Inspiration to Cook

It is my hope that what you read and see on this blog will inspire you to get in the kitchen and cook for yourself, your friends and your family. It's a great way to spend quality time together and a perfect excuse to enjoy a healthy meal at home.

While I am not a recipe developer, I am a home cook who has proven to be a good cook simply by doing it. I have not been to culinary school, though I did grow up in the kitchen watching and helping my maternal grandmother and great-grandmother and I have worked in the front-of-the-house of my restaurants in Mexico, created a food product, launched farmers markets and now help friends and associates regain a healthy relationship with food.

I read and collect cookbooks, subscribe to numerous cooking magazines like Bon Appetit as well as food industry magazines. I also read books written by chefs about the hospitality business and religiously watch food-related television (ad nauseum). I forage (and sell my culinary creations) at farmers markets so I know where my food comes from and I also get inspiration from others who love to cook.

Many people tell me they "don't have time to cook," but, really, we prepare most of our meals in 30-minutes or less. I'm not into making a demi-glace from veal stock that takes days to prepare. Even though I love to cook (and eat), I don't want to spend all day in the kitchen.

Having a well-stocked kitchen and buying fresh ingredients every week at a local farmers market and then supplementing every few days at a grocery store will help ease you into the cooking mode. If you can read a recipe, you can cook. It's that simple. Or, if shopping gets you down but you still want to eat at home, order from Blue ApronHello, Fresh or Purple Carrot and have the ingredients and the recipes delivered to your doorstep.

The trick to cooking is to not be afraid to try things because even the most accomplished chefs have culinary failures. Flops teach us what not to do and they provide ample opportunities to laugh at ourselves and our blunders, as well as be creative with the results. (I once turned a failed Thanksgiving wild rice and mushroom stuffing into a fabulously spectacular wild rice and mushroom soup!) Once you start enjoying a few culinary successes, you'll be that much more encouraged to cook on a regular basis. Making something wonderful and having everyone gush over you and the dish is reason enough to get back in there and do it again...and again!

In case you're feeling pressured to "do everything," get the whole family involved in the process. Take your partner or spouse as well as the kids to the store and farmers markets with you, let them meet the people who grow their food and ask questions. 

Let the kids pick out ingredients and come up with ideas for what to make. Get them to peel the carrots, wash the lettuce, make a simple dessert, set the table and, yes, clear the table and even wash the dishes.

How else can you get inspired to cook? Subscribe to a few food magazines such as Food and Wine, Bon Appetit and Saveur. (An annual subscription can be had for as little as $13, while that will only get you about three issues if you buy the magazine at the store each month.)

Watch Food TV, the Cooking Channel and the Travel Channel for inspiration. I also love, love, love, PBS's cooking shows on Saturday, though the schedule does tend to change quite a bit.

Make a commitment to try a new food each week. Never had beets? Do a little research, find a recipe that looks interesting and give it a try. The worst that can happen is that no one likes it, but at least you tried something new.

That's what cooking is all about. Exploring different tastes, textures, using unusual ingredients and then having them become part of your culinary repertoire.

So get in there and cook! Start with something easy or jump in with a recipe that seems utterly daunting. Just do it. You owe it to yourself and your family to eat better so you will feel better. I promise once you start cooking, you'll find it's so much tastier, more nutritious and definitely less expensive than the alternative.

Please let me know how you've been inspired. You can always post a comment or email me at hwhunter[at]gmail[dot]com.

Buen provecho!

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