wanting better food.

 
At 5:55 AM, Anonymous betsy said...

I love Jamie and what he is trying to do. And I agree with you -- the conversation that is happening right now because of this show is The Point.

Food is our family's greatest pleasure -- the preparing, the sharing, the eating. We have two daughters, ages 7 and 10. We choose food together, cook together, eat together -- it is how we show love and gratitude for our life and each other. Food is how we celebrate, soothe, and comfort. And because the food is infused with this care, love and deliberateness, I'm pretty sure it tastes better too.

Thank you so much for all that you do, Shauna, to keep the conversations happening.

 
At 5:57 AM, Blogger Sheila said...

During my senior year of college, a friend who loved to cook and bake was scandalized to learn that I always baked chocolate chip cookies from store-bought dough. She brought me to her dorm kitchen and taught me the proper way to do it, using the simple recipe on back of the chocolate chip bag, with a few tweaks: add a little more flour to keep them from being flat. Always put in twice as much vanilla as the recipe calls for, no matter what I am making.

It was because of this first experience of baking from scratch that I felt confident, a few years later, to try baking gluten-free chocolate chip cookies for a friend with Celiac. I've now shared the recipe with four or five other GF friends.

It was because I had such success with GF cookies that I felt excited, not nervous, to cook dinner once a week for another friend who had a list of 21 food sensitivities.

It was because of all my experiences substituting ingredients and altering recipes for GF friends, nut-free friends, & vegan friends that I learned to be inspired, but not bound, by recipes.

I am not the greatest cook in the world, but I love to cook and look forward with anticipation to all the things I will learn over my lifetime of cooking.

 
At 5:58 AM, Blogger Kirsty said...

not to sound annoying but Jamie Oliver actually taught me how to cook.

well not so much taught but inspired.

you see, here in australia we've had jamie oliver on our screens for years. i have nearly all of his cookbooks but it was his first book 'The Naked Chef' and the accompanying series that i fell in love with.

his recipes are truly fabulous. some of them are so easy that the novice cook can give them a try while others test you out, making you a better cook.

i refer to his books all. the. time.

his book Cook With Jamie is one of my favourites. this is a man who taught me how to make meringue - successfully.

i also love Jamie At Home. it too was a tv series and is all about growing your own vegies, taking inspiration in your own garden.

it is this book and also being diagnosed with celiacs disease which inspired me to start our very first vegie garden which we planted on the weekend and i've been blogging about.

but do you want what i like about him? how much he gives. he gives without really asking for anything back other than that people take the time to listen, even if it's just for a minute.

i like reading your thoughts about him. he's just fabulous.

also, have you seen the two shows Jamie Saves Our Bacon and Jamie's Fowl Dinners? they're great!

 
At 6:00 AM, Blogger Quoda said...

My mom cooked at least 6 nights a week. It wasn't always from scratch and it wasn't always gourmet, but she cooked and we ate dinner as a family. On Sunday she made breakfast for us all.

Most of what I'm learning has been through my own trial and error as I live on my own. Sometimes things just work, sometimes they don't. I don't have a ton of money to spend on food so I plan everything I can and try to get the best for the money I have.

I enjoy the challenge of cooking something new and trying new combinations of food. I also enjoy cooking for my boyfriend, who now has dietary restrictions like me (but of course not the same!). Cooking for people is how I show I care. Cooking for me is caring for me!

 
At 6:08 AM, Blogger Jenn Sutherland said...

I've had a crush on Jamie since the first time I saw him on TV nearly 10 years ago. He drew me in with his sweet, funny charm, but I stayed for the food. And bought his cookbooks, and I love him still. I love that his food is simple, approachable and it *always* tastes good.

I've been in the kitchen ever since I was Lu's age, helping my mom chop, stir, bake, and the kitchen is where I've always been happiest. So I've always understood cooking, and how to get a meal on the table. But when I was diagnosed with celiac 8 years ago, I felt like I learned to cook all over again...the fundamentals were all there for me, I just had to apply a few new rules to my cooking. And I found that I love cooking even more now, and your site inspired me to start my own food blog a couple years ago!

 
At 6:11 AM, Blogger Ali-kat said...

I had to learn to cook when I was diagnosed with food allergies seven years ago. I've had major and minor health problems for over a decade. I started seeing an acupuncturist two weeks ago and she changed my diet again, majorly. So now I am learning to cook all over again. Jamie's stir fry from the show is on my menu (somewhat modified) this week.

Because I am a prime example of how the processed, instant food revolution of the last few decades, has ruined a perfectly good body, I am very passionate about what Jamie is trying to do. When I have children, I plan to keep their diet simple, fresh, organic, and homemade as much as possible, so that they don't have to endure what I have. My husband is changing the way he eats, even though he doesn't have to. I have to.

 
At 6:14 AM, Anonymous Elizabeth said...

I learned to bake first. I started making muffins at about 10 years old by opening a cook book and went from there. Soon I was doing all the baking in the house. I watched my mom do the cooking but she gladly let me bake. I learned from cook books and tips she would give me as we worked alongside in the kitchen. When I left home I experimented a lot because I couldn't afford to eat out and wanted to try dishes I had read about. I also had free time between freelance jobs. I just learned by trial and error and keeping my eyes open to new foods and a willingness to try anything. So I learned by osmosis, by taking it all in.
I've taught my kids to cook the same way. We love Jamie Oliver.

 
At 6:14 AM, Blogger Jessie said...

My parents taught me to cook. It started small: cornbread, muffins, cakes... Then in high school I actually started watching the Naked Chef on Food TV and was inspired to try making real dinners. I still remember my brother's repetitive comments after I made a pan seared steak with hot popovers: "Can you make this again, soon?" I haven't stopped cooking (or baking) since.

 
At 6:16 AM, Blogger dmoms said...

I have signed the petition! I have loved Jamie Oliver for a long time. Even my husband is aware of this fact!

I have taught myself to cook. Lately though, I have been really been paying attention while watching cooking shows to pick up some techniques. It is working.

I do know that it takes time to cook. I wish that more families would spend less time running around like crazy and spend more time in the their kitchens. The kitchen is the heart of the home.

Oh, my daughters ages 9 and 12 have been known to prepare an entire dinner for our family and many of times have cooked us all breakfast.

loved this post

 
At 6:18 AM, Blogger Haley said...

I never was really taught to cook...EVER. One day in college I just HAD to cook...so I did. And I "cooked" my own food for many many years, until the celiac came and I got scared to cook (because, as we know, gluten free ingredients are SUPER scary...), only in the past year have I really gotten into the kitchen and began cooking again. My new favorite dish is a chicken curry that I found on allrecipes.com...and I was so incredibly impressed that THAT meal had come from MY kitchen!

 
At 6:20 AM, Blogger babyjenks said...

i learned to cook from my mom. but i don't remember when she started teaching me. i just spent time in the kitchen with her and she let me play. much like little bean, i was given safe kitchen utensils and food as my toys. i recently came across a recipe in the old church cookbook that i had written and submitted at age 6, it's for a simple mushroom sage soup. i remember learning about those flavors from my mom, chopping up mushroom stems to play at making dinner.

i discovered jamie oliver through my husband. when we were just dating, the naked chef was one of the few cookbooks he had. not having a tv, i'd never heard of him. he's still wonderful and i always enjoy reading about the new flavors he's created.

and thanks for the scones recipe! i'll have to try that mixture this week!

 
At 6:20 AM, Blogger Bliss @ Work said...

i've realized that every time i go through a "cooking" phase in my life, it's so i can eat healthier. this last round was spurred by a winter of unhealthy takeout and processed food that left my stomach extracting revenge against me. the past 2 months i have been cooking gluten free and mostly vegan from perusing lots of websites including yours. i'm also inspired by ottolenghi, skye gyngell & momofuku for the way they mix different flavors together to make the perfectly rounded dish. thanks to the internet, i'm really enjoying cooking more than ever. especially knowing that i can't simply go out and find something to eat, i cook to feed myself the way it should be.

 
At 6:33 AM, Anonymous pseudostoops said...

I learned to cook when I became vegetarian and had to start learning how to make myself tasty foods that my meat-eating family wasn't yet interested in. Being vegetarian for a decade did more for me in terms of technique and adventurousness than I ever could have imagined. Even though I do eat some meat again, now, I'm so glad I had those years to experiment and get comfortable in the kitchen instead of just going with baked chicken breast with some sort of veg and some sort of starch for every dinner, like so many of my friends seem to.

(And Jamie's Italy is one of my favorite cookbooks!)

 
At 6:33 AM, Anonymous heather @ chiknpastry said...

I don't even remember where I learned to cook - culinary school was where the basics were learned, but sure - i knew how to long before that. my favorite part of it all is sharing what i cook by blogging and hoping that someone appreciates it and uses it to make their own food, or to at least eat better by someone else.

 
At 6:37 AM, Blogger Sizzle said...

I've long been a fan of Jamie's and now with his show, I'm even more so. I think what he is trying to do is fantastic. And I just adore his enthusiasm for food and people.

I learned to cook from my Mom. She was always cooking something during my childhood- most of it from scratch. But then I branched out in college and experimented with cuisines we never had in our home growing up- Asian flavors, farmers market fresh veggies, lots of fish. Now I am constantly looking for healthy delicious recipes to try. Cooking is such a joy to me and one that I hope to pass on to my own children.

 
At 6:40 AM, Blogger Cosita said...

When I first moved into my own apartment, I would go to the corner deli for good quite often. Then I realized I was packing on the pounds and needed more control of what I was ingesting. With doing that I realized that it really was just as easy to make something at home as it was to go to the deli and sometimes even faster.

 
At 6:45 AM, Blogger Swiss said...

Yes I signed that food revolution petition - right away!

I watched my Mom and did not realize how much I learned, she wasn't one to share much - I did more cooking by feel and taste when I first started than cookbooks but fell in love with them later and now have WAY too many - am doing a give away or yard sale - cheap- soon. I just got your recommended, "The Flavor Bible" and am excited to learn more that way too.

I am teaching my daughter who is finally getting interested and my granddaughter too- but always feel I am always learning- there is so much to know and so many new ideas.

Of course many of my ideas have come from you, also, so thanks.

 
At 6:54 AM, Anonymous Nora said...

My mom was a great baker (she did all of the birthday and shower cakes for her family and coworkers) and I grew up making cookies and cakes with her. She was great with the sweets, but she couldn't cook. On the nights when she made dinner from scratch, it was chicken (no seasoning, on the bone) that she threw into the oven and two frozen vegetables that she boiled on the stove. I started cooking when I was fourteen because I didn't like eating her food (and because I had a crush on Jamie Oliver from his very first TV show). I made the full Thanksgiving dinner that year, and I learned a lot about keeping your audience in mind. No one in my big Irish-American family appreciated the spicy green beans!

 
At 6:55 AM, Anonymous Jessie said...

I'm an avid baker. I taught myself to bake when I was in college. I rarely cook, though. I'm willing to spend hours in the kitchen making a cake, but then will pop in a frozen pizza for dinner. This winter I signed up for a continuing ed. class called the science of food, flavor, and farming. It's really motivated me to start eating REAL food for dinner. I signed up for CSA and will start getting a share in June. I think the biggest barrier to cooking food for myself is that it's always felt like a waste of time. When I bake I share the food with other people and making dinner it's just for me. I'm starting to realize that doing good things for myself is a valuable use of my time. So for now I'm trying to make a real meal once a week and I eat salads with lots of stuff on top every other night. I've stopped buying frozen pizzas and boxed mac & cheese because if I don't have them in the house I can't eat them. I'm really looking forward to this summer. I think the CSA share is really going to challenge me and teach me about so many new foods.

 
At 6:57 AM, Blogger emma said...

From a very young age I would stand in my great-grandmothers kitchen with a big glass of sweet tea and watch her make dumplings, gravy, fresh whipped cream for dessert. My grandmother and my mother also liked to cook. But it wasn't until I got into college that I really appreciated their cooking, though I still had no passion, no fire in my belly, to recreate their dishes. Ramen was my meal of choice. Everything else was too intimidating. It took too long to cook, or I didn't have the money for fresh ingredients- at least, these are the excuses that I made.

Right before I got married I began feeling sick. My aunt has celiac disease and I knew it was often times hereditary, so I booked an appointment to get things tested out, and immediately cut gluten out of my diet to give it my own little test run.

I immediately fell in love with cooking, and the earthy smell of the farmers markets. A passion had emerged.

Turns out I didn't have celiac disease, but rather something trivial and easily fixed. I consider this "scare" to be a great blessing to me and my little family of two. Since then we have really learned so much about our bodies and life in general. What it means to truly live- to, as you would say, dance in the kitchen.

Your blog got me through so much of that time when I thought that I had celiacs. Now, I recommend it to people who do have celiacs and don't quite know where to begin (my brother in laws girlfriend- she was just going to continue to eat gluten- I quickly recommended your blog and gave her my copy of your book).

I hope Jamie Oliver’s food revolution can do for people what you did for me. I watch it every week, and I don't really ever watch TV. I just am so grateful for what he is doing.

 
At 7:00 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

I grew up at the elbow of my mom and dad, and during holidays a the elbows of my aunts. I was always curious, I loved the privilege of getting to stir the Thanksgiving gravy. "No sweetie, stir it in a figure 8, not a circle" Food has always been a pretty big part of my life and at the oddest moments will take me back to a memory of my childhood.

I started cooking seriously when I was 13, but only once every few weeks because I just didnt think I could do it that well. In high school I surpassed my mom in the kitchen... dont get me wrong, Mom's cooking is good, well seasoned, some of my favorite food, but I wanted to try more exotic stuff. My cooking had taken off by my senior year of high school. That was tough year, very isolating from a social aspect and I found cooking was a release for me. Instead of coming home and crying every afternoon like I had been, I would come home heated, kind of angry but with a new found knowledge of where to channel that energy. "Mom, I'm cooking dinner tonight!" it became the catch phrase for I had another crappy day at school.

But Im so glad I found my passion. Now Im graduating from college and my mom is sad every time she thinks about my being far away at grad school next year because I wont be home to cook. Its my love language. I like you, I love you... let me cook for you.

Beyong my love to cook, I love to teach friends to cook. Give a man a fish he'll eat for a day, teach a man to fish he'll eat for a lifetime. Teach him to cook and he;ll be having the best fish ever for a lifetime!The best experience I had was when I taught a gal pal how to cook. After getting married a year and a half ago and hearing from her about the endless turkey sandwiches they ate.. for every meal I put my foot down. Spending an afternoon teaching her how to make baked ziti and baked chicken Alfredo, showing her how you can have a home cooked meal easy and make it in large quantity to store so you and hubby have homemade ready to heat up meals even in your busy scheule gave her this new sense of excitement. It was so cute to watch her get excited about the possibilities, and to watch her husband kind of fall in love with her all over again as she spread cheese over pasta. That was a priceless gift to watch just for teaching a girlfriend some basic recipes to cook!

I have loved Jamie Oliver since I first saw him when I was 15. I of course thought he was cute, but I loved his fresh approach to cooking. His love of farm fresh ingredients and I am so happy to see that he is braving our American sense of entitlement to a crappy Big mac and pride to try and better the food standards for a generation rising!

 
At 7:00 AM, Blogger Debra said...

I was taught to cook by family members ... mom & day, & grandma. Time with the family in the kitchen & at the table was always "the norm."
One of my goals when I had children was to do the same....and we have. They are grown now, love to eat good food, love to cook for their loved ones....means the world to me.

 
At 7:02 AM, Blogger Jennifer @ No Place Life Home said...

I learned to cook out of self-preservation. My mom was the queen of Hamburger Helper and Rice-A-Roni. She had a few meals that she actually made from scratch, but she only prepared them once or twice a year. After I got married, I decided that there had to be a better way to eat. I slowly learned what seasonings tasted like and tried new recipes. When we went casein free a few years ago, I started making more and more things from scratch. Last year, when we stopped eating gluten, I started making almost everything from scratch. I am amazed at how much better my whole family feels.

 
At 7:07 AM, Blogger Jennwynn said...

I'm trying to learn to cook now. I've been reading your blog for... well, years now and loving your voice and your beautiful words, and wishing I could get my mind wrapped around cooking for myself.

Two things have just happened -- my boyfriend is deployed, so I have a year that's completely on my own, and my mom got diagnosed with a liver condition that's genetic. I *need* to work on healthy eating -- and to do that I *need* to wrap my brain around cooking. :)

I'm not a complete cooking moron (I can come up with something if pressed), but cooking anything is such a production. I never have what I need, so cooking for myself requires at least one (sometimes more) special stops at the grocery store. I've been trying to find a book that will help me with what to buy when I'm there -- I wander around aimlessly a lot of the time. I really want to take that beautiful leafy thing home with me, but I have no idea what to make with it, and it would just spoil anyway...

So, first thank you for inspiring me. :) And, do you have any suggestions for books for someone in my situation? I'm really looking for something that says: Go buy these 4 pots, keep these main ingredients on-hand, here's a list of what to buy to make these 4 dishes. Is there a website that I've missed?

Again, thanks!

~wynn

 
At 7:11 AM, Blogger Dianna said...

I'm afraid as I was reading, I was thinking, oh the book sounds good, very good point, and all sorts of sensible things... and then, that was mostly obliterated by, is that a Cornish pastie? My husband and I went to England for our honeymoon, and discovered Cornish pasties while there. ON returning, I took over most of the cooking at home - my husband wisely had been cooking for himself for a good long while before we met, but I was making do most of the time. Cornish pasties were one of the earliest things I made by myself (sounds silly, but I didn't even cut up my own raw meat at first), from pastry to dicing potatoes. They're still one of his favorite dishes, and my first family 'specialty'.

 
At 7:19 AM, Blogger Amy Sell said...

Thank you for letting me know about this book. I learned to cook gluten free very recently from a friend who was diagnosed this year with celiac. We started simple with gluten free pasta- and a terrific salad- and now I have progressed to breads and 'more complicated' recipes.

 
At 7:19 AM, Blogger tallmisto said...

I love Jamie Oliver and I love this post. It sums up all I've been thinking while watching.

I think I learned to cook from watching. I loved watching PBS cooking shows when I was little and wanted so much to throw stuff from little bowls to big pots and watch the magic happen. I would watch my mom stir and mix and decided one day to jump in.

I've just picked up things from magazines to foodtv to my family. It's always been something imperative to know if I wanted to eat. And I wanted to eat well.

 
At 7:20 AM, Blogger Madison said...

No one formally taught me how to cook, I just loved to help my Mom prepare dinner, bake cookies, or whatever she was doing in the kitchen. I gathered all of the basics from those experiences and continuously supplement my knowledge with books, blogs and cooking shows. My boyfriend can fry an egg and that's about it. He would love to learn more, but I'm not the most patient teacher. It would be great to have a cookbook that could help him learn and me teach!

 
At 7:22 AM, Blogger emily said...

I grew up with a father that cooked for a living, in his store. The passion was just sort of there in me. But lately, my talk of cooking on a regular basis has inspired a friend of mine to cook. I haven't been able to directly cook with her (but will soon), but she's been cooking more and eating out less and keeps raving to me. It makes me happy that the art and love of cooking can be passed directly and indirectly through people.

 
At 7:29 AM, OpenID operagirlcooks.com said...

I learned how to cook from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook! My parents are both fine cooks, but my real instructor was Marion Cunningham. I have a vivid memory of standing on a stool in front of a cutting board when I was eleven years old. Next to the cutting board was the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. On top of the cutting board? A raw chicken. In my hand? The largest chef's knife I could find in the knife drawer. My parents were in the next room, and I was standing there looking at those illustrations of how to cut a chicken into eight pieces, hoping my parents would not notice me wielding a huge knife! The chicken ended up a little worse for the wear, but I felt so accomplished when I'd finished taking it apart.

 
At 7:34 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

i learned to cook from my mom and from the internet. i went to college and realized how important it was to me to eat well, i started cooking, and haven't stopped since!

i love jamie oliver. any way we can get people talking about these issues is fine with me!

 
At 7:38 AM, Blogger Alexis said...

Both my parents contributed to the cook I am today -- not only by helping develop my palate and my open-mindedness toward food, but because they were so passionate about it. They genuinely enjoy cooking, and after seeing that every day for 18 years, I became the same way. I was the only college student I knew who religiously made strata for weekend brunches with friends, and seared flat-iron steak for lunch with salad :)

 
At 7:46 AM, Blogger Heather said...

We love Jamie. It's been amazing how he has gotten people to start a conversation about just what is it that we're eating. Friends are talking about our school lunchrooms. My son has watched the show, kind of horrified, and glad he takes his own lunch.

We are working to teach our boys how to help in the kitchen. We go to our local farmers market, and they help us choose ingredients. We don't cook fancy - but believe that simple preparations with fresh, healthful ingredients are all that is needed for satisfying dishes. It's very important to me that they know where food comes from, honestly. How to make bread. How to grow vegetables (we will be gardening this summer). That yes, bacon comes from pigs. And so on.

I don't remember helping much in the kitchen in my childhood, so while my mother was a great cook and I was well nourished, I got into adulthood with no idea of what to do. I want different for my kids.

 
At 7:48 AM, Blogger Missy said...

I learned how to cook using this site and your book, How I Found the Food... I thought feeling like crap all the time was just my lot in life. After stumbling on your blog and talking with others struggling with celiac's, I realized I needed to make a change. I used many of the recipes you wrote as guides and created versions of my own. It helped to have a jumping point, so thank you for being mine!

 
At 7:50 AM, Blogger Brittany said...

My mom is an amazing cook, but I never learned from here. I started cooking about 2 years ago, and I was pretty bad at it. Slowly I've gotten better and I've even started tackling bread and cakes (although my croissants were an epic disaster!) Since becoming vegetarian I've had to rethink how I cook, but I have been introduced to so many new flavors and methods of cooking. It's so rewarding to cook for myself and know that I made it all from scratch. I've begun teacher my sister things here and there as well and now my mom asks me for cooking advice sometimes!

 
At 8:00 AM, Blogger kr said...

I learned to cook from my mom, and the fact that when I turned 12 (or so) she used to make my brother and I each cook dinner during the week. We had quite a bit of fun with it, my brother used to do things like put weird herbs/spices in meatloaf and sometimes it worked out and sometimes it didn't but it was very good learning lessons. Luckily we were raised with our own chickens, pigs, steers and a huge garden. I try to teach my children the same things. I have all boys and I believe each of them should know how to cook, do their own laundry, clean (clean a bathroom) before they leave home. (my husband was never taught these things). Thx

 
At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Kerry said...

I learned to cook with my mom and dad by following recipes. We baked Chirstmas cookies from scratch (6-8 kinds) every year and now we do it with my own kids. I love that my daughter who is 4 likes to help me as well. And my 2 year old wants in on the action too. I woudl love to try this book out as I am always grasping for new ideas on what to make quickly as I work too. Thanks for a great blog!

 
At 8:08 AM, Blogger Cindy said...

Starting in my teens, I learned to cook mostly from trial and error and from watching the few cooking shows on TV at that time (Julia, Graham). Mom hated to cook and was happy to let me experiment.

Hubby and I are enjoying watching Jamie, almost as much as we loved "Jamie at Home".

Thank you for the scones recipe!

Cindy
wheatlessfoodie.blogspot.com

 
At 8:08 AM, Blogger Cove Girl said...

I started learning how to cook by watching my Dad when I was younger (a father dream "Daddy can we have stir-fry"). He learned from the Joy of Cooking. Then when I was on my own I bought The Joy of Cooking, because my Dad would not relinquish his well broken in copy. Now I have a roommate that is learning how to cook and she asks me all sorts of questions, most I know, which mostly consists of teaching her to use the proper knives for cutting (the stories I could tell would horrify you). But for what I don't I go back to the "Bible" The Joy of Cooking. It is a joy to cook for myself, but an even bigger joy when I have friends over for dinner. They always ask "When are you going to cook for us again?" For me cooking is just a way of feeding and tending to the soul of those that you love and nothing could be better:) Share the JOY!

 
At 8:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Growing up, I learned how to bake, but not how to cook. In college, I lived in dorms. And then I spent 10 years on the road, traveling with a large consulting firm.

And that's how I found myself, at the ripe ol' age of 32, trying to teach myself to cook! Falling in love actually helped - I WANTED to cook for my love. The first meal I ever cooked for him was an Indian feast...and I knew that we could always order takeout, if it was a disaster.

Ten years have gone by, and some of my best and favorite memories are now related to cooking. I've heard that food is love - I think it's actually COOKING food that is love: love of self, love for others, love of creativity.

Ann

 
At 8:11 AM, Blogger Benjamin Serven said...

I learned to cook out of necessity. My two older sisters were married this last year, and I was forced into the kitchen. I never thought I would enjoy it. Now of the 21 meals we eat a week, I make 12-16. Thanks for a great blog!

Benjamin

 
At 8:17 AM, Blogger Mel in Mo said...

I LOVE Jamie Oliver! I have been watching him for years on BBC! I am so glad the naked chef has crossed the pond! He is an inspiration and so are you! I would love to win his book!

 
At 8:20 AM, Blogger Emily said...

My parents taught me to cook, and I am now teaching my husband! He grew up eating very plain foods (and no vegetables! gasp!), and didn't know he liked strawberries (he had never tried them) until the age of 25. Meanwhile, I grew up vegetarian and adventurous (food-wise).

We are now enjoying cooking together, and it is great for both of us to find new ways of thinking about food and eating healthier. The first time he followed a new recipe all by himself (it was Spanish rice) was absolutely wonderful.

 
At 8:20 AM, Blogger Jess said...

I learned how to cook for love.

Shortly before I married my husband, we moved me out of my rickety, falling apart, too-tiny apartment and into the place that we had chosen to start our lives together in. I fell in love with the apartment at first sight because of the spacious open kitchen, with floor to ceiling cabinets, a gas stove, and a built-in wine rack. It was the kind of kitchen I could picture myself in.

I've always been able to cook, (and usually well) a gift no doubt passed along to me by my mother and my grandmother, excellent cooks both. But I didn't cook for myself much past opening up boxes or bags, boiling water on the stove, and using the microwave. Cooking for one can be a lonely endeavor, and much of the time I was exactly that--lonely. I forgot many of the small lessons I had learned helping my mother and grandmother in their kitchens. I forgot how good food tastes when it's made by your own two hands.

The new kitchen was a revelation, a was this new facet of my relationship with my soon-to-be-husband. The first weekend in our new place, I had him over for dinner. I whipped up a from-scratch lasagna for the first time ever, tossing in seasonings with abandon and making something delicious. From then on, every time I cooked something new that my husband loved, I could feel my pride blooming ever more and my hunger (no pun intended) to cook more, experiment more, becoming more ravenous.

Now that I have learned I can't have gluten, that gluten is the key to the many health problems I've experienced over the past few years, I cook for love again, except this time it's love for me. I am discovering new foods every day, new ways to taste, new things to cook and new cooking techniques. Now, I love my body, myself, and food again, even more than before.

 
At 8:24 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

I am learning, learning, learning! All the time, I am learning how to cook. I think I make more mistakes the more I try but I don't really mind. I am so in love with taking ingredients of different densities, colors, and nutritional values out of the bags they were placed so lovingly into by a farmer's market helper. And when I whizz around my teeny kitchen, trying to piece them together into a pleasant bit of sustenance for my friends, my new-found family in a new country, I feel at home. I think I started cooking when I left home, to try to recreate it abroad, and what I found was a new home! I love food! Thanks so much for sharing!

 
At 8:24 AM, Blogger Lindsay said...

I learned to cook while in college. I realized the food that was available was compromising my health and ability to function at school! So I became a part of a co-op called Good Foods in Lexington,KY and fell in love with real food.

Now it is my dream to have and edible education garden for children to come and learn all about the beauty of food.

 
At 8:24 AM, Blogger annette said...

My mom had this Betty Crocker Boys and Girls cookbook on the shelf with all of her cookbooks when I was a kid. Some mornings when I was 9 or 10 I would pull it out and stare at the pictures and the read through recipes. One morning, after having watched my mom make scrammbled eggs for us many times, I got brave pulled out the Boys and Girls cookbook and followed the directions to make scrammbled eggs. As I recall they turned out pretty well. I don't think my mom was too happy that I was operating the hot stove by myself but she was glad to have breakfast made for her!

 
At 8:29 AM, OpenID theduryees said...

I was 20 when I got married, but I had a great job that got me home an hour before my husband. I would come home, kick off my shoes, and proceed to follow recipes to a T so I would be sure to impress my new husband. I learned to love it, and slowly but surely I am becoming more confident in the kitchen. Now that we are dealing with some food sensitivities, I am glad I'm not afraid to try new things.

 
At 8:30 AM, Blogger Ella said...

My mom taught me the basics. "No child of mine is going to go through life not knowing how to feed themselves." She had shelves upon shelves of cookbooks. My brother had dreams of being a chef. We started a family tradition of he and I cooking Xmas breakfasts together. Dad tried to teach me Peruvian food.

ellaredstar at gmail dot com

 
At 8:49 AM, Blogger Christine said...

When I was growing up, my mom mostly cooked our meals by herself. It seemed like magic to me, until one Christmas I planned out an elaborate Italian meal and we cooked it together. Everyone raved about it and from then on I was hooked on cooking!

 
At 8:49 AM, Blogger Brenda said...

My grandma was the first person to teach me to cook. She gave me my first cookbook (Betty Crocker) at age 10. My mother would put me in charge of making a roast (at age 10), not having a clue, I would call my grandma. There were home-ec classes, and even mothers of friends. Then along came my first mother-in-law, and I learned so much about FRESH ingredients. I had never used fresh garlic (at age 19). Then I worked in a hospital kitchen, and learned even more. Now, today, I can throw together gluten free pancakes without measuring. Infact, I rarely measure, except when baking. Cooking is very natural to me.

I taught my son to cook when he was small. He used his first sharp paring knife at age 4, stabbed the palm of his hand, and he went on to learn to use knives the proper way---with respect! This boy would ask to make potato salad when he was bored, because he liked peeling eggs and cutting potatoes. He wanted to be a chef.

Now I cook with my daughter, who is 6 with Downs Syndrome. She has not used a knife yet. She has dumped a whole bowl of pancake batter on the floor! She is teaching me patience while I teach her to cook.

 
At 8:54 AM, Blogger Palmer Public Library said...

Am I too late? Just read this Tues morning.

When I was about 9 or 10, my mother went to work, and my folks bought me a watch so I'd know when to go inside from playing, and start getting supper ready. I went from opening cans of veggies to planning, shopping and cooking meals before I was out of high school. My mom helped me a lot in the beginning of course, and especially in how to substitute ingredients. I was resentful growing up, and thankful so many times when I was out on my own that I knew how to cook, how to shop for real food, and how to keep me and my roommates/husband fed and happy.

 
At 9:05 AM, Blogger Käthe said...

My mom's mom cooked everything from a box. Betty Crocker stuff. So my mom barely knew how to cook. So yes, I barely knew how to cook. So I started watching PBS on Saturday mornings. Not cartoons, cooking shows. I was only a kid, but I was learning to cook. I had all the best chefs as teachers: Jacques Pepin, Yan Can Cook, Julia Child, Lidia Bastianich, and more.

I am now one of the best cooks I know. Really am. And it's all due to public television.

 
At 9:06 AM, OpenID calistalee said...

My mom taught me to cook and bake when I was young. She taught me how to do the basics and then in high school, I cooked breakfast at a bbq restaurant and learned about timing everything just right so it all comes out piping hot at the same time. And then, as I got older, I gleaned a few tips from friends who could take a look at what they have in their cupboards and ice box and garden and turn out a decent spread. Now, since I am a mother, I make sure we have a good dinner with fresh fruit and vegetables, and we eat it at the table and just talk about the day.

 
At 9:08 AM, Blogger CherylK said...

I suppose you could say that my mother taught me to cook. She taught me how to make the best fried chicken in the whole world, for one thing. It wasn't healthy, probably, but it was very delicious.

But I really learned when I was a teenager and my mom had to go back to Ireland because my grandfather had a heart attack. She was there for several months and I cooked for my father and two sisters. It was a start. Nobody complained that I recall so I must have been a decent cook.

I also sewed clothing for my sisters and me...my mother was brilliant with a sewing machine and pretty much made every stitch we wore (because we didn't have much money).

You never saw a happier girl than I was when my Mom returned home!

 
At 9:10 AM, Blogger CherylK said...

Oh, and by the way...I love what Jamie Oliver is trying to accomplish...what a guy! It's a shame that someone from another country has to whack some sense into us, though.

 
At 9:20 AM, Blogger Guin said...

My aunt taught me to bake, but I taught myself how to cook. I should say I'm teaching myself, because I'm still learning, with the help of food blogs and the internet being able to answer how to cut up a mango or how to cook sausages.

 
At 9:24 AM, Blogger Tami Hagglund said...

I grew up in a home where salad was colorless iceberg lettuce with whitened carrot strips and scant pieces of wilted red cabbage, slathered in 350 calories worth of ranch dressing from a bottle.

We were deeply impoverished ate a lot of food from the food bank so if we had Hamburger Helper I though it was the most amazing and luxurious treat. Eating "out" was McDonald's.

From age 18-27 I gained 150 pounds, and I started out already at 220. Part of my transformation has included gastric bypass, since my metabolism was just slaughtered after 10 years of drastic losses and gains, but the biggest change in my life has been eating REAL food. It started with my husband's gluten intolerance (dermatitis herpetiformis), but then I committed to eat food that fuels my body and isn't packed full of fake stuff.

Honestly, I'm not even sure how I learned to cook. I rarely follow recipes. I would watch Food Network (before we cut cable to save $$) and try things out on my own. I've fallen in love with cooking and respect food as something to enjoy and bless others with as opposed to something to engorge myself on. It's been a wonderful change for me, and I LOVE what Jamie Oliver is doing. I just blogged about him last night!

Thanks for spreading more awareness of this, Shauna, and if I win the book I'll be thrilled!

 
At 9:43 AM, Blogger nod said...

I really learned in Home Ec classes in seventh grade. My mother is a great cook, but didn't share, so I never really learned from her. After college, I started watching the food network, which was new at the time, and that's when I really started to cook for myself.

I found the book "how to cook without a book" and that was what I really needed to break out of recipes and just go with techniques.

I don't bake at all, or really ever use my oven, it's all on the stovetop for me.

 
At 9:47 AM, Blogger Simone de Beauvoir was totally hot said...

This morning on the radio I heard the US military is declaring a "war on obesity" in an effort to reform high school lunch (to me this should begin earlier, but so is trying to teach a foreign language). Apparently they are constantly discharging recruits based on obesity and poor physicality. It makes me wonder if Jamie Oliver and this show have anything to do with that announcement happening now? it makes me wonder if things will finally begin to change... I know I have cooked all my life (I am only 25.. teehee...) but did a lot caring for my younger sister growing up and after I left to live on my own. But only in the last year, while making a commitment to research and be inspired by food (through blogs and cook books and learning) and shopping at the farmers market (Ballard on Sunday!!) Have I really become a better cook making food I know is not just good but also good for me, and interesting to create and experiment with. This year I am committed to trying preserving and pickling as well as eating much less wheat and white sugar, I am trying to eat only food where I understand the ingredients lists, and incorporate mostly veg meals (thank you michael pollan). Its small steps for my life, but because I am still fairly young they are really shaping the person and adult I'm becoming and shaping the family I will someday have. I'm proud to be building my life on these principals and the best part is it isn't hard, once committed it all just makes me happy!

 
At 9:52 AM, Blogger Maria said...

We are enjoying Jamie's show. I am glad he is bringing attention to such important issues. My dad taught me how to cook and bake at a young age. I can't imagine a life without it.

 
At 9:53 AM, Blogger Cara Maat said...

It is true that cooking and building a relationship with your food has a spirit,mind and body effect. I've been married for just over a year now and unexpectedly, much of that time has been focused on learning how to eat differently and learning how to cook, period. Because of the unconditional love of my husband, I was able to come to face with some health issues I was ignoring as well as some heart issues I was ignoring. Yet when doctors told me medicine is what I needed, I was not okay with that and, instead, chose to reach deep within my spirit and find strength to tackle something I wasn't taught or didn't think I could do: Cook. I asked a dear friend of mine who works for a chef and who cooks very clean and fresh, if she would help me. So, every week she started sending me a new "challenge". A unique, and healthy recipe would make it's way into my e-mail inbox and off I would go to the market to figure out what the heck all of those mysterious ingredients were. I burned a lot of the recipes, and even forgot some ingredients all together, but I soon realized that our newly wed meals were more filled with vegetables and whole foods than anything else. I found a joy and energy when I could say to myself.."oh my word! I just made that!" Better yet, for my husband to say.."Oh my word! I just ate those vegetables and liked them!" We have now taken a step further as we avoid gluten and most dairy products. I feel a sense of new health, new love, and new confidence in myself. It has given my husband and I an excitement at the thought of teaching our future children what we didn't know growing up. I am so grateful for this journey.

 
At 9:59 AM, Blogger Sholeh said...

When I was a toddler, my mother would give me dried beans and a big bowl to play with while she cooked. The first thing I remember cooking with her was at the age of 4, and it was Rosettes (batter dropped into a pot of hot oil, then fished out and covered in powdered sugar). She is fearless in the kitchen, and I learned to love cooking. Good thing, too, because once we figured out I was a celiac, I HAD to cook for myself!

 
At 10:02 AM, Blogger enthusiastic said...

I learned to cook because of my mom.
When I got married, I could only cook 3 meals, and we ate a lot of shake and bake chicken and lipton's sidekicks until I got sick of it!
Eventually I got tired of eating food that was so salty and full of preservatives (my mom's food was always so delicious and homemade, that canned or boxed or dehydrated never measured up). And I taught myself to cook! Thank you Betty Crocker's How to Cook Cookbook and Allrecipes.com!

 
At 10:04 AM, Blogger Kim said...

I learned to cook from my Mom and my Grandmothers. All three are fabulous cooks and love being in the kitchen, playing and experimenting. As long as I can remember my family hung out in the kitchen. We had a nook where we could sit and talk to Mom as she cooked or help her. She didn't mind when we made a mess.

 
At 10:14 AM, Blogger Crystal said...

I have gradually taught myself to cook over the last ten years, but I have to admit that watching Jamie's show has been a relevation. I don't have to make every meal gourmet and fat filled. The last few weeks have been full of fast and healthy stir frys and well balanced meals. Thank you Jamie!

 
At 10:14 AM, Blogger AuntieMel said...

great question - and it just happened this week! my little sister has just started exploring the world of cooking (at 39) and she made a dish with wine in it.She used cooking wine as the recipe stated, but said it tasted 'flat'. I explained you should only cook with wine you would enjoy drinking so this week she tried the dish again and used a good wine and PRESTO, as she said, "the taste exploded"! Yay - she's on her way...

 
At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Nurit - familyfriendlyfood said...

I think is what we try to do as food bloggers. Make/test good recipes that work and pass them on to other people.
(It's not about being crazy photog our food and narcissist, as some people see it.)

 
At 10:16 AM, Blogger Kate said...

A friend from college first interested me in cooking. She was from NYC, a Sephardic Jew who had friends and relatives from all over the world. Just like her, the food that she cooked was a fusion of ingredients and cuisines and flavors. The first thing we made together was an out-of-this-world vegan stew she called Ugandan Dal. Part Ugandan peanut stew, part Indian dal, 100% healthy, nutritious food.

 
At 10:18 AM, Blogger Callista said...

My father is an amazing cook, and dinner prep was always a good time to talk and help out. He taught me to cook when I was a teenager by calling me one afternoon from work and telling me to make dinner, stating that I had helped me enough in the kitchen to know what I was doing.

Whatever I made wasn't great, but it was edible, and that experience has stayed with me forever. My younger brother started food experiments at seven, and is now in culinary school, simply because we were involved in cooking at a young age.

Go go Jamie Oliver! <3

 
At 10:18 AM, Blogger G. said...

I love that show and what Jamie is doing!
My mom always jokes that she couldn't get me to make a box of macaroni and cheese when I was younger. :) Now, I don't even buy boxed mac and cheese except for the occasional Annies for my kiddos. I make everything. Very little packaged food comes through these doors. I learned to cook by just doing it and messing up a lot and reading cookbooks. Whether she knew it or not, I watched my mom cook all of the time and I learned from that as well. Baking has been a little more difficult after being diagnosed with Celiac. I have learned gluten-free baking from you and several other blogs. :) Thanks.

ginaboston1@gmail.com

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger Kwiksatik said...

I grew up in what I call a "Campbell's Soup Kitchen." My mom made us delicious food growing up. It was predictibly good, salty, heavy on the carbs, and always contained at least one can of Campbell's soup. (Needless to say, I always had a weight problem.)

When it came time for me to move out on my own, I quickly learned that the reciepies I had were all based on can-size ratios. I had to re-learn, fast, or face eating Chicken Stroganoff for eight days in a row. Lucky for me, my roomie had grown up in a family that made almost everything from scratch except ketchup and mustard.

The first few months were filled with curry, stir fry, italian and sushi. After that, I met an amazing group of friends from Mexico, and I've spent the last year spreading masa on corn husks to make tamales, whirling rice in the blender to make horchata, and roasting a hundred different spices and chiles to experiment with my own sauces. I've come far enough that coworkers "order out" lunch by calling me the day before to bring in a signature dish or two.

Now when I eat out, I look for small places that prepare everything fresh and local if possible. My son's first food was curried carrots and when we go through the grocery store, he grabs at the broccoli, not the ice cream. And I've got a list of treasured reciepies I've created or modified to be my own. My journey into cooking had changed my life in many ways, and I expect it to keep on going.

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger Pamela said...

I learned to cook from my mother when I was 9 or 10 and was cooking regular meals for the family starting at age 11 for 4-5 nights per week. I learned how to saute an onion, brown ground beef and make a handful of recipes by adding cans of soup. But we also experimented with health food (carob, tofu, greens--a new discovery in the 70s) and I researched combining vegetable proteins and poked through the health food store (as well as the hardware store) down the street. I learned things from those years of cooking that I'm hardly aware of any more after all these years but every day I'm profoundly grateful I can cook, even though I do it very differently now.

 
At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Tanya in Alaska said...

So you want to know why I learned to cook? well put plainly, I was fat. I had no real idea how to cook when I got married so I faked it for awhile. I focused on simple, easy, comfort fattening foods.. and I ate ALOT of it. One day I was sitting in my new house, over 200lbs and had a hard time getting up to play with my kids. That was my AHA moment. I talked with some friends who were losing weight and they invited me to a local weight watchers meeting. I joined and realized how I REALLY needed to retrain my eating habits. For example, If I exercised for 30mins I did NOT get to eat a whole pie as I had always thought was ok. So I bought a few good cookbooks and went to town. It has taken a few years and I still don't think I am a fantastic cook but good enough, my kids and husband are healthy! My daughter has a gluten intolerance so I am now learning how to be GF and non-GMO and buying local (which is tricky in Alaska!). It's been a fun adventure and I learn more and more everyday. Thank you for listening!

 
At 10:24 AM, Blogger Lori said...

You are so right - and so is Jamie. Ironically, and my daughter would not agree*, learning to live gluten-free has been the best thing that's happened to my cooking.

*I say this b/c she's the only one in the family with celiac.

 
At 10:27 AM, Blogger M.Y. said...

My mum taught me how to cook, mainly at holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. She wasn't much for cooking, but when she did it, she was good - and she taught me her tricks. Now, having been through college on typical college fare, my husband is getting me excited about cooking again and teaching me lots of things. We have a lot of fun together and can't wait to try more! Cooking gluten free is new for both of us but I can't wait to get better.

 
At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Val said...

I was forced to learn to cook for myself when, at 20, I became a vegan in a household of hardcore meateaters. I can honestly say that in that time, I ate more cuisines, more adventurously than I ever had before. Like you, Shauna, I came back to meat and dairy, but it was my Celiac diagnosis that brought me here. When I added them back into my diet, despite my diagnosis, I was overwhelmed with my abundance of food options! This past Christmas Eve was the moment of most pride for me - when I prepared dinner of seared wild duck breasts in a red wine sauce for that meat eating family of mine, and everyone loved it. Even my brother. Which is saying a lot.

 
At 10:28 AM, Blogger Mary said...

Love Jamie Oliver!

I wish I had paid more attention in the kitchen when I was young so I could have learned firsthand how to make traditional Korean food, instead of trying to make approximations of those dishes now. But I'm getting better in the kitchen and trying to be more adventurous and not so dependent on following recipes word for word.

 
At 10:30 AM, Blogger Erin said...

Simone de beauvior is hot- They are just making it public. The military has discharged people for it for years. One of the responsibility of the yeoman staff is to make sure the members are at weight and they are weighed periodically. They are then given time and help to get in shape and are discharged if they fail. This is standard operating procedure.

 
At 10:30 AM, Blogger Jenny said...

My mom taught me how to cook. When my big brother and I were young (old enough though to be trusted with knives) we were in charge of cooking one meal a week usually. But up until that age we were always involved in cooking! I always helped bake because that didn't involve many knives and as I got older I was allowed to make the salads and chop all the veggies myself and I could help cook on the stove. Also starting in about 4th grade we had to be in charge of our own lunches for school, my mom wouldn't make them for us anymore, so if we wanted to eat we had to make our sandwiches and pack our bags. I love that I knew how to cook when I moved out on my own, most of my friends didn't because they never had to cook at home with their parents so while they ate things out of boxes I had chicken with potatoes and asparagus.

 
At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Hansengirl1168 said...

I learnt to cook when my mother went to work when I was 11. In a huge gift of confidence to me, she told me, "Stephanie, you're in charge of dinner from now on. Let me know what you need from the store ahead of time. I'll help you plan meals and you can ask me any questions you like. Think of us with love, and make us some good, well-balanced meals." By the time I was 12, I had ditched recipes and was out there in front of the stove, excited, and making up recipes like my famous chicken-with-green-peppercorn sauce. Yes, there were disasters (taco pie?) but my family was game. Their trust in me, and the knowledge that I could be so responsible and was contributing in such an important way to the running of the household gave such a boost to my sense of self-worth, confidence, creativity, and fun that I have loved cooking ever since.
Thank you Mom.

 
At 10:34 AM, Blogger Tiff said...

I am Italian and grew up cooking next to my mother, much like Lu is growing up cooking next to you. I love food; I love new food; I love trying recipes; I love knowing I am saving money making something at home that I could buy in a restaurant.

When I met my boyfriend four years ago, I was a senior in college and he was a junior. His diet consisted of bagels, pizza, fried chicken tenders, and other packaged or overly-monotone food. He was very closed-minded about eating and trying new things; textures easily bothered him in the mouth and the consistency of fruits disgusted him. He stuck with what was familiar and never really stepped outside his comfort zone.

Well, we fell in love. Two weeks after our first kiss, I turned 22 and he showed up at my apartment in a tuxedo and took me to a sushi dinner. After we'd ordered we sat at the table, holding hands, and he confessed he'd never had sushi before; he'd actually never had any fish. I was flabbergasted, both at the idea of someone being 21 and not yet having tried fish, and at the idea of his bravery in trying something so exotic for the first time simply because he knew it would make me happy on my birthday.

When I graduated I got a job near our college, in book publishing -- actually at Wiley, where your books have been published -- and every Friday he would come over with a new wine and we would make a new recipe. I would pick dishes that were based in something he enjoyed -- chicken, for example -- but incorporated a risky or slightly scary element for him -- fresh diced tomatoes, for example -- and we would cook them together. I taught him to rinse and chop vegetables. I taught him to trim the fat from chicken. I taught him to heat a pan before putting any oil or meat in it. He started really enjoying cooking, and after we were done, he would eat and really enjoy the dishes we'd made together.

He tried his first bell pepper with me. I gave him his first slice of apple. The first time he ever ate a taco was at my mother's house. We made baked ziti for his friends at his apartment last month and his best friend leaned over to me and said, "I still can't believe how far he's come; he never would have eaten this before he met you."

Food has brought us closer, and given us some of the most special moments we've ever had. The first time we made chicken parmesan together, two years ago, he took photos. "I want to remember it after I've devoured it all," he said.

Now, four years later, I have been away from him for almost 2 years, as I am just finishing my second year of law school in Connecticut while he works as a schoolteacher in New Jersey. We are 100 miles apart and only see each other occasionally. But I have photos saved to my computer that he emailed me three weeks ago. He was in the grocery store and decided to buy tilapia. He lightly breaded it, baked it in the oven, made rice to put alongside, and sliced some red bell peppers. He took photos of the entire process of him cooking this meal; step-by-step I could see him preparing a dinner for himself, alone in his apartment. It was his first time cooking fish without me.

I couldn't stop grinning looking at these photographs; I couldn't help thinking that the arc of his cooking and eating tracks the arc of our relationship. Not only has his love for food and cooking grown over the years, but our love for each other.

Thank you for bringing my attention to the Food Revolution cookbook; it sounds like a perfect first cookbook for him.

 
At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Ina said...

Hi Shauna! Love, love Jamie - I have this book so don't enter me in the contest....but I recently did a post on cookbooks on my blog glutenfreedelightfullydelicious.com -sorry still learning to link! Every word you wrote - I love and totally agree! He is such and inspiration and so are you and the chef!! Bless your hearts! Ina

 
At 10:42 AM, Blogger Ally said...

I never learned to cook. My mother made microwave meals and bought fast food dinners when I was younger. When I got older, my father left us, and we got food at the food bank. At the time, that meant stale cereal and expired soup. I would stare down rats to get to my food. We were that poor. I eventually worked as a waitress so I could eat, and I'd work double shifts so I could get two meals paid for.

When I got married the first time, I learned to cook at the threat of a wooden spoon. My husband expected meals to be made, and on the table by the time he got home. If I didn't...well, it wasn't pretty.

When I finally got out of THAT, I hated cooking, so I never did it. I bought packaged meals and refused to even look at a stove.

Then I discovered I have celiac's disease. Choices being what they are for celiacs, I had to cook. And cook I did. And you know what? It's pretty darn tasty! I don't have the time I wish I did to experiment, but I LOVE to make food and feed people. Slowly but surely, I'm learning new recipes and trying new dishes out on my family and friends. And I FEEL better. The side effect of tasting less plastic is enjoying more food. :)

 
At 10:47 AM, OpenID shornrapunzel said...

I started with baking. My mom let me help with little things like measuring and whisking. Then when I was in high school, Mom went back to work and it became one of my jobs to cook dinner for the family once a week. My Nana, who lived on the other side of the country, heard about my new job and bought me a subscription to Taste of Home magazine, which I idled through, thinking about how simple and unassuming many of the recipes were. I cooked, but I didn't love it.
Then I met the man who is now my husband, and just wanted to feed him, so I bought more cookbooks, and I started watching FoodNetwork, and suddenly my cookbooks overflow the shelf allotted to them, I have a blog about cooking, and I don't always need to look at a recipe to make something delicious! And I like it. It relaxes me and invigorates me all at once.
The next step, I keep telling myself (and him, but as of yet he's having none of it), is the teach my husband to like the idea of cooking. Maybe Jaime Oliver can help us!

 
At 10:53 AM, Blogger Pepper Blossom said...

thank you for this post! my husband has been an english teacher in a high school for almost 4 years now and their school lunches are disgusting!!! pizza, iceberg lettuce ceaser salads...well that's about it. the kids eat horrendously and there are pop machines to boot with caffeinated sodas! i have tried to be diligent about packing him lunches to take with him to school just so he doesn't have to eat that kind of a thing, but most of the kids aren't so lucky. their parents send them to school with a couple of bucks and that is it. people wonder why kids are tired and sluggish at school...one of the reasons is what their lunch choices are.
i would love a chance to win jamie's book! just a couple of weeks ago i was at the library with my kids and a friend. we were sitting looking at cooking light magazines and she told me she had never made homemade pizza before. i said really? she looked at me and nodded her head. i asked her if she would like to learn. her eyes lit up and she said "would you teach me?" i told her sure and that lucky enough i had just bought some yeast. so we got in the car, went home and popped in one of the kids new videos and i taught her how to make pizza crust. it was wonderful and really felt great to be able to teach someone how to make something they had never thought to try on their own. i love your blog and it is such an inspiration to so many people. thank you!

 
At 10:55 AM, Blogger Kait said...

I learned to cook in college. I was depressed and didn't want to go out and meet people so instead I hunkered down in my dorm room with Ramen and Food Network. I learned how to play with flavors, how to play with food, how to make real food and how to be creative with it. I love cooking for my family now, especially my daughters, and I think it's the only good thing that came out of a horrible year.

 
At 10:55 AM, Blogger Rachel W. said...

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is the one reality show I'll watch. I'm amazed at what people eat.

I learned to cook out of necessity. As a middle school student my parents became to busy to cook so there were many convenient meals coming into our home. This was unacceptable. I started to cook as much from scratch as I could. I'd make a grocery list each week for my mother based upon what items I needed at the grocery store. While there were some convenient foods when cooking in middle school I did open our family's eyes (and stomachs) to new foods such as couscous and a variety of vegetables.

 
At 10:59 AM, Blogger Lib Stewart said...

Initially, my grandmother taught me how to cook. I watched and helped her on weekends, after school and when she was making wonderful Christmas gifts of food for family and friends.

Lately you and Danny have been teaching me how to cook. I have a wonderful friend who eates "gluten free" and for a party in a couple of weeks I am making Kentucky Derby tarts with a gluten free crust (which is as good as any crust I have ever made. Last night I sauted two chicken breasts like Danny showed us in his video -- they were works of art! Keep up the good work. Like Jamie Oliver, you inspire us.

 
At 11:02 AM, Blogger Meredith said...

I learned to cook from both my parents and grandmothers as a very young girl. I am now learning to cook all over again having been diagnosed with Celiac's three weeks ago. A good friend hosts an "intimidating food party" every season and this weekend's dinner will be my impetus to try out gluten-free (from scratch) baking for the first time with your Clafoutis recipe.

 
At 11:04 AM, Blogger Pam Grover said...

I am one of the odd ones that learned to cook from my Dad, His mum tought all her kids to cook because you never know if they will have a wife to cook. I have had a love for cooking that has been nutured by everyone around me. Now I am passing that love of food on to my 3 celiac children. The kids and I have started teaching other familys how to bake and cook gluten free as well so that they will stop cheating on there diets. So far we have 4 family that have gone from diffrent meals to the same meals and the celiacs are no longer tempted to cheat. The food revolution is especialy important for celiacs who never learned to cook, and there are a lot of them.

 
At 11:07 AM, Blogger nm said...

You know, I wasn't really into to this until I actually listened to the show via hulu. His level of dedication and determination to use Huntington as a pilot project is amazing. I think sometimes living here we make the assumption that all of the USA is full of quinoa and kale eating Obama supporters. It just isn't that way.

Thank you so much for all you that you and the Chef do as well.

nazila

 
At 11:10 AM, Blogger Miss. Ashley Melle said...

I feel like in some ways I have always known how to cook. I spent a lot of time as a child with my parents in the kitchen, and I learned to cook through diffusion! (also cooking school helped ;))

 
At 11:11 AM, Anonymous moongypsy said...

I grew up in a busy farm family and started cooking dinner and desserts when I was nine. Nothing fancy, but I was on my own with the cooking a few nights every week. The funny thing is that my mother told everyone that I couldn't cook, and of course, I believed her. I didn't realize the obvious until I went on a trip in high school that included one meal that we had to prepare ourselves in our motel kitchenettes. At the supermarket, my roommate asked if I could cook. "No," I said. She said, "That's too bad, because this steak is on sale." Me: "I can't cook, but I can make steak." Her: "It's too bad we can't have some sauteed mushrooms with it." Me: "Those aren't hard to make, we just need garlic and butter." Her, laughing: "I thought you said you couldn't cook!"

I can cook. I love to cook. I read cookbooks like novels. Cooking is creativity you can eat. Life is good.

 
At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't even remember learning how to cook. Lending a hand in the kitchen was just always a part of our day to day routine. We always had a garden outside our back door, foraging excursions for wild berries, produce runs to our local farms, and we canned, froze, and made all of our meals from scratch.
As a kid, sometimes the work seemed unbelievably hard. Now I am so very thankful for the time with my mom in the kitchen, the lessons she taught me, and the love that we shared by making good food for all.

 
At 11:17 AM, Blogger Gina said...

In my 2nd year of university, when I had an apartment and could no longer rely on residence cafeteria food, I called my mom and asked her how to bake a potato. I had never learned at home, because our kitchen was tiny and mom would kick me out while she was cooking because I asked too many questions (what's that? why? how much?) and cooking for/feeding us was stressful. Luckily my roommate in 2nd year loved to cook, so I would sit on the counter and ask her all the questions I could think of. Once I figured out I had CD I didn't trust anything but the very basic foods, so I had to cook the meals I usually bought already packaged. There were many failures, but not only do I now have many go-to recipes, but I'm confident enough in my cooking to make random substitutions and still have it come out right (or even better!)

 
At 11:19 AM, Blogger Megan Vera said...

How did I learn to cook? Well it is quite interesting. Throughout my childhood, including all of high school, my wonderful parents spoiled my brothers and I with homemade fresh breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Pizza was a treat and McDonald was unheard of. But they made 1 small mistake.

After years of homemade dinners and gourmet lunches made by mom... I was sent to college without ever being shown how to cook for myself. Even worse, I was sent to college without ever having been told how to make healthy decisions. I never decided what to eat on my own. I didn't have to think about it because my mom and dad did the deciding for me.

So needless to say I spent four years at college eating pizza, pasta, and loving my daily dose of soft serve from the dining hall. I also spent four years accumulating am extra 65lbs on my 5ft tall body.

It has been almost 2 years since I graduated and I decided enough was enough. So I went to the doctor and the nutritionist and the first piece of advice I go was to start cooking. They were right. I loved it. It automatically got me to start buying fresh foods and eat leftovers for lunch. I immediately started to lose weight.

Shortly after I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Eating gluten free became much easier to deal with as I was already buying fresh produce and cooking my own foods. I just had to substitute a few ingredients.

Now instead of being the queen of takeout I am proud to have my friends and family over to show off my cooking skills. I just recently cooked my first full family Easter dinner and my parents both agreed that they felt I was a better cook than them!

 
At 11:20 AM, Blogger Aubrey said...

i grew up watching my mom bake bread - I loved to help her. She is the kind of cook who doesn't so much cook with recipes, but throwing things in that she thinks will taste good or has around the house. It's funny now because that's exactly how I cook - I'll look at several recipes, but then adjust them based on what I have. I had a baby just 3 weeks ago and I'm excited about teaching him about food, and what tastes good, and one day hopefully teaching him how to cook.

 
At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Meg said...

I learned to cook from my two grandmothers, mainly because my mother was such an awful cook (though truly adorable in other ways) that it was the only way to get good food. I will regret to the end of my days the recipes I failed to get from my Austrian grandmother before she died and cherish the handful I have. I've started teaching my 3 and 5 year old boys to cook and look forward to introducing them to Great-Grandma Liebezeit's goulash and spaetzle.

 
At 11:24 AM, Blogger Amber said...

Hi, Shauna. I was turned onto your blog a few months ago after learning I can't eat gluten and I adore it. This is my first time to post a comment - your invitation to tell a story about learning to cook caught my interest because, well, I love to cook.

I would guess that its probably more common in this country for little girls to learn to cook from their mom's - not me. My mom has never been inspired by food. My dad taught me to cook - and to bake. I remember as a little girl being up on a chair by the kitchen table hunkered over the large ceramic bowl my aunt made (that I still use to make bread in), wooden spoon in hand trying my best with my little body to mix the cookie dough or the bread sponge. We made fresh bread on many a weekend morning and would devour the first loaf right when it came out of the oven. Oh and the pies...they are my favorite. My dad and I will still get together and turn out up to 10 or 12 pies around Thanksgiving and Christmas. My grandma taught him the art of baking and I have been honored to have had some of that passed on to me.

I feel like I'm learning to cook and bake all over again now that I'm gluten free. It was a challenge in the beginning, mostly mentally, but I'm really enjoying it now - discovering new things and learning to make excellent gluten free pie crust has been fun.

Thanks for sharing your adventures and experiences - you have helped to inspire me!

 
At 11:26 AM, Anonymous sproutsinthekitchen said...

We're hooked on Jamie Oliver, too, right now. With my first "baby" turning 4 this year and kindergarten looming, school lunches have all of a sudden become hugely important to me, so I'm cramming for that test right now, reading Ann Cooper, soaking up Jamie and others who are taking this on. Little did I realize when I first started watching the show that he'd move on so fast from school lunches to working to change the eating habits of the entire town--WOW. Of course this makes sense, but WOW.

I grew up on a diet of mostly processed foods - TV dinners, frozen pizza (and pizza rolls!) hot dogs, canned soups and chili, white breads and muffin mixes, which is why your book spoke VOLUMES to me.

Where I learned to cook, I'm not sure. Both my grandmothers cooked from scratch, and I've snagged a few choice recipes from them, mostly sweets. But I think it wasn't until after I really started traveling--my partner's Belgian and we spent a year and a half traveling the world--that my palate expanded enough to get me fired up to learn to cook what we'd been enjoying on the road. So who teaches me now?

You, Mark Bittman, Diana Kennedy, Molly Wizenberg, Matthew Amster-Burton, Rachael Ray, Molly Katzen, Leslie Mackie (yes I'm scanning my cookbook shelves now) and, finally, and probably most importantly, ME.

 
At 11:26 AM, Blogger Deanne said...

I am just starting to teach my daughter to cook with me. Some (okay most) nights she'd rather be outside playing. She's 6 and I can't say I blame her. :) But what always brings her in is a new recipe, especially if there is a picture! And, of course, if we are baking cupcakes!!

 
At 11:41 AM, Blogger sheer whimsy said...

oh my! i am really thinking about getting the book now! and thank you so much for posting the scones recipe. i love scones!!

 
At 11:49 AM, Blogger OUB said...

I wish I could remember when I first started to cook! Perhaps it was the day I received and ruined my EasyBake Oven by shoving the pan all the way into the device so it sat at the bottom below the light bulb? I know it was before my mom went back to school and my role as oldest child included making spaghetti for the family.

All I know now is how happy it makes me (how, how, how can I make this my career?). I've been traveling for work since Sunday, and I haven't cooked since Saturday (a lovely, improvised chicken tortilla soup from leftovers!) and I feel a bit antsy.

 
At 11:57 AM, Blogger Liz said...

Growing up in a family of 6 kids I grew up eating hamburger helper and fried chicken. I didn't even begin to learn what a proper well rounded meal was until I was an adult. I started learning to cook soon after I had my daughter three years ago. I wanted my husband and I to be as healthy as possible for her, and I wanted her to grow up eating healthy. I'm still learning different recipes and try to make at least 2 or 3 new things every week. I'd love to get this cookbook to learn more about food and get some new ideas!

 
At 12:02 PM, Blogger Abbe said...

My mother taught me to cook when I was a very little girl. I would always help her with whatever she was making. I first learned to make cookies, goodness, I think I have made a hundred thousand batches in my short lifetime. I still love to cook, I have dreams of becoming a chef someday, but the thing that I love about cooking is that you can always learn somthing new, try a new ingredient or buy a new cookbook (!). My favorite thing about being in the kitchen is seeing the results of my labor and the look on peoples faces when they are enjoying the food that you prepared.

-Abbe

P.s. Aprons make the best accessories!

 
At 12:03 PM, Blogger Tammy said...

Cooking.....hmm, I learned a little bit from my dad, things like homemade macaroni and cheese, camping stew, how to bake a potato and that was it. When I got married, I learned a little bit more from my husband, then just added on from the different cookbooks we had and now the internet. One of my kids has a bunch of different sensitivities to food right now and is on a rotational diet so she is constantly coming up with her own menus and different recipes that sound good to her (she's 16).

Jamie Oliver is very inspiring. I hadn't heard of him until Food Revolution. I need to see if his book is at our library. It may be a long waiting list, but it looks worth it.

 
At 12:08 PM, Blogger Katy Moore said...

For me, baking, and the love of it, came from my grandmothers - my mom's mom who baked spice cakes with me when I was little and my dad's mom, whom I never knew, but through my father, I learned fantastic apple pies and Beacon Hill Cookies.

Learning to cook, on the other hand, has been a development since I was born, I think. My mom's mom had bookshelves full of cookbooks - she would read them as if they were novels, studying each recipe and histories of those she could find. This rubbed off. I remember having a dull knife up to the age of 8 or 9, and my mom and grandmom just kept reassuring me that I would get a sharp knife to work with one day.

When I was diagnosed with Celiac, that changed the game in a big way (although it seems less and less of an issue with the passage of time), and I think those of us with the disease can relate to the transformation that takes place, again, over time. With Celiac, I found the mad scientist side of cooking and baking, and this, I'm sure, will continue to evolve.

Thank you for blogging. Your posts are at times my respit from crazy days.

Rock on, cook on, they're similar!

 
At 12:13 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

My Mom tried teaching me how to cook when I was a little girl and I said "NO, My husband will do the cooking", you can just hear the early 80's feminism. Well, I'm 37, almost 38 and still single so that didn't actually work out very well did it now.
My mom did show me some basics but she mostly cooked out of boxes so when I got my own place I survived by cooking out of boxes and fast food. I felt more prepared then my friend who's Mom worked at the local college's kitchen and would being leftover "Butt" food to eat. She'd get home carrying a 5gal bucket and whatever the girls found was what dinner was.
Then a couple of years ago I found I have CD. Prepared GF food is way too expensive so started looking at learning how to actually cook. I look at the positive I didn't have many bad gluten cooking to unlearn to be a successful GF cook. I've been learning from you and the Chef, Bette Hagman, Karina's Blog and any other online source I run across.

 
At 12:16 PM, Blogger Caity said...

Neither of my parents were great cooks while I was growing up, so I never was inspired to learn to cook anything good for myself. As I have gotten older, my dad has become a wonderful gourmet cook who I am able to take inspiration from. I think that my true "education" in the kitchen has come from all of the wonderful food blogs that I read, including yours. They have taught me the value of fresh, local, ingredients, as well as the joy that I can get from cooking for myself rather than just opening a box. I have also been inspired to put things together that I would have never thought of on my own. I would love to win a copy of this book, since I have had a crush on Jamie Oliver for years, and love what he is doing with his Food Revolution.

 
At 12:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My love for cooking was cultivated by watching The Frugal Gourmet on PBS along with Martin Yan's Yan Can cook every Sunday afternoon.

My first time cooking was when I was 8 years old and had to stand on a plastic stool to reach the stove. I made broccoli and steamed eggs. At 8, I had no idea that when you lift a potcover, the cover will be hot and touched my forearm to it. I had a huge nasty burn and each time I look at it after all these years, I still think about that tiny kitchen and the plastic stool.

SukYee
sukyee28@yahoo.com

 
At 12:27 PM, Blogger Vincci said...

I'd always made my own lunch and baked for friends while I was in high school, but didn't really learn to cook while I was in university. I was lucky enough to live in one of those dorms where there was no meal plan and a big communal kitchen on each floor - watching my friends/dorm mates make their meals there and being inspired by them was really how I got my start!

 
At 12:31 PM, Blogger Gaile said...

Oh I too am loving watching Jamie's Food Revolution. It may be steeped in all that 'reality show' wrapping, but he is so genuine in his passion that I look past that to the truth he is trying to tell. And if the packaging makes people watch and opens eyes, then more power to it.

As for learning to cook, I first tried deboning a chicken after watching Julia Child do it on TV when I was in 7th Grade. No one told me it was hard, so I just did it, and stuffed it and it was amazing. Around the same time, I remember making a delicious stew, completely off the top of my head, with rice and chicken and the first fresh mushrooms I'd ever seen. (My mother wasn't much of a cook, and unbeknownst to me at the time, my father had the palate of a picky kindergartner, and she cooked for his palate.) I deep-fried homemade chicken kiev in high school.
But somewhere along the way, I just forgot my passion. forgot that I had good instincts. I lived with a chef in my early thirties and never made much beyond cereal, except thanksgiving dinner every year.

Then I became a vegetarian. I needed to learn to cook. And I met my partner who's adventurous (and very forgiving) palate, and appreciative response to anything I made, gave me the courage to cook for him. I learned to cook that year in a kitchen with no stove, just a two burner hot plate, a toaster oven, and an electric kettle. Oh the adventures we had! Moroccan stew, my first dahl, caseroles baked in two-person servings with the rest frozen for next time.

Years later, and many real kitchens, dinner parties, and new year's eve midnight buffets later, I discovered I couldn't eat gluten. After a few early disasters with baking, I was reminded by my partner, and internet friends, that surely someone with my love for food could create fabulous gf food. I dove in. I researched. I found your blog when it was one of the only ones out there. I found cookbooks, and learned to adapt to using gf flours. And I thrived.

Now 5 years later, I have an arsenal of gf tricks at my disposal. I've taught several friends how to cook gf when they too were diagnosed and panicked. I started eating meat again on the advice of my acupuncturist and found my body was ready, after a decade, for that change.

Now, we find ourselves changing again, lowering cholesterol, trying to eat closer to the ground, trying to eliminate the processed gf frozen foods that tempted us early on. Realizing we never ate fish sticks before, why now? ;-) My blogroll of gf blogs is long now. I read dozens of non-gf food blogs as well, and mark the recipes I want to try. I'm experimenting more with Indian Cuisine; more Mediterranean food; more curry!

My list of recipes to try must surely reach beyond my expected lifetime by now! Perhaps that personal chef business I've always wanted to start will offer me an opportunity to try more of them in a day.

 
At 12:41 PM, OpenID secretlysupergirl said...

I would love a copy of his book. Because I just love his show and the idea of the food revolution.

As a 20-something, I have some recent experience with learning how to cook. For me, the lesson has been in new ingredients. Like leeks. I don't think I knew what a leek was before 2 years ago. Now? I buy them every time I go to the store!

 
At 12:41 PM, Blogger Allison said...

i learned to cook by watching my mother. she was the queen of making something out of nothing. but i remember the first cookbook i got was the samantha (from the american girl dolls) cookbook. i made the mashed potatoes. from then on, i always made the mashed potatoes in our house.

 
At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Sarah said...

I have been learning to cook since I was a young girl. I always enjoyed watching my mother bake & cook and as soon as I was old enough to use the stove & oven I had my very own cookbook and was trying my hand. When I left home and got my own place is when I really started to become more comfortable and try new things. I say that I have been learning because I feel like a good cook is continuously learning and improving always.

 
At 12:49 PM, Blogger Antsy said...

I was brought up in the South and taught to cook by my mother, grandmother and aunts. After spending many hours - years, even - watching, listening and doing everything but cooking, I was given a little index card with the recipe for "Copper Pennies" and told that I would make it for Christmas Dinner at our house. I felt so proud and important, you would think I had won a "major award". That was the start at around age 7 and I still love cooking. Cooking is a family value that I am making sure to share with my children and it seems to be working. Even though I live in the PNW now, I'm hoping that my children will learn to prepare and love all of the southern food I grew up eating (albeit much healthier than in the 70's).

 
At 12:49 PM, Blogger Dane and Erika said...

I love your kitchen window too! Thank you so much for sharing. I know you guys moved awhile ago, but I often wonder if it turned out to be everything you hoped for. Seeing that picture makes me believe that it is. And thank you for asking people to share these stories - it is so refreshing to hear that others value homemade food, take that time to spend with their family, and choose to eat healthier.

My guy and I try to cook one new recipe a week. We do everything together - from the shopping to the clean up. It is so nice to spend that quality time together. We both teach each other during those times - I teach him the importance of reading instructions - men!! :P - and he teaches me it is important to be patient.

 
At 1:00 PM, Blogger SeattleArtist'sWay said...

My brother and I in our teens would come home from school and being bored and waiting for my mother to come home from work we started to play around in the kitchen. We'd get out the leftover celery and carrots in the vegetable drawer and I'd grab whatever other and ends bits that we could find and we'd both start speaking in a high Julia Child accent, waving our knives around as we chopped things up and tossing them together. Mind you we weren't planning on eating these things but there was something about pretending, laughing and chopping things up that got us both excited by the idea of playing with food and cooking and what COULD happen. That experience on top of watching our mother throw together the most amazing homemade bread and pastries over the years was a whole other lesson in the joy of cooking. My brother is now an amazing cook and chef in his own right and while I don't aspire to his level of cooking I get a lot of satisfaction putting my hands in some butter and gluten free flour and the glorious aromas that waft from my kitchen.
To this day, when I hear Julia Child or some imitator of her I can't help but smile a bit and think "that's where it began."

 
At 1:02 PM, Blogger Brianne said...

I'm still learning to cook. I'm always finding something interesting to try, some new technique I want to master, another cuisine to learn about. It's a journey and I doubt I'll ever say I've learned how to cook.

Recently I've been working on simplifying my food down to basic ingredients, so Jamie's Food Revolution really appeals to me. It's really encouraging to see the kids on the show eating and liking the good food Jamie's putting out there.

 
At 1:05 PM, Blogger kate said...

Initially, I learned to cook because I was a vegetarian, and my mom insisted that I contribute to my own feeding. I had helped at her side for years, so it wasn't too hard to set out on my own a bit, trying new things, making the whole meal instead of just components.

But I would say that I came into my own as a cook when I began to leap in to recipes that required techniques I'd never used before. I got brave, and that has paid off.

I also learned so much from taking cooking shifts at the co-ops where I lived. Trying to make a healthy, delicious, balanced, on-budget organic vegan meal for 28 people in two hours is a test in creativity. Frankly, at the next co-op, it didn't get much easier when cooking for only 19 with a larger budget (and no organic/vegan requirement!), but those challenges added to my kitchen management abilities (and to my hasty knife skills). You can't do that kind of cooking alone, and you also can't do it in a messy kitchen (it still makes me crazy now when I go home and cook with my mom, because she doesn't clean as she goes along, and it feels like trying to write a cohesive story with three radios and the television blaring!). Cooking in a co-op helped me learn methods rather than recipes.

Actually, the worst thing about being at this stage of a twin pregnancy is that I simply cannot stand in my favorite place, in front of the stove, "managing" my ingredients, practicing my creativity. Just too physically tired to stand for long enough right now...

Anyway, I am a huge Jamie fan, and I love his show on ABC (though I'm not a huge reality tv fan, either). He's just got such enthusiasm about food that it's hard not to jump in along with him! I've loved him for years, and I'm so glad he's getting this new exposure and getting all of us talking about the state of food in this country.

 
At 1:08 PM, Blogger Jillian said...

Cooking in my family has always been a family affair. In fact, while my mom has always been the baker, my dad was the first to teach me how to cook. The first thing I ever learned to cook was scrambled eggs. I was three and I helped my dad make the eggs. I got to beat them in a little bowl and then pour them into the pan and stir the eggs around until they were cooked through. Somewhere there's a photo of me- in an oversized apron and standing on a chair at the stove- stirring the eggs. I was so proud, I called myself a chef. It was like the best experiment in the world, watching a liquid turn to solid and then watching people eat it and be happy. Since going gluten free a year ago, I've continued experiment and while some of my recipes have fallen flat, I always learn something from it. I also love the look on people's faces when they've tasted your food and find it delicious. That wide eyed look of surprise and pleasure is the ultimate warm fuzzy!

 
At 1:21 PM, Blogger sg said...

Learned to cook..hmmm. Well my mom cooked, every night, but it was on a rotation of about 4 entrees. They were good, and all included homegrown meat and vegetables, but they were rarely seasoned and very plain. I knew I wanted to be able to do more. I think the Food Network taught me to cook. In college we'd watch the Food Network while we ate our less than wonderful cafeteria food, or microwaved macaroni and cheese. We referred to it as "food porn" and insisted our crappy food tasted better while watching it. I started cooking once I got a place with a stove and oven out of college and fell in love. I've been eying Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution book for a while now. I'm sure I could learn a lot from it.

 
At 1:26 PM, Blogger E2 said...

Honestly, I learned to cook from the internet. I could make quesadillas when I met my husband - that was the extent of my expertise in the kitchen. From reading food blogs for the last five years (gluten free girl, smitten kitchen, orangette, 101 cookbooks, etc) I have found a passion I didn't know I had - and a bravery to try new things. My type A personality has definitely had to get over herself in the kitchen - patience and practice, along with always trying something new - is the new house motto.

And, Jamie makes me cry. As a Pacific Northwester, farmer's markets are a given in my world, so when the kids didn't recognize the tomatoes(!!)... yeah, I cried. Hooray for Jamie. It's time for a revolution!

 
At 1:32 PM, Blogger Cape Cod Kitty said...

Thank you for using your beautiful and popular blog to spread the word about Jamie Oliver's efforts.
My love of wholesome cooking came from the hearts and hands of my mother and grandmother. We lived on a farm and every meal was a work of art. I learned to be adventurous with putting new flavors together, and to not scrimp on good quality food. We ate the most amazing seafood meals and all bread was made from whole grains weekly. Yards of homemade pizza was fed to armies of neighborhood friends on Saturday nights, and many foods were preserved, including meats. The joy of going out to pick wild fruits and turning them into a treat for the dreary winter, lingers now today, as I recall a whiff of wild grapes, redolent in the sunshine. I was the oldest of seven children and cannot believe how my mother made all this seem effortless, while helping my father on the farm, serving on many town committees and always helping others. We led a charmed life. Now I am off to make strawberry jam!

 
At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Kim said...

I began learning to cook three years ago when I moved to Tanzania after college. About a week after landing in Dar es Salaam, I moved into a proper hostel with a shared kitchen (from a rather dingy hotel in the center of town) and decided I'd had enough of eating in restaurants and that it was time to cook myself a homemade meal.

I should first explain that, up until now, I'd considered myself to be a decent cook since I could make scrambled eggs, risotto from a box, and gluten-free chocolate chip pancakes - a true dietary staple. I'd certainly never cooked meat, and I ate all fruits and vegetables raw to avoid having to prepare anything.

So, when I made my first visit to the market in Tanzania and saw a bounty of fruits, vegetables, beans, rice, beef (or rather, a dead cow hanging upside down), chicken (again, the whole deal), and whole fish - but not a single processed, prepared, or pre-packaged item - I realized that I had absolutely no idea how to cook any real sort of meal from actual raw ingredients. Caught off guard, I carried home a rather lame assemblage of a couple fruits, some butter, and plain rice thinking "Well, this isn't great but I will certainly survive." But when my new friends from Sweden and Belgium saw me eating plain rice with some butter, pepper, and salt for dinner and absolutely insisted I have some of their delicious curry instead, I knew my simple diet wasn't going to cut it - I was going to need to learn how to cook.

The next night, after a second trip to the market, I struggled through making a soy bean curry with garlic, onion, carrot, coconut milk, and curry powder with help from my new friends. It wasn't easy, and everything seemed like an opportunity to make a mistake - even sauteing the onions and garlic in butter - but I made it through and have been continuing to cook with real raw ingredients and learn new recipes ever since.

 
At 1:54 PM, Blogger Dustin, Sarah, and Abigail said...

One of the first memories I have of learning to cook was when I was in middle school. My aunt was always known for her wonderful potato chowder. She didn't have a recipe, she simply cooked by feel. One day she decided to teach me how to make it. Almost 20 years later I'm still making it, and the more I learn about cooking, the better it tastes. When my daughter gets older, I'll teach her how to make it, and maybe one of these days we'll actually write down the recipe!

 
At 2:01 PM, Blogger Virginia said...

This is more of a love story - of food and possibly more - but seems to fit in....

A gentleman I met online, who doesn't cook, came to visit. From Utah. I live in Chicago. I love to cook and grew up watching Julia Child and Graham Kerr.

MM has some health challenges and we have been talking about what he could do to help participate in healing & improving his eating, never mind learning to cook and enjoy real, delicious food in the process.

I planned & schemed food to cook together, teach and learn. I snuck in the prep so the actual cooking would lend itself to getting to know you conversation (nerves incl).

What did we make? Salmon wrapped in chard with chipotle orange salsa. Very easy & tasted delicious. He is still talking about it a week after returning home.

I just found out he created his own version last night with tuna, bok choy and pineapple salsa. um, WOW. To go from cooking nothing to that. He obviously is motivated by more than me, but what joy to teach and have someone embrace their own food revolution!

Rumor has it that he still hasn't broken the seal on his oven - going on 12 years now, gads - but I'm hopeful.

I've enjoyed watching Jamie Oliver evolve and share his enthusiasm over the years. Here's hoping more people learn how food, cooking, family and friends can come together - sometimes seamlessly - often not - and still have a crackin' good time with good food.


Virginia

 
At 2:09 PM, Blogger barb said...

I learned to cook from my mother who grew up eating a bland Mennonite meat & potatoes farming diet. She went to Ethiopia in the 70s as a nurse during one of the major famines and fell in love with the explosions of flavour and has not looked back. She made my dad fall in love with food, even vegetables. Growing up normal food was real deal Mexican (no tex mex for us), Japanese soups and sushi, Thai curries, Greek tiropita, Turkish chicken stews, Vietnamese Pho and Indian stews and curries... maybe once or twice a month we'd eat meatloaf or spaghetti, and even then it was with homemade sauces, and meat that my dad had hunted. The first meal my husband ate at my parents required detailed instructions... TO EAT! I grew up with a love of food and have carried that into my own house (not that my 2 y/o will eat anything other than cheese, but at least he likes brie).

My mom calls me her mini-me and I think it's great that our cookbook shelves are practically identical!

I would love to read about Jamie's passion for food... and to develop my passion for cooking past the recipes...

 
At 2:11 PM, Blogger Nikki said...

I was given the position of Cheese Grater and Potato Peeler from my mother and grandmother when I was a young girl. When I was tall enough to see over the counter, I became the resident Cookie Baker. This was a lovely way to get my dad to let me skip out on doing yardwork. I graduated to scratch chocolate layer cakes and pizza crusts. Then I became a vegetarian and dabbled in tofu and bean sprouts. These days I find myself preparing gluten-free meals from the freshest ingredients I can find. After all these years of chopping, measuring, and culinary experimentation, I have a confession: I learned how to make scrambled eggs this past winter. See? There's always something new to learn. :)

 
At 2:32 PM, Blogger Carolyn said...

I've been in love with Jamie Oliver since my youth (well, I'm 22, so that isn't saying that much), and I like what he's doing. Yes, it's a reality show, but like you said - it's gotten people talking. I live in Canada so I couldn't sign the petition, but I would love to win this book!

I don't really remember learning how to cook. I didn't cook much at home; when I moved out, I guess I had to teach myself...but I don't really remember it being an effort. I'm no expert, and I'm sure I have a lot to learn as far as the "right" techniques and such go, but just buying awesome ingredients and throwing yummy flavour combinations in a pot and seeing what happens seems to work most days! :)

 
At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Rebecca H said...

My earliest memory of somebody cooking was watching my grandmother every weekend. She was the kind of cook who used a pinch of this, poured flour into a bowl, added liquids and fat by feel. You know the kind. When I was 5, my mother came into the kitchen after working outside and found me at the table, stirring up a batch of sugar cookies, just like Grandma did! I figured I had watched her often enough, I had it down! They weren't bad! I added just a tad bit too much baking soda. They disappeared fast after they were baked.

Grandma had a truck patch, about an acre of veggies she raised every year and put up. I grew up eating radish and butter sandwiches, tomato preserves and butter on a slice of bread. Those magic cookies were in the pantry in a metal box with a slice of bread to keep them moist. She always made her cookies with lard and they were baked in her wood stove. There's nothing like that today!

 
At 2:37 PM, Blogger Elaine said...

My greatest accomplishment was when my daughters were ready to move away from home and asked me to compile a cookbook of all the recipes of the dishes we ate at home while they were growing up, it was a tremendous compliment to me and lots of fun to do... then several of their friends asked for copies! (I fed a lot of kids during the years!)

 
At 2:41 PM, Blogger Amanda Bohl said...

I learned how to cook while growing up. The basics...and how to take a box from the pantry and turn it into something somewhat edible. I truly learned how to cook, however, when I became a vegetarian. I'm no longer a vegitarian but the inquisitiveness that cam with it still exists and guides my epicurian explorations.

 
At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Kristin said...

No one really taught me how to cook. Even my grandmothers didn't spend much time in the kitchen. Both of them and my mom worked, so I grew up on a lot of frozen meals.

When I moved out of the house, I started teaching myself through Food Network, cookbooks and trying to re-create things I ate in restaurants. I'm not a bad cook now, but I do tend to stay with what I know is safe instead of trying new things.

I found out a month ago I was gluten intolerant. I've never been much for baking, but guess what -- I refuse to eat crappy bread and cookies. I bought a KitchenAid mixer and am going to learn to bake like I learned to cook, slowly, deliberately and focusing on the things I love.

 
At 2:46 PM, Blogger Erica said...

I learned how to cook when my world fell apart. Our family business went out of business when the recession hit. Small business loan, outstanding credit card debt, student loans, mortgage, car payments.... you get the idea... Sure, I cooked before. But that was back when I had the luxury to purchase ingredients on the recipes that I wanted to try. I suddenly had a food budget of about $200 for my mom and I for an entire month. If I can get by less, even better! I bought the cheapest vegetables and pantry items on sale, then I figured out what I could make. I ran out of soy sauce, but I had some pickling juice so I made do. I ran out of rice, so I made tortilla with flours. I ran out of cooking oil, so I steamed my vegetables. I got creative. I got resourceful. I took recipes, teased out the technic, and made them my own. I now cook by instinct, and look for new skills to add to my repertoire.

 
At 2:58 PM, OpenID meanderingpathtoself said...

My mom didn't have many recipes in her arsenal, but the ones she taught me were pure gold. More importantly, she taught me how to eat: How creating food from fresh ingredients creates dishes that are immeasurably more delicious, and how important it is to slow down and spend time with them. She taught me to honor what I put in my body. That mistakes in the kitchen are teaching tools, and sometimes lead to great discoveries. With my recently discovered aversion to gluten I have had to re-learn how to cook and, thanks to my mom, I have been able to embrace this new process. I only hope that Jamie's message doesn't fall on deaf ears, and that kids can learn to eat the way I did.

 
At 3:09 PM, Blogger Liz said...

I just recently found out that I am gluten intolerant, and I want to say I am loving your blog!
I've been expanding my cooking horizons recently, but baking had always been my forte, I used to bake all the time. But since finding out I can't have wheat flour anymore, I've been at a loss for recipes. Some seem too complex, others don't come out so great. So thank you, thank you, thank you for this scone recipe! I LOVE scones and have been missing them very much, and now I don't have to miss them anymore! : )

 
At 3:10 PM, Blogger jadenstarrr said...

Whenever my Mom was in the kitchen, I was in the kitchen (with a kid sized apron and chef hat to boot!) We baked cookies, we breaded pork chops, we made lots of messes, and licked hundreds of spoons. My Mom made magic in that kitchen. Not just with her delicious food, but by teaching me how to feed and care for myself and loved ones one bowl at a time. Now, my husband and I are starting our own "food revolution." We try to cook all of our meals from scratch. Although we both have full time jobs, whole, home cooked food is a non-negotiable for us. For us, time spent in the kitchen is quality time well spent, especially with our toddler helping us out with her very own kid sized apron on. Somehow batter that is stirred with her spoon and eager fingers always tastes the best!

 
At 3:13 PM, Blogger zebe912 said...

Do you have the GF puff pastry recipe posted anywhere? That wellington looks awesome but I don't know how to do any sort of puff pastry type deal gluten free.

I think I learned to cook by watching my mom & grandma, although my mom says she never taught me. I do remember experimenting with ingredients after school and having to eat some no-so-great inventions.

Thankfully we had a WONDERFUL home-ec teacher in middle schoool. I still have (and use) some of her recipes. My sisters have a folder of her stuff as well. That's where I learned to bake bread.

 
At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Jessica said...

I learned to cook by reading & watching. Cookbooks are one of my favorite genres of reading, as I am inspired by what I read. I don't often cook from a recipe, but am always inspired by them. & I LOVE that show-am horrified & excited all at once while watching!

 
At 3:16 PM, Anonymous Marilou said...

My Mom encouraged all proposed cooking experiments from the time I was eight years old and had expressed interest in baking cookies. She taught me important skills in Filipino cooking such as how to make perfect sticky rice. Once I was living with two foodie roommates at university, my curiosity expanded rapidly as we spent our evenings baking bread and ogling various cheese at the local deli. It brings me so much to joy to be able to whip up a tasty and healthy meal and feed my family and friends, or eat homemade preserves from the summer in the dead of a Canadian winter.

 
At 3:19 PM, Blogger Jenny said...

I learned to cook very young because in our house the cook didn't have to do the dishes! I remember being 12 years old and making a baked cod dish for my parents and being so frustrated that I had such a hard time getting all of the elements of the meal finished at the same time. The cod was cold by the time the rice was done. In time, I learned & I'm grateful I had patient parents! My husband doesn't cook, but when we first got married he made me breakfast in bed on the weekends. Many times it was the fire alarm that woke me, not the tempting smells of cold eggs, burnt bacon and under-toasted bread. :) The sweetest thing was walking out to find him cooking breakfast and the Wiki "How to Scramble and Egg" page pulled up on the computer.

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger Sooze said...

My Mom was a wonderful cook, but not a very patient teacher. I learned how to bake, but not how to plan a menu and get a complete dinner on the table every night. Now I must be gf and I am having to learn to cook tasty and healthy meals for myself and my disabled sister. Never knew how much work was involved -- I have a new respect for all who have been doing this well for years, like my Mom! My dishwasher is now my favorite appliance!

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger Lila said...

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, about learning to cook. I'd always loved to cook but until I was diagnosed with celiac disease and discovered I could no longer comfortably eat dairy, I never really thought about cooking. Now I'm a recovering vegetarian(my parents raised me that way for the first 20 years of my life) and trying to learn how to cook. More cookbooks are so helpful because learning how other people look at food is the most inspirational thing. I love watching Jamie Oliver cook because he's so excited, something my friends and family now accuse me of when I'm in the kitchen cooking up something that finally doesn't hurt to eat! I've just taken to trying new things,especially meat, even if I'm scared of them. I look at recipes for inspiration and sometimes for the first go at a new food.

 
At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Jen said...

My senior year of college, I shared a house with 4 other girls. We decided to have family dinners 5 nights a week - time to learn to cook! Mom came to the rescue, sending me a Moosewood cookbook inscribed, "Happy Sunday night cooking!" There were some disasters, and some big hits. We wrote reviews in the margins. Those were happy, hungry beginnings.

 
At 4:00 PM, Blogger GFree_Miel said...

I still have yet to learn how to cook. You see, I was so lucky to have so many people around me who could cook so well. My mother, my grandmother and my grandfather are all really great cooks. And I recall that whenever I asked if I could help, the response was, "Get out of the kitchen!" Granted, I can't blame my mom as she has four girls counting myself. Her goal was to get food onto the table and into our bellies with the least amount of fuss possible. I eventually grew scared of cooking. Scared of doing something wrong, or burning myself in the oven or on the stove. I want to be a really great cook so I can teach my kids to be really great cooks. So this summer, I'm employing my mother to teach me how to cook. I'll have a kitchen in my school dorm next year (at last!) So I really need to know how to cook!

After a summer of learning with my mother, I've decided that I'm going to continue my education with your cook book. I'll make a meal from it once a day.

I'm terriby anxious for this semester to end so I can begin this new challenge. You see, after being diagnosed with Celiac, my mom and grandma were ready to make me everything I wanted (and still are) so I'm a bit spoiled that way. I'm going to be independent and happy in my cooking and eating.

 
At 4:03 PM, Blogger Megan said...

I have gone GF for about 6 months after a test showed I was "highly sensitive" and was advised to eat a "strict and permanent GF" diet. Your "before and after" pics look like me. I backslid over the holidays, but am back on track now and I feel GREAT.

I have made GF meals and baked goods for friends, and one of those friends has asked me to teach GF cooking classes in her wellness center. I am terrified but also honored. I love to cook and bake, as did my wonderful grandmother Jean whose love of nourishing her family is my inspiration. She died on Christmas Eve 2006, but she is with me every day in the kitchen.

 
At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as I loved my mom and her cooking, it wasn't until I was 23 and living in the bay area with a dear friend and her family, that I really learned about food. That was when Alice Waters was just starting Chez Panisse. I learned how to use fresh garlic, make pesto, and fresh pasta, among many wonderful dishes. We left the bay area and went to Iowa where all fresh veggies were wrapped in saran wrap. That was when I first knew of people having Mt. Dew for breakfast! I became a vegetarian while living there (am not now) and grew a huge garden every year. I ended up teaching vegetarian cooking classes out of my home because so many people were so curious about these ingredients I used. Even now living in Arizona, when folks come over or visit they always leave saying they are inspired to get back into the kitchen. I really enjoy that.
I am inspired by so many; you, Shauna (and Danny), Jamie Oliver, and Alice Waters, to name a few. It doesn't have to be fancy, just real.
Eileen

 
At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Karen said...

I cooked for years before my son was diagnosed with several food intolerances. And then, I learned to *cook*. I had to really look at ingredients and subtitutions, without sacrificing taste, nutrition, or appearance. Your blog has been so helpful, thank you for all the time you spend and the information you share!
Karen

 
At 4:17 PM, Blogger Jayme said...

I learned to cook when I became a vegetarian at the tender age of 15. I was raised on processed foods, McDonald's and anything microwaved. My parents never ate fresh vegetables and when anything was cooked outside of the microwave, it was steak and instant mashed potatoes. At some point I realized this wasn't good for me and decided I wanted to eat healthier. I followed my older sister's lead and became a vegetarian, hoping to make healthier choices. Which I did, but that also meant cooking my own meals! Something new to a teenager who would regularly feast on a hot pocket fresh from the micro after school every day.

My sister taught me a few things in the beginning and from there, I learned how to cook over the years from experimenting and trying new things. It's an ever evolving learning process that continues to this day, 14 years later!

 
At 4:27 PM, Blogger Bree said...

I learned to cook in college. Growing up, my mother could cook well but she didn't really enjoy it. We ate out a lot and she made a lot of very simple meals (i fI ever have to eat another grilled boneless skinless chicken breast...) No one in my family was much of a foodie, so food was not really a priority, it was just there to sustain us, really. Once I got to college and had to start feeding myself I started buying cookbooks and learning on my own. At first, it would take several hours to make the simplest of things. Whenever I tried to make more than 1 dish at once I could never get the timing right, the side dish would take three times as long as the main course. Over the years with practice I have improved a lot and I've come to really enjoy making homemade meals for myself and my husband. Even my parents are impressed with my cooking now!

 
At 4:37 PM, Blogger Kdog said...

I grew up in the 50s/60s watching my mom in her long housedress cook, clean, do wash..AND work full time when most moms were stay at home moms. My mom did it all and I soaked it all in. I helped in her small New Jersey frenzied kitchen. There was virtually no countertop, so we used the kitchen table to prep the supper ingredients. I learned how to cook by watching and helping and grew into an adult who then began home cooking for my beloved dog, Prince. I researched and found a whole movement that believed, as I did, that the canned or dry dog food could not be healthy. I found great books on how to cook homemade dog food, and began cooking fresh homemade food for my Prince. I soon found out that he was allergic to wheat, and addressed his special needs all throughout his life through my cooking of his food and treats to be gluten free. Little did I know that 12 years after I adopted him, I would find my gluten intolerance and had to adapt to a new diet. I was already partially prepared because of my Prince!
Love your website. Is your book out yet?

 
At 4:40 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

Hey there, I actually saw this cookbook in the store the other day but put it down b/c we didn't have it in our budget this week. Our neighbor has another of his cookbooks and seriously I read it cover to cover one day -- his cookbooks are awesome! My mother taught me how to cook so young that I don't even remember learning. Cooking for me is a way to let go of the stress of the day and create something. It's therapeutic and I just adore the happiness I can provide for those I love through my meals.

 
At 4:42 PM, Blogger Melinda said...

I originally learned to cook in Home Economics class in intermediate school. I remember how proud I was that we learned how to make corn flake fried chicken and I was going to make it for my parents and brother at home. What a mess! It took a lot longer to make at home and made such a mess I thought my mother would never let me cook again! It was good, once it was finally done and I have tried to cook at least twice a week as an adult.

It is difficult because my son is autistic and eats a Gluten Free and Casein Free diet, but we try to work around that as best we can. Fortunately, my husband is willing to try almost anything!

 
At 4:47 PM, Blogger ACD said...

I grew up with a well rounded set of parents. They introduced me to all things new and I was never a picky eater. There were times when we were tight on money and we had SOS (Save our Ship...make up your own acronym-lol). Essentially it was gravy over bread: sometimes with meat and sometimes not. To make it better we would drown it in Tabasco sauce. They are not sad, poor memories but joyous, family memories.
When my mom and dad included us in the kitchen it was always educational. Mom was big on the 5 food groups. We learned to make each mean containing 3or 4 of the 5. Dinners always had a vegetable and a meat and duh, a starch! (This was obviously post Celiac for me). When dad cooked he used a certain amount of intuition, it seemed. He can pair the best of foods to create a unique taste I would have never dreamed up (i.e. Avacado slice and a sardine). I never appreciated ANY of that until I got married in 2008 and was diagnoised with Celiac in spring 2009. Being married I started experimenting with food and making sure my new husband would never go hungry on a night. I don't have any newly married burned dinner stories like my mom did but I do have plenty of gluten-free disasters to laugh at.
Shortly after my diagnosis my mom came to visit and bought some cookbooks to help me make the change. That was when I read GlutenFree Girl. To be honest the writing made food come alive to me. Instead of focusing on what I couldn't eat anymore I was now encouraged to explore what I could eat. I longed to find a farmers market and begin my own garden (both of which I am still working on). I have spent my entire off day standing in the kitchen teaching myself how to cook again. Now I'm most interested in raw creations with fruits and vegetables in their most nutrient forms.
My adventure in cooking has only begun.

 
At 4:50 PM, Blogger Marie said...

As a New Zealander living in Canada, I have followed Jamie Oliver's cooking shows for a long time (he is very popular in New Zealand). My father was a chef and then a baker, therefore I grew up in a very much 'foodie' household. I watched what he did and copied. I have always loved supporting local growers and therefore strive to cook new and exciting dishes from what I purchase at the Farmers Market. I challenge myself to use The Flavour Bible each evening when I'm cooking and I gently encourage my partner to do so as well to expand his cooking ability. Thank you for introducing this book to us! We would of course love a copy of Jamie Oliver's new cookbook!

 
At 5:03 PM, Blogger marissa said...

My maternal grandfather will have been gone from our family one year on May first. He inspired me in many ways, one of them in his never-fearing approach to cooking something new. I cherish his baking books (his notes in "Beard on Bread" melt my heart because I love his handwriting). I also love a tiny pamphlet on eggs that he tried every recipe out of-his favorite being a souffle. He served that souffle every time we visited him in Atlanta. I try and carry on his vision in my own kitchen with his great-grandsons, my little boys.

 
At 5:06 PM, Blogger Pat said...

My mother taught me to bake, but day to day cooking has been trial and error. The first meal I made for the family as a teenager was a disaster. But everyone was kind and kept working on it. I have now raised three sons who are adventurous cooks (much more so than my two daughters!).

 
At 5:19 PM, Anonymous Shannon said...

This is a topic so dear to my heart. Really it comes down to this... if you want to teach people to eat well then you must teach them to cook.

I grew up with frozen and boxed everything. I was always overweight, always sick, always wondering why.

When I got married and then pregnant I knew that as a mother it would fall into my hands to nourish my children and husband. So I literally made my way through the entire cookbook collection at the library. I watched Ina and Jamie talk about fresh ingredients prepared simply.

I remember making homemade whole grain ravioli from scratch for my new husband. That's when I realized how I express love... I feed them, I watch them, and when they smile (or groan) I know that they know I want to nourish them.

 
At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Chrystal said...

I learned by standing next to my granny in her kitchen every summer of my life. The closest grocery store to her home only carried a few essential items and everything else came from the garden or the farm. I remember the summer of watching the pigs grow and then being there when the butcher came to take them for processing. That was the best sausage and hams that I have ever eaten.

 
At 5:57 PM, Blogger Kinderhook said...

I married a non-cook. Oh, he couldn't find his way TO the kitchen let alone around it! One night he had to make dinner for my adolescent daughter because I was out of town on business. Here's what he did: He sliced an eggplant and covered it with oregano and put it in the oven. Yep! That's it. No sauce, just covered w/ oregano. I gave him credit for not going to Mickey D's (which has always been a no-no in our home) and set about teaching him the basics. I showed him that if he followed recipes for a while he would get a feel for it. And he did. He does most of the cooking -- okay, all of the cooking now. And he's good. Probably not Danny-good or as good as you but he's pretty amazing! BTW, that adolescent is now the mama of a 6-month old baby, and is a totally healthy, organic eater!

 
At 6:10 PM, Blogger CC said...

I grew up watching my mom cook -- and as soon as we were able, she certainly put us to work. So after doing homework at the counter while she's chopping and preparing, I always had to chip in as well. When I left home to go to college, that's when I started to really cook -- but it was a lot of stumbling around, trying to understand flavors and imitate/understand how my mom just cooked by taste. However, I always stuck to the same ten or so go-to dishes, or strictly was a recipe book person. I could definitely do anything in a book, but it still felt a bit cumbersome. So my fooding was mostly eating out, which was and still is a sacred experience, or packaged/convenience foods. Still living a single life for sure -- dinner = going out or...maybe a bag of popcorn? Then in 2004, my body went through a major crisis and I discovered that I had significant food sensitivities. It's been 6 years now, and I absolutely believe these have been the years when I really learned how to cook. In 2004, I didn't have you or blogs or so many resources like today, so I was doing everything I could to translate my food history into something safely edible for today. I cooked because I had to, and I passionately wanted it to taste just like I remembered it -- from mom's recipes, to restaurant favorites, to junk food cravings. And so I discovered the fun, creativity, and true scientific skills that my kitchen lab required -- and it's still going strong! I love cooking and discovering 'what's next...' I look forward to going home everyday, and yes, it's certainly so much more lovely to have someone to share it with (which I now have) especially someone who loves food and cooking just as much!

 
At 6:21 PM, Blogger teresa said...

The cooking lesson that started my love affair with food occurred when I was six years old. My maternal grandmother taught me how to make pork fried rice. Step by step, she showed me how to gingerly crack an egg on a flat surface rather than a curved one so that none of the shell would end up in the bowl. She lectured me on the importance of using day old rice rather than fresh because it will capture the "wok hee", or the breath of the wok much better. She allowed me to practice honing my knife skills with a butter knife and cutting the green onions into little tiny circles. She told me be careful of splattering hot oil when putting the ingredients, one at time, in the wok. All of these little lessons have remained with me many years later, and hope that I can teach my grandchildren how to make pork fried rice the same way.

 
At 6:21 PM, Blogger Sweet and Savory said...

Such a wonderful thing to giveaway a copy of Jamie's book...I would love to try some of his recipes. I learned to cook by watching my mom and just "getting into the kitchen" and tackling it. I now write daily for my food blog and absolutely LOVE it. They always say the way to a person's heart is through their mouth!

 
At 6:23 PM, Anonymous Andrea from NC said...

I learned by sitting beside the stove on a stool watching my mother cook both quick and easy suppers and elaborate feasts... much like your Lu does today. I have treasured recipes handed down to me from my mother and grandmother.

 
At 6:23 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

I'm still learning. I struggle with improvising recipes. Tonight I cooked swiss chard for the first time using a recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Both the hubby and I really liked it. Oh, and I grew the swiss chard. First year we've tried to grow anything beyond tomatoes, strawberries or herbs. The blogs I've been reading lately (including yours) have inspired us to try to grow more of our own food.

 
At 6:45 PM, Anonymous abbie said...

oh my gosh, I just love your comment about hoping for a future of cooks, and that others in our nation might feel the empowerment, pleasure, and satisfaction of the stove, the knife, and the real experience of real food.
I learned to cook from my mother. She says she didn't teach me but she did. She never said a word about the ins and outs of cooking technique, though at times she coached me while I baked molasses cookies or walked me through separating an egg. But I was there in her garden where it all began. Hanging by her while she transplanted basil, staked green beans, and weeded around the carrots. I was there in the kitchen as she canned tomatoes, cooked applesauce, and dried herbs. My eyes were there by the pasta maker, the bread machine, and the stand mixer watching ingredients transform into fantastic dishes filled with romantic flavors and love. I was there poking a wooden spoon into sautes, braises, and roasts, figuring out how the elements changed with heat, coercion, and patience.
My mother taught me most of what I know today about cooking. She also taught me where to look for instruction, inspiration, and appreciation.
The kitchen is just one of my favorite places to be, and I owe my foodie passion to my mother who introduced me to worlds of culinary exploration.

 
At 6:51 PM, Blogger Ellemay said...

Growing up I always knew that my mother through it was ideologically unsound that a woman was expected to cook for her own family every night. So mum only cooked things she liked eating such as stir fry and pasta whilst dad cooked the snags and roasts.

A few years ago for my birthday they bought me some new cookware and then promptly nicked it (I did nick it back when I moved out). This was also around the time that mum started to watch Nigella Lawson on tv again and saw her cook a roast chicken. So my pots were nicked so that my mother could finally dig out her dusty nigella book and learn how to cook a roast.

The transformation in my parents cooking over the last 10 years has been amazing. When someone couldn't have salt anymore, the curries started to be made from scratch. Watching dad's eyes light up when he tries out a new sausage mix is amazing.

It was my parents unwillingness to try new things at home when I was in my late teens, early 20's that drove me to search out new dishes for my taste buds to enjoy. Now they are willing to join me slightly in the quest for new things. Dad currently takes his Hairy Biker books to bed with him so he can read up on new things to make that weekend.

So even though I did learn my basic cooking form my parents, i suppose I really learnt it when I moved out and could finally experiment with different techniques and new foods to see how they worked and didn't work. I've even tried new vegetables that I never got at home.

Oh and Jamie Oliver is a GOD!

 
At 6:53 PM, Blogger Jenn said...

My grandma taught me to cook. She was a cook for the VA Hospital, and she was amazing!!! I'm so glad that I have been able to replicate so many of her awesome German foods to be gluten free. I am so happy to pass this skill on to my girls.

 
At 7:02 PM, Blogger Isabella said...

My great grandma taught me how to cook when I was a kid. She showed me many of her techniques, even down to how to select Italian bread. I lost the love of cooking over time, but I'm trying to get it back. Slowly but surely.

 
At 7:04 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

My grandma taught me to cook. Even when I was a little thing, maybe five years old, we would plan "dinner parties" together. I'd get my kids' cookbooks and pick out the most odd assortment of recipes - potato soup with popcorn in it, corn pudding, and gumdrop cookies, for example - and then subject my poor family to eating it. I still put popcorn in my potato soup to this day, and I still feel like cooking gives me the chance to express my creativity and bring people I love together.

 
At 7:13 PM, Blogger Jen said...

I started really cooking after my first child was born. Before, I'd cook, and it just wouldn't turn out well. But after she was born, whole and home-prepared foods became more and more important to me. Going gluten-free helped, too. Once I read through ingredients of something to make sure it is gluten- (and rice-)free, I often no longer want to eat it. Much better to make my own food. I wish Jamie Oliver much luck on convincing a large part of the country to eat better foods.

 
At 7:24 PM, Anonymous selena said...

I am still learning to cook! I really started to try to cook when I became vegetarian, at 15. Murky lentil soups and bricky tofu lasagnas. It's getting better all the time.
I have Jamie's Italy and love his enthusiasm. His books are a good read.

 
At 7:28 PM, Anonymous Rachael said...

I'm not quite sure when I learned how to cook. I've been cooking for as long as I remember. I almost never eat or use processed food and I'm healthier and happier for it. I feel blessed that my home is always full of friends and family who know this is the place to come for a healthy filling home-cooked meal. I love trying new recipes, new ingredients, new flavors and combinations.


Jamie Oliver is doing such a service for us all. There is nothing more satisying than putting a meal on the table and watching loved ones devour it. To enter the kitchen with a few bags of groceries and to emerge an hour or two later with a 4-course meal is truely one of life's pleasures.

 
At 7:29 PM, Blogger saba said...

I learned from my incredible Sicilian mother. She cooks every day - simple amazing dishes with great ingredients.

 

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